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Britons hiding debt from loved ones

Britons hiding debt from loved ones

Category: Money

Updated: 22/04/2010
First Published: 22/04/2010

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.
A snapshot of personal debt in the UK has uncovered some worrying trends, with one fifth of respondents admitting to hiding their money problems from their partners.

Research conducted by the Post Office has revealed that the average Briton has debts of £9,731.51, not including their mortgage.

However, on average, people only admit to half of what they owe to a partner or family member.

In fact, more than a fifth (21%) of UK residents are hiding the scale of their debt problem from their other half, while more than three in ten people (31%) admitted to downplaying the extent of their debt when talking to other family members.

Hiding levels of debt is adversely affecting the physical and emotional wellbeing of people, the report found.

More than four in ten (43%) said that hiding their debt problems had caused sleepless nights, while 32% reported feeling more anxious. Mood swings, comfort eating and an uptake in alcohol consumption were also reported.

"Hiding the extent of debt from a partner or family member may give us a false illusion of control or independence, but the reality is that our mental and physical health suffers - and once uncovered, the health of our loved ones suffers as well," said Donna Dawson, a psychologist specialising in personality, behaviour and relationships.

"And the irony is that the very things we are trying to protect - our trustworthiness and our good self-image - is lost anyway, when all becomes revealed.

"Far better to operate as openly and honestly as possible from the start, and to take loved ones into your confidence at a much earlier stage - that way, debtors can get the help, support and advice that they really need."

The most common expenses leading to debt for men are alcohol, gadgets and eating out, while the most common expenditure that women are hiding is expensive clothing, everyday treats such as coffee and chocolate, and socialising.

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