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Debt and relationships – real stories, animated
When debt knocks at the door, love flies out of the window. 60% of people who contact debt charities also report problems with their relationships.

Our Debt and relationships project, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, tells real-life stories in short animations to show how debt can affect relationships and why it’s important to share the burden with loved ones.   

The project aims to help people in relationships to start conversations about money. We have produced four short, easy-to-watch videos that show how a strong relationship can help you tackle debt problems and build resilience to protect you from future unexpected income shocks.  

We spoke with real couples who described their debt journeys, covering topics like losing a job, reduced earnings after parenthood, and falling for ‘cheap’ credit. They all spoke about the stress caused by debt and the impact on their love for each other.    

These short films are real-life stories of sadness and guilt about debt, and the stress and shame of keeping the secret from their partner. The site also features key messages and tips on how to start a conversation with your partner if you are in debt, or if you suspect your partner is in debt.

The UK is often seen as a nation that doesn’t talk about money issues. From the occasional lie to a partner about how much a night out costs or hiding new purchases in the back of the wardrobe, to payday loans and missed mortgage payments, the secrecy is corrosive to relationships and often leads to a deeper financial crisis.

60% of people who contact debt charities say they have problems with their relationships too but don’t necessarily seek relationship support [1]. Debt is the number one problem area for newly married couples, with 55% of couples including money worries in their top three relationship strains [2]. The Citizens Advice Bureau in England and Wales is dealing with 4,022 debt problems every working day, with debt stress leading to pressure on relationships and breakups creating additional costs of an estimated £790 million.

Click here to see our animations and debt advice now.

Penny Mansfield CBE, Director of OnePlusOne, said:

“The couples whose debt journeys are presented in these videos explain in their own words how they got into debt, and the impact on their relationship. Many relationships flounder under such strain. Getting help from a debt adviser is the first step but, as these stories show, facing money issues together is often a way out of debt”.

Martin Lewis, founder and chair of both and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity said:

“Debt crisis is wrongly often seen as just a financial issue. It’s not. It has a devastating impact on people’s wellbeing. It destroys relationships, triggers mental health crises, causes suicidal thoughts, and leaves some losing the roof over their head and the custody of their children. Many hide it from their partners too, making things worse. For those in crisis, the best thing to do is seek help from a non-profit debt counselling agency like Citizens Advice, National Debtline or StepChange. If you’re not feeling able to tell your partner, go to the first session alone, and then tell them once you’ve got a plan of action, so that you’re taking them the solution as well as the problem”.

Nick Pearson, CEO of The Debt Counsellors Charitable Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have been able to assist OnePlusOne with their Debt and relationships project. As a debt advice charity, we see all too often the adverse effects of financial difficulties on our clients’ family relationships. Whilst the Debt Counsellors can help clients find a practical solution to their debt problems, we are all too aware that we don’t have the skills to assist with the strain debt problems place on relationships. We believe that these videos will be a useful tool for our clients in overcoming the challenges debt presents to them and their family”.

David Roger, CEO of Debt Advice Foundation, said:

Here at Debt Advice Foundation we fully support the Debt and relationships project that OnePlusOne are spearheading. It is very worthwhile. Talking about debt seems like the last taboo but trying to hide financial difficulties from loved ones only increases the mental strain of the situation. The videos are a fantastic way to start those difficult conversations. Confiding in a partner can be incredibly freeing and may lead to practical solutions”.

Colin Kinloch, debt expert at the Money Advice Service, said:

“We support the Debt and relationships project and want to tell people that no matter how big or small you think your money problem is, a debt adviser can help. We found seven in 10 people said that their relationships with friends and family improved after receiving Money Advice Service funded debt advice. We hope that this project leads to more people talking about their money worries and that it encourages people to start a conversation about this either with friends and family or a debt adviser”. 


[1] Findings from OnePlusOne interviews with major UK debt charities, further supported by Olson, G. Olson, D. National Survey of Marital Strengths, April 2003.(66% of problems in marriage are associated with ‘major debt’)

[2] Undy, H.,  Bloomfield, B.,  Jopling, K., Marcus, L.,  Saddington, P., &  Sholl, P. (2015). The way we are now: The state of the UK’s relationships 2015. Relate, Relationships Scotland, Marriage Care.

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