A budget plan can help to keep track of income and expenses.
Milena KalinEditor Economics
Debt is one of the biggest taboo subjects. According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), in 2020 more than four out of ten people lived in a household with at least one debt, such as vehicle leasing. But leasing can turn out to be a debt trap. It becomes even more problematic when buying becomes intoxicating.
“Anyone can become addicted to shopping,” says Christina Messerli (50), therapist at Berner Gesundheit, a contact point for addicts. Triggers can be strokes of fate such as a divorce or the loss of a job. How to escape the debt trap? The following points can help.
One possible tool is budget planning. A budget provides an overview of income and expenses. But if you don’t stick to the budget in everyday life, it’s ineffective. It is therefore also important to open all letters and organize the documents. This is the only way to keep track.
Multiple bank accounts can also help with budget planning. Each account has its own purpose. Money Chat, an advice service on money issues from three specialist centers in prevention and advice, advises setting up an account for fixed costs, one for everyday costs and a savings account.
Caution is advised when purchasing on account and with credit cards. Because you only pay for the product afterwards. You quickly get the feeling that you can afford more than is actually the case. Installment payments also carry a risk.
It is therefore best to only pay with money that you actually have in your account. So preferably with cash, Twint, with a debit card or prepayment.
If you are addicted to shopping, it is worth applying for a prepaid card, advises the Swiss Debt Advisory Service. This card must first be loaded with money before it can be used. You can only spend money that you actually have.
Be careful with leasing contracts
A major debt risk is hidden behind leasing contracts. This is particularly popular with cars. As long as the contract is running, you can use the car. You pay a fixed monthly amount for this. But you don’t own the car. As soon as the contract expires, you have to give it back or buy it at the residual value. However, other items of daily use, such as televisions, can also be leased.
If the financial situation deteriorates during the contract period, leasing can become a major burden. Budget planning is therefore particularly important here. The same applies to the purchase on installments.
Seek advice early
In general, it is important to seek advice as soon as you can no longer pay your bills. Just talking about money can also help. In most cases, people only come to the advice very late, as the debt advice knows. But even then you can still do a lot.
Millions of loss certificates with a total value of 20 billion are in circulation in Switzerland. 60 percent of them never get a refund.