Debt is the slavery of the free! 

“Why would life trust you with a fortune, when you cannot manage the gifts of the few?” – the scriptures ask us. You cannot solve your old financial problems by rushing into new ones. If there is one addiction that Indians and people the world over have fallen prey to- it is the addiction to the joy of using plastic. Once you’ve made a mess of your finances, fear, shame, guilt, and feelings of helplessness begin to plague your every thought and action. We all know the expression on people’s faces when the cashier swipes their card, and it seems to take forever to approve!

People know money doesn’t buy happiness. Still, few try pushing their luck if credit cards would do the trick!

Credit card addiction and abuse have become the primary source of new debt for most Indian families. As we stand in 2019, India stares at Rupees 1 lakh crores or 1 trillion in credit card debt alone. There are over 50 million credit cards in India today. So, how many cards do you own? What is the outstanding debt on them in total? What kind of interest and penalties do you pay each month? What is your total credit card debt today? Many people don’t have an idea.

Some people are genuinely flattered when their credit card companies call them to say, “You have an outstanding balance”!

If your job doesn’t hold steady or your income drops, how long can you continue charging them? Let alone the principal, how do you plan to pay the accumulating interest of over 36 to 40 % annually? I have met people whose credit cards have been revoked, and every other card in their wallet charged to its limit.

Credit card interest payments are the dumbest of all.

You could say, “It is not my interest to pay the principal, nor my principle to pay the interest”!  Getting the banker or an agency off your back might be tougher than you think. And these ‘professional’ collection agencies know their messy job well and don’t sit and watch.

If you think no one cares that you are alive, try missing a couple of card payments!

To appear rich, don’t become poor. Most of us buy stuff just to “Look good” or “Avoiding looking bad.” As long as you try to look good, you never look good. The day you stop trying to look good, you look good. Status is nothing more than “buying things you don’t need, with the money you don’t have, to impress the people you don’t like!” Someone once said, ‘STATUS’ is ‘Simply Too Arrogant To Understand Success.’

Borrowing money is not the way out of debt! It is the way in. Your goal isn’t to look rich; it’s to be RICH!

An unsuspecting jellyfish in the ocean occasionally swallows an oyster, only to realize that the oyster in order to grow, begins to eat it from within, until the day the jellyfish is no more. Debts do the same to us. It eats you from within. A synonym for debt is cancer. Live within your means until you are at ground zero and avoid getting into this mess again. You could have other debts too. But getting out of credit card debt would be an excellent place to begin. Most young and middle-aged Indians today have a new major life goal, “to pay off their credit card debts in full!”. I’ve seen people taking additional jobs to clear the mess they have created for themselves in the first place. So how do you UNCOMPLICATE things? So, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. First, add up all that you owe. Ask your credit card company to waive off the interest charges and the taxes. Not many of us are aware that most banks would agree to waive off the interest charges of a month or two, which could result in significant savings. Next, figure out weekly payments that you can make that are a part of the total or the minimum due amount. Be faithful in those small payments. Make them. The thought of months due could be scary. A week is measurable. Success is nothing more than a set of a few simple disciplines practised every day.

Ignorance is not bliss; it’s the first step before bankruptcy and failure in life. 

Third, an excellent way would be to use post-it notes or tapes and stick them on every credit card you carry. Write the total money you owe on each card in bold’ “I owe Rs……. on this card alone and a total of Rs. ….. on the all the cards”. The next time you are tempted to purchase something, ask yourself, “Is this purchase worth it? Can I afford to accumulate more debt? Can I live without it? These three steps for reflection could be a lifesaver.

  1. What’s the worst possible thing that could happen if I don’t buy this? Is it a life and death situation I am dealing with here?
  2. If the answer is nothing catastrophic, then ask, “Can I live without it”? If yes, walk away from the store or turn off the device.
  3. Celebrate your instinctive victory over the temptation you just crushed by a pat on your back or pump your fists in the air. Repeat 1,2,3 till you pay off everything in full.

Remember, a man who pays his credit card bills on time is soon forgotten! Finally, return all the surplus cards you have, though you might have sound reasons and reasons that sound good (reward points…) to own many cards. If you aren’t able to discipline your payments even with a single card no matter what, as a last daring step, cut the credit card in half after totalling the amount you owe and vow not to use it anymore in any manner. Returning the card would be the most courageous step you’d have ever made and a great personal victory. Remember, a man who is on top of the financially free mountain didn’t just fall there. Be pain-free and debt-free; a joy very few get to experience. One could argue, ‘wisely used; credit cards could be a real boon.’ If so, then you are a part of the minority, congratulations. This post is not for you. You beat the averages. However, the realistic view of the emergency we are in today doesn’t paint an exciting picture. Over 75 % of Indians are behind in their credit card payments each month. Credit cards are the banks’ primary way to increase your debt and an incredible source of ‘survival’ for lending banks. Using a credit card when you don’t have a way to repay is nothing but bank robbery. When we spend money that isn’t ours, we play the Russian roulette with the future of our family and children.

There are many ways to live. The worst one is to work hard in the ‘Future’ to pay for the ‘Past’ that you have already lived! The very thought of borrowing ‘Time and energy’ from your ‘Future’ to pay the ‘Past’ is agonizing. You weren’t just born to pay bills and die.