In 2017, the average American household owed $15,654 in credit card debt and $27,669 in auto loans. For many people, it takes years to pay off small loans, and those loans accumulate massive amounts of interest before they’re paid in full.
Getting out of debt isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some tips for managing your debt and keeping stress at bay:
1. Approach all debt collectors while holding the intention of resolution
You’re more likely to reach a goal when you set an intention before you take the first step. When you set an intention and hold it in your mind, you’re consciously making yourself aware of your goal.
Holding an intention of resolution when communicating with debt collectors keeps your communications aligned with resolution. You’ll be less likely to get frustrated or angry. If you do become upset, your intention will remind you to regain your composure. Resolution doesn’t happen by arguing or yelling.
To hold your intention while communicating with a debt collector, write your intention on an index card and place it in front of you while you’re on the call. It could be one word like, “resolution” or “success.” Use whatever word or phrase you can relate to that will keep you in conscious control of your words and actions.
2. Explain your debt to your kids in a way they can understand
Life is stressful when your kids are upset that dinners are getting less fancy, and you’re not going to the movies all the time. Lifestyle downgrades are rough for kids.
Debt might seem like something you shouldn’t share with your kids, but Debtconsolidation.com makes a great case for why you should share your financial troubles with your kids. Being in debt might only affect your child’s lifestyle in subtle ways, but they’ll notice. If you go from buying them brand name t-shirts with comic book characters to off-brand random cartoons, they’re going to wonder why. Some kids might get upset. They might think you’re doing it to be mean or for no reason at all, if you don’t tell them what’s really going on.
The article linked above quotes several psychiatrists who recommend sharing information in an age-appropriate manner, and not sharing too much that will worry your kids. For example, one expert recommends explaining debt as a simple promise to pay someone back at a later time.
Once your kids know what debt is, compare your situation to something they can relate to. Give them an example of a scenario like wanting a toy they can’t afford, but the shop owner lets them have the toy before paying. Then, they mow a few lawns to earn the money to pay the shop owner back. Tell your kids you did something similar, but are having trouble getting the money to pay back the debt, and so all unnecessary spending needs to stop until you get it handled.
3. Write checks for debts with a grateful mindset
As you write checks to a debt collector, or pay any bill, do it with a mindset of gratitude. Be grateful for the services you’ve received. You’re paying for something you’ve enjoyed either in the past or in the present. Either way, be grateful and think of your check not as money lost, but an experience or product gained.
Approaching your debt with gratitude for what you received will take the stress out of paying it back. Remember, you can only pay what you can pay. You can write your checks feeling stressed out, or you can write them while feeling joyful. Either way, you still have to write the check.
4. Breathe and meditate
Breathing meditations are the perfect way to manage your stress. Mindful breathing is by far the easiest way to relax. Find a quiet space in your home, your backyard, or go to a park where you won’t be disturbed. Sit cross-legged on a pillow to raise your hips a bit, close your eyes, and breathe in deeply through your nose.
As you breathe in and out slowly, keep your attention focused on your breath. That’s all it takes to leave stress in the dust.
Stress doesn’t get your debt paid faster
When you can’t tackle your debt at once, there’s no need to stress. Arrange to pay what you can, meet your payment deadlines, and you’ll be debt free sooner than you think.