Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Debt Doesn’t Play That Game

Debt out of sight, out of mindI want to talk about something that I am sure many people in debt face.  I know because I was one of them.  The topic is denial, specifically debt denial.  Sometimes we all get into a spot where if we stop thinking about it, then it doesn’t affect us as much.  I hate to break it to you, but debt doesn’t work that way.  Sorry to be so harsh, but it is true.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

When I was playing the credit card tango, I didn’t want to face the facts.  I was racking up debt faster than I was paying it off.  As long as I was making the minimum payments, then it didn’t matter to me.  I just continued along my way and made sure that my credit card payments were met.  If I didn’t get a call from the card company, then who cares.  I kept the fact that my debt was more than my annual income out of my mind.

I rarely looked at my credit card bills.  I would log in online and make the minimum payment without digging into the meat and potatoes of the bill.  I didn’t want to know how much I was spending or how much interest I was being charged.  I was blind to the fact that I was messing up my financial feature.  My debt was out of sight and out of mind.  I was in denial, debt denial.

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The Harsh Reality

If it wasn’t for my wife, I would have never taken responsibility for my own actions.  I would have probably continued to spend, spend, and spend some more.  After I sat down and looked into my finances, I realized  something really quickly.  Debt is not like a broken tail light.  If you choose to ignore it, then it just continues to get worse.  It doesn’t just sit there waiting for you to fix it.  Your debt mountain will just continue growing until you can no longer manage it.

Debt is truly a monster.  You can choose to ignore it, but it will not ignore you. It will follow you around until you choose to fix your financial lifestyle.  It will weigh you down until make it difficult to breathe until you gain the strength to lift if off.  You can ignore a broken tail light (at least until the police pull you over ;)), but you can’t ignore debt.  Debt does not discriminate.  It can affect anyone.

Want to Change?

Well, now that you know that you can’t hide from debt, how about making a change?  It is actually easier to do than you think.  It is time to sit down and see how bad off your finances really are.  Once you break it down and accept it, then you can create a plan to get rid of it.  There are many ways to pay off your debt, but you just have to start.  That is the first goal, but the easiest one to accomplish.  As my friend Laurie, from the Frugal Farmer said, why not start today?  There is no better time than now.

If you want to make a change, then join The Debt Movement and be a part of something extraordinary.

Are you guilty of ignoring your debt, or did you attack it early on?

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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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55 comments
Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle says May 22

Guilty as charged. I ignored it for about 5 years and it just grew and grew because I was charging stuff I thought my sons needed to be happy. Pizza delivery for them and their friends sounded like a good idea at the time when I should have made popcorn and given them Freezies.

Some of my debt is valuable education for myself and expenses of life that I couldn’t afford until I had completed my education and I had to charge that to live and get ahead. I still have $16,400 in HELOC debt to dig out of and I would say it was 60% necessary spending and 40% waste.

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    Grayson says May 22

    Obviously I am also guilty and that is why I needed to write this. At least you faced it and are working on getting rid of it. Keep it up!

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cjb says May 22

I’m guilty, too!

Now, I make it a point to look at the big picture of all my bills because I never want to do this again, ever. My budget is my road map to my future.

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    Grayson says May 22

    I love looking at the big picture. It really helps when dealing with finances.

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Greg@ClubThrifty says May 22

Ah debt denial! We went through it once as well. It is so easy to just push it off to the side and try to forget about it. Unfortunately, that never works. That is another reason a budget is so awesome. It forces you to physically look at a reminder of your debt.

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    Grayson says May 22

    Too easy to push the debt to the side and just go minimum payment each and every month.

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Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says May 22

The irony is that no one who is ignoring debt will want to read an article like this……

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    Grayson says May 22

    You are very correct on that one Jenny. Doesn’t mean I can’t write it!

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John S @ Frugal Rules says May 22

Yep, been there done that. I look back and wonder why on earth I denied it for so long and a lot of it goes back to that I was just embarrassed over the debt and thought that somehow ignoring it would get rid of it. I know…completely rational. 🙂 Great post Grayson!

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    Grayson says May 22

    I do the same thing John. Why in the hell did I wait so long?

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Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says May 22

I would have to agree, you just have to face facts. The debt is there and you will have to deal with it eventually so you may as well start now and get proactive about it.

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    Grayson says May 22

    It’s better to start now and there is really no reason not to.

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Michelle says May 22

I ignored my student loan debt while I was in college and regret it so much! Luckily I’m on a fast action plan to eliminate all of it.

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Money Beagle says May 22

I have never let debt pile up. The biggest thing I do in this regard that I’m guilty of is buying things and figuring out at the end of the month the process by which they get paid for. I’m good at working with a budget, but as I’ll generally put just about everything on the credit card so that we max out our rewards, sometimes figuring out exactly the source of how everything gets paid for when it’s time to pay the credit card bill can take some time.

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    Grayson says May 22

    Glad to hear that you have never let debt take you down. I do the same things with my credit cards now, but I know where I am going to find the funds.

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Laurie says May 22

“Your debt mountain will just continue growing until you can no longer manage it.”. This line actually made me sick to my stomach, as I pondered the millions of people, who, like you and I once did Grayson, are ignoring their debt pile. My dear friends: If you value your life and your family, love them enough to stop being a slave to debt. You deserve it! Thanks, Grayson, for the great article, and for the mention too.

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    Grayson says May 22

    That makes me a little sick as well Laurie. I can say that now I am not in that situation, but I know where those millions are coming from. You are most welcome Laurie.

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Kathleen says May 22

That was my problem, too. Mint really helps. If you put in all your accounts, you can’t hide from them.

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    Grayson says May 22

    That is correct. I used Mint in order to see everything and that helped quite a bit. Thanks for the comment Kathleen.

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Mackenzie says May 22

I ignored my debt all through college, and when I graduated, I was astounded by the amount of consumer debt I had racked up. Talk about an eye-opener!

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DC @ Young Adult Money says May 22

I would say we are dealing with our student loans as best we can right now (that is our main debt). We currently do not have auto debt, but I’m sure we will fairly soon. To tackle this, I am mainly trying to increase income. It’s time-consuming and takes significant sacrifice, but in the end I think it’s worth it.

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    Grayson says May 22

    Yeah, but you know about your debt and you are coming up with ways to tackle it. You are doing exactly what you need to in order to eliminate it. Good luck DC!

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Girl Meets Debt says May 22

Debt denial. Don’t I know all about this!!! It actually took meeting J for me to get my finances in order as well. Now I know that even if J and I were to break up, I would NEVER let slip back to debt denial again!

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    Grayson says May 22

    Glad to hear you are on the right path. I know J is a good guy and good to hear he has helped you change your ways and you will keep that mentality for a lifetime.

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anna says May 22

Love this post, and I definitely relate to what you said. I was in it for too long, but thankfully I found a partner that really gets me motivated to get rid of debt. Great reality/pep talk, Grayson!

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    Grayson says May 22

    Thanks Anna. It helps when you have someone there to have your back. I am glad I could provide a good pep talk.

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KC @ genxfinance says May 22

Yeah, no matter how you’ll ignore it, it will poke you in the face. It won’t ignore you. So the sooner you deal with it, the better.

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    Grayson says May 22

    It definitely won’t ignore you. It is like a nagging pain.

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Sean @ One Smart Dollar says May 22

Denial plays a huge part in our lives with all negative things. It is much easier to pass it off until later than hit it head on.

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    Grayson says May 22

    It is so much easier to pass it off. It is hard to fight the debt, but only good things come from it.

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Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says May 22

Few problems in life are going to get better when they’re ignored, but debt is definitely among the worst. Hope this can be a wake-up call to someone who really needs it!

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Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says May 22

I see debt denial every day. Some people are truly ignorant of the amount of debt they have while others know but few powerless to do anything about it. That’s why I think it’s so great your sharing your story and showing others that it can be done. Debt always catches up with you but if you face it, you can get ahead of it and pull yourself from underneath it. Love this post, Grayson!

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    Grayson says May 22

    I am sure you see it every day. I bet it would be hard to deal with that fact because you know what can happen. I share my story because I want others to know that I am here based on experiences and I can help.

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Pauline says May 22

I am too lazy to ignore debt because it would mean work more in the future. There is no way around it so better tackle it early on.

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    Grayson says May 22

    Haha, good way of putting it Pauline. Too lazy to have debt. Awesome!

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Matt Becker says May 22

I would definitely agree that simply looking at the hard numbers can be eye-opening. With pretty much any financial issue, the longer you put it off the worse it gets. Saving is the exact same way, and that can sometimes be even harder to get people to face because addressing it actually makes their current situation worse (less spending money) than better. But you’re absolutely right that you just have to face it. No other way around it.

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    Grayson says May 22

    It just grows and grows until you get on board with fixing the problem. You are so right with regard to saving. Many people living on the edge see saving as bad.

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Yuen Tuck says May 22

Spot on post: debt, like stupidity, does not discriminate.

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Jake Erickson says May 22

This is such a great point. The first step is admitting and realizing you have an issue. Luckily my wife and I didn’t ever ignore our debt. We tried to take it out as soon as possible after graduation.

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Canadianbudgetbinder says May 22

No we have never turned a blind eye to our debt but many people do. It’s better for some to pay the minimum and hope in 20 years their credit card is paid. That means they can spend even more on other things like trips etc and keep peying the minimum. Debt doesn’t go away, it follows us until we bury it.

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    Grayson says May 23

    The minimums are dangerous because you think you are paying down your debt, but you are really doing nothing. Glad to hear that you haven’t let debt get a hold of you Mr. CBB!

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Jules@Faithful With a Few says May 23

Oh man, I played that game for years. We definitely need to be aware of what the status is, whether it’s good or bad!

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Martin says May 23

That was my case too. Ignoring debt as long as you one day realize you are no longer able to pay it off. Fortunately I realized this soon enough to get back on track and pay it off as quickly as possible. That’s now my financial goal and then stay out of debt completely and forever.

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    Grayson says May 23

    Nice work Martin. Good luck on reaching your goal and continuing on the debt freedom path.

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jim says May 25

Wow! You guys have got to be our kids’ age(s). Debt denial? Helluva concept. We were in debt and didn’t even know it. There was no denial involved. We were simply and totally CLUELESS. Good for you! I’m forwarding your post/comments to our kids so that they hopefully are “only” in denial and not entirely clueless.

p.s. there’s hope – for whatever reason, we’re actually going to retire millionaires – and we’re still probably clueless. get rid of any and all debt – the rest is easy. best of luck!

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    Grayson says May 25

    Hey Jim. I don’t know, but I am about to turn 30. I knew I was in debt, but chose to deny it. That was my problem. You have to pay the minimums on your cards, so you have to be aware of the debt. I hope that this post might help out your kids. I am credit card debt free now and working toward my retirement savings.

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      jim says May 30

      Grayson,
      The reason we were absolutely clueless re: how in debt we were was because it was ALL student loan debt (and a bit of a mortgage). We never got a note from a credit card saying we owed this amount and the minimal payment was whatever. We were so broke that the “only” debt we had was our mortgage and student loans. That only came once a month and we just worked it into our budget (while raising little ones) and never really considered it debt – hence, the cluelessness. Honestly, we were never in denial. We thought we were doing fine ’cause we never had any credit card debt – we were just completely clueless. So glad to see your generation doing much better! Good for you guys and best of luck!

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        Grayson says May 31

        I don’t know if I would say that my generation is doing much better. There are so many people in debt denial that it is not funny. Some of us are trying to change that, but it is an uphill battle.

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Janice @ Whiz Silver says May 25

I’m debt cautious actually. I just cleared mine and am now enjoying the zero debt period. More will come but I guess the key is to stay cautious. Thanks for sharing!

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thepotatohead says May 28

Definitely gotta stare debt in the face, only way to beat it. I would always look at my bills and credit card statements, but my brain would just sort of gloss over that it would take me years to pay off my debts at the rate I was going. Gotta do all you can to overcome your fears and realize that the only way to get rid of the debt monster is to fight it, and pay it down. Just cause you pull the covers over your head doesn’t mean it can’t get you :p

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