Debt is Not the Problem

That’s right. You heard me. The reason you are reading this blog, the reason you watch Till Debt Do Us Part and Princess, the reason you search this website, is not because of your debt. Debt is not the problem.

Time and time again, I hear people say to me, “These interest rates are killing me! I can’t believe they can get away with charging this much interest. If the interest wasn’t so high, maybe I could pay down my debt.”

Wrong. Interest rates are not the problem.

“Well if my credit rating wasn’t so low, I could get approved for a consolidation loan! It’s such a stupid system anyways…”

Sorry. Your credit score isn’t the problem either.

“But if the bank would just give me a consolidation loan, then I’d have a real solution! I could have one monthly payment, and a lower interest rate.”

Incorrect. Not getting a consolidation loan is not the problem.

Some people think if they can get ANY consolidation loan, their problem is solved. “Who cares if the interest rate is a bit higher? It’s only a 5 year loan; we’ll be debt free soon!”

I apologize for sounding like a broken record, but that’s also not solving the problem.

“Luckily we have equity in our home. We can use some of the equity to pay off our debts, and finally we’ll be debt-free forever!”

Nope.  Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

“If only my parents were better off”, “If only we would win the lottery”, “If gas prices wouldn’t keep going up”, “If houses didn’t cost so much”, if only, if only, if only…

If I haven’t made myself clear yet, it’s not the debt that is the problem. It’s not the interest rate, the credit rating, the payments… It’s what’s causing the debt, that is the problem.

There is a rule of cause and effect. If your debt is the effect – what is the cause? Your debt is a consequence of your actions.  Grab your metaphorical shovel and dig deep, real deep, and think back through the years. What have you been using credit for? No, I don’t mean “well my cable bill gets automatically billed to my credit card”. I’m talking WHY.

Why have you had to reach for your credit card? Does over half your income go towards your household bills? Do you eat out too much (me)? Do you shop when you’re sad? Do you make a budget and never take it off the paper? Do you just not have enough income to go around?

My then-boyfriend, now-husband and I wanted to live a certain way but truthfully and honestly didn’t have the means to live that lifestyle at the time. I was young and still in university. He was just beginning his career in I.T. We had to do one of two things – increase our income, or adjust our lifestyle. We decided to do both.

We also consolidated our debts. Yes, lower interest rates and having one manageable payment may be part of your solution, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a prime example as to why: When we were up to our eyeballs in debt, we consolidated our debts to lower our interest rates and to have one easy, monthly payment. We vowed that it would be the end of our debts; we were never going to use our credit cards again! But every time I tried to live life on a budget, I remembered something else I “needed” to buy that wasn’t in the budget.  Do you think we were the first couple to consolidate and then rack up debt again? Ha!

We weren’t getting to the root of the problem. We consolidated, but we kept up the same lifestyle using credit , so whammo, we were in debt again. It was a hard lesson for us to learn, and it was a shift in our mindset that became one of the keys to our success. Debt is all about attitude, and when our attitudes improved, so did our finances. Our budget didn’t stand a chance until we changed our attitude and the habits we had that kept us in debt.

With baby steps, we addressed the cause of our debts and were able to gain control over our spending. You can too. So tell me, what is the root cause of your debt? What have you done to overcome it?


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Christi Posner is a Credit Counsellor for the Credit Counselling Society, a non-profit, charitable organization. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Christi is a newlywed, a new homeowner, and with the exception of car loans and a mortgage, she is newly debt-free. Her goal is not merely to survive, but to financially thrive; and to do so with some passion, empathy, humour, and a smile.