Credit Education

Sad adult thoughtful girl sits with her bills on the table
03. Aug, 2016

Being Judged by Friends and Family Because You Have Bad Credit…

In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Polonius advises his son, Laertes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” Although the language today sounds quaint, the message remains relevant. If this scene took place four hundred years later, perhaps the famous Bard might have put the following words into Polonius’s mouth: “Avoid bad credit ratings if you want to remain in good favor with friends and family.” Today’s world is radically different from the one William Shakespeare knew, but poor credit continues to sour human relationships. Both monetary concerns and emotional reactions ensure that bad debts divide family and friends.

Why Poor Credit Draws Negative Reactions
Americans admire successful people, and this success often gets measured in financial terms. For example, banks view high credit scores as a sign of a trustworthy loan applicant. Employers also seek credit information to help assess a job seeker’s suitability. Logic supports these judgments, but they can conflict with the idea of a caring society.

A society that stresses financial achievements may have little sympathy for those suffering hard times. Someone who finds it difficult to obtain loans or gets their credit card rejected has obviously failed to achieve the American dream.

While broader society may lack compassion for bad credit cases, surely their friends and family should be exceptions? Everyone hopes and imagines their nearest and dearest will gather around supportively if their credit lines are exhausted. The harsh realities of life don’t always match these high hopes.  

I Hope I Won’t be Asked for a Loan
Many examples of supportive relations and neighbors come to mind, but others quickly jump to negative judgments. They foresee requests for financial assistance but are unable or too stingy to help. They may worry their friend’s irresponsible behavior puts at risk any money they might lend. If they sympathize with the friend’s plight, it raises their hopes of getting a loan. On the other hand, disapproving looks or comments make a loan request unlikely.

Emotional Issues
The desire to distance friends in financial need also has emotional roots. On a deeper psychological level, family members sometimes feel uncomfortable with a relative whose fortunes have taken a downturn. Perhaps they subconsciously think of bad credit as an infectious disease, and worry about catching it! Everyone knows, in the back of their minds, how the wheel of fortune turns. The sight of someone with serious credit problems prompts uncomfortable thoughts of how this might happen to me. People with bad debts also usually stop being the kind of jolly, positive individuals whose company everyone enjoys. This puts them in the ‘bad books’ of former contacts.    .      .     

Dealing with Negative Judgments
Anyone unfortunate enough to get into bad credit situations needs to develop a thick skin against negative reactions. The right strategy to follow depends on the relationship. Reasonable people quickly understand that debts caused by unemployment or illness should bring no stigma. Even if financial misjudgments led to bad credit ratings, nobody should be so quick to condemn.

People often jump to the wrong assumptions. Maybe their reaction comes from not realizing the true causes of their friend’s money difficulties. Maybe they heard or suspect some misdoings. However, once they learn the truth, their opinion changes. If they continue to judge this person, they are likely the kind of friends who won’t be missed. 

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