The first step to getting out of debt is to stop the worst bleeding. It is critical that you take this first step, and take it seriously. It is also critical that you realize that you have a problem, that you realize the extent of your problem and are reminded of your problem regularly.
By definition, to get rid of consumer debt, simply stop borrowing money. Simply stop using your credit cards. Pay cash or write a check on an account with sufficient funds for every purchase you make. Every day, one day at a time, pay cash. Like quitting smoking or giving up alcohol it requires a daily reminder to not pay by credit card — to not borrow money. The principle is simple, “Don’t borrow money!”
If the solution is simple (STOP BORROWING MONEY!), the excuses are many. Here are some of the possible objections you might raise:
“I can’t pay by check. I don’t have enough money in the bank.” You have missed the point. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy. You have to live within your means. You have to live soberly, and take your financial situation seriously.
“It is less convenient to buy things with cash.” Precisely! Many people say that they never misuse their credit cards because they pay the bill completely each month. Using credit wisely is more than just being able to pay an account on time. Credit cards are the primary tool for impulse buying. Credit cards are *required* for indulgent buying. If you seek to make buying things convenient, you will buy more, buy things you don’t need, and pay more for them. Credit cards don’t feel like real money. When you are forced to use real money you will be more frugal.
“I deserve nice things.” You have a problem with your attitudes about money. You are using indulgent spending as a reward for hard work. Like the alcoholic who drinks or the obese person who eats, your behavior makes things much worse. Financially you are destroying the fruit of your hard work when you engage in spending beyond your means. You deserve to have your hard work go toward achieving financial security.
“I’m not the big spender, my spouse is.” Like the spouse of an alcoholic, you need to confront the problem *before* it destroys the family. Financial problems are given as the root cause in 80 percent of the divorces today. That means your problem is a more serious threat to your marriage than all those other “serious” problems you thought might end your marriage. Start by giving this article to your spouse. If your spouse has given you this article it is because they love you dearly. Show your love for them by taking the problem seriously!
The remainder of this series of advice on debt will be irrelevant if you don’t implement this week’s advice and stop the bleeding by not borrowing any more money.
As proverbs 13:18 says, “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline.”
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash