As the largest consumer body in the UK, Which? exists to arm you...
Maintaining your friendships when you’re in debt
When you’re trying to cut back on your spending, it’s almost inevitable that your social life might take a bit of a knock. You may be embarrassed about confiding in your friends about money worries, or even feel bad about turning down their invites to events.
We don’t want to see your friendships or relationships suffer while you’re dealing with debt, as having that support is really important to your wellbeing. The good news is it’s possible to keep your friendships strong, even if times are a little tougher than usual.
Step 1: Lose the shame
Feeling shame or regret over money or debt is worryingly common. It can be an exhausting burden to carry around, especially if you’re doing it alone.
By recognising that you have a debt problem and creating a plan to deal with it, you’ve already taken the first step. Be proud of yourself. Try not to feel ashamed or embarrassed about the situation.
Close friends can often tell when something’s wrong, and their instincts will kick in to comfort you or try and snap you out of it. You may be tempted to keep them at a distance rather than tell them what you’re dealing with.
Instead of making excuses like “I’m not feeling well” when friends ask you to do activities you can’t afford, explain to them that you’re trying to cut back on your spending. You never know, they may also be going through a tough time financially. Supporting one another is definitely preferable to struggling on alone.
Step 2: Honesty is the best policy
Consider confiding fully in one of your friends who’s likely to be sympathetic to your worries.
You don’t need to tell them everything you owe, just explain to them that things are tough right now but you’re taking control of your situation.
Most people will have been affected by debt in some way, whether they’re dealing with it themselves or someone they know is. We all think our problems are unique, but often they’re not.
Make it clear to your friend that despite your cut-backs they’re a big priority and you still want to be able to see them and have fun together.
Step 3: Make suggestions
There are plenty of free or at least very cheap things to do with your friends, so make suggestions! How about a night in with a film, or a free yoga class? You could take a walk, visit a free museum or go to an art gallery. Be creative. You may just find that not only are these ideas frugal, they’re also fun.
Our friend Abby at Latest Free Stuff recently wrote a blogpost about free or cheap things to do in your local area and towns across the country. Give it a read and see what you can get up to for very little cost.
Making suggestions will help your friends see that you still want to spend time with them, just without spending lots of money!
Step 4: Find frugal minded friends
You may find that when you’re honest about your situation, not everyone in your friendship group understands. Some of them may keep suggesting expensive nights out or weekends away and not be as sensitive as others to your situation.
Try to focus on the friends that are empathetic. Those that may have been in a similar situation, may ‘get it’ first. Keep communicating openly and you’ll soon find that you don’t have to overspend to see your friends.
It’s true what they say about discovering who your real friends are when the going gets tough. We hope that your friends rally around you during a difficult time, but life doesn’t always work out that way. If you find yourself disappointed by a lack of support from your friends, it may be time to find some new ones.
MoneySavingExpert.com has a forum full of supportive, frugally-minded people who have, or have had, their own money woes. The Debt-Free Wannabe forum is where you can ask questions about debt, find frugal money-saving ideas, and cheer other frugal friends on in the Debt Free Honour Roll thread.
Thanks to free-to-join social websites like Meetup, groups of people are getting together across the country to do a whole range of things. Have a quick search and see what people are up to in your area. It’s usually free (or at least very cheap) to attend events like rambling walks, writing groups or craft workshops. You might as well make new friends while discovering a brand new side to yourself!
What have found by telling your friends about your debt? Post in the comments section below.
15 Dec 2016
If you're a parent or expecting a child, find out what benefits...
If you’re a StepChange Debt Charity client and find yourself in receipt...