Financial issues appear to strike a more sensitive nerve than any other personal topic, according to a recent survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

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Asked what they would be most embarrassed about, the overwhelming majority of respondents pointed to their credit card debt. Credit score ranked as the second-most popular answer. Subjects such as weight and age didn't come close.

  • Age -- 1%
  • Weight -- 12%
  • Credit card debt -- 37%
  • Bank balance -- 10%
  • Credit score -- 30%
  • None of the above -- 9%

"Money is a big issue," said Morristown psychologist Dr. Steven Tobias. "Money carries with it a very strong emotional response."

Tobias said there's a strong sense of guilt associated with debt because most people understand they shouldn't be living beyond their means.

"It lends itself to impulse buying, to really doing things you know you shouldn't be doing," he said.

People interacting face-to-face can't exactly hide their age and size, but money issues have a better shot at staying private. Tobias suggested this is a primary reason people would feel more embarrassed and violated if they were asked to share such information.