Don’t Follow the Crowd When It Comes to Your Finances
When I was a kid, I based a lot of decisions on what my friends thought was cool. If they were on the softball team, I wanted to be on the softball team. If they were dying their hair pink and wearing pleather pants, I became an unfortunate victim of fashion right alongside them. My mom's catchphrase from my childhood was: "If everybody else jumped off a bridge, would you?"
Luckily, it didn't take me long to realize it's a lot more fulfilling to march to the beat of your own drummer. And I thought that's exactly what I was doing as an adult until I realized I was still a follower in one important arena of my life - my money habits.
Several years ago, I had a lot of credit cards. And I used them for almost every purchase. Seriously - other than birthday money from my parents, I survived on plastic and plastic alone. And, as you can imagine, I racked up quite a lot of debt. I'd like to think that it was because I didn't know any better. Or because, poor college student me, I couldn't afford to live on cash. But that's not true. Though I was definitely in denial, I knew what I was doing. Because whenever I used credit to spend beyond my means, I'd get a sinking feeling, and questions would start popping up in my head, like: Is my debt going to keep growing? How will I pay it all off? Will I ever be able to afford a house - or be able to retire?
But everybody I knew was using credit cards - my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, even my own mother. So I suppressed my concerns. If it worked for everyone else, it would work for me, too, right?
Turns out the answer is no. And if I had listened to my own gut - instead of following the actions of everyone around me - I wouldn't have spent years of my hard-earned cash paying interest and, eventually, paying off thousands of dollars in debt.
Too often, we justify our choices based on those around us. Just because "everybody's doing it" doesn't make it right or smart. If your neighbor gets away with avoiding her mortgage payment for a few months, that doesn't mean you can, too - it means both of you will likely end up losing your home to foreclosure. And if you think it's not cool to have a budget, then you' better get used running out of money.
Instead of following the crowd, why not get ahead of the crowd? Frugal might be "chic" now, but somebody had to be the first to start the trend - and they did it for practical reasons. Why not be the first in your circle to get out of debt and take control over your finances - and, in doing so, your life?
What's the secret? Bankruptcy. While you might not be too familiar with bankruptcy now, it's gaining popularity. That's because when you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a court order protects your house while you work out an affordable way to pay down debts. And when you sign up for a free one-on-one debt analysis with a DebtStoppers attorney in Chicago or Atlanta, you can find out if bankruptcy is right for you - at absolutely no cost. How cool is that?