If you look up the phrase “the American dream” I’m pretty sure there’s a Visa or a MasterCard logo right there next to it. And if one of them isn’t represented, then it’s a company trying to convince you that you need a personal loan in order to live your best life. And if THAT isn’t distracting enough, there are now what seems like a million retailers waving “buy now pay later” promises in your face, and debt overall just kinda seems…normal.
Well, I’ve never been one to be…normal. (No comments on THAT little revelation, folks, okay?!)
In all seriousness, a couple years ago, my husband and I realized that we were in a BAD spot when it came to debt, and we didn’t even have the American dream to blame. Life had just kinda…happened…and we hadn’t been prepared for it, so we fell back on lines of credit and pieces of plastic, and the results turned into something that was simply not for us. We knew we had to get out. And guess what? WE DID.
Over the almost 7 years of our marriage, we’ve paid off a lot of debt. We’ve incurred a little bit more…and paid it off, too. When our financial advisor looks at our setup, he thinks we’re looking pretty durn good – but I HATE even a little bit of a balance left on a credit card. Drives me NUTS. Makes me feel stressed out and nervous. So anytime we end up with more money than we thought we had, I’m always down for paying off something else!
In the US, the total household debt accumulated by families currently amounts to somewhere over the $13 trillion mark. With this in mind, it’s not unlikely that you know someone suffering from the consequences of debt, made only worse by rising costs of living, and a generally fickle economy. If a family member or dear friend is struggling under the weight of debt, it’s time to strategize. Help distance your loved ones from the anxiety of endless payment plans with the following tips:
Spending habits are the easiest things to tackle. By cutting costs at every possible opportunity, you can not only avoid adding more debt to your name, but you can eventually start to accumulate enough money to pay off your debt sooner than expected. And it adds up quickly! We’re always surprised when we start looking for expenses we can eliminate!
Use a Budget
A budget can help you find each and every spending habit that may be threatening your finances. Indeed, if you’ve the time and resources, help your family organize a spreadsheet which details expenses and income. Don’t worry if you’ve never tallied a budget before. There are award-winning money management apps like Mint, Pennies, and You Need A Budget (YNAB) that simplify what seems like an insurmountable task to the novice. (The one my husband uses for our finances is called “Personal Capital”.)