Do you feel like debt has defeated you? We recently started a help group for debt on Facebook and people have been sharing their debt stories. Most of us are in debt in one form or the other. Many of us are feeling defeated. We feel we can move no further and we feel if some sort of lifeline does not come through, we are done. We feel alone and sometimes ashamed that we got ourselves into this situation. One of the challenges many employers are now facing is the debt situation of their employees. People cannot afford to retire because of their debt. Relationships are being strained because of debt. Careers are being cut short because of debt. Business ventures are collapsing because of debt. Now, it is clearly something we have to look at seriously especially given the availability of credit in various forms. Credit is good if used the right way but people are facing the effects of using it in a detrimental way. People sometimes cannot even see obvious solutions because of carrying the weight of this. It’s time we truly face up to it if we want to move on, create wealth, succeed, grow etc. It’s time for honest discussions about debt, learning about debt and taking action on it. And as usual it starts with us. The only way out of debt is to pay it back (Click to Tweet this thought) but when we feel defeated there are steps we can take just to get us to a position that we can even think of how to pay it.
Start with finding out how much debt you have. This is scary to face but essential. From the people I have been having this conversation with on our help group, it has come out that we don’t want to deal with the reality. If you are in a pit and want to get out, it would help to not only know you are in a pit but maybe the depth of the pit. Someone would need to know what length of rope is needed to get you out. Your debt may feel like you are in a pit but you need to know the depth. List it down. Call the bank, Sacco, relative, microfinance and find out what debt you still have left. You may find it’s not as bad as you thought, just as you thought or worse than you thought. All three scenarios no matter what has happened are always better than escaping the reality. Then we can get to the nitty gritty. Face how you got into debt. When we started this conversation on Facebook the usual vague answers were coming in. Living beyond means, overspending, emergencies, bad investments, bad business decisions, school fees etc. No, this is too ambiguous to help you. It needs to be very specific because it took those specific actions for you to get into debt. People don’t aspire to have just a car. They usually want a specific car. You didn’t just land in the pit. You took specific actions that led you to the area the pit was in. What are those for you? When people say they were living beyond their means it is specific things. Were you drinking too much and overspending at the bar? This by the way as we are discovering is a key reason for debt. Yes, we are drinking ourselves into the pit. Are you buying too much food for the house and stuff that looks nice but is not practical and you cannot afford? Are you eating out too often? Has your phone bill exceeded what you can actually accommodate? Did your problems start when you moved to a more expensive house? So it’s a business loan that went bad? Good but what actually happened. You tried to run a business part time when it really needed your full time presence. You hired badly. You thought your relative could handle it. Or maybe your product or service needs to be re-thought. Let’s not blame the business and say it’s risky. Let’s face what went wrong. There was an emergency. The real reason could be you’ve just not planned for emergencies. Face the debt music properly. (Click to Tweet this thought)
Once you know the specific action you also know specifically what not to do. The next step (to getting us to a place where we can actually get out of debt) is don’t do what you did before. There are people who get out of debt only to do the exact same thing. Don’t go to the bar that many times a week. Keep an emergency fund. Don’t live money in your accessible account when going to a mall. Don’t lend that friend. Don’t hire that relative. Every failure comes with a valuable lesson. But you will keep failing if you don’t spot the lesson. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of madness (Click to Tweet this thought). A lot of people want to get out of debt to be able to spend as they once did. If they did get a lifeline they would do the same things that got them in debt. After getting a rope to get out of the pit they would jump back in. Accept that you will have to stop doing something to get out of debt. You can definitely cannot keep up appearances. You must want to get out of debt more than you want a new phone. You must want to get out of debt more than you care what your friends think. Not everybody gets here and that’s why people stay in debt as the loan sharks laugh all the way to the bank. Awareness is the greatest agent of change. Take these steps and start being aware.
For more help on debt visit Debt Makeover by Centonomy on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org for how to enroll in a debt program.