Talking about debt with your partner, spouse, children or other family members is a difficult thing to do. Still, it can be a liberating and highly productive step to confront debt guilt and shame and work together towards finding a solution. Here’s how to get the whole family talking about debt and seeking debt help if necessary.
Talk about debt with a partner or spouse
Are you hiding debt from your partner? It’s best to approach the debt problem in a calm discussion when bringing up money and financial expectations in general, preferably early on into the partnership. Talk about your shared financial goals and come clean about any obstacles and setbacks, for example, old unpaid debts such as various types of debt you’ve taken before the start of the relationship.
Being honest about financial struggles with your partner is key to a successful relationship. It’s essential to get them on your side so you can receive encouragement and work things together towards a common goal – paying off debt.
Still unsure about sharing your debt woes with your significant other? Imagine celebrating every small win and progress together instead of feeling lonely and depressed about your mounting credit card bills and different types of unsecured debt that you struggle with monthly. Why not make it a fun and rewarding challenge for both?
If your partner is in deep debt trouble, try to be supportive and helpful instead of confronting or judging past spending choices that may not have to do anything with you. It’s vital to listen and not lecture on what they have to say. Maintain an open, two-way conversation in which both can safely discuss resolutions without judgement.
Talk about debt with children
Perhaps you’ve grown up without the money talk around the family table, or you don’t know how to bring up the topic in an easy way for small children to understand. It’s ok; taking baby steps to open up the money topic makes it easier for everyone.
When the opportunity comes, such as denying children a new purchase or saying no to an expensive treat, explain your decision and introduce short conversations about needs versus wants, cash versus credit, and savings versus spending.
A great idea is to let the children lead the discussion and ask questions rather than lecturing or monopolizing the subject. If you’re discussing debt and its implications, think of gamification or easy examples (paying cash vs credit card) to explain various types of debt. Start with what types of debt are there and the worst types of debt. Illustrate the difference between secured and unsecured debt, good and bad debt.
Encourage saving wherever possible instead of credit by setting simplistic money goals, e.g. saving for a video game or school holiday instead of funding these through credit. Be enthusiastic about their saving progress and reward their commitment. Every small step counts!
Finally, be realistic about the family’s debt problems without adding more pressure or stress to the whole situation. Children should not feel guilty about their parents’ debt issues or be afraid of a debt repayment plan. Make them understand that debt is not the enemy; it is simply a financial tool and a choice that carries specific terms and consequences.
Furthermore, seeking debt counselling when things get overwhelming is not a sign of shame or weakness. Having the courage to break the debt cycle is the first step to taking better control of finances.
Talk to family members about their debt
Speaking with a loved one about their spending habits or debt problem is a tough situation. Family members and friends may feel insulted or attacked if you dare discuss their financial choices or blame them for being over-indebted.
Instead, start the conversation by focusing on your debt issues and your way of dealing with debt repayments, perhaps suggesting what works for you or offering help and support in seeking a debt counsellor. Sharing your debt story may motivate family and friends to open up about their problems and take swift action in eliminating debt.
It’s important to support family or friends going through financial hardship or an extensive debt counselling process. While most people think of finances and debt as private matters and not for social circles, it is far easier to discuss problems, compare and share strategies via teamwork.
For example, you could join forces with a family member or close friend in budget planning or monitoring the progress of each other’s debt repayments. Have a frank discussion with them about the possibility of renegotiating loan terms or consolidating multiple debt repayments into one manageable instalment.
People want to be comforted and know they are not alone in feeling or acting a certain way under pressure. In the end, dealing with debt should not be an isolating incident but an opportunity to bring up a financial resolution, change and hope for the future.
Need help with paying off debt? Our professional ezDebt advisers can help you stay on track with debt repayments through quick and affordable debt counselling. All our debt counsellors are registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR). Get in touch at www.ezdebt.co.za.