Chapter One

The Path That Led You Here

Okay, it’s happened. You’ve lost your financial freedom and now you have to start making changes to get back on your feet. It’s easy to make excuses, and there may be some legitimate issues that spurred your run of bad luck. You may have lost your job or were confronted by medical bills that you just couldn’t pay. That happens in life and it doesn’t seem fair. Unfortunately “fair” plays a minuscule role in the world of personal finances. Regardless of the reason, now, not later, is the first day of your financial life and you need to take charge. You and only you must be in charge from this day forward.

If you’re reading this book, debt, spending, and overall unfortunate cash management probably prompted your tumble off the cliff. You’re not alone. Millions of people take that same fall every year. In this country debt is as prevalent as shopping malls, but the insidious thing is you don’t see it—you don’t advertise or brag about it. You keep debt to yourself. You sit in your bed at night thinking about it, wondering how it got this bad. The debt is always there, like a bad habit that’s nearly impossible to break. You hide it as best as you can because you don’t want anyone to find out. It’s somewhat embarrassing, and it’s frustrating because most people don’t know what to do about it once it occurs. You didn’t mean to get into debt; there was no plan—“Hey, I think I’ll get into debt this year.” Some folks even rationalize debt as part of ...

Get Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.