Life Without Debt

Rejoice, if you’re one of the lucky few who pays off their monthly credit card bill in a timely fashion and doesn’t have debts from their home, car, or education! Sadly, most of us are members of the other club: the ‘debt is the whip of the hardworking’ club. There are certainly a few who are happy in this particular gathering. But if you’re one of those unhappy members, then it’s better to leave sooner than later. Here are some exit strategies that are useful for all:

*Let’s find the fault in ourselves first

We can begin by not blaming the economic downturn for our own failed financial judgments. We’re all quite well off considering that 75% of the population lives on two dollars a day. If we have debts, we acquired them through our own choices. If we are unable to cope with our debts, there’s an imbalance in our calculations. We either have to find a way to earn more money or spend less money. The equation is simple, the choice is ours.

*Let’s not create more debt

Just because things are bad, don’t make them worse. A lot of the things we were able to live without until now are still things that we don’t need in the future. If we’re having difficulties reining in our shopping urges, we can try to visit the mall (one of our biggest uncontrollable urges) without a credit card. Going to the market with a shopping list and cash is another tactic. During this time, we can borrow clothes or accessories from friends for one-time events and make a list of the main shopping items and reassess our need for them one or two months later. Unsubscribing from shopping site newsletters is also quite useful.

*Let’s start with the smallest debt

Given that we’re already paying the minimum amount of our monthly credit card bill, if we still have more than one outstanding payment in different categories, it may be helpful to make a list. If we need motivation in terms of freeing ourselves from our debts, then let’s choose the smallest and aim to pay it off as soon as possible. This should be our first task when we get next month’s paycheck, for example. Crossing off one item on that dark list will make us feel better. If we have more than one credit card, it’s a good strategy to focus on paying off the one that affords us with the most worry. Let’s not forget to cancel those paid off credit cards! It’s possible to live with one card.

*Let’s turn unused items into money

Every item that we don’t use, which is still in good condition, can become cash. Clothes, small household appliances, furniture, books…you can upload them to online marketplaces, plan a garage sale over the weekend, or bring them to vintage and second hand shops. If we have doubts about how much money a few items could possible bring, let’s stop thinking. They’ll be sure to bring more money than living in our houses without paying any rent. If we enjoy getting rid of stuff perhaps we’re ready for bolder moves. Like selling our cars for example. If we find this decision to be too radical, let’s remember that millions of people use public transportation every day, especially in big cities. When we do the math and add how much gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking fees are costing us, the decision is ours to make. At the end of the day, which is more important: feeling the litheness of having paid off a debt or owning our own car?

*Let’s talk about money

Especially with our children. A lot of us find broaching the subject of money or, god forbid, getting into the details, quite shameful and unnecessary. But within life’s essence there is money and shopping. I’m not just talking about walking into a store and buying something. Isn’t the decision regarding how to make a living, or how to spend our days’ hours (i.e. our lives) with which job and for how much money, a kind of purchase? Everything we buy is, in essence, actually an exchange for the amount of time we spend working. Hiding such an important subject from our children is to keep life’s most fundamental dynamics to ourselves. What’s bad and detrimental is not money itself, it’s how we approach it. It’s our duty to raise children’s awareness of money before fear or hate is established.

Let’s give our debts priority, and let this New Year be the one where we break free!



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth


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