This is a guest post from Yaakov Smith, Founding Manager of Logican Solutions
How would you broach the topic of debt with your loved one? You may have noticed worrying behavioural patterns in your partner, such as overspending and a lack of regard for budgets. You might feel that it is your responsibility to let your partner know that you are present, and willing, to help.
Despite your good intentions, debt is a difficult area to navigate. You may be worried that your partner could get defensive or even angry, but don’t feel like you are overstepping your bounds. At this time, it is likely that your partner is looking for help and guidance. They may not know where to start. They may feel ashamed or withdrawn as a result. The best possible thing you can do for your partner and for their financial future is to address the situation head-on and offer a helping hand whenever you can.
Before going full steam ahead, read this article and prepare yourself. It is important for us as a society to overcome the taboo of debt, but money-related discussions should be sensitive and considered. Only once you get everything out in the open can you begin to explore debt management options.
Know the warning signs of someone in debt
If your partner is in debt, they might not come right out and tell you. This could be for many reasons: they might not want to worry you, they might want to resolve the problem by themselves, or they could be in denial. Regardless of the reason, there are certain indicators to keep in mind. This will help you to determine whether your partner is in trouble.
Watch out for reckless spending. Nobody’s salary is so good that they never have to concern themselves with budgets. If you have noticed a number of credit cards in their wallet, if they rarely concern themselves over price, or if they are constantly treating you, be on guard. If your partner has had a credit card declined, this is also another warning sign to consider.
Keep an eye on letters and correspondence that is piling up. If these letters are from banks and your partner seems reluctant to face the information inside, they may well be hiding from the reality of their debt. Similarly, if your partner is dodging his or her calls, they might be actively avoiding contact from the bank or creditors.
Finally, consider your partner’s willingness to discuss money. If they seem on guard or irritable on the topic, then this might indicate that their financial situation is becoming severe.
How your partner might be feeling
It might be hard for you to understand your partner’s mindset, particularly if you have always had a level head when it comes to finance.
Don’t underestimate the psychological toll that debt has on a person. People in debt are more than twice as likely to experience mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. People in debt can feel overwhelmed by their situation and might not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This can present itself in drastic ways. In fact, the Debt Support Trust reports that almost half of people struggling with debt in the UK have considered suicide as a way out.
If your partner is dealing with debt, they might feel a degree of anger or resentment. They might also feel a sense of shame or failure, causing them to withdraw from friends and family. This overwhelming mix of sensations can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. In fact, one study has shown that financial arguments are a top predictor of divorce or relationship break-ups. The best way to prevent this is to begin an open dialogue.
How to broach the topic of debt
Approach your partner in a calm setting. Be understanding and compassionate. At first they might be unwilling to communicate, but reassure them that you are there for them. Offer them your help and support and let them know that you are not there to judge. Tell them that you understand that debt can be terrifying, but it is not the end of the world.
Getting them to talk is the most difficult hurdle. It can be a frustrating process, especially if they are resilient and stubborn, but remember to keep a level head. Don’t press the issue too much to begin with; just let them know they can come to you at any point.
Once your partner begins to open up, listen and be receptive to what they have to say. The true extent of their debt might be overwhelming for you, but don’t allow yourself to get angry. What’s done is done, and all you can do is help rectify the situation.
Getting them to accept a difficult reality
If they still aren’t willing to accept the reality of their debt, direct them to relevant online sources. There are certain online interactive quizzes that can help them get to grips with how extreme their debt really is. This is an integral step. Once your partner accepts their situation and is willing to seek help, you can begin to explore your options.
Know your debt management options
Once you have discussed the existing debt, you will want to put together a plan. Approach an experienced debt management professional for expert help. With advanced insolvency software, these professionals will come up with the best possible debt management solution for you. Depending on your partner’s current debt, his or her income and outgoings and their employment status, various debt management options will be proposed. Bankruptcy isn’t the only available solution. Your partner might be eligible for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or a Debt Management Plan (DMP), both of which enjoy fewer restrictions and are more flexible.
Remember to conduct your own research and ask as many questions as possible. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to put your financial life back on track.