Debt problems ‘often hidden from partners’

debt problems

debt problemsDo you really know the state of your partner’s finances? A study by the Co-Operative Bank has found that more than one in 10 women and one in seven men have secret debt problems that even their partners don’t know about.

It’s estimated that people in relationships across the UK may be keeping as much as £41 billion from their other halves.

Scary stuff.

But before you level an accusing stare at your nearest and dearest across the breakfast table, it’s important to remember that debt is a big – and common – problem in this country.

According to the report, 62% of people surveyed had debt in the form of credit cards, mortgages or overdrafts. The men admitted to being in the red to the tune of £14,228, while the women confessed to debt levels of £22,418 on average.

The important thing to remember is that if you find yourself struggling, there’s always help available.

So if you’re in debt, don’t despair – you’re not alone. What’s more, there are simple steps you can take to get control of your finances.

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1. Make a plan

Ok, it’s not the most thrilling thing you’ll ever do – but if you’ve got debt problems then making a budget is non-negotiable.

After all if you don’t know what you spend, then you don’t know how much you need to save!

Use this really nifty free budget planner tool to quickly work out how much money you’ve got coming in and what you’re spending it on. It really helps take the pain out of making a budget so give it a go – it only takes 30 minutes at most, and you may be surprised by the results.

2. Check you are getting what you’re entitled to

The benefits system can be complicated. Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show that billions of pounds worth of benefits go unclaimed each year – from pension credit to childcare vouchers.

There’s an easy way to check you’re getting what you’re entitled to, though. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has a free online benefits calculator, which will quickly tell you if you’re missing out.

It’s definitely worth checking – if your household’s family income comes in at under £66,000, you may be entitled to some form of benefit.

3. Reduce your utility bills

Are you paying more than you should for your household bills? If you don’t check, you’ll never know. MyFamilyClub has partnered with uSwitch to help families find the cheapest energy supplier quickly and easily.

4. Don’t let interest eat up your earnings

According to debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the average family spends a whopping 28% of their discretionary income simply paying off interest charges.

It goes without saying that that money is better off in your pocket than in the banks’!

If you’re not sure whether a credit card offers you a good deal, use our handy credit card calculator to work out how long it will take to clear your balance, and how much you will need to repay each month.

5. Pay things off in the right order

Some debts are more expensive than others. So make sure you pay off those debts that have the highest interest rate first (and just make the minimum payments on your other debts).

Once you’ve cleared the most expensive debt, move down to the next most expensive, and so on.

And don’t forget to talk to your creditors. If you let your bank or credit card company know that you’re struggling to make repayments (ideally before you miss one!) then they will often work with you to make the debt more manageable.

Still need help?

The important thing to remember is that if you find yourself struggling, there’s always help available.

If you’re in really serious debt and need to talk to someone, there are some excellent free advisory services available, such as The National Debtline. Or you can get face-to-face debt advice at a Citizen’s Advice Bureau – you can find your nearest branch here.

Don’t forget!

You can also chat to other parents and financial experts about debt problems (or anything else that’s on your mind!) over on our Community Forum.