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How much debt would you need to be in before you started worrying about it? A new survey has revealed that on average Britons only see themselves as being in serious financial difficulty once they are in £14,416 of debt.

But when should we really be worrying?

Research

The figures were uncovered by Bright Grey's latest financial safety net report. It showed that middle-aged Brits were particularly at risk. They believe that they would have to be in more than £15,590 of debt before finding themselves in serious financial difficulty.

The only bright spot is that the average figure is lower than 2010, when Britons considered themselves in dire straits once they reached £15,837 of debt. Roger Edwards, proposition director at Bright Grey said: "People are more wary about getting themselves into serious levels of personal debt, yet over £14,000 is still clearly a cause for concern. Attitudes are moving in the right direction but there needs to be a sizable shift."


So when do we really need to be worrying?

In reality, the amount of debt you can afford to be carrying depends entirely on your circumstances, so there's no magic figure.

You may, for example, have borrowed £8,000 for a car loan, and be repaying it over five years. This might typically require a monthly payment of £165, which if you have a decent income, no other debt and modest outgoings, may be perfectly affordable.

However, if you are living close to the limit, and have built up as little as £1,000 in debts just by slowly overspending every month, then the alarm bells need to start ringing now, before it's too late.

Likewise, if your circumstances are vulnerable to change, and you don't have any contingency plans, then holding any debt at all could leave you high and dry if you are hit by unexpected changes.

Questions

It's worth therefore asking yourself some questions in order to decide whether you need to be worrying about the level of debt you are carrying:

1. How much debt do you have?
2. How much interest are you paying?
3. Can you afford your monthly repayments easily?
4. Could your circumstances change?
5. What is your contingency plan if changes happen?
6 How did you get into debt?
7. Are the debts still building up?

Those with an affordable level of debt that is perfectly under control may not need to be concerned at all. Those who cannot answer these questions need to get their head around them immediately. And those who cannot afford their debts, or are continuing to amass them need to take urgent action to change their ways - regardless of their level of debt.

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