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If you are in a relationship where there is debt, including a mortgage, a conversation around this topic is beneficial as part of your financial discussions.

If the debt is manageable, the topic can be covered when talking about budgets. However, if the debt is of concern, it may be useful to discuss it in a more structured and focused manner.

Debt can be another strong emotional topic so some groundwork may be necessary before launching into a conversation.

One way to do this is by discussing other financial matters first. Then you can slowly ease into a debt conversation in a more natural manner.

Examples of this could be

It was really good talking through our budget, can we take a closer look at our debt, I’m just not sure how much we actually have?

Next time we have a money conversation can we talk about our debt – It feels like we have a lot?

How do you know if you’ve got too much debt?

Many couples and individuals will have to take on at least some debt in their lifetime. 

Problem debt arises when a pattern of revolving debt emerges – when one debt is being paid off by taking on another debt. 

Unfortunately there is no quick solution to this situation. 

However with honest communication between partners, a plan can be made to help limit spending more than you can comfortably afford.

Below is a guide to get started. 

There are many options when it comes addressing debt – including utilising the support of a financial mentor, website tools and other services.

Getting support

If you feel like you have unmanageable debt, there are a range of different supports available. 


You may also be eligible for Good Shepherd NZ’s DEBTsolve programme.

Happy, young, Maori female wIth shoulder length dstk haIr in busIness attIre on her own and against a wooden background

“At first I thought it was just another loan shark, but then I saw people commenting things like ‘this was really great for me’. I didn’t think something this good was possible.”

– Hannah, DEBTsolve client

Click here to read about Hannah’s experience 

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8. Dealing with strong emotions


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The information, content and materials provided in our Healthy Financial Relationships Toolkit is for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the financial situation and/or particular needs of any person. Before making important financial decisions, you should seek professional advice if possible. This Toolkit contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser. Good Shepherd NZ and AUT do not endorse the contents of third-party sites.

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We provide loans for essential items but not for cash, vacations, or normal household bills like food or future rent.

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