“Hey Coach, do you have anything on psychic borrower deep in mobile apps debts, listed in CRB, depressed and not knowing how to get out.” He wrote. I bet he meant debt addiction.
Debt addiction is not the same as a shopping addiction, though the two issues often go hand in hand. A shopping addiction usually involves trying to fill a personal void with material possessions. Debt addiction is about using borrowed money to finance a lifestyle (properties, vacations, material goods, leisure experiences) you could otherwise not afford.
Often when one form of debt is no longer usable (reached credit limit, loan funds run out, etc.) an individual will immediately apply for new accounts/app to keep the flow of money going. Lenders see these people as a progressively higher lending risk, so each new account usually comes with higher interest rates and/ stricter terms.
Those with debt addictions will initially strive to keep minimum payments up to date to avoid any accounts going into collections. However, as the issue becomes more severe, we commonly see people using debt to repay debt and ultimately going insolvent.
Here are some telling signs that you may be forming a debt addiction:
- The thought of not having a credit card leaves you sleepless at night.
- You are constantly applying for new cards or downloading new loan apps.
- You use credit for purchases knowing you won’t have the cash to pay it off.
- You keep your debt a secret from family and friends.
- You avoid looking at your banking and credit statements for fear of discovering how bad the situation has become.
How to take control of debt addiction;
- Acknowledge there is a problem – even experiencing one of the above signs could indicate you need to change your relationship with your debt and credit in general. It’s easy to blame your financial problems on factors beyond your control. But you will have the energy, courage, and self-discipline to change only after you can admit that you are responsible for your debt problem.
- Make a list of your current debt and balances owing – Check all your online apps and banking accounts for current balances.
- Stop using credit altogether – Cut up your credit cards, cancel your overdraft, and freeze any lines of credit you have. Only use cash going forward. Involve your family explain the problem and discuss the benefits of getting out of debt. Changing your life-style is likely to be painful at first, they have to be willing to make the sacrifice.
- Revise your budget – Create or revise your budget to realign your new lifestyle with your true income and financial obligations. Include the minimum payments on all your debts.
- Tackle one debt at a time – Choose either the debt with the highest interest rate or lowest balance and budget an extra amount to pay down the principal. Keep doing that until you eventually pay each debt off.
- Be realistic – You need to set achievable goals to avoid getting discouraged. This may involve looking for extra sources of income.
- Get help – Get an objective person to hold you accountable for the above actions. If you have already adjusted your spending with no further room to take further steps, it may be time to look for outside support and assistance.
Who can you turn to?
- A financial/debt coach – They can help you to make payment arrangements, renegotiate your balances or consolidate your loans and set realistic financial goals such as budgeting, setting up savings accounts, emergency fund accounts and investing.
- A counsellor/life coach – They will help you to address any emotional distress caused by the financial crisis. It will also help to address any underlying behaviors leading to the debt addiction, set realistic goals and develop behaviors such as delayed gratification. It is easier to get out of debt and stay out of debt if you can find out why you started using credit in the first place.
“Good debt is a powerful tool but bad debt can kill you. Debt is a great source of inner unhappiness and when you don’t have debt your money can do anything you want it to.”