Why You Should Tell Your Family About Your Debt

Posted by Kristen on October 15, 2012

When you are struggling with debt, it can be a very stressful and emotional time. Since I have been dealing with my student loan debt, I understand how overwhelming being in debt can be. Even though being in the red and struggling with money isn’t uncommon, it’s not something we like to talk about. Many people are ashamed of their debt, embarrassed by it, don’t want to acknowledge it to themselves, or want to pretend that they are doing just fine to the outside world. Some don’t want their families and friends knowing they are having financial problems at all. But sharing your debt with your family and friends can actually help you in many ways.

Photo source: Kristen

Telling Your Family About Your Debt

Here are the 7 reasons I told my family about my debt and a few tips on how to come clean:

  1. Hiding your debt can cause more debt.
    Admitting to your family or friends that you can’t afford something is difficult. So in turn, many times instead of saying that you’ll have to miss out on attending a family vacation, that you can’t buy an extravagant Christmas gift, or really can’t afford to go out to an expensive dinner, you’ll turn to a credit card to pay for these things. When in reality, any extra money should be going to your debt. If you are open about your current situation, you can explain that you simply can’t afford certain luxuries right now.
  2. Your limitations will be understood.
    Going along with that same idea, it is a good idea to alert your friends and families or your financial limitations. This way you don’t have to constantly feel guilty if you’re being pressured to host a party or spend money on a pricey gift. If I would have been open about my debt and financial situation a few years back, I probably wouldn’t have been asked to stand up in my cousin’s wedding. Had I been upfront, I could have asked for a different special role that allowed for less financial obligations.
  3. They may be able to give you advice.
    You may not even realize that your friend or family member knows more than you thought about finances and budgeting. If you tell them your situation, they may be able to give you great advice. Whether they’re an expert on taxes, know about filing for unemployment, or even just know of fantastic ways to save money on everyday expenses, they can have something knowledgeable to share with you. When I talked about my student loans with my best friend, she gave me great tips for saving on the cost of gas since I drive back and forth to work every day.
  4. Job opportunities could come up through them.
    If you’re battling debt, chances are you’re looking for ways to earn extra money. In many cases, your friends and family are your greatest link to finding that income. They can keep their ears open for people looking for a handyman, a tutor or babysitter for their kids, a dog walker, restaurants hiring servers, or whatever part-time or side job you could do to score extra cash to pay down your debt. And if you’re looking for a full-time job, they can help you network and get your resume around to help you land an interview even faster.
  5. You may discover they have their own financial worries.
    The same way you were once hiding your debt, it would be just as easy for them to be trying to hide it as well. Letting them know what you’re facing right now, may make easy for them to let you know of their own financial struggles. In this case, you can both be supportive of each other and find inexpensive activities to enjoy your time together.
  6. They can offer encouragement and support.
    Just because you tell them your situation, doesn’t mean you’re looking for their sympathy. You can actually turn it into a positive experience by getting their encouragement and support. If you confide in a friend, you may be even more compelled to get out of debt to share your good news about your progress with them.
  7. It’s nice to talk to an outside party about your problems.
    Dealing with debt can add stress especially in a marriage. Most married people say that money problems are the number one reason why they fight and even get divorced. So if you’re married, it might be beneficial for you to have an outside source you can talk to and confide in besides your partner. It’s hard when the debt is so consuming that it begins to impact your relationship with your spouse. So occasionally, instead of unloading your concerns and issues on them, you can talk to a trusted friend.

Tips for Sharing that you’re in Debt

  • Don’t share your financial troubles because you’re looking to borrow money from them. Borrowing money from friends and family can severely negatively affect your relationship.
  • Before you share anything with anyone, be sure that it is something that both you and your spouse agree to. If your partner does not want other people knowing about your debt, you need to respect their wishes. The last thing you want to do when you and your spouse are dealing with debt, is to betray their trust or do something against their wishes.
  • Make it clear why you’re telling them. Whether it’s because you’re not going to be able to do something or if you’d like advice, they should know the reason behind you telling them.
  • If they aren’t receptive or seem uncomfortable, just let it go. Talking about money is strange for some people so don’t feel bad or get upset.
  • Don’t just tell them you’re in debt, but tell them what you’re doing about it. This way they aren’t just feeling bad for you, but they are able to support your efforts to get out of debt.

Would you tell your family and friends about your debt? What other benefits are there from coming clean about your debt? What tips can you share about how to tell them?

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