Debt problems can rip families apart, leading to divorce, separation and all kinds of trouble. But it need not get to that stage, as long as the debt – and all the surrounding problems – are carefully dealt with.
The fact is that debt is not just a financial problem – it can be an emotional nightmare. If it were as simple as working a few extra hours to reduce the debt, then it wouldn’t be quite the problem it is.
StepChange, previously called the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, has produced research showing that 2.4 million children live in families with problem debt.
Previous work from the charity shows that 80 per cent of people with debt problems say their financial difficulties are affecting their daily lives, such as by putting pressure on their personal relationships.
More than a third (37 per cent) said their debt problems had impacted their relationship with their partner. A fifth (22 per cent) told the charity that their debts had affected the parent-child relationship.
Debt clearly impacts our families, but there are ways to limit the effect.
A big problem with debt is trying to tackle it on your own. Only a third of those polled by the old CCCS had actually opened up to their partner about their debt. This is a worry. It’s much better to tell someone about debt problems because keeping them to yourself can allow them to spiral.
Often we see that it’s one person who’s racked up the debt, such as through gambling, and it’s really vital they ‘come clean’ to their family about it.
Distress, worry and blame – it’s a recipe for arguments and fallouts that can lead to separation. Half of children in families with problem debt say it causes arguments in the family, according to StepChange.
Even if children don’t know the details of the debt, they will feel the stress from their parents. Indeed the charity says children in families with problem debt are more than twice as likely to be unhappy at school and be bullied as their peers. The worst thing you can do is to argue about the debt problems and create anxiety and stress for you and your family.
The number one most important thing you can do to reduce the effect of problem debt on your family is to act now to cut it and get back on the road to recovery. Seeking help for your debt troubles is vital. You should speak to a professional about how to get out of debt.