Category Archives: Opinion

Black Friday – Waste of time or useful way to save cash?

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Black Friday has a bad reputation for scuffles and unpleasantness, but it’s meant to be an annual shopping event to help people “save money”. It’s something UK retailers have imported from America, falling on the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. But what we want to know is this: Is it worthwhile?

Like other American exports, such as David Hasselhoff, Halloween and going to see “movies” instead of “films”, Black Friday has had a mixed reaction as it’s crept into our national consciousness.

We’re divided in the MoneyAware team – Rory argues against it and James makes the case in favour.

But do you think it’s a waste of time or a good way to save money? Add your thoughts to the comments section once you’ve read the article…

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MSE financial education petition reaches 100,000 signatures

posted by in Debt, Opinion 1 Comment

HM government

You can still sign the petition

On Sunday the MoneySavingExpert e-petition to campaign the Government to introduce compulsory financial education in schools reached the magical 100,000 signatures, enough to trigger a Commons debate.

The petition was launched in early August and is part of a personal crusade by Mr MoneySavingExpert, Martin Lewis, to ensure schoolkids have more knowledge of consumer society, issues that could affect their financial wellbeing throughout their life; Continue reading »

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Debtday: from light bulb moment to debt freedom

posted by in Debtday, Inside StepChange, Opinion 2 Comments

free from debt

The feeling you get from being free of debt…

This month we’re organising the next in our popular series of debtday events. Join us on Tuesday November 1st as we talk with clients who have just paid off the last of their repayments, to find out what it feels like to be free of debt and learn how it can be done.

During #debtday we use social media to highlight our hard work and are renowned for showing the roller coaster of emotion pouring from our blog, Twitter and Facebook. During next month’s event we’ll even show videos that expose different aspects of being in debt and highlight the good work that goes on right here inside StepChange Debt Charity.

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The trouble with financial education

posted by in Debt, Opinion 2 Comments

Emma Bryn-Jones is both founder and Director of the consumer cooperative Zero-credit. Zero-credit focuses on recognising the rights of borrowers as consumers of personal lending and a key principle is that no borrower should ever feel helpless. Today she gives her thoughts on MoneySavingExpert’s financial education e-petition.

Financial education

Could you work out your own financial education?

For my sins, I spent a decade in teaching before forming the Zero-credit co-operative, so the financial education debate is close to my heart. I entered the profession as a mature student, at the height of a social research career, because I wanted more time with my son.

It came at a price – teaching is damned hard work.

While I specialised in teaching languages and performing arts, prior experience of working with motivation theories led to responsibilities for coaching and mentoring colleagues.

The dynamic of imposing a compulsory curriculum on rebellious adolescents was not lost on me – the question was always, “How to engage?”.

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Should financial education be part of the school curriculum?

posted by in Debt, Opinion, Special events 1 Comment

HM government

CCCS asks you to sign the petition

Our friends at MoneySavingExpert have launched an e-petition calling for compulsory financial education, to help school kids understand money – is it needed?

People don’t always understand the financial implications of their decisions in using credit.

Anecdotally we find a lot of clients are unaware of how they fell into their perilous situations; they thought that they were able to afford the credit repayments on furniture, cars and electrical goods only to find that a few months later they can’t repay.

They’ve thought that they can handle the costs of paying back credit, only to come up short.

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#debtday: Why don’t we claim?

posted by in Debtday, Inside StepChange, Opinion 1 Comment

CCCS family

The family

As today’s #debtday is showing, many clients who are struggling to cope with their debts are not claiming all of the benefits they are entitled to.

Across the UK, the total amount that goes unclaimed has been estimated at £16billion a year – and StepChange Debt Charity has previously estimated that, on average, families who are struggling with debt are losing out on £80 per family, per week.  That’s the equivalent of £4,000 per family.

This isn’t surprising. The welfare system is notoriously complex, and navigating it can be a full-time job in itself. Housing benefit, local housing allowance, council tax benefit, jobseekers allowance, employment support allowance, tax credits – the list goes on, with each benefit having its own criteria, rates and bands.

Benefits are crucial in keeping debt-burdened households afloat, so it is essential that people who are struggling financially claim all the benefits to which they are entitled – and talking to the experts at StepChange Welfare Benefits is an excellent place to start.

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#debtday: Conclusions

posted by in Debtday, Inside StepChange, Opinion Leave a comment

five pound note

Money and debt (thanks to HowardLake)

We’ve come to the end of another #debtday tweetathon. 12 hours after we started we’ve listened to 17 full debt counselling sessions and heard about a range of financial issues from a wide variety of UK citizens.

Each person had a different story – as we said in the introduction last week – and there was a range of solutions to their difficulties.

But what unites each one, and in fact all of the 657-odd people we spoke to through our nine debt advice centres across the UK today, is that “they’re the human face of the economic downturn“.

Spendthrift Britain?

None of the callers we listened to today were overspending (“going wild in the aisles”) or living it up. They weren’t chucking £££s on plasma TVs or putting holidays to the Caribbean on the never-never. They were just trying to get by, in trying circumstances. Some had lost their jobs, others were suffering from health problems, and some were simply overtaken by the situation.

We only listened to 17 callers, or around 2.5% of the total counselling sessions held by us today. So there could still be a reckless and feckless culture that we didn’t get to hear about.

But not one of the counselling sessions highlighted a spendthrift culture, or credit-hungry Britain. Instead there were counselling sessions where we told them to spend more, or were surprised how little they were getting by on, or that they were embarrassed to be admitting to debt problems. Despite what you might read elsewhere, Britain doesn’t seem a feckless and money-frittering society just yet.

StepChange Debt Advisors

It also highlights what a good a job the debt advisors at StepChange Debt Charity do, in trying circumstances. They listen to hundreds of very upset individuals every day, and they deal with the situation calmly and professionally, without prejudice. Our thanks to them for hosting us today.

We’ll leave #debtday with a quote from Lisa, who wrote earlier about her own experiences when dealing with her debt, and how we helped her. We hope we’ve helped 657 others today.

“It did take me several years to repay my debt, but I couldn’t have done it without that first bit of support from StepChange Debt Charity.

“I know that if they’d been judgemental or unkind when I’d rung them then I wouldn’t have had the courage or belief to tackle the debt problem. You make yourself feel bad enough when you are in debt, having someone else heap the shame on top really doesn’t help.

“I offer a huge thank you to StepChange Debt Charity for their kindness and support during that time.”

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