A Heavy Load of Debts: How to Get Rid of Loan Addiction
Dec 09, 2019
“Live for today – pay when it is convenient!”
“Take it now – pay later!”
“It’s so easy to live better!”
We read and hear similar calls for an easy and comfortable life in the “here and now” with increasing frequency. Not everyone recognizes the obvious risks which accompany such tempting offers. At present, many people have ceased to consider loans and borrowing as a dangerous business and have begun to perceive them as a convenient financial instrument. There are many affordable banking products that allow you to give a boost to the quality of your life within a matter of hours. In each district there are dozens of offices of microcredit organizations that can provide some “payday money” and relieve you of the unpleasant request to borrow money from relatives and friends. Household appliances, clothes, shoes and even food can be purchased by installments – you just need to stay a little longer at the checkout counter and submit your passport. However, soon you will have to pay extra for such “instant happiness”. Huge interest is accrued for a one-day’s delay in repaying and the borrower’s phone will be breaking with the collection agent’s calls. It is easy to tie oneself into knots and lose health and property. Strangely enough, the debtor may see his/her survival in taking out a new loan. This is how the credit mania is developed. It is a new form of psychological illness. 
Why is it difficult for some people to resist the temptation to “live on borrowed money”? What signs can help you understand that you are at risk? How can you get rid of credit addiction? We will talk about these questions in the following article.
- Credit mania: statistics and facts
- Signs of credit addiction (test)
- Executive opinion: stories of people who became victims of credit addiction
- Causes of credit addiction
- How to stop living on credit: the 7Spsy modification technique
Credit mania: statistics and facts
In December 2018, the French newspaper Le Figaro published data which illustrated that the Russian household debt load had reached 210 billion euros. This is an historical record. Five years earlier, in 2013, the outstanding amount of loan debts of Russians was half as much. About 49 million people live on borrowed funds in our country – this equates to every second employee. On average, every Russian, even a newborn, already owes more than 100 thousand rubles. If we consider only the economically active population, then this amounts to more than 200 thousand rubles of debt per citizen. It is interesting that the share of consumer loans exceeds the share of mortgage loans – 46% versus 43%. 
The fact that such “high scores” cannot be considered without regard to the level of mental health of the population is confirmed by earlier studies by British researchers. In 2007 scientists at the Royal College of Psychiatrists collected the results of more than fifty research works and came to the conclusion that severe depression symptoms are more likely to be reported by men and women who have loans with the highest interest rates. 
In 2011, Dr. John Gazergood from Nottingham University studied the relations between debt and the depressed mood. He concluded that people with debts are 3 times more likely to have mental health problems compared to those without debt. Along with the increasing debt amount, the stress and depression levels are also increasing. 
Signs of credit addiction (test)
Certainly, “loan taking” does not always mean “getting addicted” in a psychological sense. In the case of a reasonable attitude, objective assessment of possibilities and good skills of financial planning with borrowed funds can be used to the individual’s benefit. However, in the absence of such financial skills and under other conditions that we will discuss below, the material dependence on loans can develop into a form of mental illness. To assess the degree of your risk, select statements typical for your behavior or the behavior of your loved one.
1. I will listen to the information from the bank manager if he calls and informs me that my credit limit has been approved with curiosity and attention.
2. I try to look like a successful person and buy new things even when I don’t have enough money to do so.
3. I constantly use the “pledge payment” service for a mobile phone and Internet at home.
4. I am happy when I receive SMS messages from banks confirming that I can take a loan.
5. I buy modern equipment and gadgets on credit, despite the fact that I already have similar items in good functional condition (but of older models).
6. When buying on credit, I convince myself of the necessity of the product.
7. Immediately after a purchase, I console myself with the thought that there is still a lot of time before the next payment, and I will find the money somehow.
9. When buying on credit, I do not calculate the amount of the total overpayment and the amount of monthly payments, considering my other loans.
10. I make purchases using my credit card and sometimes I borrow funds from my friends and relatives.
11. It happens quite often that my credit card runs out of funds.
12. There were situations in my life where I had to take a new loan in order to repay one or several previous loans.
If you have marked 6 or more statements from the list, this can considered a reason to think seriously.
Credit addiction: first-person stories
“It all started when I came to the bank to receive my salary card statement. I did not plan to spend a lot of time, and the procedure took no more than five minutes. But the manager suggested I take advantage of a personal offer and to apply for a credit card. I always feared loans like the plague, but then suddenly something seemed to switch on. I was redirected to another manager. She was very polite with me and took me into a private office with soft chairs. She called me by my name and colorfully described the advantages of the credit card.
“Maria, you may not need it, as you say”, the manager said. “In this case, however you do not lose anything – the card maintenance is free for you as a loyal long-time client. What if it becomes necessary to pay for a last-minute package tour today and there are a couple of days before your payday? In this situation the card will help you out a lot”.
This worked on me. I thought that since the bank had decided to provide me with such an opportunity, it means they considered me as a reliable and loyal client. Such a large organization trusted me!
I did not use the new card for a while. Then I decided to buy a fur coat. I managed to pay off the debt on time and this inspired me a lot! Then a new phone model was launched, and I really wanted it. Again used the “unnecessary” credit card. Then I got sick, and a lot of my money was spent on treatment. The interest on arrears began to accrue quickly and now it is constantly increasing, but I do not have enough money. I never thought that I would get into credit bondage so easily and quickly.”
– Maria, 29 years old, English tutor
“Just about five years ago, I had everything – expensive restaurant meals, trips abroad, a premium-class SUV, a two-level penthouse. But due to the difficulties with business, everything went wrong, but I still spent a lot, took out loans and could not stop. As a result, at the age of 39 I was forced to return to live with my parents. And only then I finally realized that I had great problems”.
– Nikolay, 39 years old, businessman
“I started playing when I was 15 years old. My friend and I were messing around in the city and strolled into a gambling cafe. That’s where everything became twisted. The game payoffs were rare, but I managed to pay off my debts and buy some things – fashionable clothes, an expensive phone. My influence among my peers became higher, and this really “rocked” me. Then there were petty thefts from parents’ stashes after my first serious losses. My mother attempted to take me to the psychologist. Against all the odds, she managed to stop me for a while before my graduation from school. I passed my exams, but refused to go into further academic study, so I began to work. As soon as I ceased to depend upon my parents and began to earn my bread, I started playing again. I mortgaged the apartment that I got from my grandmother and soon had a lot of debts and loans. In the end I collected the last of my money and visited the psychologist. I hope that I will manage to cope with everything and will not return to the games and debts”.
– Konstantin, 22 years old, car mechanic
Causes of credit addiction
The experience of people who shared their stories with us shows that there are many ways to get into the “credit bottleneck”. Maria was flattered by the courtesy of the bank’s employees and was inspired by easy ways to pay off her first debt. Nikolay could not give up his usual comforts in his attempts to recover his losses in business. Konstantin did not cope with his game addiction.
We will list several reasons for addiction to loans and credit. It should be noted that these are just some of the many conditions that can have an effect both individually and in combination with others.
1. Desire to raise visible status
A person seeks to provide his/her daily life with various spoils of affluence – the next generation smartphone, expensive gadgets, branded clothing, a luxury car, trips abroad and dinner in expensive restaurants. The desire to “appear successful” becomes stronger than the lack of the possibility of “being successful”. The addicted person lives beyond his/her means, every day trying to demonstrate to others an imaginary well-being. As a rule, such a picture develops against the background of serious problems with self-esteem.
Advertising calls, harsh signs, the suave manners of a “personal manager” who calls from the bank with an advantageous offer “just for you” – these are all hooks on which people who are amenable to suggestions become trapped. Dozens of specialists are working on the structure of each specific promotional offer, and their efforts are not in vain. Some people cannot resist promising calls and soberly ignore the inevitable risks.
A spoiled child, whose desires have been quickly and invariably satisfied by adults, grows up with the feeling that the entire world around owes him/her a living. As an adult, he/she begins to ask for money not only from relatives, but also friends and accepts loans and borrowings. At the same time, he/she is not embarrassed and is not particularly worried if the money cannot be returned.
4. Irregular earnings
A person gets used to the state of affairs when there is “feast today and fast tomorrow” in the wallet. The person becomes content with a credit pile in expectation of possible improvement of the financial situation in the near future.
5. Lack of financial planning skills
A person does not follow the movement of personal expenses and income, does not accumulate any savings and recklessly spends money to satisfy immediate desires. Having received a loan, he/she does not comply with the terms of payments, and can simply forget about them.
6. Lack of separation between business finances and personal finances
The situation is aggravated if a person is in the process of their own business development. Having made a large profit, it is spent on improving living conditions, traveling abroad, or buying a new car. This seems to be quite logical because it was for this reason that he/she worked for so long. However, in the absence of proper planning and separation of personal income from the funds that should be used for the business development, the risk of suffering from changing market conditions is increased. In a critical situation, the businessperson is forced to take a loan to save the business and maintain the usual comfort level.
7. Objective necessity
Unfortunately, terrible things can happen in life – an accident, illness, loss of source of income or personal tragedy. All of these can make the person slide deeper into the debt pit.
8. Other addictions
Other addictions can lead to credit addiction such as shopaholism, alcoholism, gambling addiction, etc. In turn, such addictions can develop against the background of psychological issues and personality traits. Therefore, each case should be considered separately.
How to stop living on credit: the 7Spsy modification technique
What should you do if at some point you find yourself in a credit trap? How can you get out of it? Where do you call for help? If these questions are relevant for you, you are already on the right track. Awareness of the problem is the first step towards ridding yourself from it. The following tips will be your roadmap for overcoming a crisis.
1. Ask for help from loved ones
We do not mean a request to borrow more money, although you will certainly need help. Tell others that you intend to solve the problem systematically, and you will need their support. However, this support should not be unlimited, for no one wants to pay off another’s debts. Make a specific plan and ask for help at some stages when you can’t cope without your loved ones.
2. Enable the incoming data filters
Try to rationally evaluate and carefully study new proposals that will continue to come to you. Particular caution should be used in dealing with the representatives of the financial “well-wishing companies” who may offer their assistance to pay off the overdue loans. Do not believe the stories and reviews of their “former customers” who allegedly managed to solve their financial problems and write off debts. Cooperation with such companies is likely to put you in even more difficult situation.
3. Give up your credit cards
Credit card transactions are one of the most common causes of the debt load. When you have access to the available funds, even if they are not yours, it is more difficult to resist the temptation to buy a new blouse or a cool smartphone. In this situation, the credit addiction is similar to gaming, the prevention measures are the same, and the best way will be a complete rejection of credit cards. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises such as interest demands for the services, inform your bank of the intention and make sure that your contract is terminated.
4. Make a clear debt settlement plan
Learn to analyze and plan your finances. Make an income and expense table and write down all your debts and loan obligations. Find additional sources of income and pay off your debts step by step, starting from small to large, trying to pay a significant amount on a monthly basis. Decide in advance that any surplus of finances that will appear in the future when you get rid of the debts will not be spent but accumulated on the deposit account.
5. Call for psychological aid
The collecting agent’s calls, cracked relationships with loved ones, the need to deny yourself every necessity due to your past frivolity are things that lead you to the state of increased anxiety and psychological vulnerability. Such moments require your immediate attention. However, they are consequences, not reasons. It is important to understand that you have become addicted due to internal psychological problems and attitudes that need to be changed. Hence it will be difficult to cope without specialized assistance.
The 7Spsy behavior modification course is an effective program of psychological assistance that allows you to cope with various forms of addiction. It is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of its founders – I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky. The work is performed remotely under the close supervision of a psychologist and in the conditions of complete confidentiality. During the course, you can contact the psychologist via convenient communication channels – by phone, e-mail or in the online chatroom. The method allows you to change your attitude and behavior during the period of up to 6 weeks, which will make the credit addiction treatment more effective. Due to the 7Spsy behavior modification technique, you will be able to distinguish between the real need for money and the desire to flippantly demonstrate prosperity, you will learn how to manage emotions and competently manage your finances.
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