Guest Post by: Kris Bickell.
Photo Credit: Podknox
If you’ve ever had back pain, you know that it is a constant struggle. Some days you feel free good. Other days you feel the pain. And you’re always only one stumble, bump, or bend from another painful episode. Unfortunately, for many people it’s the same with money and credit card debt – you have good days, and bad days, but you’re just one unexpected car repair bill, medical expense, or home repair from more financial pain. Sure, the bills may disappear for a while, but the struggle to pay off your debt is ongoing.
And just like with back pain, everybody has advice for you – do this, do that, it worked for my friend…
No wonder your back never heals, if you keep trying different remedies! And no wonder you never get out of debt, if you keep listening to “the experts” but never come up with a solid plan.
So for all of you who can’t seem to ever get out of debt, here are the 5 money lessons I learned from my chiropractor (and if you’re dealing with back pain too, consider this a bonus lesson!):
1. Your finances must all be in alignment:
Like the muscles and bones in your back, and the rest of your body, your finances must be in alignment. If you make $50,000 a year, and spend like you make $100,000 a year, you’ll end up in debt. If you make $750 a week, and spend $1,000 a week, you’ll end up in debt. You should have an emergency spending account so you can pay cash when that unexpected expense comes up. You should be properly insured – home, health, life, auto. You should be saving – for retirement, for the large screen TV you want, for your summer vacation, for holiday shopping. And if you determine that you are spending so much that your credit card balances are growing, then its time for an adjustment.
2. There is no “pill” for getting out of debt:
Sure, life would be much easier if there was a magic pill to cure your back pain. And to pay off all your bills and allow you to life the fine life you want. But it doesn’t. It takes thought, and planning, and hard work. A couple of sit-ups every few weeks won’t keep your back from getting hurt. And buying a couple of lottery tickets each week won’t make you rich. So take the time to come up with a plan, and work your plan.
3. It can take a while to fix what’s wrong:
Most back injuries probably happen due to some unfortunate event, but chances are good that it took years of bad posture, lack of exercise, and ignoring the signs to put you in that position. So be prepared for rehab to take a while to work. And if you’ve got a lot of debt, chances are it took you a few years to get there. So calling the 800# on an ad you saw on TV won’t get you out of debt in 15 days. Yes, they may help you put a plan into action, but be prepared for the plan to take time to accomplish.
4. Professional help is good but you need to do the right things on your own, too:
A chiropractor can help you put you back into alignment, help you stretch and strengthen your muscles, and give you some relief. But to have a healthy back, YOU need to do some work on your own. Same with debt. If you get a debt counselor to help you lower your interest rates and reduce your monthly payment, and then slowly you get back into the same bad habits that got you into debt in the first place, where do you think you’ll end up again? Back in debt, of course. So you need to learn from your mistakes. And develop saving, spending, and earning habits that will help you STAY out of debt.
5. Sometimes you need to think “outside the box” to fix your problems:
If your daily routine leads to daily back pain, change it. If your monthly spending habits lead to constant debt, change them. A chiropractor is considered by many people to be an “alternative” type of medicine. whether you agree or disagree with its principles, they have their place. So if you have too much debt, look for ways to change not only how you make and spend money, but how you live your life and how you feel about money. Think of different ways to approach family vacations – how about a weekend drive to a lakefront cottage instead of a plane trip to an exotic island? If you think hard enough, you’ll come up with ways to change your habits and make a bigger change to your financial situation.
There’s nothing worse than chronic back pain. Or chronic debt problems. Neither will get better by complaining. Or sitting on your butt doing nothing. While there is no “doctor” for debt problems, there is a cure – consider the 5 steps above as a starting point.