Debt

How To Tell People You’re Paying off Debt (without sounding like you’re in debt)

how to tell people you're paying off debt

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Let’s face it. Many people have credit cards. Store cards. Finance agreement and personal loans for cars and furniture. An everyday clothing purchase is often met with an “upsell” offering you a discount when you sign up for an account in their store. People are “eligible” for a new credit card daily. Yet when it comes to discussing our personal finances, the word “debt” is such a taboo subject. Why is it socially acceptable to get the latest smartphone, and yet we feel judged when we say we’re in debt? It is possible to tell people you’re paying off debt without being judged. Here’s how. 

Debt is Bad Mmmkay?

The sheer word “debt” conjures images of shackles and slavery. Traps and pits of doom and gloom. “Credit” on the other hand, sounds much more favourable, doesn’t it? It’s because credit is a positive word. People give you credit for doing a good job. You’re praiseworthy. You’re a top, credible person!

You are much more likely to be approved for a loan or similar credit line when your credit score is good, than when your credit score is bad. A bad credit rating can make you feel unworthy, a failure. If you have a bad credit rating (perhaps through no fault of your own – maybe you have no credit history), you’re not worthy to join the elite club of those who have an excellent one.

Given a different perspective, a credit card isn’t actually as great as we’re led to believe. If someone offered you a “debt” card, and told you that for every £1 you used, you’d have to give them £1.29, would you do it? How about if they gave you £100 to spend but you had to give them back £129 of your hard-earned money? I’m guessing not, but that’s what people in debt do when they open a credit card.

Now, what if a friend invites you to an occasion that’s going to cost you about £100? You want to go, but you’re also paying off debt. Also, you don’t really want to tell them you can’t come because you can’t afford it. Maybe you also don’t particularly want to say “I can’t come because I’m paying off debt”.

Change Your Perspective

Personal finance is such a taboo subject, and it really shouldn’t be. We talk about our physical health and ailments with no qualms, so why does the opposite apply when it comes to mental health and debt (which often go hand-in-hand)?

Using the above example with a different perspective on the words “credit” versus “debt”, turn your response into a positive one.

“Thank you so much, I’d love to come, however, I’ve already allocated my budget for XYZ this month.” This is because you’re a budgeting queen and totally on top of your finances. If you don’t have a budget, here’s where to start.

I’m saving right now, so I’m watching my spending.

“That sounds totally amazing, only I’m saving right now, so I’m watching my spending. Thanks for inviting me though!” Because obviously, you are saving your money to pay off your debts. I like to think of it as saving in reverse.

Imagine a line, with a middle point. The left-hand-side is your negative net-worth, and the right-hand-side is your positive net worth. Since taking control of your money, your income is now higher than your expenditure and gradually, all the money you are saving is bringing that line closer to the middle. Eventually, you’ll meet your financial progress in the middle and watch as it climbs beyond the centre line, leaving debt and shackles and slavery firmly in the past.

You can absolutely tell people you’re paying off debt if you want to (I do now, and I don’t care, but it wasn’t always like that). But if you feel even the slightest bit squeamish about it, just change the wording.

You Are in Control

By choosing your words carefully, you’re not only painting yourself in a smart, organised light, you’re also empowering yourself. You’re taking control of your financial situation, of your life, and how you choose to live it.

Be proud of yourself and your debt-free journey, because you WILL get through it and out the other side. And everyone else will still be in shackles.

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How to tell people you're paying off debt

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