People with credit card debt often have similar thoughts. They usually say things like:
1) I’m never going to be able to pay off my credit cards
2) Once I get it paid off I end up maxing it out again. I can’t every pay it off and keep it paid off.
3) I can barley make the minimum monthly payments, how can I make additional payments?
They feel hopeless, defeated or imprisoned. Yet there is a very easy solution to pay off credit cards and stop using them permanently.
Gather all of your cads in one place, cut them up, and throw them out!
When I offer this to my clients there is usually a few seconds of silence. They haven’t ever considered this option and that thought usually scares them. They don’t see it as an option, they believe they need it cover expenses. Most feel a sense of fear thinking about the idea.
It’s been my experience that most people pay the “required” expenses (rent, car, utilities etc) with money they get from their job. There usually isn’t enough left over for the “fun” expenses so they are covered with credit card debt.
Outside of Food Clothing and Shelter there is very little, if anything, we need purchase to survive. Almost everything else is to satisfy the need for happiness, satisfaction or fulfillment.
The biggest obstacle to paying off your credit cards isn’t money, it’s trying to create a sense of fulfillment by purchasing things.
I used to be one that would pay off a card and the run up the balance again. I now realize there was a recurring cycle that always had me wanting to buy things. I now call it the debt loop.
The Debt Loop
The debt loop is a four phase outline that explains why we are constantly buying things. The four phases are:
The first phase is a feeling, usually a feeling of discontent or something similar. Discontent is defined as “lack of contentment for one’s circumstances.” Most people feel discontent every day. It doesn’t mean we are sad or that their lives are miserable.
It’s more a feeling of uneasiness about something, the desire for more. It’s human nature to want to be happy, it’s one of the primary drivers of all our actions. Discontent is a step above sadness but below happiness.
- I don’t have the right shoes for my parting tonight.
- I hate having to wind up this hose every time I use it.
- I’m bored.
- I don’t have the latest iPhone.
- Why is my kitchen always a mess?
It’s something most of feel every day about some aspect of our life. This is good as it can push us to do better, to grow.
One of our Brain’s primary functions is to solve problems and do it with the least amount of effort. When we feel discontent our brain goes to work trying to solve this.
It remembers all the “happiness” seen in social media and knows how much fun it was to make our last purchase. Even the act of shopping, whether in a store or on-line, can be fun.
With this as the background it’s quick and easy for our brain to give us the thought “go buy something” each time we feel discomfort.
- I don’t have the right shoes for my parting tonight. – Go buy some
- I hate having to wind up this hose every time I use it. – Home Depot has an auto roller.
- I’m bored. – Buy that new tennis racquet you’ve been wanting.
- I don’t have the latest iPhone. – Apple has them in stock.
- Why is my kitchen always a mess – Hire a cleaning service.
We take action and buy something, subconsciously thinking, “If I buy this my life will be a little better and/or easier.”
At this point most people don’t mind using their credit cards, after all can you really put a price on “happiness?”
A lot of people will ignore the cost of the item so as not to be bothers (discontent) about not having enough money.
Pleasure is defined as, “Enjoyment and entertainment, contrasted with things done out of necessity.”
Pleasure provides a temporary relief from discontent. To validate this point ask yourself, “What did I buy the last time I went to the mall?” Is there still the same level of excitement and reward as when you bought it? If not, how long did the feeling of contentment last? Can you even remember what you bought?
With time we again start to feel discontent and the loop starts over.
Breaking the Debt Loop
We don’t have to give into the “primitive” brain. I call this process “Breaking the Loop.” It’s a four step process to use prior to making a purchase. It results in less debt and more fulfillment that lasts for a longer period of time. The four steps are:
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to buy this.” To that answer, again ask, “why.” Drill down with the “why” question a few times. The final result is usually some variation of “to be happy.”
I really want to by that new coat
Why – It looks great and I’d look good in it.
Why do I want to look good in it? – People will think I look professional, they will respect me.
Why do you want respect? – Respect makes me feel good/happy.
Don’t resist your thoughts and feelings, recognize them, allow them, and feel them. It may help to describe how they feel physically. Resisting our feelings only makes them stronger.
– It’s OK to want to look good, most people do.
– Interesting, I want to be respected. All feelings are valid, so is this one. I’m just going to let it be for a few minutes.
I shouldn’t care what other people think of how I look.
I should need other people to validate me.
Without resisting your feelings, question the validity of your original thoughts using two scenarios: 1) If you buy the item is it still true? 2) If you don’t buy it, is it still true?
If I Buy It
Will people respect me?
Will I look good?
If I Don’t Buy It
Will people not respect me?
Will I look bad?
I am not saying you shouldn’t purchase anything unless it’s food clothes or shelter. I am advocating that we retain the primitive brain to come up with other solutions when we feel discomfort.
By doing this we’ll pay off our credit cards as well as achieve a more meaningful and longer lasting feeling of content/happiness.
I’ve created a 3 page guide with this information and gives you three “life hacks” to help you work through the four phases of breaking the loop.