Coping with the worry of debt


Being in debt is probably one of the most stressful experiences anyone will face. Some people can’t cope with being in any form of debt whatsoever. We all know someone like this who when they owe $10 to a friend or family member, well it literally occupies their mind from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep. It can be tempting to think that these people take things a little too seriously and perhaps they need to chill out a bit but I can tell you one thing, it’s highly unlikely that this type of person will ever find themselves in debt up to their eyeballs, so maybe we could all learn a thing or two about developing a hatred or emotionally negative reaction toward any form of debt.

What though if you’re already in debt? If you’ve found yourself in this position and you suddenly turn into one of those people who thinks about it from the minute you wake up to the minute you sleep then it’s probable that your debt problem is going to completely ruin your life, destroying any enjoyment you get from even the smallest of things. So how is it possible to live with and resolve a debt problem without allowing it to ruin your life?

Be balanced

If you have found yourself in a lot of debt then it is vital that you develop a realistic attitude and plan about how you are going to deal with it. If it has taken you years to build up this mountain of debt, then it is probably going to take you years to get out of it too. Do you want to be feeling sick with stress and anguish for the next few years because all you think about is the mass of debt you are in? No. On the flipside do you want to have such a relaxed attitude toward your debt that it just sits there and never reduces or even worse the debt grows? No.

I’m a firm believer that everything in life requires a balanced attitude. It’s true that it is more than possible to achieve things in life by having a lack of balance but it often leads to one of two negative outcomes. Firstly, you miss the joy of living as you focus completely on one area of life and don’t give the needed attention to others. Second, you burnout as your unbalanced attitude leads you to give up when you don’t make the unrealistic progress that you have been expecting. Either one of these outcomes could massively impact your ability to achieve your debt free goal.

So we have to maintain a balanced attitude, one where we decide to take the debt seriously enough where we are able to fix the problem over time, but also one where our debt doesn’t become the sole thing we think about each and every day, causing us to forget the many joys we have all around us.

Think about what you have, not what you don’t have.

Yes, being in debt is not a pleasant situation but at the same time, always try to keep a balanced view of how bad your situation really is. At least you have a roof over your head and food on the table, perhaps not as much food as you would like some days, but at least you have some. At least you have your life and the love and support of those around you. Not everybody has that, so try not to take it for granted.

What’s the worst that can happen?

I’m going to be very careful about what I say here because I don’t want it to seem like an invitation to ignore your debt problem. The best way to deal with a debt problem is to actively make continuous, planned and balanced efforts to repay the debt. This way you can hold on to your credit score, your possessions and your financial reputation. On the other hand if you don’t want your debt to engulf your very being, then you need to again be balanced and realistic about the worst case scenario.

In the worst case scenario, if you fail in your battle with debt then this won’t be the end of your life. Yes the repercussions are not pleasant but you will still have the many good things we mentioned earlier. You will still have your life, your loved ones – If any of these leave you because you have made a few financial mistakes, then I’d ask myself whether they deserve to be in your life anyway – and you will still have a roof over your head and food to eat. (This is certainly the case in the UK anyway) You will also, after a period of time, have the ability to start your financial life over with a clean slate and if you learn your lesson then you won’t make the same mistakes again.

So be balanced in the amount of mental and emotional focus you give to your debt. Take it seriously enough so that you are able to make inroads and repay it, but don’t let it engulf you to the point where you forget or don’t give enough attention to the good things and the loved ones you have around you.

18 Responses to Coping with the worry of debt

  1. You make an excellent point that even though debt is not a good thing, it should not run your life either. There needs to be balance. Great post!

  2. Krista says:

    Thank you for this post, I’m sure it hits home for a lot of financial bloggers (especially the get out of debt variety) because we spend so much energy into thinking of ways to get out of debt sooner that we can sometimes miss the whole point of getting out of debt. The point of getting out of debt is freedom, and if you have NO freedom in your attempt to get out then you’ll miss out years that could have added to your life fulfillment. I’m really saying this as much for myself as anyone else because I struggle with having any debt (I’m definitely the stay up at night thinking about debt type) and my husband consistently reminds me that having some debt and a good plan is not failure, just a step in the freedom process.

    • Adam Buller says:

      That’s really well put Krista. It may take some people 5 or 10 years to get out of debt and that’s a lot of life to miss out on if you allow it to mentally eat you up.

  3. Mark Ross says:

    Great tips Adam. I think one shouldn’t be affected by having too much debt.
    Just live the life you want but make sure that you don’t accumulate any more debt as you do it.

    • Adam Buller says:

      I agree Mark. I do think it’s important to make sacrifices and pay it back but that will take time so balance is everything.

  4. Worrying is a waste of time and energy. It’s better to research your options to get out of debt, and take action. The sooner you start, the sooner things get better!

  5. I used to worry way too much over my debts and it gave me nothing but stress which later on resulted to health issues. I didn’t know that so much stress because I didn’t know how to handle my situation could do such thing. Not until I learned to accept that I need to face my debt demons did things become better. I am now slowly but surely working my way to become debt-free. I don’t know when it will all be over but I am certain that now that I have the right frame of mind where dealing with debt is concerned, I will get to the finish line. Reading posts like this helped me a lot along the way so please know that posts like yours are well-appreciated.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Thanks Jen, I’m glad you’re making good progress with your debt. Stress can do awful things to people and there’s enough of it in our world already, without overly worrying about things that can only be resolved with time and perseverance.

  6. I need to remember this. I’ve only really started my debt repayment journey, but I can’t just wait until my debt disappears (less than two years) before I can be stress-free again – I won’t have any hair left by then, or if I do, it will all be grey!

    I think setting up a game plan, and seeing the first few steps ticked off have definitely helped me limit my worry/stress regarding my finances. It isn’t perfect, but it’s helping me get a good night’s sleep.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Sounds like you’ve got a Solid plan Alicia and as long as you stick with it, I’m guessing you have no need to worry about that debt anymore 🙂

  7. I’m one of those people who, if I borrow $10 from you, I have to pay it off right away. Thank goodness I’ve never had to deal with serious debt, I don’t think I could handle it.

  8. Love this, Adam. We’ve had to work hard to find that balance too, and realize that all we can do is to whittle away at the debt load and move on. Worrying about it is so easy to do, but it sure won’t change the situation.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Thanks Laurie and you’re dead right. As Brock said, having a firm plan is what will speed up your climb from debt, not worrying.

  9. Adam, very nice piece and for most of us these are some very rational ideas. However, there is are many who have emotional and psychological issues that get in the way here. Those suffering various addictions and behavior patterns can get engulfed by debt. This can be a very severe problem that requires counseling and intervention. The good news is that at some point these people can use some of the tools you highest to correct this problem.

  10. Syed says:

    I couldn’t agree more about being balanced. I have to remind myself of this every so often when I get really mad at my student loan debt. I went through 8 years of post secondary education to get my degree, so that type of debt will take some time to pay off. As long as I keep on my consistent debt payoff plan, there’s nothing to worry about. Thanks for the great reminder.

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