The Debt Diet
CBNMoney.com I delivered an eleven pound baby. Do you know how a body that has been put through such trauma can regain some of the vim and vigor it had before it birthed a baby whale? Well, the answer was simple, but it was not easy.
The solution? Diet and exercise.
Yuck. Double Yuck.
Getting out of debt is like going on a diet—it may sound simple, but it sure isn’t easy. The only thing that really works is to spend less and save more.
Debt doesn't benefit a marriage or a family or your future. Just as being overweight leads to health and emotional concerns, so debt has its consequences as well. Here are a few reasons to avoid debt:
- Debt makes you a servant to the lender.
- Debt borrows from your future.
- Debt hinders sharing with others.
- Debt erodes resources through high interest payments.
- Debt promotes impulse buying.
- Debt makes you ugly (This is just my personal opinion!)
On the other hand, those who have a low debt load experience many benefits. There are fewer arguments over money in a household with low debt liability. You can answer your phone and not worry about having an answering machine to screen calls from creditors. The anxiety over floating the bills to make the minimum payments will not exist in a home that is fiscally fit. You won’t run the risk of military-related consequences from a high debt load to include mandatory counseling, disciplinary action, and possibly even a less than honorable discharge.
Stepping on the Scales: How to Know If You’re Financially Overweight
You may not know if you really have a debt problem yet, you may have thought, “Hey, I’ve put a few dollars here and there.” There’s no way more effective to see if you have a problem than stepping on the scale. Here are some indicators that you need to go on a debt diet.
- Use of credit card cash advances to pay for living expenses.
- Using and depending on overtime to meet the month's expenses.
- Using credit to buy things that you used to pay for in cash (i.e. groceries, gasoline, clothing).
- Using the overdraft protection plan on your checking account to pay monthly bills.
- Using savings to pay bills.
- Using one credit card to pay another.
- "Floating" the bills: delaying one bill in order to pay another overdue bill.
- Paying only the minimum amount due on charge accounts.
Getting out of debt may be easier than you think. If you want a quick start to fixing this problem, you can try the one-hour money workout below. This exercise is a combination of a brainstorming session and a motivating exercise. The key is to keep the conversation and the activity moving along. You don’t want to exhaust yourself with an eight-hour marathon session; this is just a quick start that you can build on in weeks to come.
The One Hour Money Burn Workout
Make Up Your Mind Warm-Up (five minutes)
My husband, Bob, and I have experienced the incredible miracle of being freed from $40,000 in consumer debt. We purposed to get out of debt and made immediate changes in our lifestyle to accomplish this, and within two years we were debt free! We made up our minds, prayed to God for His help, and found the strength we needed to make that decision to become debt free. Thus, the first step is to decide to become debt free and determine to do it God’s way.
Family Meeting Strength Training – (10 minutes)
It usually takes more than one person to get a family into serious debt. Even if one person does most of the spending, the other spouse usually tolerates the destructive behavior in some way.
This meeting is a time to write down goals on paper so that you will have a tangible standard to work toward. The goals you set should include: (a) How to stop spending more than you make; (b) How to pay the interest on the debt you have accumulated; and (c) How to retire the debt.
Budget Burn (20 minutes)
One of the main reasons people have debt problems is because they do not have a household budget, or they don’t stick to it. Now is the time to establish a budget or tweak your existing one to help you meet your financial goals. A good place to find a workable budget plan is found at Crown Financial Ministries at www.crown.org.
Taking Your Heart Rate (20 minutes)
This is the point where you get credit and debt information to help you decide if you need to go to the post’s professional financial counselor. Check your creditreport and order a copy from any of the major credit bureaus: Equifax (1.800.685.1111), Experian (1.888.297.3742), or Trans Union (1.800.888.4213). You can get one free credit report each year from each service. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to order your free reports. I recommend that you get a free report from a different service once every four months. If you want to more closely monitor your credit, you can subscribe to a monthly credit report at www.creditexpert.com for a nominal monthly fee.
I would recommend that you cut up all but one or two credit cards (hold onto the cards you’ve had the longest and those with a low APR) and cancel all other open credit accounts you don’t use. This will help minimize the temptation to impulse buy as well as keep you on track with your goal of “no new debt”.
To Die For Cool Down – (5 minutes)
Sit back and grab a glass of something cool to drink and reflect on all you’ve accomplished in just one hour! Keep in mind you’re building on what you’ve done so far and you’re in it for the long haul so you can have a checkbook that is fiscally fit.
Ellie Kay is a best-selling author, popular conference speaker, a frequent media guest on Fox News, CNN, and CNBC, and a commentator for “Money Matters” radio show.
For her free newsletter and money savings links, go to www.elliekay.com.
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