Jami Kirksey
Program Manager
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Topic of the Month

Breaking the Debt Cycle

It is common to have more debt that one is proud, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of ‘paying later.’ Many people are stuck in the debt cycle -- accumulating debt, paying it down, building it back up, and so on. While doing this in small amounts is actually healthy for your credit (if you are paying your balance completely each month) it can snowball out of hand quickly if you aren’t mindful of your purchases. With credit cards it is easy to make purchases without having an immediate connection to your income.

Some people actually carry large amounts of debt and are comfortable with the interest rates and their payment schedules. However, this isn’t the case with most people. Many hardworking families and individuals feel stuck and overwhelmed by their debt load. Determining if your debt is a problem is something only you can answer. Does it feel out of control to you?

Below are tips from an inspirational article from the Mintlife blog, covering 10 characteristics of debt-free people:

  • They Pay Attention to Details. People without debt monitor their personal finances closely. They are less likely to waste money by forgetting about payment due dates or overdraft fees.
  • They Know Their Stuff. Debt-free people do their own research. They might have an accountant, but they don’t send over paperwork or sign their taxes without looking them over.
  • They Pretend They Make Less and Save. Debt-free people live on less than they make. This allows them to put money aside for buying a house, retirement and an emergency fund. Debt-free people know adding even small amounts now will give you more financial freedom later.
  • They Think Long Term. When the focus isn’t on immediate gratification, you can make smarter decisions.
  • They Aren’t Afraid to Ask. Ask for help. Ask for lower interest rates. Ask for forgiveness when they make one late payment. Debt-free people take control of their finances and they aren’t meek about it.
  • They Set Goals and Say No. Debt-free people set specific goals so they know what they are striving for. This helps you stay on track. Debt-free people know that saying no to smaller expenses can add up to big savings.
  • They Value Experiences over Stuff. Debt-free people aren’t focused on things. They value experiences more than having the latest things.
  • Breaking the debt cycle takes work. It may take many steps on the journey into financial security and wellness. This month, commit to taking a serious look at your debt to break the cycle for good. Imagine a debt-free life, and envision yourself living without financial stress.

To become debt-free, you may have to shed some of your current habits and take on some new, more constructive ones. Use the people who are already living debt free as inspiration. If you don’t already have an accountability partner, get one today. Chances are they are also concerned with their own debt and could use the help too.

Additional Resources

Credit Karma: Free credit monitoring can help prevent identity theft and inaccurate information from appearing on your credit report

Ready For Zero: ReadyForZero has helped people pay down $180 million in debt – and counting, for free

MY FICO: FICO 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring monitors your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax while helping you understand and track your full credit picture


For the complete October Resource Package, click here.


Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (or MCUCD) is the award-winning, charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network. A state-wide nonprofit organization, MCUCD works together with the state's credit unions to improve the lives and financial independence of all Montanans.