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How I Came Clean About My Debt Without Feeling Shame

By Kayla Sloan
November 25, 2017

Being in debt can feel like the worst thing in the world, especially if most of your debt is high-interest consumer debt that you brought upon yourself for spending more than you earn.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

When I first realized the extent of my debt, I felt shame and embarrassment. For these reasons, I kept my money issues to myself. But, I needed to deal with it somehow, so I started an anonymous blog to talk about my debt. I also did this to stay accountable to myself as I worked toward improving my finances. I kept my debt secret for a long time and didn’t disclose my financial state to anyone I knew personally, including my friends and family.

Why We Feel Shame About Debt

Looking back, I simply felt too much shame about the hole I had dug myself into. I now realize that the way I felt is not uncommon among those who find themselves mired in debt.

A report from WalletHub showed that the average credit card debt per household in mid-2017 was $7,996. And, even though debt is common, most people still feel a lot of shame when they can’t seem to pay off their mounting bills. Some of your shame may come from feeling incompetent when it comes to handling finances. Or, perhaps you’re embarrassed because you now recognize that you were blinded by the allure of spending using your credit card. But, there’s one thing that we can probably agree on: it’s not smart to get yourself into debt.

Another thing leading to feelings of shame and embarrassment: you may not feel comfortable talking about money. Thus, you don’t seek help. This can often result in a vicious cycle. You hide your money matters because you feel shame, plus you don’t talk about it. Instead, you put on a show and continue spending like nothing is wrong. All the while, you’re secretly stressing because you’re getting deeper and deeper into debt.

How I Got Over the Shame of Being in Debt

So, if you find yourself in this boat, what can you do to turn your money sitch around for the better?

Well, taking a page from my book, I recommend coming clean with yourself and your family about the extent of your debt. Trust me, I know it’s hard but if I can do it, you can too. Although I was nervous to share my financial problems, I can tell you this for sure: I no longer feel shame about my past financial situation. I stopped the cycle in its tracks. Plus, because I had been using my blog to tell Internet strangers about my finances for a year, revealing my debt had become more “normal” to me and this helped pave the way for me to talk about money with those I care about most.

Another big perk about my blog that I can share with you: many of my blog readers revealed stories about their own debt. This made me truly appreciate that I’m not alone, and neither are you.

Coming Clean to My Family

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Christmas day when I came clean about my debt. Although it was a tough conversation to have, I felt good knowing that my family had a clear picture of what was going on. Plus, since I had already been working on improving my finances for about a year, I had a plan to get out of debt. To boot, I could show progress up to that point.

My family was supportive and made sure to tell me they were proud of me for taking charge of my finances and working to improve them.

Benefits of Being Honest About Your Finances

After the big debt reveal to my family, I realized that admitting your financial problems to your inner circle can have several benefits.

For instance, my friends and family now open up to me about their finances as well. Plus, we all work together to stay accountable and avoid overspending on impulse purchases and guilty pleasures. It’s no longer “weird” for us to talk about money, and we all benefit from the honest conversations.

Turn Your Guilt Around

Keep in mind that although it’s no fun to feel guilty about your debt, this can be a turning point for you. As you can see from my own experience, you can use your guilt and shame to propel you to change your behavior and work up the courage to come clean. You may be surprised by how supportive your friends and family are. They may even personally help you get your finances in shape. Take it from me, this is a better alternative than digging a deeper debt ditch.

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