Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?

In my previous post Living on £100 per Month, I mentioned that I told my friends that I was paying down debt and saving for my future travels. As you know, back in May I started budgeting, cut out many things that I used to enjoy and started counting every penny. Summer was fast approaching, and I knew my friends would be doing all sorts of fun things. We always plan fun activities for the summer such as taking road trips, attending festivals and concerts, checking out Sunday markets, organising fancy dress parties, trying out new bars and restaurants, to name but a few. London is an amazing place where things are happening all the time. This is especially the case during the summer months. Unfortunately for me, I was not going to enjoy what London had to offer this summer. Instead, I was going to embrace a frugal lifestyle which (and this is no word of a lie) I started to really enjoy.

After declining a couple of offers from my friends to go out and feeling bad about it, I felt that I had to give them a valid reason as to why I stopped going out and doing things. Since we are close friends, there was no escape. I didn’t want them to think that I stopped enjoying their company and didn’t want to spend any more time with them. So I told them the truth: I have debt, I am paying it off and saving for my travels along the way. The debt part was not an easy thing to admit, but I had to suck it up and just say it. I didn’t go into too much detail and didn’t mention the amount of debt I was in. Well, the only person who knows the exact amount of my debt to the last penny (apart from you guys) is my best friend. He knows about this blog too, although I don’t let him read it just yet (and it’s not the debt part that puts me off, it’s the writing part. What if he doesn’t like my writing?).

As for my family, they all know that I have debt. What they don’t know is the exact number, and I don’t think I want to reveal it. I just don’t want them to start worrying. My parents and my younger sister know that I have a blog where I write about all things finance while paying off my debt. They know that my lifestyle has changed completely and that I keep track of every penny that goes in and out of my hands. My parents have offered to help financially, but I declined. I got myself into this mess, so it is my job to get myself out of it. On my own. I think to me it’s the way I handle money that matters the most, and this is my ultimate goal that is probably even bigger than paying off my debt. I want to learn how to handle and manage my money; how to budget effectively; how to save and grow my money; how to stop being a spender and become a saver. Yep, that sounds about right. I have learned so much about money since I have embarked on my journey to debt freedom, and I am so excited to be able to share my experiences with you.

Telling the truth has not changed my friendships. They are still growing strong. Most of my friends have similar goals, and although they do occasionally splash on things, they are very good at managing their money. Some of them have debts too; some don’t. It has been a great revelation to admit that I have debt and that I am paying it off and saving for my travels, and I am so glad I did. My friends have been very supportive and have been more than happy to do fun things on a budget. My family has been extremely supportive too, and for this I am so very grateful to both my friends and family!

Have you told your family and friends about your debt (if you have/had any)?

Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret - Girl Counting Pennies

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32 Comments

  1. I think that definitely says something about your character that you declined your parents’ help and taking care of your debt all on your own! I’ve seen some TV shows where they had their parents bail them out, only to get back in the same predicament they were in a few years ago! I think the lesson sticks more when you accomplish getting rid of it yourself. My parents know I have it, and so does my partner, and they’ve also been supportive. It’s awesome what a strong network of support can do for your morale and motivation!
    anna recently posted…Having the Ramos LegsMy Profile

  2. The weirdest thing with my friends, even if they don’t have much debt and make a lot more money than we do, is that they all say they’re not doing well. I don’t know if it’s the Asian side in us that say these things to seem “humble”. But they all say they’re not doing well and then the week after they have a new car or go on a fantastic vacation. I wish I can talk more honestly with people around me.
    Michelle’s Finance Journal recently posted…Three Day WeekendMy Profile

    1. It’s a shame that you can’t be more open about your finances with your friends. I mean, I don’t tell them all the details, but it’s nice to be able to talk about it from time to time. I don’t quite understand why it’s such a taboo subject, but to be fair sometimes I can sense that not everyone wants to discuss money. I sure am glad I can discuss it all I want in the blogosphere 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  3. All my family and friends know about my debt, they just don’t know how BIG it actually is…J is the only person who knows about my blog. I don’t know if I’ll ever tell anyone in my real life about it…

    I admire the fact that you turn down financial help from your parents because you wanted to get out of debt yourself. Most people would be tempted to take the “free” help. Good for you Eva! 🙂
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted…End of August 2013 Debt Repayment UpdateMy Profile

  4. Anna – In response to your comment above, I completely agree and I think it is essential to get out of debt on your own in order to change your future mindset – check out my linked post.

    Eva – I think its great that you talk openly and honestly with your friends. After all, that is what friends are for! They will be able to help you along the way and I think that many would be interested in your blog.

    Its much better to explain that you can’t go to event X, Y or Z because you are worried about the cost and explain in detail why, rather than just saying “No, I can’t make it, again!!”.
    moneystepper.com recently posted…Repeat offenders – criminal vs financialMy Profile

    1. I totally agree with you, I couldn’t just say “I can’t make it again, sorry”, I had to have a chat with most of my friends. I’m glad I did. That’s a huge weight off my shoulders. It was interesting to find out that some of my friends had debt too, some had paid it off and started saving, some never had debt and had been saving all their life… But everyone was so understanding, it felt great!
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  5. I know what you mean – it’s definitely weird having conversations with friends about money. I stick by the saying that money and friends do not mix. Of course, all true friends should understand if you are in a tight situation and want to get back on track, but I just find the conversation about saving awkward. Ever have a friend that was cheap (not frugal) and never stopped talking about money? I had a friend like that once and we all got very annoyed whenever he mentioned it. Naturally, paying down debt is a bit of a different tune but I do try avoid being ‘that person’.
    Liz recently posted…Paradise in Herceg Novi, MontenegroMy Profile

    1. Thanks for your comment, Liz. I know that some people avoid talking about money, but I just don’t quite understand why… Is it because these people have debt too and they don’t want to be reminded about it? I don’t see another reason why people would avoid this subject at all costs. We talk about everything else? So what is it about having money talks that puts people off? I was this person who hated the money talk and I know why, because I had debt and I didn’t want to think about it, let alone talk about it. I was in denial. Now that I’ve finally taken control over my financial life, I love talking about money and listening to what other people have to say. Everyone’s different I guess.
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  6. I’m sure your best friend will love your writing! What’s not to love? I’m glad you’ve been open with your friends about your debt, I bet it makes your life a lot easier! My best friend knows the exact amount and she is just brilliant, so supportive. Most of my family know about the debt but not the figures. They’d probably have a coronary if they knew the extent of it all! Literally!
    debtfreeoneday recently posted…How to stop wanting stuff that you can’t affordMy Profile

    1. Aww you are so sweet! Thank you for the kind words 😛 I know where you’re coming from about your family not knowing the exact figure. I don’t want my family to worry about me too much, and if they knew, they’d definitely worry. As long as I have it under control, I think they don’t need to know 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  7. I don’t have debt but have talked to my close friends about my blog and my money, um, challenges. I feel better about being open and now so many of them are on board with me to do frugal things. I did have one friend tell another friend that she doesn’t want to ask me to do things because she was “worried about my money,” which is offensive and ridiculous because a) I’m a big girl and can say no, or suggest a cheaper alternate to something that cost more, and b) the same thing, we can do something like go for a walk. It was just an excuse so she didn’t have to plan things. Some will be on board and some won’t, but it feels good to be open…that being said you never have to reveal your exact number. Don’t feel pressured to ever do that! 🙂
    Budget and the Beach recently posted…It Started With Lip GlossMy Profile

    1. That’s great that some of your friends do frugal things with you! All this money talk made my best friend cut out cable TV, haha! I don’t think I’ve ever felt pressured to disclose my exact number, and I wouldn’t tell anyone unless I felt comfortable. Also, I think my parents don’t have to know, full stop, why give them another reason to be worried about me? But overall, yes, it feels great to be open about it. I think my debt was my darkest secret, and I’m glad it’s not anymore! 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  8. Only a very small few of my closest friends know about my actually student loan total. It might actually only be one or two. The rest know about student loan debt because they all have some too. But no one ever talks about it. It’s like a disease that needs to be hidden!

    I guess I find most of my friends aren’t really all that interested in talking about money, debt, investing, budgeting, etc so it’s nice to come online to find “online friends” who are interested in talking openly about these things!
    Steve recently posted…Why You Should Rent vs BuyMy Profile

    1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with talking about finances with your friends. Now. I used to think differently just over 4 months ago. It’s a personal preference though, but I understand that there are more interesting topics to discuss 😛

      Yeah I agree with you about online friends and PF community, it’s great to connect with like-minded people.
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  9. My parents know the exact amount of debt I have, and they know that I’m trying to put as much money as possible towards it. My girlfriend knows how much debt I have as well. Most of my relatives don’t really know how much debt I’m in, but they all know that I have student loans. Whenever they make a joke about being rich with my job out of college, I always remind them that most of that money is going to college.

    My close friends all know I have student loans as well – some of them do too. But once again nobody knows how much! Luckily a lot of things I do with coworkers and friends are not too expensive so I don’t have to avoid that much. If we do go out for lunch, I make sure to order water and something less expensive. Drinks? I only get one so I can still hang out.
    Debt Hater recently posted…Monthly Budget Report – August 2013My Profile

    1. I like how you approach going out with friends in terms of that you will have only one drink and still go out for lunch but will order water instead of a soft drink. I think this is something that I will implement at some point too. I don’t drink alcohol so I won’t have to spend big bucks on fancy cocktails when out with work colleagues and friends. I don’t think this is something I would do every week, but perhaps twice a month so I can still pay off a good chunk of my debt/save for my travels and socialise with my friends and work colleagues.
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  10. I think it is your choice whether to reveal your financial situation or not. AS with all other problems it is important though to have someone you can share most if not all things with. After all no man is an island and sharing our troubles to our loved ones gives them the chance to love us more. I do understand and agree with you though on doing it your way in getting things right. I think you did the right thing in sharing it to your friends without going too much into details. You don’t have to be pressured to reveal anything you’re not comfortable with. They are your friends after all and should be able to understand you whether they agree with you or not.
    Marissa@Thirtysixmonths recently posted…How to Sell Things OnlineMy Profile

  11. I am pretty open about my debt when it comes to my family. I don’t walk around and mention it all the time, but they’re well aware.

    Like you, I wanted to learn how to handle my own money so I refused any help from my mom. My brother is the complete opposite, he’s older than me and still depends on an allowance. He is also too ashamed to tell us exactly how much debt he’s in. I think if he opened up about it, it would be the first step for him toward his financial independence.
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…August 2013 Net WorthMy Profile

    1. I guess everyone’s handling this differently. Perhaps your brother hasn’t realised yet there is a problem. Or perhaps his debt is not that big to worry about too much. The fact that I am fairly open about my finances with my family and friends has helped me realise I’m on my way to “recovery”. It’s great that you can be so open about your debt too 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Weekend Link Love #1My Profile

  12. When it comes to debt, I find no reason to hold secrets. The way I look at it is, we all have spent more than we should have or made a comparable mistake. In some cases, it’s not a mistake, it’s brought upon people like a plague in time of financial hardship. It can happen to anyone so, there is no need to be embarrassed about it. The key is, focusing on fixing the underlying problems that lead to the debt in the first place.
    Josh R. (CNAFinance.com) recently posted…How To Make A Budget Spreadsheet That Makes Budgeting Fun!My Profile

    1. I love your comment, Josh. I have to admit I was a little ashamed of my debt. Not even my debt, but the fact that I’ve been in and out of it for a while now. It started with a student loan, then I got a car and at some point I remember taking out a credit card and then another. Oh dear. What was I thinking? I completely agree with you, it’s important to fix the underlying problems that lead to debt. Up until recently I had no idea what a budget was, I was unable to keep any track of my money or I just didn’t want to. All things come to an end, so here I am on my journey to financial enlightenment 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Weekend Link Love #1My Profile

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