Is it just me, or do you feel like debt is a dirty little four letter word? I am so embarrassed by our debt that it haunts me. I fear that anyone I know will ever come across this blog and figure our that it's me writing it. Sure, I tried to be courageous and actually put my first name out there, but there are no pics of me, no other mention of where we live besides the name of a city with over a million people in it! I like to think that even Sherlock Holmes may find this case a little tough to crack :)
My own family doesn't have any idea that we are in debt. I think my mother would have a heart attack and feel as though she was a failure somehow. See, my parents didn't instill the best savings values in us kids. Sure my dad would make the occasional joke, "You act as though that money is burning a hole in your pocket!" because I'd love to go to the mall to buy something as soon as I received money for babysitting or as a birthday gift. It seemed as though I couldn't spend it fast enough! I don't blame my parents though or anyone else for that matter. We made the choices that we did to get in this situation. That's it. Done deal. It's still kinda embarrassing though.
When I try to get to the bottom of why it bothers me so much, I guess it's the sense of failure that I feel. I'm intelligent, well educated and should really know how to manage my money better, but somehow I let myself get into this mess. As proud as I am that I've decided to dig myself out of it, I am much more disappointed that I fell into it to begin with.
In my world, debt is a word that is whispered if ever mentioned at all. The big bad secret in my family was that my dad somehow got in over $40K in debt without my mother even knowing about it. He would charge things the family needed or wanted and never really explained how it got paid for and my mom blindly followed him thinking all was well, til one day she discovered he was hiding this massive about of debt from her. Understandably, she was livid! She considered leaving him, she considered kicking him out but then somehow she considered the life they shared together and got it... they shared this debt. He may have been the one swiping the card, but honestly, it was both of them that shared in what the debt resulted in... a nice home and clothes, jewelry, a pool. Should he have been dishonest? No. But she was strong enough to decide to stand by him and work it out. They ended up taking out a second mortgage and made it work. For that, I applaud them.
Just a few weeks ago, my mom thanked me for helping my niece out with her college tuition and said she wished she was in a different financial situation so that they would be able to help out more but unfortunately my dad is out of work and they are in a tough place. I told her I understood. I started to share that things weren't so easy for us either. My husband's hours had been cut and with our new car payment, high rent and tuition, things were tight. She questioned whether I had any savings left (from my previous divorce settlement) and I said that I didn't. I was out of work for a year and that savings was exhausted. She was taken aback by that and the tone of the call changed. I decided I had shared enough for that day and I put the lid back on sharing our debt situation. One step at a time... if at all.
Question : Do you feel as though debt is a dirty little four letter word? Have you shared your situation with your family? How is debt thought of / discussed in your circle?