Hey, no one said it was going to be a comedy, this is serious stuff. Money debt and depression, ingredients for a good movie as long as you aren’t the lead.
There are so many quotes out there about money and for the best part most have negative connotations. “The love of money is the root of all evil” “Too much month at the end of the money” to possibly misquote just two. Money is like storage, no matter how much you have, you always need more. Why is it that there is never enough money to go round.? Is it human nature to always want more than we have. Why do we resent those who have money? Why do with think we deserve more money?
However, when you look upon money or wealth, it is a necessary evil. (See..another negative one) The world in which we live dictates that we need it to survive. I’m sure some of us would like to return to the barter system of old, although in some countries, that is a part of their daily existence. The trade of services for goods, ‘payment in kind’ does still go on… For the most part though, if you want something, you have to buy it. If you want money, you have to work for it. There will always be exceptions to the rule but they’re not what this article is about.
Money Worry Stress
Let’s cut to the chase and touch on why this particular post is relevant within this website. Again, this won’t apply to everyone, some of you will have a very happy, healthy relationship with money. Even if that is the case, there might be something in here for you as well.
We live in a world where ‘Buy it now, pay later’ is becoming the norm. Credit is widely available and easy to come by.Purchase pretty much whatever you like, put it on the credit card, promise yourself you’ll pay it off within a couple of months’ and then when the statement comes though and the minimum payment is oh so low, how can you not take them up on the offer. Before you know it, you’re paying the minimum every month and you now have your eye on something else.
After a while, that low payment is no longer quite so low. It is now an essential payment that needs to be paid, if you miss a payment you might lose the ‘special’ offer of low interest that first snared you. On top of that you’ll be charged a late payment fee. If you’re not careful, each payment you make barely covers the interest being charged.
Now you don’t want to pick up the mail in the morning..we all recognise the envelope. What happens if you can’t pay? Who do you pay, rather than not pay.? All of these thoughts are now residing right at the front of your brain. You might find something to take you mind of it but it will inevitably come back, following by that churning sensation in your stomach. Easy to see how this can become stressful.
The above is an all to classic example of how it goes. I know, I’ve been there, well, I’m still there, at least still paying for the indiscretions of previous years. You can manage it if you’re disciplined. There are many who pay their bill in full every statement. Those who utilise the system and manage to get nearly a month and a half of free credit. (Basically if you buy something in the few days after your statement date, that purchase won’t show until your next, monthly, statement and then you have roughly a couple of weeks before the bill is due to be paid.)
Then something unexpected comes along. I won’t prioritise these, what one person deems important another will regard as trivial. The washing machine breaks down, beyond repair. The TV stops working. Your eldest decides it has been their lifelong ambition to learn to play the harp, keyboard, drums…never the harmonica, or needs a new pair of trainers, sneakers..iPhone, other type of phone are available.
None of these are easy choices…money has become intangible. Long gone are the days of having cash in you pocket and when it was gone you didn’t buy whatever it was you wanted. The credit card can sometimes be endless…maybe it should get smaller every time you use it..diminishing plastic to remind you of how much you are spending.
For me, I had my major bout of depression and I didn’t work for many, many months’. If I didn’t work, then I bought no money into the house. We had a mortgage and couldn’t get help with paying that. We had a huge overdraft and the bank would neither extend it nor waive any of the charges that were being accrued due to our lack of funds. Add into that four children and things were starting to become overwhelming.
It’s Only Money
It is only money and there are, sometimes, far more important things in your life to concern yourself with. You and your families health should be a top priority, well, number one in my book. You and yours general well-being. I won’t list off all the things you should concern yourself with as we are all different and will have a conflicting opinion the value of things in your life.
So when I say it is only money I mean it in the sense that it really shouldn’t be the ‘be all and end all’ of every waking second of every day. You have your life, your family, your health, your friends, a job…maybe you don’t have all of these, only some, only one…they are still to be celebrated and rejoiced in. To be grateful for.
We can sort the money out. Yes, there are going to be extremes and some will require some major life changes but there is always a solution. Worth noting as well, those you owe the money to are, more often than not, willing to help.
What Can You Do.
I am not a financial expert but I am someone who has been down the long ‘debt’ road. I’m not out of it yet but I no longer lose sleep over it and will not allow it to cause me anxiety or stress. Will I ever be totally debt free.? I hope so. Is it a problem if I’m not? No.
Are you going to find all the answers to your problems in the next couple of paragraphs? Maybe, maybe not. If not, It could spur you on to start looking for solutions yourself. There is, as always, an abundance of information out there on the internet and locally within your own town or city. Advice bureaus are just that. The give advice, most times, really good advice and they can put you in touch with other organisations who can help you firsthand. Quite often they will help you put together a plan for moving forwards.
Believe it or not, your credit card issuer will be more than happy to help you. A non-paying debt is no good to them, they would rather you pay something than nothing at all. It is in their best interests to work with you to come up with a plan that is acceptable to you and them. They have it in their power to freeze the interest on the amount you owe..so the debt doesn’t keep increasing…they can also agree a payment plan over an agreed term. They might not let you use the card anymore or until the debt is paid off..but hey, it’s a start.
If, like most of us, your mortgage is the single largest monthly outgoing, then it can look like a mountain to climb each month in order to pay it. As a general rule, your mortgage company will have no interest in taking your property off you. That is normally a last resort and things have to get pretty bad before that happens. Talk to them. They might be able to offer a payment ‘holiday’. We did this for six months’. They added the missed payment amount onto the ‘total’ owed…. Yes you pay for it in the long run but at the moment you need all the help you can get. Once we got back on our feet we set-up an ‘Over-payment’ amount, which we added to each months’ payment. That six months’ holiday is well and truly paid off now and we’ve kept over paying as that has bought the long term interest on the loan way down. (It can be as little or as much as you like, although there will be limit to how much you can over pay in a twelve-month period, in most cases.)
There will also be options available to you as to what type of mortgage you have and whether you can change it. We had an endowment mortgage, so we paid the interest on the capital borrowed each month and had a separate ‘endowment’ savings plan which would run alongside the term of the mortgage, so that at the end you would have enough in the plan to pay off the original capital amount….. That had to go. We changed to a straight repayment option. This means that each month we pay off some of the interest and some of the capital. Then benefit for us is that, over time our capital is reducing and therefore so is our interest amount. Added to that, the fact that we now continue to overpay an amount each month, our long term interest amount is being reduced… In the end we will pay back less than we originally were going to have to.
As mentioned above, we had to make some changes to our mortgage arrangement. We did this with the help of the provider. As a consequence of our situation, a veritable silver lining, we now had an ‘endowment’ policy that was no longer needed to secure the mortgage. We sold it and used the money in it to pay the necessary bills that were beginning to pile up and cover the shortfall of me not working.
It was a silver lining but at the same time it was a hard reality to come to terms with. We had paid into that savings plan for the best part of fifteen years. It would have been nice to have kept it going and benefitted from it when it matured. At the time that just wasn’t an option for us. The money we got back helped, in part, to get us back on our feet.
Again, remember, I am not a financial guru, this is just how we played the hand that was dealt to us. You may have other options open to you and the ones I have described might not be for you… At least now, you know that you do have some choices available.
Talking Takes the Worry Away
Every company out there that you deal with where money is being transacted will have a department or person who deals with those of us who get into financial difficulty. They are trained to help you. Be polite, explain your situation and ask for their help. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to get a resolution that works for you then there are institutions and ombudsmen that will advocate for you. In the UK I think it is the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) In the United States I believe it is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) but please feel free to correct me.
I know I might not have covered your particular worry but if you take something from this article, let it be that your’re not alone. You might not be surprised to know that nearly all of us have some sort of debt.
Once you have taken the first step, by confronting the issue, you can start to move forward. It was a massive relief for me, just knowing that we weren’t alone and there was a way out. I knew life was going to be different and things were going to have to change but that was ok…. I was still swimming in the murky depths of depression but I felt like the waters may just be starting to clear a little.
We’ve just scratched the surface. Now you’re facing the right way and can start to look at life with a slightly altered perspective. The future looks, if not a great deal better, at least manageable. Time to look at ways to make things even better.
Taking at least some of the financial burden off your shoulders is a must, make the call, go and speak to someone now.