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Valentine’s Day is approaching and although celebrations will be a little different this year, it’s an opportunity to reflect and be with the one you love. For some, there is a third wheel getting in the way of a healthy relationship – debt.
We recently surveyed over 2,500 people to see how they had been coping during the latest Coronavirus lockdown and some of the results showed the impact on relationships and mental wellbeing.
Our expert debt adviser, Jane Clack reacted to the findings with her top tips and advice.
35% of people took 3 or more years to speak up and ask for debt help. In addition to this, 40% said money problems were impacting on their relationship.
“It’s worrying that so many people are waiting such a long time to deal with their debts. The earlier a debt problem is dealt with, the better chance of a better financial position and a brighter future.
“I’ve seen from my experience in helping people with their debts that when money problems come into a relationship, it can cause tension and put the partnership at risk – it’s like a third wheel!
“Being open with your partner is healthy and having that extra support will help when it comes to evaluating your situation and dealing with your money worries.”
45% cited a reduction in income as the main contributor towards their debt problem and 62% cut said they cut back on spending.
“Taking a hit on your income is never easy and it’s particularly difficult for self-employed workers right now who aren’t getting the same level of benefit as those on the furlough scheme. Millions are currently unemployed in the UK and according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) this figure could hit 2.6m by mid-2021, so taking action now is extremely important.
“Cutting back on spending can be sensible, but make sure you pay your priority bills on time. These include your rent/mortgage and utility bills – the things you need to keep a warm roof over your head.
“If your outgoings remain the same, you may find that you don’t have enough leftover at the end of the month, so my advice is to make a budget and work out what you can cut back on. PayPlan has a handy Redundancy Guide that has loads of information on how to deal with a change in your financial situation.
“I would look at comparing and switching your energy bills and cancelling subscriptions that aren’t being put to good use. I cannot stress this next point enough – use a free benefits checker to make sure you are getting all of your entitled benefits. So many people are missing out on essential income by not checking.”
58% borrowed more money to cope with a financial hit.
“My advice is to seek debt help before borrowing money as this may worsen your problem. If you must borrow, read the terms and conditions carefully and make sure you can afford the repayments. Whatever you do, don’t borrow from an illegal loan shark.
“Remember, getting free debt advice doesn’t bind you to anything and it can put you in a position to make an informed decision about your next steps. Just talking your problems through can make a world of difference.”
Over 80% said their mental health was affected by debt but 80% said their mental health was in a better place after seeking debt advice.
“I think this shows the sooner you get advice, the better. Please don’t wait to act. Remember, there are organisations such as Samaritans and MIND who are experts in helping with any mental health worries you may have, so do call them in confidence.
“I’ve spoken to people who can’t sleep and are consumed by debt in their day to day lives. Money worries will play on your mind but if you deal with it now, you will notice a weight lifted from your shoulders.”