Monday Motivator: Admitting Your Addiction to Debt
10/7/2013 12:12:00 PM
I have heard of many addictions – some money related. You know - compulsive shopping, gambling, and the like. But can you be addicted to debt itself? It sounds crazy but according to financial experts it’s the real deal.
Because it may not seem like an addiction compared to others, many don’t connect debt with addiction. Plus, debt not only is a common societal norm, but compulsive debt is actually encouraged. You see how consumers are targeted to get something bigger, better, and newer all the time! Just as one cell phone hits the shelf, the next best thing is there to lure you in! However, debt addiction is serious and can be just as destructive as any other addiction. Dent can cause depression, affect your physical well-being, your family and more. Just like any other addiction, you must identify signs that point to a real problem. For Black Enterprise, Alfred Edmond, Jr. penned a piece “Facing the Signs of Debt Addiction”, where he gives the signs of if you could be addicted to debt. Here are some of the classic signs of debt addiction:
Worrying about debts keeps you awake at night or interferes with your work and life during the day.
You dodge calls from creditors or other people you owe money to.
Using a credit card to pay for a purchase is a game of Russian roulette, with you never being sure if the charge will be authorized and nervously reviewing whether one of the other cards in your wallet or purse will work if the one you’ve used is rejected. And even if it goes through, you have no idea where you will get the money from to pay the credit card bill when the charges hit.
You often use credit as a substitute for cash you don’t have to cover basic household expenses such a rent, utilities and food. Essentially, you’re taking out a loan to cover costs that should be financed by your income.
You avoid facing the truth of your financial situation. You won’t open the mail or balance your check book. You don’t know, and don’t want to know, the total of how much you owe, who you owe it to or what penalties and fees are accruing.
You engage in so-called “retail therapy” (also known as shopping), eat, drink, or get high to escape the stress of debt and forget your money problems. Of course, as with any attempt to self-medicate an addiction, it only makes matters worse, intensifying the cycle of financial self-destruction.
You spend lavishly and often, comforting yourself with the notion that you’ll get rid of your debt and focus on saving when you make more money, get that big bonus or finally hit the lottery. Someday.
You are constantly borrowing money from friends and relatives—often to make payments on money you owe to other friends and relatives.
You hide or lie to friends and family members, including your spouse or partner, about purchases you’ve made.
You can’t pay your taxes. You don’t save to pay them and you never have any money left over to meet your obligations when they come due.
Surviving a crisis does not change your habit. Sometimes, the prayed for windfall does come through—an unexpected bonus at work, a major cash bailout from a relative, a chance to make extra money on the weekends. You’re able to avoid that bankruptcy or losing your home to foreclosure. But you don’t see that as a chance to get rid of your debt, put away some savings, and get a fresh start. No, it’s time to spend all of the unexpected income and then some celebrating (see self-medication activities, above) your good fortune, often with lavish gifts and entertainment for family and friends. When the money runs out, you’re right back where you started before you got it—or in an even deeper hole.
So how do you get help? Of course talking to a credit counselor, following the Dave Ramsey method of reducing debt and curbing spending are a couple of ways to start dealing with debt. There’s even a group called Debtors Anonymous! (Yes, like A.A.!) In fact, to see their “12 Steps of Debtors Anonymous” and more, click here!