Today I saw one of the most amazing and bizarre events. I was out for a jog along one of the busiest streets in our town, one block off main street. I came to an intersection and noticed that the street was blocked off by the police, a fire truck, and a variety of other uniformed officers from divisions of different things. There was a gathering of people at the barrier, all looking up at a rather large black bear stuck up in a tree. From another observer, I found out that the bear had been up there for several hours, and animal control had just tranquilized him, which explained the uniformed men standing under the tree with a big tarp. (ouch!) I watched for a while and then went on my way. What if the poor fellow wakes up when he falls? You only have to be faster than the slowest person, but you never know. As I was finishing up my run, this post came to me. I guess I am ready to have this blog if I can relate just about any event to personal finance. After that lengthy introduction, you might ask how this bear stuck up a tree reminded me of credit card debt. If you think about it, they’re just alike.
Going Beyond Your Means
If Mr. Bear had stayed in the woods within his comfort zone, he wouldn’t have ended up surrounded by uniforms with no apparent way out. When you want to purchase something, ask yourself if you really need it. If you need it, can you pay for it right now. Andrea at So Over This has a great post on this. Our rule is that if you don’t have money to cover it, it doesn’t happen. If you pull out the credit card, you’ll get immediate gratification, but the joy soon fades. We got into trouble by the need for instant gratification years ago ending up with whopping credit card debt that I am working up the nerve to post about. If the item is not a necessity, a good plan that works for us has been to come up with the money by selling something or earning the money in a separate way from our normal salaries. Grand Per Month has some terrific ideas for this. Sometimes by delaying the purchase, we find we really didn’t want it that badly anyway.
Feeling Trapped By Your Debt
I really felt sorry for Mr. Bear today. He looked very confused and scared with nowhere to go. When we were at our highest amout of credit card debt, it was almost like an illness. At first we ignored it. We never missed a payment or went over the credit limits. Often we got offers for new cards, and the ones we had kept raising our limits, so we kept on charging. When we really sat down and looked at the numbers, it was terrifying, literally enough to cause panic attacks. The hardest part was to acknowledge the problem. Once that was done, getting rid of the debt seemed possible. If you have debt you are ignoring, stop, right now, and decide if you want to be in a better place.
It All Comes Crashing Down
Mr. Bear does not know that it is OK to come down from the tree, so he stays. The uniforms eventually shot him with a tranquilizer dart. He will come crashing down and have to be relocated. If you continue to stay up in your debt tree, you will most likely come to a point when you will fall (hopefully not from being shot with a tranquilizer dart). It could be due to an injury or illness. You might lose your income. You could miss a payment and get the interest rate jacked up. The list goes on and on. If Mr. Bear had the reasoning capability to know that the people below just wanted to get him safely back to the forest, he could have climbed down slowly and made it back home. We do have the abiltiy to start climing down from our trees before it all crashes down. The fall could be hard, and no uniforms will be there with a tarp to catch us. Don’t let credit card debt keep you stuck up in the tree.
Do you feel trapped by your credit card debt? Have you made a plan? Have you seen anything better than a bear in the middle of town this week?