Reduce Debt, Increase Your Worth
Feeling Your Debt
Money has a strong emotional component, and making the decision to reduce debt can be draining at the outset. “It’s not uncommon for people feel overwhelmed when they realize they’re in over their heads, even [feel] shame,” says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a best-selling author of numerous books on personal finance, including Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom. “By the time they hit rock bottom, they feel a sense of despair.”
Many people go “unconscious” when it comes to money. Eric ignored his situation for too long and hit his low point when he was served with an eviction notice for his apartment. He says, “The money wasn’t coming in, but I wasn’t functioning any differently. The credit cards seemed like play money, and I went into total denial.” Eric eventually came to the conclusion that credit cards could no longer be a part of his life, and eventually made his way back from debt.
Khalfani-Cox says the biggest shock for most people is when they realize in that first month they can totally transform their financial picture. “Then, a huge sense of relief, triumph and empowerment comes,” she says. “They think, ‘Wow! I got myself into this, but I can get myself out, too.’” It can be an exhilarating feeling.
People often create an identity based on their ability to buy things or take care of others financially. Admitting you need debt help can be a humbling, yet empowering, experience. Mary Hunt, an author, speaker and founder of Debtproofliving.com, says that many people discover this identity only after they begin to reduce debt and live within their means.
Hunt personally dug her way out of $100,000 of unsecured debt before she made a career of helping others debt-proof their lives. “To actually take the credit cards out of my wallet was like pulling out something of myself,” she says. “People often don’t understand the grip those cards have on them.” Hunt recommends people avoid over-analyzing the emotional component the first month because it can sabotage their efforts. Instead, she advises people feel everything fully and work through the emotions. Then, you’ll be ready to move forward and create a plan for getting out of debt.