Helen Undy, chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, has spoken out about the taboo surrounding being in debt.
“Too often people feel that it’s a personal failing if they’re
struggling with money, and feel too ashamed to open up to family or friends to
get help. The result is that people often carry this burden alone, which can
cause their financial problems to escalate, and can also leave them feeling
overwhelmed or unable to see a way out.”
“Sometimes, this combination of factors can even contribute to people
becoming suicidal. Being in debt in a capitalist society feels like
failure. A lot of the shame comes from
social factors. There’s a lingering idea that if you’re not well off or owe a
lot of money, you’re to blame.”
“It’s far easier to criticise the individual than to consider completely restructuring society, after all. And it’s soothing to tell ourselves that we’ll never end up poor because we’ll make the correct decisions. As a result, those who struggle with money are at the bottom of the social ladder. Others may not want to help in fear that they’ll somehow ‘catch’ the shame that comes from being rejected by society.”
8.3 million people in the UK are unable to pay off debt or household bills.
Even with so many households struggling to stay afloat, there still
seems to be a reluctance to admit to falling into debt.
Many people hide it from their friends and from their family. Unable to admit to being unable to cope. And yet, for most, it is not about an extravagant lifestyle, it is about just trying to manage when their household income is not enough to cover the day to day essentials. More and more working households are dealing with the guilt and shame of not being able to manage.
Mental health issues attributed to debt problems and ‘financial fear’ have risen.
This is often a vicious circle.
Depression and stress make us less able to cope and to make decisions.
Some people struggling with debt see it as a sign that they have failed
in some way.
Experts believe this is not the case but more about today’s society. In
an ever changing fast paced world it is sometimes hard just to keep up. Coupled
with the effects of a long period of austerity, stagnant wages and rising
prices, it is easy to see how so many end up struggling.
Despite causes of debt often being out of our control, owing money can feel like a deeply shameful personal failing. That causes issues to spiral.
Professor Nigel Nicholson explains:
“This is a special kind of shame associated with status and reputation.
Lacking the ties of supportive sharing community that our ancestors enjoyed we
are in an era of fake meritocracy. Where the have-nots come to fear that others
believe them deserving of their diminished status. The old deserving poor
“Of course, not everyone is ashamed of debt. ‘Good’ debt, such as mortgages, is prized, along with debt otherwise wealthy people hold. If someone has outside signs of wealth but happens to owe a lot of money, they can escape the social tarring that comes with poverty. Plus, if you’re the type of person who feels entirely confident in yourself and in your right to be where you are, you can get away with racking up debt without any sense of guilt or failure.”
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“over 12 years of dedicated advice.”
“People struggling with debt should seek help as early as possible.”
This is good advice from a leading charity. Taking the first step is always difficult but it is vital. There is help out there and solutions that can help, but you need to take the first step towards getting good debt advice. We have listened to the stories of 1000s of people and are constantly striving to help them. It is our mission to explore all their options and find a solution to help them become debt free. And what’s more, we have helped 1000s to achieve their goals since 2007, over 12 years of dedicated advice.
Finding a good debt advisor is often a relief. At Ramsey Lomax, we have years of experience in helping people. One thing to remember is that your chat with our advisors is completely confidential, free and without obligation. For many of our clients just getting it off their chests and having a sympathetic ear to talk to can make all the difference. At Ramsey Lomax, we understand ‘financial fear’. We have helped 1000’s of people to find a lasting solution to their debt.
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Taking that first step is not always easy but is a crucial step towards helping you to find financial freedom.