How To Get Out Of Debt! Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand!
I had a dog once who, when I would scold him, would run and hide under the bed. He knew he had done something wrong and thought that by hiding he wouldn’t get into as much trouble. I think he figured if he couldn’t see me, I couldn’t see him and he wouldn’t get scolded.
There was just one slight problem. He couldn’t fit under the bed. Only his head and front paws were hidden but his back half was in full view. He had put himself in the worst possible position but since he had buried himself under the bed he didn’t know that.
It’s human (and critter) nature to think that, if I don’t acknowledge something, it won’t come to pass or it will go away and I won’t have to deal with it. We are often like the two year old who thinks there’s a monster in his room. He will cover his head up with a pillow thinking “If I can’t see the monster then the monster can’t see me and it will go away.”
We adults laugh and think how silly this is. We know that if there really WAS a monster, hiding our head under a pillow would not help us. If anything, hiding our heads would make it worse because we can’t see what the monster is doing and so we are unable to come up with a plan of attack to protect ourselves. Meanwhile, the monster takes a bite out of our britches.
Even though we find the dog or the two year old’s actions foolish and amusing, many of us do the very same thing when we don’t deal with our financial situation and our debt. Have you ever decided not to open a bill or look at a credit card statement because you don’t want to know what the balance is? Clicking your heels and saying “There’s no place like home” is not going to help.
How about your bank statement? Do you balance it every month or just throw it in with the pile of unopened bills because you don’t want to know how much is in your account? I hear someone saying “But I don’t know how to balance it.” Then learn. There isn’t a bank in the world that isn’t willing to show you how to balance a checkbook if you ask.
My grandson in the third grade has enough math skills to balance a checkbook but I often hear from college graduates, full of pride with their degrees, that they can’t balance a bank statement. It is just another excuse that helps them keep their heads buried in the sand. Learning to balance your checkbook is much easier, much less time consuming and much less stressful than hiding from the monster.
Another excuse many people use is refusing to use cash. Often when helping people get their credit card debt under control, I suggest that they get rid of the credit cards and just carry a small amount of cash in their wallets. The first thing that I always hear (and I have honestly never yet had anyone say anything different) is “I can’t carry cash because I will spend it”. This statement makes no sense to me. What do they think they are doing when they pull out their credit cards to buy something? Lack of self control is lack of self control no matter how you package it.
If you allow yourself $20 cash, don’t keep credit cards in your wallet and you are shopping you MAY spend the full $20, but when it is gone there just “ain’t no more” to spend. On the other hand, when you use a credit card, once you spend $20, you can pull it out again and spend another $20 and another and then maybe even $100. You don’t even have to keep track of how much you spend for the day. Just stuff the receipt away and put your head under the bed!
If you have a credit card problem, you will end up spending 2-4 times as much with the credit card than if you just use cash… But this is why people in financial denial love credit cards… They don’t have to acknowledge or see how much they have spent. “If I don’t see it it won’t hurt me.”
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, it says “When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put away childish things.” We need to put away childish or foolish actions where our money is concerned and start using adult reasoning concerning it.
If this is you, stop burying your head in the sand! Stop being afraid and start taking an honest look at your finances. Open those bills, balance those bank statements and acknowledge how much you spend! Then figure out how to get it under control.
P.S. Just to keep our e-mail box from overflowing with misunderstanding, I thought I should clarify this one thing: If your financial situation is fully under control, but you use a credit card for convenience or for reward points or some other reason and pay it off every month, this story is not referring to you. I am specifically addressing people who don’t know how much they spend or who do not spend within their income.
For more easy and practical ways to save money and get out of debt, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.
You are so right about credit cards! We have one we use for emergency’s only and then it is paid off as soon or before the bill comes. My grandmother was raised during the depression and she raised me so I was always taught to spend only what you need and thats they way my husband and I have bascily lived for our entire 35 years of marriage and I beleive that is why we were able to pay our home off years ago and have made additons and upgrades as we had the money to pay for them. I don’t need fancy clothes and things to be happy just knowing that I have my regular bills such as electric, phone etc to pay makes me happy enough. And in all the years we have been married we have gotten by with just one car and none of my cars have been new. My grandmother had a saying “I have never seen a truck of stuff following behind a hearse, you can’t take it with you” God bless you all and I really enjoy your news letters!
Great article, and one that so many people need to hear. But I do kind of disagree with you about the cash part. My daughter carries no cash with her, and I don’t like to, but I will carry a small amount. If I have cash with me I feel that that permits me to stop and spend where I don’t need to to, like a Dairy Queen ice cream, or a coffee. But I am very hesitant to slide my debit card. I know it is just a psychological thing, but I think it works. I will spend the cash, think twice about using the debit, and will not use the credit card AT ALL!
Isn’t it amazing how people think they just can’t wait for something? Our microwave broke a couple of weeks ago. Well, we have a stove to use. Some other things are taking a priority with our cash at the moment,so we are just waiting to buy one. It is the refusal to wait that put so many people in debt.
I was teasing my grandson about not having a microwave just yesterday. Tawra’s went out almost an month ago and she finally got her another one. I was joking with my grandson about how he had survived all this time without one and did he feel like he was living in the olden days. HA!HA!
I have been there and done that with the microwave. A few years ago mine quit and didn’t have extra money in the budget to buy a new one for several months. My sons learned how to warm leftovers up in the toaster oven and how to pop popcorn on the stove. When I shared my experiences with others, some looked at me like I had grown another head because we were living without a microwave. I can’t even tell you how many people said “I couldn’t live without my microwave.” LOL! Finally, after several months of living without a microwave, I had the extra money for one. It didn’t seem like such a big deal to have one any longer though. I finally decided to get one for the convenience of my sons though. I bought a very small model that cost half the price of what I had planned on buying. My boys were excited to pop microwave popcorn again. I didn’t care…I had learned to live without a microwave. LOL!
Rachel, I am the opposite to you. give me cash and I hold onto it like it was the crown jewels. I hate to part with it. Give me a debit card and it is so easy since you don’t really see the money leaving.
When Canada got rid of the $1. bill I would not spend money and I always felt like I was scrounging to find money using silver so the loonies stayed in a jar at home. I just didn’t like using silver. When I finally was scrounging through the change jar a month or so later I found I had $50. sitting there. Nice surprise and it taught me that I was spending too much without thinking.
Nice way to learn a lesson. Now we have twonies here as well and I am more inclined to keep them in my change purse than in the cash register at some store I was tempted to buy something with them.
I also went to Financial Peace University and we had paid off all of our credit card debt but did NOT cut up our one major credit card.(as recommended in this course) Before we had the chance to proceed to the next step of begining to saving up for 3-6 months of expenses, My husband became unemployed and we had NO income for about 9 months. If we hadn’t had that credit card we would have lost everything immediately. I recommend not to get rid of that card until you have a good several months of living expenses IN CASH SAVED up to use for an emergency. THEN decide if you want to get rid of it.
Kara I don’t recommend getting rid of all of your credit cards either. I have about 3 that I keep. There is a difference too between using uncontrollably (which I recommend you not to do) and keeping them and using them for real emergencies.
Bottom line for credit cards or money is they themselves like any thing else is not evil or awful it is what you do with them and wither you control them or they control you.
Several years ago I had several credit cards, and kept up with payments and kept close track of the balances, using them for major expenses and then paying them down. I would use the Discover card for everyday expenses and pay the total balance every month, so the cash back on that card was truly cash back. Everything changed when my DH quit his full time job to put full time into his part time business. Suddenly our cash flow was inconsistent. Bills didn’t always get paid on time, and interest, penalties, and balances on the cards skyrocketed. After several years of negotiations and payments, the cards are all paid off and old history. We only have a debit card we use to buy parts and supplies, and no open accounts with any of our vendors. We have no savings and are very tight most of the time, but we actually have a bit more freedom without the credit. If we don’t have the money, we just do without.
I did get a new microwave when we moved into our new apartment that didn’t have one. I was pricing a new teakettle for hot water (some things I won’t buy used), and it was a third the cost of a new microwave. Our three weeks without it showed us how dependant we’ve become on it, so when I found a good deal on a new microwave, I got that instead of the teakettle.
People hide their heads in the sand over many things and money is one of the most common. My favorite saying about money is: “Sometimes it’s easier to do without the things money can buy than to earn the money to buy them.”(Dolly Freed, Possum Living.) Another thing to remind yourself of is Jesus’ words at Luke 14:28 : “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?” These thoughts are good traits to teach others. It doesn’t mean no spending, just careful, thoughtful spending.
sandi .. i got a really nice tea kettle for my daughter at the thrift store .. check them out .. i got it for $2 (i think) . and new (same item) is over $18 .. granted she wanted a red one but this one was white and for the price she can paint it red if she wants .. she loves it just the way it is bc for that price u cant beat it ..
we have a microwave .. hubby with his leukemia, can have his stuff heated up in a microwave .. so i heat/re-heat his stuff on the stove in a sauce pan ..
b4 i got this microwave, we went about 4 months without one .. and well .. it didnt bother me at all .. i dont use it as much as i did in the past with the others .. but in a pinch i think its nice to have ..
and yes grandma, ur so right.. save ur change .. my daughter saved all her change for one full yr last yr and she have over $400 saved by xmas .. :D ..
I just realized that for the last 20 or 25 years we have had the microwave I haven’t used a teakettle, and didn’t even realize I didn’t have one until I wanted to heat water without the microwave. I use the microwave to cook my oatmeal in the morning, to cook baked potatoes for supper, to reheat leftovers, to heat water for a lot of things, to cook microwave dinners when needed, and for microwave popcorn. When I did have a teakettle, I had to have one with a large enough lid to get inside to clean it out when deposits collected inside. I would also need more pans than I have for all the cooking I do in the microwave now. Since my kitchen is so small, I only have the most basic pots and pans that I use often. When I need more humidity in the house, instead of a teakettle I fill my dutch oven with water, add some cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, and whatever other smell good items I feel like, and let it simmer on the back of the stove. I set my timer for 30 minutes to an hour to check on it whole time I have the burner on, and watch it closely.
When I was over my head 2 yrs ago on my credit cards, I cut down on my expenses this way:
– Caught the bus to work instead of driving,
– Made more meals like stews, curries and soups for dinner as they are cheaper.
– Changed from a AT&T cell phone contract to Tracfone’s SVC phone with a prepaid plan (phone costs $14.99, service $7/mnth) Over a year I saved $880, which went towards paying off my credit card.
– We only went to a restaurant if we had a Groupon voucher for it.
– I only bought the groceries mentioned on my list, no spontaneous buying. I also changed to cheaper brands and started couponing.
It is such a relief not to be in debt anymore, I now live a frugal life and have more peace of mind about my financial future and don’t stress so much as a result.
None of you mention those of us lliving so tightly on a budget (I only receive a little social security disability and no way of making more money outside the home). There are times when I need medicine or gas to go to the dr and don’t have the money to pay the $1.10 for the medicine or $10 for gas to drive 30 miles to the dr.or even pay the electric bill because the fridge quit cooling or the washer broke. How do you pay for those things? I have no volunteers or church people to help because the church people are elderly and can’t do those things anymore. Suggestions?
Sandra read some more on the web site if you can. I have written quite a bit about how I lived for years on that same amount with kids at home and had many of those types of things happen with no one to help. It is very hard and to be honest at the risk of sounding overly spiritual but it is still the truth there were days and weeks even that I only lived off of faith because I had nothing left.
Here is a story of one example I have used before. I had no money left. I had the day before gone through the couch cushions and car seats to try to find some change because I had no money for groceries. I had searched every where. Tawra came in and asked if she could wash the car. She was not old enough to drive yet so it was just an excuse to back the car down the drive way to the hose. I said yes she could. She came running back in and said “Mom I don’t think there is a drop of gas left in the car. How will we get to church tomorrow?” I told her if God wanted us to go to church he would have to find a way for us to get some gas or get there and then forgot about it. A couple of hours later I checked the mail. In it was $7 cash. We were so excited. I made it around the block to get $3 worth of gas and took the other $4 to get food. Each week for i year I received that $7 and boy did I ever need it.
What made it more interesting was if it had been a check it would have been of no use to me at the moment because it was Sat. and the bank was closed for a long week end and I would have had no way of cashing it.
I have been with out a fridge, washer, gas and even electricity. I don’t say this for sympathy or anything just to let you know I do know how hard and scary it can be and do understand how hard it is. But check out the web site because I show how I did things from those days and now.
Did you ever find out where the $7 was coming from?
Sharon I never did. I got it for 1 year exactly and it ended. The odd thing was I really needed every week for something really bad and when it ended I was doing a little better and didn’t need it as much. I is hard to explain without going into deal more but at the time my family and friends had turned their backs on me because I moved back to Wichita and wasn’t having anything to do with me. My husband was a highly respected man at the time and sort of fell from his pedestal which hurt many people. The kids and I had done nothing wrong but kind of like when people get a divorce or struggle with a serious illness people don’t always feel comfortable or are upset with those situations and will stop having anything to do with you. I know this doesn’t happen with everyone but it does sometimes and that was my case so that is why it seemed to come out of no where. Most of my old friends didn’t even know my new address. I didn’t know anyone really even from work or anything like that so I have no clue.
About microwaves…I didn’t get my first and only microwave until the mid 1990’s. It was second hand from a yard sale, and a small one too. Most of my peers considered us to be hillbillies because we didn’t have such amenities for many years. It was a big help at that time in my life, as my kids were just going into their teens, and differing schedules made the ability to warm up meals really handy. I tried other microwaving recipe, but like many, it mostly got used for heating things up, or finishing cooking things. In 2012, I wondered if this same microwave was earning it’s keep on my valuable counter top space, since we were now empty nesters. I unplugged it and put it in a spare bedroom, so see how often I went to use it. after a month, I realized that my husband and I were only using it to heat up coffee, and the very occasional meal. So out went the microwave.
How do you get out of debt if your husband is always charging even when you tell him not too and explain everything. He is an only child and a very me person so I have been trying real hard have 2 paid off but he just charges all the time he also is a smoker and is given cash every week totaling from $130-150 and still has to charge cause he wants something and can’t get rid of anything. Is there a way I can get these card paid down faster than 1 a year. I really need help and am not going to get it from him because he just don’t get it or cares to and we aren’t getting any younger.
Di you are in a very tough situation. I know because my husband was the exact same way. The problem is you are looking for an answer to the wrong problem. The problem isn’t how to pay off your credit cards it is your husband’s spending. I can give 10 easy steps on how to pay off a credit card but if your husband isn’t on board they will be of no use to you. It would be like you are trying to fill in a deep hole and every shovel full you put in your husband has the power and the strength to dig out twice as much as you are putting in. You can see in a situation like that unless your husband is helping with the shoveling you will keep getting no where. By the time you get one card paid off he will probably have charged up 2 more cards.
Questions like this are hard because your money spending habits are good but what really needs to be changed is your husband’s and I’m afraid we can’t change someone else. I feel like I am hem hawing around because the the reality is – and I don’t know how to say this any other way- until your husband stops his spending habits there is really not much more you can do. I do know you need to take a serious look at things and not just your money problems. A marriage should be a partnership. God designed it so we equally pull together, work together and deal with things together. In the same way if a team of oxen are pulling a heavy load if one of the oxen not only quits pulling but expects the other oxen to drag them and the load along what do you think is going to happen to the oxen that is having to do all the pulling and dragging. It will collapse and be very hurt from dragging such a load.
This is way more serious then how to pay off a credit card. It is a bad way to live. Your husband went from mom and dad taking care of him to his wife taking care of him. As bravely as you are in trying to deal with and look at your finances, you need to with the same courage, look at your marriage. If your husband isn’t willing to get help or to work on things then you need to go to a pastor or counselor and find out what you need to do in dealing with the situation.