Debt discussions will help Suffolk families assess loan options

Local families should discuss the topic of debt as opposed to getting themselves into a spiral of loans that they can’t escape from, according to finance expert Vivi Friedgut.

The comments come as a report from insolvency trade body R3 found that five million British adults are considering taking out a payday loan in the next six months.

A separate study from consumer group Which? found that nearly half of the people who have taken out a payday loan have been unable to repay it.

With Christmas approaching, Vivi is advising an open discussion in the home about issues relating to debt in order to avoid choosing spending and lending methods that could cause financial difficulties well into the New Year.

Vivi said: “Christmas is often a time when families in Suffolk feel pressured to spend beyond what they can comfortably manage and as a result look into January to settle their debts.

“This year, many households are already dealing with debt even before the festive season, with many taking out payday loans just to afford the basics such as food.

“December is always an expensive month for those who haven’t already set aside a Christmas budget but a frank conversation about a more affordable Christmas will pay off massively.”

Vivi has just published a new book which is setting out to help families tackle money issues together for the first time.

Unique in its category, Money Smarter – A Family Guide is a down to earth, jargon free guide designed to help families become more confident with money.

Money Smarter, an engaging and informative book that comes with an accompanying CD, is the first book of its kind as it gives the tools to help families study personal finance issues together without bamboozling them with impracticalities.

It is created to be fun and includes activities, games and bite-sized sections that aid a healthy family discussion about being sensible with money without talking exclusively about penny pinching.

Written by private banker turned money management trainer Vivi Friedgut, Money Smarter is geared towards a single money-orientated theme each week.

Written in colloquial but not patronising English, the book is both approachable and accessible.

Vivi said: “Money management should be a priority for all families but many have been put off by the fact that they have been advised solely to spend less.

“Although that approach must feature prominently, at the heart of money management should be a plan and an understanding of financial products, how they can work for you and how to avoid common pitfalls.

“For instance, when many books simply say, ‘Debt is bad and will cause you problems later,’ Money Smarter says, ‘Debt can be good or bad, here’s some – now how do you handle it.’

“It’s much more practical and exploratory in that respect.”

As well as avoiding condescending prose fixated on penny pinching, Money Smarter also steers clear of technical issues that can often cloud the true message of sensible spending and money management.

Instead, it is a practical guide that employs active learning.

It looks at money as a holistic entity looking at saving and debt, as well as addictions, peer pressure, shopping online and philanthropy within the concept of responsible and safe money management.

Vivi is also the founder and Director of Blackbullion – an organisation whose purpose is to provide independent financial education programmes for everyone from school and university students to employees in the workplace.

Her approach has always been to focus less on the maths and more on behaviours. Money Smarter was borne out of that ideology.

Vivi concludes: “Money management should be taught from a very young age because it’s the only way to adequately prepare young people for a world where they are swamped with financial products and ways to spend their money.

“Personal finance should be taught in school as part of the syllabus and open, honest discussion surrounding cash should be encouraged at home. Money Smarter was created to stimulate and contribute to that discussion.”

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (November 29) Echo.