Creating order step by step

We know that an honest debt inventory is the most difficult step. But we also often hear that tidying up is a huge relief once it's done. That's why we want to encourage you and give you tips on this page on how to regain perspective step by step. 

Many debt counsellors can help you sort things out and put things in order. Take advantage of this offer if you would like support.

You will need: 1 folder, 1 hole punch, dividers, a printer if necessary, plenty of space and time

All beginnings are difficult
Search for documents
Open letters. All of them
Form stacks part 1: According to the sender
Form stacks part 2: According to requirements
Sort stacks part 3: by date
Review and print e-mails
Hole punching. Filing
Create an overviewFind a regular rhythm

All beginnings are difficult.

Nobody enjoys rummaging through piles of paper.

If you realise that you are finding it very difficult to sort things out, consider whether you can get someone to help you. A friend, your partner, a debt counsellor. 

Search for documents.

You may also be familiar with this: unloved mail is often put out of sight for the time being. There's  the shoebox under the bed or the moving box in the basement with the old bills. Go in search of everything that could have to do with debt and gather them together.

If you have lost track or have not picked up any letters, ask the credit agencies for a free copy of the data (Art. 15 GDPR). For example, SCHUFA refers to so-called "self-disclosure". It states which debts were reported to SCHUFA. 

The creditor documents include, for example: 

  • Invoices, reminders
  • Orders to pay, enforcement orders
  • Seizure orders
  • Letter from creditors' representatives (lawyers, debt collection agencies, etc.)
  • Maintenance claims
  • Fines
  • Court orders (fines)

Open letters. All of them.

Is it enough if I open and sort only the most recent letters from the collection agencies or only the orders to pay and enforcement orders? No. In counselling, it is often important to be able to understand the entire history of individual debts. For example, it is easier to check the legality of collection costs. Over time, you also forget which old invoices may or may not have already been paid. If you are not 100% sure whether a debt has been paid, keep the letters. This way, whether something has remained unpaid can be investigated later.

Tip: You should keep yellow envelopes from the court because the delivery date is noted on them. All other envelopes can go straight to the waste bin.  

Form stacks part 1: According to the sender.

First, sort all letters by sender's address. These can be individual companies, such as Telekom or Amazon, or individual debt collection agencies, such as the German debt collection service or Creditreform.

Form stacks part 2: According to requirements.

In the second step, take one stack at a time. Now comes the hardest part. It is about summarising all letters that have to do with a claim. These can be previous invoices, which then belong together with letters from a debt collection agency. Then perhaps an order to pay and enforcement order was issued by a district court in this matter and the bailiff sent you a letter with an account seizure. These letters then belong on a stack.

Take a close look at the file number and the reason for the claim.

Example: You have seven letters from a debt collection agency. Three letters are about online orders from a fashion house. Each of these letters has its own file number. Four of the letters are about telephone bills, and all four letters have the same reference number. Make four small new piles from the one pile from the debt collection agency: one small pile with one letter for each of the three fashion store bills and one for the telephone bill with four letters.

Sort stacks part 3: by date.

Many creditors write monthly letters to remind you of your payment obligations. Sort the letters by date, the newest letter is always at the top, the oldest letter always at the bottom.

Review and print e-mails.

Especially if you order online, invoices and reminders will arrive by e-mail and not by post. Remember to also print invoices from your e-mail inbox if they have not yet been paid.

Beware of spam e-mails! Only open e-mails if you know the sender and/or what it is about.

Hole punching. Filing.

Punch holes in all letters and invoices.

Use dividers to mark where a new pile begins.

Please do not use transparent film.

Create an overview.

For the brave, now comes the (first) moment of truth. Take a piece of paper and write down all the demands on it. Add up all the figures and note the total. The most important step has been taken: you have gained an overview and no longer have to guess how high your debts are.

Did you know that in most cases the amount of debt changes significantly over the course of debt counselling? After all, an important task of the counsellor is to check whether the interest and costs charged to you are correctly stated. Debt collection agencies in particular often demand more than they are entitled to. Depending on the composition of your debts, the sum may therefore be reduced again in the counselling process. 

Find a regular rhythm.

To prepare for debt counselling, sorting the documents was an important step. But, unfortunately, sorting once is not enough. There will be new letters and e-mails.

Tip: Find a fixed time at which you process new mail, e.g. "Every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. onwards, I process my mail, transfer my invoices, sort out the letters." 

Ist diese Seite hilfreich?
Any given Sunday

Find a fixed time at which you process new mail, e.g. "I always process my mail on Sundays from 6 p.m., transfer invoices, sort e-mails."