A new sickness is plaguing the UK called Denial. Denial has resulted in a national personal debt of almost ?1.1 trillion (source Credit Action). Symptoms include:
* Refusal to open bank statements
* Lots of scratching of head, saying "how did it get to this?"
* Paying by plastic most, or all of the time
* Sweating at the checkout
Denial is now the most common illness in the UK and it is spreading. Scientists are not sure how the illness reached such epidemic proportions, but they are concerned about how the disease is mutating.
Take, for example, the hideous case of Karyn Bosnak, a self-confessed shopaholic. The American blonde ran up a massive $20,000 of debt. Unable to contemplate the thought of actually working to pay it off, Karen set up a website pleading with gullible surfers all over the world to send donations. And they did. And Karen has now written lots of books about this venture and no longer needs to borrow such huge amounts of cash. Karen, according to the website, lives happily ever after, but still suffers from serious bouts of Denial.
But most people don't live happily ever after.
The most worrying side-effect of Denial is that most people are aware that they could do something about their debt and research appropriate credit options. However, most humans don't do this, most stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and lie back and think of England. They could, if they desired, look on the internet for a financial information site. There are lots of them around. Available for consumer perusal is the compact and impartial comparison site www.moneynet.co.uk or the larger option http://www.moneysupermarket.com ? and those are only two of the more popular choices. And if you're an American, you have www.lowermybills.com at your disposal.
What is most wonderful about Denial, in terms of consumer debt, is the bad name that banks are getting for seducing innocent consumers into complex credit contracts. If fat McDonalds' customers have to take responsibility for their actions, then poor borrowers should acknowledge the full consequences of excessive shopping.
'What ?1.1 trillion of debt actually means', by Cashzilla
Consumers have already been given comparisons of debt and third world countries' GDP. At Cashzilla, we don't think the message is setting in. We asked Jamie, a local expert, to do a small scientific experiment, which involved going to the shop and buying a tube of smarties. The tube of smarties cost 40p and there were 42 smarties in the tube (a very significant number). Some magical calculations later, Jamie worked out that ?1.1 trillion would amount to coating the world in smarties five million times over!
Rachel is one of two authors who write for Cashzilla. We don't take ourselves too seriously and rant about various personal finance issues from time to time. Rachel drinks Guinness.
Cashzilla is an Aries. He has a flamboyant character and a tongue that could heat up any conversation. If Cashzilla was an A-Team character, he'd be Murdock.