Debt addition is real . Unlike drugs, it is not a chemical dependency. It is more like a food addiction, it is a mental state where you cannot conceive living another way. It is a very real and very serious issue around the world, but particularly in North America.
In the United States, people constantly try to live beyond their means. Whether you are buying a car, home, clothes, or electronics that you cannot afford is irrelevant. The key is that you are buying what you cannot afford. If you regularly spend money you don’t have, you are a heavy debt user. If you cannot afford to pay your bills and you continue to spend money, you are a debt addict.
Do you have a problem?
The Consumerist has a great list of ways to tell if you are addicted to debt. Debtors Anonymous is an organization that can help addicts, just like alcoholics or other drug users, recover from their problem. While there are many resources that can help you determine if you are a debt addict, there is a simple way to know: do you constantly spend more than you earn and live off of credit without making any concrete steps to change? If yes, you are a debt addict.
Do you become agitated or nervous when you think about living without credit cards? If your credit cards were taken away tomorrow, would you be able to feed your family? Do you regularly miss your payments or struggle to pay the minimums on your outstanding debt? Are you in over your head but you keep digging in deeper? Those are all signs of debt dependence.
What you should do if you have a problem
Recognize that you have a problem
The first thing to do is recognize that you have a problem and make concrete steps to get out of debt. You can lean on Debtors Anonymous, a supportive family member or friend, an online community, or even me (I can give some advice if you send me an e-mail). The key is to express that you have a problem and find someone to hold you accountable for your recovery.
Now that you have recognized your problem, stop feeding the beast. Quit shopping for things you can’t afford. You may have to make some painful lifestyle concessions, but that is okay. You don’t have to keep up with friends. You don’t have to eat meals at restaurants. You don’t have to go to the bars and spend money on alcohol. You don’t have to go to the casino. You don’t need the newest style in your wardrobe. Take a step back and only spend on real needs. Eliminate the wants.
Build a recovery plan
You will not be out of debt overnight. Chances are, if you have a debt problem, working your way out will take years of dedication and hard work. There are many people who have done it, and there are people starting the journey out of debt every day. You can do it.
Come up with a list of all of your debts and get going on a debt snowball. Just like the reader working his way out of student loan debt, you can work your way out of any debt. Even I have debt, as of now, I have about $13,000 left on my student loans. As long as you are dedicated, willing to sacrifice, and work hard, you can beat your debts.
Feel free to share your debt conquering story in the comments below. If you need help, let our warm, helpful community know as well. If you need a little coaching, feel free to use the comment form or send me a note. We are here to help.