Given I am starting to pack pounds back on (slowly, but I am now about 30 lbs. above my ideal weight and it is rising), I read over one of my favorite posts from the past Debt is Like Fat. I am doing better with my debt, but now not as well with my fat.
Debt is Like Fat
I was telling my daughter that comment and she looked at me like I had five heads. I tried to explain that building up debt rarely happens overnight, just like building up your body mass is not done overnight, and I think it is true.
When I had my weight gain it happened over about a 14 year period, and it was slow, but by the time I finally did something about it, it was significant. It was a compounding of eating the wrong things, in the wrong quantities at the wrong time, and a complete lack of physical exertion, luckily I have taken the weight off and am keeping it off (mostly).
Debt build up is the same way, usually (unless you make some gruesome investments, an incredible blunder or you are a victim of a fraud), slowly without you noticing you are doing it. Buying your lunch every day isn’t going to put you into debt, neither is leasing your car, vacationing in Las Vegas, or buying lottery tickets either, however, start adding these together with spending more than you make and suddenly you are building up debt, instead of equity. Keep doing this over a long period of time, and suddenly you have a debt load that you cannot afford and you are just not sure how the heck you did it. It was done one small step at a time.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, debt reduction is accomplished in the same way. Unless it rains money, getting out of debt is done slowly and one month at a time, using a plan and self-control and a wililngness to change your lifestyle (because losing weight and debt reduction are BOTH lifestyle changes, not just a quick fix that allows you to go back to your old habits).
Losing the financial bad habits is the key to debt reduction, keep that in mind.