Debt gets you down, there’s no argument about that. But finding the will and the purpose to break free from its shackles is not always easy.
Sometimes it’s easier to just muddle on with the problem without ever actually fixing it once and for all. But just ask anyone who’s been burdened with problem debt for years and you’ll realise this isn’t the answer.
When in the middle of it, you just need to someone to point out exactly why you are trying to get out of debt. Here’s five reasons we think make it vital you strive to get out of debt as soon as you can.
Your own physical and emotional health is paramount and there is no doubt that debt can affect both. According to StepChange, somewhere between 50 and 90 per cent of people in debt feel anxious or depressed. Almost nine in ten people (86 per cent) who suffer debt stress also experience moderate or severe mental health issues. Stress can manifest itself physically, too.
The effect of debt on your family life and personal relations can be devastating. Again, figures from the StepChange show over a third (37 per cent) of people with debt problems said these had impacted their relationship with their partner. A fifth (22 per cent) said their debts had affected the parent-child relationship. There is no doubt that debts can cause a lot of anxiety that creep into daily exchanges between partners or family members, meaning your financial problems almost inevitably impact on your quality of life.
Some of the reasons for getting out of debt are push factors – the negative implications of being debt and you don’t want to be in that position. But to help you get motivated it’s also worth thinking about the positives – how will my life be better?
For starters, you will have a lot more disposable income. Think about all those debt repayments each month – consider how you would spend the money if you didn't have the debt to pay off. That can be a useful motivational tool. For example, once you have a debt repayment plan in place you could plan a holiday to keep you motivated throughout. Once the debt is paid off you will be a position to reward yourself.
Lots of people in debt are parents with young families. Rather than looking to buy a larger home or move somewhere that’s pleasant for kids, parents with problem debt can feel stuck. Cramped conditions only make the chances of conflict and stress more likely. Being able to afford a large house for a growing family is a huge motivation for many. Others simply want the freedom to move out of rented accommodation and afford their own home.
Many people are in debt because they’ve lost their job. With that can come a loss in confidence and well being. Debt compounds the problem and can make getting another job even harder. Three-quarters (78 per cent) of people in debt surveyed by StepChange say it’s damaged their self-confidence. Low self-esteem makes it even harder to get on top of the debts but the rewards for taking the problem in hand and dealing with it are huge.
Professor David Richards, from mental health services research at the University of Exeter, says a loss of confidence is normal with debt, but there is huge plus from turning things around. “Facing your fears means not avoiding things you find difficult,” he tells the NHS Choices website. “For example, if it looks like you're going into debt, get advice on how to prioritise your debts. When people feel anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others.” By starting to clear your debts you are taking back control of your life, which for most acts as a massive self-confidence boost.