Debt

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While most Americans carry some debt, do you ever find yourself wondering where you fall on the debt ladder? It might be easy to convince yourself that your debt load is reasonable and that you fit in with the average American in terms of debt, but like many other addictions, a spending addiction has some major warning signs, and such an addiction is directly linked to your consumer debt profile.

If you think you have good control over your debt because you never miss payments and can afford the minimum credit card payment every month, think again. Aside from the fact that it will take you years to pay off debt making only minimum payments, consider the following questions.

1. Do you have any savings?

2. Do you purchase things with credit that you used to purchase with cash (for example, food, gas)?

3. Do you have more than two or three credit cards?

4. Do you increase your credit debt by the same amount, or more, that you pay off each month?

5. Have you reached your credit limit, and have you been declined for purchases?

6. Do you float or bounce checks?

7. Do you use credit cards to pay your bills?

8. Do you know exactly how much debt you owe?

9. Do you lie to your family about your spending or attempt to hide debt or credit card bills?

10. Do you get calls from debt collectors?

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All of the above are prime indicators of debt and spending addiction. An honest evaluation of your own debt accumulation habits will indicate when and if you need to modify your levels of spending. Credit debt is a killer; it takes years to pay off your high-interest credit debt, and that is if spending stops, which, if you meet the criteria for spending addiction, it probably will not.

A solution? Visit with your financial advisor. Put a freeze on credit cards, cut them up, or leave them at home. Begin a payment and debt reduction strategy and stick to it. Most importantly, realize that your situation will only get worse unless you do something to stop it.