Author: Shernide Delva
For many of us, our personal struggles reveal themselves in all aspects of our life, especially our finances. It may seem easier at the moment to ignore your money problems, but over time, mounting debt can lead to severe consequences…
A common result is debt addiction. Debt Addiction is more than compulsive shopping. A person with debt addiction uses debt as a crutch to solve their personal and financial problems. They hardly make a plan for getting out of the debt. Signs of debt addiction include living paycheck to paycheck and never planning for the future. Someone who struggles with debt addiction is always in a financial crisis, yet never manages to take care of themselves enough to pay off creditors.
There are a variety of signs of debt addiction. Chances are, if you struggle with money, you already know that you do. It is easy to lose track of finances, even for the non-addict. However, when years or even decades past and no change has happened, that is a major sign that you have a debt addiction that needs addressing.
It can be confusing to understand debt addiction. After all, many people are in credit card debt or struggle with finances. Not everyone is a debt addict though. There is a difference between using your credit card because you have to, and using your credit card because you are angry, emotional or going through a rough time. Debt addiction is more of a mental issue than anything else. Often there is a mentality of “What does it matter if I put more on my card? I do not care about my balances, and I am going to ignore it.”
Those with debt addiction use debt as a way to avoid acknowledging that they do not have the money to provide for themselves or their desired lifestyle. Instead, they increase their debt and continue to ignore the problem. The good news is that there are ways to overcome debt addiction.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem. I know, that may sound cliché, but it is true. There are groups like Debtors Anonymous, which is a 12-step fellowship group for those who struggle with debt addiction. Just by looking on the DA website, there is a long list of questions readers can ask themselves before going to a meeting.
Some of these questions include:
- Are your debts making your home life unhappy?
- Does the pressure of your debts distract you from your daily work?
- Are your debts affecting your reputation?
- Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself?
- Do you ever fear that your employer, family or friends will learn the extent of your total indebtedness?
- When faced with a difficult financial situation, does the prospect of borrowing give you an inordinate feeling of relief?
- Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to consider getting drunk?
- Do you usually expect a negative response when you are subject to a credit investigation?
- Have you ever developed a strict regimen for paying off your debts, only to break it under pressure?
More questions are found on the website, but those are some that stood out as clear signs of debt addiction. It is important to develop an action plan to deal with the debt. Facing the amount of debt you have is a big step to acknowledging the role you played in digging that financial hole.
Here are the four steps that can help you move forward:
- Make an inventory of your debt.
Track the interest rates and total balance on everything you owe. You can also pull a free credit report to ensure everything is counted.
- Stop running new debt.
If you can, stop using all credit cards. Make a budget that includes paying at least the minimal payment on all credit cards. You will also need to consider your needs seriously from you wants. That means fancy hair appointments and manicures may have to go. Only consider you daily necessities. Also, call your creditors and ask for help.
- Free up more cash to pay down debt.
If your debt has become overwhelming, it is time to reevaluate your lifestyle and make some serious changes. You may have to consider living in a smaller home, driving an older car, reducing your utility bills. Do not think of it as a punishment. It is an investment in your future. Think of the freedom you will have when you no longer have to be burdened by debt.
- Consider Bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy is a serious decision that should be discussed with a professional. However, if you are already cutting everything down to the bone, and still overwhelmed, bankruptcy may be an option for you. Bankruptcy could be looked at like an investment in your future. Still, it should not be considered lightly. Consider all other options first.
- Get support.
There are so many people out there who have been in the same scenario as you. Search engines are your friend. Check out the many websites and blogs from others who are getting out of debt. Join Debtors Anonymous to have a support group that can keep you accountable. Talk to others about your struggle. You never know who might be willing to help. Stay focused and remember you are not alone.
Debt could be the one major thing keeping you from living life in recovery to the fullest. Instead of getting deeper into debt, you should focus on getting out of it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.