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Young consumers increasingly take new loans to pay off old ones

Roughly half of the money owed by young people in Finland is in the form of consumer and small loans.

kuitteja läppärin vieressä
File photo. Image: AOP

An increasing proportion of the debt carried by young consumers is consumer loans, rather than student or housing loans, according to the Guarantee Foundation, a group that helps individuals solve financial problems.

The foundation's communications director, Minna Mattila, said that people of all ages are increasingly paying off old loans by borrowing more money.

"In order to avoid receiving payment arrears notices, people are paying off old bills or debts by taking new loans. By doing this, it can take a long time before the debts are paid up. This phenomenon is constantly being seen across all age groups, even among young people," Mattila said.

Some 1.6 million new payment default notices were sent to consumers in 2018, according to corporate data firm Asiakastieto, a figure which is slightly lower than the previous year.

However, Mattila said that as consumers are increasingly paying off loans with new ones, so those figures may not be showing the real number of people struggling with debt.

New phones, new loans

People under the age of 25 appear to be taking on increasing amounts of consumer debt and borrowing smaller amounts of money.

Last year some 40 percent of that younger generation's debt was not made up of housing or student loans, according to Statistics Finland. As housing loans have decreased in numbers, other debts have doubled, according to the agency's 2018 figures.

Mattila said that many of the Guarantee Foundation's clients say their debt problems began when they were younger and living on their own for the first time.

"It is very common that people buy new phones on payment plans before the old ones are actually paid for. Those bills seem small to them, but as they start to add up, they can be difficult to pay off," Mattila said.

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