Piggy banks

Should schools be offering student more advice on debt?

In the UK we are seeing record levels of personal debt as more people get engulfed with credit cards, overdrafts and loans they cannot pay. An online voucher code website decided to find out where they believe advice on debt management needs to start in an effort to understand where we can start reducing the debt problem.

The amount owed by UK households has topped £173bn, with this in mind the team at looked into where people believe debt management advice needs to be taught early in life, in schools. They surveyed 2,864 UK adults aged over 18 as part of their study asking: “Do you believe young adults receive adequate education on debt management in schools?”

The results were overwhelming in favour for schools offering more:

  • No, I think schools should offer more – 65%
  • Yes schools cover it adequately – 10%
  • It’s the responsibility of parents – 16%
  • It’s the responsibility of lenders – 9%

My Voucher Codes also asked students what they thought about having debt management and warnings about getting into debt when they are at school. They surveyed 586 students aged 18-21 in the UK asking: “Do you feel you received enough advice at school about debt management?”

Again the results were in favour of education in this area being offered:

  • No I feel we should have more – 50%
  • Yes it was covered thoroughly in school – 15%
  • We did not receive any advice – 35%

My Voucher Codes also spoke to students asking them how they felt about not getting any information on things like bank accounts, credit cards and loans that many felt they were unprepared to deal with lenders, especially when they turn 18 and will be inundated with offers of for these types of credit.

Bel Smith from Gainsborough said that she found herself with caught up with debt, after a breakdown of a relationship with two young children to support. She said:

“My main debt came about 5 years ago when I became a single parent to two girls. I hadn’t been working as I was a stay at home mum and so life became more difficult. I still wanted to provide nice things for them and didn’t want them to feel the separation too much. I gained debt on my credit cards but largely it was on catalogue accounts. After a couple of years it hit a crisis point whereby I’d had a lot of “buy now and pay nothing till….” and all the interest hit. My mum had to bail me out and if it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure what situation I would be in now.”

Speaking about debt management advice and education in schools, she added:

“I definitely think it’s something we should be educated on more. Credit cards and catalogues are far too easy to spend on and you don’t realise what a mess you can get yourself into. I think you learn a lot of pointless stuff in school that you might never use but life skills would be a far better thing to learn.”

Break down of relationships aren’t the only cause, Lauren who now helps others manage their money found her self-caught up in a cycle of debt when she started at university. She said:

“I know from my student days the temptation of large overdrafts and credit cards are hard to refuse and that’s probably where the credit card debt I have begun. As soon as I turned 18, companies were offering me ‘debt cards’ and as an ‘adult’ I could ignore the advice of my parents and rack up a sizeable amount of debt. Most of us only learn the meaning of ‘APR’ when it’s too late.

“Both adults and children need to be better equipped to manage personal finances and make sensible decisions over credit applications. Making minimum payments on high interest cards can have a damaging effect on our financial future, preventing people from buying property and living a comfortable life.”

Speaking about the results from the study and feedback Mark Pearson founder of MyVoucherCodes said:

“We can see that people in the UK have worryingly high levels of personal debt, not just from mortgages but from credit cards, store cards and loans. As we see an increase in pay day lenders we also see a cycle of perpetual debt for those who can’t find a way out. For some people circumstance can see them relying on lenders, however lack of education does not help the situation.

“Our research shows, many people believe that education on debt management needs to be covered in schools, not just adults in the UK, but students themselves are also calling for this. And our feedback shows, currently there is not enough education and advice available in schools at the moment. I believe this is something that needs to be tackled now, be for it gets worse.”

Photograph by R Nial Bradshaw

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