Does your relationship have debt problems? What does your Debt Monster look like?

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is watch movies. I am a self-professed movie buff, and yes, from time-to-time, I slip into movie-quoting mode. Since art often imitates life, I can usually find a decent movie analogy for just about anything. In this case, I’m going to discuss a topic that many couples know a little too wellDEBT. 

To me, debt and debt problems can easily be compared to the movie Gremlins. Have you seen this ’80s classic?  Basically, you have this cute, furry creature, named Gizmo, that spawns off a scary army of vile, green monsters–called gremlins.  How does this relate to debt?  Well, Gizmo–the cute, fuzzy one–represents the idea of having something we most likely cannot afford (but we are able to purchase through debt).  At first, all is going well. Our monthly spending plan is going well, we are making our payments, and then, life happens.

In the movie, there are several rules for raising Gizmo, and one of them is that you absolutely cannot let Gizmo get wet.  Naturally, he gets wet.  Just like life, we all have a plan or good intentions that justify a purchase decision while using debt, until something happens that forces you deeper into debt…then what?  For instance, one of the consequences of missing a credit card payment these days is an immediate skyrocketing of the interest rate. All it takes is one small slip up…and just like Gizmo, your debt begins to multiply itself.  Okay, maybe you don’t have to deal with little green monsters, but bigger bills or higher interest rates can be equally disturbing, don’t you agree?  Debt continues to grow and compound until it’s enslaved you–does this scenario sound familiar?  It’s actually a pretty old concept. In the Bible, Proverbs 22:7 states that “…the borrower is servant to the lender.” Too many young people start their marriages caught in a cycle where they are working to pay off debts (money they have already spent), and they fall into indentured servitude right from the beginning.  Can you imagine the financial stress this puts on a family? I can only imagine the number of arguments that young couples have when it comes to debt and the stress it creates. *By the way, statistics show that financial problems early in relationships can be a predictor of divorce.

If I were to subscribe to the current social themes of today, I would tell you that it’s not fair, really. It’s not your fault. Just like the young boy who couldn’t resist Gizmo, all of the opportunities to go into debt, the credit card marketing, and the flashy products all seem completely harmless. They are so attractive, and you can’t help yourself, right? Wrong. By no means, am I Dave Ramsey super-fan, but he has one statement that I absolutely love. He says, “You have to live like no one else so that, one day, you can live like no one else.” This means that you need to do it differently. Don’t get caught up in the cycle of trying to keep up with your neighbors and their lifestyles.

The usage of debt has become a way of life in the United States, and it has begun to affect our way of life as a nation.  Do yourself a favor…if you have high levels of debt or you are concerned that your debt is getting out of control, find a debt counselor or locate a class for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. For many young couples, facing your debt monsters head on must be a priority because so many young people today graduate college and enter the workplace already burdened with their student loans. If you have debt challenges, I want to encourage you to simply decide to take control. Getting yourself out of debt will likely not be an easy task, but at the end of the day, you’ll be so grateful that you did.