How much money do you earn each month? How much money do you spend each month? If you can’t readily answer these questions, it may be time to consider the dreaded D-word.
Debt is a word that seems to regularly flash across television screens and pop-up in newspaper headlines, but what does debt really look like to the American woman? More importantly, what does a lifestyle of debt do to the emotional well-being of women across the nation?
PlumbTalk Women wanted to get straight answers regarding debt, so we called in financial advisor Stas Politis. Politis has been with the National Planning Corporation since 2006 and is devoted to providing sound advice to all of his clients with the goal of "maximizing the efficient use of each dollar."
Debt is no small issue. Plumb Talk Women will be devoting three monthly articles to the topic of financial planning to support individual efforts to become financially free.
What Impact does Debt have on Self- Esteem?
Jennifer Soong, a medical writer for Web MD, says that "money is a leading source of stress for Americans." According to a recent survey mentioned in the article, "73% of… respondents cited money as a significant source of stress."
Our expert, Politis, weighs in on this emotionally debilitating and common condition by discussing the concept of the credit card.
"The credit card is a buy now and worry later concept of debt," says Politis. "[We] have been living this credit lifestyle for many years; not using a budget, not fully considering need for items, not researching prices, not paying with saved dollars and making impulse purchases."
This "buy now" mentality actually leads to a buildup of worry and can be an added burden to an already high-stress lifestyle.
Top Five Reasons Debt Occurs
Politis sheds light on lifestyle habits that lead to debt and stress. Here are his five major reasons why debt occurs:
An inability to live within your means
Failure to spend in accordance with what you earn is a primary factor of debt.
Unwillingness to create and stick to a budget
Borrowing is not a bad idea, unless you have borrowed more than you can reasonably pay back.
Tendency towards buying unneeded items with credit cards
"You could be paying interest on that purchase for months or years to come," says Politis.
Not saving systematically for your future
If you don’t contribute regularly to your savings you are not financially prepared for emergency situations or later life needs.
Unwillingness to take responsibility for your debt
If you don’t make paying off debt a priority it is easy to find yourself financially drowning.
Many financial professionals agree with this last point. An article titled, Eight Tips for Coping with Debt Stress and Anxiety says, "Before you can tackle your debt and the associated worry and stress, you need to accept that it is a problem."
Answers to Your Debt Questions
If you are ready to address any debt you may have and start living free from financial stress, Stas Politis recommends the following reading:
The Total Money Makeover available at www.daveramsey.com
Master Your Money available at www.mastermoney.org
When it comes to personal debt, only you have the ability to free yourself from its bondage. PlumbTalk Women understands how challenging it can be to evaluate the emotional impact your finances are having on your life and confidence. This is why we want to journey with you towards financial freedom by encouraging you to take baby-steps.
Call to Action
Next month, PTW will continue to explore techniques for debt relief with Stas Politis. To maximize the tools this article will offer, we encourage you to do the following:
- Calculate your credit card debt.
- Determine the total of your monthly expenses- mortgage payments, vehicle payments, utility fees and other monthly needs.
- Determine the total monthly income of your household.
Being knowledgeable of your financial situation in these three areas will prepare you to manage money in the successful way Politis prescribes. Jot down the totals of your monthly income and expenses to be ready for phase two of our series, titled, "How to Avoid Debt."
For more information please feel free to contact Stas Politis at:
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: (561) 310-3579
Soong, J. The Debt-Stress Connection. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/the-debt-stress-connection
Eight Tips for Coping with Debt Stress and Anxiety. USwitch. Retrieved from http://www.uswitch.com/debt-help/coping-with-debt/