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Should I talk to my family about my debt? Part 1

Posted 27 August 2015 by Christine Walsh

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How to approach the subject of debt with partners, children and family.

At the Debt Advisory Centre we completely understand how difficult it can be to open up about problem-debt, even to those closest to you. You may find that you have remained silent for a few reasons; perhaps you hate the idea of worrying your nearest and dearest, or maybe you’re ashamed to have found yourself in debt in the first place. Some people even find themselves in the situation where their other half knows nothing about the debt at all and so to tell them would come as a big shock.

While it’s not always necessary to speak to family about debt, if you remain completely silent you can end up pushing away the people who you need the most to help you through this time. You may also find trying to keep the secret is stressful and it could take a toll on your mental and physical well-being.

Let’s have a look at when you should tell your family about your debt and how we’d suggest you do it.

Your other half

If, as we suggested, you are in a large amount of debt and your significant other doesn’t know about it, then it usually makes sense to come clean in this situation.

You should tell them in this case because you are more likely to deal with your debt successfully if it’s a team effort and you’re not worrying about keeping something important from someone that you care about. It’s also unfair to keep someone in the dark about financial issues as they could affect their credit rating as well as your own.

It is possible that any debt that you have could affect your partner if you are tied to them financially. For example, if you had a lot of debt that you were keeping a secret and you then tried to take out a joint mortgage or tenancy it may prove difficult because of your poor record. Or if you have a joint financial product already and your partner tried to take out a loan in the future for instance then it’s possible that your lower credit score could affect the outcome of that application.

Telling them

This is understandably a very scary thing to do, especially if the relationship is a long term one and you share some aspects of your finances.

The best way you can go about breaking the news is to make it very clear while you’re explaining the situation that you understand that this is a problem. You should explain that you already have a plan to deal with it and that you’d like their help and support to do this. Be honest and understand that your partner will have a lot of questions for you and may be upset about the news.

Before you approach the subject, have a look around the rest of our site for helpful advice about the solutions available to deal with problem-debt. You’ll see that there is always an answer – you could even give us a call and speak to one of our experts. This way you’ll also be able to talk about your plan to deal with the debt so your partner knows you’re really focussed on changing the situation.

In a situation like this it is usually best to tell the truth about your situation. The truth could well come out by itself anyway if your lives are really linked, through phone call and letters from your creditors. Added to that, it will be fairer to your other half so that they can avoid having their credit rating damaged and you will avoid the stress of trying to keep an important issue a secret. Remember that there is always a solution for every debt problem so have a look round the rest of the site to see what could be available to you. If you’d prefer to speak to us then our expert debt advisors are only a phone call away.  

by Christine Walsh

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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.