Simon Read: Why it never pays to hide your debts from your family

Do you lie to your family about how much you owe? One in five of us does, according to research published this week by the Post Office. Apart from the problems that lying can bring to a relationship, there is the pressure that people in debt bring on themselves by not opening up to those close to them.

Covering up debt has serious physical and emotional consequences. At a simple level, that can mean sleepless nights and irritability, but worries can quickly spiral out of control, leading to depression and disaster.

"The more depressed a person becomes as a result of their money worries, the harder it is for them to deal with them," says Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service charity (CCCS).

Donna Dawson, a psychologist specialising in personality, behaviour and relationships, warns: "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. The irony is that the very things we are trying to protect – our trustworthiness and our good self-image – are lost anyway when all is revealed. It is 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 they really need."

A key issue about covering up debt is that it often means not dealing with it. According to the Post Office, the average person now owes £9,731.51 but will only admit to half of what they owe when talking to a partner or family member.

There are a lot of reasons why people are tempted to lie about the amount of financial trouble they may be in, not least embarrassment. But facing up to money troubles is usually the first step in resolving them. "Anyone who is finding it difficult to make ends meet should seek help as soon as possible," says Malcolm Hurlston. "The sooner you get help, the better the outcome."

I couldn't agree more – and I'm happy to point you towards the free debt advice available from the CCCS helpline on 0800 138 1111 or online from its website at

I have had an interesting email from a reader taking me to task for suggesting that contactless credit cards are a good thing. My correspondent expressed concern that just flashing the plastic is a lot less secure than swiping a card into a payment terminal and putting in a Pin. It's a good point. I'm all for progress and increased convenience and therefore the idea of contactless cards is one that appeals to me. I know from experience that if a card is cloned and used to steal cash, my money should be refunded by my card company, as long as it doesn't suspect me of being involved in the fraud.

But I also know from experience that banks spent years denying the possibility of card cloning and simply accused people who had money taken out of their accounts through ATMs of being careless with their cards and Pins. With that in mind, I plan to look at the whole subject of paying by plastic and security. I'm going to find out from banks just how they plan to ensure the new contactless cards are safe. But at the same time, I'd love to hear what you think about the increasing use of plastic. Are you embracing progress or are you held back by worries over security risks?

Pensions policies are damaging

political parties will damage your retirement plans, the Association of Consulting Actuaries has warned. The three main parties' manifestos pledge to improve the Basic State Pension are similar, but the ACA says the parties' policies for pensions and elderly care are "threadbare at best", often "piecemeal" and positively "damaging at worst".

Keith Barton, the chairman of the ACA, says: "The most depressing aspect of the parties' manifestos is their weak commitments in respect of reinvigorating private pension arrangements."

He wants the next government to focus its retirement policy on the promotion of a wide range of flexible retirement arrangements as part of a holistic approach to encouraging lifetime savings.

"Private pensions have done the most to improve pensioner incomes significantly over the last two generations, yet it is this sector that is now in a parlous state," says Barton. Financial incentives should be bigger to encourage saving for retirement, he adds.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Guru Careers: Management Accountant

    £27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

    Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

    £40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'