'Tis The Debt Season

'Tis The Debt Season

Everything that I suggest and write about on this page needs to pass “the Granny test”. Before I even think about writing my Finance Friday post, I ask myself if my Grandmother would approve of the advice that I’m about to write? Would she think my advice is sound and wise? If it passes that test I write it and publish it.

Now, do you know why I’m not writing about Bit-Coin or typical holiday shopping tips...(again)? This is real life! Many of us are working, single moms or we’re facing new financial uncertainties in everyday life with everyday stuff. (I promise once the Congress and Senate pass a tax plan I’ll get with my team and we’ll break that down for you.)

In the meantime, we face the extraordinary pressures of having to keep up with “the Jones” during the holiday gift-giving season. It can wreck your finances by putting you in a hole that you won’t get out of until August. The same way people with substance abuse problems need to be on guard during the holidays, people who have money problems or problems with incurring unsecured debt need to be on guard especially during the gift-giving season. Piling on credit card debt without contemplating how you’ll pay it off may be a sign compulsive debting.

When I began researching how runaway debt can suck the joy out of lives I came across these warning signs of compulsive debting. I hope that if anything in this post hit a raw nerve that you’ll have the courage to research solutions.

1) Being unclear about your financial situation (remember we don't do vague!). Not knowing account balances, monthly expenses, loan interest rates, fees, fines, or contractual obligations.

2) Constantly “borrowing” items such as books, pens, or small amounts of money from friends and others, and failing to return them.

3) Poor saving habits. Not planning for taxes, retirement or other non-recurring but predictable items, and then feeling surprised when they come due; a “live for today, don’t worry about tomorrow” attitude.

4) Compulsive shopping: Being unable to pass up a “good deal”; making impulsive purchases; leaving price tags on clothes so they can be returned; not using items you’ve purchased.

5) Difficulty in meeting basic financial or personal obligations, and/or an inordinate sense of accomplishment when such obligations are met.

6) A different feeling when buying things on credit than when paying cash, a feeling of being in the club, of being accepted, of being grown up.

7) Living in chaos and drama around money: Using one credit card to pay another; bouncing checks; always having a financial crisis to contend with.

8) A tendency to live on the edge: Living paycheck to paycheck; taking risks with health and car insurance coverage; writing checks hoping the money will appear to cover them.

9) Unwarranted inhibition and embarrassment in what should be a normal discussion of money.

10) Overworking or underearning: Working extra hours to earn money to pay creditors; using time inefficiently; taking jobs below your skill and education level.

11. An unwillingness to care for and value yourself: Living in self-imposed deprivation; denying your basic needs to pay your creditors.

12. A feeling or hope that someone will take care of you if necessary, so that you won’t really get into serious financial trouble, that there will always be someone you can turn to.

As always, if my 74-year-old Granny can do it, so can you!

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