How to Conquer Your Debt Part 1
Common Credit Cards
I don’t know about you, but I always thought of myself as financially responsible. I didn’t spend my money extravagantly, I paid my bills on time, and I worked hard to earn my salary. Occasionally, I would see stories on the news or in magazines about people that were in debt. But I always thought, “I’m not like them. That won’t happen to me.” (sad chuckle)
The thing is that, no matter our good intensions, life gets in the way sometimes. We have unexpected expenses-- like car repairs, for instance-- and we don’t always have the cash in hand to cover them. So, many people (myself included) fall back on credit cards or loans to help get us through. I always had good intentions. I lost track of how many times I promised myself "I'll pay it back next month." But, the next month something else would happen... and I never managed to catch up.
With me, it started with “emergencies” (the washing machine broke and I needed a new one, “Why not use the Visa? Surely, this qualified as an emergency…”), but it snowballed. Sure, I’ve never lived an extravagant life-- I’ve never used a credit card or borrowed money to go on an elaborate vacation or anything like that. But, what I did do was fall into the habit of using my credit cards whenever I came up short or was low on cash-- groceries, gas, car insurance, home repairs, etc. I was always able to rationalize with myself why I was spending the money (Besides, I always thought “I’ll just pay it back next month”). But, my biggest mistake was not living within my means. It wasn't intentional, but I overstretched my budget way too often. And, it eventually began to take a toll on my financial health.
So, a few months ago, I sat down with all of my financial records and bills and came up with a plan to get out of debt. This was my reality check. Since then I have been working 2 hourly jobs and picking up freelance jobs in my limited free time. I’ve been working 6-7 days per week-- which is exhausting-- but, if that’s what it takes conquer my debt then I’m determined to do it. I’m happy to report that I’ve made a lot of progress since then; but, I’m still nowhere near being out of debt.
Unfortunately, there are no magic fixes when it comes to debt. The only real solution is to roll up your sleeves, steel your resolve, and get to work. The purpose of this series is to offer advice and support to people in debt. I plan to publish a few hubs per month on this topic and share the tips that I learn along the way.
Some of the topics I plan to discuss in this series include creating a monthly budget, comparing the different types of debt, prioritizing the debts to pay off first, and ways to increase your monthly income while decreasing your expenses.
Please, stay tuned for the next article in my "Conquering Your Debt" series!
How do we get in debt? Let me count the ways!
1. The car broke down.
2. You had an accident or got sick and missed work.
3. Kids Activities-- dance, sports, band-- you name it. They each have their own list of required uniforms, equipment, and other expenses.
4. The water heater broke, and while the plumber was installing the new one his apprentice managed to damage a water pipe-- causing an indoor flood.
5. The dog had puppies and they all needed vet check-ups and shots before you could find them homes.
6. Your wife is pregnant-- with triplets. Surprise!
7. Life happens!
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In the latest installment of my "Conquering Your Debt" series, I talk about learning to adjust our attitudes in order to achieve our goals. I also share the links to some helpful online resources.