StepChange Q&A - Debt Awareness Week❔✅

Hey everyone :wave:

As you may know, we work closely with the debt charity StepChange. And as this week is Debt Awareness Week, StepChange have kindly volunteered to be on hand to answer any questions you have about debt.

This year’s Debt Awareness Week is all about destigmatising debt – helping people feel comfortable asking for the help they need, and starting those difficult, and often daunting conversations

They’ll be on hand until 12pm this Friday – so get posting your questions in this thread.

Please remember to only share information you’re comfortable with, and contact StepChange directly if you’d like to discuss your particular situation in more detail.

StepChange won’t be providing debt advice as part of this Q&A.

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Hi everybody, Rachel from StepChange here :wave:

Do you find it difficult to talk about your debt problems?

StepChange provides free and confidential advice to over 635,000 people every year, both over the phone and online. Due to the pandemic, that number has increased exponentially. However, the great news is that more and more people are getting the help they desperately need.

StepChange are the largest debt charity in the UK, and over the last 28 years they’ve helped well over 5 million people with debt. Their advice and solutions are based on a comprehensive assessment of your situation. They also provide practical help and support for however long it’s needed.

Get your debt questions answered here!

From 12pm on 23 March to 12pm on 26 March, trained advisors from StepChange Debt Charity are here and waiting to answer your debt questions. They’re a friendly bunch so please don’t be shy!

They’re also taking part in a Q&A on our Instagram on Friday 26 March, so make sure to post your questions there too! :slight_smile:

Unsure whether or not you need debt advice?

Visit the StepChange website. By answering a few simple questions, you’ll quickly find out if you’d benefit from free and confidential debt advice.

https://start.stepchange.org/

You can also find out what our clients say about them, or read their reviews on Trustpilot and Feefo

We won’t provide debt advice in this Q&A

FCA regulations mean StepChange isn’t able to give debt advice or recommend any debt solutions through this Q&A. If we feel you’d help from getting a full debt advice session, we’ll mention that in our reply.

The answer we give to an individual poster is based only on the information they provide. Answers are also particular to the person who asked for it and are likely to be specific to their situation. A poster may have provided further relevant information by private message which won’t appear on this thread.

If you need free and confidential debt advice that’s specific to your situation, please use StepChange’s online debt advice service or contact them by telephone. More details on the Contact Us page.

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Not a question but just to say StepChange are awesome. Helped me about 7 years ago and been debt free about 4 years now after a DMP. Anyone out there suffering in silence please please phone them. Empathy and expertise in bucket loads.

And please don’t pay a non-charity 3rd party to set up any kind of debt plan. Go to StepChange as a 1st point of contact.

Thank you, StepChange.

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What are your thoughts on credit/debt education?

It’s been a fair while since I was at school, but surely learning about how a PS5 bought on a 26% APR credit card and paying back the minimum payment for years, how much that costs you over and above?

Maybe that sort of thing is already in the curriculum and I’ve missed it.

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I’d be curious to know if there are many/any organisations that refuse to work through StepChange/debt management organisations?

I assume most major ones will happily work to reduce their customer’s debt, but so far as I know it’s ultimately up to the company whether they accept the offer?

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Hi @Retout , thanks for posting. We’re so glad we could help you with your debts, and thank you for recommending us :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Hi @Revels, thanks for posting.

We agree that financial education is very important. One of the problems that we see at the moment is that the approach to financial education is a bit inconsistent. Previous research from the Money Advice and Pensions Service found that only four in 10 children aged 7–17 say they have learned about money management in school.

We know that problem debt costs the UK £8.3bn a year, and that a lack of financial resilience is putting millions of people at risk of falling into serious financial difficulty and long-term hardship.

The other issue that people face is that due to their circumstances, they may find that high cost credit are the only options available to them. These products often have high interest, which tends to exacerbate the problem.

There are many factors as to why people get into debt, but financial resilience through education, efforts to enhance quality of life through policy, and financial safety nets could mean that many people are better off overall. :purple_heart::orange_heart:

Best wishes
Rachel at StepChange

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Hi @coffeemadman, thanks for posting.

When a person works through a budget with us and decides on a debt solution, the majority of creditors will usually agree and work with the person moving forward. The advice we give is based on the person’s realistic circumstances, and the creditors we deal with are aware of this.

Should a creditor refuse what a person is offering to pay each month, they have the right to say they’re not happy with the amount, but the payment will still process and it’ll still be reflected on the person’s credit file.

Best wishes
Rachel at StepChange :purple_heart::orange_heart:

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Thanks for facilitating this @AlanDoe

I’ve written on here about my past money problems in brief, but one of the big things that affected me was the impact it had on my (already poor) mental health. This continued even once I’d got repayment plans in place because it stressed me out even thinking about how much I owed and how long it would take to repay it.

So my question is - what’s the best way to support your mental health when you’re in debt?

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Hey @Dan5, thanks so much for posting.

I’m sorry to hear that the debt problems you were dealing with had an impact on your mental health. You’re by no means alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 people’s mental health is affected as a result of having debts, and often the two problems go hand-in-hand.

Firstly, the fact that you’re acknowledging how debt has affected your wellbeing is a great first step. It means that you’re actively looking out for yourself and noticing the signs that you might need support.

We always recommend speaking to your GP, if you ever feel that debt worries are taking their toll on you. If your GP is aware of what you’re dealing with, they can support you and potentially put you in touch with organisations that can offer specialised mental wellbeing support.

There’s also the NHS One You service that has some great resources to help you look after your mental and physical health.

If possible, we also encourage telling someone you trust about your debt worries, such as a family member or friend. Opening up about your problems can alleviate stress and make you feel less alone.
Our guide to talking to loved ones about debt can help.

For more tips and information, please read our mental health and debt stress guide. :purple_heart::orange_heart:

Best wishes

Rachel at StepChange

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@StepChange debt is a massive problem in the UK and in the rest of the world.
What do you think can be done to improve financial education, and help people understand the mechanics of interest rates?