The television advertisements and dozens of junk mail advertisements you get all make big promises. They are real good at selling the idea that they can get you out of credit card debt with some phenomenal program or secret weapon that you can find only by coming to them. When you think about it, these people are pretty despicable. They are seeking to make money by preying on people who already are deep in debt. The want to victimize the victims and in many societies, they put people in jail for that.
Anyway, you and I both know that most of those slick marketing productions that pitch getting you out of credit card debt through some sophisticated and costly program are a bunch of hot air. But there is a secret weapon right under your nose that if you can set off its amazing power, it can get you out of credit card debt and keep you there.
This secret weapon is pretty amazing and you know we aren’t trying to market anything to you because this secret weapon doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t require you send off for anything and you can find it right in your own home and put it to work immediately at no cost to you. But it is also a secret weapon that is not “sexy” and it will not make you go “OOO” and “AHH” by impressing you with its slick design.
The secret weapon is a budget. See, we told you it wasn’t a sexy solution. But when you analyze why you have the credit card debt in the first place, putting a rock solid budget in place is the foundation of a long term solution to your problem. The marketers can give you all kinds of fancy analysis and discussion on the cause of credit card debt in your life that will put the blame on everything from the foreign exchange rate to immigration to global warming. But it doesn’t do you a bit of good to point fingers about the problem. The only thing that will do you good is to give you the tools and weapons to fix it.
There is just no getting around it, you are in trouble with your credit because you are living above your means. In other words, you are spending more than you make. This isn’t to throw a lot of blame and guilt around. There are a lot of situations that can cause you to live above your means. You could lose your job or have an emergency in the family that can cause you financial worries. But when the money going out is the more money than is coming in, you have a problem that will drive up your credit card debt.
To write a budget, you simply sit down and take inventory of those two factors. You inventory how much money you have coming in. Then you inventory how much money you have to pay out. This step alone is a huge step forward toward getting your debt problem under control. A computer spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel is excellent for this kind of family budget planning and analysis because you can move things around and let the computer do the math for you.
Don’t make excuses about this. If you don’t know how much a certain kind of spending costs you, dig out your receipts for the last few months and get a feel for it. But once you know your income and your bills, you can tell if there is a gap. Then you can make plans to close that gap either by getting more income or by cutting out some bills or both.
It won’t be easy and it won’t be fun. But if you get on a budget and stay there, you have the basic foundation for a solid family financial plan and you can move forward from there. You may go on to use some other tools to bring your credit card debt under control such as credit card consolidation or balance transfers. But don’t do a thing before you find that secret weapon and make it start working for you. And that secret weapon is a realizing and reliable family budget and that includes gifts during the holiday season.