Religion, Politics, and Debt

May 2, 2013 by

credit cardsWhat’s the topic people are least likely to want to talk about with someone they just met? Politics? Religion? Weight? Nope. According to a recent poll, the answer is their credit card debt. Poll

In a poll conducted in late March, asked 1,005 Americans about their credit card debt. People participating in the poll were asked “how likely you would be to talk openly to someone you’ve just met about this topic?” and then given a series of topics, shown in the infographic below. credit card debt poll results

Credit Card Debt Most Taboo Topic

As the graphic shows, 85% of respondents were somewhat or very unlikely to discuss credit card debt with someone they’d just met. Among the topics respondents would be more likely to discuss—remember, this is with someone they just met—than credit card debt were:

  • Love life details
  • Salary
  • Weight
  • Religious views

Imagine This Chat Between Two Bus Riders

Rider A: “Lovely weather, isn’t it?”

Rider B: “Yes indeed.”

Rider A: Well, how much are you weighing in at these days?”

Rider B: “About 185 pounds. And you?”

Rider A: “I’m up to 250. I don’t mind though; my love life isn’t affected.”

Rider B: “That’s good. I suppose you earn enough money to attract plenty of partners.”

Rider A: “Oh yes, I pull down about $80k per year.”

Rider B: “I’m a bit ahead of you then. Probably because I’m a Christian.”

Rider A: “You think Jesus’ followers earn more money than atheists then?”

Rider B: “Oh, decidedly.”

Rider A: “If only my credit card debt weren’t so much.”

Rider B: stony silence

Rider A: “Have you any credit card debt?”

Rider B: “I really think that’s rather none of your business.”

Rider A: “Oh, sorry. Well, this is my stop. Have a good day.”

Rider B: “Bye bye.”

What’s the Big Deal With Credit Card Debt?

Why do you suppose people are so uncomfortable talking about their credit card debt? Many of the other, more easily discussed, topics on the list are arguably more personal, so that can’t be the answer.

My best guess is embarrassment. People are embarrassed by how much credit card debt they carry. And if they’re embarrassed, that implies they recognize that they shouldn’t have so much debt, or at least they recognize that’s what others will think. Or perhaps they fear exposure of their ostentatious, conspicuous consumption-based lifestyle as underwritten not by fat salaries and genuine wealth but rather by high-interest debt.

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt, in my view the best way for most people most of the time to pay it off is through a Debt Management Plan, either a do-it-yourself job or administered by a nonprofit credit counseling agency. Debt settlement can also work, but don’t pay for a settlement service. If a high-priced agency can settle your debt, then so can you. See the “Settle Your Debt in 12 Easy Steps“, part of the Money Counselor Simple Guides to Debt, Credit, and Wealth Series.

While we’re on the topic, there are also lots of bad ways to deal with credit card debt, including:

Are You Embarrassed By Your Credit Card Debt?

How would you feel if suddenly all of your friends and family were made aware of the amount of credit card debt you have? If the prospect scares the bejeebus out of you, maybe that means it’s time to start on a path toward a debt situation you’d be proud to see publicized. What do you think?

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