1. You shuffle debt around from credit cards to credit cards.

When I use to be in debt doo-doo, instead of finding ways to pay off my debt (or reducing it), I would think up of ways to prolong the repayment of the debt. I would work on my credit score, spending more money on credit reports and reporting services just to increase that FICO score a wee bit higher, just so I can apply to more credit cards so I can transfer the balances around. Although I reduced the interest charged on my debt by quite a bit, the faster way—actually paying off the debt—would have worked much better than my attempts to defer repayment.

2. You have that nagging feeling in your head when you spend money.

It’s strange how when you’re in debt, you may build up a layer of denial about your situation in your mind. “Ah, I’m okay… I’ll be fine.” So you continue to spend money as if everything is peachy; but you’ll have that nagging feeling in the back of your head—aka a sound mind—when you blow money on more needless crap. It’ll scream: stop buying crap! But who cares, you’ve worked hard, you deserve to spend a little bit now & then. Right?

3. You don’t let people close to you know that you’re in debt.

Hey, if you won’t even let yourself know you’re in trouble, why let family and friends know? If they find out, they might—gasp—stop you! Take it from me, when you start to let people know that you’re in debt, you start to let yourself know a bit more too. Sure, it’s a bit embarrassing, but if you have family and friends that really care about you, they’ll make sure you don’t blow anymore money. Besides, if they’re really important people to you, they shouldn’t care about things such as your net worth, so don’t feel too ashame about it. If all you found out your “friends” stop being friends because you told them you’re broke; well, trust me, you don’t need friends like that anyway.

4. You avoid looking at the [credit card] bills.

No one likes being reminded of their mistake or the debt they owe. Maybe you’ve finally realized that you gotta stop your crazy spending ways, but you sure as heck hate looking at the bill. “Argh, I’ll look at it later.” So you look at it later. “Crap, I forgot to pay the minimum.” So you get that late fee. For many people, the bill is a real reflection of their spending habit, take a look at it—maybe it’ll scare you to your senses.

5. You worry constantly about the next paycheck or the next income source.

So now that everyone knows you’re in debt, everyone knows it when you’re worrying about it too. You’ll start worrying so much about what to do with the debt that your annoy the people around you. Or, you haven’t told anyone yet, so when people ask you what’s wrong (because you have this worrying look on your face as you look over the bill), you have no choice but to say “Um, nothing’s wrong.”

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Examples from own experiences. The money trouble mentioned here are self-incurred debt, whereas compare to unforeseen financial hardship such as illness or accidents, self-incurred debt are a lot easier to manage and a lot easier to handle. If you’re in the latter category, this doesn’t really apply to you. If you’re in the former, well, you probably know what I’m talking about.