Eight out of ten Americans are in debt, according to a 2015 report from Pew Charitable Trusts.
Among that 80%, the median amount owed is $67,900.
Even high earners such as Kanye West have dug themselves into holes — the rapper recently claimed that he’s $53 million in personal debt.
While there are many of debt-repayment tips and strategies for Kanye and the rest of us who find ourselves in debt, one of the most important steps to take on your payoff journey is something most people don’t consider.
“You have to ask yourself why you got into debt in the first place,” explains John Gajkowski, a certified financial planner at Money Managers Financial.
“Was it a one-off type of thing? Was it a medical expense you weren’t ready for? Or was it your lifestyle? If you have a $60,000 lifestyle and a job that only produces $50,000 in income, you’re always going to be in debt, so you either have to modify your lifestyle or change careers to earn the money for the lifestyle you want to create. A lot of people never come to that realisation.”
The reason this question is so crucial is because you’re never truly “done” with your debt. “Debt management is like weight management,” Gajkowski tells Business Insider. “It’s a lifelong thing. It’s an ongoing process.”
To prevent it from happening again, you must recognise why you got into debt in the first place and then avoid the bad habits that got you there.
“The nice thing is, by getting out of debt, you’ve developed all of these new, positive habits,” Gajkowski explains.
Don’t abandon those new habits — whether it be tracking your spending, living below your means, or automating your payments — as soon as you’ve paid off all of your creditors, he emphasises. Use them to not only stay out of debt, but to get ahead of the curve when it comes to saving and investing.