Is your adult child struggling with debt? While your offspring may not be eager to share this information with you, they may unintentionally display signals that indicate that their finances are in trouble. Here are five signs to watch for -- and how you can help once you've seen them.
1. Heightened stress
Debt can create stress even if you are able to pay it. "It creates stress because it's there," says David Jones, president of Association of Independent of Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. "When your son or daughter is worried about debt and struggling to pay bills, their stress levels can heighten and they may act out in unexpected ways." College graduates are dealing with the double stress of low salaries and heavy student loan obligations, according to Jones. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that students and graduates are currently carrying $1 trillion in student loan debt. The average debt is $24,301 and 60 percent of students borrow annually to help cover costs. Jones knows a young woman in her 20s who borrowed $70,000 to pay for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Now she is feeling the financial strain of paying her student loans each month. "Making those payments is just a back-breaker," Jones explains.
2. A sudden drop in spending
Drastically cutting back on spending may mean your son or daughter is confronting their debt woes head-on, says Gail Cunningham, vice president of membership and public relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "This person sees a problem and faces it head-on," Cunningham says. "They recognize that they're in financial trouble and want to do something about it. Their logic is that if spending got them into the situation, then not spending will resolve it. Of course, not adding new debt on top of old is a smart move, but the original debt remains and needs to be dealt with."
According to Jones, spending way beyond their means can also be a sign of financial trouble. "It's so easy to overspend with a credit card," he says.