In this open and honest age, where the ability to communicate in a sincere and forthright manner is so highly valued, it seems peculiar that debt remains such a taboo subject. The extent to which we discuss money usually begins and ends with “I know I shouldn’t, I can’t really afford it, but I’ll treat myself anyway”. The deeper intricacies of debt, how it has far-reaching impacts on our everyday lives, our families and our mental health, rarely gets a mention.
We should all be talking more openly about debt and the role it plays in our lives. The more you know, the more confident and capable you feel and the more likely it is that you’ll be able to leave your debt in your past and move on to a more financially secure future.
How many people are in debt in the UK?
If you are experiencing money problems, you might be somewhat comforted by the reality that you are not alone. Debt remains a growing issue in the UK. You might be aware that we are enjoying a record low unemployment rate of 5.1%, however, wage growth remains very low, so people all over the country are struggling to cope with their mounting debts and their incessant bills. According to The Money Charity, as of May 2016, the average household debt (including mortgages) is £54,740, which is up from £54,621 in April.
Be informed on your debt management solutions
Admitting that you’re in over your head financially and need some help can be terrifying. What can be even more intimidating is separating fact from fiction and actually knowing what routes you have open to you. It is always wise to visit a professional in the area of debt management. They have access to intuitive insolvency software that uses your expenditures, incomings, dependents and assets to recommend which debt management option is best for your needs.
As a nation, we’re misinformed on value and cost
The fact that money isn’t a favoured topic means that generally, we are left with a skewed perception of what things are worth and what we should be paying. As a nation, we don’t have an very realistic view of personal finances, as reflected in a 2015 King’s College study. When asked for an estimation of how much it costs to raise a child to the age of 21, people estimated £50,000 when the real cost is £229,000. When asked how much childcare costs per week for a child under two, people guessed £200 when the real figure lies at £115.45.
People are equally unaware that students graduate with £44,000 of debt, believing the sum to be £21,000. Knowing the true value and cost of items and services is integral to maintaining a healthy financial standing into the future.
Debt impacts our mental health
Debt can undoubtedly impact our mental well-being, and it can be exacerbated by an unwillingness to discuss the situation at hand. Spiralling into debt can make you feel out of control, helpless and embarrassed. It can also cause an onslaught of depression and anxiety, with 38% of those in debt having considered or attempted suicide as the solution to their problem. An incredible nine out of 10 people with severe debt are suffering from serious mental health disorders as a result. Talking about your debt and taking action now can help to alleviate these pressing mental concerns. Remember that no debt is insurmountable or as bad as it appears. There are avenues open to you.
The impact of debt on the family
Dealing with significant debt on a daily basis can have direct and serious implications on family life, both emotionally and psychologically. It puts stress on family relationships and no matter how well you think you’re hiding it, children are intuitive by nature and are more than likely picking up on your unease. They might not understand the finer intricacies of money and debt, but they are dealing with the stress regardless.
58% of children with serious debt say that they are worried about their family’s financial situation and 47% say that debt is the cause of arguments in the home. Resolving your debt might not be the answer to all your family’s issues, but it certainly goes a long way to helping alleviate a lot of the stress.
If you are suffering with debt, take action and find someone to help you with your financial options. The worst action is inaction, and the more you openly discuss your issues with those who can help you, the better you will feel and the more able you will be to achieve financial freedom.