Are You Suffering From Debt Creep

debt creepToday debt can be obtained in a bunch of different ways from credit cards, payday loans, mortgages, to medical bills.  However this article is going to cover one method millions of people attain debt by these days,  I call it debt creep.

I know that term sounds a bit corny but just hear me out on this.  If you have ever been a project manager or someone who has worked under a project manager at a company you may have heard of a term called scope creep.  Wikipedia defines scope creep as uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a projects growth.  This is typically a bad thing because it overloads people and in most case project never get done in time.

For example, if your project is to build a website and in the middle of that project your manager hands down a whole list of other orders they want you to get done with no change on the deadline.

In the end what typically happens is that a bunch of small jobs start pilling up and what was a simple easy job has now gotten a lot more complicated.  As a business owner I’ve seen this happen a lot not only to me but my workers as well.

What Is Debt Creep

Debt creep works in a very similar fashion, you might have little or even just a small amount of credit card debt but then over time you add a little bit more to it and  a little bit more to it and before you know it you have ten, twenty, or even thirty thousand dollars worth of debt stacked up.

What makes things worse is that by the time you do figure out what’s going on you will also likely have to deal with a high interest rate along with it which makes it tougher to pay down your debt.

How Debt Creep Happens

Debt creep comes from two big issues.  The first issue is neglect.  This is the process where you might fail to keep track of your bills or credit card debts.  This happened to me several years ago when I thought things were going really well for me but I neglected keep on top of my credit card statements, and more importantly my budget.

The second reason debt creep happens is because of small debts being added up over time. With most people using credit cards these days it’s easy to load up your credit card with small things from eating out to buying a latte at your local Starbucks.

The thing is when neglect and small debts collide they can build up over time till one day you wake up and you havea load of debt.  In the end debt creep is a long and gradual process that can sneak up on you when you are least suspecting it.

How To Prevent Debt Creep

Now that we know what debt creep is and how it works we can better understand how to prevent it from happening again.  Below is a list of things you can do to prevent this from happen to you.

  • Pay Attention.  The first thing that is the most obvious is to pay attention to your bills.  The simple act of reviewing your credit card bills, bank statements, down to your phone bill.  Know where your money is going.
  • Get Rid Of Bad Small Debts.  When it comes down to it small debts are more impulse debts.  We think they won’t matter but when you add up a bunch of them they can spell disaster. Take some time to list out exactly what these small debts are and stop buying them, at least with your credit card card.
  • Set Spending Cash Aside.  One thing I do on a weekly basis is set spending cash aside to use on odd and end things during the week.  Doing this means I won’t be racking debt up on my credit card and it also limits me.
  • Set Up A Budget. Finally, most importantly set up a budget.  There are a bunch of ways to set up a budget from excel spreadsheets to programs like Mint.com.  The important thing is to know where your money is going and stop it from going to all the wrong places and put it in the right places.

 Conclusion

As a final thought debt creep can destroy your finances if you are not paying attention.  It can ruin your credit, raise your interest rates, and even raise the rates on your bills.  Take the time right now to evaluate your spending habits before debt creeps up on you.

So how about you, have you ever suffered from debt creep?

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12 Comments

  1. Thanks for the interesting post – I think I am definitely suffering from this. I think my workplace is also suffering from “scope creep” you compared it to.

  2. Hi Alicia, sorry to hear you are facing this issue. I think this issue becomes more of a problem during this time of the year because they may not be realizing how much they spent until they get their credit card bill in the mail in January.

  3. I was in debt twice for 2 items (laptop and a car), so I knew from the beginning what I’m getting into. Still there are ways to get slowly into debt and many people have done it. You don’t think it’s important, until you realize how much you owe.really good article

  4. That’s good to hear Laurie. At least know you know why you got int he situation that you did and can prevent it from happening again.

  5. Getting a laptop or car is a bigger necessity and you know you will be taking on debt, on the other hand it would suck to go in debt just because you bought Starbucks everyday until one day you realized you have a few thousand dollars of debt and nothing to show for it. Thanks for the comment Dojo.

  6. Great point Jon, this is exactly why I was in debt. I failed to keep a budget for a long time and then once I did it was amazing how much I was able to save and cut from my spending.

  7. I like the idea of hitting the small debts in a targeted way. For most folks, I think they have to hit rock bottom before they realize they have a debt problem and begin to turn things around.

  8. I agree Derek, small debts can be just as harmful as the big ones. With most people using credit cards these days it can be so easy to rack it up with small purchases and build up a small mountain of debt.

  9. Great post. This is similar to the analogy of launching a space ship to Mars and initially being just a fraction of a degree off course. At first you don’t notice it, but by the time you get to Mars’ orbit you’ve completely missed the planet altogether.

    Debt creep is sometimes really hard to get a handle on. Little expenses don’t see like a big deal, but they can add up to big bill once your next credit card statement comes.

  10. Great analogy Mark, you are exactly right. Often times it’s these little financial issues that cause the biggest issues with our finances. In fact a lot of people will typically only look at their big debts when they should really be looking at their smaller spending debts and bad spending habits because they are the very reason they got into debt in the first place.

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