Debt – how it all adds up

Couldn’t resist those shoes in the sale? Did you put that meal out with mates on the plastic? The lure of easy credit has caused millions of us to rack up large debts. And with more credit cards in circulation in the UK than there are people, it’s no surprise that personal debt levels are so high – cumulatively we owe around £1.2 trillion to lenders. That’s 1,200,000,000,000.

So what are the realities of being in debt? For Paul Potts, it was slaving away through all hours as a mobile phone salesman to try and pay off £30,000 – until he hit stardom as an opera singer on Britain’s Got Talent, of course.

And boxing’s bad boy Mike Tyson has had to sell off his enormous properties and exotic car collection in favour of a modest rented apartment in order to pay off £70m worth of debts.

For most of us these are stories that bear little resemblance to life struggling with debt. We’re more likely to be worrying about the next red letter from the water board or shying away from taking a second ‘reminder’ phone call from the credit card company.

The realities of debt are demanding and difficult to deal with. Here are some facts and figures that bring them home to reality:

Missing bills

If you missed a bill recently, you’re not alone:

  • 13.4 million bills went unpaid in the UK in the last six months alone – that’s over 3,000 an hour
  • 4.1 million credit card holders couldn’t pay a bill in the last six months
  • 1.8 million council tax bills went unpaid in the last half year
  • 1 in every 100 mortgage repayments weren’t paid in the past six month
  • Men are more likely to miss a credit card payment than women
  • but women are worse with council tax and phone bills
  • One in six women has missed an important bill in the past six months
  • 25 to 34 year olds are worst at paying credit card bills – 13 per cent of people in that age group missed a bill in the past six months
  • unsurprisingly, young adults are worst at paying their mobile phone bills – one in 20 has missed a bill this year
  • If you live in Scotland, you’re least likely to default on your mortgage repayments
  • People in the North of England are most likely to miss an energy bill
  • People living in the Midlands are most likely to miss a credit card bill – over one in ten has done so this year

If you’re looking to break the cycle of debt and sort out your finances, click through to for some handy tips and a look at some products that could help

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