"Sorry to hear you’re going through a difficult time": Investigating online discussions of consumer debt

Robert Lawson, Ursula Lutzky, Andrew Kehoe, Matt Gee

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


As recent years have witnessed increasing pressure on personal finances, compounded by the current cost of living crisis, online forums have become an important resource for people dealing with financial precarity. In this article, we offer a corpus linguistic analysis of data from MoneySavingExpert.com, the UK's largest online money management advice forum, studying 207 threads and 41.4 million words of text posted from 2005 to 2021. Through measures of word frequency and word association, we uncover similarities and differences in language use on the debt-free wannabe (DFW) and mortgage-free wannabe (MFW) forums. Our findings show that the DFW forum focuses on interactive exchanges involving requests for help and offers of advice, while the MFW forum is characterised by goal setting and community building. We thus contribute new insights into the discursive construction of debt in digital media and provide further understanding of the role online forums play in supporting vulnerable people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Corpus Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602007 Applied linguistics
  • 602058 Corpus linguistics
  • 508015 Business communication


  • Debt
  • Finance
  • Mortgage
  • MoneySavingExpert.com
  • Online forums
  • Corpus linguistics

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