Tag Archives: income shock

A friend in need…what to do if someone you know is in debt

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Don't let your friend suffer in silence any longer.

Don’t let your friend suffer in silence any longer.

You’ve known for a while now that someone you care about is going through a rough patch with money.

Their face is constantly tight with worry and there’s a stack of bills on their side table. You can’t have a five-minute conversation without their phone ringing, and every time it does they let out a world-weary sigh.

There could be a whole host of reasons why they’re struggling, some you may not even be aware of. Maybe they recently had their hours cut at work, or their partner walked out. Perhaps their household expenses have been creeping up in price over time (you no doubt know yourself how expensive things are these days). You want to help but don’t know how.

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“If I didn’t pay then the bailiffs would be sent”: Faye and Nick’s story

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Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t get into debt because they overspend or live beyond their means.

According to our recently released Statistics Yearbook 2014, the biggest cause of problem debt among our clients is unemployment. Just under a quarter of clients tell us it as the main reason for their debt, with a further 12.8% saying they got into debt after experiencing a drop in income.

These income shocks could happen to anyone. In May 2014, it happened to Nick and Faye* from Birmingham.

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3 final reasons why we’re Running Debt Awareness Week

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The final curtain is about to descend on Debt Awareness Week for 2014, and what have we learned?

For one thing, we’ve learned that so many people in debt are ready and willing to get the help they desperately need – all it takes is that nudge in the right direction.

The debt we’ve dealt with so far this week clocks in at over £200m, and it’s all down to people just like you deciding that enough is enough.

Reason #13

“Our lightbulb moment came via a conversation with our bank who told me to take a loan out to pay off my overdraft and credit card. It didn’t sound right so I contacted StepChange Debt Charity. It was at that point I realised what a mess we were in.”

Reason #14

going into court to fight two companies at the same time was a reality check and one of the lowest points of my life.

Reason #15

I always knew I had a debt problem and had tried to sort it out but was really putting a bandaid over a gaping wound.

When I met my fiance` and fell in love, I realised that my debt problem had massive consequences for our future. I began to see I had to pay back a lot of money and should start really trying to do that. I don’t think it had struck me before what debt really meant.

The relief of having someone to talk to and someone to negotiate with my creditors was immense. thank you.

If you relate to any of the stories above, or any of the others we’ll add during this week, use our Debt Danger Signs test to see if you need debt advice.

Client quotes obtained in debt danger signs survey, Dec 2013. Total debt reported obtained from our Helpline and Debt Remedy service, up to Thursday 23 January 2014 at midnight.

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3 more reasons why we’re running Debt Awareness Week

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We’re coming towards the end of Debt Awareness Week, and what a week it’s been. The amount of debt we’ve dealt with this week now weighs in at over £203 million.

The support we’ve received for Debt Awareness Week has been nothing short of amazing. There’s still more work to be done, as these three client stories attest.

Client quotes obtained in debt danger signs survey, Dec 2013.

Reason #10

“I’d move debt around between deals offering interest free periods, but all the time the debt amount was steadily rising.  When the interest free period was running, I wouldn’t reduce the principal, so when the incentive period was over, I’d just have a higher debt to repay.

I wish I’d asked for help sooner. If I did, I wouldn’t of been in as much debt as we ended up in and would have been debt free by now.”

Reason #11

My advice? Deal with the problem objectively and don’t put it off.  The longer you leave it the more debt you will get yourself into.  Realise that there are people that can help and it doesn’t matter how much debt you are in – there are ways round it.

In hindsight, I should have taken care of my household budget more than I did. Entering data on a spreadsheet or finance application is not enough if you don’t take ownership of the information and take steps based on it.

Reason #12

We used a secured personal loan with a company that raised the offered interest rate just before we signed.  we were so desperate that we still signed for the loan anyway.

Consolidating our debts seemed like a sensible way out.  It gives you breathing space to kid yourself that the problem is under control when it isn’t. I wish I had made every effort to budget properly.  I also wish that when we had a better income we had put something away for ‘a rainy day’.”

If you relate to any of the stories above, or any of the others we’ll add during this week, use our Debt Danger Signs test to see if you need debt advice.

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3 more reasons why we’re running Debt Awareness Week

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We’re halfway through Debt Awareness Week, and we’re far from running out of steam. Our work will never stop while there are people in need of free debt advice.

Debt Awareness Week has opened a lot of people’s eyes to just how serious the problem of personal debt is. Since the Week started, we’ve helped people from all over the country deal with over £130m of debt, and the running total shows no sign of slowing down.

We believe that, for many people, realising that debt problems can happen to anyone played a major factor in them finally seeking debt advice.

Reason #7

“I tried to ignore the fact that we were getting into debt. I would have sought advice much sooner but was afraid and I didn’t really know who to approach or contact for advice.

I didn’t want to go to the local C.A.B. in case it was run by someone I knew. Also, I didn’t know if i was going to be treated like a criminal or whether I would end up being ‘publicly shamed’.

In the end I had to go to the bank and say I couldn’t pay the mortgage that month.”

Reason #8

“I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security by taking out consolidated loans, and ran up more debt as a result.  The other really bad thing I did was accept unsolicited increases in my credit card limits.

“I should have contacted the credit card companies and asked them to restore my previous limit or even reduce it.  I didn’t exceed my credit limits, so it would have helped.  I told my bank not to increase my credit limit and I won’t ever allow them to do this even once my debts are cleared.”

Reason #9

“I wish I’d gone to StepChange Debt Charity much sooner. As soon as I did, I felt so much better; the relief at being able to talk the whole sorry mess through with someone who was sympathetic and non-judgmental  was enormous.

I felt I was taking back control of my life and getting back on top of things. I became calm again. StepChange made me put everything back into perspective and realize that, yes, I had a problem, but it was a problem that could be dealt with and overcome.

To know there was someone out there who not only understood my problem and offered a solution but believed in me and believed that I could sort the problem out myself was wonderful and so reassuring. It was a problem that COULD be sorted out, and StepChange guided me through every step of the way.

The relief I felt when they dealt with my creditors on my behalf was ENORMOUS. I was finally able to sleep at night again. Thank you StepChange. I was on the verge of a total breakdown (I did have a mini-one, and had to be off work for five weeks – and I never have time off work AT ALL, normally – and I’ve worked full time for over 30 years).

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I tell everyone struggling with debt to use you!”

If you relate to any of the stories above, or any of the others we’ll add during this week, use our Debt Danger Signs test to see if you need debt advice.

Client quotes obtained in debt danger signs survey, Dec 2013. Total debt reported obtained from our Helpline and Debt Remedy service, up to Tuesday 21 January 2014 at midnight.

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3 more important reasons why we’re running Debt Awareness Week

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There’s one big reason why we’re running Debt Awareness Week: we want everyone to get the free debt help they need, as soon as they need it.

Whether it’s Debt Awareness Week or not, we hear stories like the three you’ll read below every day. These are people just like you, just like your friends, your colleagues, and your loved ones. The one thing that unites them all was the lightbulb moment they experienced that made them finally contact us for help.

Client quotes obtained in debt danger signs survey, Dec 2013.

Reason #4

“Our lightbulb moment was realising that one of the overlooked bills had been taken out of the joint account, leaving no money to cover the food bill or petrol.  We were forced to ask my elderly mother for a few pounds to last us until our next pension payment was deposited into the bank.

I never thought I could sink so low.  I knew that the situation could not continue and I needed help.  I had been hiding the extent of the debt situation from my husband and was too scared to tell him the truth.

When I contacted Stepchange Debt Charity and worked on our budget, my husband accepted the situation and never even had a cross word. He just gave me his support and said he was relieved that I had done something positive about the situation.

I am so relieved that the problem is now out in the open. I have told the rest of the family about the problems, and they have also been supportive and help us out in practical ways.”

Reason #5

“I should have faced up to my debt problem sooner and not ignored it hoping it would go away.  By dealing with it you are saving yourself lots of unnecessary worry.  Hiding it will not make it go away only facing up to things will.

When I faced up to my problem and went onto a debt management plan I felt a lot happier and more in control of dealing with my debt.

After five long years I am only a few months away from repaying my debt. I can’t explain how proud that makes me feel and how much I owe to StepChange Debt Charity for helping and supporting me.”

Reason #6

“I was made redundant and spent almost a year paying everything using redundancy money. I was eventually relying on payday loans for grocery shopping.

I should have tried to get advice then, as we clearly weren’t managing (and would definitely have had more available for the groceries), but I just kept paying everything until we literally ran out of money.”

If you relate to any of the stories above, or any of the others we’ll add during this week, use our Debt Danger Signs test to see if you need debt advice.

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We have many reasons why we’re running Debt Awareness Week. Here are 3 of them.

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We’re running Debt Awareness Week for one reason above all others: to help people get debt help sooner.

We hear stories, like the ones below, every day, whether it’s Debt Awareness Week or not. We need people like these – now on the road to becoming debt free – to start talking about their money worries and contact us earlier for help.

Reason #1

I relied on credit in order to live after my separation, to set up a new home. It had been a violent relationship and I was left with four children and no furniture.

Reason #2

I went without food for myself because there was no money available to buy it. I had constant feelings of shame and guilt. I tried to convince my wife how bad things were and encouraged her to destroy the credit cards and store cards.

I even wondered if I was killed in an accident whether debts would be written off by the lenders, making life better for my wife and kids. I didn’t know whether life would be better for them without me and no debts or with me and a heck of a struggle financially.

Reason #3

I knew I had a debt problem when I had to borrow money off my elderly aunt to pay a gas bill – not once but twice. My stress levels were very high and my blood pressure was off the scale. I knew that as long as I worked and was on a proper budget plan i could eventually pay the money back to all creditors even if it took years.

If you relate to any of the stories above, or any of the others we’ll add during this week, using our Debt Danger Signs test to see if you need debt advice.

Client quotes obtained in debt danger signs survey, Dec 2013.

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