It's Time to WAKE UP from Your Spending Induced Stupor!

What are you thinking? Why would you do this to yourself?

I want to grab each of you, shake you, slap you if necessary. You have to snap out of it.

Maybe I should just give up. It’s so depressing so hopeless sometimes. Maybe I should forget about everyone else and just concentrate on myself. If you aren’t willing to help yourself then why should I try?

I am shocked, amazed and dismayed at how some people can sabotage their own well-being. I’m talking about debt and not just a small amount of debt. I’m talking about the most stupid, outrageous debt imaginable.

I’ve talked about the dumb and idiotic things people do, thinking they’re being smart with money but proving they don’t have a clue. One example, albeit in nicer, gentler terms, was this post about people treating their homes as if they were banks, as if they could continue borrowing against it without consequence.

Then I come upon this article (unfortunately paid registration required) in the New York Times talking about a similar thing but this was much worse.

EDWARD BRIGGS had a good job, but better still, he had credit cards. The job provided the solid middle-class life - a home in Colchester, Conn., two cars in the driveway, food on the table. But the credit cards underwrote dreams.

"In addition to the normal credit-card usage, I used the balance-transfer option to pay for a couple of things here and there, and got carried away with it," said Mr. Briggs, 56.

When the payments started to squeeze him, he realized his predicament and tried to dig himself out. But he still owed about $70,000, he said, when he lost his job three years ago. He found some work consulting, but "I just didn't have enough money coming in to cover everything," he said.

In July, with his credit-card debts approaching $90,000, he declared bankruptcy.

Is that you? Is that someone you know? Get help now. If this is your path, stop, pull over and get off. This is the path of destruction, it is the road to poverty and despair but it is completely in your control.

Also from the New York Times article this is the paragraph that lead me to write this post.

A young couple from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., told a woeful tale of lost jobs, a lost home in Florida, a deeply troubled 12-year-old, and a kiting operation that kept all their credit-card payments up to date. "I had to take money from the Optima card to pay the bill on the MBNA," the wife said. "But I always paid." With $258,685 on more than 60 cards, they finally filed for bankruptcy. (emphasis added).

How do you let yourself get over a quarter of a million dollars in debt on your credit card? How do you even keep track of 60 credit cards?

If you decide to stop this insanity, your new road will not be easy but it pales in comparison to the pain you’re in store for if you continue toward failure. Debt of this magnitude, any debt that can’t be paid off quickly and easily, will require sacrifice and dedication to overcome. You are strong enough to do it but you have to understand that first.

Giving up your current spending habits, living, not only within your means, but far below your means in order to catch up, will lead to withdrawal, just as powerful, intense and painful as any drug addict will experience.

Where do you begin? How about here. The Three Month Test is difficult but oh so necessary. It will prove that no matter how bad things have gotten, they’re not hopeless. It will prove that you are able to do more than you think, that you’re able to live and enjoy life without using money as a fix, as an escape. This test of your will, your sincerity, will plant your feet firmly on the ground giving you a new beginning with all the advantages you’ve currently squandered.

The next thing you need to do is educate yourself. Go to the library and check out “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. This will show you that there are far more important things than money. When you finish that, read “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley and William Danko. This will show you that you can do more with less. That products are less important than security and that you can achieve success by simplifying your life.

I’ve had posts in the past dealing with credit cards and I know I’ll have more in the future but this post is for you. Now is the time for you to get control of your life. There are countless articles on the subject of credit, our reliance on it and sometimes our collapse under it. In addition to the New York Times article referenced above, here’s a new one from money.com.

The Money.com article says ”Americans' love affair with credit cards has continued unabated recently, with the average credit card debt per household reaching a record $9312 in 2004. That's up a whopping 116 percent over the past 10 years.”

As a nation our spending is increasing and our savings are decreasing as we fight the inevitable outcome of ever more indulgence. And it's not just individuals either. The government is doing the same thing and this article on Marketwatch.com should scare you into doing the right thing.

Make this the year you reverse that trend. Take control of your spending and therefore your life.