The average consumer doesn’t begin to worry about their debt until it hits £6,012, a new study has found. The research also revealed many only consider themselves to be ‘in debt’ once they are £3,882 in the red. But they only begin to see the deficit as a ‘serious concern’ when they owe more than £6,000.
The study of 2,000 adults, commissioned by Salary Finance, also revealed more than one in six would need to owe more than £10,000 before they started to seriously worry.
Almost four in 10 are already concerned about the amount of debt they are in. And almost half of believe having some level of debt has become ‘so normal’ they no longer see it as a bad thing.
In fact, three in 10 believe having a credit card, loan or using an overdraft is just a necessary part of everyday life.
Asesh Sarkar, CEO of Salary Finance, said “In today’s world it is normal for people to have some kind of debt. However, these stats are telling, in that people are not tackling their debt until it reaches thousands of pounds, and by this stage, it is causing them to worry and may be difficult to control.”
“When you’re already seriously in the red, a one-off unexpected expense can cause major issues, leading to missed payments, bad credit and a situation where people are forced to turn to high-interest borrowing to stay afloat.”
“When people fail to tackle their debt until it is of significant worry to them, they find it much more difficult to get out of a spiral of debt.”
The study also found the average adult has a total debt, excluding student loans and mortgages, of £6,936. That includes two credit cards with a total balance of £1,871.
On top of this, one in five tends to dip into their overdraft during a typical month, with the average adult currently owing £304 to their bank.
Researchers also revealed people’s feelings towards different types of debt, and what constitutes as good versus bad debt. Three quarters believe a mortgage is an example of good debt, and a further 47 feel the same about student loans.
But while 61 per cent think dipping into the overdraft constitutes bad borrowing, 18 per cent think it’s ‘good debt’.
And credit card debt also split the nation’s opinions, with just six in 10 believing it to be debt you don’t want.
However, 46 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, admitted they find it ‘unusual’ when someone doesn’t have a credit card.
A third of consumers have borrowed money to buy a car, one in 10 have taken a loan to go on holiday, and 15 per cent have borrowed cash to pay off other debts.
Sarkar added: “The survey shows that people should be careful they don’t take a wider acceptance of debt as a reason to get out of control with their finances.
“Not only does this lead to a spiral of debt and exclusion from many normal borrowing routes, but it also impacts on wellbeing, with people more likely to suffer from stress and even depression.”
“We know money worries affect 40 per cent of UK employees. Getting into uncontrollable debt can be due to a lack of financial awareness, something we support with when offering our solutions to businesses and their employees.”
“It’s vital that financial solutions are partnered with financial education to support better behavior in the future.”