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Are you plagued by serial get-out-of-debt disorder?

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- There's a group of people who suffer from what I'd call "serial get-out-of-debt disorder."

I know it's a mouthful, but it's a real condition for folks who find themselves stuck in a cycle of getting in and out of debt.

This ailment typically affects people who live above their means. One long-term effect of this ailment is the inability to save enough for emergencies, retirement or sending children to college without incurring more debt.

Here is how you can tell if you have this disorder:

-- You stay in debt, mostly with credit cards. But it could also include personal loans or frequent borrowing from your retirement plan.

-- You are rarely without a car loan. You repeatedly trade in your car for an upgrade because you feel entitled. Or because you're tired of fixing your car even though the repairs are still far less expensive than purchasing another vehicle -- new or used.

-- You feel remorse about amassing more debt than you can handle.

-- Your regret creates anxiety, weight loss or weight gain. You can't sleep at night.

-- If you're married, you fight about the debt with your spouse, putting a strain on your marriage -- which can manifest in more spending.

-- You can't take the stack of bills anymore, and you declare that you're ready to be healed.

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