“Debt is the worst poverty.”—Thomas Fuller
Single, sixty-three-year-old Lois felt buried under a veritable landslide of debt.
How did this happen?
How did Lois sabotage herself financially?
Lois lamented: “I thought my mid-life years would be stress-free and blissful. It was so easy to get into debt. But will I ever, ever get out of debt?”
There are millions of families in most countries in the world facing the same dilemma. Rare indeed are the persons who manage to live their lives without shouldering a large, sometimes unmanageable, burden of debt.
Getting into Debt
How does one get into debt? Simple! It is a way of life. Governments, multi-national corporations, small businesses, families, and individuals have all come to accept debt as usual.
Pride often creates debt. Debt creates strain. Strain leads to other difficulties. So how does one live in a world that’s debt-oriented and, at the same time, stay out of debt?
Perhaps the first lesson to be learned is pure sales resistance. One cannot enter the door of most financial institutions without being assailed by posters offering loans.
Credit cards are readily available.
Banks are competing to offer the lowest interest rates to entice you to give their services a try.
Over the spectrum from loan sharks to reputable banking institutions, there are millions of successful, aggressive persons who are in the business of selling money.
To them, money is a commodity—like groceries—and their job is selling it to you.
Learn to say NO.
Many formulas exist to define an acceptable ratio of debt to income, but these vary greatly. For instance, some economists feel that a family may comfortably allocate 30 percent of gross income to pay for shelter, such as mortgage payments.
But this formula may not be feasible for the very poor.
So general formulas are often too vague. Consider the whole problem of debt on a personal level for the best outcome.
Some debt may be acceptable, such as buying a house at a reasonable rate.
Other forms of debt may be unacceptable. Debt management includes the ability to reject them. Perhaps the best rule is: Do not buy what you do not need and cannot afford it.
Avoid impulse buying. Even if something is half price, it is not a bargain for you if you cannot afford it.
Follow These Tips to Get Out and Stay Out of Debt
There are plenty of ways to get out of debt. I discuss a few in this article.
- Establish a working relationship with a reputable bank.
- If you must borrow down the road, this will likely get the best interest rate.
- Start paying off debts in some organized way.
- Project your anticipated personal cash flow over the next 24 months. Be realistic.
- Include every bit of income you expect to have.
- List debts in order of priority.
- Allocate on a fair basis so that each debt receives at least some payment.
- Set a target date to pay off each debt.
- Pick up a side hustle.
- Sell off high ticket items (jewelry, fancy electronics).
- Be ruthless!
- Can the grocery bill be shaved?
- Can vacations be cut?
- Can luxury items be enjoyed less often?
- Can you negotiate a lower interest rate on credit cards—either temporarily or permanently?
- Don’t shop too often. Experts say you will spend less if you only buy once or twice a week.
- Don’t stay too long. Supermarket surveys have indicated that for every minute you remain in the store for over 30 minutes, you spend 50 cents extra.
- Discuss your plan with a bank loan officer. He may be able to show you how to improve your strategy. He may even suggest a debt consolidation plan, which comes with a fixed interest rate.
The world over, people put their trust in money.
Money is in and out of your pocket like a flash!
Yet money is a necessary item in your life.
Money can bring you some temporary measure of happiness if you can see money for what it’s worth. But if you overestimate the value of money and make it your chief goal in life, it can be calamitous!
Take Control of Your Money
If you feel overwhelmed or confused about how to get started, I’d like to recommend a useful resource:
Dave Ramsey is a seven-time bestselling author on finance and money.
He also hosts a popular radio show and podcast.
On Dave Ramsey’s website, you will find a plethora of information, including tools, classes, books, and live events designed to help you control your money.
You could start with an assessment on the site that creates a customized plan to help you with your money issues.
Not only does Dave Ramsey provide advice on debt and budgeting, but also savings, retirement, and taxes.
You should check out Ramsey’s site!
Or you may prefer to use one of the top-rated money management, personal finance, and budgeting apps:
Finally—Think Before You Buy!
Personal debt is out of control.
The world over, people put trust in money.
But money can be gone in a flash.
It’s as if money has wings and flies away.
But as I’ve cautioned in this article, great care should be taken as to how you spend your money. If you are budget-minded, think before you buy, trim down to the essentials, learn to live on less, and are resourceful, you can get out of debt—and stay out of debt!