Why It’s So Hard Talking About Debt 

April 18, 2017

Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or relative about debt that went completely wrong?  Or was just plain awkward?  I’m a huge proponent of being open about finances because I think it creates a learning experience for all involved.  I find that talking about my financial mistakes openly is beneficial for others as a learning experience.  I also enjoy others stories about how they’ve conquered debt or saved because it gives me hope and inspiration.  Reading financial blogs has become a staple in my day and I have no idea what condition my finances would be in without them – which says a lot because they’re pretty freaking awful 🙂

So why is it that there are still so many bad connotations regarding money discussions? It’s 2017 not 1940 and sometimes I still find myself on the bad end of an “I’m too broke for that” joke.

Does FOMO Drives Us To Shirk Debt Conversations? 

Obviously the most common response to this would be that no one wants to admit they’re broke in front of their well off friends. If all of my friends are doing well and I’m the only one drowning in debt I definitely would steer away from the conversation. I would never want to admit my failure or financial mismanagement in a group of successful and savvy friends. But there is another side to this …

I know this sounds crazy but I would be more embarassed in my particular group of friends if I were well off.  We’ve spent years joking about our massive debts.  We relentlessly make fun of our “rich friend” who isn’t actually wealthy but has a normal sized savings account and minimal debt.  To us she seems like a millionaire when looking at our $100k+ student loans.

Yes, that’s a terrible thing to admit, but the one thing that’s actually brought us closer is our debt.  The fact that we steal leftover office party pizza to take home for dinner, and keep ziplock bags in our purses in case someone brings in muffins, has created a comradery amongst us.   I would feel completely left out if I couldn’t be part of the conversations.  I would be afraid it would put a damper on our bond.  I know you’re thinking that is CRAZY! But misery loves company.

As humans we’re jealous creatures which is the whole reason a lot of people get into debt in the first place.  I don’t believe FOMO (fear of missing out) would drive people into debt in this context but I do believe it would deter them from engaging in the conversations.  As hard as t may be to bring up your failure in a group of successful it can be equally hard to do the opposite.

Pure Embarrassment 

Sometimes it’s just plain embarrassing that your finances are a mess.  You don’t know how to talk about it without spilling out your deepest secrets about how you bought a stupid car you couldn’t afford at 23 or racked up $17K in credit card debt (oh wait that was me …).  I don’t think you should spill your life to coworkers you don’t really know or random people on the street but some of the best advice I ever got about finances were from friends I finally opened up to.  They taught me how to save and how to think about purchases.  Not all of the advice was good but there were some hidden gems that I still use today.

Since I’ve started this blog it’s made me feel very exposed about my finances but it’s also made me feel SO supported in my journey.  To know there are people out there that have similar burdens does wonders for motivation. I opened up to a friend recently about my student loans and to my shock she said she actually has more!  She was so relieved I said something because she finally had someone to talk to that wouldn’t judge her decisions.  It was wonderful to feel like I actually helped someone sleep a little better at night knowing they weren’t the only one with massive debt.

I hope that the blogging community continues to grow and open up more discussions about debt and finances.  How have you experienced discussions about debt in your life?


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