40% of people keep secrets from their loved ones about money, according to research by the Money and Pensions Service. This includes hidden debts on credit cards and loans. Find out why it makes sense to be open about your money worries and discover how you can find help.
Not talking about money can cause problems. When your finances are in a bad place, money worries can even affect your mental or physical health. And if there’s dishonesty within a close relationship, it can seriously damage trust.
But if you do find it difficult to talk about money with people close to you, you're not alone according to research by Lloyds Bank and the charity Relate:
- 50% of UK adults believe that talking about personal money matters is taboo
- 44% of people have avoided discussions about money
- 37% of people in a relationship have argued with their partner about money.
How to talk about money worries
There’s no right or wrong way to discuss your finances. But if you need to start a difficult conversation about money, the Money and Pensions Service has some tips on how to make the conversation easier.
Be aware of emotions
Be mindful of your emotions, as well as the emotions of the person you are talking to. Getting emotional is ok, but getting angry or upset might prevent the discussion you need. Tell yourself that you can express these emotions at another time, but this conversation requires your mind to be clear and logical.
If you start talking over each other, the conversation can easily turn into an argument. You might find it hard not to interrupt as you probably have a lot to say, but the best way to work through the issues will be as a team. Don’t blame anyone for interrupting: acknowledge it’s is an emotional topic and find a way to let everyone speak.
Being judgemental is only going to make the other person shut down. Avoid starting sentences with accusations. The faces you pull and the words you use all matter.
Keep to the topic at hand
Bringing up other issues and complaints isn’t going to help your financial situation move forward. If you feel this might be a problem, write a list of things you can and can’t talk about. By sticking to this, the conversation will be easier and more focused.
Discuss who can help
Think about who may also be able to help. Charities or organisations might come in useful so have websites ready to look at or phone numbers to hand.
Download: Money and Pensions Service: Talking About Money (pdf)
How to find help
If you or someone you know needs support on how to manage finances or debts, you can get free support and advice from Citizens Advice and from our partner organisation, StepChange: the UK’s most comprehensive debt advice service.
You can also contact our own Guideline team and they’ll help you find specialist guidance.
In 2020, we referred more than 3,300 residents for free, expert debt advice. This led to £11.3m of debt being written off for these people.
Jack’s story: “It’s a weight off my shoulders”
“I got into debt in my early 20s. I didn’t even realise I was getting into debt as it was so easy.
“Every time I went to buy something in the shops I was offered credit instead of just paying for it. My bank who were meant to be keeping my money safe extended my overdraft from £250 to £1,000 after a five minute web-bot conversation.
“I was in the pub when I applied for a payday loan using my phone: the money was in my bank account in 15 minutes. I think I saw their advert on social media and didn’t understand interest rates, so thought it was an easy way to borrow small amounts.
“I hid this initially as I didn’t register the debt building up as I had a full-time job which meant I could afford the repayments. It became a problem for me when my temp contract ended and my new job was for less money.
“Even when I began to receive demanding repayment letters I hid it from my parents as I knew I would be told off because I had always been told not to be stupid with money.
“In the end, it felt less stressful to stop keeping secrets from my family and open up. As expected, I was told off but it wasn’t too bad.
“They had been aware that something was getting me down, but didn’t know what it was, so they felt better knowing what the problem was and being able to help.
“My parents helped me to access free debt advice from StepChange who put a repayment plan in place and the letters stopped.
“Before I spoke to my parents I had no idea that help was available as my friends never talk about money or debt. I still don’t like to talk about it, but I’m pleased I managed to as it has been a weight off my shoulders.”
My parents helped me to access free debt advice from StepChange who put a repayment plan in place.
Debt Awareness Week: 22-28 March
Debt Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by one of our partners, StepChange: the UK’s most comprehensive debt advice service. It aims to open up the conversation around debt and encourage people to take the first step and seek advice.
You can find out more on the StepChange website where you’ll find a range of guides, including:
- paying off persistent debt
- dealing with debt stress and mental health
- how to get emergency funding in a cash crisis.
There’s also a coronavirus and debt information hub with step-by-step guidance for people on reduced incomes due to coronavirus.
Debt advice guides
For Debt Awareness Week we’ve created a series of guides and articles to help you manage your money and personal wellbeing.
Debt Awareness Week survey
Coronavirus has caused debt and money worries for many people. Share your experiences in our quick, anonymous survey – whether you’re struggling with money or not.
This will help us understand how residents are coping at this difficult time and enable us to shape our services to better meet your needs.