Debt...The New Scarlet Letter - Jacquette M. Timmons

Media coverage of personal debt levels has taken center stage as some peoples’ lives began to unravel in light of our most recent recession.  On one hand, the spotlight has been beneficial: it has helped people as they begin the slow adjustment to the “new” reality of an altered economic and employment landscape.

It has also served as a great reminder of some truths about debt, such as: non-strategic debt will certainly hamper your ability to be financially free and independent; and if you have debt, you should have an exit strategy that you are actually putting into action.

However, I am becoming alarmed with the tone of a lot of the articles and broadcast coverage regarding personal debt. Although useful tips, tools and models of behavior are shared, there’s an unintended (I hope) consequence happening. It is creating two camps: those that don’t carry debt and those who do. And, it seems to be imbued with a badge of shame for those carrying debt — not healthy for the person/family working tirelessly to get out of debt.

The other issue, though, is that the endless coverage about debt leaves little room to address an equally (if not more) important aspect of personal finance: being fully engaged with your money relationship. What insights go unnoticed or what actions are not taken because of the clues people are missing, even though they are right in front of them?!

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