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Debt Is The Symptom – Fix The Problem

by The Happy Rock on April 13, 2008

Symptom – A characteristic sign or indication of the existence of something else” Source

flat-tire-car.jpgPicture yourself driving down a familiar street. Out of the corner of your eye you see a huge nail in the road. You swerve, but only enough to drive directly over the nail with your tire. Arghhhh! You don’t hear a pop or a hissing, so you continue on. Everything seems fine until two weeks later when you go to leave for work and your tire is flat. It has been long enough that you forget about the nail, so you borrow an air compressor from a friend and fill up the tire. Everything is fine for four weeks, until you notice the flat tire again. You fill it and go on your way. The tire seems to stay inflated long enough that you just keep filling the tire, rather than actually getting the tire fixed. The flat tire is the symptom of a bigger problem that needs to be fixed.

Debt is just like the flat tire. Debt is almost always just the sypmtom of a larger behavior or planning problem. Although the symptom is usually what attracts our attention and keeps of from creating behaviors that will allow us to be financially successful. People all kind of things to get rid of debt: hire a consolidation company, transfer to a HELOC or a 0% credit card, sell houses, sell cars, ask for more loans, marry, and even declare bankruptcy. All of those methods never really address the huge nail in the tire that is causing the leak. If you don’t fix the source of the problem, you most likely won’t stay out of debt long.

It is often tricky to identify the cause of the problem, but it can be a wide range of things. Depression, no budgeting, no planning, lack of self control, retail therapy, coveting, lack of knowledge, and lack of caring can all lead us into debt. The tried and true debt snowball or similar debt reduction methods that require hard work and discipline usually help change our behavior along the way. That is why they work, and that is why playing games to get out of debt usually fails.

Debt is not your problem. You must address your behaviors that got you there.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Diehl April 15, 2008 at 10:13 am

right on bro. it’s so easy to deal w/ the symptoms – our culture is really good at that. the problem is much more difficult and messy to deal with but the result of getting to the root is a much healthier, happier life. good call.

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Pete April 15, 2008 at 11:02 am

people need to take responsibility for their problems – I think too often people take a victim mentality and blame everyone else. The mortgage company took advantage of me and gave me a high rate! The credit card company gave me a high interest card and made it too easy to spend! on and on. You are so right that people need to take a step back and actually look at the cause of why they are spending so much before they can get things under control. great post.. stumbled.

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The Happy Rock April 15, 2008 at 10:27 pm

@Tim – Healthier and happier….sounds like a plan Tim. I agree!

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Diana April 17, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Very nice thought…So, to fix a debt we must also change our plannig behaviour beside paying the debt itself. I think this is the answer why some peoples never get free from debt.

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The Happy Rock April 17, 2008 at 9:59 pm

@Diana – You are right, debt will most likely linger without changing our behavior. It is worth noting that it is not just our planning behavior that gets us into to trouble. Issues like not dealing well with emotional issues or trying to keep up appearances can also lead us into debt.

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