Posted November 6, 2023
This week is Talk Money Week, run by the Money and Pensions Service, which encourages us all to talk more about our finances. Talking about money can be difficult at the best of times and if you are struggling to pay for bills, food and other essentials then this can be even more challenging. As our advisers at National Debtline and Business Debtline hear frequently, this is often a lonely and isolating experience which can severely affect how you feel.
So how can we collectively open up more about money, particularly at a time when household finances have been hit so hard by high costs? What are the barriers to speaking more about money, including speaking to advice organisations? In this post we share some of our findings and insight from advisers on what can help.
Delays in seeking advice
Nearly four in ten (37%) callers to National Debtline wait more than a year before seeking advice about their debts and a quarter (26%) wait two years or more. These figures are similar at Business Debtline with 40% of callers waiting a year or more before contacting us.
There is often a combination of factors as to why people wait to seek help. Feelings of embarrassment and shame are common, alongside worries about being judged or criticised. For some people, they are unaware that help is available or of where to go to for advice. Some of this is driven by societal expectations and fears around being judged about being in debt and a sense of having done something wrong.
Whilst there is a part for all of us to play here in encouraging conversations about money, there is also an important role for free debt advice organisations in raising awareness of our services. We’re working hard to achieve this and, crucially, ensure people understand how we can help, and what to expect when you speak to an adviser, to help make getting in touch less daunting.
Breaking down barriers
The difference that speaking to an adviser can make to people’s emotional and financial wellbeing is clear: Seven in ten callers report a positive impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing after speaking with us.
Our advisers at National Debtline and Business Debtline know just how hard it can be to pick up the phone to call, but also the difference it can make.
For Talk Money week, we asked our advisers to share their experiences of how reaching out for advice can help and the one thing they would say to anyone worried about their finances.
What one thing would you say to someone worried about their finances?
“Dealing with debts alone can be difficult and take a toll. As tough as it may be to do so, reaching out for advice is a crucial first step. Even if you do not have the motivation to do this immediately, it is something you may want to build up to and work toward if possible. You will find a lot of stress and pressure you are carrying alone is somewhat relieved by not only having spoken about your situation, but also to use that conversation as a jumping off point for moving forward with support.” -Jakob, National Debtline
“Pick up the phone or go onto our webchat service to speak to a specialist so they can ease your worries and empower you to deal with your finances.” - Sentho, National Debtline
“Seek help and don’t do it alone, one way or another there is a light at the end of tunnel.” -Trevor, Business Debtline
What three things can you expect from a call with National Debtline or Business Debtline?
- You should expect to be asked questions about your situation, the more you tell us the better and more helpful our advice will be.
- Whilst we won’t be able to take actions for you, you can expect that we will be able to support you to make informed decisions with your debts.
- We will always be empathetic, and non-judgmental.
Ruby, National Debtline
Trevor, Business Debtline
How do people feel after speaking to you?
“Relief that they will sleep that night.” - Marc, Business Debtline
“Relief would be the main one, I’ve been on calls where the stress, anxiety and fear someone had at the start of the call has been dispelled because we had a conversation about what the facts are and what they can do. Clients also feel ready to take action as we’ve come up with some good next steps about how to either make a start on their debts or resolve them completely.” - Ruby, National Debtline
Anyone worried about their finances can speak to a National Debtline adviser on 0808 808 4000 or via www.nationaldebtline.org If you run a small business, you can contact one of our Business Debtline advisers on 0800 197 6026 or via www.businessdebtline.org
Joshua Parkes is Acting Director of Operations at the Money Advice Trust, and oversees the day-to-day running of our National Debtline and Business Debtline service. View all posts from Joshua Parkes.