Debt is a fact of life for Americans. It’s incredibly common – and yet, it can be incredibly difficult to talk about, even with friends, family, and trusted advisors.
According to recent reports, the average US household owes about $135,768 in debt, with the average American reporting about $38,000 in personal debt, as of 2018. Americans accrue debt due to any number of reasons, with credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and student loans serving as some of the primary drivers of consumer debt in recent years.
But even as debt and other financial problems continue to become more commonplace, reports indicate that people still have significant trouble discussing financial matters in depth, particularly with romantic partners and family members.
For instance? One recent survey, cited by the consumer information site NerdWallet, found that almost half of all Americans (44%) say that money is the most difficult thing to talk about — placing it above such difficult and hot button subjects as death (38%), politics (35%), and religion (32%). This tracks with a 2019 survey reported by CNBC, which found that 47% of Americans “felt uncomfortable discussing their credit card debt with anyone,” and almost a third (30%) felt uncomfortable talking about credit card debt even with immediate family. That survey, in fact, found that people were generally more willing to talk about their health, including their weight, than their credit card debt.
At the same time? Debt and other money matters have repeatedly been shown to be a major source of stress among families and couples – to the point where some partners and families simply try to avoid talking about money altogether. In fact, a 2018 survey, brought to our attention by CNBC, found that “only four in 10 couples discuss their financial goals with each other,” and just 9% “discuss money matters in a planned, deliberate way.”
There’s no denying that it can be intimidating and stressful to talk about debt. Even knowing that you’re not alone in facing debt and other financial hurdles, it’s easy to become shy and feel isolated when it comes to discussing money matters. You may be afraid of starting fights, putting pressure on your family or friends, or, above all, facing judgment and criticism from the people in your life who matter most.
However, remember that it’s often going to be beneficial to put your concerns and doubts out in the open. Your trusted friends and family can’t help if you don’t let them in. It can be hard to move forward and find solutions that may work for you – including consulting with an experienced attorney about bankruptcy, counseling, or other lasting methods of debt relief – if you don’t take the initial steps to get the conversation going.
Here are three things to keep in mind as you consider discussing debt – and debt relief – with friends, family, or local professionals:
Consider the Upsides
It can be easy to dwell on the negatives when you think about having important conversations about money – but what about the positives? Thinking about the positive outcomes can be a great motivator to move forward, whether that means reaching out to an attorney or letting close loved ones in on your situation.
And those positive outcomes are very real. In addition to discovering and pursuing remedies that you may not have known about before, discussing debt and money concerns has been shown to have remarkable benefits. One study from the Journal of Applied Communications Research, for instance, found that participants tended to fear negative consequences from having difficult conversations – but most reported having positive results from beginning the dialogue. Meanwhile, one prominent study cited by The Money Pages found that beginning the conversation about debt, including reaching out for advice and guidance, led to big changes, with 56% of survey participants saying they felt able to deal with day-to-day life better, and 51% saying they were sleeping better.
Remember: It’s About Trust
Talking about money and debt can be intimidating. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re facing financial difficulties, you’re certainly not alone. If a fear of judgment or reprisal is holding you back, remember that millions of Americans have been where you are – a number that may well include close friends and family members. At the same time, remember that people find lasting debt relief and solutions every single day. But you’ll never find answers and remedies if you don’t begin the dialogue, whether with a loved one or a knowledgeable counselor.
In a similar vein, remember that reaching out for help can be a way to strengthen your personal relationships. It’s easier to share the burden, and you may find your relationships with friends or loved ones becoming stronger, the more you’re direct and honest about your financial health.
Focus on Goals
Studies have shown that setting goals can be incredibly beneficial for you productivity, and your overall well-being. In some ways, it may also prove beneficial to frame your debt and money conversations around where you want to go, rather than where you are. This is particularly true if you reach out to an attorney to continue discussing real estate, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and debt relief in more depth. Having a clear goal for the future can help make it easier for you and your experienced attorney to consider all of your options, and set out to find the solutions that will best work for your personal circumstances.
Getting the Conversation Started
Want to keep the debt relief conversation going with an experienced Chicagoland attorney? If you’re seeking answers or want to get a handle on your unique situation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Gunderson Law Firm to start the discussion.
At the Gunderson Law Firm, our team of attorneys and staff are experienced and knowledgeable in the many elements that go into real estate and bankruptcy law for Illinois residents. Our professionals possess unparalleled expertise and insight, bolstered by years of experience and valuable connections with many of the top real estate and financial professionals in Chicagoland.
Above all else, we are committed to providing the advocacy you need without the attitude you don’t. If you have found other lawyers to be more about their egos than about your case, talk to Gunderson Law Firm. Our attorneys are not only highly knowledgeable and experienced, but very down-to-earth. We’re all about great representation and timely results, tailored to your unique circumstances. Drop us a line whenever you’re ready to keep the conversation going.