The following is part of a blog swap guest post by Andrea at So Over Debt.
Since I made the decision to blog about my finances, I’m continually amazed that people read my posts about getting out of debt. After all, I’m in some serious debt myself (to the tune of $60,000) and I don’t even have a huge income to help me pay it off. How can I talk about something I know nothing about? Well, I may not be out of debt just yet, but I sure know all about getting into debt in the first place, and I know what changed in my life to stop the madness.
Getting In To Debt
If you want to get into debt, you need to be willing to put forth a lot of effort. It’s not enough to go buy groceries with a credit card every now and then. You have to be firmly committed to the idea that you need lots of things regardless of whether you have the money to buy them. You have to be willing to ask your parents or other family members to loan you money “just until I get paid.” It wouldn’t hurt to take out a payday loan or two as well. Most of all, getting into debt requires ignoring your commitments, like mortgage payments and utilities, and justifying your new debt payments (minimum payments only!) by saying, I can pay that! I waste more than that buying fast food in a month. Oh, and you need to continue wasting money buying fast food every month.
Doesn’t sound too smart, does it? I agree! Yet that’s exactly the way I lived my life for the last ten years. I was an absolute idiot, throwing money down the toilet left and right. It’s easy to see how dumb debt can be when you’re reading something like this. What’s not so easy, though, is seeing it when you’re actually making those choices. You’re living one poor decision at a time, and it’s not until much later that you’re able to look back at what happened while trying to cope with the sum of all those mistakes.
I know a ton of people who are still doing all those things while asking themselves, How in the world am I going to get out of this mess? Like I said, I know because I’ve been there. At the beginning of 2010, I found myself divorced with a ton of debt. I had four maxed out credit cards, a high-interest car loan, and a ton of student loans. I didn’t know how in the world I could stop the cycle of spending, running out of money, and borrowing from my parents.
Getting Out of Debt
I’m not going to tell you to quit buying coffee or go sell everything you own. Not that those are bad ideas, but you can read about that stuff on any number of websites. Plus, if you are stuck in a debt-filled existence, you aren’t ready to use those tips anyway.
The way to get out of debt is simple: You have to be truly tired of being in debt.
You can’t just be a little annoyed by your debt. You can’t simply wish it would go away. You have to reach your absolute breaking point, where it is simply unacceptable to keep living a debt-filled life. You have to want something bigger and better for yourself.
You’ll know when you’re ready to change. It’s one of those frustrating things where no one can tell you when or how; you’ll just know. You will find yourself taking steps that seemed impossible before. The financial advice that used to make you roll your eyes will suddenly interest you. You will be willing to do whatever it takes to stop the cycle of being broke. As I say on my website, you’ll be over your debt.
I got over my debt in December 2010. Since then, I’ve changed all kinds of bad habits. I now have over $1500 in savings – the first time I’ve had savings in my adult life. I’ve paid off all but $760 of my credit card debt. I’m saving for retirement, tracking my spending, and saving for the things I want instead of borrowing to pay for them. Everything I never thought I could do became possible in one tiny moment, with no parades or fanfare. I’m not saying it’s easy – I still mess up from time to time – but I know I will never again find myself buried under a pile of bills and credit card statements.
Are you over your debt yet, or are you still in spending mode? What will it take for you to make changes?
Visit Andrea at So Over Debt to follow her efforts to get her finances under control.