Emotions Surge with Debt

Emotions vs Debt

Debt is about so much more than money, and emotions often surge as debt increases. Until you struggle with debt, you don’t realize how many emotions and baggage you carry around with you. If you do struggle with debt, you know this struggle also causes emotional problems, and you probably feel alone. You are not alone.

According to these 2017 statistics, the average Canadian carries $22,215 in non-mortgage debt — credit cards or lines of credit. Alberta has the highest debt load with $27,871 of debt per person; British Columbia is also higher than the national average at $23,552 of debt per person. If you’re doing the math, an Alberta family of 2 would have over $40,000 of non-mortgage debt per family.

Factor in car loans, mortgages, personal loans, student loans, and it’s safe to assume most Canadians carry some debt. This kind of debt can have differing effects on people, depending on their debt tolerance. For example, you may suffer anxiety over $1000 of credit card debt, while your spouse may not worry about it until it reaches $50,000. How you deal with your debt-related emotions is what make you unique. You may be familiar with some of the following common psychological and emotional issues associated with debt, do some of them ring true for you?

Shame and Embarrassment

In our society, success means you have money and material possessions. If you’re in debt right now, it would be no surprise if you felt embarrassed or ashamed about it.

Debt is often a taboo topic, and most people don’t want their family and friends to know the trouble they’re having. If you’re struggling with debt, you are probably heavily engaged in maintaining the illusion of your lifestyle: dinner or coffee with friends, purchasing gifts you can’t afford, or taking holidays you should really put off.

It is okay to be embarrassed. Many of our clients hesitate to put their names to their testimonials, because they don’t want to be “discovered”. The important thing is that you look at your budget and get help when you recognize you need it.


It’s human nature to fear the unknown. While you’re struggling to make your debt payments, you may also fear eviction, foreclosure, or bankruptcy; you may fear losing your job, or suffering a significant cost with no ability to pay for it. You may even fear the damage it can cause your relationships.

4 Pillars can help you take a realistic look at your budget, and come up with a payment plan to pay your creditors. In many cases, we’re able to negotiate reduced balances for our clients.

Anger and Frustration

Realizing you struggle with debt, and accepting that reality, is hard. Everyone’s situation is different. Your debt could come from relying on credit cards in times of need, like the couple in Education in Debt Reduction. A debilitating car accident could affect your partner’s ability to go back to work, like this family in Accident Causes Debt. Debt can turn “we are making it work” into “we just can’t manage it anymore”. It can happen to anyone, and anger and frustration can be the result of your situation.

Part of dealing with that emotion is dealing with the situation. Don’t remain controlled by your debt; open the past due notices. Write down how much debt you owe, and to whom. Open your eyes to the situation you are in, and you can take the next step – calling 4 Pillars for a free consultation.

Depression and Anxiety

Debt can weigh on your psyche and impact your life emotionally and physically. In the 2015 article, ‘Is Debt Making You Sick?’, journalist Wendy Leung reported that a 2009 paper published in the Mental Health in Family Medicine Journal found 1 in 4 British adults with mental health problems also had debts.

Debt affects everyone differently, so while you may not be significantly impacted, your partner may be suffering and dealing with emotions they’re not accustomed to. Addressing the debt head-on and taking control of the situation could help, and there is no shame in asking for help.

Resentment and Regret

Debt is rough on everyone, especially when it affects your relationships. You may find yourself blaming your partner for coming into the relationship with more debt, losing their job, not making enough money, or even health issues that may have led to debt.

You may also resent yourself and the decisions you made that helped lead you into debt. Your own excessive spending or a poor career decision, it’s common to look back with regret.

Don’t linger in these emotions, they’re damaging. Work with your partner to overcome dangerous spending habits. Call 4 Pillars to set up a free consultation and we’ll help you build a budget that works.


You may feel your debt weighing on you like an albatross, or you may block it out completely. Denial is very common, and unfortunately, avoidance may only offer temporary relief, and may lead to more debt.

Do you leave your bills unopened, or avoid answering a call when you think it’s a creditor? That’s denial, manifesting as avoidance, and this behaviour can make your debt worse. Paying utility bills late accumulates late charges. Missing your minimum payments can cause an interest rate increase. If you’re only making minimum payments on your credit cards, your balance increases every month with the difference between the minimum payment and the interest.

Put an end to the cycle and contact 4 Pillars like these satisfied clients did.


Debt and stress go hand-in-hand. Living under a mountain of debt, it’s natural to worry about how you’re going to deal with it, and whether you’ll ever get out from under it. Combine that with the stress of dodging phone calls from creditors, lying to friends or family about why you can’t go to dinner, and going home to piles of unopened mail on your kitchen counter, financial-induced stress, being emotionally debt-tied, can be exhausting. It affects all areas of your life, like employment, recreation, and goal-planning.

If you’re ready to take action and release that stress and anxiety, contact 4 Pillars today. We’re here to help!


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