I’ve never really been one to hold a secret about myself. I’m half-decent about holding others’ secrets, but I don’t really see the need to clam up when someone asks a personal question. I don’t get offended, unless their delivery is just really wrong. Obviously, if a stranger walked up to me and asked if we had kids, and I said no, then they responded “Why? Are you impotent? Don’t you have a sex life? Don’t you like kids?”, I think I would be a bit put off.
So from impotency, we jump right over to debt. As you know, I’m very open about our debt situation here at Clever Dude, but how am I in my daily life? Do I use this site as my secret outlet and not tell any friends or relatives about it?
Heck no! I tell everyone about my site! My parents, friends, pastor, grandmother, boss and coworkers all know about this site, and some even read it daily (Hi Grandma!). So why should I be so open about my debt? Or should I say “Why aren’t I too ashamed of my mistakes to talk about them?”
Seemingly, most Americans are very fearful to talk about finances with anyone, often even their most trusted friends (including their spouse). Perhaps we fear that people will use our money problems against us, which is possible. Or maybe we worry that people will think less of us because we weren’t as smart with our money as we should have been, which is possible.
But what seems to be the case most often is we are so ashamed ourselves of our mistakes that we feel that burying the truth will free us from the problems we created. We’ll just keep paying that 20% credit card, or struggle with a $600 car payment when we can only afford $300. No one has to know we can’t afford what they see on the outside because we’re hiding it all on the inside. But let me tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Ways to Make Your Debt Public
You have many ways to slowly expose your problems to people you should trust, while keeping it secure from those you don’t. You can also use various media to work through your internal struggle anonymously until you feel prepared and confident of yourself to let your friends in on your life. For example:
- Talk to your spouse/partner – Before you speak to anyone else, if you have a partner in your life, you need to be open with them about your worries. They may or may not already know about your debt (hopefully they do), but if not, you need to be open with them as soon as you can. Your partner is your best bet at devising a working plan of attack to get out of this mess, unless they’re the cause of it. However, this isn’t a post about trust and honesty in your marriage. That’s for a different time.
- Create an anonymous blog – Although I’m mostly anonymous to you, the people close in my life know about this site, and thus know about our debt. If you want to know more about starting your own site, check out my 50 Tips for New Personal Finance Bloggers article. The beauty of a blog is the ease to create one and the ease to update it. You might think that you need an audience to begin to feel better about what you’re writing (such as your outstanding debts), but you don’t need a single reader. Just writing it down and publishing the text is a relief in itself. Go ahead, try it!
- Attend a Debtors Anonymous meeting – I’ve never attended one, but there’s nothing more liberating and comforting than knowing you’re not alone in your mistakes. You’ll see people with such little debt compared to you that you’ll wonder why they’re even complaining. And then you’ll see people in such a financial mess that you wonder how they dragged themselves out of bed to the meeting, since you would have been too depressed to do so yourself.
- Talk to your friends, pastor, mother – Now we’re branching out from anonymity to the wide open world. Hopefully you have someone you can trust to keep your problems secret (for now), but keep in mind, you want to move towards full acceptance of your mistakes and your debts.
Through the methods above, the hope is that you’ll begin to feel comfortable with talking about your debt to anyone who has the balls to ask. Look at me. I tell all of you about our debt (and my mistakes at the same time). I also tell my parents, coworkers, boss, all relatives, random strangers, and those two yippie dogs down the street. Why? Because I’m proud that I recognize my problem and have a plan to get out of debt.