19th October 2021 | 6 minute read

Is your borrowing keeping you awake at night?

ilumoni recently conducted research with 2000 borrowers to understand how we in the UK feel towards our debt, and how that might change depending on region, age, gender or other factors.

The results are in line with what we expected but the figures themselves are still shocking so, in this series of insight blogs, we’ll be looking at the different issues that came to light, and how you can ensure you’re in the strongest position possible to manage your borrowing.

All statistics referenced in this post can be found in our report ‘Borrower confidence, capability and stress: is the UK borrowing well?’. Read the report here.

Borrower stress is widespread

Stress and worry come in many forms for all of us, at different times in our lives and for many reasons. It can even result in sleepless nights.

Our research found that 1 in 3 UK borrowers regularly feel stressed, down, depressed or anxious about their borrowing (29%) and 1 in 4 (27%) regularly lose sleep as a result of their borrowing. That's an awful lot of people worrying a lot of the time. At ilumoni, we'd like to do as much as possible to help reduce those numbers.

The impact of sleep deprivation

Hundreds of studies have been conducted into the effects of sleep deprivation on our ability to manage our day to day lives and the NHS advises that adults should be getting around 8 hours of sleep each night in order to perform at their best. 

When we don’t get enough sleep, not only do we become potentially more irritable and perhaps less patient, but our work can suffer and our problems become magnified. What’s more, our ability to manage our impulses has also been shown to decrease, which can leave us susceptible to making poor or risky decisions that compound already difficult situations. 

We found that over 1 in 4 (28%) UK borrowers typically feel ‘debt regret’ and, given 29% of people in our survey admitted to regularly feeling overwhelmed when making calculations about borrowing, including figuring out what is owed and who to pay, a less than clear head isn’t going to make things any easier. 

What can be done to reduce the worry caused by borrowing?

Mental health problems can come from having debt issues, as well as causing them. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate the cause and effect and anyone suffering from mental health problems needs support in a number of different ways. Seeking help can be difficult, but it’s important to have a diagnosis and seek the support of professionals if you need it. However, there’s also a lot you can do to take control and make improvements that in turn may ease mental distress. 

Get to know your debt

While it can feel scary and overwhelming, getting to know your debt is a really important first step in addressing it. Worries can often come from the fear of facing it as well as the extent of our debt, but really getting to know how much debt you have and more importantly, how much it’s costing over time can help you start to take action to change things.

So steel yourself, find some time when you’re not going to be interrupted and get determined to really understand your borrowing, the interest you’re paying and what you can afford to pay back after essentials each month. 

If you’re unsure where to begin, read our recent blog ‘Do you know how much your debt is costing you?’, where we’ve provided a breakdown of the steps to go through when you need to get a handle on your borrowing. 

Make a plan

Once you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll be in a strong position to make a plan to get on top of your borrowing. This could involve changing your repayment amounts (such as fixing a payment rather than paying minimum) so that you pay less interest overall, or consolidating balances to simplify your outgoings and reduce how much you pay out on debt each month.

It can be hard to work out which things to do first or for the best and it’s important to remember that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to managing debt better. But sometimes, small changes can have a big impact on the time it takes to repay or the total amount you pay for the debt overall. So spending time to work through the steps can not only make a big difference to that but also to how you feel about your borrowing overall.

Talk to someone

Whether it’s talking to someone about your worries or a financial services professional about your debt, knowing there is someone else on hand to provide support can be really helpful. But we know this can be really nerve-wracking. Almost 2 in 5 (38%) borrowers feel nervous about talking to financial services providers about their borrowing at least some of the time, with over 1 in 5 (21%) saying they feel this way most of the time. Almost half of UK borrowers (48%) would prefer to use an app or online chat than speak to someone about their borrowing at least some of the time, with over a quarter (28%) saying they feel this way most of the time. So if that’s you, you’re not alone.

But talking to your financial services providers can really help if you can’t find ways through your debt worries by yourself or with the help of an app, such as ilumoni. They may be able to agree to a repayment plan that is spread out over a longer period of time, or help you with a payment holiday. Both of these may cost you more in the long run but ease your day to day spending pressures. 

Finally, if you can’t get a plan of action that works via ilumoni or your credit providers, you can always talk to charities such as StepChange or Money Helper, both of which are designed specifically to help with debt problems for free. And if the ilumoni app thinks you would benefit from their help, it tells you.  


Anxiety and worry often come from a place of uncertainty or being unable to see your way to solutions. By truly getting to know your debt and the options you have to change things, you can begin to feel more confident in your ability to manage it well. As we’ve seen, borrower stress is common and, if you’re experiencing any of those feelings, you are most definitely not on your own.

Start your #BorrowWell journey with ilumoni and download the app today. 

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Continuing the series, we’ll next be considering how our age can have an impact on the way in which we borrow, and how we feel towards our debt. Keep an eye out for that blog post. 

If you're concerned about your finances or are struggling with debt, the organisations on our Debt Helplines page can offer you additional support or advice. 

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ilumoni is a trading name of Monely Limited registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (928933 and 928681), registered in England and Wales (Company number 11886611), Registered Office: The Barnsley Digital Media Centre, County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW

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