Express & Star comment: It's so easy to end up in lots of debt
You hear about the rise in the use of food banks, the hardships of austerity, and the people who have been left behind and are scraping by on benefits.
Then you go down your shopping centre and find there are large numbers of new cars in the car park, and in the stores there is a frenzy of consumerism, with shoppers apparently able to afford the latest televisions, smartphones, and gadgets.
Where do people find the money? New figures suggest that a lot turn to a magic money tree. It's mythical, of course – they are spending money that they do not have. And that's because modern society makes that easy.
In making it easy for them to buy on credit, the system is also making it easy for them to fall into a pit of debt. Once in that debt pit, getting out is one heck of a job.
The figures show that generally there is a rising tide of insolvency, which includes bankruptcy, but also covers less serious repayment agreements.
So much of modern society is based on borrowing, whether it is to study, to buy a car, a house and so on – or putting things on a credit card.
While you are able to meet the repayments, all may be well. But when circumstances change, what then?
There are people for whom debt is a moneyspinner, and that is the lenders who can impose punishing interest rates and charges which make things yet more difficult for those trying to escape the debt whirlpool.
It goes without saying that tumbling into unmanageable debt is, to say the least, inadvisable and to be avoided, and the impact of the benefits shake-up has just made things worse.
However, we should also not lose sight of the fact that often getting into debt is not an accident, but is in effect a choice, and could even be described as a liberation, as it allows people to have things that they would have had to go without generations ago.
If things start to get out of hand, it is important to face up to it and get advice before the whole house of cards comes crashing down.
Some of the old stigma of going bankrupt has gone, and there are a range of solutions on offer to support folk who are going through money problems.
For most people, borrowing is necessary. But there is help out there for those who struggle.
The figures on insolvency give an insight into the problem – but are probably just the tip of the iceberg.