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Talking to loved ones about your debt

Talking to loved ones about debt

Talking about debt is hard even at the best of times. Thousands of us keep it secret or try to handle it on our own. This puts stress on our mental health and relationships.

Keeping debt to yourself can:


  • Add to stress
  • Lead to conflict in relationships
  • Make it harder to recover

Be open and honest with people you love. Having support can make all the difference. Here are our tips for starting the conversation.

Get debt advice to make a plan.

We help thousands of people every week to deal with debt and get their lives back on track.

Free debt help is available online 24/7.

Talk to someone you trust

Is there anyone you feel safe to talk to?

Having someone to talk to can help you:


Others you know might be worried about debt too. Talking can be helpful for everyone.

Need help with debts?

Money worries?

Find out how we can help you.

Get help now

Telling your partner about your debt

It can be hard, but you need to talk to your partner about debts.

They may already know.

They may have noticed that you are:


  • Stressed
  • Distant
  • Arguing
  • Not talking
  • Not sleeping
  • Not eating
  • Showing signs of mental health issues

If you are married or living together, keeping your debts secret could:


  • Impact their credit file
  • Affect your joint bills
  • Lead to trust issues in future

When you talk to your partner about debts

Reassure them


  • Let them know you are dealing with it
  • Tell them that you are getting help from professionals
  • If you are working with StepChange, explain that it is a free and confidential debt advice charity

Tell them your progress


  • Explain where you are in your debt advice journey
  • Show them your budget
  • Talk to them about the different debt solutions
  • Explain that your credit file is repaired while you are on a debt solution

Ask them to work with you

Do you share bills and living costs?

Maybe your partner could help take the pressure off by:


They may also be able to help you with:


  • Choosing a solution
  • Sticking to a budget
  • Focusing on the future

If you think speaking to your partner about debt could put you or your family in danger, contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline.

Lessen the load in other areas of your life

Stress builds.

Debt worries can combine with other life worries to make things worse.

The two biggest steps you can take are:


  1. Ask for help
  2. Spend time with loved ones

You might be able to combine these steps to ease the pressure you feel.

Get your family to help with housework

Having a messy house can lead to more stress - but keeping on top of chores is its own full time job.

It does not have to be perfect.

Plan your meals together

Invite the whole family to have a say in what is for dinner.


  • Plan a weekly menu
  • Do the food shop together
  • Share the cooking

You can read more about meal planning here.

Put time aside with your partner

Make sure to check in with each other while you work through your debt problem.


  • Go for walks when the weather is nice
  • Take up a free hobby together
  • Pick a film to watch and discuss

Relate is a charity that can help if you have trouble communicating with each other.

Take care of yourself

You mental health and relationships can be impacted by:


  • How much rest you get
  • Make sleep a priority and try to stick to a bed time.

  • How much you exercise
  • You can stay active without spending money.

  • What you eat
  • Nutrition helps you feel better in yourself.

I cannot tell loved ones about my debt. What can I do?

There are other ways to get support if you do not want to talk to family or friends about your debt.

The Mental Health and Money Toolkit from Mental Health UK can help with your financial and mental health.

The toolkit takes you through exercises to:

  • Support your mental wellbeing
  • Help you tackle your debt

Rethink Mental Illness has information about what you can expect from your GP if you are experiencing a mental health problem.

Other sources of help

Talk to the Samaritans if you are in emotional distress. You can do this anonymously.

Talk to your HR department if you are working. Your employer may have ways to help you.

Online communities for debt problems can be a valuable source of support.

You can also contact your debt solution provider.