Facing Debt Trouble? How I Deal With Debt Stress

by Guest Blogger on 2012-07-3012

Do you have any debt? I did once, and even though I am thankfully not in debt anymore, I can well remember just how it felt at the time. I hated those bills dropping through the letter box. Trying to figure out how to pay even the minimum amount was a stressful task!

But when I think about it, the bit I remember the most was not the actual debt. It was how I felt about the debt that sticks in my mind these days. So how does debt affect you? I’ve found that fear and anxiety can spur you to action. The more uncomfortable your situation is (in this case, financially), the more you’re likely to do something about it. Unfortunately, many people have a pretty high tolerance or a large appetite for debt. Perhaps it’s denial. Perhaps it’s procrastination — or maybe it’s just easier to do nothing and wait for things to get worse before one feels compelled to deal with the issues. Either way, debt problems are something that can snowball very easily, and if you become too lax about these issues, it’s the kind of thing that can get worse pretty fast. So let’s revisit some of the things that could indicate that you may be too deep in debt.

Some Suggestions For Dealing With Debt Stress

For me, the constant worries and sleepless nights were probably the worst things to deal with. There was that point in time when the realization hit me: that I could not pay off the whole balance on any one of my credit cards — let alone all of them (I had three). Every month, I’d pay the minimum amount and know that I was merely treading water. That balance never really got any smaller.

But once I made a concerted effort to earn more (I’m self employed) and pay off more on the cards, I started to feel more positive. Eventually I managed to pay off the whole lot and when I finally did, I felt lighter than I had in ages.

debt trouble, debt stressSlay the debt monster.

This is the weird thing about the stresses that are associated with being in credit card debt (or any other kind of debt, for that matter). You get used to living with them. Your tolerance for this increases. This doesn’t change the fact that you owe money. When matters escalate, it can cause debt stresses that can really play havoc with your health in the long run.

The moral? Do whatever you can (legally of course) to make sure you pay off those debts. Place a great priority on paying off existing debt and when things are clear, avoid incurring too much more. Even if you are only able to start paying a little more than the minimum payment, it’s good enough to start with.

Some other ideas to help you fight your debt:

Make A Mental Commitment

Stress has a funny way of affecting you physically in other ways. My thing is comfort eating. If I am stressed about anything, I tend to resort to food –- and let me tell you that this doesn’t do a lot for your wallet either.

Eventually, I reached a kind of impasse where I knew something had to give. I didn’t want to carry on worrying about this debt. I wanted to get rid of it. So I sat down and empowered myself.

If you want to use tools to help you control debt, you can check out the SavvyMoney Pro debt management tool, which helps you track and manage your debt load, or you can use a more traditional desktop budgeting tool like You Need A Budget or a free web money management tool like Mint.com for expense tracking and budgeting.

Sounds grand and important, doesn’t it? But it’s amazing how much better you can feel physically and mentally when you take control of the problem instead of just paying the minimum payment each month.

Once you feel that you’re in control, it becomes a turning point. It is a simple shift of thinking but it can save you a lot of stress and strain. You will start to think of practical ways to begin chipping away at your debt and you’ll start to get rid of it in bigger and bigger chunks.

You might suffer in different ways when you worry about your debt. You might get an upset stomach or feel sick when you think about it. But recognize that it is the feeling of helplessness which underlies all of these symptoms. Once you commit to a resolution, take action and turn your debt on its head, you’ll start to feel better.

Contributing Writer: Allison W.

Created August 3, 2010. Updated July 30, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa August 4, 2010 at 6:58 am

I agree that debt problems can snowball very easily. Good post. I have watched at least three people I know get tremendous help with both their anxiety as well as come up with a reasonable strategy to get rid of debt by going to Debtor’s Anonymous meetings. Might be worth checking out if a person finds they are not able to change behaviors on their own.

Tikoy Lim August 4, 2010 at 10:44 am

I agree with you Melissa, debt problems can really snowball very easily.

Greg McFarlane August 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm

So it’s a good idea to pay off debts once I incur them? Thank you.

Silicon Valley Blogger August 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Well it’s your prerogative to keep them hanging around if you don’t mind paying the interest. After all, I keep my mortgage hanging around since the interest rate is quite low. The discussion here is primarily about high interest debt. Credit card debt. That sort of thing.

Jody August 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Really good post Allison. Thanks for being so open and honest about how your debt made you feel.
This is one of the biggest issues with debt, people are embarassed about their situation so they hide it from themselves and their loved ones which makes it harder to make it a high priority.

Stella August 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Abby over at I Pick Up Pennies also recently blogged about stress issues here.

I know when I was unemployed for 3-4 months, I definitely was stressed out worried about accumulating debt. Fortunately I got a job before I had to worry about charging up my credit cards or getting evicted due to non-payment of rent (neither happened, but I habitually stress about things that haven’t happened almost as often as I stress about things that HAVE happened…), but it definitely made the case for ensuring I have a nice solid cushion of savings for an emergency fund.

Monica @RoadOutOfTheDebt May 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

Congrats for your strength to overcome your debt problems. A lot of people when faced with financial issues suffer from insomnia, depression and instead of focusing on how to solve the debt they focus on how to solve the problems debt causes.

Stevenson July 31, 2012 at 7:03 am

Debt stress? It happened to me also. I’ve almost lost hope about paying all my debts but thank God my Mom was there. She helped me get over the stress and find ways to pay my debts. It takes a lot of courage to do this, so I’m happy for those of you who have overcome this stress.

Charlotte@EverythingFinance July 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I worked for a credit card collection company for 10 months after I retired and learned so much about how people get into debt. It was eye opening to the point that I feel every high school student needs to work in that field for at least one month before they graduate. Maybe then they would not find themselves in debt after college.

Home Benefit August 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Exercise. When you’re stressed, you feel like you need to take immediate action to make everything all right. With finances, it seldom works like that. A jog, a swim, a walk around the block, can knock out that stressful thinking. Perspective can come back, and the better solutions appear.

Kevin Mzansi August 4, 2012 at 3:10 am

Good post, Allison! That treading-water feeling is a horrible one, which only goes away once you face up to it and decide to take control.

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