How Did I Get into This Mess?

2465233580_6e16395b96Photo courtesy of OhKyle

A common question asked by many people who are desperate to get their financial lives back in order is, “How on earth did I get here?”

While your focus is most likely honed in on creating a financial future you can live with, it’s also a really good idea to do some self-analysis now, so that you avoid repeating your past money mistakes over and over again.

In my experience, a majority of bankruptcies, foreclosures, and bottomed-out credit scores can be attributed to a phenomenon commonly referred to as “Keeping up with the Joneses“.

The luxuries of fifteen years ago are today’s necessities. These new “necessities” add significantly to the average American’s cost of living. Today, almost everyone feels able to justify their “need” to own the newest cell phone on the market.

Along with the newest, sleekest phone model comes the hefty monthly payment plan that gives consumers unlimited 4G data at blazing fast speeds, allowing them access to their email and the almighty Google anytime, anywhere. Fifteen years ago, cell phones didn’t even make it onto this survey that asked Americans what they couldn’t live without.

Of course, it’s not just cell phones that send people into debt – everyone also wants a flat screen tv and a premium cable package to enjoy it with. Ipods, laptop computers, home cleaning services, fully loaded SUVs, lawn maintenance crews and even plastic surgery have become surprisingly mainstream across middle income America. Easily accessible credit cards with high credit limits allow many people to live far beyond their means without sitting down and running the numbers first. It’s become far too easy to swipe, swipe, swipe a credit card through store after store, without fully realizing the ramifications that will be coming their way soon: THE BILL. Being unable to make even the minimum payments on a monthly credit card bill, many will forgo payments altogether so that they can avoid losing cell phone service.

Point blank: losing focus on what you actually need to survive is easy to do. A credit card may feel like ‘free money’ at first, and the ever-increasing need to emulate those around you can feed your need for the things that everyone else has. The problem with that line of thinking is that oftentimes, even the people you emulate are broke.

Without an understanding of how to manage your finances or how to live within the budget that your income warrants, your expectations for your standard of living are likely to be too high, giving you an unrealistic idea of what your life should look like.

Sooner or later, reality will come crashing down around you, which is probably why you’re here, trying to figure out what happened. No one can continue living beyond their means forever. If the panic and worry has finally set in: congratulations. You’re finally ready to take a good, hard look at the mess you’ve created.

It will be painful to look at and take responsibility for, especially at first. For awhile you will have to live below your means in order to get your debt under control. But hear this: if you need debt relief in New Jersey, we can help. Visit us on Facebook or at our website to learn how we can give you a bright financial outlook for the future.

7 Responses to How Did I Get into This Mess?

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