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Lying to loved ones about debt - the true behaviour of cash strapped Brits reveals

10th August 2015 Print

Brits in debt play down the scale of it hugely, with people actually owing more than double the amount they tell their partners, according to the latest insight from MoneySuperMarket.

The comparison site investigated how truthful consumers are with their partner, friends and family about their bank balances, and found a third (33 per cent) of those with debts have masked the amount. This rises to almost two-fifths (37 per cent) of women who bend the truth about money, whereas men in debt are more honest with 29 per cent having lied. Overall, people in debt are most likely to keep it a secret from their family (23 per cent), followed by friends (18 per cent) and partners (15 per cent).

However, cash strapped Brits understate the amount most to partners than to friends or family. People in debt tell their partners they owe an average of £8,687, but in reality the figure is more than twice this - £17,481 on average. Those hiding the truth from their family have £9,926 worth of debt, but claim to owe £5,192. Meanwhile those who aren’t honest with their friends say they are £8,292 in debt, but actually owe £11,896.

Why lie?

The main reason for hiding debts is down to feeling guilty or ashamed, with two-fifths (41 per cent) stating this, followed by feeling stressed (21 per cent). In addition, 10 per cent have lied as they feel their partner, friends or family would be angry or wouldn’t approve (10 per cent).

Furthermore, a substantial number of people in debt do not plan on confessing to loved ones anytime soon. The majority (53 per cent) of those who have lied to their family will not reveal the truth soon, while 41 per cent do not plan to tell their friends and 23 per cent do not plan to tell their family.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket said: “Debt can be a significant burden and can cause considerable stress for not only you but also those around you. However, it is worrying that so many people with debts are masking the real truth from the people closest to them. This could cause further damage to relationships if and when the truth comes out. 

“The best way to cope is to tackle debts head on, not to bury your head in the sand and be honest to those closest to you, as they are the people who can often provide help and support. Firstly, make sure you are paying the lowest interest rate possible on your debt. The lower the rate, the faster you will repay it – even if you can’t afford to increase your monthly repayment. It’s also worth looking into consolidating several debts onto a cheaper form of credit, such as a card that charges zero per cent on balance transfers. Alternatively, a low rate credit card or loan may be a good option.“Simple steps such as working out a realistic monthly budget and making spending cutbacks where possible can also make a big difference to your bank balance. There are also free debt charities such as Step Change or Citizen’s Advice who can offer additional help or advice.”