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Debt Confessions: How to Get Passed Shame and Talk About Debt

Our recent poll on Debt Confessions revealed that 36 per cent of Canadian couples don’t talk about debt or finances with each other. Of this group, baby boomers and gen-xers are the most likely to hide financial habits from their spouse or partner. And, those who don’t talk about their finances are the most likely to struggle with heavy debt.

The emotional side of debt

Debt can stir many different reactions from people, depending on their relationship with money. This can be especially apparent when you are part of a couple because your partner’s views about debt and personal finance may not reflect your own. Some people accept debt as a way of life and something that is necessary in our society to get ahead. Others hate the thought of relying on debt and will do anything to get rid of it as soon as possible. Additionally, many others are caught in a cycle of relying on debt, despite their best efforts to avoid it, which leads to guilt, shame and low self-worth. Understanding your debt options and improving your financial literacy as a couple can help you change the outcome of your debt relationship and give you deeper insight into your financial habits.

How to begin the conversation

Admitting you’re struggling can make you feel vulnerable and intimidated, even if you are speaking to your partner. Here are some easy ways to make the discussion as painless as possible:

  • Start by talking about goals – What are you and your partner’s goals for the next 5, 10, 15 years? When does your partner plan to retire? What are their dreams? This can set a positive tone for the conversation.
  • Come clean – You both likely have habits or money behaviours you wish to change. Own up to them and tell your partner what you want to change going forward.
  • Come up with a plan – Discuss ways you can dig in and get back on track together. This might mean finding ways to pay down debt, earn more money, or save more for long term goals.
  • Create new goals, together – Being a team means working together to reach important milestones. Make a list of short, medium and long-term goals that you can both work toward. Use this guide for advice.

Ways to find relief

There are many resources available for couples to improve their financial literacy and find debt relief:

  • Add up all your combined debts using an online debt calculator.
  • Go over your available options using a repayment options calculator. This will allow you to see how much each option will cost you per month, over a 3-year term.
  • Book a no-obligation, free consultation session with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or a credit counsellor. They can provide information about which debt relief options would work best for you and your partner.
  • Use the Financial Toolkit provided by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada or Test your financial health together by taking this short quiz.
  • Follow Golden Girl Finance blog for money motivation and advice

Are you ready to open up to your partner about your debt struggles? Join the conversation and find more tips on Twitter by searching the hashtags #DebtConfessions #LoveAndMoney #DebtSolutions

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