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Why People Stay in Debt

I remember the moment I decided to get out of debt. I could not keep up with my expenses and I always felt like I could not get ahead. I was borrowing to pay back a never-ending mountain of debt.

As I reflected on my journey toward financial freedom, I thought about what keeps others from getting out of debt. Why would someone want to stay in debt instead of living financially free? I generated this list below to help identify some of those reasons. You may find that you are on this list, but you don’t have to be anymore.

1. Not enough money

This was probably the number one reason I couldn’t get out of debt. I thought I needed to make more money to pay off the large amounts of debt. But, it was not my income, it was my behavior. I was trying to spend more money than I was making. Once I created a working budget and stuck to it, I began to see that I had enough money to start paying off debt.

Creating a budget will empower you to see where your money is going every month and where you can cut back. Simply making a budget and being intentional with your money will make you feel like you got a raise!

Also, remember that income can play a major role in why people stay in debt. Adopting healthy financial behaviors contributed to me paying off debt. Once I increased my income, I was able to pay off debt faster. If you want to attack your debt, I would recommend doing things to bring in extra cash! Get a part-time job on nights or weekends and sell things you don’t use because everything has some value for someone. Or, maybe it’s time to get bold enough to ask for a raise or put your resume out there and start looking for a higher paying job.

2. The comparison trap

This is a very common challenge for people. There were many things I wanted that my friends had such as a new pair of Jordan’s every month, the most popular toys and game systems, and I even remember wanting to go to Disney World. When I got older, I promised myself that I would to make sure my kids had everything I didn’t have. But of course, this came with a cost. I am no longer falling victim to the comparison trap. Now, I think before I spend and make sure I save for the things I want.

3. Addicted to stuff

This is another very common issue for people. I am truly proud of my clients when the light bulb comes on and they can see what they love to spend their money on. In other words, they’ve bought into the myth that you are what you own—and they simply can’t get enough. The more people have, the more powerful and confident they feel. However, the reality is that they can’t afford the things that they are accumulating, and it’s inevitably going to weigh them down.

We live in a consumer culture that echoes, "if you can 'afford' the minimum payment, then go ahead and buy it!", but the issue is that you will end up spending more on monthly payments to pay it off than if you would have just bought it outright! Instead, create a working budget to make sure you avoid going into debt.

4. Not a priority

This is the person who keep putting it off thinking, I’ll start a budget next month, but each month passes by and guess what? Still no budget. Paying off debt isn’t exactly a fun pastime. It takes a lot of work! Changing your lifestyle is uncomfortable, but the results are 100% worth it. Make it a priority!

5. Unwilling to sacrifice

How could you possibly give up eating out three nights a week? Or what would your life look like without cable? You’ll never know until you’re willing to give something up to build a legacy for your future. If you’re in a lot of debt, something in your lifestyle must change. Ask yourself this question: What am I willing to temporarily give up to become financially free?

6. Not on the same page

Money and relationships can be complicated, especially when a couple isn’t seeing eye to eye. Maybe one of you is fully committed to becoming debt-free and the other isn’t quite convinced that debt is all that bad anyway. If you really want to get out of debt, then you and your spouse MUST be on the same page with the same vision for your future.

And remember, it’s not "my" money or "their" money—it’s our money. Once you get married, your vocabulary needs to change. You’re on the same team, and it’s time to start acting like it.

The same goes for your debt. It’s not "her credit card debt" or "his student loans," it’s your collective debt together. And if you want to get rid of it, you need to tackle it as a united front!

7. No hope.

I remember being buried under thousands of dollars in debt. It’s easy to feel like there’s no way out. After making minimum payments month after month and seeing little or no headway, I felt like I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, I found my WHY. I wanted to get out of debt to rid of this generational plague and empower my kids to make money moves! Find a reason to keep up the fight, or else you’ll probably just throw in the towel. Ask yourself this question: Why do I want to get out of debt?

8. Don’t know how

I always tell myself that people have good intentions. People want to kick debt to the curb, but they don’t know how. They’ve been in debt so long that getting out from under $50,000 in credit card bills seems impossible, but it isn’t.

Getting out of debt isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline, but it is not impossible. All you need is a plan and a will to stick to it.

People are making the decision to get out of debt and change their lives every day. They’re making sacrifices, so their kids, family, and businesses are successful. Do you want to be next? Take control of your finances and your life by deciding to get out of debt!

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