Love and debt in the same sentence can sound like a paradox to anyone who hears it. But, with the reality of most people's finances lagging in this economy, debt is just a reality. This means that you are likely to have debt, and if you do, you might as well try to love it. First, not all debt is bad; think your mortgage/rent (which gives you a place to live), your car (which gets you to work) and so on. Debt becomes bad when you can't pay it. So with a little help from our tips below, you too can have debt, keep it "good" and even learn to love it.
As much as you may hate debt and the idea of having debt, the ugly truth is that you need things. Those things often require financing, and so it's for this very reason that I developed a new approach to handling debt. When you learn to love your debt, you can better manage it, pay it off faster and turn it into a tool that works for you instead of just letting it be a burden on your life.
Here are just a few of my tips on how you can learn to love your debt:
1. Set a Date with Your Budget
Yes, a date. You are going to learn to like each other now, so get to know your debt. Maintaining a budget is a lot like maintaining a relationship; you need to give it the proper amount of time and attention. Ignoring a friend or loved one can quickly strain your relationship with them, and budgeting is similar. Ignoring your budget can have the same effect on your finances and keep you ultimately out of touch. By focusing in on a budget you can identify problems, discover ways to solve them, create goals and — most importantly — celebrate your accomplishments.
2. Be Happy to See Your Bills
Picturing yourself running to the mailbox every day and doing a twirl when a bill arrives isn't exactly what I mean when I say be happy to see your bills, but starting to change how you see your bills is the first step. It may be difficult at first, but changing your mindset when receiving your bills can drastically improve your relationship with your debt.
3. Yay, You're a Grown-Up — Now Think Like One
While no one really wants to get bills, the fact is that it is reality of being a grown-up. You have bills, so get used to them, but also be happy about paying them. See that someone gave you credit and trusted you to pay, and that the things you are paying for give you a better quality of life. Instead of seeing your bills as a drain on your finances, look at it as a step forward. Each bill you pay puts you one step closer to getting yourself out of debt and having all the things you need, and even the things you want. Just don't go out and spend to have bills. Know the bills you get, how much you need to pay and — since you and your budget are intimate — that you can afford them before you spend.
4. Give Debt Tough Love
Looking at debt as an investment can make it easier to face the debts you have now. For example, looking at your student loans as an investment into your future career and life — and, really, as a business decision, will help you manage them before you even sign on the dotted line. Once you can emphasize the value of debt and how it impacts your life, this will make it easier to love. Seeing your debts as investments can also help keep you from taking on less-valuable debt in the future. This is where you learn about your needs versus wants, and start to think about purchases more carefully and strategically. Do you really think charging that new $500 pocketbook to your credit card is a good investment? Probably not.
5. Your Debts Make Your Future
Managing debt can get easier with time. Responsibly managing a car loan, credit cards and student loans are all ways for you to build credit. (You can track your credit-building progress by getting your free credit scores every month on Credit.com.) The better your credit score gets, and the more history you have handling credit and debt efficiently, the more likely you'll receive a better deal on your next loan. This can translate to lower interest rates or a larger line of credit. In the future, this can make getting your next loan easier in comparison to the one you're handling now.
Allowing yourself to love your debt may be hard at first, but it can certainly pay off down the line with less stress, worry and potentially even less debt. You'll find yourself thinking less about managing bills, making better financial decisions and actually enjoying your life. Debt may be unavoidable for most, but that doesn't mean it has to make you unhappy.
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