Before investing, one must save. Before saving, one must be free of debt. To be free of debt, one must live within their means.
We live in the age of easy credit. Every week credit cards come in the mail offering consumers thousands of dollars for nothing in return, at least for now. Shiny new computers, televisions and cars all appear in the homes of unemployed neighbors, thanks to Visa and MasterCard.
To live beyond ones’ means is a fool’s errand, and a sure way to join the list of foreclosures in Illinois. Life seems great, when shiny new consumer goods and extravagant trips are within reach at a moment’s whim. Unfortunately, reality catches up, sooner or later. This spend-thrift lifestyle abruptly reverses into unsustainable, unaffordable and crushing debt.
Paying down debt is excruciatingly difficult. Transitioning from living paycheck to paycheck, to saving and building wealth is an easier change than paying down a debt. This is because, in order to fully pay off a debt, there can be almost no needless consumption while paying it off, because debt consists of past purchases, plus the interest. Paying the minimum balance on a credit card is enticing, but this is a monthly payment that yields nothing in return, except an increasing debt.
Either cut up credit cards as they come, or use them only for emergencies. The Super Bowl is not an emergency. The Cheesecake Factory is not an emergency. Use only cash and checks, and do not fall into the spending trap.