Are you suffering from 'banxiety'?


Britain's double-dip recession has left many households with little in the way of disposable income. Yet instead of carefully counting their pence, new research suggests people are now just avoiding their bills and bank statements.

Spending without proper care
According to the October 2012 Barclays research, the UK is suffering a pandemic of what the bank calls "banxiety" -- which can essentially be boiled down to a fear of statements. In fact, a survey of consumers suggests that 36% of those receiving paper statements and bills are putting off or refusing to open them, and nearly half (45%) are unable to say exactly how much money they have to their name. debt-anxiety

It appears that 18-to-24-year-olds are the worst offenders, with 55% admitting they are reluctant to open statements -- a higher percentage than the proportion avoiding booking dentist appointments (48%).

Research respondents indicated that they are just too scared face the harsh reality of their finances (18%), while 7% do not want to know what it is they've been spending all their money on. Meanwhile, 12% claim to be too busy, 7% want to pretend their finances are healthier than they actually are and 9% just cannot be bothered to check.

It appears the recession is at least partially to blame for these attitudes, with 13% of those surveyed admitting they're less likely to stay on top of their finances than they were five years ago.

The consequences of banxiety
While living in financial denial is never good, it becomes particularly dangerous when it comes to credit cards. If you don't keep track of what you are charging (and whether you have enough in the bank to pay it back on time), the balance could spiral as interest charges pile on.

Still, 30% admitted they have paid for a product or service without knowing if they have enough money or credit to make the payment. Women are slightly more guilty of this than men, with 33% of women having made payment purchase without checking their funds, compared with 28% of men.

Although this kind of denial might seem disturbing, it makes psychological sense to many shoppers.

"We've all been guilty at some point of sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to our finances," said Dan Wass, Barclays managing director of current accounts, in a statement.  "No one really wants to know they don't have enough money for something they've spotted in the shops do they?"

Wass added that there are plenty of tools available to help manage banxiety, from mobile apps that track spending, to SMS alerts for bank balances that are nearing zero.

See related: Tips from the pros: How to sort your financial clutter, Understanding your credit card contract: A 5-minute guide to the small print

Published: 9 November 2012