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The good news about being in debt is that you’re certainly not alone. According to a 2018 Northwestern Mutual study, the average person had debt over $38,000.
What’s the bad news about debt? The fact that you have to face it every day until you get it paid off, and this can keep you from enjoying any peace of mind.
Before you can get out of debt, you have to first figure out why you’re in it, which is what we’ll look at now:
1. You lack a budget.
If you don’t keep track of where your money goes, debt can quickly sneak up on you. That’s why it’s a good idea to track all of your spending for a month.
Once it’s over, make a budget and a plan to reduce unnecessary spending so you can pay down the debt you’ve accumulated.
You can use an app to make a budget or use a piece of paper to write down your income and expenses. The sooner you see what your money is being spent on, the sooner you can stop it to keep new debt at bay.
2. You’re an impulsive shopper.
Do you find that you’re always looking for sales, either online or in person? Are you the type of person that must buy something just because it’s discounted? If so, this can keep you in debt for a long time.
Block websites where you’re known to shop impulsively. Delete any auto-filled credit card information to make it harder to make online purchases. And if you’re always scouring the Sunday newspaper for coupons for things you don’t need, stop buying the paper altogether.
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The more barriers you create, the less likely you’ll buy things when you get that itch to spend frivolously.
3. You prioritize spending over saving.
Does most of your paycheck go towards new purchases? You’ll need to change that habit to paying your bills and debt first if you hope to escape the cycle.
4. You spend more than you make.
Living beyond your means or trying to keep up with the Joneses can put you in a deep debt hole. This is why a budget is crucial to keep track of your spending and limit it each month.
5. You link spending to emotions.
Do you engage in “retail therapy”? Does a trip to the mall temporarily cure your depression or mask other emotions? If so, this is an easy way to always be in debt.
Instead of shopping and spending when you feel sad or frustrated, try something else. Exercise or take a walk to calm those emotions, and you’ll not only feel happier, but you’ll also be in less debt.
6. You pay the minimum balance every time.
Try paying off your credit card in full every month. If you can’t try to pay off each credit card purchase as you make it. This can keep your debt down and your balances low.
If you only pay the minimum amount each month, you’ll be on a never-ending debt treadmill since those payments will mostly cover interest charges and not the purchases.