getting out of debt

There’s an old saw that says, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  I think most people intuitively understand this to be true.  Still, it can be very difficult to apply this in real life.  Let’s say you’re in debt up to your eyeballs; your credit cards are maxed out, you have two car payments, and you owe a caring relative for the down payment on your home.  Is the solution as simple as “stop digging”?  How do you begin to stop digging?

One very important step, one that people don’t realize exists, but that is of vital importance, is to learn to hate debt.  Debt is your mortal enemy.  Debt will kill you in worse ways than physically.  Debt will gnaw at you, preventing you from being at peace.  Debt must be eliminated at all costs.

One way to begin eliminating debt is to minimize your expenses.  This frees up more money that you can throw at your debt.  There are usually several expenses that can be trimmed.  Have you shopped around for auto insurance lately?  How about homeowners or renters insurance?  Prices for these products are usually all over the board, and spending a few minutes comparing rates might save you a ton.  Other areas where you may be able to save a little are dining out, shopping discount stores, and cutting a car from your household.

Closely related to trimming expenses is increasing income.  Can you get a part time job?  Can you work extra hours at your existing job?  Can you ask for a raise or promotion?  Obviously, earning more money will help your bottom line.  Just be sure the extra income isn’t being wasted.

Another step many people don’t realize exists is to look for sources of encouragement, not discouragement.  The most expensive friends you can have are the ones who spend for fun.  Look for people who enjoy hanging out; having a friend over for dinner satisfies more than your wallet.  Read about simple living.  Rent movies instead of going to the theater.  Grow a garden.  Make a game of saving, and enjoy the hunt.  And remember to keep your chin up.

This article originally appeared in the August 8, 2007 edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

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