Skip to Content
Advanced Search

Credit, and teens who face years in debt


Williams, D. & Eastham, P. Hooked on credit at 18: Plight of teenagers who face years in debt. (1989, January 17). London Daily Mail.



Jane started her first job just before Christmas and used storecards to buy presents. ‘I spent 467 pounds; I still don’t even remember what on, and then had to start repaying. I didn’t dare tell my parents, so the debts just built up.’


When Jane’s mother finally found out, she was able to get the interest on each card frozen, and the debts are slowly being paid off.


Tony, a 17-year-old student, ran up a 500-pound bank overdraft with a cash till card. He went to a loan shark to repay it, and then began getting threatening letters from the moneylender. ‘I was terrified and my college work went downhill.’ Even with family help, he is still repaying two years later.

Youngsters are falling blindly into debt, hopelessly hooked on Britain’s credit card boom. Many now believe it is ‘socially acceptable to live in debt,’ according to a disturbing report out today.


This report from the survey for consumer watchdogs at the Office of Fair Trading and BBC Radio reveals:

  • 71% of U.K 18-20-year-olds now use one or more types of credit.
  • 21% of these have trouble making repayments.

Young people told interviewers how they borrowed a second time to repay old debts. Some shared that worry plaguing their lives affected their school work and relationships with parents. Many struggled to keep their finances a secret and borrowed from loan sharks at exorbitant interest rates.

Sir Gordon Borrie of General Fair Trading plans to launch a campaign "to educate youngsters about the pitfalls. We aim to get people into good credit habits from the start. Our message is: STAY IN CONTROL."

"One million copies of a free advice booklet are being distributed to schools, youth organizations and citizen advice bureaux," this article reports.


  1. Young people around the world with money are finding themselves in sudden credit problems. It should be easy to understand such financial crises in an age of instant gratification, powerful advertisements, and easy credit. The U.S. and Britain have engaged in a conscious effort to catch a new market of younger credit card customers.
  2. Many schools, youth organizations, churches, and parents have never given financial instruction to youth. Responsibility used to be taught to the younger generation in many ways. Now, responsibilities have increased, but family and community instruction have diminished.
  3. The messages? Know your values, set your priorities, learn to manage and budget, and be in control.
  4. With your kids, construct games, panel discussions, and principles for effective money management.

Dean Borgman cCYS