Say Goodbye to Debt This Year – Try Debt Counseling!
Living in debt is living a life without your full energy. Debt takes the joy out of life and zaps your strength like nothing else. And if you have little ones that you’re responsible for likely you are not able to enjoy family life to its full either because your thoughts are dimmed when you think about their future. For years now we have lived with the words “economic slump” hovering over us. Most of us long for the days of living paycheck to paycheck as now things are far worse. Would you like to work on getting out of debt? Of course you would but it seems like a mountain to climb. Well, today, not tomorrow, but today, take at least a little step in the direction of being debt free. Here’s a few strategies:
Stop the bleeding. When someone is brought into the emergency room because of a serious injury one of the first things to be accomplished is to stop the bleeding. Likewise, with your budget, there might be serious trauma. Stop the bleeding…TODAY! Take stock of what you absolutely need and only spend money on that. Yes this will be difficult, most worthwhile things are. Here’s a list of things you do not need: cable television, 4 dollar cups of coffee every day, pedicures, cigarettes, eating out, the latest of anything that you already have that isn’t broken, etc. I think you get the picture–If it doesn’t come under food, clothing, shelter or quiet dignity pass on it until you’re out of debt. It will be easier to resist if you look away from advertising whenever you can. Don’t watch commercials, window shop or look through magazines–they’re all designed to get you to buy, buy, buy.
Trick yourself into saving money. Make a deal with yourself to not spend change and as soon as possible take it out of your wallet or pockets and put it somewhere you won’t be tempted to raid it. After three months of saving, use that money to pay down a bill. Maybe it won’t be a huge amount but it will be something and it will urge you on to pay down the bill quicker as you’ve already started. Your self-respect will grow too as you have put some control on your spending.
Make a call. Many people don’t realize that if you’re delinquent on a bill and have been for some time you can call the debt collector and negotiate paying less on the bill than you originally incurred. This will take some courage and you will absolutely have to live up to what you agreed upon–the amount and the payment plan. And I wish I could save you from this but I’ll just be honest: When you call don’t expect the nicest treatment. These people want their money and they will try to bully you into promising what you don’t have so brace yourself and remember that it’s not personal and the fact that you want to clear up the debt instead of skipping on it entirely says a lot about your character.
Can you enjoy a more simple life? All this cost cutting and strategizing doesn’t feel good at first. It’s an adjustment but in the end you might find you have a better quality of life. When we take our focus off of spending and acquiring and invest more in experiencing real life with real people, the meaning of our life becomes richer. A wonderful gift that can last a lifetime is to teach those around you by example to enjoy the simple things. We get in this easy rut of “grabbing lunch out” with friends and there’s nothing wrong with that once in a while if you can afford it but how about taking a walk, planning a picnic that you make yourself, take it some free activities around your community. This will also tell you who your friends are. If your friendships are predicated on spending money they might not be true friends.
Many communities have debt counseling services for free (beware if they’re not free). These programs can help you with a realistic goal of getting out of debt, put a strategy on paper to help you make it a reality and address the psychological aspects of over spending. Think of it as a personal trainer that cheers you on and gives you some tough love too. The counselors that do this are often retired business people who want to give back to the community. They are a wealth of knowledge.
You CAN get out of debt. It is possible. Keep thinking of the freedom you will have without debt darkening your doorstep. You might have gotten into debt by accident but you won’t get out of debt by accident. It is worth your sacrifice and that sacrifice will pay off. You will have a much more enjoyable life.