For years I allowed myself to believe material things were the key to happiness, love, admiration and friendships. I wanted people to respect me, believe in me and see me as the confident and vivacious woman that I truly didn't believe I was. Credit cards were like gifts from heaven as they hit the floor by the letterbox and the more I had in my purse, the better I would feel.
Child poverty is simply unacceptable and is damaging children's lives. Much more is needed to meet the government's commitment to end child poverty by 2020. By taking the actions we are calling for, the government would make a significant start towards achieving this goal and improving the lives of millions of children.
Our major survey of British family finances finds that 15 million people are already showing signs of financial difficulty, 13million wouldn't have the savings to keep up with their essentials bills for a month if their income dropped by a quarter, and 16million would consider using unsecured credit to keep up with essentials.
Debt is only as bad as the harm that it causes, which is why the Demos report out today has created a 'Harm Index' measuring the impact of debt. It suggests ways that debt support should be tailored to the individual struggles individuals face, and also argues that lenders who cause the most harm face stronger penalties.
So lately I've been researching one of the world's more scary financial terms - debt consolidation - for a few reasons. Some of my female friends feel intimidated or afraid of their finances. They refuse to open bank statements and think they can just bury their heads in the sand and it'll all be OK.
'Bulimic' spenders -purchase only to rush back to the shops, guilt-stricken to return what they've bought, once they realise they can't afford it or that it's not actually going to give them the lifestyle they want. Although their 'reverse shopping' habit keeps their finances under control they expose themselves to high stress levels and feelings of self-loathing.
This year the Tories are preparing a new, massive attack on students, which promise to be as regressive and damaging to the future of millions of people as the trebling of tuition fees has been - plotting to sell all our student loans to private debt collectors, who are hungry to make a profit out of saddling us with more debt than we signed up to. Students are, however, building a movement to stop the government in its tracks.
Britain is in the throes of a personal finance crisis. Dramatic figures out recently revealed that personal debt totals £1.43trillion and the average household debt is almost twice as high as a decade ago at £54,000. To some this would come as a surprise, but to many it is confirmation that they are not alone in their struggle.