Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Chapter 1: Assessing Your Situation
You have already decided that your financial situation either needs help right now or soon will. Buying this book was an important first step in getting a handle on and solving your financial worries. The first thing to do is remember not to panic. No matter how bad things are, there are steps you can take to improve your situation.
To really know how to solve your problems, you must first understand the details about your situation. Knowing that you do not have enough money to pay all your bills, that your credit report is unfavorable, or that you were denied credit is not enough information. You must sit down with all your financial records and all your bills and get a clear picture of what you have, what you owe, and what you can do about the rest. This can be very hard to do if you are certain you're not going to like what you will see. However, you have to bite the bullet and face reality. It is also important that you understand how the law applies to the different kinds of bills you have. Taking some time to understand the details about your finances will enable you to take steps to fix your problems and avoid problems in the future.
Debt-The American Way
Debt is a huge problem in our society. Even our government is deep into debt. We have developed a culture of debt. It is completely acceptable in the United States to have large amounts of debt. In fact, you are expected to. You are not really an adult until you have a car payment, a mortgage, and several credit cards. And no one seems to realize that you should pay off your entire credit card balance each month and not let that balance continue to add up. While some debt can be useful and even important, having too much can simply overwhelm you and your finances. It is time to stop thinking about debt as something acceptable and common, and instead come to grips with the fact that it may not be healthy for you, and find ways to control it. Use debt when it makes sense, but never let it control you.
It's a Fact:
The average U.S. household carries $8,000 in debt on their credit cards and has 12.71 credit cards. There are 1.3 billion credit cards in use in the United States at this time. Forty-three percent of U.S. households spend more than they earn each year. And the dramatic increase in personal bankruptcies is a red flag that Americans have too much, take on too much debt, and fail to pay off their debt.
Debt is too easy to get-as evidenced by the home foreclosure crisis-and too hard to pay off for most people. Until we as a culture change the way we think about and manage debt, it will continue to plague many people.
Debt is a problem faced by every age group in the country. Children are affected by debt when it affects their parents. Young adults are at high risk for debt problems because very little is done to educate teens about how to manage money and debt. Students go to college and find themselves on their own for the first time, often with a credit card available for use, with no experience in using it wisely. College students also take out student loans and find themselves unable to make payments when they first enter the workforce. Young married couples and new parents find that mortgages, car payments, and credit card bills can soon become overwhelming. Middle-aged people often take out home equity loans, finance little luxuries, and face debt overload. Even the elderly are not exempt as they face high medical expenses, low set incomes, and rising costs. Debt has permeated every aspect of our society.
Just because everyone else is getting in over their heads with debt does not mean you should do it too. If you ignore your debts or avoid coping with them, the consequences can be tremendous-tremendously awful. First, you will find that you will be denied credit. You will not be able to get a car loan or a mortgage because you are carrying too much debt. Second, you will max out your current credit and be unable to use your credit cards. You will eventually find that your utilities are turned off, your car is repossessed, and your checks are bouncing. If you are a renter, you can be evicted. If you apply for a new apartment, the landlord can check your credit report and reject you based on poor credit. If you are a homeowner, your home can be foreclosed, leaving you with no place to live. Potential employers may get your credit report and choose not to hire you based on what it says. So, if you lose your job, you may not be able to get another one. Your creditors can obtain judgments against you, which will give them the right to seize your assets and take part of your paycheck. It is easy to quickly get in over your head with debt. The best plan is to fix things before they get this bad. It is easier to deal with your debt before these consequences begin happening. This scenario is frightening, but it does not have to happen to you.