Alright, enough of this bailout nonsense already. Back in the old times of the Internets, there was SaveKaryn. A desperate nation needs her now!
Imagine if our fiscal masters lived by the example of The Daily Buck.
And doesn't her debt advice sound EXACTLY like what we ought to insist on from the people who spend the money we earn?
ADD IT UP. Yes, add it up. I know from experience and from the e-mails I receive from others that debt-ridden people often times have no idea how much they really owe. I kept putting off adding up my bills, and when I finally did the amount I owed was much higher than I thought it was going to be. So ADD IT UP ALREADY! (Then pour yourself a cocktail.)
DON'T JUMP. You can and will be able to fix your debt problem, so think positive and put things in perspective. There are far worse things in life than debt. I mean, it's only money, right? So change your attitude - if you THINK you'll be able to conquer it, you soon WILL BE able to conquer it.
GET OUT A BIG OLE PIECE OF PAPER. Using a marker, write down the amount of money you owe in big numbers at the top, and then hang it somewhere where you'll see it every day (on the wall in your room, on the inside of the closet door, etc.). By keeping the amount fresh in your mind, you'll be less likely to go out to dinner, splurge on a pair of shoes, etc.
Try to make a payment to your creditors EVERY WEEK. Every time you do, subtract the amount of your payment from the total owed, and write the new amount owed underneath the old one. On my old website, the Grand Debt Tally page was SO helpful to me because it forced me to look at how much I owed every single week. The smaller the number became, the more motivated I was to pay off the debt.
BE PROACTIVE. Do not let the debt control you. You control the debt. There are several things you can do to make extra money to pay it off.
Craigslist.org - Craigslist is like a virtual bulletin board sort of website. Look in the "et cetera jobs" area to find a variety of odd jobs. You can volunteer for studies (be careful if they're medical studies), take surveys, help someone move, etc. Also look in the "Wanted" section. You may have something that someone is willing to pay cash for. Craigslist is also a great place to sell unwanted furniture.
eBay - Clean out your closets and sell stuff on eBay. People will buy ANYTHING - I've sold old magazines on eBay, broken electronics, etc. Just make sure you're honest in your description. And remember... when cleaning out your closet ask yourself this: Would you rather have another pair of black shoes or be DEBT-FREE? When my debt got out of control, I realized that I'd rather sit naked in an empty apartment than owe money to credit card companies.
Pay for things with whole dollar bills, and save the change. If something costs me $2.30, I give the cashier $3, and put the change in a jar when I get home. I try not to use any change when paying for things. Once a month I add up the change and send it as an EXTRA payment to my creditors. It's a great way to save money without trying that hard.
CUT YOUR EXPENSES. Duh. Right? Pack a lunch, take the bus instead of a cab, make dinner at home instead of going out, cancel the cell phone - and send all of the money that you would have spent doing those things to your creditors. People ask me, "Do you mean I have to stop living my life?" The answer that is well... yes, you will have to sacrifice things in life if you want to pay your debt off. There's no way around it. Buy a book instead of going to a movie - it'll take you a lot longer to read it and cost you less money. You may even learn a few new words. You don't have to stop living, but you will have to make some changes in the types of things you do and the types of things you spend your money on.