Debt And Debtor's Disease. Do You Have It?
Debtor's disease is a silent killer. Killer of respect,
marriages, self control, and families. There isn't a part of
your life that it won't touch and destroy with it's deadly
power. Some of you won't even know you have it for many, many
years. It's a sneaky affliction; creeping into your life and
slowly but surely taking control of every part of your
Seems a bit of a dramatic description, doesn't it? But, the sad
part is, it's all true. Even though we often hate to admit it,
debt will control our lives totally. Even when we first realize
it, we won't do anything about it. We will deny it, continue to
feed it, and give it all it needs to thrive within our lives.
Oh, you'll have help, no doubt about that. There are many ways
we fuel the fever. Falling into the credit card trap is just
the beginning. Self justification is your worst enemy. Why, the
human mind is masterful at justifying just about any action, or
purchase, given the right circumstances.
The first step is recognizing the disease. Diagnoses of
debtor's disease is much harder than you might expect. Oh, the
symptoms are very clear for sure. But, since most of us hate to
admit our own vulnerabilities and defeat, they can be nearly
invisible to the victim. I experienced nearly all of the
symptoms below before I finally excepted the fact that I did
indeed have the affliction. It is quite a humiliating
experience to realize that so many obvious warning signs were
present and you continued down the wrong path.
They say hindsight is 20/20; Meaning that the past is clearer
when we look back. And, when things go wrong, we like to hope
that we would have done things differently if we knew what we
know now. Well, I'm hoping I can prevent you from some of that
humiliation and financial disaster. You can stop it from
growing to destructive levels if you can identify the warnings
early on. Identify problems early and fix them. Make no
mistake, if the following scenarios apply to your situation,
you are headed for financial trouble.
Requesting credit increases lately?
Requesting credit increases for no specific major purchase, but
because your cards are maxed out, is a sure sign that your
spending is out of control. You may be living way beyond your
Do you apply for new credit cards because your current credit
balances are maxed out?
This is just another way to get additional credit especially,
when you can't seem to get any more credit increases from your
Are you rescheduling monthly bill payments due to lack of
If you find it increasingly difficult to pay bills on time and
according to a consistent schedule, you're probably starting to
get into trouble. You should not have to put off paying
Are you using credit to meet your living expenses?
Credit is not intended to help you live above your income. You
should be able to meet all of your essential living expenses
with your income. If you have income left for non-essential
expenses, great. If not, don't turn to credit to live above
your income. It will most certainly result in financial
Paying essential monthly bills, such as the electric or phone,
with credit cards is a serious symptom. Once you turn to credit
to pay your monthly bills, you're in serious trouble. Sooner or
later the credit cards will be maxed out, you will be refused
additional credit increases, and you won't be able to pay those
Do your credit card payments equal more than 10 -15% of your
Your income to credit ratio is an important part of your credit
management picture. The higher your balances, without an
increase in income, the lower your credit score. This is true
even if you have no derogatory items on your credit history,
and are consistently maintaining good payment records.
In most cases, creditors will identify debtor's disease long
before the victim realizes his affliction. They will begin to
arm themselves against the consequences of the infection when
this occurs. Your interest rates and penalties (i.e. late fees,
over limit fees) may increase as companies anticipate default.
Even they can see you're headed for trouble.
If you answered yes to any or all of the above, you have fallen
victim to debtor's disease. Don't let it take control of your
life! Fix the problems now. You'll have less stress and be a
lot happier. I can say that with confidence. It is such a
relief to be able to see an end to the struggle.
You will feel as though a great burden has been taken from you
when your finances are under control. And, even though you may
experience some difficult periods when you may get discouraged,
you'll find those times much less stressful that periods when
you worried about how your bills would get paid. Take some
serious money management steps to begin your treatment. It's
never too late to take control of your finances and make a
commitment to debt free living.
Identify overspending and eliminate it.
Identify where your money goes. Track spending for specified
period of time. Eliminate unnecessary expenses. Reduce those
you feel you need to keep.
Develop a plan to become debt free.
Create a plan to get rid of debt. Use a self help plan or a
professional. Whether you choose a counselor, debt
consolidation or settlement, or a self help plan, lower debt
consistently to manage and eliminate debt. A plan that calls
for a consistent monthly commitment until debt is paid will be
easier to budget.
Create a Household budget
Creating a household budget will be essential to your success.
It is necessary to bring your living expenses within your
income. This is the concept of living within your means. You
can create this yourself as well or seek professional help in
setting up or maintaining your budget. Your situation and your
level of self discipline will determine what will be most
successful for you. Find a plan that works for your situation
and will be the easiest for you to stick to!
Implement lifestyle changes that will help you free up money to
help pay down debt. Consistently apply these extra funds to debt
payments to get out of debt faster. The sooner you are free from
debt, the sooner you can start investing that money in yourself.
Save money everyday on everything you buy and do.
Once you rid yourself of debt, commit to debt free living.
Remember, you now know how you made the mistakes, you know how
to identify the symptoms, and you have the knowledge and power
to implement the cure. You should now be immune to debtor's
disease. Now, you can vaccinate your children, friends, and
family with the knowledge to prevent them from falling prey to
this life draining affliction. Give them your hind sight and
help them build happy, secure, and independent futures for
themselves and their families.
About The Author: Cheryl Johnson is a mother of four on a
mission to become debt free. As publisher of Simple Debt Free
Living at www.simpledebtfreeliving.com she hopes to
guide and encourage others to live debt free using household
budgeting, debt management, and money saving tips.
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