Raise your hand if you thought reality television would never last. Well, it looks like the “unscripted” (certainly, not reality) shows are here to stay. People love to watch others live life.
Sometimes people watch reality shows to cheer for others like the singing show The Voice. And sometimes people watch them to laugh at others like The Real Housewives of Orange County. Can you believe that show spawned nearly twenty other shows with ones in Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New Jersey, Miami … Including ten internationally?
People are entertained by looking behind the curtain of others’ lives and thinking, “Whew! Glad we aren’t that bad.”
Well, today you get the chance to do that with debt.
Let’s pull back the curtain and peek in on 3 crazy debt stories that will make you feel better about yours.
(Before we start- we should point out – debt is not fun and needs to be dealt with, for sure, but debt or lack of debt is not the ultimate gauge of a successful marriage or successful life. It’s just money. And with a plan in place and the right attitude you can dig yourself out of any debt situation.)
So put your debt reality aside and check out these bizarre debt stories:
1.Gag me with a credit card.
A credit counselor from Phoenix was on the receiving end of what can happen when reality sets in. His client came in with a huge pile of unopened bills. The client said she just couldn’t bear opening them. Of course, the counselor wasn’t going to let her get by that easily. He had her open the envelopes and say the balance aloud as he added them up. He said, “When it reached over $35,000, she had this look on her face.” She looked very pale…but also kind of green. Next thing he knew she threw up all over his desk.
2.You want me to what?
Another situation we read about was a client that had an especially hard time living within her income. During the session, the planner found out the woman was spending a jaw-dropping $100,000 OVER her annual salary. To stay afloat, she had been drawing equity from her house — and paid the home loans off with her credit cards. When the danger of her actions was explained her response was, “How can I possibly budget when I spend more than I have coming in?!”. Great question.
3.Hi-ho, hi-ho it’s into debt we go. (Not off to work.)
In another extreme example, a couple visited a credit counselor with a bag stuffed with papers. Turns out they were all bills. The wife was in shock. Her husband had single-handedly racked up $80,000 in debt she didn’t know about. The husband had been trying to support a lifestyle he couldn’t afford, started gambling, lost his job, and took out cash advances to pay for it all. The statements went to his post office box. He left the house each morning, pretending to go to work. Wow.
Extreme examples, for sure!
But most everyone uses credit to manage day-to-day finances. In fact, almost $400 billion was spent on web purchases in 2016 alone so we know credit cards are alive and well. And that’s great.
We personally love using our credit cards to earn free miles for airfare. Credit cards aren’t evil, and debt is not just a matter to laugh at (or ignore), even though those three extreme scenarios were fun to chuckle about.
All jokes aside, here are just a couple of things you can do to avoid being a cautionary tale about debt:
- Check your credit score.
- Value your relationship more than the dollars and cents of the debt.
- Get real with the numbers. Gather the statements. Write it all out and tackle the smallest balance first (we think a “win” gives you the momentum to pay off the others.)
Always remember debt is temporary and your relationship is priceless. Laugh together, not at each other and you can tackle that pesky debt.
Want to share your “crazy debt story” or a story of how you worked together to beat debt? Leave us a comment. Thanks!
Make it happen!
Taylor and Megan Kovar
The Money Couple