Why a problem shared really is a problem halved

One in six of us is at risk of a debt crisis. That’s nearly 8 million people - 8 million people people who might have trouble sleeping, feel anxious or withdraw from socialising because of their money worries.

The signs someone is experiencing problem debt are often difficult to spot. They may be hidden due to embarrassment, to protect friends and family from the situation or because they either don’t realise or want to confront the full extent of the problem. Signs will vary for each person. However, there are a range of physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms which can give friends and family subtle clues that someone is struggling, including:

  • They have been in debt in the past
  • They have had a recent life eventan event that has resulted in a loss of income or higher spending for example having a baby, being made redundant, illness, divorce or a death in the family
  • They are living beyond their means or over spendingthey always seem to have the latest ‘must have’ items although they don’t have the income to cover this
  • They seem anxious, withdrawn or depressedthey have reduced time socialising, they are avoiding friends
  • They may seem more secretivestarting to hide issues and avoiding talking about finances  They have changed their spending habits – either reducing spending (e.g going on fewer holidays or eating out less) or overspending (spending without a plan for repayment for example putting luxury items on credit)
  • They seem tired or are having trouble sleeping
  • Their weight has changed suddenly either increasing or decreasing

Citizens Advice Manchester is proud to join the #talkmoneyworries campaign and hopes that it helps people across the country to do something as simple as taking a few minutes to start a conversation with loved ones about money. Let’s break the taboo.

There are three simple steps that friends and family can take to help someone who might be experiencing financial difficulties:

1. Start a conversation – Use your own personal experiences to help get to the bottom of their financial worries, make sure you keep the conversation neutral and non-judgmental

2. Talk to them about free debt advice – Help them to understand that free debt advice will help them get their finances back on track. You could also offer to help by being with them when they seek advice. Citizens Advice Manchester’s specialist money advisers can be reached by calling 03444 111 222, or even by WhatsApp thanks to funding from the Money Advice Service Innovation Grants programme.

3. Use the Money Advice Service – Encourage them to use the debt health check to work out the best option to help them resolve their money worries and find free debt advice, such as Citizens Advice Manchester.