“The only sure things are death and taxes” – or words to that effect – might be quite accurate, but for most adults in the civilized world another sure thing could be added, and that is debt. Most of us owe a little or a lot of money at some point in our lives, and that’s perfectly acceptable up to a point.
According to the UK money education organisation themoneycharity.org, the average household in the UK owes an average of £54,178, and the interest paid on personal debts just in the month of September this year amounted to about £163 million. The charity’s latest report also stated that collectively the citizens’ advice bureaus in England and Wales responded to more than 7,400 new debt problems on every single working day in the year to June 2013.
Indeed, debt is one of the more unpleasant facts of life, but it need not and should not become the most important fact. There are solutions, though none of them can be considered a ‘quick fix’; any real solution requires determination and a certain amount of will power. Credit cards are the ‘usual suspects’ in the UK, with the average card-carrying adult owing about £3,200 as of last reports.
The money-managing experts say that most people don’t acknowledge the problem until lenders start calling in their loans, and by then it’s a much larger problem. Start now, they say, and make a list of everything you owe, to whom, and how much is expected to be repaid on a monthly basis. At the same time keep a careful accounting of every penny spent and where it went; you’ll need to do this for at least a month to get realistic figures.
Once you have a good handle on exactly what’s coming in and what’s going out, identify the areas where you can cut down on expenses. If you’re eating take-out for lunch every day, try bringing it with you from home. Consider the fact that going out to dinner costs an average of £25; even if it’s only once a week, that adds up to £1,300 per year. You can pay off a lot of interest-bearing bills with that dinner-out money, not to mention the possibility of discovering the joy of cooking.