Reduce Debt, Increase Your Worth
Eric Fanelli*, a Manhattan therapist and artist, knows all about debt and the limitations it imposes emotionally and financially. He found himself with $50,000 in credit-card debt—not once, but twice. “Both times, I had a drop in income and used my credit cards to pay for necessities,” he says. Seeing a pattern he didn’t wish to repeat, Fanelli had to come to terms with how he got into trouble with money, find a way to reduce his debt and ensure that it didn’t happen again.
If you’re in trouble with credit cards, student loans or other debt, you’re not alone. In fact, the average debt per U.S. household is about $9,882, according to Cardtrak.com.
Debt can come from many sources. While we hear a lot about credit-card debt, co-signing of loans, mortgage debt and car repossessions are very popular ways to get into trouble. “In today’s society, a lot of people would argue that it’s not possible [to owe nothing],” says Steve Bucci, columnist for Bankrate.com and president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operates to educate the general public on sound personal financial skills and money-management principles. “They will always have to carry some sort of a car loan or a personal loan.” In addition, student loans are becoming more common as the cost of education rises. Even if you can’t get down to zero debt, getting things under control is a big step. Reducing debt is a huge concern in our personal sphere, yet there can be reluctance, shame and difficulty in admitting that you need debt help.
It’s important to gain your esteem not from buying things but from finding a deeper sense of happiness and fulfillment that, trite as it sounds, money can’t buy. Getting to the root of why you buy can help you in taking the next steps toward reducing and eliminating debt from your life.
Examining your relationship with money may bring up some difficult emotions, but the first 30 days of reducing debt are also about developing some empowering new habits and starting down a path to financial freedom. While it may seem stressful now, coming into a place where you can realistically regard your situation will help you reduce debt and increase not just your financial worth, but your esteem as well.