What’s your top financial stress?

Posted 20 May 2014

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<p>The UK’s top financial stress has been revealed. But how can you stop a difficulty with your personal finances turning into a stressful situation?</p>

Having difficulties with our finances can be just as worrying as a problem in our emotional lives, or our health. And new research has revealed that more than half of UK adults have experienced a financial situation with the potential to cause them stress at some point.

Unwanted visitors

The financial problem most respondents to a recent survey* conducted for us revealed they have experienced was to be landed with a bank charge; which nearly a third of UK adults said they have incurred. However, this was not something that the people who have been through it regarded as particularly stressful.

In contrast, a bailiff, debt collector or county court sheriff visiting you at home was seen as very stressful by those who have had such a visit. More than 80% of people who have experienced this rated it as stressful, and half of these said it was “extremely stressful”.

Technical priorities

One of the most interesting findings unveiled by the survey was that being cut off from internet or mobile access was rated as more stressful than receiving a County Court Judgement (CCJ). Certainly, not being able to get online or use our phone can be difficult, but a CCJ can have very serious consequences. It remains on your credit file for six years and can make it difficult to borrow during this time.

Surprisingly, missing a bill payment was rated as slightly more stressful than getting a final demand for payment, or red letter, by those who’ve been through these experiences. Getting help to resolve the situation when you first miss a bill … if you have missed it because you simply can’t afford to pay it … could help people avoid a spiralling problem that leads to red letters, visits from the bailiffs and CCJs.

You can see the full list of financial stresses here:

Stress trigger

% of people who rate it as stressful

Visited by a bailiff, debt collector or county court sheriff


Being cut off from gas / electricity


Being cut off from mobile / internet


Getting a CCJ


Having your card rejected in store


Cash machine refusing to let you withdraw money


Missing a bill payment (e.g. a direct debit “bouncing”)


Getting a ‘red letter’ or final demand for an unpaid bill


Being rejected for credit


Incurring a bank charge


Going overdrawn


Feeling the stress

If you’ve been through a worrying time with your personal finances, you’ll know that it can be just as stressful as if you’re going through a break-up or are worried about your health. However, the worst thing you can do … in any of these situations … is ignore it and hope the problem will go away by itself.

What might start off as a simple missed payment, or having your card declined in store, could lead to a much more worrying situation. For instance, if you have debts you’re struggling to pay off because you simply can’t afford the repayments, but you don’t do anything about them, you risk your lenders starting to contact you more. They may even pursue a CCJ against you, or send a debt collector to your home.

To avoid a problem with a debt turning into a problem debt, get expert advice and support as soon as you can to help you decide what to do next.

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 2nd May and 12th May 2014, of whom 500 were Scottish residents.

by Christine Walsh

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