26 February 2016

TSB finds almost half of Brits have 'Debt regret'

Brits have an average personal debt of £3,598.
Borrowers have spent cash on cars, cosmetic surgery and...cane toads.
TSB urges borrowers to stop regretting and start a Leap Year Resolution to borrow well by 2020.

Holidays, tropical fish and expensive meals in New York are just some of the unusual answers Brits have given for getting into debt, with almost half (44%) saying they have 'debt regret' for spending on their credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans. 

Research from TSB has found that the average personal debt, excluding mortgages and student loans, now stands at £3,598, with nearly half (48%) owing the most on their credit card.

Worryingly the data also shows that nearly two-thirds (65%) of people don't know the interest rate on their credit card, overdraft or personal loan; meaning they can't be sure exactly how much interest they are being charged each month.

Anonymous answers from over 2,000 Brits showed that most people used borrowing to pay for cars, holidays or day-to-day living, but some used the cash to spend on rather unusual items.

"I bought my pub lease with my credit card. I regret getting into debt for that."

"I took out a loan a few years ago to buy a pair of cane toads and their vivarium plus accessories (but actually, I never regretted that!)"

"Vintage 1950's double-decker bus and its restoration. Now on display in a museum."

Following the research, TSB has today challenged Brits to make a Leap Year Resolution - vowing to get on top of their debt and borrow well by the next Leap Year in 2020. The Bank is helping borrowers kick-start their Leap Year Resolution with the launch of a new debt consolidation calculator, where people can input their debt and monthly payments to see if they could be debt-free quicker by shifting and consolidating their borrowing.

Nick Smith, Head of Personal Loans at TSB, says: "Though three and half grand might be manageable debt for some people, it can easily become debt regret, a burden to pay off - particularly if borrowers don't know their interest rate.

"To see if people could save money, or switch to a better rate, it's crucial they first of all dig out their  credit card or loan statements, find out their interest rate and work out exactly how much they are being charged each month for their borrowing. They should then shop around to see if they could reduce the interest they pay, or use online tools, including TSB's new debt consolidation calculator, to see if they could reduce their monthly payments or possibly be debt-free faster by switching their borrowing.

"But borrowing well doesn't just mean moving debt to a cheaper rate, it also means making sure any future spending is planned for and is affordable. We'd urge people to keep a track of their daily spending to make sure any money they have going out, is covered by the money they have coming in. This can really help stop people getting into debt again.

"Credit cards, in particular, tend to have higher interest rates compared to loans. Though switching to a 0% balance transfer card is one way of managing debt, it isn't always a long term solution. It's really important for people to compare all the options open to them, and seek free, independent advice on managing their debt from organisations like Citizens Advice or the Money Advice Service."

Whilst most people said they regretted getting into debt for holidays and cars, below are further examples of unusual debt regret spending.

"A holiday for £2000. I regret this because it's taking forever to pay it back."

"I regret buying a Kirby vacuum cleaner! Massively overpriced and took years to pay off."

"Car finance when I was younger.  Just wanted a nice car, but should have settled for something less and not got into debt."

"A knitting machine for £600."

"Car insurance £456."

"I took out a loan to help my daughter, who was going through a difficult break up at the time, to buy a houseboat. Not the best idea and it was £25k. All paid back now, mostly by my daughter. She couldn't get that amount of credit at the time."

"Buying my French Bulldogs."

"Fixing my car after I crashed it. I didn't tell my dad I crashed the car so I got it fixed very quickly and on the sly for £1,500."

"I regret getting in debt buying clothes. It makes me feel like I need to have the latest look."

"I regret getting into debt for my cosmetic surgery which cost me £3,500, 11 years ago. It was unnecessary and I wish I had never done it as I now need to have it done again."

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Notes to editors

TSB polled 2,000 adults in the UK with a credit card, loan or overdraft. The survey took place between 27 th January 2016 and 2 nd February 2016.

TSB was built to bring more competition to British banking - to be a real challenger to the big banks and to deliver the kind of banking the people of Britain want. TSB only serves local customers and local businesses, to help fuel local economies, because communities thriving across Britain is a good thing for all of us.

We have a simple, straightforward and transparent banking model and make clear on our website how we operate and make money. We offer the products and services people tell us they want, with none of the funny stuff people normally associate with traditional banks.

Our 4.7 million customers, award winning mobile and digital banking, nationwide network of branches and 8,600 Partners mean we are big enough to make a difference, but small enough to be an agile challenger to the entire market.

For further information about TSB Bank plc, please visit our website www.tsb.co.uk .