Are Debt Collectors Haunting You?
I just received a phone call with a number I did not recognize. Naturally, I let it go to my voice mail. (After all, who wants to talk to a stranger?) The caller left a message, and out of sheer curiosity, I listened to it. The message went something like this: “We can help you pay down your credit card debt . . . call for more information . . . this is the last courtesy call I can give you. . .” I began to wonder: Is that about the credit card debt I haven’t paid on for the last five years, or is that another marketing ploy designed to prevent me from finding debt relief?
Step One: Stop Overspending!
Debt relief starts with one simple step. It’s so simple, in fact, that anyone can do it: Ignore the marketing attempts of big business and stop overspending. I told you it was simple! But it’s not easy, because you must train yourself to bargain shop, as well as live simply. Deprivation, however, is not allowed. You can treat yourself to your favorite things every so often, but if you make it a habit, your spending can get out of control again very quickly, and you may never find the debt relief you crave.
Step Two: Live Simply
If you had to choose between having a large slice of pie today and never being able to have another slice of pie again, or having one bite of pie every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose? What if you had to choose between renting a tiny apartment for five years and then buying the house of your dreams with little or no debt, or buying that dream house now and losing more money?
As obvious as the best choices in these scenarios may seem, for many people they aren’t easy decisions to make. In fact, the average person can be faced with choices that obvious on a daily basis and make the wrong choice every time. (Well, I can, anyway.) Case in point: choose between putting that very expensive coat on my credit card now, or wait until I have saved up enough cash to buy it in six months. Many people will choose the credit card. The second step to debt relief, therefore, is to live simply now so that you can have what you want later, without sinking further into debt.
Step Three: Pay Down Debts
The third step to becoming debt free is an obvious one: Pay down your debts on a consistent basis. What if you do not have enough money to live on, let alone pay down debts? Even in this economy, you can find something to do to earn extra money. Mowing lawns, shoveling snow, or cleaning houses for others can help you earn money to put towards paying down your debts. Also, take a few minutes to think about where your money goes every month. You’ll come up with a number of ways to reduce your expenses and free up extra money to pay off your debts.
Step Four: Avoid New Debts
Once you’ve eliminated your debt, how are you going to stay debt free? What would happen if you suddenly lost your income? Would you be able to pay your daily expenses? The best thing you can do to stay debt free is to begin putting money into an emergency fund. Experts say that you should have at least 8 months of living expenses set aside for layoffs, illnesses, or other emergencies.
The Bottom Line
Finding debt relief can be a long process, but it begins with that first simple step. When you finally decide to make the effort it takes to get rid of debt, the relief you’ll find will be more valuable than anything you can think of buying. It takes discipline, focus, and a strong commitment to improving the quality of your life. Take control of your spending today and you really can have a debt-free tomorrow!