owe money
Debt

I’m ashamed I owe money because I chose to conform

 owe moneyLIVING IN A PLAY PRETEND COSTS $

 

No one likes to owe money and there are times that people push the thought of paying back debt to the side until it comes time that the bills are mounting up.

I don’t think we purposely set out to create debt but I also think some of us have misconceptions about life and money and how it’s all going to roll out in our favour.

Often that’s not the case and the motto “work for your money” or “spend less than you earn” is not as important as it is to be socially compatible with friends. A hefty price to pay for friendship although we fashion a lifestyle that we believe will get us ahead and for some it works but for many it does not.

I’ve always been someone who didn’t try to fit in rather I made my fun. I figured that if I needed to make an effort to be someone I’m not I likely shouldn’t be hanging around certain people.

Even though one might work hard to bring in an income every month it’s important to allocate that money towards the most important parts of of their financial portfolio especially where debt is concerned.

Today I dug into my fan mail again and we have a young lady who seems lost and confused about her debt, financial future and the people she chooses to surround herself with.

I may not have been the jock in school because I was never into playing the popularity game but as I grew older it was clear that popularity wars were only for those who had little faith in themselves.

According to the Canadian Federation Of Students we are a generation in debt with student loans of $15 billion being owed to the government as of 2010 and average student debt loads across Canada of $28,000.

Most times they all had to buy the best clothes, have the same trendy gadgets and cars and book holidays to exotic places just to stand out. It sure does cost to be part of the in-crowd but when the high is over you are left standing alone and with that comes financial obligations if you owe money.

Here’s her story below.

 

Help, I owe money…

 

Dear Mr.CBB

I’m sure you get tonnes of emails from fans asking you to read and answer their questions so I hope you can help me out. I need bad debt help so I can get rid of this weight on my shoulders. Not just a bit of debt, but lots of debt to the tune of over $45,000 and I’ve just graduated from University with no job in sight.

I moved away from home for the first time to go to school and it was hard for me getting used to doing things on my own. I had to use OSAP to pay for my University and everyday bills but that was never enough. Sadly, I got involved in the credit card game and applied for my first card that led to the 2 cards I now own which are maxed out at $5000 each.

I do work full-time but not in my educated field which means I don’t make enough money to pay back my OSAP and to live although I’m still not motivated to use a budget.

I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t have faith that I will stick to it or I’m scared to see my monthly numbers. I know I have to get over this but it’s tough. I was one of those kids who thought I would find a high paying job after graduation but have come to the conclusion it will take time.

When my girlfriends want to go out to the clubs, shopping or away for March break I participate even if I have to add more debt to the pile. Even owning a smartphone that cost me $100 a month was unnecessary but everyone else had one so I felt the push to get one so I was part of the gang. I didn’t really need it.

I feel depressed about my debt like I will never get out of it but at the same time I don’t know how to stop spending money. I’m ashamed of my debt and I don’t want anyone to find out about it, not even my family.

I don’t want to go bankrupt but I’m afraid if I don’t find a way to get my finances on track I may dig the final hole sooner than later. I haven’t even begun life to the extent others have my age and I want to get married and start a family one day and I’m stressed out.

I don’t do it to show off I never really did fit in growing up with kids my age and now I have lots of friends. It’s hard to say no especially when they have great jobs, rich parents who give them money or no debt because they are smart with their money.

I keep kicking myself for getting the first credit card. What can I do?

Graduated with Debt

Dear Graduated with Debt,

You are NOT alone! There are many young adults in Canada that have lots of debt including student debt and it doesn’t register until they graduate and the real world welcomes them.

It’s like you walk away from school for the last time and you just take a moment to stare at the world because you no longer have the blanket of school covering up for you. Thus life. Paying the interest on debt is not paying back debt rather it’s prolonging the pay back process and making credit card companies and loan agencies richer!

Trust me when I say that most people are ashamed of the debt they have created when they realize that they owe money they can’t pay back. All sorts of negative scenarios start running through their minds rather than finding a solution to the problem. Dwelling on the obvious won’t help.

Most often there is a light at the end of the tunnel but when money gets scary it’s easier to focus on why it can’t be done rather than a debt solution. Bankruptcy is always a last resort and not a solution because with that comes years of trying to rebuild credit. You are young now so first off congratulations for wanting to step up and take control now.

The number one thing you need to do is .. stop spending before you damage your credit score and they creditors come knocking. If you don’t stop you will never solve this issue. Hide your cards because right now you don’t need the temptation.

If it were me in your situation I would get rid of them or cut them up. If you really want to use them down the road you can order a new one but let’s say for the sake of your debt you likely won’t be using credit cards for a while.

I’m sure once you pay back your debts you will have a better understanding how to use a credit card and I’m betting you won’t be racking them up again. They are great for building credit so use them to your advantage in the future as long as you pay them in full each month.

You need to focus on paying back the money you owe which all starts with a plan. Owning a credit card takes a special kind of money responsibility that not everyone can handle. It’s not play money, it’s real life debt that can cost you just about everything even your sanity.

I always like to stress that I’m not a professional so I’d certainly recommend that you call someone up you trust or a financial advisor who you can sit with to go over your numbers. Saying that there are basic things you can do in the meantime to get the ball rolling.

Besides not having credit handy you must believe that you can do this. Being depressed because of money is common but without your own strength you will fail. Believe in yourself and don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

If you don’t want to talk to family and friends find someone else who you feel safe with and trust that is a professional. Your doctor might even be a good starting point because depression is a serious disease and maybe he/she can recommend you to see someone.

Here are some ways you can control your spending and pay back those you owe money to besides doing the above.

 

Budget

 

You wouldn’t be a fan of CBB if you weren’t interested in budgeting. Clearly it sounds like you need a budget which you can download free from Canadian Budget Binder with all of the steps we took to start our budgeting journey.

A budget is a great way to track your income, debt and expenses so you stay on track financially. If you find that you are eating out often stop doing that and start buying groceries and cooking at home.

Next to paying rent the second highest category in the budget is food. Stop being served and serve yourself and you will see a significant savings especially if take-out food is your dietary norm. When I was in school I cooked at home as much as I could. Sure I went out with my friends but only when I had extra money put by to do so.

If you can’t stay out of debt without a budget then it’s time to put a budget in place because it is needed. Personally, I think everyone should use some form of tracking for their finances.

 

Move

 

If it’s your friends that who are making you feel like you have to spend or you feel pressure to spend, move. You can make a brand new start in another city that is still close to your work. It may be a commute but it’s a new start on life.

You must also get a grip on peer pressure spending and just say no I can’t afford it to your friends unless they plan to pay your bills. If you feel ashamed about your debt you don’t need to tell them nor are they privileged to know.

The best part is you now know what qualities in a friend you want and don’t want. First of all you need someone who you feel safe with who understands you and will provide support for you.

Most of my friends today aren’t so good with money because they complain about it often but I don’t tend to follow in their footsteps even if they beg me to spend money I don’t have to spend.

If you find your rent is too high move to a smaller place or rent a room to save money. Lots of ways to save! Kill the cable, internet, cell-phone because you don’t need them.

 

Sell your stuff

 

Right now you need money so the logical thing to do besides handing out your resume is to sell what you don’t need. I’m sure there are things hanging around that you put on that credit card that you can sell to make some cash back.

I know many women who love to shop for clothes so if your closet is overflowing consider selling your clothes for profit online or at consignment stores. Take the money you earn and start paying off your debts and not just minimum payments that mean nothing to the principle.

 

Mindfulness

 

Be truthful to yourself and become one with the reality that you can’t spend more than you earn. Living a minimalistic life is better than carrying debt which you created because you bought stuff you couldn’t afford.

If we could only zero in on the positive in situations it will help us to relax and find optimal solutions that suit our needs. Stress doesn’t help our bodies and with stress comes many other health related problems such as sleepless nights, relationship issues, headaches etc. Take care of you, take care of your body.

Seeking help like you are is a great first step but be sure to follow-up with someone who can help you in the real world rather than simply seeking out answers online.

 

Conclusion

 

The real answers to your debt problems start with you so now that you have a basic idea of what you need to do find out who you can speak with. Once you get over that hurdle it will help you get the ball rolling especially if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.

It may cost you some money to hire someone if it’s not a free service but I’m pretty sure in the long run it will be money well spent. Moving forward your dreams of starting a family, owning a home and enjoying a stress-free and debt-free life begins with the actions you take today.

Best of luck and thanks for your question.

Mr.CBB

If you have a question you want to ask me or the fans for tips email me today or fill out the contact form on the blog.

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10 Comments

  1. Great post! This problem of social pressure to spend money is further exacerbated through social media. At any given moment I can go on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and I will see the HIGHLIGHTS of everyone’s life. Pictures of champagne, fancy meals out on the town, sporting events, vacations, celebrities, shopping, etc. My perception of the norm can quickly be shifted into amalgamating everyone’s most expensive moments into one idea of how a happy life should be lived.

  2. Great advice!! I am so happy that you congratulated her on realizing that her debt is a problem. I believe a person must first realized there is a problem before they can completely understand the solution. Her solution will take some time, commitment and determination. It is very hard to break the bad habit of spending and mismanaging money. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is so bright and rewarding.

  3. I’m in agreement with the other comments….great advice. I know for myself, I have around $50K in debt (not including the mortgage) and within the next 5 years, approximately $30K (or more) will be gone. My problem is the fact that my daughter doesn’t work and I’m sure like most mothers, I feel bad but she knows that starting next year, she is cut off, I can’t help it.

    I wish “Graduated with Debt” all the best and good luck with her future endeavors.

  4. Another great advice Mr. CBB! Sometimes, it’s really hard to control your spending and even me, I have an attitude problem, even if I know that I don’t have enough savings, I still do buy a lot of things in which I don’t really need. And personal finance blogs really do help me a lot, I’m slowly trying to have a better control of myself.

  5. Our daughter faced similar issues with credit cards as a student. They kept sending her applications for a student credit card even after she had one, and sending them…… She finally told me that if anymore show up here for her to get rid of them. I fired up the paper shredder. They did have her name on them and after the first dozen or so showing up here I knew what to look for.
    My thought would be to go talk to someone at her bank about things. She might be able to work something out there with their help. Our daughter went to the hubby of a workmate that worked in a bank and he talked her through a rough budget to try and get her back on track. He had a few ideas she could use to help herself out. Since then she has moved to a smaller place closer to work so she has cut down on her commute, and gas needs for her car. The insurance company is happy about it too. Less driving to get to work, less chance for an accident. Her apartment rent is less where she is now as are her daycare costs for the grandson. She is a little further from home but still not bad. She is trying to make ends meet and get what needs to be paid, paid…. Our grandson gets what he needs, and that is what counts there.

  6. Your tips are very good and I wish her well. My early family debt life was about the same in today’s dollars (US) but was due to my wife not working while my 3 kids were young. Go back to the late 80s and we had racked up $16K in credit card debt, Until 1986 credit card debt was tax deductible in the US which was a stupid rational to use. Anyhow to make ends meet I was floating credit card debt across 4 cards. Always taking advantage of zero interest for 6 months for cash advances when opening a new account. We knew my wife would return to work once the kids started school full time and I would slowly increase my wages so it was a delay tactic. We were as frugal as we could be and I was already working an additional part time job but once we could get the extra income it was all about getting rid of the debt which took until about 1993 to accomplish. I think the best advise is set a plan and allow it the time to work, Do whatever you can to gain the skill of patience and stay on plan. Great post.

  7. Those are great tips, especially the part where you recommend moving out. You wouldn’t tell someone with an alcohol problem to keep hanging out with alcoholics.

    The best thing is too avoid temptation. I agree also with keeping a budget.

    On another note, it’s incredible how shameless credit cards companies are. How can they lend 5000$ to a student?

  8. Excellent advice!

    It was a bit shocking when we started telling people that going out on the town with them wasn’t in our budget and we found out that they’d prefer not spending the money either.

    Loved your tips to help her out!

    1. Funny how people do things because they think that’s what others want. I bet it was much easier to enjoy their company knowing you both didn’t want to be out spending money.

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