Being in Debt is Easy Because Getting Out of Debt is Hard

April 20, 2015

Have you ever wondered why so many people are in debt? Or maybe even why you’re in debt? It’s because being in debt is easy, and that’s because getting out of debt is hard. Despite all the advice from financial advisors telling people to get out of debt, many millions are still there.

Why is it so hard to get out of debt?

Saying NO to Yourself

The basic reason why anyone is in debt is because they spend more money than they bring in. They make up the difference with debt, which gives the illusion that they can “afford” the lifestyle that they’re living. You can reverse that cycle by learning how to say NO yourself.

Why don’t more people do it?

Saying NO to yourself is hard. This is an effort in self-denial. Instead of buying the desires of your heart, you must simply walk away from them – at least if credit will be needed in order for you to buy them. To do this you need to have a higher goal, like getting out of debt – but it‘s usually not fun.

Saying YES to yourself is easy. It’s easy because you’re going with your impulses. You see something that you like, and even if you can’t afford it our of your paycheck, you will buy it because you still have room on your credit lines. No discipline or resistance is required to operate in this manner.

Saying NO to Others

Sometimes it isn’t ourselves that we can’t say NO to, it’s others. It may be our spouses, our children, our friends or even our coworkers. But if you can’t afford to buy things for others without using credit, you will be doomed to a life of indebtedness.

Why would you let that happen?

Saying NO to others is hard. Though you may have the discipline to say NO to yourself, saying NO to others who you love tears at your heartstrings. You may even feel an obligation to go into debt for the benefit of others. This can be even more extreme if your friendships are based on a certain level of spending, such as expensive outings and all-too-frequent dinners out.

Saying YES to others is easy. When it comes to relationships with other people, it’s always easier to say YES and then to just move along. You can buy them what they want, and participate in all those activities that you can’t afford without credit. But at least you’ll avoid uncomfortable confrontations over spending.

Living Beneath Your Means

Unless you’re already doing it, learning to live beneath your means is like going on a financial diet. But it’s the key to getting out – and staying out – of debt. Since you live on less than you make, you have no need to borrow money, and you have extra in your budget to payoff whatever debts you already have.

If living beneath your means is such a basic way to stay out of debt, why don’t more people do it?

Living beneath your means is hard. Once again, it’s all about self-denial. You have to avoid buying a certain amount of products and services, even if you have the means to afford it.

Living above your means is easy. It’s easy because it means giving yourself at least a little more than you can afford, and doing it on a regular basis. It’s always easy to get used to having more. It’s never easy to get used to having less.

Saving vs. Spending

Some people have a natural orientation toward saving money, but that’s certainly not the case with the majority of people. In order to be a saver, you have to be willing to prioritize saving above spending. That doesn’t mean that you never spend money on things that you really want, but it does mean that you always have a line item in your budget for savings. And when you have enough savings, you no longer need to rely on credit.


Saving money is hard. It’s hard because saving money has none of the immediate benefits that spending it does. You’re largely doing without, and moving the money instead into an account where it will collect and grow. In order to see the value of this, you have to have a strong orientation toward the future. That will mean doing with at least a little less in the present.

Spending money is easy. It’s easy because it requires no discipline, no self-control. You buy what you want, when you want, and there’s a certain undeniable liberation that comes from living that kind of lifestyle.

Until the credit card bills come due.

Paying Extra on Your Debts

If you are already in debt, the only way to get out is by paying more than the minimum to on your accounts. It may be only a small amount on each account each month, but over time it will make your debts disappear.

Why can’t more people do it?

Paying extra on your debts is hard. This really gets back to learning to live beneath your means, and dedicating the unspent cash to paying off your debts. It takes a lot of discipline, and saying NO to yourself, while others are saying YES.

Making the minimum payment is easy. A lot of people get so comfortable with monthly payments, that the biggest concern is for the monthly payment itself – not the size of the debt that’s attached to it. As long as they can handle the monthly payment, all is right with the world. No sacrifice or re-direction are required. It’s almost like functioning on automatic pilot.

Getting out of debt is hard. It will require a change in attitude and behavior. That’s why not everyone can do it. But it’s the only way out of the debt cycle.


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

All posts by


One Response to Being in Debt is Easy Because Getting Out of Debt is Hard

  • Melody

    Isn’t that a tricky little truth? I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I might add that “being in debt is easy” because “getting into debt is easy” and “getting out of debt is hard”. Good post.