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Talking to Loved Ones About Debt

Debt can be overwhelming. It can make you feel anxious and hopeless and afraid. It can also be something that many people want to hide. In our society, people do not talk about money and financial matters very often, and they discuss debt even less. Unfortunately, this means that many people struggle with debt alone.

Talking about money and debt can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, since money isn’t spoken about often, it can be very tough to discuss debt with your loved ones. Being open and honest about debt is important, especially with those you care about.

Here are some tips for talking about debt with your loved ones.

Talking About Your Debt

If you are dealing with debt, talking to someone who cares can be helpful. They might be able to help you understand your situation, share tips on managing finances, and provide moral support to keep you motivated.

  • Talking to friends and family members
    • Your friends and family can help you deal with your debt and their support can help relieve some of the stress and confusion that often comes with debt troubles.
    • Pick a time when you’re feeling relaxed and calm. Start small and consider asking them for advice on a particular issue, such as putting together a budget. Tell them you’re having trouble making everything balance and ask if they have any tips, for example.
    • Many people feel stress when they try to “keep up” with friends and family by going to restaurants, buying presents, and taking trips they can’t really afford. If this situation is causing you stressed with your loved ones, be honest with them about the situation and recommend some alternatives instead.
  • Talking to your partner
    • If you’re in a serious relationship, talking to your partner about your financial situation is especially important. Hiding debt from your partner can lead to significant financial difficulties, incredible stress, and – eventually – relationship problems.
    • Talk about debt when you’re feeling calm and relaxed, not when you’re dealing with a stressful money issue. This will help you approach it more rationally and less emotionally.
    • Be honest about your financial situation and let your partner know how you’re dealing with the problem or planning to deal with the problem. If you don’t currently have a plan, ask them for help. This can be tough to do, but it’s important.
    • Let them know what sort of help you’re looking for. For instance, if you feel like you need to wait a few more years to make a big purchase (such as buying a home together), make sure you tell your partner. Setting expectations in this manner is important for both of you.

Talking About Their Debt

It can be tough to watch someone you care about struggle with debt. If you feel like a family member or close friend might be having debt issues, talking about it can be very helpful. However, you’ll need to be sure that you approach the situation with care.

  • Don’t be judgemental. Talking about debt can be very tough. If your loved one feels like you’re judging them or looking down on them, they won’t be willing to talk.
  • You may wish to start the conversation by mentioning some of your own money issues. For instance, if you have decided to put off buying something because it isn’t in your budget right now, mention this fact. Bringing up the idea of budgeting and money management in this context can make it more comfortable to discuss the issue.
  • Telling someone about your own financial struggles and how you deal with debt can help them be more willing to open up to you.
  • Listen to what they have to say. If your loved one is willing to discuss finances with you, make sure you listen. You don’t want to spend the entire conversation talking about yourself and what you think. Instead, listen to them and keep your words positive and non-judgemental when you do speak.
  • Offer your help. Let your loved one know that you are there for them if they need help and make sure you give them the help they’re looking for, not what you think they need. For example, if they want assistance coming up with a plan to pay their credit card bill, focus on this area for now.
  • If they tell you they’re only looking for support or encouragement right now, don’t be offended. Give them what they need and they’ll feel more comfortable talking to you in the future.

Talking about debt can be very tough, whether it’s your own debt or someone else’s debt. If you try to have a conversation and it doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would, stay calm and try again later.