In some senses, the bad habit of constantly accruing debt bears some similar traits to alcoholism or doing drugs: it’s often engrained into our lifestyle, it affects the way a family operates, and it can be detrimental to everyone around you.
But at the same time, the way to solve debt is very different from the way you get off drugs or alcohol. Whereas you can typically cure substance abuse through a commitment to zero-tolerance abstinence, debt is a completely different animal. Debt is often necessary for different things in life: buying a house, buying a car, paying for college, etc. And there are differences between good debt and bad debt. Good debt can help you start on your goals for the future and build credit. Bad debt can be the result of frivolous spending and can often drain your accounts through paying interest.
The difficulty surrounding fixing debt is delineating between those different types of debt, setting doable financial goals, and approaching them in a responsible, measured way. But most people don’t know where they’re at financially, so taking any of those steps is difficult. Entrepreneur and personal finance expert Howard Dvorkin joined John Morales on Morning Air to offer some advice in the realm of money and goal setting.
The first thing Dvorkin suggested people do when managing their financial issues is to set a budget and refrain from putting short-term expenses on credit cards. And those two things work in tandem. A budget will keep you from overspending, which might cause you to start using a credit card to delay payments. Credit card charges can accrue interest and you might end up paying even more over your budget than you thought.
The second thing Dvorkin suggested was to differentiate between one’s wants and one’s needs. Cutting back means cutting out the unnecessary costs in life, not skimping on the necessities. Yes, pay your utility bills and your rent and make your car payments. But do you really need that new TV or another new jacket? Probably not. Reducing those costs will save in your budget and allow you to save for other things like a college fund, retirement, or a new home.
“It’s one of those resolutions like, ‘I want to lose weight this year,’ that some of us take to heart and some of us don’t,” said Dvorkin. “The fact of the matter is everybody wants to save. Everybody wants to put their money away, but when you do decide to do it, you can’t touch it. That’s why they call it savings!” And some people just aren’t willing to operate that way.
Dvorkin said that saving money is like paying yourself. Second to God, you and your family come first when it comes to financial stability. Putting money in a 401k or an IRA is a contribution to a payment to your future self and family. By restricting yourself a little bit now, you will have more financial freedom in the future. So, to ensure that you do save, Dvorkin recommends taking 10% right off the top, before you spend any of your paycheck.
Saving money is a prime example of the old philosophy of delayed gratification, an apt metaphor for our journey to eternal salvation. Taking what we want right now will never give us the joy or satisfaction that a reward we earned through years of sacrifice and hard work will. Sacrifice, the sanctification of work, and bearing our crosses as the saints before us did; That’s what makes it all worth it.
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