Recent media reports have highlighted the growing problem of personal debt levels in the UK. According to one, the average household debt is £7,754 excluding mortgages and £48,209 including them. The average owed by each adult in the UK is £25,545.
Part of the problem is how easy it has become for people in the UK to borrow heavily with loans and credit cards. Other countries, such as France, have much stricter rules regarding borrowing/lending money and a culture which is naturally suspicious of banks and their advertising.
Thought of most simply, debt seems bizarre - a form of money that makes you poorer. Imagine eating a food that made you hungrier. Yet borrowing is going up and up - the UK's total debt is rising by a million pounds every 4 minutes.
The effects of this can be devastating, including family breakdown, homelessness and suicide. More, such a culture deemphasises the virtues of thrift and self-control and makes it easier for society to ignore the plight of the most economically vulnerable for whom debt is often the only way they can make ends meet.
I think of debt as 'negative money' - a person with a debt of £10,000 has minus 10,000 pounds. Such a person would probably have to work for a couple of years just to pay off the debt and get back to '0'. Imagine that, working and earning for years just to reach the point where you have a fortune of zero!
The answer is to avoid debt as far as possible. Use a debit card instead of credit and save for things rather than take out loans. Overpay on your mortgage to save thousands in interest long-term. Spend within your means and discover the creativity in thrift. After all, any one can simply spend money but it takes skill and thought to save and use it wisely and carefully.