Personal finance – have consumers had a belly full of personal debt?
For months, we were trigger-swipe happy, putting our groceries, clothes, holidays and service charges on our credit cards. We wanted mortgages, we took out loans, we watched Property Ladder and What Not To Wear. Whether you were born middle class, had middle class aspirations, you became middle class through your spending. Debt united people around the UK, we sympathised with each other on what we couldn’t afford – but it didn’t matter, we still bought it. Soon everybody had a bottle of Jacob’s Creek in their kitchen and olives and humous in the fridge.
Yet, it would seem as if a debt conscience is setting in. This morning, The Guardian printed a story based on the fact that Nationwide had reported a 0.2% decrease in the average house price, whilst the Times reported on a statement from the Bank of England, showing that credit-card borrowing was at its slowest rate for more than four years, with mortgage lending also very static.
According to the latest Department of Trade and Industry Survey, 5% of individuals reported finding their household’s debt repayments a “heavy burden” and 4% of individuals are currently behind in payments for at least one credit commitment or domestic bill over the past three months.
According to Credit Action, in December 2004, 1.2 million electricity and 1 million gas domestic customers were behind in repaying their debts to their supplier. Additionally 20% of people say that they often neglect checking their bank balance because “they are too scared to find out how much money they have”, according to Lloyds TSB.
Credit Action also reported that the number of people searching for help to manage their debts had almost doubled in May in 2005, compared to figures in May 2004 and a survey from Relate revealed that 44% of couples find money to be a contentious issue in their relationship and a quarter of people in debt are receiving treatment for stress, depression and anxiety from their GP.
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom however. If you’re lucky enough to have no outstanding debt, you can keep you finances in shape by exploiting the services of sites such as moneynet, which provide financial product price comparison information and extensive consumer information guides. If you have any outstanding debts, you can seek advice from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) or Citizens’ Advice and financial comparison sites like lowermybills and moneynet also provide detailed research on debt consolidation loans and debt management.
Credit card guide
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Rachel writes for the personalfinanosaurus Cashzilla
Personal finance blog
Rachel has been writing personal finance related articles for six months and has learnt so much about mortgages and life insurance, that nobody invites her out to dinner anymore. 🙁