Playing the blame game: 4 justifications we make for debt
If you're struggling with your finances, it's time to stop blaming someone else and start taking control...
When you were small, if ever there was mud on the carpet, or felt tip pen marks on the wall and you were the culprit, would you try to wriggle out of the blame? You would accuse the dog, the cat, or your brothers or sisters. It was never your fault.
As we go through life, we are often faced with dilemmas that we’re unable to resolve. When this happens, we tend to look for reasons why it’s out of our control or for someone else to blame because we can’t fix it.
It can be the same with our finances. When we’re facing a tough time trying to get out of debt we tend to blame others for the reason why we just don’t seem able to climb out of the bottomless pit we’ve found ourselves in.
Instead of blaming everyone else, maybe we should start to take responsibility for our own actions to stop it happening again in the future.
Here’s how we tend to shift the blame when we are struggling with debt…
Blame 1. It’s the bank’s fault I’m in debt. They keep piling bank charges and fees on my account!
How many of us actually sit down and read the terms and conditions of our bank account? How often do we check our statements to make sure we have enough money to last the month?
We sign to accept the conditions and then become angry when we go into an unauthorised overdraft and get hit with high charges. We take it for granted that the money will be there.
The biggest reason we end up with fees is because we tend to bury our heads in the sand and don’t check our statements. It’s a good idea to put calendar reminders of due dates and low balances. With a little planning, we can avoid fees and save lots of time and money later.
You can also easily keep on top of all your bank accounts and credit cards with the lovemoney.com Tracker tool which is free to use. That way you will be able to see at a glance how much money you're spending where and how much money you have left until the end of the month.
Blame 2. It’s the credit card’s fault. They keep increasing my limit!
I’m sure some of us have experienced the letter from the credit card company informing us that they have increased our credit limit; “your £2,000 limit has now increased to £4,000”.
We don’t need to increase it but we decide to leave it there “just in case”.
Then one day, when we have no cash on us at the petrol pump, we use the card. We use it again at the supermarket. We start to do this every week or just before payday and before long, we’re nearly up to the new limit.
Then we forget to pay on time and get late fee charges, which forces us over our limit which incurs another charge. Soon we’re struggling to meet the minimum payments as they’ve now doubled.
What we should have done is contacted the creditor immediately and told them that we didn’t want our limit increasing. By not dealing with it, there’s always the possibility we’ll succumb to that credit burning a hole in our pocket.
We do have the option to decline the increase (or even lower the card’s limit) when the creditor contacts us, or via online banking, and we should use it.
Blame 3: It’s my partner’s fault we’re in debt!
Debt is one of the main reasons why couples split up. Each partner blames the other for their joint debts spiralling out of control. But how many couples actually sit down together and work out a proper realistic budget? Some couples are not even aware how much they each earn.
With a bit of communication and budgeting, so that each knows where the money is going, they could avoid overspending, arguments and not have to worry where the next penny is coming from.
Blame 4: My work is to blame as my wages fluctuate!
Some jobs are seasonal or they may pay a small minimum wage with overtime or commission. This can throw your finances into chaos. One week you have barely any wage and the next, you’re rolling in it! The temptation to spend the extra is hard to resist.
The key is to plan ahead. If you have more money one week then after paying the main bills put any surplus into an account to top up the lean weeks.
Realise that sometimes it’s your fault
Blaming everyone and everything else for all your debt problems is just going to lead to you making the same mistakes over and over again. You’re never going to move on from your current situation. You need to focus your efforts on getting back on an even keel.
Some argue that the banks and credit cards have been lax in their attitude towards lending in recent years, but nobody forces us to borrow more money than we can’t afford. And perhaps your spouse is rubbish with money, but you need to ensure that you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
Stop blaming and start to take control
- Speak to your creditors. If you think the fees are excessive or the interest has suddenly risen don’t be afraid to call them and enquire why
- Be more aware of your accounts, especially joint debts. Don’t be afraid to change banks if you can get a better deal elsewhere
- Keep a frequent eye on your card’s balance, and never use your card when it’s near its limit
- If you find you are using your card to fund living expenses, then cut back on unnecessary expenditure (including TV, mobile phones, smoking, drinking and dining out), and put the savings toward paying off your debt
- Above all, don’t just ignore problems and hope it’ll be OK if it means you’re going to be struggling.
If you’ve got a debt problem our online debt advice can assist in completing a financial statement, along with questions to help your own wellbeing. And if you’ve heard a good justification for going into debt let us know.