Debt matters – Why we all need to discuss it

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As conversation topics go, debt is perhaps one of the biggest taboos of our age. When people start experiencing money troubles, it’s something many prefer to keep quiet about and deal with themselves.

If the problem becomes worse, then it’s common for individuals to wait until the ‘breaking point’ before actually turning to help.

Worryingly, the most recent statistics from the Money Charity indicate that levels of debt are increasing in the UK. The group estimates that people owe a total of around £1.6billion – up from last year. Furthermore, the organisation revealed the average household debt – including mortgages – is at almost £60,000.

At the National Debt Service, we want to make debt a normal conversation topic. After all, if you’re dealing with the issue of debt alone, this makes it much harder to deal with. Encouraging open discussion, and normalising the matter, can really make a world of difference.

The distinction between good and bad debt

First though, it’s important to note that being ‘in debt’ is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, student loans pave the way for education, a mortgage is often vital for securing a house, or finance may be required for securing a car. Sometimes getting into debt is necessary so we can advance with our lives.

Debt only becomes ‘bad’ when it becomes unmanageable. If interest rates build up and the prospect of paying these off seem unlikely, that’s when debt can cause problems – and it might be worth seeking help to resolve the issue.

Why don’t we discuss debt?

The reasons for debt being a taboo topic are unclear. Potentially, it could be down to the British attitude of not ‘wanting to make a fuss’. Alternatively, we might feel we don’t want to burden our loved ones with financial problems.

Regardless, The Money Advice Service reports that almost a third of individuals keep debt secret from their partners – with more than half of these people not wanting them to worry about the situation.

Although it can be easier to pretend everything is alright, the consequences of not talking about debt can make matters worse, potentially leading to anxiety, lost sleep, or a variety of mental health issues.

Therefore, opening up to at least someone about it can potentially make all the difference.

What help is available?

Initially, it can help just to talk to a loved one or someone you trust. Potentially, you could find out these people have also dealt – or are dealing – with their own debt problems. This, at the very least, can demonstrate that you’re not alone – and illustrate that debt is surprisingly common.

Alternatively, independent advice is available – as well as a variety of solutions which can help you get back on top of your finances.

For example, one of the most popular solutions we help people with is an IVA. A legally binding agreement, this arrangement freezes interest rates, sets out a repayment plan, and can ultimately write off large sums.

Other options include debt management plans. This informal solution is used to resolve non-priority debts and aims to make finances much easier to manage. Another benefit of this solution is that it can be a free service.

Truthfully, there are a wealth of solutions out there to help deal with debts. From debt consolidation loans to relief orders, there are so many potential ways to regain control of your finances.

The all-important thing though is to make that first step. By opening up to friends and family, we can identify that we’re not the only ones in this situation. We can also share our debt problems – ultimately, this will make the matter much easier to deal with.

This article was provided by Tom Chapman, content manager at National Debt Service. The organisation is an established debt solution provider and strives to get people talking about debt.