Debt is a tool just like any other tool. Just like fire, or rope, or guns, it can be used for good or it can get you in a lot of trouble. When you owe too much, it controls your life. How do you know when your use of debt has gone too far? Here are some warning signs:
You Don't Know How Much You OweIt is very easy to ignore how much debt you have, and it can be very stressful to face the issue. However, not knowing how much you owe you have is a huge warning that you may be in over your head. If fear of the truth is keeping you from figuring out the total, then debt is controlling you.
You're Only Making The Minimum PaymentsPaying just the minimum payments means that you'll be paying even a small balance for years. If you're making just the minimum payments every single month, you have a problem that needs to be addressed. That debt could control you for a long time.
You Don't Have A Plan To Pay Off All Your DebtIf you don't have a repayment plan, or your plan is vague, then you have a problem. Responsible use of credit means that you should have a solid plan for repaying your debt.
You Can't Save Because Of Your DebtWhether you want to save for retirement, a great vacation, or any other goals, debt is winning if you can't save because all your extra money goes to debt repayment. Now, I don't mean that it is bad if you choose to forgo savings for a finite amount of time in order to pay off your balances. I'm talking about people who have no money left over after paying just the minimum payment each month.
You Don't Answer The Phone For Unknown NumbersI have a friend who lives like this, and I think it is really sad. It's one of the most basic and yet deepest ways that debt can control someone's life.
If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, then you probably have a problem. Outside help can often give a fresh perspective and offer different ideas about how to deal with your obligations. Your installation's family service center offers financial counseling, or your command may have a financial person who can help. Other options include church-based programs, accredited credit counselors, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offices, and money-savvy friends. The internet also has an almost infinite amount of financial education and inspiration material to help you on your voyage.
Don't let debt run your life for you.