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11 Reasons Why You Stay In Debt

11 Reasons Why You Stay In Debt

According to the Federal Reserve, 43% of Americans exceed their income with their spending habits. This means that 43% of people are going further and further into debt each year and racking up interest charges at an alarming rate. They might as well be burning their money.

Many people never even plan on paying all of that money back, citing bankruptcy as their way out.

Here are 11 ways you are staying in debt, and what do do about it.

1. Your expenses are too high

This one is obvious. If you have backed yourself into a corner by amassing a huge house payment, huge car payments, large insurance premiums, and other gigantic fixed costs, then you are never going to have any money to pay down your debt.

If you want to pay your debt, you must reduce your expenses. Get a used car. Downsize to a smaller house. Shop around for insurance. Cancel recurring subscriptions. Question everything. Do anything you can to lower your expenses so you can begin to put that saved money towards your debt.

2. You have no additional income

If you only have one source of income, odds are that you base all of your expenses on that.

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The secret to being able to save money and pay down debt is doing things on the side that you enjoy that will also make you extra money. Pick up freelance work that can make you an extra few hundred a month.

You can then leverage this money to build a side business, which can turn into an enjoyable way to get extra cash flow to begin paying down your debt.

3. You have no picture of your money

Do you know where your money goes each month? If you look at your bank account and just sit there wondering, “What did I spend all of that on?” then you have an issue.

Sign up for an automated financial tracking site, like Mint.com, to get a better idea of what you’re spending where without having to do all of the manual work of balancing your income and expenses. This can help you perform a detailed analysis of where your money goes, and make changes based on the results.

4. You don’t take advantage of technology

The technology that exists today is incredible. You can literally pay your debt on autopilot. All it takes is a few minutes to set up an automated transaction to your creditors each month. You’ll find ways to adjust.

Couple that with a little bit of extra money on the side towards your debt, and you’ll have it paid off in no time.

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5. You use your time poorly

How many hours a week do you work? 40? Do you do anything after work to make extra money? Are you furthering your education to increase your worth? Are you networking to increase your level of influence?

Expenses, if left alone, will almost always increase over time. If you’re not using your time wisely, you’ll never increase your ability to earn more to keep up with those expenses, keeping you at the same level of income and plunging you further into debt as your expenses increase over time.

Always be improving your ability to earn more.

6. You run a balance on your credit cards

Credit card debt is the absolute worst type of debt you can have, because the interest rates are so high. You can literally rack up tens of thousands of dollars in interest alone in just a few years. Yet so many people just view them as a way to pay for things without actually having to pay for them.

But the fact is, that minimum payment is going to grow and grow over time as you spend more, and you eventually won’t be able to get any more credit. At that point, you’re going to have to pay before you can buy anything else. That’s no way to live.

Use credit cards wisely. Only put items on them that you can pay off each month. The day you start to run a balance on your credit card is the day you start racking up hundreds of dollars in interest, and it’s hard to escape from the high rates of credit cards.

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7. You worry about everyone else

The quickest way to get into debt and stay there is to start worrying about what everyone else thinks of you. The fact is, not everyone makes the same amount of money, but everyone likes to try to act like they do.

Stop worrying about what the image your car, house, clothes, and whatever else says about you and just live the life you are able to without going into debt. At the end of the day, those things are just liabilities on your balance sheet, nothing more.

8. You don’t have a spending plan

Money is made to be spent, but if you do not have a plan for what you are allowed to spend it on, then you’re going to be throwing it around everywhere.

Sit down and think about what brings you the most joy to spend your money on, and allow yourself a guilt-free spending fund each month. Spend it on one or two things that bring you joy and cut it off there.

9. You afford things

“Affording” things is a very quick way to get into debt. Because when you afford things, you are only thinking about how you can leverage all you own to buy them. Unless it’s your house, only buy things you can pay off completely in less than two years.

Otherwise you’ll spend your whole life with monthly payments towards things that are probably worth less than you owe on them.

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10. You buy too many little things

10 bucks here, 20 bucks there, $8.50 there—it all adds up. It’s very easy to tell yourself that “It’s only $10. Go ahead and spend it.” But the problem with that is when you keep saying that day after day, eventually you’ve spent $300 on nothing but a bunch of little trinkets, snacks, and things you ultimately don’t need that will just end up in a yard sale.

Resist the urge to spend money on little things. You’ll be a lot happier with one high-quality, large purchase.

11. Your money is not working for you

With a boatload of debt, you’ll never be able to invest in anything.

At some point in your life, your money must make money for you, not the other way around. Instead of spending all of your money, save some of it to invest in assets that will make you money over time.

Learn about high yield savings accounts, stocks, real estate (that you quickly profit from), building businesses, and other forms of wealth creation. Eventually you’ll get to the point where all you have to do to collect money is sit back and watch the birds.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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