34% of 45-54-year-olds have debts they don’t know how to pay off

34% of 45-54-year-olds have debts they don’t know how to pay off
Image source: Getty Images

The latest figures from Aviva reveal that over three-quarters of 45-54-year-olds worry about debt ‘often’ or ‘all the time’. A quarter also said their total debts have increased over the last year. One-third also admit that they have no idea how to pay off their debt.

This financial pressure is in stark contrast to headlines that Brits have collectively hoarded £180 billion in their bank accounts over the course of the pandemic. Here’s what else Aviva discovered behind the headlines.

Borrowing more to pay off debts

Worryingly, Aviva’s research found that 18% of 45-54-year-olds who already owed money, borrowed even more to pay off debts. That’s despite their debt growing in the 12 months to April 2021.

It’s no wonder then, that a fraught 20% who already worried about money, worried about it every day. While 26% of this age group did share money woes with their other halves, sadly, nearly a quarter (24%) didn’t talk to anyone at all.

Battling out-of-control debt

Aviva’s findings go on to highlight that 24% of this group didn’t actually know how much debt they were really in, with 18% feeling like their debts were ‘out of control’. 

Digging deeper, Aviva found several reasons why this particular group felt their debts were spiralling. The biggest reason was a cut in income or benefits. Another clear reason was a lack of financial skills. One in five simply said there was no specific reason and that their debt was uncontrollable, saying ‘it just is’. 

Increasing responsibilities and financial burdens

Labelled the ‘sandwich generation’ 45-54-year-olds face increasing financial responsibilities. Not only are many supporting adult children, but they’re also supporting elderly parents.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) uncovers this harsh reality. More than 1.3 million people in the UK have this dual responsibility with potentially devastating consequences. 

The ONS also reports that more than a quarter (27%) of sandwich generation carers show poor mental health compared to the overall population (22%). This manifests itself in various ways, including anxiety and depression. 

For this age group, the pandemic has simply brought into sharp focus existing worries and responsibilities. It’s also emphasised financial burdens and exacerbated struggles to pay off debt. 

Discussing the findings, Aviva’s head of savings and retirement, Alistair McQueen, says: “Those in mid-life represent the least happy and most anxious age group in the UK – balancing their own needs with younger and older members of their family. We know that when people feel their debt is out of control it causes huge anxiety.

“What’s important to remember is that there is a range of completely free, confidential and impartial services available to help you if debt is becoming a problem. Whatever level of debt you’re in, organisations like StepChange and the Money Advice Service are qualified to point you in the right direction.”

Paying off debt 

Despite 34% of the sandwich generation not knowing how to pay off debts, they were the most proactive in trying to do so. Popular methods included:

  • Cutting back on non-essentials like luxury items
  • Reducing money spent on food
  • Selling belongings
  • Getting a second job or working overtime 

A smaller percentage of people sought more sustainable ways of reducing debt, for example, by consolidating what they owed and using debt management and money management apps. Aviva has also launched a free mid-life MOT app to assess your wealth, work and wellbeing. 

No one should struggle with debt on their own. Not only is free debt help available you can also adopt good budgeting habits to stay on track. 

4 iron-clad rules for saving money on everything

Our Editor Sam Robson has been on a personal cost-cutting mission for years – and it’s time to share his wisdom.

Check out his choicest saving tips and tricks in this free report, “Sam’s 4 Iron-Clad Rules For Saving Money On Everything”.

Just enter your email below for instant access to your free copy.

By checking this box and submitting your email address, you agree to MyWalletHero sending you emails with money tips, along with details of products and services that we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from future emails at any time. You also consent to us processing your personal data in line with our privacy policy, and our cookie statement. For more information, including how we collect, store, and handle personal data, please read our Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions.

Was this article helpful?

Some offers on MyWalletHero are from our partners — it’s how we make money and keep this site going. But does that impact our ratings? Nope. Our commitment is to you. If a product isn’t any good, our rating will reflect that, or we won’t list it at all. Also, while we aim to feature the best products available, we do not review every product on the market. Learn more here. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, Mastercard, and Tesco.