The good people at “Moneywise” magazine have recently published (Jan 2011 edition) a story about bankruptcy, which contains a useful summary of the danger signs that debts might be running out of control.

  1. You use your credit card to buy groceries or to pay bills, not knowing when you’ll be able to clear the balance.
  2. Applying for a new credit card, loan or extension on your overdraft is the only way that you can get ready cash for daily expenditure or to service existing debts.
  3. Your debt is mushrooming because you either only make minimum payments each month or are unable to pay off any money owed.
  4. If you have started to miss monthly repayments on your credit card or, worse still, you are in arrears on your mortgage, you need to seek immediate help. Contact creditors to see if you can make reduced payments or have a mortgage break while you sort out your finances.
  5. If you are not opening bills and are screening calls from creditors, seek advice. Ignoring payments will not make them go away and the problem will only get worse.

The article contains some interesting case studies, of three people who had to file for bankruptcy: 32-year old Emma Smith from Milton Keynes; 54-year-old Terry Donaldson from Huddersfield and 27-year-old Michelle Cheston from Newcastle.

I noticed one unusual silver lining to these three clouds. There are costs associated with going bankrupt (typically about £600) but, as the article mentions, Michelle had served in the RAF. Not for long, because she could only have been 24 when she left the service. However, her adviser at Citizens Advice told her she could apply for help to the Royal British Legion. She did; and they paid all her fees. As I mention in my book “Back to the Black”, the Legion’s support is a benefit that is open to anyone who’s served in the UK armed forces, even for a relatively short time.


Want to know more?

  1. Want a copy of the full Moneywise article? Go to
  2. Want to view, free of charge, the first 20% of my multi-format eBook “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way?” Go to:


Lots of stuff about payday loans in the media just recently. I’ve mentioned on my Twitter feed that the subject was featured in “Broadcasting House”, one of my very favourite programmes on BBC Radio 4, yesterday morning.

I thought that in several ways the programme presented a balanced view. Rather than simply saying “these loans are terrible and should be banned because of their outrageously high interest rates”, at least one interviewee said that the amount paid (and it’s generally small, as it’s generally on smallish loans) could well be less than what the bank would charge you for going into (unauthorized) overdraft.

A fair point and another reason why people would be tempted. I’d previously said in my last post (at the back end of last week) that these kinds of loans could be considered in emergency, provided you also put a plan in place which ensures that you repaid the loan at the next payday .

High interest charge … or a bank charge? Maybe both

However, there is a comprehensive article on this by Matthew Wall in ‘Moneywise’ magazine (November 2010). The article points out something else, which adds a further danger to what’s already known about these kinds of loans.

He says: “Lenders usually take your debit card details as part of the application process so they can take out the full repayment come payday. They’ll do this whether you have the money in your account or not, potentially pushing you into overdraft and triggering bank charges if you don’t.

In this situation it’s a double whammy; you’ve paid the payday loan company’s interest rate (which is well known to be very high) but then you are stung with the bank charge anyway.

Matthew Wall goes on:

If you can’t repay the full amount you can ask to defer the loan, but they’ll usually insist you at least pay the borrowing charges.

There may also be a deferral fee or a charge incurred for arranging the new loan. So it’s not hard to see how cash-strapped borrowers can quickly become submerged in debt.”

Want to know more?

1. To see the whole of Matthew Wall’s article, go to:

2. My book “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way” is available on the Smashwords site. To sample (first 20% free) or to buy at only $3.99, go to