How I got My Finances in Order Part 2: Understanding the Real Problem
Just Tell me how to get out of Debt:
How You Got Into This Mess:
You consistently over a long period of time spent more money than you made. It is really simple. You bought things you didn't have the money for. Yeah maybe you had some big emergency. The car broke down or a medical problem happened. But if you had been being intelligent with your money those things would not have hit your finances so hard. Saturday Night live offers a comical look at the problem. *
No Quick Fixes:
There are no quick fixes to this situations. Oh there are things you can do that will quickly wipe that debt away in the short term. Perhaps a rich relative dies and leaves you money. Maybe you have enough equity in your house and by selling it you pay off your debt. Maybe you win twenty thousand dollars on a scratch off ticket. Or perhaps you take the more likely route and get a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer. This low interest loan will surely lead you to the promise land. There is only one small, and by small I mean really large, problem. You haven't changed anything. The debt isn't your ultimate problem. The actions and thoughts that created the debt are the problem. Like the statistic thrown around about dieters, 95% of people who take care of their debt this way will find themselves right back in huge debt in 3 or 5 years.
You have to take ownership of this situation. Your problem isn't your debt, your problem is you. Don't try and fix your debt, fix yourself. You have to be able to make lifelong lifestyle changes. Find the capacity to grind it out decision after decision through the long slog of years. If this all sounds familiar, it is. Yes I am talking about applying all that stuff I wrote a few months ago about creating habits. This will be an example of applying those concept to real life.
Don't lament the past:
Don't lament the past. Whatever got you to this point, it's gone. Whether through years and years of stupid small choices, or big foolish ones (I advise not buying sports cars you cannot afford), or even the actions of someone else(a spouse) what is is. The past is gone. You can't change those decisions. You can only control your decisions going forward.
My Favorite analogy:
Think of debt as a giant pit you are in. You got into this pit by digging. You are at the bottom of this hole and you are still digging. You get a debt consolidation loan or uncle Morpheus snuffs it and give you a big payout. The hole is filled in but you are still digging. Soon you are back in your giant pit. What we are going to do is to learn how to start filling the hole in. Eventually after a lot of work we'll be standing on level ground again. At this point we aren't going to start digging again or stop pilling dirt on the former hole. We are going to keep building until we have created a mountain. That mountain will be our investments and our retirement.
This is for people like me. People who made enough to live and even save and invest but made poor decisions. If you are not bringing in enough to even survive and put food on the table you have a much more serious problem then I can help you with.