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Debt Challenge

5 Habits That Keep You in Debt

Don't let these patterns take you off the path to financial freedom

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Not Opening Your Credit Card Statements

There's no faster way to dig yourself deep into debt than to turn into an ostrich and stick your head in the sand about your credit card bills. That's what you're doing when you don't open your credit card statements. But there's one big problem with this avoidance strategy: living in denial about your debt (consciously or unconsciously) isn't going to make those bills disappear.

If you fail to keep up with what you owe, your debts can more quickly mushroom, from your own spending, as well as late fees and over-the-limit charges you might rack up after going so long without even looking at your bills.

Shopping As a Hobby or Pastime

We've all heard of "retail therapy." That's when you shop to make yourself feel better. Well, another form of retail therapy might be called "recreational shopping." That's the kind of mindless shopping you do simply out of habit or because you're bored. Putting it simply, you're using shopping as a form of entertainment.

If you and your girlfriends have a standing weekly date at the mall, you'd better think twice about using shopping as your go-to activity. Even just "window shopping" can lead to whipping out your credit card if you find some "bargain" that you can't resist. All of that simply leads to more debt.

Saying "Yes" to Everyone

Many of us — especially women — have been raised to be nice and accommodating to the people around us. And of course, we all want to make our family and friends happy. But when relatives and friends ask for things that are a financial stretch for you — such as loans, investment funds or cash to start a business — that's the time to pull back and recognize your financial limits.

Saying "yes" to every economic request that comes your way is a quick way to drive yourself into debt. What's more, it could put those very same relationships you cherish at risk as well.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, television and radio personality, and a regular contributor to AARP. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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