Being in debt is an extremely stressful situation to find yourself in. Some people even feel ashamed, wrongly blaming themselves for something that is often out of their control. It’s often extremely difficult to open up to partners, family or friends about the extent of the problem and ask for help.

Keeping debt secret

Final demandsA study from debt advice and solutions provider Debt Advisory Centre Scotland shows that one in 20 people in Scotland hide debts of more than £10,000 from their nearest and dearest. And it’s not just those who have debts of that scale who feel the need to keep it all on the down-low – one in five Scots keep their debts secret when they average around £2,763.

So, that’s around 1.1 million people (21%) who don’t tell their friends, partner or family about the extent of their debt. And keeping it quiet means they’re far less likely to tackle the problem before it gets even worse.

Harmless or not?

More than half of those who talked about their secret debt owed less than a grand, but nearly a quarter are hiding debts of between £2,500 and £5,000, and one in ten are concealing between £5,000 and £10,000. Meanwhile, a still disturbing 5% are pretending their debts of over £10,000 aren’t happening.

This has huge ramifications for that person’s relationship and future financial situation, and shows just how much people are struggling with debt.

Ian Williams of Debt Advisory Centre Scotland says: “The fact that you are keeping the debt secret indicates that you probably couldn’t afford to spend the money in the first place – and if you’ve done it once, you’re likely to do it again. You could very quickly find yourself struggling to repay unmanageable debts that threaten your credit record.”

Relationship problems

Dealing with hidden debts will have a massive effect on any relationship where joint finances are a factor. Credit scores can be affected, which will have a knock-on effect regarding your ability to secure credit or a mortgage and, of course, keeping such a secret could be hugely detrimental to your partner’s feelings. Financial problems and arguments are still the leading cause of divorce [1], so taking control of these issues can mitigate these kinds of problems.

The solution is to try to take control and climb out of the grip of debt immediately. Being honest about your finances is the first step; taking control of a sensible and manageable household budget is the next.


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