Whether you're struggling to figure out how to tackle the debt that you owe or you are diligently working to pay it down, you might be making one of several mistakes that can make it much harder for you to become financially stable. Be on the lookout for the pitfalls below as you work to right your financial ship.
Being in Denial
This could range from just not opening your mail any longer to not really facing the scope of your problem. Obviously, the former is worse because your bills may be going to collections or there could be other unpleasant consequences, such as having your utilities turned off. However, if you are simply making minimum payments and telling yourself that everything is fine, you are going to remain in debt for a long time. It can be hard, but at some point, you are going to have to sit down and look at everything you owe and figure out a strategy for dealing with it.
Other common attitude problems are blaming others for your money problems and being negative about how or whether you can ever resolve them. Your debt might be the fault of someone else, such as a spouse or a child, but your energy is better used planning to get rid of it. There are wild stories, like that of a man who lost his life savings at a carnival, but even he could recover from that with the right attitude. You should also consider whether you are sabotaging your own progress. Some people get into debt because of circumstances beyond their control, but if you are not budgeting and cutting back on your spending now, you should do so.
Accepting the Terms of Your Debts
One reason debts can be so hard to pay off is that the interest rates can mean that you end up owing significantly more money than you originally borrowed. However, you may not be stuck with the original terms of the loan. For example, you might be able to roll your credit card balance onto a card with a lower interest rate. If you are paying off student loans, you can use a student loan refinancing calculator to find out how your terms might change if you refinance your loan with a private lender. This can also help you lower your monthly expenses if you are struggling to make your payments or want to focus more on paying another debt.
Neglecting Your Retirement or Emergency Savings
Although paying off your debt is important, making sure that you do not find yourself in the same situation in the future is also important. You need to think about the long term as well as the short term. If you are tempted to stop paying into your retirement plan and use the money for debt instead, think again. A healthy retirement plan can mean financial stability as you age.
Retirement accounts are also generally exempt if you ever file for bankruptcy, so don't be pressured by creditors who suggest you clean out yours to pay them. In addition, you should also work on building several months of emergency savings. Debt that eventually snowballs into something unmanageable often starts when something unexpected happens, like a job loss or a medical emergency. With a savings fund, you can reduce the likelihood that you are unprepared.