If you’re one of the many women who see shopping as a form of recreation, you could be heading for a tough financial future.
A recent survey by Cosmopolitan found that 64 per cent of readers were in debt, with more than half owing upwards of £5,000 on credit cards or store cards. This new generation of debt divas thinks nothing of splurging on designer labels even when they know they’re spending more than they earn. As a result, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service says that the proportion of young women asking for help with debt has doubled in the past ten years.
Take our quick quiz to find out whether you’re a debt diva or a frugalista:
1. What’s your attitude to spending?
a) I only buy the things I really need
b) I like to go into town every Saturday – even if it’s just to window shop
c) Shopping is my major pleasure in life
2. Do you have any debt other than your mortgage?
a) No, I pay off my credit card bill in full every month and I’m not overdrawn
b) I do have a small overdraft but I’m not sure exactly how much
c) I’m too scared to open my bank and credit card statements
3. Do you have a healthy credit history?
a) Yes, I’ve never missed a payment in my life
b) I did get into debt after a relationship break-up but I’m back on an even keel now
c) What’s a credit history?
4. Do you know where to go to get help or advice when you need it?
a) I use the Internet regularly to find the best deals and free advice
b) I’ve heard of Citizen’s Advice but I wouldn’t know how to contact them
c) I get all the advice I need from the What’s new? pages of women’s magazines
5. Do other people help you out financially?
a) I’ve never relied on a partner’s money
b) I sometimes borrow money from my boyfriend or parents but I always pay it back
c) What’s the point in having a man if they don’t pay for everything?
6. Are you thinking about your financial future?
a) Yes, I put some money aside each month
b) I’m managing on what I earn but I can’t afford to save
c) I’m just waiting to find a rich husband
You’re a frugalista. You don’t spend money for the sake of it and you understand the importance of staying out of debt. One idea that will make your life easier and help you to stay in control of your finances is to check your credit report regularly. It lists your credit accounts, such as loans, cards and mortgages, along with your repayment history and other information that lenders see when you apply to them. You can see your Experian credit report for free with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert.
- Look out for clerical errors or misunderstandings that could affect your credit rating and ask lenders to correct them
- Register to vote at your current address – lenders use the electoral roll to verify residence
- Close any unused accounts – the less you already have permission to borrow, the more likely you are to get good deals on credit
You’re not a total debt diva but you could do better. If you thought more like a frugalista, brushed up your credit history and tried to save money regularly you would be on the right track. Start by checking your credit report, which will give you a snapshot of your credit accounts and repayment record, from credit cards to your mobile phone contract. It could be the wake-up call you need to get your finances in order – and it’s free to see your Experian credit report with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert.
- Tot up all your outstanding credit – the total may come as a surprise
- Draw up a hit list of accounts that are costing you most in interest and repayments – consider consolidating these into a cheaper loan or extending your overdraft
- Check your credit report to ensure it is up to date before making any new applications – a single mistake could mean you don’t get the best deals
You’re a complete debt diva – and if you don’t pull your head out of the sand and take a serious look at your finances, you could end up in financial trouble. When you know what you owe, you can plan how you get out of debt, so be brave – open your statements, add up your outstanding bills and take a look at your credit report to see how much you’ve borrowed in loans, on cards and other credit accounts (store cards count too). It doesn’t cost a penny to see your Experian credit report with a 30-day free trial of CreditExpert.
- Don’t skip repayments – the evidence stays on your credit report for at least three years and will make it more difficult for you to borrow in future
- Talk to your lenders if you’re concerned about not being able to keep up – you may be able to work out a more affordable schedule of repayments
- If you’re really worried, get free, professional advice. Try Citizen’s Advice at www.adviceguide.org.uk, National Debtline at www.nationaldebtline.co.uk and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service at www.cccs.co.uk.