Are You Worried Sick About Your Debt?

worried sick about your debt

For some people using their credit cards wisely is a no-brainer. They may use their credit cards to pay for things throughout the month and at the end of each month they have enough money in their budget to be able to pay their current bill off in full.

But then there are the rest of us. Those of us that use our credit cards to purchase things and when the end of the month comes we are only able to make a partial payment against the total amount due.

We tell ourselves that we will pay more in a few weeks, or we will pay it off next month.

Next month comes and we realize that we forgot that we are supposed to fly across the country to visit with the in-laws for Thanksgiving. But how do we pay for the tickets to get there?

No problem. We will use our credit cards to pay for them.

After we come home from Thanksgiving we start Christmas shopping.

Again, we use our credit cards.

At the end of November we look at our credit card statements and are shocked to see that our total is $13,000. But we only have a limit of $15,000 (as if this is the only problem).

We still have more shopping to do for Christmas and we would really like to redecorate the living room and the guest room before all of our family arrives for Christmas.

No problem. Let’s sign up for a department store credit card. They approve you on the spot and rarely turn anyone down, right?

Now we can buy some new living room furniture on that card and some toys for the kids too.

Don’t worry, we tell ourselves, we can pay it all off in the new year after Christmas is over.

Mid January rolls around and we now have credit card statements from two different companies to deal with.

The first card we had now totals $14,500 and the department store card that we used to buy new living room furniture and more Christmas gifts with now totals $18,400.

Wow! We are so close to $33,000 owing in total. How did we let it get so high?

Is the above story fact or fiction?

Unfortunately it is a true story for so many people around the world. In fact, in many cases it is far worse.

So many of us spend more than we make. So many of us convince ourselves that financing our lifestyle with credit cards and lines of credit is okay.

We keep telling ourselves that we will catch up one day. It is really no big deal anyways. Everyone is doing it and they appear to be okay.

We keep going and going until one day we realize that we don’t even make enough money each month to make the minimum payments anymore.

We start robbing peter to pay paul but eventually that stops working as well.

Now what? Are we worried? Should we be worried?

You should be worried to a point, but only if the worry forces you to make changes.

But here’s the thing – often times we worry ourselves sick about our debt, literally, but never make any significant changes.

We lie awake at night and worry:

  • about losing everything
  • about possibly becoming homeless
  • about our family and friends finding out, and so on.  

But when all we do is worry about things over and over again, things never get better, and we eventually fall into a state of depression.

And once that happens it is even harder to deal with things and to make the changes that are necessary to get out of debt.

You see, worrying yourself sick, doesn’t solve anything.

However, facing the problem head on, learning what needs to be done, and making important changes, can solve your financial problems.

Worried Sick About Your Debt?

If you are worried sick about your debt you need to stop. Worrying about it will not make it go away.

Instead, here’s what you need to begin doing right away:

Organize Your Finances

organize your finances

Pull out every recent bank statement and credit card statement that you have and write down all of the totals.

Then make a list of every single thing you spend money on each month. Grab a calculator or use an Excel spreadsheet to add everything up.

You will find more help here: Is it Easy to Improve Your Financial Situation?

Change Your Spending Habits

People end up in debt for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes it is the result of a bad divorce. Sometimes it is the result of a serious illness that prevents them for going to work, and \ or huge medical expenses.

However, most often the reason they are in debt is simply because they repeatedly spent money that they didn’t have to begin with.

And once a person keeps doing the same thing over and over it becomes a habit, for better or for worse. In the case of debt, it makes things worse.

If you are in debt, what you need to do is to change your spending habits immediately and find ways to reduce your living expenses.

Here are some great tips on how to do that:

101 Frugal Tips to Help You Save Money

Developing Good Financial Habits in 5 Easy Steps

Jumpstart Your Personal Finances

Create a Plan For Your Future

As you work on getting yourself out of debt you want to ensure that once you are done you do not fall back into your old bad spending habits.

You can do that by figuring out exactly what your priorities are in your life and what your goals are.

Once you have your goals and your priorities defined you can use them as a guideline everytime you are about to spend money.

For example, if you decide that it is time to redecorate your kitchen you first stop and ask yourself if this is really a priority. Is spending money on redecorating your kitchen really the best use of your money, or would putting that money, or leaving that money, in your savings account, be a smarter choice?

Learn more about this at: Financial Planning – Designing a Proactive Year

Consider Getting Professional Help

Sometimes we have simply let things get too far and we don’t have the time or the strength to sort things out on our own. When that happens it is time to seek help, both from a financial professional and possibly from your doctor.

Worry and fear can easily manifest into so much more. In fact many people have been so scared about their debt that they have committed suicide.

Clearly that is not the solution.

Never be afraid to admit that you need help.

And remember that dealing with your debt and working through your debt will get rid of all the worry and fear. In a few years from now it will all be a distant memory, yet at the same time you will be so happy that you dealt with the situation properly and got yourself out of debt once and for all.

Financial stress can be very overwhelming. Here are some steps to deal with it: 9 Ways to Deal with Financial Stress.

Look for Ways to Make More Money

One way to work on getting out of debt is by developing a spending plan, reducing your expenses and repaying your debt.  But what happens when that isn’t enough?

If you are still having problems even after doing all of the above then you need to figure out how to increase your income.

Perhaps you could ask for a raise at work, perhaps you could find a part-time job, or perhaps you could sell some of your current belongings.

Here are quite a few other ideas on how to make more money so that you can get out of debt quicker:

69 Fantastic Ways to Make Money

Canadian Work From Home Call Center Jobs

Excellent Work From Home Jobs, Where to Find Them, Part 2

Whether you are in debt a little or a lot, you need to stop worrying about your debt and start working on getting out of debt. 


    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

      Laurie @thefrugalfarmer 03/25/2013 5:44 a.m. #

      Sicorra, wonderful and very much needed post. Too many of us create an endless cycle of worrying about our situation and then not creating a plan to fix it. Thanks for all of the great tips!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:28 p.m. #

        Thanks Laurie!! It is easy to get caught up in all the worrying, and the more you do it the more you get upset and feel incapable of making the necessary changes. Been there, done that...

    • AverageJoe

      AverageJoe 03/25/2013 7:30 a.m. #

      I love your Christmas story because it's so so so FACT! One client I worked with said they had the best Christmas ever because they spent nearly nothing that year. That forced them to focus on together time and things to do as a family, rather than buying each other fun. I think we walk into that trap over and over as people...more stuff = more fun. Sadly, it's not true.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:30 p.m. #

        I is almost as if it really isn't Christmas if the living room isn't filled with nicely wrapped gifts. The first year we stopped buying it was hard for me too, but then I looked back and realized that we have everything we need and quite often at Christmas we were struggling to come up with ideas of what to buy each other, which only made it more stressful instead of fun. Except, one year, I did buy my husband a satellite radio for our car and that has been amazing.

    • krantcents

      krantcents 03/25/2013 8:56 a.m. #

      Good points! I think having a plan relieves a lot of stress. Monitoring your progress will show you that you are reducing your debt.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:31 p.m. #

        And hopefully your progress will motivate you to continue

    • Debt Roundup

      Debt Roundup 03/25/2013 9:10 a.m. #

      I used to stress out everyday about my debt issue. After my wife slapped me around a little (figuratively), I decided to get my act together and my health and mindset has never been better.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:32 p.m. #

        Great to hear Grayson! I know it isn't easy, but so nice that you feel better now

    • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

      Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 03/25/2013 11:02 a.m. #

      Excellent post, Sicorra! So many people accidentally put themselves into the scenario you created. There is always "something" and before they know it, they are in big trouble. While being worried is natural, it doesn't really help. You outline some great ideas to help people get back on track. It's been my experience that once people take back control of their finances and start making smart financial decisions, they are well on their way to being debt-free.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:41 p.m. #

        Thank you Shannon! I agree - once you take control and know exactly what is going on, it feels like a huge weight is lifted even if the debt is really high. I remember a time when I would sit on our sofa after dinner and all my thoughts would be around our debt and what was going to happen to us, yet it was like I was standing still in time. Nothing was changing or getting better because we weren't doing anything specific to fix it.

    • pauline

      pauline 03/25/2013 11:26 a.m. #

      thankfully my debt lets me sleep at night, but I can imagine how stressful it can become if too heavy to carry. There is always a way out though, it won't be easy or quick, but it is possible once step at a time.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:46 p.m. #

        Yes there is a real difference between having some debt that is easy to manage and being so in debt that it feels like nothing will ever change or get better. I've read so many stories of people that felt they were so in debt, even if it wasn't alot, but were so frightened that they committed suicide. Very sad.

    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 03/25/2013 1:31 p.m. #

      Excellent post! I think it's important to be conscious of your debt, even if it is a scary amount. Your steps are exactly the same as I would take, too. Organize your finances, cut expenses (if possible), and most importantly make more money! Making more money is always a possibility, I think it just takes more effort so people don't always pursue it. It's a lot easier to pay down debt when you are bringing in an extra few hundred dollars a month (or more!).

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:56 p.m. #

        Thanks DC! I agree, making more money does take a lot more effort and many times people are either already too busy, or not interested in doing that. Or perhaps they feel that they do not have any skills that would make them money. It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds and tell ourselves stories that prevent us from taking the right steps.

    • Mackenzie

      Mackenzie 03/25/2013 5:16 p.m. #

      I remember being one of those people who put Christmas presents on a credit card. I shudder to think where our finances would be if we hadn't of woken up and realized the futility of paying for stuff when we had no money.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 4:58 p.m. #

        So many people do and always will pay for Christmas with credit. Many with good intentions, but what if something happens after Christmas and you can't pay the bills...

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 03/25/2013 7:25 p.m. #

      Great advice Sicorra.

      This is certainly a fact. I used to stress and stay up late at night worrying about our debt.

      It took a couple of years but now that we're caught up, we only use our card once a month and no more than $100 so that we're sure to pay off the balance. Anything over that we prefer to pay cash and will only use our card for major purchases for things like emergency home repairs.

      Now that it's a habit we've gotten used to it. :)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/26/2013 5:01 p.m. #

        Exactly Corina! It all comes down to habits, doesn't it. It is just like eating right or exercising, or anything else that we do on a daily basis I guess. Thanks!!

    • KK @ Student Debt Survivor

      KK @ Student Debt Survivor 03/27/2013 8:37 p.m. #

      Debt can be so emotionally and physically damaging. Worrying about debt, how to pay it off, and how to continue paying your regular bills while paying off debt is psychologically draining for so many people. When I had $30k in student debt, everyday I woke up owing I felt bad. I'm glad to have that behind me now.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/31/2013 1:12 p.m. #

        It is definitely psychologically draining and it can make a person feel worthless not only when it comes to managing money but in every area of their lives.

        Good for you for taking control and getting rid of your debt.

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