If you happen to be one of the umpteen million Americans who have constructed a nice, fat mountain of debt due to non-existent budgeting and a life devoted to impulse shopping, welcome to the club. You’re not alone. Resolving to get your finances under control is not simply a matter of doing what’s right – debt can effect areas of your life you might not have realized like:
1. The ability to get a cell phone
2. The ability to rent an apartment
3. Getting hired for a great job
Let’s take #2 (apartment) and see how it plays out. With the high rate of deadbeat tenants, landlords have realized that it saves them headaches to try and weed out problem rentals before they ever hand over a set of keys. A stable rental history helps but what if you are just out of college and have no past rentals to fall back on? The sort of landlord who gladly takes your one month security deposit and welcomes you into his complex might be the one you should have second thoughts about.
These days it’s become the normal course of events to have a credit check run before you can rent that great apartment you really want. Guess what? Bad or spotty credit might mean you either are politely told, “Thanks, but no thanks,” or find yourself faced with an outrageous security deposit that would make Bill Gates blanch. Remember, there is more than one way to keep out the “undesirables.”
The point of this exercise is to remind you that it’s never a good idea to let debt accumulate until one day you snap out of your walking coma and realize you have a serious problem on your hands. Luckily, getting out of debt is not complicated. It’s hard for many people but the steps themselves are infinitely easy.
1. Stop spending and start paying off debt. Remind yourself that the easy way to get rich is stop spending money. The same goes for reducing debt. Stop spending money and apply it to debt instead.
2. Honest assessment. Take a good long look at your finances and admit to yourself what got you into trouble. Like an alcoholic, the first step is admitting that a problem exists. Often spending is done for emotional reasons and we’re of the opinion that retail therapy is hardly ever a good idea.
3. Set goals. Even modest goals help you get started. Pick the smallest debt you have and throw everything at it with furious vengeance until it is gone. Now pick the new smallest debt and repeat the process.
Before long you’re going to be what they refer to in technical terms as debt free and that’s a great place place to inhabit.
The Young Wealth Team
Flickr / Roozbeh Rokni