In the popular music business, while image may not be everything, is does count for a lot, and certainly having television news cameras catch you having your car repossessed, is not the best way to endear you to fans old and new. That, however, is the situation facing US rap star Lil’Kim who recently had the ignominy of being addressed by bailiffs who claimed that she hadn’t managed to keep up payments on her treasured motor.
Not only has the 32-year old now lost her silver Bentley but the image of her trying to argue her case has been beamed around the world after the incident was caught on film by New York TV station WPIX-TV, who were filming a news piece on repossession at the time.
While she admits that she perhaps had missed a repayment or two, the star – whose real name is Kimberly Jones – has argued that the situation is simply a "misunderstanding" as the Bentley had been given to her as a gift by a friend four years ago.
A spokesperson for the singer stated: "This matter is currently being resolved and is completely out of Kim’s hands."
Less eloquently, when questioned by the television channel, the musician herself, simply commented: "Oh please, get the f**k out of here. You are so f***ing ridiculous."
With celebs going bust, what hope for the rest of us?
What is indeed "ridiculous" is that even multi-millionaire celebrities are capable of getting themselves in serious financial bother. At least Lil’ Kim was spared the bother of being declared bankrupt, as was the case of Liverpool’s Norwegian football star John Arne Riise, who earns an estimated £30,000 a week – though this too was a simple "misunderstanding".
It’s no surprise, therefore, that many people young people are also getting seriously into the red attempting to keep up with the rap and football stars of this world, with borrowing money for a top car one of the most common follies.
According to a recent study, the nation’s youth are currently being afflicted by ‘Bling-itis’. That is, 56 per cent of Brits aged between 16 and 34 years old feel that they will be judged on their appearance and their possessions.
In addition, 22 per cent would prefer to spend their money on ‘personal treats’, such as clothes, gadgets and even cars, as opposed to putting at least a portion of it to one side and, perhaps not surprisingly, this attitude of ‘spend now, worry about it later’ means around one in five of this age group admit that they have built up too much debt and are now finding it hard to keep up monthly repayments.
Commenting on the figures, which were complied by mobile banking firm Monilink, personal finance expert and commentator Cliff D’Arcy said: "The survey found that more than a quarter of 16 to 34 year olds are competing with their friends in the purchase of things like gadgets, clothes and cosmetics – things that make them look good and feel good, but the problem is, is that that leads to debt.
"Two-thirds of these young people have admitted that they are still trying to clear credit card debts that they built up two years ago. This ‘Bling-itis’ is edging them towards bankruptcy."
But, approached correctly, car loans can have real benefits
Of course, added to the fact that a set of wheels can vastly improve one’s social life, for many people having a car is integral to either their job or their future employment prospects.
And it can’t be denied that getting a car on credit, preferably through a special low APR personal loan, can have significant advantage, not least as it can serve as a type of bridging loan, giving youngsters the chance to drive away and start earning some money in a new job which requires them to drive.
However, loans specifically geared towards purchasing a car can have their drawbacks and the savvy consumer needs to do some thorough research before signing on any dotted line.
There is no point borrowing an unrealistically high amount just for a car as, not only will the APR usually be high, but significantly, just as the loan repayments start to rise, the value of the vehicle will steadily depreciate, meaning borrowers could be seriously out of pocket when their loan agreement comes to a conclusion.
Those with an excellent credit history or who are safe in the knowledge that they will be able to comfortably pay back a loan which will ultimately be a shrewd investment, should therefore consider such products to be attractive quick-fix solutions.
Anyone in any doubt, however, should perhaps be best to err on the side of caution in order to guard against a costly – and embarrassing – repossession.