Last night, I was reading this article entitled, “Five Signs You’re In Debt Denial” by Stefanie Oconnell. In this article, she unpacks what most of America is dealing with on a day to day basis. How do I get out of all of this debt?
At the top of the article, she poses a question.
Do you know how much you owe?
If not, you’re not alone. According to a New York Fed report Americans tend to underestimate their credit card debt by 37%.
Whether it’s a result of apathy, ignorance or denial, facing the facts of your financial life, however unsettling, is the only way to start moving toward an empowered fiscal future – and a life on your own terms.
This got me to thinking about my finances. Do I know how much I owe?
Fortunately, I do. My wife and I owe on our college debt and that is it. However, it was not always that way. Elisa inherited a financial mess when she married me. Credit card debt, delinquent bills, collection agencies & repossession notices were all part of the deal as I had made about a decade of poor financial decisions leading into my 30’s.
It was shortly after we were married that I handed our finances over to Elisa. Hold on a second, you might say, what about being the man of the house and running your own ship? Well, I brought a bunch of negative debt into our marriage and all she had was some school loans. It was a no-brainer. Now, that doesn’t mean that I liked the idea. Nobody likes to give up control. However, it was a necessary move and one that paid off spectacularly. Elisa has kept us out of debt for 10 years now.
But, that gets me back to the article. Our story should be the norm but it isn’t. Many people are up to their neck and some even more in debt that they cannot seem to find their way out of.
Are you one of those people?
O’Connell gives us five signs that financial denial is present. Take a look at the list and see if any of these apply to you.
You’re rationalizing your debt as “good”
You’re paying the minimum – and only the minimum
You keep opening new credit cards
You figure you’ll eventually out earn your debt
You just ignore it
At one point, I think every once of these five things applied to me. It is easy to get caught up in this debt trap. It’s definately easier to get into this cycle than it is to get out of it. And, as I look at these five things, the one that is probably the most dangerous is the last one. Most people just ignore their debt as if they think it will eventually just go away. However, there is never a situation where this is true. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that, “the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” (New International Version) As long as you owe someone else money, they own you. You have to address your debt and pay it off. Get free from that cycle.
A tool that I have used to monitor my debt with in the past but have gotten away from is found at mint.com. This is a very reliable budgeting and banking tool that can help you to see what you are spending your money on and help you to set budgeting goals. Mint automatically pools all your financial information into one location so you can get a better picture of where you are financially. It is free to use and connects with nearly every major financial institute. If you identify with the list above, this site is definately for you.
Alright, that’s it for today. I hope everyone has a blessed day. To all my friends in Illinois, we will be seeing you soon.
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