4 Reasons You Have Debt (And How To Fix It)

6 years ago, we had $30k in debt, were fresh out of college, and pregnant with our first child.

We were living as the world, trying to be where our 50+ year old parents are now, at 22 years old. That’s how our generation is, and it’s evident in the amount of debt and the lifestyles of those we see on a daily basis.

The average US household has over $16k in debt. $16k y’all. That’s whole heap of debt. And if you listen to Dave Ramsey, you will know is a low number for alot of people. That’s because today debt is an accepted part of society, even expected.

But hey, we aren’t judging. Like I said, we were there.

Luckily, thanks to the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, we were able to realize our stupidity and pay it all of. During the course of paying off our debt, I came to the conclusion that there are a few reasons we all get into debt in the first place. You may fall under one or you may fall under all, depending on your background and personality. What are those reasons? Well, I’m glad you asked.

  1. You didn’t know any better.

    No, this is not everyone. But, many people were not raised to understand what debt truly is and how it can affect the day to day parts of living. Student loans have become such a norm for college kids (I was one of those suckers), that you don’t flinch when you sign the paper to take on mountains of debt at the age of 18.

    How is it that someone who is barely legal, has never had any real life experiences, and who has probably had very little money of his own to deal with, is able to sign that?

    At 18, most kids have absolutely no idea why this is such a problem. They know they want to go to college, and see this as the way to make the dream happen. But in the process, they sign up for years of monthly payments before they even step on the college campus.

    We, as parents, have to step up and educate our children.

    Teach them to work, to save, to understand that debt should not be an acceptable part of life. There are ways to get these dreams, like college, without selling years of paychecks before you get them. We can’t send them out into the world and just expect them to figure it out. We are the ones meant to prepare them for the future. God has given us all the resources to do this, we just have to stop being their friends and start being their parents.

  2. You “deserve” the truck, house, new outfit, etc.  (fill in what fits for you)

    You feel that after 4+ years of school, studying, getting good grades, even working through college, that you deserve to “treat yo’self”.

    You do not deserve any of it.

    Oh, boy. Did I step on your toes? Don’t worry, this is to me too. Somehow, we feel that we all went to school and work hard for a few years, so why can’t we get a brand new truck? I mean, we earned it.

    Here’s something you need to go do right now. Find your dad or mom, grandparents would be even better. Ask them what they drove when they were in their 20’s. I bet it wasn’t a brand new F-150. (Yes, I know they weren’t available then, but you know what I mean.) I remember what my parents drove when I was a kid. A janky, old Chevy, single-cab, that they toted 4 kids around in, and spent every weekend working on to keep it going. It backfired (which was not a good thing in many of the neighborhoods they worked), but it worked. It got us where we needed to go, and we were happy.

    My parents didn’t get a new truck til I was around 9. How do we deserve it at 28? Working is a part of life, making it possible to live and enjoy what God blesses us with. But you’re not spending money you earned. You’re signing a paper saying you are happy to give them large sums of money that you haven’t earned. Pile that on top of the credit cards and the mortgage, and you round out a life spent living to work instead of working to live.

    You have to realize that where you are now can’t look like where your parents are now.

    You have to work now, so you can have those things later. Not take on mountains of debt so you can enjoy those things for 5 minutes now, before the pressure of how many monthly payments you have suffocates your happiness.

  3. You have a whole lot of pride.

    Anyone struggle with pride? I’m raising my hand here, y’all. Let me tell you a quick story of how pride costs us a good bit of money.

    So, graduated college and was pregnant. My truck broke down the week of graduation, so we needed a second vehicle. I refused to get a car, insisting on an SUV. We decided on a used 2008 Expedition, basically my dream vehicle (yep, remember that whole story above about getting what we “deserve”? ).

    We sat down to get approved, and due to credit issues, needed either a co-signer or would get an exorbitant interest rate. I felt that we were “adults” so we had to do it on our own. So 18% interest rate, that was my choice. We paid a ridiculous amount extra because I refused help and had to drive an SUV. My pride screwed us a bit on that, right?

    Check these posts out for tips on saving money:
    Why You Should Be Shopping At Aldi
    How You Can Be A Shopaholic AND Be Frugal
    Date Night: Puzzle Edition

    But how many times have you gotten a newer car, bigger house, bought nicer brand names or boutique clothing, because you wanted to “look good”? You want to look better than Susie or have a nicer truck than Tom. You want to keep up appearances even if it means you pay all your paychecks to creditors to do it.

    Pride is the reason behind many financial situations.

    We were going that way, and it’s a hard battle with yourself to fight. You have to be happy with less, knowing that you can relax and breathe. What you see on the outside of other people’s houses, it’s never the real story. Growing up, I lived in a single wide trailer. There’s an expectation for people in those types of homes. But everyone wanted to come to our house, because we didn’t care about what other people thought. We loved our family and what we had. You have to take pride in your family and what they will become, not what the world thinks.

  4. You’re unhappy & filling the void.

    Do you dislike your job? Or do you feel like you’re not good enough? Maybe you and your husband had a fight, so you rush out to pick up a new outfit to make yourself feel better. Or head out to dinner because you are so tired from your rough week at work. Maybe you plan another trip this summer, so y’all can just get away for awhile.

    Spending money can make you feel better…. for a minute. Then you have to do it again and again, and never have any real happiness. You will have a closet full of clothes, kids dressed to a T, a house decorated in the best way, and still feel that you need more.

    That void is not going to be filled by stuff.

    All that you will do is pile up credit debt and bills, never getting any closer to the happiness of those around you. What is making you feel that way? The stress in your marriage, not seeing your kids enough, not enough date nights? Not doing what God called you to do (which for me was SAHM), will make you the most unhappy and lead you to debt that will keep you in the unhappy situation.

    Christ is the only way to truly fill the void. No matter where you go, you will keep stacking things up and never get there. Talk to your husband, don’t rush off and buy things. Sit down and play a game with the kids, instead of going out to a stressful dinner out on Friday night. Find happiness in the people God placed in your life, instead of the temporary moments of the things in the world.

We can’t fix our debt problem, if we don’t know why we’re doing it. It will just keep on happening, never changing, and stacking up higher and higher. To get out of debt, you have to be weird. You have to be okay with making decisions that go against the norm. Don’t be a sheep, y’all. Trek your own path. Set yourself up to live an awesome life, unlike anyone else.

Why did you go into debt? Let me know in the comments!

 

6 Comments

  1. Joe

    July 31, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Oh wow, 18%. That’s insane. Glad to hear you’ve grown since then. We like SUV too, but not at that price. 🙂
    Stuff won’t make you happier in the long run. It has to come from within. Keep at it!

    1. Ember

      July 31, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Yeah it was a pretty stupid move. And since Hubs works in finance, he really kicks himself for letting us do it. He has helped educate me on finances quite a bit since then, thankfully.
      I totally agree though! Our faith is what makes us happy, but sometimes the stuff creates a bit of distraction. 😁 Thanks for the encouragement! We’re hoping to join you in retirement before long!

  2. Jing

    August 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    #1! Seriously! I can’t believe they let 18 year olds who’ve never even had to deal with money or daily expenses sign up for loans! It’s just crazy 🙁

    1. Ember

      August 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Right?? Looking back I was shocked at how easy it was to get the loans. There should be some type of huge financial IQ test you have to pass before getting them. But no. Just sign your life away on the dotted line. 🤑

  3. Lily @ The Frugal Gene

    August 4, 2017 at 4:48 am

    No one talks about #3 enough. People have a lot of pride (me as well) and it’s even more difficult to admit it or seek help. There’s also pride associated with a certain class they feel they should belong to – that’s a bad rabbit hole to go down and I’ve seen it.

    1. Ember

      August 4, 2017 at 5:44 am

      I have such issues with pride. I think that we all feel we have to do it all on our own. That we are seen as weak if we don’t. I’ve struggled even in my marriage to ask for help from my husband, which he doesn’t understand. But I was raised to think I could and should do it on my own. But God can humble you, and He has on many occasions.
      Pride from a class is a big issue here in the South. Which is what leads to so much debt and FB comparison like you talked about in your post the other day. It’s a hard issue that never fully goes away, at least for me.

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