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The F Word: Finance is not a dirty word, but getting personal about your bank account can elicit a whole range of emotions. Financial therapist Tracy Hackett is on the case, getting the conversation started and offering smart solutions to pay down credit card debt

It’s not sex, politics or your favourite Dancing With the Stars team – nothing else elicits strong, deep-rooted emotion like money. We want to believe money is logical and mathematical but, in reality, everyone has emotional beliefs that can make it hard to talk about and prevent us from doing what we know we need to do. How we feel about money impacts everything!

Money Matters: The Credit Card Dilemma and How to Pay Credit Card Debt

The Case

My partner has been out of work during the pandemic and while we’ve been very careful about our spending we have run up some credit card debt. For the first time in my life I haven’t been able to pay my credit card balance in full. I’m so embarrassed.

Meet Maggie

Strong, successful, and talented, she understands that the expenses they have put on their credit cards were necessary and not frivolous. But, she has an ingrained sense of responsibility when it comes to money. Growing up in a lower middle class family taught her that money was serious and that people who weren’t responsible with their money should be ashamed of themselves. This ingrained belief has served Maggie well for the most part, but her emotions are at odds with her practical, intelligent self. She knows logically that the carrying of some credit card balance is just temporary and that her partner will soon be going back to work on a graduated schedule. It means that they will soon be able to pay the credit cards in full but still, she can’t help but feel ashamed and disappointed in herself. Tension is starting to mount as her partner, while very committed to monitoring their spending and being careful, reminds her that everyone is challenged right now and not paying the credit cards in full just this once is no big deal.

How can Maggie deal with her finances and her emotions? Here’s my advice:

  • Maggie should try to remind herself that while they had tough times, even her parents didn’t experience a pandemic. They, too, might have had to carry credit card balances for a few months.
  • Review the terms and conditions of each credit card. As she has always paid her cards in full each month, Maggie is not familiar with the interest rates and fees each card has. Understanding how each credit card issuer calculates interest, when the interest is compounded, and if there are any monthly fees for carrying a balance will help her know which balances to pay first once the second income kicks in. This thoughtful and purposeful action will help her feel more like her responsible self.
  • Establish a personal repayment plan that she and her partner agree on, which may exceed the minimum required by the credit card companies – and that is being responsible. Maggie’s shame, however, may compel her to pay off the cards faster than is comfortable or manageable. She needs to make sure she doesn’t repay this debt at the expense of something else, such as monthly savings contributions at work or cashing in savings that would trigger excessive tax liability. 
  • When the cards are paid off – and they will be – celebrate! Maggie needs to pat herself on the back for taking such a practical approach to a demanding situation!

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at thefword@boldmagazine.ca

Tracy Hackett is the CEO & Principal at F Word Coaching Inc., a company dedicated to helping you be more successful through understanding your neuro-energetic relationship with money.

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