According to Krediidiinfo AS, around 87,000 Estonians had a long-term debt last month, that is, they have been unable to clear the outstanding balance within the last 12 months. Household Finance and Consumption Survey indicates that many adults lack basic financial skills.
Alar Jäger, Krediidiinfo's Deputy Director, told ERR radio news that the majority of the outstanding debts are small, a few thousand euros in average, although he knows of more severe cases where debtors have lost their homes.
Triin Messimas from the Estonian Banking Association said that the basic mistake that people make in the day-to-day running of their financial affairs is not planning ahead. She named little income and difficulties in covering even daily expenses at the end of the month as the main excuses people usually make for not saving up.
At the same time, most people agree that they should budget and save. "The problem is that they have the relevant knowledge, but no habits or experience to go with it," she said.
Although last PISA test showed that Estonian pupils have good financial literacy skills, there will always be people out there whose attitudes no amount of lessons or campaigns can change, Jäger said.
"We have observed those processes in the European countries and it is unfortunately the case that about 2 to 3 percent of all people are unable to adequately assess their financial commitments," he said. This means that many people, when they reach adulthood, take on financial obligations that they are unable to fulfill.