Majority of Britons would rather cut back on spending than go into debt

Matt PalframanDirector, Financial Services Research
August 06, 2019, 9:25 AM GMT+0

Most people own a borrowing product of some form, such as a credit card, but Britons tend to class themselves as savers rather than spenders

Seven out of ten Britons (72%) would rather cut back on spending than go into credit, according to YouGov’s latest Debt Tracker. Just one in eleven (9%) would prefer to buy things on credit than save up.

Four out of ten (41%) class themselves as more of a saver than a spender, with just one in five (22%) disagreeing with the statement.

Yet despite this, the majority of the population does borrow money in some form, be it through a loan from friends or family or buying things on a credit card. And four out of ten (43%) feel that borrowing on credit and then paying everything back at the beginning of each month is a smart way of managing your money.

Proportion of people with a student loan 35% higher than 2013

Seven out of ten Britons hold some form of borrowing product: half the adult population owns a credit card (52%) and one in five (20%) have an authorised overdraft, slightly less than the proportion who did in May 2013 (25%).

The form of debt which has seen the greatest increase in the past five years is student loans, held by 18% of the population in May 2019, up from 14% in May 2013.

Just one percent of the population hold a payday loan, though people who are financially distressed or over-indebted are significantly more likely to currently have one (5% and 6% respectively).

Who is over-indebted?

A fifth of the UK population (20%) is currently over-indebted, which is defined as experiencing a heavy financial burden and being up to three months behind on commitments, with total credit levels of 50% or more than their household income.

Twice as many (42%) of those who are over-indebted are guardians or parents, compared to just 27% of the UK population. And half (51%) are currently employed.

They are a third less likely than the average person to have a personal or stakeholder pension (12% versus 18%) or private medical insurance (4% versus 7%).

Over-indebted people are three times as likely as the average Briton to have to borrow more money over the next 3 months (31% versus 10%), but less likely than the average Briton to agree with the statement that buying things on credit and paying everything back each month is a smart way to manage your money (43% total, 31% over-indebted).

Photo: Getty

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