How Personal Debt Can Ruin Your Lifelong Goals (And How You Can Fight Back)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

As much as we might want to think our life goals shouldn’t be affected by our finances, reality speaks a much different tune. Vacations, a new car, a house, starting a small business—these are all common life goals for people and they all cost major dollars.

Personal debt can affect any one of us, sometimes without warning. Whether it’s through unforeseen medical expenses, sudden loss of income, lack of gainful employment, divorce, or simply poor money management, there isn’t a singular way of getting in a financial hole.

Once we’re faced with debt, our life options become narrower. We suddenly don’t have the same freedom to pursue our life goals. Money struggles pervade every angle of our consciousness. They become center stage each time we’re faced with a decision that involves money. It’s exhausting and not destructive to our ambitions, but our health.

How can you put an end to this once and for all? Below we’ll detail how to beat debt, so you can leave mental stress behind and pursue your life goals again.

  • Know the Road Ahead

    It’s common for people in crippling financial situations to ignore their finances altogether. Checking a credit balance when you owe thousands and your high interest rate isn’t exactly an exercise in zen. But if you never face your realities, how can you overcome them?

    NerdWallet highlights seven signs that indicate when debt has become insurmountable:

    1. Your credit card balance keeps rising.

    2. At least one credit card is maxed out.

    3. You can’t afford to pay the minimums on your credit cards.

    4. You can’t afford to save for an emergency fund.

    5. You’re late on your bills.

    6. You applied for credit and you were rejected.

    7. You’re getting offers for credit cards for people with damaged credit — and you thought you had good or excellent credit.

    Even if you aren’t experiencing the above signs, you need to do exactly how much you owe, and how much worse it’ll get depending on what you can afford to pay.

  • Commit to a Plan

    After you’ve bravely faced your financial situation, you should have more clarity to craft a game plan. If your financial situation is still within your own hands, meaning you can afford to pay more than your monthly payments based on your income, focus all your effort on making a budget and identifying your most wasteful spending — whether that’s an addiction to eating out, buying too many video games or other spending habits that don’t provide value.

    There are plenty of free financial budget tools you can use to audit your past spending and track your ongoing efforts.

    However, certain financial situations can quickly outpace budgets, lifestyle changes and financial tools. When that happens, your financial road becomes a bit more difficult. But you still have options.

    Debt settlement and bankruptcy are two options for large debt that cannot be paid back. While each have their own stigmas, they are solutions. Each will take a few years to carry out but offer the potential to forgive large amounts of your debt and give you a fresh start.

  • Practice Mindful Spending

    Practicing mindfulness improves our lives in various ways, from reducing stress and improving our working memory, to sharpening our focus and limiting emotional reactivity. When we’re mindful with our money, we’re more likely to get good spending and savings habits to stick.

    To start practicing money mindfulness, ask yourself a series of questions each time you’re about to make a purchase to determine if that purchase is really in your best interest. offers six questions to get you started:

    1. Is this a need or a want?

    2. Is this in my budget?

    3. Will I have to sacrifice elsewhere?

    4. Will I have to finance this?

    5. Is right now the best time to buy?

    6. Will I still want/need this next week/month/year?

    Feel free to tweak these questions or add new ones more related to your situation. As long as you’re thinking critically about each dollar leaving your hand, you’re bound to limit wasteful spending that doesn’t get you anywhere.

  • Associate with Like-Minded Individuals

    Whether you join a support group like Debtors Anonymous for emotional support or adjust your circle of friends to include more money-conscious folks, you’ll have an easier time adopting good financial habits with outside help.

    Instead of being surrounded by financially careless people without long-term financial goals, the wisdom of financially savvy friends will rub off on you.

    Support groups will also help you to not feel alone in the mess, because as personal as personal debt feels, it’s way too common for you to go through it alone.

  • Teach Yourself

    It’s not enough to want to get out of debt, you have to understand how money works and how you got into this mess in the first place, so you can avoid it happening again.

    According to Andrew Housser, CEO of Freedom Financial Network in his BizJournal piece, basic financial management is something anyone can learn. Housser recommends started reading one or two personal finance publications on a regular basis. Soon enough, you’ll have a foundation of knowledge to translate into your own financial life.

Personal debt can make us feel like our life is over, that we’ll be stressed-out and hopeless forever. But no matter how bad it gets, there are always options for recourse, especially when we have lifelong goals to accomplish.

By facing your debt head on, crafting a financial game plan, practicing mindfulness with each purchase, getting emotional support and learning how to manage your finances, you can live freely again and chase after your dreams.

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