If you’ve been worrying a lot about your credit card debt recently, you know it can be a heavy burden. Sometimes, it’s so bad that you stay up late worrying about it, logging into your credit card account online and looking at the large number there in front of you, dark against the bright glow of your phone screen. And when it comes to big purchases, like looking at houses or cars, or choosing what school your kids will go to, you worry about how your credit score is going to affect your life.
This all eventually has a negative impact on your health, both emotional and physical. Even though it’s important to acknowledge your debt so that you can finally pay it off, it shouldn’t take over your life so much that you’re constantly distraught. Here’s how to stay healthy–even with that weight on your shoulders.
Have a debt-paying plan
When you have debt, and you aren’t doing anything about it yet, that’s the biggest stressor of all. You feel totally out of control, and the debts you owe are so scary that it feels like you’ll never pay them off. But you’re not alone, and many people are going through the same struggle. In 2017, Americans hit an all-high total debt of $13 trillion, including debts such as mortgages, credit cards, student loan debt, and car loans. And knowing that other people are going through the same thing shows that there’s a way to get through it.
Take a look at your finances, with your partner or with your family, and see what you’re spending unnecessary money on. For example, if you go out to lunch at work with colleagues, because having a chat with work friends helps you forget your financial situation, you’re spending more money than you need to. Instead, eat at your desk, and join them for a coffee. The difference adds up and can help you start paying off your debt.
Additionally, decide on what method you want to use. The most popular are the snowball and avalanche methods. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, then move onto the next largest, then the next. The avalanche method is all about paying your highest-interest debts off first, but because of human nature, it’s usually easier for people to pay off the snowball method. Decide which one works for you, and then calculate how much you can pay off a month until you’ve got them all covered. It will be hard at first, but if you use money-tracking apps like Spendee, your habits will change over time, and it will get easier.
Keep your healthy habits–and ditch the bad ones
If you’re spending a lot of money a month on a gym membership, it can be tempting to ditch the gym to pay off your credit card. But is that the smartest thing to do? Exercise is undeniably good for you, for your body and your mind, and it could be the only thing keeping you sane during this crazy time. Instead of quitting the gym entirely, call up your gym to see if you can get a discount. Often, if they know you’re going to leave, they’ll have some flexibility. You can also shop around, do exercises at home with an online trainer, or use YouTube videos like FitnessBlender.
What we’re saying is this: don’t give up your healthy habits just because of your debt. There is a way around being forced to make this decision. Because giving up your unhealthy habits is a much easier way of saving money. For example, if you drink to forget your worries about your debts, stop drinking. It might be challenging at first, but once you get in the habit, you’ll barely think about drinking at all. One in eight Americans struggle with alcohol abuse, and it’s no surprise considering the average situation with debt and healthcare.
In general, by getting creative, and doing things like walking to work instead of taking your car, you can save money and stay healthy, too.
Get professional help if you need it
If you leave in a large city, chances are there are organizations out there can help you out for very little–or free. We’re talking about organizations like InCharge, which provides New York residents with free credit counseling and debt management. (After all, the average New York resident in 2017 had $3,710 in credit card debt.) We’re also talking about healthcare services that can help you get the emotional support you need when money is taking such a toll on your mental health.
Do your research, and get the help you need. It’s worth your time, and it won’t cost too much money (if any at all!). These are some of the best ways to stay healthy when you’ve got credit card debt weight on you. Which strategies do you think will work best for you?