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Your Lifestyle--Loving it to Debt

March 12, 2012

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You never hear people say they want their children to go to okay schools, use outdated technology, wear adequate clothing, or drive an old car. Instead, most parents want their children to have the best of everything. However, too often the best of everything means expensive schools, cellphones and computers, jewelry, cars, sweet sixteen parties, and designer clothing. And for many people, living this you can have everything lifestyle means taking on lots of debt.

If your lifestyle debt is out of control, commit to making some adjustments to relieve the pressure.

  1. Admit that you are spending more than you can afford to spend comfortably. Don't hide the fact that you are struggling with debt
  2. Stop spending on non-essentials. Needs are needs (food, shelter, clothing) and wants are non-essentials
  3. Create a budget to determine how much you can spend without incurring additional debt. If creating a budget is something you just are not going to do, skip it. There is no need pretending… Pretending you had money you did not have is what got you into trouble in the first place
  4. Develop a repayment plan to pay off your debt. There are numerous debt calculators (CNNMoney) you can use to formulate your own plan for paying off debt. Or, just decide to set aside a percentage (10%-25%) of your salary each payday to pay off debt. Easiest plan ever
  5. Place limits or barriers (e.g., cut up credit cards) on what you buy and how much you pay for it (e.g., shop for what you need at the end of the season and only when items are on sale)
  6. Focus on relationships instead of things. Time and affection are free
  7. Learn about money and finances (read books, watch financial news shows, read articles on the Internet)
  8. Talk about money. Too many people view talking about money as gauche, but it does not have to be. If you have financial knowledge that you feel comfortable sharing with family and friends, share it. Your knowledge about these matters may motivate them to take a closer look at their finances and make some positive changes
  9. Seek professional help from a counselor. Being saddled with debt can leave you feeling lonely, sad and embarrassed. Contact your employee assistance program (EAP), if your employer offers this benefit; or consider working with a mental health professional. If you have medical insurance, chances are it includes mental health benefits paid for by the plan. Your EAP counselor or medical plan mental health professional may suggest working with a debt counselor
Incurring debt to keep up with family and friends who measure success by where they eat, live, and vacation is unsustainable. Eventually, you will have to confront the fact that you are in over your head, and do something about it. The good news is that you can kick your debt lifestyle to the curb whenever you are ready. And, if you relapse, just kick it again.
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