No one ever takes out a loan or uses a credit card with the intent to become overwhelmed by debt. But that is the nature of debt. It innocently builds while you enjoy the perks.
So many people are living a future lifestyle on today's income. They are thinking about that bonus at work or that raise that is expected. So they charge a few things thinking that they will pay them off later. No problem.
Today it doesn't seem so bad. You get to go ahead and have what you want now.
But eventually you will have to pay for it.
Newlyweds and college graduates fall into this trap all the time. People stretch to buy new homes, not realizing the true cost over time. When life changes, they find that they are unable to meet their previous obligation for their money. They lose their homes.
Others simply never look at how the numbers are adding up until it is too late. Have you ever looked at your financial worth statement? This is a list of what you own compared to what you owe -- your assets and liabilities. Start with listing your assets. These are your home, your cars, your personal belongings with high value, such as collections, equipment or livestock. Then list your debts. These include your mortgage, your auto loans, your student loans, your credit cards and all other debts you have.
Add the two columns up. You should have more in assets than you do in liabilities. If you don't, you are walking a financial tightrope. What would happen if your financial situation changed? If you became ill or lost your job, you could risk losing your home. You could be forced to sell your vehicles for less than you owe and defaulting on the balances. You could be financially ruined.
Part of being an adult is understanding how credit really works. You have to know how it sneaks up on you. Even people that know are often surprised with life's turns and how it affects their debt. You have to consider your overall debt picture, and not just your currently monthly budget when making credit decisions.
Make it an ongoing goal to pay off your debts. Not just your credit cards, although you should start there, but your autos and your home. Imagine how much money you would have each month if you had none of those debt payments. Keep that in mind. The freedom you would have. You could work at something you like, not just something that brings in the money. You could save more and be able to retire earlier.
Debt is a tricky thing. Everyone will face it in this day and age. But the difference is that some people will learn from their experience with it, and some will not. Which will you be?