Are you in credit card denial?

Most people think their debt is average – and most of them are wrong. Where do you stand?

Okay, so you have some credit card debt. But seriously, who doesn’t? Besides, you’re quite confident your debt isn’t that bad. It certainly isn’t as bad as those people.

Maybe that debt of yours isn’t such a big deal. Then again, what if it is…

Some recent statistics from suggest that many of us have no idea how deep in debt we really are, or how much we have compared to others. So, while you might be envying your neighbour’s new car or kitchen reno, if there’s one area where you don’t want to keep up with the Joneses, it’s credit card debt.

How much debt do you really have?

The first step in assessing your debt is to add up what you owe. So go ahead…pull out those credit card statements. Now, would you guess that your grand total is below average? Above it? According to statistics, about 61 percent of us think we have less credit card debt than the neighbour next door.

Since that’s statistically impossible, what do the numbers say? In reality, more than 75 percent of people who believe their debt is average actually meet or exceed the average credit card debt among Canadian consumers (which turns out to be $3,277.33). About 35 percent of people really have themselves fooled; they carry much more debt than most consumers while still believing what they owe is the norm.

What does this tell us?

While we all like to think that our (poor) behavior can’t be worse than others, when it comes to your debt, you can’t trust your gut. Debt – and especially credit card debt – is something we often tuck away like a dirty little secret, just like those little purchases that helped us rack it up. Indeed, denial is the defense mechanism that allows us to keep the ruse going.

Why you should bury your debt

If you’re used to carrying some debt, you might be wondering why you’d want to sacrifice your lifestyle to get out of it quickly, as long as you can handle the payments of course. It’s a good question.

And the answer’s pretty simple: life throws you curve-balls. Sure, you can comfortably make your credit card payments now, but what would happen if you lost your job? Got sick? Suffered a family emergency?

Debt – and the things it buys – can be a lot of fun, but if the music stops, you could find yourself in a very precarious financial situation. At that point, it’ll be too late to do much more than watch your finances collapse – which is why it pays to get out of debt before you feel the heat.

To get out of debt, just pay up

Denying that your debt is a problem is a lot like swiping your credit card: you’re opting to defer a cost. But just as your credit card company will come calling for its money, your debt will eventually catch up with you, too. The solution? It’s time to get real about what you actually owe.

Next, ask yourself this: what will it take to pay it off? Chances are, you won’t like the answer. But at least you’ll be able to deal with your debt on your own terms. With knowledge does indeed come power.

Make a commitment

According to, those who owed the most were the most out of touch with reality – 60 percent of them thought they had average or less than average debt. And sadly, the bigger your debt becomes, the harder it is to pay off.

So ask yourself, do you really want it to get that far? Of course not. You have the power to make big changes now. Take a good look in the mirror and then at that credit card statement…and make a commitment to deliver rather than deny.

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