Finance Self Improvement

Stop Saying You’re Drowning in Debt

Dann Albright 14-12-2016

If you read financial news or blogs, you probably hear about people “drowning in debt” all the time. You may have even said it yourself. It’s become cliché to describe your debt situation as “drowning.” But I’m here to tell you to stop. Don’t say it anymore.


It’s Not Hopeless

First of all, let’s talk about what people mean when they say they’re drowning in debt. Usually what they mean is that they have more debt than they know what to do with. It’s probably causing a lot of stress How Financial Minimalism Helps You Save Money & Eliminate Stress It's easy to let your finances get out of hand, but using the principles of minimalism can help you keep them under control and reduce stress. Read More . It might be derailing other life plans. And it very well may feel hopeless.

It feels like an entire ocean of debt is surrounding you — but it’s important to remember that you’re not in an infinite sea of red ink. It might be far away, but there is an end to your debt. To remind yourself of that, start making a habit of visualizing your debt How to Visualize Your Debt & Stay Motivated While Paying It Off It's tough to stay motivated to keep paying off your debt, but visualizing it can make the process easier. Read More to see where you are, where you’ve made progress, and where you’re going.

Man Falling in Ocean and Drowning
Image Credit: Photobank Gallery via Shutterstock.

You might, for example, keep a spreadsheet 7 More Useful Excel Sheets to Instantly Improve Your Family's Budget Here are 7 more great Excel sheets that will help you improve your family's budget, whether you're single or have a spouse and multiple kids. Read More with all of your payments and total debts. It seems like a masochistic exercise, but when you start to make progress, you’ll see it, and the feeling of hopelessness will lift. A visual reminder of your debt can also be very motivating when it comes to paying it off. It’s not going to be pretty at first. But it will remind you that you have an achievable goal.

Take Back Control

If you picture someone who’s drowning, are you seeing someone who’s in control? Probably not. Losing control is likely what got you into debt in the first place. Maybe you’re addicted to shopping online. Or you tend to buy too much to fit in with your friends. Or maybe you just like to buy clothes. Whatever the reason, there’s a good chance that a loss of control put you in your current predicament.


Hand Sticking Out of Drowning Ocean
Image Credit: Mikhail hoboton Popov via Shutterstock.

So take back control. It might be by starting to carefully budget 7 Baby Steps to Finally Start Saving and Budgeting Your Money with EveryDollar EveryDollar is made by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. We look at how it can help get your finances on the right track. Read More out all of your spending. Or putting a little bit in savings each month. Or establishing an emergency fund. Whatever you need to do to feel like you’re starting to take control, do it. Even journaling about your financial worries and goals can be a great first step in regaining your sense of self-control in the face of debt.

Don’t think of your debt as a sea that you’re drowning in. Instead, think of it as a hill you’re climbing up. That way, if you have a setback, you just have to keep climbing instead, of . . . well, dying. Build up some momentum with a 30-day money challenge How to Fix Bad Financial Habits With a 30-Day Money Challenge Read More  or set a specific financial goal for yourself. When you’re actively trying to tackle your debt, instead of being a passenger along for the ride, the entire process is much less intimidating.

Be Patient

When you’re drowning, there’s a very specific point at which you’re safe from danger: when you’re out of the water. Maybe you wash up on the beach, or someone pulls you up into a boat. No matter what happens, you’re safe. Getting out of debt isn’t like that at all.


Getting out of debt is a long, slow process that requires consistent effort and good habits The 1% Rule for Financial Freedom Small changes can make a big difference in your finances. Make a few of these easy "1% changes" and you'll reap the rewards later! Read More . There’s a point at which you’re debt-free, but it doesn’t come quickly. It may take many years, in fact. But progress builds on itself, and methodical action over time will help you continue making progress. Remember to focus on the long game.

To get your financial footing, you’ll need to commit to making good financial decisions, and that means you’ll need to understand the basics of financial health How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients. Read More . Preparation, planning, and follow-through may not save you from drowning, but they’ll certainly get you out of debt. Once you’ve established this foundation, you can really start moving toward being debt-free.

Don’t Be Consumed by Debt

If you’re drowning, you better be concentrating on extricating yourself from that situation. Getting out of debt, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be the sole focus of your life. In fact, if it has been your sole focus, that’s probably why you feel like you’re drowning in the first place.

Balance is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. If all of your mental energy is going to a single thing, you’re going to be neglecting other parts of your life. And once you get to that point, you’re in trouble. To keep your debt from taking over your life, make sure to take time to reflect on where your mental energy is going (journaling is a great way to do this).


Drowning Debt Beach
Image Credit: milkovasa via Shutterstock.

If you start to feel like your debt is taking over your life, it’s time to take action. Spend more time doing things you love. Read more books 5 Tips To Read More Books Every Year There are just so many amazing books out there. To never have finished at least some is a regret waiting to be felt. Forestall it by reading more and reading smart with the following tips. Read More . Pick up a side gig. Learn a new skill How to Learn Any Skill with Your Own Solid Training Plan How will you achieve your goals? Dreaming and planning are just the start. You need the right mix of technological and psychological tools to carry out your self-training program. Read More . Set aside time for your family and friends. Just make sure that you have other things to think about to counter the stress you experience from debt. Remember what Thomas Merton said: “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Stop Drowning, Start Climbing

Whether or not you’ve ever described yourself as “drowning in debt,” I hope these tips have helped you see how important it is to think about your debt in a useful way instead of one that makes it feel worse. Keep a productive mindset, and you’ll keep moving forward.

How do you think about your debt? Do you ever feel like you’re drowning, or do you make a point to think more positively? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Image Credits: alphaspirit/Shutterstock

Related topics: Debt, Money Management.

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  1. Rene 123factech on fb
    December 14, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    You are right people have some interesting answers... like myself