The New Year offers both a fresh start and an opportunity to reflect on the past. Did you live skillfully within your means in 2016? Or are you carrying over credit card debt that will haunt your 2017?
According to NerdWallet, U.S. credit card debt was $129 billion (2015), with the average household carrying $15,000 + (not including cars, mortgage, student loans). Debt burden weighs heavily on our lives. I’d like to talk about the debt effect, and invite you to set an intention for becoming debt free in 2017.
Societally, we associate money and material possessions with success. We feel embarrassment and shame if we can’t make a good show. So we portray ourselves as living a lifestyle with all the stuff that shows we’re worthy, whether we can afford it or not. We build up debt to maintain an image that is not really us. That disconnects us from how we feel inside.
Anger and frustration
Debt causes us to live paycheck to paycheck, and it’s pervasive in all income levels. People get angry and frustrated, especially toward agencies and institutions hounding them for payment. With so much of our income going toward credit card debt, essentials are hard to afford, like medical care.
Burying our heads in the sand is not a solution, yet many of us won’t even admit to ourselves how much debt we carry. Debt often results from compulsive patterns of buying stuff (even online) to soothe our emotional demons. We avoid getting to the heart of our issues. Then guilt raises its head from the sands of all the accumulated stuff.
Depression and illness
Struggling to pay back debt causes much physical and emotional suffering. We lie awake at night worrying. We erupt emotionally. We feel sick in our gut. We self-medicate. We are not fully awake in our lives, or on the job. We look at the world darkly.
Avoiding the look inward, we project the cause of our problems onto those closest to us. We blame loved ones and business partners. We blame employers, and ask them for raises without considering that a pay increase should be connected to the value we bring and not our money problems.
“If only I hadn’t . . . I wouldn’t have bought . . . ” Debt can manifest in feeling sorry for oneself and even self-loathing.
How will we pay for our lives? What if we lose our jobs? What if there is an emergency? How will we attract a spouse or partner when debt makes us such a poor catch? Young adults worry where debt will bring them to live: back with their parents, or crammed into a small apartment with tons of roommates or an unsafe warehouse?
The freedom of getting out of debt:
There is a huge relief when we move beyond debt. It is rapture beyond words. Debt free and living skillfully within our means brings a renewed self-confidence. We come into alignment with our true values, and find a joy in living simply and honestly. We know we can do anything.
Getting to financial freedom and living skillfully within your means can be hard work, and often requires professional assistance. Contact me to schedule an appointment for creating a cash flow plan that works for your life and goals.