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Everyone knows that debt is rough on a bank account. However, did you know that it’s bad for your health, too? It’s true. About one in four Americans suffer from depression or stress-related illnesses, and the likelihood of having one of these mental health issues is over three times higher for people dealing with excessive debt. It doesn’t have to be that way.
While you cannot get out of debt overnight, you can deal with it in a manner that reduces some of the stress and uncertainty that big debts often cause. Here are some proven techniques to help you stay happy, even though you’re carrying a heavy debt load.
While people often seek out treatment for stress and depression, they often fail to do so when it comes to their debts. However, you don’t have to face all your credit card bills alone! There are numerous reputable debt management services out there; they can examine your debt situation and help you devise an effective plan to deal with all those bills.
One option is credit counseling. Many credit-counseling services will help you contact creditors and address debt accounts that are overdue, and work to renegotiate payment plans as well. Credit-counseling programs are often nonprofits, offering services free of charge to the public, so be sure to take advantage.
Another option is debt settlement. Debt settlement companies work on your behalf to lower your debt burden and give you significant savings. They do charge a fee, but only after settling your debts.
There are many other options available if you’re struggling with debt, but the most important thing is to recognize that you need help and find someone you trust. Having a trusted advisor to help sort out your debt issues can relieve you of some of the burden you’ve been carrying alone. A little bit of hope can do wonders!
Make a Plan
One of the best ways to dump all that debt-related stress is to make a plan to get out of debt. Develop a strategy to pay off your outstanding debts over time; the plan should detail how much you’re going to commit every month to each debt, and the sequence in which you’ll pay off your debts. Take time to develop your plan, and get help doing so if necessary. It often takes years to pay off all outstanding credit card debt, so getting your plan right the first time is important.
Your debt payoff plan is more than just a financial strategy, however; this plan represents you exerting positive control once again over your financial situation. Doing so will take much of the uncertainty out of your daily life when it comes to debt. You’ll know how much you need to contribute to your debt repayment efforts each month, and you’ll have a better idea when you will eventually be debt free. All of this certainty will help ease your worries and give you peace of mind.
Celebrate Little Victories
The average American household has over $16,000 in credit card debt. Paying that kind of debt off can often take years, and efforts to do so can seem hopeless at times. One of the ways to cut through the despair of paying off high levels of debt is to set and celebrate “little victories” as you reach certain milestones in paying down your debts.
Once you have a solid debt repayment plan (as detailed above), write your overall debt level on a whiteboard or a piece of paper; afterward, make numerous goals along the journey as you make modest gains paying it off. Short-term goals can include every $1,000 of outstanding debts paid off; your long-term goals can be items such as paying a credit card balance off. Each time you reach one of these goals, celebrate the accomplishment with dinner or a night out (within reason, and not done on credit). Doing so will help you recognize the fact that you’re making measurable progress on debt repayment, and will make it easier for you to keep a positive attitude.
Stop Thinking about Debt All the Time
Maybe you should make the first day of the week “No Money Monday.” Seriously, after you make a plan to pay off your debts and start implementing it, you need to step away from your 24/7 focus on financial management. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s difficult to work on debts. Thinking about your credit card bills constantly, even after you make a plan to deal with them, is exhausting and stressful. Here’s an idea: don’t do it!
Pick a day of the week (No Money Monday will work!) to put your worries about debt aside. Don’t log in to your accounts, check your statements, or even pull your credit cards out of your wallet. Make it through the day without checking on your finances at all. You should also make an effort to go out with your friends occasionally; consider it an investment in your well-being. Keep exercising as well, even if you cannot afford your gym membership anymore. Instead, exercise at home, in the park, and hit the road running to make sure to stay in shape while you’re paying your debts down. Doing things you enjoy will help you keep a positive attitude as you pay down your debts. It’ll calm you down and will ultimately help you focus more on reaching your goals.
Dealing with heavy debt can be challenging. However, don’t let your debts stress you out. If you find yourself in deep debt, and your stress level starts to rise, consider the tips outlined here. They’ll help you keep a positive attitude as you get your credit card bills under control and work towards becoming debt free.