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Why is debt such a difficult conversation?

Ask anyone about their financial situation and they’ll probably get very uneasy. As conversation topics go, debt and money are treated much the same way as politics, sex, or religion. In this case, though, it’s something that is generally not spoken of and treated as a dirty secret.

The reasons for this are varied. For example, many don’t want to feel like where they are having a conversation and they’re burdening others with their debt. Others feel they lack the confidence to discuss the matter or are concerned about being judged for their financial status.

As a result, almost half of all adults in the UK are reportedly hiding debt from their significant others – in many cases, going up to thousands of pounds.

The consequences of hidden debt

Although debt can be a challenging conversation topic, hiding away from the issue is never a good solution. Once payments start being missed, creditors will take the necessary steps to reclaim what’s owed. From sending letters or calling home, it’s almost impossible to keep the situation a secret.

Moreover, when the partner inevitably finds out, the secret debt can lead to trust issues and relationship problems.

Why we need to have conversations about debt

It’s unusual that debt is such a taboo conversation topic considering how normal it is. Just about everybody owes money. Whether through a mortgage, student loans, or just from typical expenses, it’s very hard to find someone who isn’t in debt.

Yet, bottling up the issue can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression – not to mention make the debt worse. It’s important, therefore, to work together to help normalize the topic. After all, due to this stigma, it’s common for people to wait months before even choosing to tackle the problem.

Being honest and open with trusted friends or family members can be a good start to tackling debt issues. Initially, it can be greatly beneficial to talk through concerns with a supportive person. As a bonus, it aids mental health through problem sharing.

Secondly, by talking through debt with others, it helps to highlight that debt is extremely common. While it’s pretty standard to feel like the only person in the world struggling, the reality is very different.

Finally, by sharing our own experiences of how we resolved financial issues, such as through debt consolidation or an IVA, it helps spread the message that help is available – and no one needs to suffer in silence.

Fundamentally, debt needs to be normalised

The longer debt remains a taboo topic, the harder it will be for people to reclaim control over their finances. If you don’t have a trusted friend or family member to discuss money worries with, there are fortunately several organisations which can help – many with trained staff who will happily provide free money advice.

Make no mistake, the road to normalising debt is a long one but, by working together, we can all help to make the matter easier to deal with.