Debt problems: 'I can't buy my son clothes'

Wallet People start to spend in coins, not notes, in the days before payday

More than half of UK adults are struggling to keep up with bills and debt repayments, a major survey of people's finances has suggested.

Some 52% of the 5,000 people questioned said they were struggling, compared with just 35% in a similar study in 2006, the Money Advice Service said.

A number of people have contacted the BBC to share their experience of struggling with bills and debts.

Jane Tripp, Grays, Essex

"I have a good job as an assistant head teacher in a junior school and my husband has a good job too, but we still struggle financially.

"At the moment I am on maternity leave as we have a nine-week old baby. Our priorities have changed, but even before the baby came we were struggling.

"Things are tight due to rising bills and the cost of food. We find it impossible to save for the future and with a baby this is a concern.

"We are lucky compared to other families. We have a nice house, two cars and live comfortably. But we have a lot less than we did a few years ago and have very little disposable income.

"We check our bank balance regularly, try to be careful with petrol and are making an effort to spend less on food. It's rare that we go on holiday.

"It's very difficult to put any money aside as a safety net."

Linda Clitheroe, Claxton

"I was made redundant three years ago. My income went from £230 to £65 a week. Since then I have been unable to find full-time employment. I am presently juggling two very part-time jobs. With help from the council my income is £10,000.

"I am living, well surviving, is a better word. I record everything I spend every day. I budget for bills and I am not in debt. I know people are struggling, but there are many who cannot prioritise their money, then complain.

"People need to work out the money they have coming in and then prioritise. You have to be aware of your own circumstances and manage them."

Catherine Lewis, Brighouse

"We have found it very hard over the last four years. My partner is a car salesman so his wages go up and down. I'm in full-time work as a supervisor at a hardware company.

"However our mortgage is so high because when Bradford & Bingley was taken over by the government the interest was a lot higher than the average. We went into arrears for a while. Our mortgage is now higher than most people with £100,000 mortgages.

"We've been to the consumer credit people. We had credit card bills which are under control now.

"We're thinking of selling the property but I don't want to. This is my home - I've been here for 20 years. I've only got five years left on the mortgage. Renting seems wrong. We've never missed a month. We've just not paid a full month sometimes.

"I still can't buy my son clothes or save money. I sometimes can't give him lunch money or bus fares."

Matthew Wall, Blackpool

Matthew Wall and his daughter Matthew Wall and his daughter

"I graduated last year with a degree in computer science but have struggled to find a job.

"My partner is now at university and we have a three-year-old daughter.

"I've taken a minimum wage job in KFC so we can get by. My hours were cut recently though and this makes money even tighter.

"Every little bit of money goes on rent, bills and food. It is very hard on minimum wage to keep your head afloat and out of debt, not to mention treating yourself to the little things in life.

"It breaks my heart when I can't even treat my daughter to a new toy or pair of shoes."

Alexandra Bowler, Essex

Alexandra Bowler and her son Alexandra Bowler and her son

"Both myself and my husband work full-time. We have a four-year-old son. We moved in with my parents a few years ago to save up the deposit for our small two-bedroom flat.

"We got a mortgage for our flat 18 months ago and had to borrow some money from 'the bank of mum and dad' to pay the full 10% deposit, which we still have not paid back.

"Now, it's a struggle to make it to the end of every month. It's hard finding the money to pay the bills and pay for food, travel and parking expenses for work. I also have to do a certain amount of study to stay up-to-date with my job and have to pay for registration fees - just so I can work.

"With no savings, it frightens me to think of the future. We are currently selling all our unwanted clothes and other things on eBay to fund the repairs on our leaky bathroom.

"Last year I had to sell all my childhood toys (which thankfully my parents had kept) to fund a new window in my son's room. As two professionals fast approaching their 30s we never thought that things would be this hard."

Alistair Darby, Surrey

Alistair Darby Alistair Darby

"Things have got a lot worse. People can't afford to save for mortgages due to high rents and insane energy bills. My partner and I pay over £100 a month for gas and electricity, not to mention increasing food prices.

"Ultimately, it's due to the greed within this failing (or horribly thriving) capitalist system. It means that people now have to choose to either buy a house or get married or have a child. Otherwise, you need a 10-15 year plan to ensure it's possible to have all three, meaning that you'll be in your late 30s or early 40s before you are there.

"My partner and I are getting married in October and fortunately due to very strict budgeting, we have been able to easily pay our bills. However, we will then have to choose to have a child or buy a house. It's a very unfair choice to make.

"We have been sold an idea as a society, that we can have everything we want. We see people earning a ton of money doing very little for society on TV and this promotes a culture of celebrity. Thus, we expect that our lives should be like this - doing very little, having a lot.

"Solving this crisis is pretty much impossible so long as a few people continue making insane profit at the expense of the masses."

Interviews by Catherine Ellis and Sherie Ryder

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