That means almost a quarter of us are lying about the state of our finances. And we're not just talking about a few hundred pounds. The average 'hidden debt' is £4,096.32 according to AXA's research - that's £50billion in total.
Aside from any damage to your relationship, this can cause real problems for couples who want to take out a joint financial product.
If you want a mortgage or a home improvements loan as a couple, one partner's existing debt could scupper your chances.
So what are the main avoidable reasons for debt and how can you recover your financial stability? We take a look at the seven deadliest debt sins.
Sin number one: Mistaking luxuries for necessities
During the boom years, lots of us got used to living beyond our means, funding a costly lifestyle with cheap credit.
Once the recession hit, that particular credit bubble burst - but it can be hard to rein in your lifestyle accordingly.
If you're struggling to manage, take a long hard look at your spending and work out what is a genuine necessity and what is a luxury that you're just used to having.
Sin number two: Consolidating and spending more
If you've been juggling credit cards, store cards and an overdraft balance, you may decide to consolidate that debt into one loan in order to cut your monthly payments.
Although this won't work for everyone, many people can successfully use a consolidation loan to cut their interest payments and get on top of their debt.
The danger comes if you consolidate and then don't cut up those existing credit cards or close down your overdraft. The temptation to inch back into these can be overwhelming, but before you know it you're in twice as much debt and this time have no way out.
If you think consolidation is the right option for you, visit our
loans channel to find the best loan rate. Sin number three: Seeking short-term solutions
There are lots of short-term borrowing options, like payday loans, and for many people they are a useful way of coping with an unexpected financial emergency.
However, if you've started relying on this kind of high-interest credit simply to claw your way to your next pay cheque, then you've definitely succumbed to one of the deadliest debt sins.
Take some time to assess your spending, start budgeting and avoid this kind of costly borrowing.
Sin number four: Drifting into debt
Budgeting may not come easily to everyone, but ignoring your bank balance and hoping your salary will last the month is an easy way to find yourself in trouble.
If you don't keep track of your disposable income, it's impossible to plan for large purchases or keep yourself out of an overdraft.
Reading your bank statements and working out a weekly budget is a great way to avoid drifting into debt and the sooner you start, the easier it will be.
Tim Moss, head of loans and debt at moneysupermarket.com, recommends using cash rather than a debit card for purchases: "If you pay with plastic it's really easy to lose track of your spending. With cash you know exactly where you are and this is essential if you've got a budget to stick to."
Sin number five: Debt denial
Are you in denial over your debt? This dreaded deadly debt sin is particularly dangerous because so many people underestimate the amount they owe.
This head-in-the-sand approach makes it impossible for you to organise your finances and start regaining control of your debt.
A good first step to regaining control of spiralling debt is to sit down and work out exactly how much you owe and who to. You could find the total so shocking that it spurs you into action.
Knowing how much you owe is also essential when it comes to working out a repayment plan. It's also key when it comes to budgeting, as you need to know exactly how much is needed to cover your monthly credit and loan repayments in order to work out how much is left for your other bills and living costs.
Sin number six: Keeping up appearances
Back in 2008, moneysupermarket.com research found that 15million UK adults had racked up £35million in debt simply to try and keep up appearances.
Of course, for many people the recession has been a wake-up call and people are far more upfront about being unable to afford the latest gadgets and fashions. Keeping up with the neighbours is less of a priority if you're worried about your job.
However, if your friends are still playing the possessions game and putting pressure on you to keep up, it's worth coming clean and saying you simply cannot afford to.
Sin number seven: Spending money before you have it
If you're expecting a lump sum in the future, or a promotion over the next few years, it's easy to become blasé about debt.
Sure you're in debt
now, but you'll be able to repay it soon, or at least next year when that promotion comes through.
The danger here should be obvious - not only are you relying on a hypothetical future to solve your debt problems, you're also ignoring the possibility that your circumstances will change.
Perhaps you will have a baby, maybe your partner will be made redundant, you could fall ill. You just don't know what will affect your spending power in the future, so don't rely on tomorrow to pay for today.
It's never too late...
When you're struggling to manage your money, the sooner you seek help the easier it is. Debt advisers say it's never too late but, for many people, asking for help is the hardest step. There are numerous solutions available to get your finances back on track - the most suitable will depend on your individual circumstances. It may be that careful budgeting and reining in the spending is all it takes. For some a more formal solution will be required, such as a debt management plan or possibly an individual voluntary arrangement or even bankruptcy.
If you feel you can't manage your way out of debt on your own contact an adviser. You can get help from charitable organisations such as
Citizen's Advice or the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, or a fee-charging debt management company.
There are literally hundreds of debt management companies out there although there are some horror stories from people who have sought debt advice from unscrupulous firms and ended up in a worse position than they started. Because of that, the government is currently consulting on the possible regulation of, or introduction of a code of conduct for debt management companies.
In the meantime, moneysupermarket.com has made changes to its debt channel to ensure that you only seek advice from a reputable company.
The firms that appear on our site must be registered with the Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) - the only debt management association approved by the Office of Fair Trading. Accredited firms include Think Money, Baines and Ernst and The Debt People. For more information visit our
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