The average household is £13,000 in debt (excluding mortgages). The average credit card debt is £2504 according to the Money Charity (March 2017). If we’re fortunate enough to have any savings, then the interest rate is pitifully low. But if we have debts, the interest rates seem extraordinarily high. So high in fact, that on some cards/catalogues, the minimum payment is not enough to cover the interest, therefore the debt will literally last till we die on such a basis.
Many of us “survive” by simply juggling money between creditors. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, works nicely for Paul, but it won’t be long before we have to rob Paul to pay someone else. And often we feel helpless to get on top of it. The combined monthly payment is simply unaffordable – we do our best, but we are paying money we haven’t really got and the debt is not reducing. It really is a double whammy!
Faced with such a demoralising situation, we may resort to desperate measures. Some are so spooked by the threatening letters (or fear of receiving them) that we ensure the debts are paid before other priorities such a rent, council tax or basic food on the table. We keep borrowing until the availability of credit run out. With rent or mortgage arrears building up, and the bailiff on the doorstep on behalf of the Council Tax arrears - we find ourselves in a desperate place.
Another form of desperate measures relates to the filing cabinet more commonly known as the rubbish bin. Faced with the knowledge that we can’t pay the debts, there’s not much point even opening the letters as far as we are concerned. The drawer could be stuffed to overflowing with unopened statements containing all kinds of threats of further action. We bury our heads in the sand, until one day there’s a bailiff seizing our car, or an attachment of earnings on our salary or a significant cut to our benefits.
Debt matters. It matters because it’s become such a monster squeezing the very life out of us. It can affect our health with the wakeful nights and accumulated stress. It can affect our closest relationships with the arguments as to who is to blame and the exhaustion that comes from trying to make ends meet. And it can affect our self-worth with a mix of guilt or anger or shame. It’s not something we can easily talk about and the crisis we face can be buried for a long time.
So its worth facing up to the reality of the situation we are in. Almost certainly there will be things we can do to improve our finaces. Maximising income, redicing outgoimngs, utilising asserts - or consisering the range of debt options that exist from insolvency to repayment plans.