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

Michelle Singletary on

-- Diagnose why you keep getting into debt. In this case, it could be the unpredictable payments to her husband's business. The Small Business Administration has resources to help. On its website,, search for this blog post: "4 Ways to Better Manage Irregular Income."

But if the earnings from her husband's entrepreneurial enterprise are continually inadequate to meet this couple's household needs, then perhaps he could take on another job. Or maybe self-employment isn't working, which is why they are using credit to make ends meet.

-- Get help. The reader said, "I've learned my lesson, really."

But have you? Really?

If income isn't the issue, you may need therapy if your spending is a symptom of psychological issues. Maybe you need to deal with childhood trauma. Perhaps you spend more when you're under a lot of stress. And when the stress is gone, you clear up your debt. But when it returns, you go back to shopping as a relief.

If it's just an aversion to budgeting, get help from a nonprofit credit-counseling agency. To find a local agency, go to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling's website: The agency can also help you negotiate with creditors and set up a debt payment plan.

-- Don't put a Band-Aid on the problem by dragging in friends or relatives. No, you should not ask a family member to co-sign a loan. You will be putting his or her financial health on the line. Besides, in my experience, when people get a consolidation loan, they get a false sense of financial freedom. The zero balances on their credit cards are too tempting.

Unless you address the root cause of your serial get-out-of-debt disorder and take steps to prevent its reoccurrence, this condition won't be cured.


Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook ( Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



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