Friday, August 12, 2016

Don't Be Average -- Reduce Your Debt

I read last night the average American household has over $130,000 in debt, $48,000 of that in student loans, and $15,000 owed to credit card companies.

I have to wonder when this became acceptable.  I got my college degree when it was less expensive to do so, and I graduated "only" owing $16,000.  I paid that off slowly but surely, and it was a very exciting day when I called my student loan company and asked about not receiving my last bill.  I owed three dollars and some change, and I was looking forward to making that final payment.  (This was in the days before online banking.)  I was told that it wasn't worth it to them to even send a bill for that amount, and it was marked paid in full.  I can still remember where I was sitting when I was on the phone, where the Christmas tree was located in the room (we tend to have it in different spots), and even which phone I was on (a landline.)

I am glad I am not part of the average household with student loan debt.  Why?  Because I can use what would be a student loan payment for other things. I can put it towards other debt, invest it for retirement, save it for when I need car repairs.  (My car, who I call Mabel, is nine years old and unfortunately the bills to keep her running show that.)

The basic thing to reduce debt is to spend less than you make.  That sounds simple, and it is, but there are so many things you can do to reduce spending and increase income.

I'm going to start a series on reducing debt.  While I don't feel comfortable giving number like some bloggers do, I will say when our credit card debt is paid off.  (It is mainly from medical bills  I had an emergency room visit our wedding night and wasn't on my husband's insurance yet, and was in the hospital overnight in May, and had several dental visits before that and we don't have dental insurance)

I don't know when it became so acceptable in life to be in debt.  It CAN be paid off with a lot of hard work.  I'd rather be out of debt and have my money work for me than me work for my money.  I'm not there yet, but I want to be, and I can see it in my future.

So, why don't you take stock of where you owe money, what your assets are, and decide that you are going to find your way out of debt.  Even if you don't owe money, the debt pay off challenge I am starting can still work for you -- because I will be covering how to reduce spending and increase income.

So, let's figure out where we are at the starting gate, and then we can really focus on where we are headed.

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