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Managing debts a Plaistow family affair

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 December 2016

This Plaistow man is now overcoming his debt problems Picture: KEN MEARS

This Plaistow man is now overcoming his debt problems Picture: KEN MEARS

Archant

Getting into serious debt can be easy, but for one man, paying back thousands in loans became easier after the birth of his children.

Once owing £20,000 in loans and credit card repayments, the Plaistow mental-health worker, who asked not to be named, used to spend at will, but was inspired to escape the spiral of uncontrolled spending after his marriage and the birth of his daughters.

“I should have saved up first rather than using the credit card,” he said. “I didn’t know how to manage my finances.”

“If you don’t know, then you can easily end up in a trap,” he warned. “I should have done my homework from the beginning.”

Still owing “a few thousand”, the father of two, who is of Bangladeshi origin, now involves his family in all money matters, making spending decisions together to reduce the burden of debt.

Speaking about the value of the approach, he said: “You need to learn from an early stage about finance. It’s important for them. Then they will not face what we faced. I changed for my children’s future.”

“I want to see them happy,” he added.

The former restauranteur went on to describe the enormous stress financial difficulties can cause.

“Without it, I can be happy,” he said. “Day by day, the situation is getting better. But you have to have willpower.”

For Greg Ashby from Money A+E, a social enterprise which provides money advice and education, debt problems can be made worse for members of the borough’s black and ethnic communities because of language barriers and low levels of financial literacy.

“In terms of communicating with banks or energy companies, people rely on someone in the family or an external agency to advocate for them. But because of cuts it’s harder for people to access these services.”

Greg added that in his experience many people suffer stress, anxiety and depression as a result of their debts, which weakens their ability to manage money even more.

“It takes time to transform lives, but agencies are struggling to do this because of cuts. But the need is still there, if not growing.”


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