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Tackling your debts

Don’t let secret debts wreck your relationships

Posted 09 December 2013

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Concealing debts from family members could make a bad situation worse, but it’s something 11 million people in the UK admit to doing.

"When I first started work, one of my new colleagues confided she had a shopping problem."

She would use credit cards to spend hundreds and, on occasion, thousands of pounds on clothes, shoes, boots and handbags that she couldn’t afford.

Much of the stuff she bought never saw the light of day. Rather than admit to borrowing money, she hid the carrier bags at the back of her wardrobe where her partner wouldn’t see them. You can imagine the result when he did find out.

Yet she is far from being alone in hiding debts from a loved one: research by debt advice and solutions provider the Debt Advisory Centre shows that almost a quarter of people in the UK (22% or 11 million adults) keep debt secret from their partners or family.

Slippery slope

Concealing your borrowings is a dangerous thing to do, even if the amount you are hiding is quite small.

For starters, the fact you are keeping your debt a secret in the first place means that you already suspect your partner or family won’t approve - most probably because you can’t afford the extra expense of repaying it.

When you have kept this type of secret once, it will feel easier doing it again, and you could find yourself sliding down a slippery slope of unmanageable debt.

You might start with a small debt - but if you don’t keep up with repayments it could end up costing you your credit rating, your home, and even your relationship if things get out of control.

This Debt Action Plan has more information about Credit Card Debt.

Clear and upfront

While you may have got into difficulties with your borrowing by yourself, the problem is likely to have an impact on your partner and family too. So isn’t it fair to come clean about your situation?

Being clear and upfront about what you owe and what you plan to do about it means you are likely to gain the trust and support of your partner. You could work out a budget together and decide jointly how much you can afford to repay each month.

Hiding your debts is likely to have the reverse effect if and when your money problems are discovered. After all - if you don’t trust your partner enough to tell him or her about your financial situation, why should they trust you?

Seek help

If you - and your partner - have already tried to repay your debts without any success, it may be time to seek expert help.

Debt Advisory Centre has a lot of experience in helping people with their debt problems, and offers several different solutions, including debt management plans. This might be worth looking into as a possible solution to your financial situation.

Fill in the form at the side of this page and we will call you to chat through the issues that are worrying you and see if we can suggest a suitable solution to your debt worries.

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.