Low income families are penalised by the poverty penalty that forces them to pay more for essential goods and services, because they are so often excluded from mainstream credit. This creates a cycle of debt and poverty, making it much harder for people to run a home, or in extreme circumstances, leaves them unable to afford the absolute basics such as beds and fridges. Unsurprisingly, the poorest and most vulnerable families are most likely to suffer from living in what are effectively "broken houses".
Payday Loans have become a hot topic and a regular feature in the British press week in, week out. The market has grown significantly and although the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have no official figures on exactly how much the sector is worth it estimated it at around £900 million in 2008 with Consumer Focus estimating the total value of loans made in 2009 at £1.2 billion.
The current 'see it, buy it' credit card culture has meant that for many people financial goals no longer exist. However, many major financial commitments such as buying a property, saving for retirement or investing in your business can't be paid for by credit card and take real planning and dedication to save for.
Financial freedom is not a Pollyanna'ish vision of a lifestyle bereft of funds, nor is it the idea that one can easily generate sufficient passive income to fund a desired lifestyle without having to do any actual work. It is the idea that you can live without financial fear, without debt feeding your sleep with nightmare.
What do Greece and an unemployed homeowner in Arizona have in common? They are both bankrupt with no hope of ever being able to pay back what they owe. As I wrote this, I realised it sounded as though I were making a joke (and a bad one at that). The reality is, unfortunately, not funny in any sense, but actually far more worrying.