Article by: MaryEllen | Thursday, May 29, 2014

By Alan Akina

It all started back in the ’50s, when credit cards were first introduced in America. What seemed to be a convenience, a way to purchase big-ticket items without saving for months, even years, was immediately appealing to the masses.

Over the years, a whole culture of debt spending evolved, that was fueled by the glamorous perception that television portrayed, of women with purses and credit cards in hand, piling into department stores while proclaiming their intent to “Charge It!”  Fast-forward to today, and the situation has snowballed out of control.

“The Debt Disease” Is Now a National Epidemic

Good, hard-working middle class Americans have been hit the hardest by one of the worst diseases ever seen. Today, more than 160 million people have credit cards. With the average American having three credit cards, and a large group severely affected by this epidemic who has five, even ten credit cards. All with debt that’s carried over month to month, and in many cases the account holder paying only the minimum payment each month.

The statistics tell us that the average household carries about $15,000 of credit card debt from year to year. What about the working moms and their families, who carry twice or even three times that debt?

Here’s a quick example of how difficult (and costly) it can be to pay off just one credit card.

Let’s say you have a credit card with an interest rate of 18% (even higher rates are common these days) and you charge $10,000 on it. Making $200 a month payments, it would take you 94 months to pay off this card. That’s almost 8 years!  And guess how much money in interest charges you would pay over those 94 months… a whopping $8,655.32. That’s almost as much as your original balance!

Now, this example is for paying off just one credit card. Imagine what it would be like if you had five credit cards to pay off. Just imagine how much money you would send to your creditors every month, just in interest payments!

Unfortunately, credit card debt is only part of this disease. Add car loans, personal loans for all sorts of expenses, medical expenses and “everyday” expenses, and you can see what a problem this becomes. Then throw a mortgage on top of that, and we’re talking about looming financial disaster.

So what has brought on this critical situation?  And what’s making it worse every year, year after year?  Well, the true cause of “The Debt Disease” you may be infected with right now, boils down to…

No Personal Finance Education and Setting Bad Examples

The fact is, few of us ever received an education in personal finance in public school. And as we started taking advantage of credit opportunities, we had no idea how to manage this disease. Then when it gets out of control, most people don’t know where to turn for help. Many are too embarrassed about what they got themselves into, to even talk about it with others. So they end up continuing their poor personal finance practices, and extending their stress and desperation indefinitely.

The problem with “sticking your head in the sand” and hoping this will all go away, while you’re carrying around large credit card balances, and still putting more purchases on these cards, is the perception that your children get from your example.

One of my children asked me once, “Daddy, is that a magic piece of paper? You give that man that card, then you just sign the magic paper and you get to take the stuff in your shopping cart home.”

As you can see, and as you already know, you can’t hide anything from your children. And you know they watch what you do like a hawk, often trying to do what they saw “mommy” do. Without realizing it, this is how we pass the debt disease onto our children. By letting them see bad examples of how we manage (or don’t manage) our personal finances.

And this all leads to a horrible effect of “The Debt Disease” that’s killing our families and our country…

Debt Is the #1 Cause of Divorce in America Today

The disease is Debt. And in our families, debt out of control undermines the intent we had when we got married and started a family. To be good examples to our children, to raise them properly so they grow up to be responsible, happy adults. To have a happy family.

I made it my mission years ago, to save families. By rescuing them from the financial messes they live with every day, that are pulling their families apart. And I’ve personally seen that giving people financial “literacy” does save families every day.

There are many problems in the lives of Americans these days that we cannot control. Challenging medical conditions, how our politicians run our country on their terms, and the constant threat to our security from forces outside and inside our country, just to name a few.

Well with the Debt Disease, we are in control. There is no excuse to not get the personal finance education you must have, that your family must have. It is now available to all of us. With that said, I have one very important question for you…

Do You Like Shoveling Your Money to Your Creditors?

You see, every time you write a check, or pay online when your credit accounts come due, you are really picking up a large shovel, plunging it into your bank account and shoveling a pile of money to your creditors, mostly in the form of interest payments. Take a moment and really think about this. Are you happy about the fact that you shovel money to your credit card companies every month?  It should make you really mad.

It makes me mad, just thinking about all the deserving working moms who feel stuck shoveling money to creditors each month. They continue to shovel more and more every month, without stopping to think there must be a better way.

Well I’m here today to tell you, there absolutely is a better way. A fool-proof way to rid your family of the Debt Disease forever. And create the kind of family life you’ve dreamed of. The life you see others living, when you think to yourself… “Why can’t our family live a happy life like the Smiths do?  Why can’t we live without stress and worry about money every month, like they do?”

Well you can. You can get “better” just like you would if you had a medical disease and discovered how to make it go away, with the help of your family doctor. It’s the same when battling the Debt Disease, and taking control of personal finances. That’s why you must understand that relief is available for you and your family. You must understand…

The Cure for “The Debt Disease” Is…Education

You must have the education you need about how money works. Period.

You must understand “the money game” which is a real, serious game. That it’s about doing more with what you already have. And living within your means. Once you get the education you need, you’re ready to start taking steps to getting your financial life on track. So you can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Starting down the path to taking control of your finances, and living the life of financial “peace of mind” you’ve dreamed of.

Here’s what you can do today to take your first steps to taking control of your finances.

First, you’ll want to organize your entire financial life. By getting your checkbook balanced, knowing exactly how much income you have coming in each month, and exactly how much in expenses you have going out each month.

This way, you can find out where you stand now. And you can start to understand how to go from where you are now, to where you want to be with your personal finances.

Next, you need to tally up all of the debt you have, itemizing each credit account so you know your balance, your interest rate, and your minimum payment. Then put a specific plan into action for you to get out of debt, step by step. It includes using your credit cards less often, and paying cash more often. And when you don’t have the cash, postponing your purchase until you have the cash.

Then when you think you have your finances under control, it’s time to focus on your savings. Put things into place to enable you to build wealth that works for you, to make you more every month.

While this may seem like a daunting task right now, with the right personal finance education, you can get started confidently down the path to living life without debt, for the rest of your life. And finally enabling you and your family to live the good life, a life of financial “peace of mind.”

About the Author

Alan Akina, 101 Financial.comAlan Akina owns the financial education company 101 Financial. He came from a poor family who had its share of money problems. Alan set out to learn all he could about money, so he could stop the cycle in his life, which he did. Ever since that day, Alan made it his mission to save families, and help as many people as he can to escape the trap of finances out of control so they can live lives of financial “peace of mind.”