We’re not born with debt, but somehow many of us manage to accumulate tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. You might look back over your life and try to figure out how you landed in the predicament you’re in. Chances are, your debt was caused by one of these things.
Spending more money than you make. The easiest way to get into debt is to have your expenses exceed your income. Sometimes this habit comes from frivolous spending. Other times, a sudden reduction in your income can cause you to spend more than you have. A good way to avoid this problem is to use a budget to guide your spending and update it as your lifestyle changes.
High medical bills. Serious medical illnesses lead to some seriously high medical bills. Even with health insurance, medical bills can end up so high that you simply can’t afford to pay them. AARP reports that medical debt is one of the biggest causes of bankruptcy. While you can’t foresee a medical problem, you can increase your medical coverage or emergency savings to help take care of medical bills.
Unexpected expenses. Cars break down. Houses need repairing. When things go wrong, you have to pay for it. When you don’t have the cash, credit cards and loans seem like the only way to get out of a difficult situation. The smarter (and less expensive) thing to do is put some money aside in a emergency fund and use that money to cover unexpected expenses.
Lack of patience. It’s not uncommon to desire a better lifestyle than you currently have. But, when you use credit cards and loans to buy that lifestyle instead of working and waiting for it, you end up in debt. When you make purchase decisions, you have to decide whether you can truly afford to pay for the things you buy. If you can’t, be strong enough to wait for them until you can afford them.
Spending money you don’t have. It’s been widely reported that as many as one-third of lottery winners end up filing bankruptcy. It may seem impossible for millionaires to go bankrupt, but it happens, because those winners spend the lottery money before it ever reaches their hands. Then, when the money comes, it’s often less than they realized or they don’t want to pay back what they’ve borrowed. It can happen with inheritances, tax refunds, and job raises too. Don’t spend the money until you have it in your hand.
Being bad with money. If you’re not spending wisely or keeping up with how much you spend, you can easily blow your paycheck on things you don’t need. Then, you’re left to figure out how to buy the things you actually do need. Chances are, you don’t have savings, so your credit cards become the next best thing. When that cycle repeats, you ultimately exhaust your lending options, leaving you with a lot of debt and no way to pay it off. Not learning about money from your parents or in school isn’t an excuse. It’s time to get some financial knowledge and use it to make better decisions about how you spend.