Today’s article is from Suzanne. Suzanne is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @ADivorcedMom where she shares her insights on divorce and managing your finances.
The times they are a changing! Years ago when the economy was better there were certainly people in debt whether of their own doing or because of one of life’s curveballs that got thrown their way. But, were they talking about it, not so much.
Today millions of Americans are struggling with debt and have found that talking about it really helps. Not only do they see someone else that has been in, or is in their shoes, but they have found they can learn from them. I see this happening everyday in our online community. We even have several folks who blog about their journey out of debt. Their candid stories show that being in debt is hard, but making the sacrifices to get out of debt are much easier than they ever would have thought.
If you take a moment and think about it almost everyone you know has some kind of debt; a mortgage, car payment, or credit cards. How you approach and manage the debt is certainly more important than how someone looks at you for being in debt.
Disregard “The Look”
There is certainly a stigma attached to being in debt, but you don’t have to let it define you. When you tell someone about your debt situation or are on the other end of this type of conversation and are listening to someone else there are several mental images your brain conjures up…
- You poor thing. Yes being in debt stinks but it doesn’t usually mean you are destitute. Maybe you just let your spending get out of control and racked up some credit card debt or got involved in a bad adjustable rate mortgage. This does not mean you are destined to a life of ramen noodles and no cable (unless you want to). It means you need to make a plan to seek debt help. By attacking debt head on you can avoid the downward spiral that avoidance causes. By not owning up to your debt you make your financial situation much worse.
- Can I catch it? Debt is not like the flu and certainly is not contagious. If a family member, friend, or partner reveals their debt situation, know that is isn’t catching but that they may be reaching out for help. Being supportive is important. Know that expensive concert tickets and dinners out may not be in the cards until their debt is under control.
- Shame on you. This is the look you get from those that could never imagine being in debt and can’t believe you put yourself in this type of situation. There is no shame in being in debt; the shame is when you try to avoid it thinking things will work themselves out on their own and do nothing.
Find your Hook
For many of us talking about debt with people we are close to is the first step in our journey to debt freedom. In order to make things happen we need a hook, something that shakes us into the reality of our debt. Have you ever heard the phrase “hitting rock bottom”? Sometimes it takes a devastating event for us to understand the extent of our financial troubles. The hook can manifest itself in many different ways. Here are just a few of the ones I hear about often:
- Debt collectors are calling me day and night even at work.
- My interest rates on my credit cards have all gone up over 15%; I can’t even pay the minimums anymore.
- I am using one credit card to pay another; I am in a vicious cycle I can’t escape.
- My car has been repossessed because I haven’t been able to make the payments.
- We are facing foreclosure because our mortgage adjusted and we can’t afford to make the payments anymore and refinancing isn’t possible.
Whatever the hook is for you or someone that has confided in you, it is important to use this as motivation to make the right decisions and lifestyle changes necessary to improve the financial situation and ultimately get out of debt.
Have you ever been in debt and had a fear of talking about it? Or, has someone confided in you about their debt problems?