Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Debt and relationships

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor

Although it is still early in the new year, several persons are already feeling burdened by financial debt. Financial pressure can affect relationships to the extent that there is tension, which often leads to verbal and even physical fights among partners.

You know that you and your partner are in financial trouble when you have to worry about expenses and literally 'juggle' funds to meet obligations like paying utilities, the rent, making mortgage payments and purchasing groceries. Needless to say, persons are also carrying a huge portion of the national debt through taxes and other measures meted out to everyone.

Regardless of how you became swamped by debt, there is no need to despair. Very often, your fears and feelings about debt cripple your ability to think practically. Financial crisis blogger Deborah Price offers some suggestions for keeping hope alive during difficult times. She refers to the process as making peace with financial debt.

Release the past and forgive

If you have any feelings of guilt or shame associated with being in debt, work on forgiving yourself and releasing the past. The past is history and you can choose to do it differently.

Stress management

Use stress management techniques like biofeedback to help you overcome the burden of debt. Nurture yourself by eating well and exercising regularly. Quit worrying about the burden of the debt and work towards reducing it.

Examine your spending patterns

As a couple, you should examine your spending patterns so that you can form new awareness of income and expenditure and where you face difficulty in balancing. This should help to curb shopping habits and impulses, and provide directions for better sharing of income. Record purchases/payments in a small notebook. It is also helpful to record your mood at the time of expenditure. Notice if you tend to shop or buy impulsively for emotional reasons.

Make a payback plan

Make a spending plan that includes both savings and debt repayment to the best of your financial ability. Both partners will find that, with this practice, every little effort will make a difference in reducing the stress in the relationship and will increase self-esteem.

Get emotional help

You may be feeling depressed, isolated, emotionally paralysed or unable to cope with your financial circumstances, so it is best to seek the help of a counsellor or social worker. A close friend or family member can also offer advice.

Seek legal advice

If you find it difficult to pay your debts and it is having a deleterious effect on your health, seek the advice of an attorney. He/she will be able to negotiate payments with your debtors before they take legal action.

Consider bankruptcy as an option

Ultimately, bankruptcy is about financial forgiveness and giving people a second chance, which everyone deserves. Know that your life, health and family are far more important than any debt you may owe.

Money Coach Noah BenShea, offers suggestions on money and investment offers and get-rich-quick schemes:

1. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Never put all your financial eggs in one basket.

3. Always be diversified in both investments and money management.

4. Understand your risk tolerance and never let others convince you to invest otherwise.

5. If your investment advisor refuses to answer your questions, or their advice makes you uncomfortable ... run!

6. There are good and bad professionals in every profession. Despite failed investment offers, there are sound financial advisors who can offer financial help and advice.

7. Never give your financial power away to anyone else. Learn to read your statements, ask questions and hold your advisors accountable to real performance.

8. Let your heart and gut feelings guide your financial decisions.

Be grateful

Price further advises that you should practice gratitude every day for the one beautiful life you have been given. If you just do the best you can, each day, to make the most of what you have been given, things will work out.

Pray for debt solutions

Pray and/or meditate daily to maintain your spiritual and financial well-being. Pray for God's love, guidance and protection around all areas of your life. Here is the prayer Price offers for making peace with debt for financial well-being.

Dear God,

Please help me to heal my relationship with money and to be released from the bondage of debt. Help me to know that I am not my debt or my financial circumstances. Help me to know that, regardless of my circumstances, my life has meaning and value. Help me to be kind to myself and to those close to me and to use my indebtedness as an opportunity to heal and to be closer to your infinite wisdom.

Give me strength, courage and wisdom and guide me to the right action. Please surround my life with your constant love, light and protection, so that I may know that I am never alone, or isolated from those close to me. Thank you for all you have given me and continue to give me. For this and so much more, my life is blessed and I am eternally grateful. I surrender all to you with faith and trust that all will be resolved in time. And so it is. Amen.