Several million people – up to 10% of the population – are reluctant to admit that they are having debt problems, according to the Money Advice Service.
As a result it is calling on friends and family members to do more to spot the tell-tale signs of money issues.
These include secretive behaviour, or a tendency always to be buying the latest “must-have” item.
There can also be physical and emotional symptoms that they are in trouble, the Money Advice Service said.
Signs to watch out for include:
- People have been in debt in the past
- They have recently had a life event, such as a new baby, being made redundant, or a divorce
- They are living beyond their means, and always buy new gadgets or clothes
- They are spending less time socialising with their friends
- They are starting to hide issues, and avoid talking about finances
- They have reduced – or increased – they amount they are spending
- They seem tired, or are having trouble sleeping
- They have put on weight, or lost it
The Money Advice Service (MAS) – which is backed by the government- says that getting debt advice can make a big difference to people’s lives.
One study suggested that within 3 months of receiving advice, 65% of participants were either repaying their debts, or had cleared them in full.
“Free debt advice is available now and will help support you in getting your finances back on track before your money worries become a bigger issue,” said Sheila Wheeler, director of debt advice at the MAS.
Those with access to the internet can use this debt test to help them work out how to resolve their problems.
And they can find out where free advice is available here.
While personal debt has been falling over the last few years, borrowing has been increasing.
Incomes are also being squeezed. Since April inflation has been higher than the growth in wages.
In May the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) showed annual growth of 2.9%, while wages are currently increasing by 2.1% a year.