Women are in the grip of a ‘binge debt’ epidemic that is as perilous as binge drinking warn financial experts.
The ease of obtaining credit, the fact that many women are delaying settling down with a partner and the pay gap between the sexes means that they are facing far greater debt problems on average than men.
On average, women over 35 owed £8,219, compared with £3,436 owed by men – a difference of 139 percent. The figure excluded mortgages.
The snapshot is the latest in a series of reports to reveal the debt crisis gripping the nation, with its culture of easy credit and spending instead of saving. Last month a survey showed that the number of IVA’s – which allow debtors to make a deal with their creditors – is up 135 per cent on last year.
The same research predicted that the number of individual insolvencies, which include IVA’s and Bankruptcies, will hit a record 100,000 this year.
The latest figures were taken from a study by ICM of 800 volunteers that examined attitudes towards money and debt. It found that despite their overdrafts and loans, women were largely not worried about how they would repay the debt.
More than half the women questioned for the study, commissioned by independent financial advisers Sesame, said they would be embarrassed if others found out they were in debt. One in three were not worried about repayment.
Alaistar Conway of Sesame said: ‘Never mind binge drinking in Britain, there is a growing epidemic of binge debt Britain that could prove to be just as detrimental to women’s financial health as binge drinking is to their actual health.’
He said women were delaying partnerships until later and therefore battling with debt alone.
Many also earned less that their male peers. ‘They are living in the same cost environment but potentially earning slightly less than their male counterparts,’ he said.
‘Like binge drinking there is a danger we get carried away because credit is relatively easy to obtain.’
The study also revealed how middle-aged men and women are running up debt struggling to support their children through school, university and into their first homes.
By the time both sexes hit the 45 to 54 age group they had a average debt og £16,800, more than three times the £5,199 debt level for 35 to 44 year olds.
Once over 55, the average debt level drops to £2,626 and then down to £456 at 65 and over.