How to Avoid a Debt Relapse


Have you paid off a significant amount of debt? Congratulations! Making that final payment represents a long journey, and seeing a zero balance should bring a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. However, it’s understandable that you might want to reward yourself for your frugal efforts. In fact, many newly debt-free people have felt the same way – and returned to their old ways. It’s easy to repeat the same patterns that led you into debt. To avoid winding back where you started, try these steps:

Redirect the money you spent on debt payment to savings. Everyone needs an emergency fund – and not just credit cards. Not having one probably helped lead you into debt in the first place. The old standard of 3-6 months is a good starting place; however, eight to 12 is even better (and better for keeping you out of debt).

Identify your triggers. What do you find so hard to resist that you will be tempted to charge again? Eating out, clothes, vacations, etc.? Avoid temptation by skipping places that tempt you – particular stores or restaurants, for example. If your trigger is eating out, try to plan your meals in advance for the week. If entertainment tempts you, think of cheaper alternatives (meeting a friend for coffee instead of dinner or a seeing a matinee instead of a pricey evening show).

Never forget how debt made you feel. It’s easy to forget the anxiety and stress that were a part of your everyday life when you were in debt. Try not to. Come up with a tangible reminder (an old bill perhaps) so that you stay mindful of where you have come from and how important it is to never go back. Avoid the old patterns – create new ones and enjoy your new debt-free life!


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