Why living on the never-never is a way of life for so many women

Picture: PAPicture: PA
Picture: PA
NEARLY 70 per cent of women rely on credit either to fund a lifestyle or to pay essential bills, a study by the Debt Advisory Centre has found.

Some of the headlines from the Women and Debt report make for uncomfortable reading in homes across the county...

• Women in Yorkshire typically have £4,020 of unsecured credit

• Over 40% struggle to keep-up with debt repayments

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• A quarter of women across the UK borrow to pay for everyday living costs

• 1 in 10 women who use credit owe more than £10,000

• 53% of single mums struggle with debt, compared with 29% of married mums

Credit cards are by far the most popular way for women to borrow money, with 53% of women saying they have at least one credit card.

The biggest reason women use credit cards is to pay for housing, utility bills or food shopping, with a quarter of those asked relying on credit cards to cover living costs. Around 10% of women take cash advances on their credit cards when their regular income runs low.

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For a growing number of these women, making debt repayments has become unmanageable. Typically having lower pay than men, being more likely to take time away from work to care for families, and unexpected life events such as relationship breakdowns or redundancy, is impacting women’s ability to successfully manage money.

The biggest areas of arrears are rent/mortgage, credit cards, council tax and utility bills. And around half of women with debt cut back on essentials such as food, clothing, heating, and travel costs, so they have money to make repayments.

The stress caused by spiralling debt is affecting women’s lives. Around 30% said that money causes them the greatest anxiety – more than their health, family, appearance, work or relationship.

Even more concerning is that two-thirds of women with problem debt said their physical and mental health has suffered.

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While women are making more financial decisions, few have ever been given formal lessons in managing money, explaining why many women blame poor budgeting for their debt problems.

Just a fifth of women have been given lessons in money as part of their education. The majority say their knowledge of budgeting and looking after money is passed down from their parents.

Just as children are taught about healthy eating and how to be good citizens in school, there is a need to make financial education an important part of the curriculum in primary schools so children are equipped with the skills they need for their future lives.

For those women who are already in a cycle of debt, there is plenty of help out there to help them to break-free.

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Anyone who feels that they are being overwhelmed by their debt should seek advice as soon as possible, from the Money Advice Service or a specialist debt advice provider, such as Debt Advisory Centre.

Debt Advisory Centre: 0161 871 4881

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