Are your fears keeping you in debt?


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If you’ve been dogged by debt for years, or maybe even decades, don’t think you must resign yourself to a lifetime of credit card, student loan and other debt. People dig themselves out from under big piles of debt every day, and it’s not because they’re financial geniuses.


Instead, debt-ridden consumers set a goal for paying off debt, come up with a payoff strategy and focus on hitting certain debt balances hard while chipping away at others until they achieve the blissful state of “zero balance.” Many, however, delay setting goals or coming up with a plan because they’re held back by fears they may not even know rule their financial lives.


Below are five fears that could be keeping you from getting out of debt.

1. You’re afraid to assess debt honestly

If the thought of writing down balances from all your credit card statements or taking a close look at how much interest you’re paying on student loans each month terrifies you, you’re not alone. Many people with a scary amount of debt are afraid to take in the hard truth of what their financial choices – or, often, just bad luck or difficult life circumstances – created.


Slinking around in debt shame won’t help you tackle those balances, though. Instead, create a spreadsheet of all your balances, interest rates and interest amounts if you make only the monthly minimum payments (or the amount you usually pay). Looking at what you owe may send a chill down your spine initially, but once you know the true nature of your debt payoff challenge, you can confidently create a debt payoff plan.


Need help coming up with a payoff strategy? Consider meeting with a credit counselor at a free or nominal-fee nonprofit credit counseling agency for advice on creating a monthly budget and deciding on a strategy for eliminating debt faster.


Find out: How to pay off debt fast for less money

2. You worry you’ll fail

Maybe you’ve tried to pay off debt before but couldn’t get the job done. Or perhaps you’ve never made a serious effort, so you’ve already decided your debt is insurmountable. But fear of failing is self-defeating since never attempting to pay off debt guarantees that you’ll spend more years haunted by debt going bump in the night of your mind while you lie awake at night.


On the other hand, you have nothing to lose by coming up with a strategy to pay off debt. Even if you must take a second job, cut back on takeout or postpone vacations so you can pay more towards debt, you’ll probably be happier because you have a goal, you’re productive and you’re making progress every month.


Find out: How to deal with financial stress in a healthy way

3. You’re scared to succeed

Have you gotten so used to being kicked around by predatory lenders and paying hundreds of dollars in credit card or student loan interest that you’ve come to believe those situations are what you deserve? Maybe you have subconscious self-worth issues that cause you to acquire debt because you don’t believe you deserve to be happy and financially secure.


Our ideas about what we deserve in life are complex and may even be entrenched in our family of origin. If you’re constantly in debt, consider exploring your ideas on money and debt with a counselor or therapist who can offer insight and another perspective.

4. You worry you’ll lose friends

If you’ve always been available to go out to dinner, party at clubs, take vacations and shop extravagantly – with every expense charged to credit cards – your more shallow friends may drop you because you’re just not as much fun. But who needs those fair-weather friends, anyway?


Your true friends will respect you for trying to improve your life and find ways to have fun with you that are free while your money goes towards paying off debt. On the other hand, those superficial friends on credit card spending sprees have a good chance of landing in bankruptcy court.


Find out: 6 ways money can ruin a friendship

5. You think you’ll be judged

Do you keep your debt secret from friends, family or maybe even a spouse because you shudder at the thought of being judged? Maybe it’s time to come clean with people close to you so you can get their moral support and encouragement while you work to pay off debt.


Will some people judge you? Of course. But they’re not the ones paying your bills or unable to buy a house, start a family or achieve other big financial milestones because of too much debt. More likely, you’ll find the faultfinding types are in the minority, and many people you know also struggle with debt.


So emerge from the debt shadows, face your fears and get started on tackling debt so you can enjoy life with more money and financial options to get where you want to be.



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18 secret benefits of your Costco membership


If you’re a Costco member you already know how good the savings can be. But you might be missing out on even more perks that can wind up saving you even more. Here are 18 of the best benefits you might not even realize your Costco membership is getting you.


You can buy personal or business checks from Costco at lower cost than at many banks. Costco offers free standard delivery on checks. You can save an average of 50% by using your Costco membership for obtaining checks.


Costco offers comprehensive identity protection and credit monitoring for members. Costco’s monitoring and protection includes regular credit report updates, a multi-layered system of identity restoration services and information monitoring from Complete ID. Members pay $13.99 per month per person and executive members pay $8.99 per month per person.


Few people probably think of Costco when they think of buying or refinancing their home, but Costco members can use the company’s mortgage program through First Choice Loan Services Inc. Check Costco’s Mortgage Services page for information about current rates and Veterans Affairs loans.

Related: How to refinance your mortgage in 8 easy steps


Speaking of homes, Costco also has a home insurance program for members through Ameriprise. Costco members enjoy a discount on both home and auto insurance through the insurer.


Costco members can also see a discount on life insurance if they use their membership to sign up with Protective Life. Protective Life partners with Costco to make it easier and cheaper for Costco members to sign up for life insurance.


Did you realize you could get your dental care through Costco? Many people probably don’t. DeltaCare offers exclusive rates on dental plans for Costco members living in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington state.


If you’re a Costco member, you can join the Costco Member Prescription Program to save money on your and your family’s prescriptions. You don’t need to have insurance and can enroll at any Costco Pharmacy. Your pets are even eligible for the program, through which Costco members can receive a Discount Card to use to save money on prescription drugs.


If you are looking for health insurance for your business and not just yourself, you may not realize that your Costco membership can get you discounts. Costco works with Carrier and other companies so members can find business health insurance plans for less.


Make sure vision is included in your business’ health insurance plan and get a discount while you’re at it. Costco works with MESVision to offer an affordable vision plan for businesses. Your employees will be able to make use of Costco Optical, as well as other locations.


Get bottled water delivered to your home or business with your Costco membership. You can select 3- or 5-gallon bottles, add an optional water dispenser, then select your delivery options to see your savings on bottled water delivery. The service starts at $6.49 per bottle for Costco members.


Your Costco membership can help you get cloud based telephone service for your business. Costco works with Intermedia Unite to provide business phone services. Members get special pricing from Intermedia Unite, as well as a free business phone for every user you activate.


Costco partners with Elavon to provide payment processing services for its business members. Whether you run a retail business or a restaurant, Costco members could save an average of $738 per year by using Elavon’s payment processing services.


Do you need logos for your business? Use your Costco membership to get custom logos from Harland Clarke. You can order products featuring your logo, including apparel, bags, cups and mugs, pens and more.


If you need a new car, look no further than your Costco membership. Find savings on autos by browsing new or pre-owned vehicles, motorcycles, powersports and RVs through Costco.


Or maybe you just need to rent a truck for the day. Costco can help there, too. Rent a truck through Budget Truck Rental and use your Costco membership for savings of up to 25%.


Your Costco membership can help you book and save money on your next vacation. Costco offers a travel website with deals on vacation packages, hotels, cruises and rental cars. If you happen to have a Costco executive member card, you can also earn rewards for travel.


Looking for a jolt of adrenaline? Find motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and even snowmobiles through Costco’s auto program.


Get a discount on vehicles you already own. Costco members get a 15% discount off most parts, services and accessories. Use Costco’s website to find participating dealerships and service centers.

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