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A Life Free From Debt
by Richard Mallenar

The debt load for the average consumer hovers around $6000.
No one sets out to remain in debt by continuing to use
credit cards time and time again. There is a convenience
and certain degree of fun that comes with using plastic
to buy things that just cannot be had with cash. But, if
you want to stop shelling out your hard-earned money paying
the high interest associated with credit cards and become
debt-free, then you will need to make some sacrifices and
take action to escape the debt trap.

1. The first, and most painful step, is to break out the
scissors and hack all those beautiful cards to shreds.
Tell yourself that signing for anything you buy is simply
not possible and thus the credit cards are not an option.
When the letters telling you that you have been
"pre-approved" for some great card with no interest for
six-months, just say "no". Most people with credit cards
actually have ten cards or more but if you have no choice
but to use one for business, keep that monster locked away
in some deep dark place so that you can't get to it when
tempted to make an impulse buy!

2. Get rid of debt balances. Start with the smallest
balance. Pay as much as you can comfortably afford each
month, exceeding the minimum payment when possible, until
it is paid off. Then apply that payment amount to the next
largest card by adding it to the minimum payment for that
card, and again, pay whatever extra you can afford without
compromising your monthly budget. When that card is paid
off early, start working on the third, and so on, until you
are debt-free.

3. Budgets are not the enemy, they are your friend!
Construct a monthly budget that realistically accounts for
all of your bills and income. It is a good idea to allot
some extra money for emergencies such as flat tires and
also to put cash aside into a long-term savings
arrangement. Aside from the mortgage and household bills,
use greenbacks for all purchases because it will be more
difficult to exceed your budget when buying groceries than
if you still had your credit cards.

Quit purchasing things you want as opposed to those you
truly need. A waiting period of a day or more is an
excellent idea for anything costing more than $100. You
and your significant other must work together to maintain
the discipline to stay within your budget, so support one
another when the other feels like straying. None of us
likes the feeling of constantly owing money so as you begin
paying off your credit debt and actually start accruing
some savings, remember that you are taking control of your
own destiny. Teach your kids not to repeat your mistakes
with credit cards so that they may grow up with the
discipline necessary to live a debt-free existence. There
is definitely a freedom that comes with paying cash for
the things you buy. If you adhere to these principles, the
day when you can buy the things you want will arrive a lot
sooner rather than later.

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