The subject of today’s column concerns one of the two biggest issues that have plagued much of American society for the last 50 years, at least. The two biggest issues of which I speak are too much debt and too much weight. Well, lucky for you I have lots of personal experience with both, as well as a moderate amount of success confronting them. Today, we will deal with the issue of too much debt.

In the not too distant past, my family and I were in a financial mess. We had several car loans (upside down on both of them), personal loans, student loans, a mortgage, etc., etc. We reached a point where we were tired of the awful cycle too much debt creates. If you have been there or are there now, no further explanation is necessary. When I reached out for help, I was directed to Dave Ramsey. I would like to do the same for you. Here is some of his best advice.

Tip 1) Make a Money Plan. Being proactive with your money takes work, but it’s what is necessary. Start by making a financial plan. “Getting through life without a care in the world and expecting others to care for you is no good feat.” He adds, “That’s called being a child. Adults devise a plan and follow it. Children do what feels good.”

Tip 2) Find the Courage to Change. Ramsey acknowledges that change can be painful. For most people, he says, “Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change.” That was the case for us.

Tip 3) Give Every Dollar a Name. Ramsey puts it this way, “Every dollar has an assignment, whether it’s feeding or housing your family, paying off debt or protecting you from life’s unknowns. Give every dollar a name before the month begins.”

Tip 4) Act Your Wage. Ramsey’s theory on winning with money is to live on less than you make. He quips, “Quit spending like you are in Congress.”

Tip 5) Work Hard to Get Free of Debt. “There’s a myth that only the rich are debt free,” says Ramsey. “But the truth is anyone can become debt free. True debt reduction is plain common sense and hard work.”

Tip 6) Don’t Borrow or Charge. Ramsey suggested that you stop borrowing money or charging purchases to a credit card. It makes it too easy to overspend. He even suggests the drastic idea of cutting up credit cards. He says, “If you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford it.”

Tip 7) Save for the Unexpected. When you don’t have money in the bank, even minor expenses can become big setbacks and lead to more debt. He observes, “Ever notice when you are broke everything is an emergency?”

I know what you are saying. I said the same thing. You feel like you have too much debt and that it is hopeless. You don’t think you can be debt free. I felt the same way. The truth, though, is that you can. Make a decision to change the trajectory of your family and be the one who takes a stand against the destructive forces of credit and debt. You can do it!

Mike Lee is a teacher and life coach. More information at www.simpleelifecoach.com

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