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In Debt and In Trouble

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In Debt and In Trouble

Financial management is not my area of expertise, but it is an area that affects clients’ ability to move forward with their personal and career goals. Without financial stability, much of an individual’s choices and decision-making is hindered. Worry and frustration over financial matters can take precedence over any other movement forward.

Dustin McKissen, the CEO of McKesson and Company, in his article, “How to Get Out of the Hole You’re In,” describes a scenario of people in a financial hole with their career or business. He makes two suggestions: 1. Stop digging long enough to recognize that you are in a hole and 2. Don’t attempt to talk yourself out of the fact that you are in a hole. He suggests that when things are going wrong, and you find yourself descending into the hole, the first thing to do is to just stop. Stop doing anything, and take an honest, objective look around.

The author relates that with financial woes that there is a feeling of dank darkness, and dirtiness. I can just imagine your anxiety level on high alert as you stand around shooting the breeze with your comrades over that cup $5 cup of Starbucks. You avoid looking them in the eye for fear that your eyes may reveal your dirty little secret, you’re broke and up to your neck in debt. When you reach this level, you are at ground zero. McKissen asserts that you have to stop digging long enough to recognize that you are in a hole.

If you are like most people, most of the time, you will make excuses like, “It’s not that bad.” You will get straight when you get your raise, your bonus, or your tax refund. As each solution ticks away without you making any headway to change your condition, you will come to realize that you may be in something worse than a hole. You may be in what McKissen describes as a “circular trench” whose dirty smell that I have come to recognize as guilt, remorse, and shame that well-meaning people have gotten used to.

Own it; you messed up. Now make a plan and stick with it. Get a copy of your credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies. You can get one free each year from all three. Contact your creditors and make a realistic payment plan. Entirely pay off any debt that you can first. Don’t forget those creditors that may not be listed that may still affect your ability to look them in the eye. You may benefit from talking with your local banker, online credit monitoring/advising service, and other agencies. But be careful to choose a path that does not lead you deeper into a hole.

Avoid the old pattern of stealing from Peter to pay Paul, which is a never-ending “circular trench.” Most importantly, do not ignore or make excuses for your hole. It is not the end of the world if you are in a hole. Many successful people have also been in a whole, but it’s what you do about it. Acknowledge it, analyze what got you there, make a sound and manageable plan to get up and never fall again. Execute your plan without fail. If you need a support system to stay on track, seek help from a knowledgeable, trustworthy business-minded friend, a reputable financial advisor, or both.

Reference is to “How to Get Out the Hole You’re In” by Dustin McKissen at