Debt is complicated. First, it's just... complicated on its own. Then it gets to a point where it's not just your problem anymore, people are starting to know about it. And that, at least for me, did not feel especially comfortable.

What do Your Friends Know About Debt?My parents were the first to catch wind of my woes, mainly because I swallowed my pride in an emergency and asked for a small loan. And we all know what happens when you ask anyone for a "small loan," don't we? Questions. Lots of questions. And wanting to make sure you're okay. And checking to be sure you're not a hair's breadth away from living on the street. And then you trip over yourself reassuring them that it's fiiiiiine, it's all under control, it's just a blip on the screen and after some fine-tuning things will be right as rain.

Next was my boss. In a quiet, two-person office, it's hard to hide things. There's no expectation of privacy; any phone conversation (on his end or mine) is basically public domain. Discretion was the goal, so I did my best, but sometimes - as we all know so well - creditors call you on your work line.

On one occasion I was moved to shouting and subsequently tears, at which point I gave my boss a brief, humbling outline of the situation. He was the one who hired me after my stint on unemployment, so (fortunately?) he did have some indications that things had gone south for understandable reasons. Still, I work in a fiduciary capacity in my job so the last thing I want is for my boss to suspect that I have trouble balancing my own checkbook. Pride swallowed again!

What do Your Friends Know About Debt?Last on the list were my friends. Personal finances is not customarily a happy hour topic, but as the stress piled up, I started confessing to my close confidants. Surely debt management is nothing scandalous but I found it harder to talk about than a break-up.

The worst part was seeing the concern on their faces and listening to them want to help but being powerless to do so. All anyone can really do is offer sympathy and support and that of course goes a long way. But I always felt like I was weighing risk vs. reward.

It felt good to get things off my chest from time to time, but it also came with the heavy price of embarrassment (silly though that may be). Finally I reached a breaking point at which I started saying "I'm poor!" to everyone about everything. I kind of felt liberated by doing that, but I kind of felt like a loser, too.

It's a tough subject and I still don't think I've found the right balance. Finances are a personal matter, and privacy is a fine thing so long as it doesn't isolate you or prevent you from seeking assistance.

Being an open book about it is also fine, but it requires thick skin and commitment. Of course, as I make progress in my journey I talk more freely about my experiences and now am caught sometimes with a smile on my face! But it's been an emotional road, certainly.

What fits for you? How have you found your level of appropriate sharing? Where is that elusive comfort level? Do tell!

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Stacey PavlickStacey Pavlick

Stacey is a participant in the CareOne Debt Management Plan; soon to complete her second year on the plan. She is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog. Stacey works as an operations manager for a title insurance company and moonlights as a music reviewer for She combines her passion for writing with her passion for getting out of debt and shares her struggles and success along the way. Compensated CareOne Blogger. Read some of Stacey's previous posts in the blog Single and Settling In blog.

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