Credit Card Debt: Harder to Talk About Than Sex?

What would you rather talk about to someone you just met: Your credit card debt, your salary or your sex life?

A very telling survey has found that the last thing people want to talk about is their credit card debt. Telling a new acquaintance about a post-Friday night at the bar rendezvous or their marital problems ranks lower in icky-factor than talking about credit card debt. Here’s a survey nugget:

Eighty percent of the respondents said that they were somewhat or highly unlikely to talk about the amount of credit card debt with someone they just met. Details of your love life were a close second with 78 percent of respondents saying they were somewhat or highly unlikely to broach the subject, with salary details right behind at 77 percent. Other unmentionables: monthly mortgage or rent payments (69 percent).

Granted, I’m not about to jabber about my money habits with someone I just met—unless they’re asking for advice, and then my own finances are game—but there is a definite element of shame when it comes to the debt in our lives.

Revealing credit card debt can feel like dropping your pants. It exposes your innards. Your values. Your impulse control. Your levels of responsibility, dependability and stability. Even how trustworthy you are. Few things in our lives show so much about our personal truth than our choice of mate and how we spend our money. We’ve got a lot of control over both. If you don’t like what you see come bill-paying time, think about what that means about you. If you feel out of control when it comes to spending and credit cards, get the help you need to take the control back—and, like yourself enough to say ‘no’ to overspending.

If you’re in trouble, I’ve got an assignment for you: Tell someone about your debt. Not just how much you owe, but to who and why. One person. This week.

Keeping it taboo keeps you from getting the help you need. Talk about your debt if it’s a problem. Hit message boards. Head to the NFCCto talk to a credit counselor—honestly and fully—and write me! Sharing will get you answers, motivation, commiseration, information and guidance. It will also take the air out of that shame-bubble and give you the impetus you need to get your debt in order.

Say it loud and say it proud: “I’m in credit card debt--and I’m going to get out!”

Tell me what you think your debt says about you. Use the form below to send me an e-mail.

I have no credit card debt and I have plenty to show for it, house, car, furnishings etc. The biggest joy is raising my 2 daughters and they don't have to worry about whether the bills are paid or not like I had it when I was their age. Unlike Nick who enjoys the finer things in life with maxed out credit cards. It (debt) only looks at you in the mirror. Try paying your house payment with those things purchased on a credit card. --Jimmy, CO

Posted on: 14 Jul 2008 12:56 P.M.

Credit Card debt is like having a parent with a history of cancer. You know you are going to have to deal with it eventually, but you simply dont want to go their until the pain of giving up something bigger than the debt forces you to "get real". --DMH, OH

Posted on: 14 Jul 2008 12:49 P.M.

I have no problem talking with others about my credit card debt. I have none. IMHO, leaving a balance on a credit card is about the dumbest thing you can do. Why pay that reduculous interest rate? Use the bank's free grace period loan and then wipe it out! --James, NY

Posted on: 12 Jul 2008 11:49 A.M.

I have been practicing law and providing financial advice for over 18 years. Late last fall I began seeing the first tier of debtors (Those who were struggling during the good times) fall victim to the failing economy. In the course of the past month I have been seeing the second tier debtors (Those who had a good payment history with their creditors but spent more than they make) fall victim to the current cycle. I anticipate the next tier (Those who were unable to put enough savings to weather the storm) will show up toward the end of this year, if the cycle continues. --David, NY

Posted on: 12 Jul 2008 7:52 A.M.

Your money won't always do best in stocks compared to retiring your mortgage. I paid off my mortgage over the past three years, and am glad I did. Americans need to wake up and smell the Folgers, because we're a nation living beyond its means. Just downsize, simplify and stop overspending! --Karen, OK

Posted on: 11 Jul 2008 9:13 P.M.

I think my debt says that I appreciate the finer things in life. When my income was higher, I was able to sustain the life I appreciated with little to know credit card debt.

When my income was reduced, I sustained the lifestyle and image I had built for myself with credit cards.

I also foolishly took on the role of supporting another person whom I cared for (at the time) through spending on my credit cards.

Here I am a year later with nearly 10 times the debt I had 18 months ago. My cards are all maxed, at least they're current and I have some nice things to show for it. --Nick, OR

Posted on: 11 Jul 2008 7:15 P.M.