Archive for August, 2009

Student Debt

August 20, 2009

“I really enjoyed my whole time there – it was just the money side of things that wasn’t great” Steff Wood, Graduate.


This sentiment is typical of students across the country struggling to get by. Many are graduating with crippling debts or are apprehensive about even starting a degree when faced with the prospect of such money struggles.


Steff worked two jobs throughout her time at university and moved back in with her parents in a bid to save money. Despite this, she still came out of the whole experience with debts worth £30,000.


“As well as tuition fees, which I had to pay as my parents earned ‘too much money’, I had to spend about £1,000 on books per year,” says Steff.


Since graduating from Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, where she studied English Literature, Steff says she has been unable to find a job. “All the companies I have applied to for a job say I am either overqualified or lack experience,” she says.


Despite Steff’s concern at leaving with so much debt and being unable to find ajob, her boyfriend is now about to start a degree in Computer and Games Design, aged 24. He says that he was forced to wait until he was classed as a mature student before studying, otherwise he would never have been able to afford it. As a mature student, his parents income is not taken into account and he will have access to more grants and bursaries.


Even so, Steff says that “the money he gets will just about cover rent and food but other equipment he needs, like a computer and specific software will be costly added expenses.”


Money is so tight that Steff is re-using all the leftover pages from her notebooks and recycling old dried up pens for her boyfriend to use.


These experiences mirror those of thousands of students across the country whose parents are expected to support them through university. When they are unable to do this the only other option is mountains of debt.


Families bond over recession

August 19, 2009

Recent research has revealed that as a result of the recession forcing families to reign in their spending, many are now spending more time together as a family.


With money tighter, parents are 48% less likely to go out for a romantic meal with all the costs of the meal itself, a babysitter for the kids and sometimes a takeaway for them as well. As a result, they are staying in and spending more time with the children.


Even our eating habits when staying at home are changing due to the recession as a quarter of those questioned said that they are cooking one big meal for all the family to eat together in a bid to save money.


One in six said that they believe a fringe benefit of the economic downturn is that they are spending more time with their family. Research commissioned by Birdseye found that  67% of UK adults eat a meal with their families at least three times a week and almost half do so every day. Four out of five parents said that their children eat their evening meal with at least one of their parents.


This is the same proportion as the previous generation, contradicting reports that the humble family meal is dying out.


Jonathan Gershuny, from the Department of Sociology at Oxford University, said: “The findings of this report suggest that while the family meal is adapting and becoming more relaxed, the social significance of eating together remains.”

Record numbers dropping out

August 18, 2009

New figures released show that the number of young people dropping out of school and not finding a job is at a record high. Over the past year, the number of people aged 18-24 and considered “Neets” – not in education, employment or training has risen by 100,000, taking the total to 835,000.


This group of people desperately need to be encouraged to make changes to their lives as the longer they stay out of education and work, the more likely they are to become long term unemployed.


The government claims that it is doing everything it can to ensure that these people are offered ways out of their situation, however, many believe that this is not enough.


Mr Darling, who is standing in for Gordon Brown during his holiday, said: “It’s very important that we help young people get back into work or into training.

“At the end of last year we had record numbers of young people in education and training.

“We will, this September, be able to guarantee 16 and 17-year-olds education or training.

“And from the beginning of next year we will be able to guarantee people who have been out of work for a year either a job, training or further education.

“All of that is important so we don’t repeat the mistakes that were made 20 years ago where a whole generation of people were lost.

“We are determined that will not happen again.”


At Debt Doctors Foundation UK, we have a specialised money education programme aimed at those not in education, training or employment and these figures clearly highlight that the need to specific initiatives targeted at this group is rising dramatically.

Summer Workshop!

August 12, 2009

Debt Doctors Foundation UK has been working in partnership with Experian to create a summer school project where children aged 8 – 11 will learn about money management and finance.


The project is now complete and will take place over two days in August where children taking part in a summer school will have a special opportunity to join in the Debt Doctors – Experian workshop. They will engage in fun and interactive discussions and activities about possible careers and income, learn about spending their income through practical activities and finally play the specially designed Debt Doctors-Experian board game. At the end of the session children will be encouraged to reflect on the choices they made and what they have learnt from those choices.


Debt Doctors Foundation UK believes that practical financial education is essential for our children to avoid getting into financial difficulty in the future. We aim to make financial education fun and interesting and with the help of the team at Experian, we have created a new and exciting project which we hope will impress some valuable money lessons onto these children.

Couple avoid debt with £1,000 wedding

August 11, 2009

A young couple from Chorley had a white wedding with 100 guests for just £1,000 as they did not want to start married life saddled with debt.


They got married in a local church with bride Karolina wearing a £30 charity shop find and groom Ben wearing a £75 tailor made suit bought online.


Ben said: “We both wanted a wedding which reflected the times and was affordable without losing any of the magic. With a bit of ingenuity we were able to keep the cost down and have a truly special day.”


The  couple decorated the church themselves and relied on friends and family to help out with the catering. A 5 course meal was served to 25 guests at Ben’s parent’s house, while Karolina’s mother baked the wedding cake.


100 guests arrived for the evening celebrations, where champagne bought at the supermarket during buy one get one free offers was served. A total of £250 was spent on the drinks, making it the most expensive aspect of the wedding.


The couple spent their wedding night together at home and plan a bargain weekend getaway later on in the summer when prices are lower.


“Everything was perfect and I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” said debt-free bride Karolina.

School owed £4,000 by parents considers bailiffs

August 10, 2009

The Lakeside Community Primary School in Alvaston is considering calling in bailiffs after it worked out that parents owed around £4,000 collectively in outstanding fees.

The fees were for things such as lunch money, after school and breakfast clubs and school library fines. Head teacher Simon Emsley said that although the council advises schools to turn children away at the dinner hall or after school clubs if they have outstanding payments, this was a very hard thing to do.

“People think because it’s school, it’s not real money,” he added. “Bailiffs are a possibility – it’s very difficult but it’s one of the avenues we’re looking down.

“I’ve got some cracking staff who phone people [who owe money] or visit houses, and the vast majority of parents and carers who bring children to our school are incredibly supportive and helpful.”

 A council spokesman said that it is up to each school individually to decide how they collect owed money, although the council will send out an invoice if the debt reaches £27 for any one child.

“Should payment still not be made we advise the school not to serve any further meals without receiving prior payment. “It is important that dinner money is collected as non-payment will have a knock-on effect for every child in Derbyshire,” he said.

Are teenagers learning from the recession?

August 5, 2009

With many families being forced to tighten their belts as Britain’s economy has shrunk for the fifth quarter in a row, are today’s teens taking note and becoming more financially aware?


A quick analysis of teenagers spending habits reveals that they have not cut back during the recession despite having less pocket money as a result of their parents financial difficulties. There are also less part time jobs suited to teenagers available, putting further pressure on teen spending.


Despite this, high street retailers aimed at the younger demographic such as Primark, New Look, H&M, Asos and Hot Topic are flourishing while stores aimed at the older market are struggling through the recession.


At one school in West Sussex where financial awareness classes have been introduced, a quick survey revealed that the average pupil has £35 a week to spend. The main areas where they spend their money are trips to cinemas, bowling alleys, restaurants and clubs, shopping for new clothes, buying music and mobile phones, and for many over 17, owning their own car.


While the students welcome the money management course which they have been taking, it seems that their attitudes to money have not changed. “When I get paid it all tends to go in the first week,” said one 17 year old boy, while his friend sums up their general attitude to shopping “If there’s something I want, I’ll buy it,” she says.


The class discussed their experience of the recession and their attitude to money:


“We’re very, very consumerist,” says one girl.

“We know how to spend money. If we could have a credit card, we would spend money on it.”

“So its essential we’re getting taught now how to manage our money because otherwise we will get into more trouble than the generation above us.”

Her friend agrees.

“You see the struggle your parents go through,” she says.

“You hear all the time, ‘it’s the credit crunch and it seems so scary’, but it is manageable and the whole credit crunch has opened up the idea of managing your money to teenagers.”

“You can’t avoid it. That and the struggle we see our parents go through is enough to ward us off.”

Another classmate shares their concerns.

“I’m aware a credit card is a bad idea, but I am tempted,” he says.

“I’ve seen the hazards of borrowing money and being in debt, but at the same time I’ve seen how my parents have dealt with it, so it hasn’t put me off borrowing.”


Although today’s teens are undoubtedly massive consumers, they are also experts at hunting down a good deal thanks to the rise of the internet. According to a recent poll, almost half of parents would consult their teenagers when making a purchase such as a mobile phone contract, a laptop or a cheap holiday.


One father of two teenagers says: “Whenever we buy anything like that we ask them,” says Mr Marsh.

“Recently my wife bought a netbook computer, so she talked to the girls about the best one to get.

“Then they looked at price. They spent hours searching on the internet for the right value. They’re very good at that kind of stuff.”

Spending habits determined by parents

August 4, 2009

A new study from the University of Arizona has found that parents have the biggest influence over developing a child’s spending habits, more than financial education and work experience combined.


In a study involving 2,098 university students from various backgrounds, questions were asked about parents spending status and financial behaviours, parental direct financial teaching, school work experience, and school financial education.


Parents emerged as the biggest factor in deciding attitudes towards money, while work and financial education played a smaller, but still significant role.


Dr Soyeon Shim, leader of the study, said: “In a culture that demands individual responsibility and self-sufficiency, financial literacy is an essential component of a successful adult life.

“Parents who intentionally teach their children about financial management may exert a greater influence on children’s financial knowledge than do lessons learned in high school and those learned in the workplace combined.

“Given the importance of financial well-being to many indicators of college student success, such parental investment in the financial skills and knowledge of their adolescents may pay substantial dividends in terms of youth health, adjustment, and academic success,” she added.