Money Wellness
Illustration of a woman sitting on a big credit card going through her debts
category iconMoney Wellness
calendar icon20 Mar 2024

Debt Awareness Week: Sarbjit’s story part two

To mark Debt Awareness Week, we've been talking to customers about their struggles with debt. Today Sarbjit discusses how talking about money worries is a bit of a taboo in some cultures, and calls for better financial education in schools.

A taboo subject

Sarbjit was unsure where to go for advice when she found herself drowning in £45k of debt, as she’d never really spoken to anyone who’d admitted getting help with money worries.

She said, “To be honest, I think it’s a taboo subject and nobody wants to talk about it. And people, kind of, they don’t want to admit it to themselves, like I didn’t. And I think people just say they’re struggling, but they don’t tend to go for debt advice.”

Too embarrassed to talk

Sarbjit also believes the taboo around talking about money worries can be worse among certain ethnic communities. She explained, “I am Sikh and there is, I think in my opinion, a kind of stigma around money and stuff. They think, you know, you've got some sort of status if you've got a lot of money or you can handle your money.

“But I just remember when I was young and my parents were struggling… I said, you know, ‘Why are people talking to me like that mum’ and they said, ‘well that's how they are when you have no money, that's how they behave’. And I've had comments, you know, people don't want to know you if you don't have any money and I’m thinking, ‘well, I'm too embarrassed to talk about this situation’.”

She added, “I don't know any Asian person from my perspective that would actually seek debt advice.”

Contemplating why this might be the case, Sarbjit said, “Maybe it’s the fact that they go to their relatives… I don't know whether they get help like that or, also, it could be… the language barrier... They wouldn’t know what was out there and what advice is out there, you know.”

I just felt alone

Before coming to us for help, Sarbjit confided in friends and family about her debt problems, something she ended up regretting. She said, “I hate to say, I think there was quite a lot of judgement, as in, you need to manage your money… Even my sister, I asked to borrow some money [and she said] ‘Well, I can look after my money and you can't’… And then I felt reluctant to tell anyone else... I also got, ‘Why on earth are you struggling when you've got two jobs and a rental income?’”

She added, “It’s almost like… they wanted a reason, what is the problem here? It was just not very nice, and I just felt alone, to be honest.” 

The importance of financial education for kids

 Sarbjit believes that better financial education for kids could dramatically reduce the number of people struggling with debt in later life. She said, “I think it would be really useful if they implemented this sort of stuff in schools, money management and skills because… most school children don't have any money and then it's a shock and you're suddenly working and you're getting money thrown at you left, right and centre, as in credit companies, credit cards and it can be quite difficult to say no because also there's the social status.”

She believes the temptation to spend is so strong for youngsters, it’s important they understand the consequences of living beyond their means. “Facebook, you know, the shows that are on TV about all the stars and how you should be and what you should have - the latest TV, the latest hi-fi, the latest clothes and what you should look like. And that costs money, you know. For example, I’ve even had cosmetic surgery on my nose right. I felt like I wasn't accepted when I was younger because I had a bump in my nose… It goes on and on, you know, where do you stop?”

Another way out

Sarbjit is convinced if she’d been taught how to manage her money better in school, she wouldn’t have ended up in such a mess with her finances and would never have taken out a secured loan to try and pay off her other debts. She said, “There's no doubt in my mind. I would've thought there's another way out. I wouldn't have needed to get the secured loan… [and] that's [now] an extra 600 and something I'm having to find.”

Are you struggling?

If you’re wrestling with money worries, you don’t have to manage alone. We can help with:

  • budgeting advice
  • checking you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to
  • information on grants and other financial support you may be able to apply for
  • organising suitable debt solutions – which could lower your monthly payments and even write of some of your debt

All of our advice and budgeting help is free. Some debt solutions are free. Some come with fees. Get in touch online or over the phone to find out how we can help.


Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

Related posts

Money Wellness

20 Mar 2024

Debt Awareness Week: Sarbjit’s story part one

How we’re helping Sarbjit, after agreeing to be a guarantor for her daughter and an unexpected tax bill landed her in £45k of debt.

Money Wellness

20 Mar 2024

Debt Awareness Week: Matthew’s story

Following an acrimonious split from his wife of 18 years that left him with a mountain of debt, Matthew was then laid off from his job. With no way, to pay back his debts, he turned to us for help.

Money Wellness

19 Mar 2024

Debt Awareness Week: Victoria's story

Forced to give up work due to ill health, Victoria turned to us when she found universal credit payments were insufficient to support a basic standard of living. Stories like Victoria's are all too common these days. Find out what help's available if you're struggling.

Money Wellness

18 Mar 2024

Debt Awareness Week: Josh’s story

How we’re helping 30-year-old Josh deal with £12,000 of credit-card and phone-bill debt.