During Talk Money Week (18-22 November)[i] organised by independent body, The Money and Pensions Service, Punter Southall Aspire, the financial planning and retirement saving specialist, is calling on employers to do more to support their employees’ financial wellbeing through financial education programmes.
According to the debt charity Step Change[ii], over three million people are in debt in the UK, with almost 9.8 million showing signs of financial distress. In October, the Money Charity[iii] also revealed a 14.3% increase in debt enquiries handled by Citizens Advice in September 2019 in England and Wales, compared with September 2018.
Last year Punter Southall Aspire[iv] surveyed almost 2000 employees and 46% said their biggest fear for their future is not having enough money in retirement. 66% said they don’t know if they are saving enough for a comfortable retirement.
The research also highlighted that many people are more concerned with their current finances than looking to the future and they are unable to save because they have financial pressures. Half are paying off a loan or credit card, 30% regularly use an overdraft facility and 45% have dependents to support financially.
Alan Morahan, Managing Director, Employee Benefits, Punter Southall Aspire said, “In the UK, many people are facing debt which is impacting their lives now and their ability to save for retirement. Without the right financial skills, anyone can find themselves struggling with money, which can create stress and anxiety. Talk Money Week is a great time for employers to consider how to help employees get on top of their finances through programmes such as financial education.”
“Of course, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ financial education programme that will suit everyone. The best programmes are those that are tailored specifically for each workforce and address the essential components of financial wellbeing – income, spending, saving and borrowing. An effective programme is also likely to be supported by a mixture of face to face seminars, one-to-one sessions, web-based seminars, online tools and printed material.”
For people struggling with debt, Punter Southall Aspire offers the following guidance:
- The first step is to acknowledge a debt problem. If you are constantly using your overdraft or putting purchases on a credit card without paying them off or have become reliant on pay day loans, then you may need to address your debt issues.
- Once a problem has been acknowledged, make a list of all your debts. Jot down how much you owe and who you owe it to. If you can, make a note of how much interest each company is charging you as well.
- Create another list which shows money coming in, and regular outgoings, to see if you can free up any money. Whether it’s cutting down on spending or thinking up new ways to bring in money, it’s worth trying to put aside some cash to pay off debts.
- Arrange debts by priority, from high to low. The high priority debts will have the biggest consequences. This could range from losing your home to not being able to run a car. Alternatively, they could be the ones with the highest interest charges.
- Contact the companies the high priority debts are with. Ask if you can change your payments to a level you can reasonably afford. But make sure you are truly comfortable with the amount you agree to pay. Once you’ve cleared high priority debts, do the same with low priority debts.
- Finally, keep the faith. Clearing debt can take time and may occasionally feel as if you’re not making a dent. Every penny really does help and, if you keep regularly paying off what you owe, you could just find that you feel better about your finances.
- For more help managing debt, look up Step Change – www.stepchange.org – for expert debt advice and fee-free debt management to help tackle debt
Southall Aspire can advise companies on introducing financial education. For more information visit www.psaspire.com.