Everyone has this vision of being debt free. However, there are some people that make the effort to manage their debt, and there are some who suddenly find themselves bombarded with bills with no way out. If you’re not careful, debt can be suffocating, and it can wreak havoc on you emotionally and physically. Not only will it affect your credit scores, but it can easily evoke stress, and cause a snowball effect of financial instability.
As mothers (especially if you’re a single mom), a lot of our income goes into making sure our children are okay. From paying for the monthly essentials like mortgage/rent, utilities, and groceries to paying for other necessities like childcare, braces, and clothing, our budgets are often very tight. But we can handle it…right? At least that’s what our children assume.
The trouble is not living on a strict or tight budget; the trouble arises when we have too much debt. This is when the gray hairs start to come in… and you wish you could get in the car and just drive to an undisclosed location (trust me, I’ve been there).
So ladies, how much debt is too much? I mean obviously, to some extent debt can be a good thing within reason. But when can you tell that it’s just gotten out of control? Below are a few red flags.
You Have No Idea How Much Debt You have
One of the first signs that you have too much debt is when you have no idea how much debt you’ve accumulated to begin with. Anyone who is budget savvy has a clear understanding of how much debt they have (even if they can’t afford to pay it all off). When you’ve reached the point that monitoring the debt makes you depressed, or you simply don’t care how much you have, it may be time to get some help.
You Have No Debt Repayment Plan in Place
We all fall short sometimes and as such accumulate debt. However, as long as you have some sort of plan in place that allows you to pay on the debt, then you’re doing okay. However, if you’ve reached the point that you simply ignore the debt and pay for things that are necessary (i.e. skipping credit card payments but paying for rent and food), then you’re in way over your head and need to get a plan in place to get out of debt.
You Can’t Afford to Pay All Your Bills
If the bills are coming in faster than the income, your debt is way out of control. While there are certain circumstances that could cause you to get into a little debt such as a loss of employment, if you haven’t been paying your bills regularly for the past few months then it’s probably more than you can handle.
You’ve Become Stressed Out
You can really tell when your debt is out of control when your health is being affected by it. When you find yourself having headaches just looking at the bills, crying when the bill collectors reach out to you, or have simply stop enjoying the simplicities of life, you are stressed. Chronic stress is never a good thing and can ultimately lead to physical ailments.
You’re Using One Debt to Pay Another
A horrible habit to have is using one form of debt to pay off another one because you don’t have the means to pay for it yourself. For instance, if you have one credit card that is due, and you use another credit card to pay it off, this is not a great practice to consider. Eventually this will catch up to you, and you will have maxed out all other finance options.
Time to Get Help
Okay, so I know that moms don’t really like to ask for help because we’re used to carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. However, there comes a time when getting help is the only option. Allowing your debt to spiral out of control could eventually cause even bigger problems down the road.
Options for getting help are plentiful, including:
- Talking with a financial consultant to help you outline an effective budget
- Considering debt consolidation programs
- Getting the most from your income tax returns to pay down the balances
- Filing for bankruptcy (not the first solution, but in some cases it is the only way to get from under the debt mound and start fresh. If this is an option you intend to consider, consult with a bankruptcy attorney in your state prior to filing to weigh your options.)
In this day and age, debt is almost inevitable. How you handle it is what’s most important. While you may be able to juggle a few things around and get back on track, recognizing when you’re in too deep is utterly important. Once you get things in order and begin to eliminate your debt, I can guarantee you that you’ll feel just a bit more confident. After all, debt free is the new sexy.