The Debt Disease…Dollar Buy Dollar

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ShredderThe other morning, I had CNN on as I was getting ready for work when a story about a local blog caught my attention.   Dollar Buy Dollar is authored from a Washington State resident who has found himself in quite the pinch by jacking up his credit card bills and student loans to a total that tipped over $70,000.   The blog is an honest (sometimes painfully honest) account on what he’s doing to try to get out of that mess.   This should be a must read for every senior in high school and anyone with more credit debt than savings.    Debt happens far too easily and, like packing on a few pounds, it’s much easier to gain it than to whittle it away.

The author of the blog is remaining anonymous and calls himself "Fellowes" (like his shredder).    Here is an excerpt from Fellowes most recent post:

  • Taking on debt has become a lifestyle for many people, something that seems to be actively encouraged by our consumerist society
  • Couples hiding/lying to one another about debt IS a huge problem
  • Debt and the seeming inability to pay it down, discuss it openly with your spouse or other members of your family has a HUGE impact on mental health, physical health and family stability
  • There is a tremendous amount of confusion about the “best” way to pay off debt while still maintaining one’s dignity and self-respect.

As a Mortgage Planner, I see consumer’s debts all day long when I’m completing a loan application or reviewing a credit report.   It can be a tremendous slippery slope for a family when your debts exceed your savings.   And with the national savings rate at below 0%, we are in more danger of a credit bubble ready to burst than a real estate bubble (at least in the Seattle area).

This is such an important topic and I personally believe that this issue is more wide spread and impacts more consumers than we know since it is often kept secret, as Fellowes mentions above.   Fellowes is receiving quite a bit of attention from his bit on CNN, many others are confessing their tough situations via comments to his posts.   Fellowes offers this heartfelt advise:

For those of you in the same situation. DONT WANT ANOTHER MINUTE. Overspending, lying and hiding from this can lead to other VERY destructive behaviors that can not only put your marriage at risk, but your life at risk. Go seek professional help if you can’t have the conversation with your spouse, but my all means HAVE the conversation. The hardest part of this whole ordeal was admitting how bad the problem was and that I my behavior was out of control. Paying in down and finding ways to negotiate and save and nickel and dime here and there is becoming a game for me, albeit a fun one. Thanks everyone for your support, suggestions and feedback. I will do my best to chronicle my journey and share other financial musings to keep you all coming back.

I will be following up with a series of posts on this topic.   You can consider this "Part One".

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