Yesterday a colleague called and asked me if I wanted to take our boss out for lunch for her birthday. Of course I did, but I just felt like I couldn't say yes because of the cost. I immediately went down this rabbit hole of- it's not her fault I'm in debt- taking her out is the right thing to do- it's so shameful that I am in the position- everything sucks- I hate my life.
Luckily, I had to talk to one of my team for another reason, and this person happens to be a total frugalista (I've actually written about her before). I told her the whole story, and she gave me some great advice: to simply say, "I am saving for a new car right now and can't spend extra money, but I'd love to meet up for a brown bag lunch."
It's not exactly a lie, I do plan on getting a new car when I'm done paying off debt, but it does the trick. People feel shame and guilt about debt, but pride in the ability to be strong and save up for things instead of charging them.
So if you're in major debt payoff mode and you don't need the world to know that, just focus on the word saving- the little white lie that will help you get rid of your debt.