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Scots more willing to talk religion

One in five keeps debt a secret from their other half

Scots would rather talk about religion than their debts


One in five adults keeps their debts a secret from their other half because of lingering embarrassment about owing money.

New research also reveals Scots would find it easier to talk about politics and religion than discuss money matters.

Adults across the UK are hiding more than £96 billion of debt from their friends and family, while the average person in Scotland has £5,041 of hidden debt.

The figures emerge from a study by the Money Advice Service for Talk Money Week which is designed to improve people’s money management skills and financial wellbeing.

Of those in a relationship, 22% in Scotland say their other half does not know about all the money they owe, while 3% admit their partner is completely in the dark about their debts.

However, it’s not just our partners we are keeping this secret from. Four in five (83%) say their close friends don’t know about all of their debts. Men are less likely than women to open up about it  – 88% of men admit that their close friends don’t have a clue about their debts, against 79% of women.

The research finds that credit cards account for the largest quantity of hidden debt (44%) in Scotland. An overdraft from a bank or building society (17%), a store card (13%), a personal loan (13%) follow. Meanwhile, 8% of all those with debt hide payday loan debt.

Many of those with debt in Scotland say that they don’t want to burden others with their financial issues. For example, 53% say they would prefer not to talk to their friends and family about it because they don’t want them to worry. One in five (21%) say they don’t have the confidence to speak to those closest to them about their finances.

In fact, people in Scotland find it easier talking politics with their family than they do dealing with money problems (64% vs 49%). The same can be said for religion, with 63% saying they find it easier talking about faith than money. Overall, 21% say they find it difficult talking about money problems and debt with their family.

Furthermore, 64% find it easy talking about personal health with their family. Yet a third (35%) of younger adults in Scotland, aged 18-34, have had trouble sleeping thinking about their hidden debt.   

Caroline Siarkiewicz, head of debt advice from the Money Advice Service, commented: Sometimes it can be easier to pretend everything is all right and avoid opening up about our debt problems to escape the tough conversations.

“Not because we want to cause harm, but because we want to shelter those closest to us from our problems or are concerned about being judged. However, this rarely solves the issue. In fact, it often makes things worse.

“Debt can be a particularly difficult topic to broach, especially if you’ve fallen into a spiral and don’t know how to get out of it. But sharing a problem is the first step to solving it; it’s always better to be open with your loved ones when it comes to money.

“As it’s Talk Money Week, there is no better time to start opening up about your finances. Whether with friends and family or a partner, use this week to talk about your money worries. And remember that free and impartial debt advice is available near you.”

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