The Big Secret: Why We Avoid Talking About Credit Card DebtMar 21, 2015
The numbers surrounding credit card use and debt in Alberta are in and they are surprising. According to a recent BMO poll, approximately 46 per cent of Albertans are carrying a balance on their credit cards and 27 per cent do not pay their credit card bills every month. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that half of those who were surveyed reported that they pay for the majority of their purchases using credit. Credit card use, and, more importantly, credit card debt, is obviously prevalent in this province. Why do we continue to accumulate debt when many of us are already carrying a significant debt load?
This is where another interesting statistic related to credit card debt comes into play. In order to better understand the ‘why’ behind debt, BDO Canada Limited recently partnered with Ipsos-Reid to conduct a poll to try to determine how truthful Canadians are about their personal finances. Again, the results were surprising. Fifty per cent of Canadians surveyed admitted they are not always truthful with family, friends and co-workers about their finances. This is despite the widespread use of credit, and the fact that many people carry a balance on their card. Of those who admitted bending the truth, 46 per cent admitted that they were not always truthful about their credit card debt.
Carrying a balance is the new normal
Canadians have grown accustomed to the use of credit – which is one reason half of us may avoid talking about credit card debt. In fact, carrying a balance on credit cards seems to be the ‘new normal’. This perception of credit card debt as commonplace can ease concerns about its use, and can even result in denial about the debt people carry.
Feelings of shame and embarrassment
Another reason why individuals may bend the truth when it comes to credit card debt is that talking about our money problems can be uncomfortable, particularly as there are often associated feelings of shame or embarrassment. In fact, 22 per cent of Canadians surveyed by BDO reported that they were dishonest about their debt because of their pride. To avoid these uncomfortable feelings, many tend to avoid the topic altogether and by avoiding the topic, they then fail to be proactive about their debt.
It’s time to start having critical conversations about debt in general, and credit card debt in particular. Although credit cards offer a convenient way to make purchases and manage cash flow, when left unchecked, this means of payment can be financially dangerous. The high interest rates attached make it an expensive debt to carry and, as such, should be your top priority in any debt repayment plan.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are carrying more credit card debt than you can handle, it may be a good idea to seek help. There is no shame in needing professional advice. A credit counselling service like Money Mentors or a Trustee in Bankruptcy will review your situation in a judgment-free environment, and provide you with debt solutions to help you get your finances back on track.