Friday, July 1, 2011

Staying out of Financial Trouble: Let the Joneses Do Their Own Thing

This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy. - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Everyone has heard the expression "Keeping up with the Joneses". Many of us consciously or subconsciously compare ourselves to our peers, and use the transfer of wealth (i.e., buying the things that impress others or help us fit into a particular social circle) to keep us happy in our own peer group.

As you are considering a financial reorganization through a debt payment plan or bankruptcy, it is important to identify the risks that will derail your efforts, or worse yet, put you back in the same place you were in prior to bankruptcy or debt relief. One hidden trap is pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" or engage in "retail therapy". While it may be difficult to completely curtail your spending in some of these areas, a recent article "Are Your Friends Making You Broke" discusses some ways to identify harmful spending habits and suggests some useful alternatives.

Some suggestions:

1. Remember your true friends want what's best for you. Discuss your financial goals with them to alleviate some of the social pressures.

2. Consider the long-term costs and expenses of that expensive new item you have your eye on.

3. Suggest less-expensive alternatives when asked to participate in an activity you cannot truly afford.

4. Consider alternative products and technology that will give you the convenience and functionality, but at a fraction of the price. Sure, GPS-enabled smartphones are great, but asking for directions or a trusty map will get you there too.

Getting and staying out of debt isn't easy, but it can done if you stick to a plan. If you need help working out a plan, the debt relief attorneys at Kelsey & Trask, P.C. are always ready to help.

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