Credit Cards & Debt

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This quote really hit me several years ago. I was a certified shopaholic. What does that mean? It meant I bought everything I could. I didn’t have a real style, because I wanted to wear every style. I didn’t have one hobby that I excelled at because I wanted to do it all – and therefore needed to buy equipment for everything. I needed to have all the jewelry styles, every color cardigan, all types of shoes, a plethora of jackets, and a disgusting amount of shirts, skirts, and blouses. I literally shopped everyday… so my trunk was full of bags with things to take home and things to return to stores. I spent thousands of dollars on things I often never wore or used.

So why am I telling you this?

I hope I can give you a little life advice that helps you not into the same trap.

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I wanted to so desperately to fit in, be admired, and excel that I was willing to pay any price. I seemed to think that price would be money. Money thrown away on clothes, makeup, jewelry, and a million other things. I just didn’t realize I was doing it! I saw beautiful pictures of women who were obviously admired and led perfect lives. I bought whatever I needed to resemble them. I went years thinking I was living the life I wanted. Then …. Many credit cards later…and many  past due bills, overdraft fees, and debt collector calls…. It clicked.

 I was a prisoner to my lifestyle.

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Luckily, I had amazing family that had an intervention and helped me to escape this. They made sure I had a balance in my account and then helped me figure out a budget. Getting out of debt is unbelievably hard. It’s just like losing weight. There are cycles of feeling entitlement, frustration, and even hopelessness.

So how can you avoid this? Determine what really makes you happy – and then WORK towards it. Don’t buy with the assumption that you will pay that bill with the next paycheck. When you spend money with your mind and not your bank account you end up in debt.

Now, I still love clothes, makeup, and all sorts of things. So here are my tips for all you shopaholics out there!

5 tips to help you STAY OUT OF DEBT:

  1. Create a Budget.  Know exactly what your income is and what your main expenses are. This is by far the most important thing you can do. Once you’ve determined your budget of what you can feasibly spend then stick to it!
  2. Don’t spend money just to spend money. Change the way you view your budget. Most of us, if given $50 to spend on something, we’ll go and LOOK for opportunities to spend the money. Instead of acting like a kid in a candy shop where you spend every last cent – don’t spend money just because you have some to spend. This is a habit that leads to eventual debt.
  3. Take Inventory. Go through your clothes, makeup stash, or craft closet and determine what things you really use the most often. Really determine what your style is, or determine what hobby is clearly the preference. I thought for years, I was a chameleon who changed what I wear often. But in reality, I just had SO many styles in my closet I never defined my own. When you do, you will be less tempted to splurge on random items. A well-stocked closet shouldn’t look like a costume rack.
  4. Avoid temptation. All of us have a weakness. If you spend unwisely when you are mindlessly wandering in the mall during a lunch hour – then STOP DOING IT! If you are tempted to shop by all of the magazines – then cut down on the magazines you read. I think you get the point…
  5. Be credit card savvy. The average American takes over 20 years to pay off a $2,000 credit balance. This is because most of us pay just the minimum payment and don’t even know what the APR is on our credit cards. Many credit cards actually have variable interest rates, as well. ( This means they actually change what your interest rate is when they feel like it!) Too many open lines of credit also can mess up your credit score and increase your debt-to-income ratio. So the bottom line is don’t think credit cards will save the day. They can seem so relieving and freeing until you have a full balance. Then they are the chains that make debt so difficult.

In some cases, debt can’t be avoided. But the majority of debt can be! I hope these tips help you to remain debt free.

If you would like more details on getting out of debt, have had an experience with debt, or can share advice of your own – please comment below!

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