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Stop! Can You REALLY Afford That?

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Stop! Can You REALLY Afford That?


Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Simple, right? Well, sort of. While restricting spending to the finite boundary of a paycheck is the foundation of sound money management, actually doing it can be extremely difficult. The reasons are many, but primary among them is the popular idea that living in debt isn’t only unavoidable, it’s acceptable. However, this is a very dangerous way to view your finances.

The widespread availability of credit has made not having cash to pay for both necessary and discretionary items inconsequential. Currently about 189 million Americans hold at least one credit card, each card equipped with a typical $9,500 limit. Having immediate access to such a sum inspires many to quickly charge their way into impenetrable arrears. Though the average per-household consumer debt currently exceeds $5,700, balances in the six-figure range aren’t unheard of. Credit cards have morphed from their true purpose as a convenient payment tool to instant emergency account, holiday bonus, vacation fund, and salary increase all rolled into one.

It’s not just plastic that makes descending into debt so easy. Payday loan institutions have exploded onto our landscape. We can now tap into our future earnings just by writing a check. Many who use these businesses become enmeshed in a never-ending balance cycle, complete with interest rates that would make a loan shark gasp.

Having consumer debt causes stress and worry. It may also undermine your ability to save for such things as retirement and higher education.

How do we reverse the trend? Here are some ways:

ways to help

Refute the idea maintaining debt is inevitable and just another way of managing money.

Redefine yourself as a “saver” rather than a “consumer”.

Relish the feeling of living within, rather than beyond, your income parameters.

Accept you may not be able to have everything you want (or even need) today, and a quick cash fix won’t really bail you out of a bad situation; it’ll just make the following month more difficult.

Borrow only when you’re absolutely certain you can repay the entire balance when the bill comes in.

Reject the idea it’s your responsibility to keep the economy rolling. It’s not. You need to save for (rather than borrow from) tomorrow, so you and your family can be financially independent, prepared and secure.

Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Sometimes it really is that simple.

If you’re unable to cover your expenses, don’t get a loan – get help. We provide free Financial Counseling to our members. If you’re contemplating a purchase outside of your means (and if you don’t know what your “means” are, you’re not alone), contact a counselor. They’ll work with you to develop a spending plan. Stop and think hard before you borrow for it.