'We’ve lost the stigma of borrowing but not the stigma of debt' blog discussion

This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's 'We’ve lost the stigma of borrowing but not the stigma of debt' blog. Please read the blog first, and then click reply to discuss.


  • Believe me Martin, society does not look favourably on those of us with debt. Ive hidden my debt problems for years, embarrassed to discuss them even with close friends for fear of their reactions. Im a working single mother and have tried to give my kids a decent life living within my means. Im not using the fact Im a single parent as an excuse for the financial problems I have, my problem is not being able to manage my money better. Unfortunatley this led to my lending from the worst loan companies who charged outrageous amounts of interest and sunk me further into debt. Your programmes regarding debt and how it affects every walk of life has brought this taboo subject into the open and it is now easier to admit if you have financial problems and seek help.
    Yesterday I sought help from the CCCS and it was quite traumatic adding up the debts I have and even now I can only tell those closest to me how bad things got. I cant explain why Im ashamed of the mess I got into, perhaps its because some people can be very judgemental over those of us with financial problems. Sometimes being in debt is frowned upon more than some criminal activities!
  • I think ur statement is absolutely right...... many of us (myself included pre-LBM) would not have thought twice about going into a bank and asking for £x loan, or spending on a credit card knowing that we are only going to pay back the minimum poss. Yet to talk about our debts? :eek: :eek: :eek:
    The beauty of Martins tv appearances/this site is that it has raised the profile of a taboo subject, so much so that I personally no longer feel ashamed to talk about debt to anyone.... I do not actively seek to talk about it, but if the subject comes up, I feel confident speaking about it, as I know I am in the process of dealing with it. I frequently mention the site, and am not ashamed to say 'I am skint' or 'I can't afford that until pay day'.
    I also look at people and wonder how much debt they are carrying, and hope that they find their lightbulb soon.

    Thank you Martin for everything you have done so far, and everything you will no doubt do in the future. Your passion for your work never ceases to amaze me (I saw u on The Wright Stuff this morning!)...

    Sarah x
    'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars' - Oscar Wilde
  • I think Martin has summed up this country's entire attitude to money in that one sentance. "We've lost the stigma of borrowing but not the stigma of debt." It's like the emperor's new clothes; most of us seem to be getting up to our eyeballs in consumer debt chasing the lifestyle that everyone else has got on credit. Everyone has to keep on pretending for the sake of everyone else.

    I started a new job a few weeks ago, and because it was a group induction we had one of those ghastly 'introduce the person sat next to you' exercises. When the person next to me asked what my hobby was I panicked, because in terms of time and dedication I'd say that the DFW board is my hobby. After a few seconds I decided that actually I am quite proud of what we do on DFW, so I explained it all to her. To my surprise she thought it was great, and several people on the course, and a few who weren't even there, have come to me and asked for advice (don't worry Martin I sent them your way! :money:)

    The fact is that our society judges success in terms of money, and appearing successful on the never-never is the easiest way to look good. An entire popular culture revolves around conspicuous consumption. Having a £20,000 credit limit on your card is a status symbol. Can we change that? Well, I'd like to think that we already are. A hundred years ago debtors were imprisoned; For most of this century it was the biggest taboo. Borrowing suddenly became acceptable, whilst the inevitable result of that - debt - remained a reason for shame.

    Now, people are beginning to stand up and speak about their experiences. They are starting to rightly say that however they got into debt, they are not ashamed of their efforts to get back out of it. Ten years ago I couldn't have told a roomful of colleagues about my debt without being shunned. Nowadays people are a bit more understanding because most of them have some secret experience - or fear - of it.

    We really need to find the happy medium. We need a cultural change where borrowing should only be socially acceptable if it is sensible and affordable, and debt only a stigma if you are making no effort to change your situation. People should not feel that they have some kind of divine right to live lifestyles that they cannot afford, nor should they be judged on their inability to afford it. Standing up and admitting that you have a problem should be praised more than burying your head in the sand. When that happens we will have fewer people digging themselves into holes, fewer people making themselves sick with worry and feeling alone, and more people making constructive changes to their lives.

    And without sucking up, I think that Martin, and to a lesser degree the rest of us on this site, are already making that change happen. :T
  • Thanks Silver, I think I was getting quite emotional writing my message last night as it has taken a lot of courage to admit Ive got a problem handling my finances. Youve said exactly what I wanted to put into words.
    I think my fall into the debt route happened from being humiliated at being the only person in my class to receive free meals when I was at school (in the days of blackboards and chalk!). That kind of stigma - of being classed as poor, has stuck with me always. This resulted in my foolish determination to ensure my kids were never in that position and ultimately led me down that ruinous road to debt. I totally agree that people 'should not be judged on their inability to afford a certain lifestyle' and can appreciate what that means now. I only hope that those out there who have never been blighted by sleepless nights and the worry of mounting debt, cease to be so judgemental and support the efforts of those of us who are attempting to repay our debts and remove this enforced stigma from us.

    Once again, a huge Thank-you to Martin and the members of this site for the invaluable help and support it gives xx :T :smileyhea
  • One thing I meant to make clear, and think that maybe I didn't, is that there is still the assumption that if you have unmanageable debt you must have done something wrong, or been more extravagant than the next person. While this is sometime true, with the majority of people I've met on this site the difference between debt that is 'manageable' and debt that is 'not manageable' is one life event, one single misfortune; an illness, a redundancy, a separation, or whatever. Debt is a way of life these days, a necessity if you want to go to university or buy a house. How many people here could HONESTLY say they've got enough stashed away to meet all of their expenses for six months? I reckon it's a lot fewer than you'd imagine, and probably fewer than claim that they have. When you stigmatise debt you turn your back on someone who is just like you, and tomorrow you could so easily end up being that person at the dinner party, putting on a brave face but secretly wondering just how on earth you're going to keep the wolf from the door.
  • Am I the only one who wasnt aware there is deemed to be a stigma on being in debt?

    I know my parents disapprove of the fact that I have been in debt - but that is for sound practical reasons, not moral ones, as far as I can see.

    Personally - when I was in debt I couldnt give a darn about admitting it to "the world and spouse" - as I knew it wasnt my fault. It hadnt been caused by doing loads of spending on consumer "goodies" - okay I had bought a few consumer things I could (strictly) have managed without - but I'm human, I couldnt be as virtuous as a nun 100% of the time and it was just things like a few cheap items of clothing (not a car or designer clothing or flashy holidays).

    Basically the reason I was in debt was because I had had a paycut - not my doing - not long after buying a house that needed a lot of work doing on it. That work still had to be done - despite my reduced income. If a roof or boiler or something needs replacing - or you yourself need some health care - then you go ahead and do it and then worry about how to repay the resultant debt.

    So - I just take the view it wasnt my choice or fault that I had income problems - I was doing my best (with a full-time job and a variety of other bits and pieces to make extra income to try and make up for the shortfall). If there was any shame to be felt - then it wasnt mine, it was my employers (for cutting my salary) - so why should I feel bad?

    Having said that - I have now finally got shot of the debt and I feel it is sensible not to be in debt - as money is just getting "lost" on interest payments and when other financial emergencies come up (on top of the previous ones - darn it, they dont form up in a neat orderly queue!) then there is some leeway to deal with them if one hasnt got every penny committed already in dealing with debt repayments.

    On reflection - realised I'd just been assuming we are talking about people with debts like loans/credit cards/overdraft. Of course - there is also the question of bankrupts - in which case my opinion of them would be formed by how much they had or had not been in fault at going bankrupt. Of course - if someone went bankrupt (for whatever reason - own fault or otherwise) and then subsequently became better off again - then I would be concerned if they were in a financial position to repay their creditors and werent doing so (regardless of whether they were legally "in the clear" and didnt "have" to repay their creditors - I would still expect them to "do the decent thing" and do so). I have seen people go down the bankruptcy route/putting things in their spouse's name to keep them and not repaying creditors when they could well afford to do so - just because they were legally "off the hook". A stigma is quite justifiable in those circumstances.
  • My navy blue ones are going in the post tomorrow morning!
  • baby_boomerbaby_boomer Forumite
    3.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Our politicians don't help.

    They put off necessary tax rises by voting to lumber the non-voting generation of 0-20 year olds with massive extra debts.

    God knows how this decision will work out in the personal lives of those concerned. I'm sure it will mean a huge distrust of politicians and a generation who will not just want curbs on any future taxes, they will need them curbed to survive.
  • My navy blue ones are going in the post tomorrow morning!

    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

    school bloomers maybe methinks:rotfl: :rotfl:

    As for what ones Hard Up Hester chose to send - the mind boggles - she was tossing up what type to send!
  • Hi Ceridwen, they were black but have been persil'd and dazzed that much theyre a navy blue shade! xx :rotfl:
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