Step 1: Increase your income

The first step to dealing with debt is to make sure you have as much money coming in as possible.

Thinking about these questions could help:

Some people find they can’t keep up with regular payments. We can go through their income, outgoings and budgeting, and show them what they could reduce.

David, Macmillan financial guide


Work is the main source of income for many people. But if you are living with cancer, you may need to take time off. This could be for:

  • medical appointments
  • having or recovering from treatment
  • coping with emotional stress or side effects.

If you are caring for someone with cancer, you may also need time off work.

Your income may go down if you take time off. But everyone has certain rights at work, so doing this doesn’t have to mean your earnings will stop completely.

Tax rebates

If you stop working or your earnings drop, you may end up paying too much tax. If this happens, you may be able to claim a refund. This is called a tax rebate.

We have more information about work and cancer for employees, carers and employers.


Benefits are payments that the government gives to people who need financial help. When you are affected by cancer, it may change your situation and mean that you can get extra help.

You may be able to get certain benefits if you are unable to work or on a low income, if you have care or mobility needs or if you are looking after someone with cancer.


Macmillan grants

These are small, mostly one-off payments to help people with costs caused by, or related to, their cancer. We have more information about Macmillan grants.

Other loans and grants

You may also be able to get financial help, loans or grants from your local council, your energy supplier, charities or other organisations.

You, or your partner if you have one, may have insurance policies that will pay out because of your situation. Check what policies you have and their terms.


If you have a pension, you may be able to draw money from it to increase your income.

Savings and investments

You may have savings set aside to cover the unexpected. If your income is affected by cancer, now may be a good time to use those savings. However you should check if you could get any extra income from your employer, benefits, insurance or other sources first.

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Back to Managing debt and borrowing

Debt and borrowing overview

Living with cancer can bring extra expenses. Learn how to manage your debts using a clear step-by-step process.

Step 2: Reduce your expenses

Once you have made sure you have as much money coming in as possible, there are ways you can reduce your expenses.

Debts you leave behind

If you have debts when you die, it reduces the value of your estate. This means your beneficiaries will receive less money.