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
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
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.