The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives

3.13.2006

Life is too short to live with debt

Last week I received an anonymous email from someone seeking non-professional advice on how to deal with a large amount of credit card debt.

Since I am not a financial expert, initially, I was reluctant to respond. But after giving it some thought, I provided my opinion about how I would handle the same situation, as I would to anyone who posted a question on a message board or a close friend in need.

What troubles me most about people struggling to become debt-free are their spending habits. I strongly emphasize taking an honest look at one's spending: Have you really cut out all non-essential costs? Are you paying more for goods that would be cheaper if you made them yourself?

A lot of debt-ridden people would admit they have not pared down spending enough.

I can't figure this one out. If you carry huge debt and feel stressed daily because of it, why aren't you doing everything possible to get rid of that stress?

If I had tons of credit card debt, I would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. I would not go to movies or happy hours. I would not buy clothes or books. I would get rid of cable and other unimportant services. I would re-evaluate housing and auto expenses, and downsize if necessary. I would cut my spending to the bare minimum, because that is what I'd have to do to get out of debt.

Some of you might say life is too short for such extreme measures. But I think that debt-ridden folks probably feel even greater stress, because they haven't taken extreme measures. Thus, they feel helpless in their situation.

Take control of your spending, because life is too short to live with debt!