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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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North West households 'owe 23p for every pound earned'

How much debt do the people under your roof have? According to research published as part of
National Consumer Week, households in the North West typically owe 23p for every pound of gross
income they earn.

Of the nine regions in England, the North West ranked 4th in terms of income-debt ratios, coming just
behind London (24p) and the West Midlands (33p). Households in the North East landed the top spot,
owing 34p for every pound earned.

According to official figures, UK households are in debt to the tune of £1.4 trillion in total - 31%
more than the UK national debt. Each household typically owes around £6,000 in unsecured debt,
such as credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans.

But in the current climate, when money is tight for people all over the country, it seems more and
more households are struggling to make ends meet - which can soon lead to serious debt problems.
The latest Quarterly Consumer Report from Which? found that 2.4 million households have borrowed
money from family and friends and 11.3 million have taken out additional finance of some kind.

It all indicates that good money management is becoming more vital than ever.

Budgeting: the key to financial success?

According to recent research by uSwitch.com, 14% of British consumers say they're financially worse
off now than they were a year ago. Furthermore, one in four Britons only just manages to 'break even'
every month - showing just how difficult many people are finding it to manage their finances in the
current climate.

However, putting a well-planned budget together could really help people ensure they keep on top
of all their monthly costs - and it's not just a traditional 'pen and paper' budget that could make a
difference.

Today's online bank statements can make it a lot easier for households to stay on top of their finances,
as can the free budgeting tools available for PCs and smartphones.

There are other options too. There are alternatives to high-street bank accounts, like the thinkmoney
Personal Account
, which offers a built-in budgeting service, splitting customers' money into two
separate accounts - one for bill money and another for 'spare' cash.

Different people will prefer different approaches to budgeting. But however you choose to do it,
understanding exactly what's coming in and what you need to spend every month should help you
keep your discretionary spending down to a reasonable level, helping you break even each month -
and hopefully save a bit for tomorrow too.

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