Every relationship starts with a certain spark – a bright flash of untold promise and potential. We believe that things will work out, because we want them to work out. And at the start – at that first blush – there’s no reason to think that they won’t.
But sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes what started out with so much promise ends with pain and regret.
It happens in relationships with significant others and, all too often, it happens in your relationship with debt.
Everyone who uses credit, who takes out a loan, who makes purchases with legal currency (rather than bartering with oxen or textiles) has a relationship with debt. And just like any other relationship, it can be healthy and positive, or it can be unhealthy and destructive. It’s a two-way street. Debt needs to give back in equal proportion to what you’re giving. If it isn’t? Then it’s time to re-think your relationship.
How do you know when your relationship with debt just isn’t what it ought to be? Well, there are always signs.
Nothing seems in balance anymore
Have you ever headed outside to shovel the driveway in the middle of a snowstorm? And by the time you got to one end of the driveway, you turned around and saw that new snow had come down and covered over all of your hard work and it didn’t look like anyone had shoveled at all?
If you’re starting to feel that way about debt then your relationship is out of balance. In a healthy relationship with debt you should feel that the work you’re doing (the payments you’re making) is having a proportional impact on the situation. If debt always stays the same (or worse, gets bigger) no matter how hard you’re trying, then it’s time to make a change.
Debt starts to limit you
Ask any relationship expert and they’ll tell you the same thing: relationships should lift you up – they should add to what you have as an individual.
A healthy relationship with debt provides you with the goods and services you need, at monthly payments you can easily afford. It creates good credit and helps you reach your big goals – the new car, the first house, and sometimes even the dream job.
Debt itself isn’t a bad thing. But once your debt starts dragging you down and stopping you from living the life you want and deserve, then it’s time to make a change.
Debt changes the way you feel about yourself
Not to play amateur therapist here, but if no one’s told you this before, you are fantastic. Ideally, you shouldn’t need me or anyone else to tell you that, but it never hurts to be reminded. You’re great! And when you’re in a relationship with someone else, you’re still great.
If your relationship with debt is causing you to doubt that, then we have a problem. If you think about your debt and suddenly feel ashamed? That’s a problem. If you can’t bring yourself to talk about your debt with friends or family? That’s definitely a problem.
Debt is normal. Debt that makes you feel bad about yourself is not. If debt is affecting your self-image, then it’s time for a change.
If any of these signs apply to you, chances are good that you knew things between you and debt weren’t right long before you read this article. Well, now’s the time to do something about it.
Today’s the day you break up with debt.
If you don’t know how to start, consider speaking to a certified credit counselor. Money Management International (MMI) is the largest nonprofit credit counseling agency in the United States. Our counselors are available by phone, Internet and in-person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Credit counseling sessions are always confidential and always completely free. In about an hour, we can help determine the cause of your financial problems and create a realistic, sustainable plan to pay back your debt and re-build your credit.
And because we don’t ever want to see you fall back into another unhealthy relationship with debt, we offer ongoing educational services as well. We have webinars, podcasts, and (in some local markets) in-person workshops, all designed to improve your relationship with debt and get you were you want to be in life.
You don’t have to take it any longer. Make the choice to break up with debt today. It’s the first step to building a better life – the life you deserve!