Hidden Debt – why we don’t
talk about our debt problems

At Lowell, we understand that debt can make you feel worried or stressed. We want to remove the stigma of debt and encourage people to talk about their finances, especially with loved ones.

That’s why we’ve conducted a new survey to research how much debt is hidden in the UK, and to understand the reasons why people don’t speak about it.

Britons are hiding a total of around £8.5billion worth of debt from their friends and families, and one in ten adults admit to hiding debt from loved ones.[1] At Lowell, we deal with debt every day, and we work with customers that are having a difficult time. We think speaking about debt can help, and we hope that by creating a dialogue with our customers, Lowell can help our customers start their journey towards becoming debt-free.

Why we don’t talk about our debt

Our survey suggests that 69% of people who are in debt don’t talk about it with anyone[2]. The reasons for this vary, but the majority (53% of people surveyed) said it was because they were embarrassed.  Just over half of the people we surveyed would consider speaking to their partner about debt, so there are a lot of people hiding debt from those closest to them.

Our survey asked why people didn’t want to discuss debt - 45% of survey respondents said that they didn’t want to burden anyone else, and 39% said that they didn’t want people to think badly of them. At Lowell, we do not judge customers and we encourage them to speak openly and honestly about debt, so they can feel comfortable discussing their debt with us or with loved ones.

We want to end the stigma around debt, so that people feel less embarrassed speaking about debt, making it easier for them to ask for help and guidance. If your debt is making you feel worried, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Lowell are always here to support our customers and there are plenty of independent debt advice and support options available.   

Younger generations are more likely to hide debt

According to the Money and Pensions Service, the most common kind of debt that people hide is credit card debt.  It is often younger generations who are struggling with hidden debt, as 59% of millennials have secret financial products, such as credit cards.

The pressure of dealing with this kind of debt and keeping it a secret can combine to have a serious impact on your mental health. Mental health problems affect 1 in 10 young people, and our own research has shown that 31% of children have anxiety about money.

How talking about debt can help

We asked people who had spoken about their debt how they felt after opening up, and the results were clear – an enormous 82% of people felt better after speaking about debt.

It can be difficult, but if you feel able, one of the best places to start a conversation is with your loved ones. These are the people who support you and if you’re working to become debt-free you may well need their support and help.

If debt is impacting your mental health, there are resources available. Lowell works with both the Samaritans and Mind, two charities that can help if you’re going through a hard time with mental health issues. If you feel your mental health is being impacted by your financial situation, it might also be helpful for you to speak to a specialist debt charity like StepChange.

Working with Lowell can make you feel better about debt

Our survey also revealed that Lowell customers who work directly with Lowell may feel better about their debt. Two-thirds of the people we surveyed felt less worried after setting up a payment plan with Lowell, with 40% of people feeling much less worried than they did before.

Taking the first step towards becoming debt-free can be difficult, but by speaking to Lowell, we can help you to take control of your debt. If you’re facing a difficult time, Lowell is on your side and here to help you.

Whatever your circumstances are, we’ll give you space and time you need whilst things are tough. For more guides on debt and support, check out the Lowell blog.


[1] https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-8993567/Britons-hide-8-5bn-worth-debt-nearest-dearest.html

[2] Survey of UK respondents conducted on behalf of Lowell.