Which is more embarrassing: your weight or your credit score?
The results are very shocking to the general population. Participants in a survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling were asked to complete the following sentence: “I’d be most ashamed to accept my…” Debt guilt is worse in the United States than even food shame, according to respondents.
A staggering 37 percent of people said their credit card balance was the most humiliating, led by 30 percent who said they wouldn’t like to talk about their credit score. Just 12% of people sweated because of their weight, putting it in the third position.
Many individuals, understandably, like to keep their loans and credit ratings to themselves. However, with an average credit card debt of more than $15,000 in the United States, you’d assume debt in this nation has been normalized. Rather, considering the reality that debt seems to be as unavoidable as death and taxation, it can cause a great deal of embarrassment.
Some people believe debt guilt is a positive thing; after all, if you feel guilty about your debt, you’re less inclined to take on more, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
When people are ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed about their debt, it may have the reverse impact. Rather than reducing expenses and increasing loan payoff speeds, shame allows debt to grow unnoticed and prevents borrowers from seeking the support they need to regain control over their finances.
Furthermore, according to a survey conducted in The Economic Journal in 2012, people with “problem debt” (burdensome debt) are more prone to suffer from mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
If you find yourself squirming a little when you read this, you might be suffering from debt guilt. Although you don’t want to brag about your credit score to the world, you may overcome your embarrassment and have a positive connection with money.
How to Get Rid of Debt Shame and Take Control of Your Money
You’ll be motivated to pay off loans and make sound financial choices in the future once you’ve overcome your debt guilt.
1. Recognize the Sources of Your Shame
Many of your views regarding money and debt were established during your childhood, which may surprise you. Family financial practices and behaviors – from financial prudence to frivolous expenditure – will predict an individual’s future financial interactions, according to an analysis released in a 2012 report for the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education.
Understanding that you feel the way you do about money does not absolve you of responsibility, but it does provide you with a starting direction for coping with it. It enables you to truly grasp why you made the decisions that led to your debt, allowing you to consider the debt causes and making better decisions in the future.
2. Distinguish Between Personality and Behavior
You’ve made decisions that have placed you in debt, and you may feel guilty and chastise yourself for them. Stop acting like that and note this: Overspending and falling into debt are behavioral problems, not character flaws.
You are not a bad person if you have made the wrong choices in the past. Recognizing this will help inspire you to get out from under a cloud of your loans – just because you’re in debt doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Acknowledge that you might have a behavioral problem and get support.
Research conducted in the Journal of Economic Psychology in 2011 discovered a strong connection between bad spending patterns and financial literacy. Many that aren’t financially savvy are more prone to overspend, use credit, and be negatively impacted by fluctuations in income or unexpected incidents.
Take the time to learn more about currency. Many who are financially literate should not keep their credit card balances hidden.
Follow these steps to learn more about credit and finances:
- Consider taking an online course (many are free)
- Participate in a community college or community center program.
- Schedule a meeting with a financial analyst.
- Request any guidance from somebody you should trust.
You’re no longer running from your loans and financial mistakes if you’re willing to learn. Instead, you’re ready to take over and make a difference. That’s not humiliating; it’s admirable.
4. Put An End To Your Spending
It’s time to jump into motion and start making adjustments after you’ve decided to create a difference in your life. The easiest place to begin is to avoid using credit cards. Since you can’t stay out of debt by taking in more debt, it’s time to cut up some cards – or at the very least put them anywhere you won’t be able to use them.
As far as possible, avoid being tempted. Using a web filter to block yourself from your beloved online retailers, for example, if internet shopping is your weakness. If you’re prone to overspending while you’re out with mates, propose a night in instead.
To get out of debt and the shame that comes with it, you’ll also need a solid debt repayment strategy. One tiny move toward your ultimate target, on the other hand, will help you gain trust, recognize your causes, and, most significantly, forgive yourself for past mistakes.
5. Make a Repayment Strategy
It’s now or never to make a plan to pay off your debts and build trust. I think it’s a great idea to start with the smallest debt. Here’s how to do it:
- Have a look at all of your debts. Gather all bills and unpaid notes you have accumulated and make sure you know how much you owe and to whom.
- Strike the tiniest compromise imaginable. Look at the bills and see which ones with the least balance. This is the first payoff you’ll solve in your strategy. Bear in mind that you must have to make minimum contributions on the other credits to hold them updated as you pay down that balance. Use funds you might have used on movies, food, or going out to make additional contributions on the smallest balance bill. Once your essential requirements are satisfied, eliminating the balance becomes your first concern.
- Make use of any extra funds you might have. Using whatever spare funds you have, whether it’s a check from Grandma for your birthday, a raise at work, or something else, to pay off your debt in comparison to what you’re currently charged. It ensures you’ll be able to pay down your loans even more easily.
- And continue to the next balance. Pat yourself on the back until you’ve paid off a full account, no matter how little. You’ve made a significant move toward regaining debt management. It’s time to step on to the next more substantial balance.
It’s time to rejoice. No, not with a fresh pair of shoes or any other extravagant prize. Treating yourself each time you pay off a balance, on the other hand, is a perfect way to thank yourself for your positive conduct. Recognizing that wealth isn’t the adversary is a big part of staying at ease about it. The same money that had you trapped before would be the secret to your liberation. It would help if you took a hot bath, borrow a book you’ve meant to read for a night in, head and the park to listen to live music, or go for a walk – something that allows you to relax and focus on your success.
6. Speak With Somebody
Talking to others, according to Psychologist Tara Polson of the American Psychological Association, will help you get rid of the emotions that come with debt, adding, “Doing so can allow you to sit down, avoid the denial game, and create a strategy for paying it off.”
If you believe your crippling debt is the product of a social impulse, you should get help from a mental health provider. It would be best if you talked about why you’re overspending and come up with coping strategies to help you retrain your behavior so that debt doesn’t become your defining force.
You should, therefore, be frank with other people in your life. Avoid feeling bad and start feeling like yourself again by talking to a close friend, relative, girlfriend, or financial advisor.
If you don’t feel secure discussing your loans, search for online support groups. Starting a “getting out of debt” blog or joining online debt support forums will help you remain responsible and realize that you aren’t the only one who has seen their debt get out of reach. Using the internet to connect with others who have succeeded in regaining control enables you to keep some privacy while also expressing your insight, getting guidance, and asking questions.
It’s enough to make you feel worse if you realize you’ve let your debt and expenses get out of control. On the plus side, if you’re feeling guilty, that means you’ve seen the light and realized you ought to change your ways. The key is not to let your feelings of remorse and embarrassment prevent you from coming clean and devising a solution to bring your finances back on track.
You’ve cleared two big obstacles with the payoff plan because you recognize there’s a problem and want to stay out of debt – and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Have you dealt with debt shame in your life? Do you have any additional means of coping with it?