The Miracle Myth
As Americans, it seems we’re always on the lookout for a miracle. Miracle cures, miracle diets, miracle debt relief. Turn on the TV or flip through nearly any magazine and you’ll see what I’m talking about—ads for a dating website that will hook you up with your dream guy in a month (or you’ll get another month for free), a casino that pays off every time, a job where you can work at home answering e-mails and rake in six figures, or a weight loss pill that can melt off the pounds without diet or exercise.
But these aren’t real miracles. They aren’t supernatural phenomena or acts of God—they’re just examples of us looking for the easy way out. And most of them don’t even work (think about it—if being skinny was really as easy as taking a pill, we’d all look like supermodels by now).
Don’t get me wrong, I wish I could tell you there was a miracle for making it though tough economic times. I’ve spent time waiting for one myself. But the truth is, fixing your finances takes old-fashioned hard work. Just like the only way to lose weight is through diet and exercise, the only sure way to have more money is through saving it.
It’s simple math. You get a paycheck. You pay bills and buy the basics you need to survive. Whatever is left over is yours to spend (or save). But if you’re like me, it probably wasn’t enough at some point or another. So you spent more than what was left over, and it went on the credit card. Maybe you bought cell phones, CDs, Starbucks, clothes, restaurant meals, books—it doesn’t matter, because the end result is the same. You ended up in debt. So along with the necessities like food and the mortgage, you found yourself making payments on dozens of other things you didn’t really need.
So what can you do about it now? Well, there might not be a miracle, but fortunately there is a cure. Spend less than you take in. It’s as simple as that. And if you think you can’t save because you’re struggling just to buy the bare necessities, it’s time for a budget.
Find as many places as you can to cut back. Then do it. I make my own coffee every morning and afternoon so I can’t find an excuse to visit the coffee shop anymore. And I treat myself to new books—from the library. Maybe you can make time to brown bag your lunch instead of eating out—at least for most of the week. Or hit the pavement in your neighborhood instead of paying for the gym.
We’ve got a bunch of ideas to get you started in our free Financial Toolkit. Or schedule a free one-on-one debt analysis with one of our attorneys for a personalized solution. Maybe we can’t perform a miracle, but—with a little time and effort on your part—we can show you how to make your debt disappear.