News Column

UAE couples advised: Don't keep debt secrets

June 1, 2014

Cleofe Maceda Senior Reporter

Dubai: When unpaid bills, credit card debts and loans start to pile up, people tend to feel ashamed to come clean to their family or loved ones.

A new research has found that 1 in 10 people in relationships are concealing their borrowings from their partner, with a number of them owing between Â2,500 (Dh15,000) and Â5,000 (Dh30,000). The survey was conducted by Debt Advisory Centre in the UK, but it may be reflective of what's happening in the UAE, where being in debt is a common problem for many.

According to the survey, 13 per cent of people are not telling their partners the truth about their financial troubles. Almost half (46 per cent) of those with secret borrowings admitted to owing more than Â2,500 and 24 per cent face more than Â5,000 in personal debts.

"It is very common for people to conceal borrowings, especially if they are struggling to repay it all. In fact, in some cases when clients speak to one of our debt advisors, we can often be the first people they've told about their debt problem. A key concern for clients is whether people will find out they are on a debt solution an in many cases there's no need for anybody else to know," said Ian Williams, Debt Advisory Centre spokesperson.

Financial advisors and psychologists in the UAE earlier said it is not rare to see people, especially men, in the country keeping money secrets from their spouses. However, those who regularly seek financial advice tend to be more transparent.

White lie

"It is rare to find a situation where a client is unwilling to disclose information in front of their partner, and likewise with me, as it seriously reduces the effectiveness of the work and planning that I am able to do if I do not know all the facts about a client's financial situation," said James Thomas, financial advisor at Acuma Independent Financial Advice.

"[But] there can occasionally be [generally from the men] a white lie told about the amount of money spent on a hobby, but this is normally said in jest, rather than as a deliberate attempt to hide anything," he added.

He said it is more common to see people not realising how much they are spending on a regular basis on superfluous items, and wasting hard-earned money that could be used for more beneficial stuff.

Nevertheless, Thomas warned UAE couples about the dangers of keeping debt secrets. "Debt can easily get out of control if it is not attended to and given the right amount of priority. It's much better to face up to it early on. As the old adage goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, and with that the issue can be addressed rather than being allowed to escalate."

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Source: Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)

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