I've been in debt for so long I can't remember not having some kind of monthly payment looming over my head. I'm the type of person who believes I've made the debt so I'm going to pay it off. So I decided to put myself on a debt diet. I've done without many of life's little luxuries like an occasional movie or dining out for quite some time now. I haven't had a vacation to speak of in years. Finally I saved up the money to pay off the car and all my credit card bills. "Now I'm debt free," Big deal!! Since then, I can't seem to save a penny. I've had a hospital visit, doctor visits, my car needs a new transmission, and so on. I've drained my savings to pay off everything, now It's been a year and I don't have anything put back in savings. I don't think I haven't tried, but every time I get a little in there something comes up and have to get it out again. I refuse to put anything on a credit card again! So I have to wait to fix the car till I have the money. It's really horrifying that I have NO savings to fall back on in case of real problems, like getting sick and being unable to work for a while or just losing my job altogether. Now I'm losing sleep over this mess. But alas, I'm doing it debt free.
First of all, you are not alone. With $13 Trillion out there of debt, many Americans are stressed out about bills. The challenge for each of us is to take charge of the situation and come up with a solid plan of action.
The good news is that although you are struggling to save, you are debt free, which puts you ahead of most Americans.
A primary goal should be to work out a budget. Start out with the Personal Finance and a Budget Guide. You will find some excellent budgeting tools and also tips on how to manage your money and how to get out of the cycle of debt and into a virtuous cycle of wealth.
If you need debt help, please contact a counselor (we have several online at: Debt Help) or you can seek a local adviser.
Also, if you need help with bill payment services, you can look to pay bills online or set aside one afternoon each week to pay bills and balance your accounts.
Lastly, try to make a game out of your personal finances. Set short, medium, and long-term goals... and reward yourself for achieving each milestone with simple things like a dinner with a friend, a movie, or just ice-cream. By setting achievable goals, working toward them, and hitting your goals -- you will start to take pride in your finances and leave the bill depression in your past!
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn. Save.
Did you know?
If you are struggling with debt, you are not alone. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Quarter Q3 2023 was $17.291 trillion. Student loan debt was $1.599 trillion and credit card debt was $1.079 trillion.
According to data gathered by Urban.org from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1,739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 10% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.
Each state has its rate of delinquency and share of debts in collections. For example, in Pennsylvania credit card delinquency rate was 4%, and the median credit card debt was $387.
Avoiding collections isn’t always possible. A sudden loss of employment, death in the family, or sickness can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with debt including an aggressive payment plan, debt consolidation loan, or a negotiated settlement.