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When Bad Debt Happens to Good People
by: Mary Jo Marchionni, CCCC

An overview of ways to stop the cycle of credit card debt and cultivate a healthy, healing attitude.
Now that the holiday shopping frenzy is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to bring up the issue of “bad” debt. You know what kid of debt I am talking about – credit card debt. These little plastic gems can take you down faster than you can say “Charge It!!” Judging by the growing number of consumer credit counseling agencies cropping up all over the country I’d say we’ve got ourselves a problem.

It all starts out innocently enough. You are young and you get your first job. You get one credit card and decide to buy yourself (or someone else) a bunch of stuff you’ve always wanted to buy but did not have funds for. You don’t keep track of what you are spending and lo and behold the bill comes!! You cannot pay it off, but you figure that’s okay, you’ll just pay the minimum.

Then the miraculous happens! You are out shopping again, and the salesperson tells you how, if you apply for the store credit card, you can get 15% off your first purchase!! This is great!! A discount and all you need to do is apply for the card. So you buy more than you came for because, after all, it’s 15% off. Then that bill comes, and you cannot pay that one off either. The pattern is now established. The credit card offers keep coming and you keep biting. Two years later you’re over $10,000 in debt and you feel horrible.

I know all of us have heard this story before but I say before you begin holiday shopping, this story bears repeating. Having a huge mountain of credit card debt is an awful feeling; take it from someone who knows. It robs you of precious energy and puts you in a spiral of having no cash to purchase anything, thus forcing you to use the credit. The bills just keep coming and you are working just to pay the minimums.

People go into debt for many reasons. In some cases it is that they shop to fill a void that is in their lives. In my case it was because of a depression over my mother dying of cancer. In other cases it is because they trying to buy the affection of the people in their lives. Whatever the reason, if you are in credit card debt, you can start a plan to free yourself NOW. Do this for yourself. Don’t hide behind excuses and justifications. Just accept the situation as it is and begin to move toward the solution. Stay solution-oriented; being problem-oriented only yields more problems. It is crucial to be gentle with yourself during this process. Beating yourself up about it and engaging in negative self talk will only serve to draw more negative experiences to you, thanks to Law of Attraction.

If you are having problems making the payments and your credit rating is suffering, call a consumer credit agency such as Ameridebt ( or Debticated ( I do not believe in filing bankruptcy for this type of debt – if you’ve gotten yourself into this, you can get yourself out of it and if you see the time and work it takes, hopefully you will think twice about doing it again. If you don’t need to work with an agency, sit down formulate a plan and stick to it. Cancel all of them and keep only one major credit card for emergencies.

The next thing you need to do is find out the cause of the issue and work on that. Consult a therapist, a coach, read books, do whatever you need to do to find out what the real issue is. I doubt it is that you were in dire need of $10,00 worth of stuff that you cannot even account for anymore.

Believe me, once you get through to the other side, there is nothing more exhilarating than knowing you have no consumer debt. When we refinanced our home last summer and when the loan officer was taking our application, he of course asked me about credit card debt. I told him it was $0 – we pay it off each month. He was shocked at this; he told me most of the people he deals with are in $15,000-17,000 of credit card debt at the minimum! I was the one who was shocked!

Now to my main reason for writing this article. Whether or not the rest of the article pertains to you, DO NOT go into credit card debt over holiday presents. This serves absolutely no purpose and is not the meaning of the season. Here are some suggestions to avoid this type of stress this season:

· If your family exchanges, suggest a pollyanna to cut back on the number of gifts purchased. If this is not acceptable you can either set a very small limit or suggest an alternative way of celebrating the holiday, such as spending more time together. This spirit of the holiday is supposed to be about people, not gifts. Do not be embarrassed to stand in your truth and say you are making budget adjustments. If you are judged by the presents you give, you need to rethink some bigger issues around your family.

· If you exchange with friends, suggest a potluck supper or other actiivty, as in #1. Again, if you are judged by the presents you give, you need to rethink your friends.

· If you have children, be honest with them about the situation. Explain that there will be less under the tree this year. Hopefully you’ve been teaching them about the spiritual gifts of service and giving, and not materialism. They’ll survive, and in the long run you will be much more present for them because you will no longer have this albatross around your neck.

· Give some money away to charity. I can hear you now – “Is this woman kidding?” No I am not kidding. I am basing this statement on the Law of Attraction. Scarcity consciousness will get you more scarcity in your life. Even if it’s $10 – give it away!! It will raise your vibration and make you feel more abundant. Abundance attracts abundance.

· Lastly, try to avoid such vocabulary as “I can’t afford it,” “I don’t have any money,” etc. Again, Law of Attraction at work here. When you consistently offer these vibrations, you will attract exactly that into your experience - not having any money. You really are at choice here; you can buy that $350 dress, it is just that you’d rather not pay for it long after the event you bought it for is over. Instead, praise yourself for your commitment to getting out of debt and keep on your path. It will be well worth it, I promise.

About the Author

Mary Jo is a spiritually-based career and personal coach whose specialties include career redesign, creativity, practical spirituality and life balance. She received certification as a Comprehensive Career Coach from Comprehensive Coaching U. She is passionate about assisting people in uncovering their true passion and helping them to achieve their dreams! Contact her for a 30-minute complimentary coaching session at 610.446.3704 or to see if the coaching relationship is a fit for you. Visit her website at and subscribe to her FREE monthly ezine, Extraordinary Living. Get on the path to true joy today!


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