I recently read an article on CNBC entitled “Credit card users rack up over $1 trillion in debt” by Jessica Dickler (source here). After reading the article and seeing that number, I admit, I held my breath for a moment. One trillion dollars. $1,000,000,000,000.00. That’s a lot of zeros! After reading this, I wanted to break this down a little further.
According to this article, this credit card debt is carried by 157 million Americans, which is about half of the country. Using the $1 trillion figure, that averages out to roughly $6,370 in credit card debt for each person who carries a balance. Note that this is only credit cards and does not include other types of debt.
With all the stressors we have in today’s world as it is, having debt is just one more thing that weighs us down. For many, it is very overwhelming. The debt continues to rise at a faster rate than income (that is, if there is even a rise in your income). As things get more and more expensive and wages fail to keep up, this feeling of being overwhelmed becomes (dare I say it?) normal.
What Can We Do?
So in this uphill battle we face as a country, what can we do as individuals? Breathe. Take a deep breath and repeat. Once the heart rate has come down bit, it’s time to decide how to tackle this. Credit card companies are in business to keep you in debt. The government can’t help as it can’t even help itself. It is up to you as an individual to make a change, even if it is a slow change.
One tip that I believe in is to find an accountability partner – your spouse, a family member or a friend. The reason for this is because when you feel like there is no way out, you may need someone else to gently tap you on the shoulder (or in some cases reach down and pull your head up from way below the surface) and remind you to breathe. I have been there before myself. There have been scary times, and through it all, my wife Cryssie and I were there for each other. That made all the difference.
Yes, if you are one of the millions of people who are tackling debt, it can feel like someone is holding your head underwater. The good thing is that once you decide you are not going to accept that, you can take a breath of air. Although that breath will not make the debt magically go away, it can revive you so that you can continue on your road toward freedom. (“10 Ways to Help Change Your Financial Situation“) Some of us may be travelling down that road at a sprint and some may be crawling. The important part is that you are moving…and also breathing.
What if I feel like I am way deeper than others?
One lesson I have learned is to stop comparing yourself to others. If you do, no matter what you will never see yourself as “good enough”. What I have learned is that when it comes to taking the time to take a breath, the size of the mountain you are facing does not matter. One person’s tiny step can be another person’s marathon. The point is that no matter what, it can only be done one step at a time. The longer you try to hold your breath, the harder it makes the journey.
- Who has been your accountability partner?
- What other methods have you found to be able to breathe during times of working to pay off debt and build wealth?
Please comment below. I can also be reached directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @defeatingnormal.