In February, USA Today published this shocking piece about credit card debt. In it, they revealed that the average credit card balance in the U.S. is over $6,000. Part of the reason for this is the following: “A middle-class lifestyle has become more expensive with the cost of healthcare and education outpacing wage growth,” the article says. 

Not all of this credit card debt is for handbags and electronic gadgets; the shocker is that many people carry a balance to buy groceries, according to the same article. In fact, there are many ways that consumers fall into the spending trap.

The Spending Trap

There are many reasons why you fall into the trap of using credit cards to spend more than you earn. Among these are peer pressure, advertising, social media influencers, and unforeseeable expenses.

Peer pressure probably isn’t as sinister as it sounds. Your friends most likely just want to go out with you and have a good time; they enjoy your company, and they might find their lives enriched by spending more time with you. On the financial side, maybe some of them earn more money with you, and bar tabs and restaurant checks are easier for them to handle. As a result, they might not realize that you are struggling to keep up financially during a night on the town. Or maybe they haven’t quite developed a healthy relationship with money yet, and they’re using credit cards to fund their lifestyle, too. For this reason, they might not understand why you wouldn’t want to rack up a tab on your credit cards when you’re hanging out with them. Finally, some of your friends might have extra help from family or a romantic partner, and it may have never occurred to them that you don’t. Sadly, this may cause you to resignedly reach for your credit cards.

Similarly, one doesn’t have to believe in a giant corporate conspiracy to see that advertising helps us build an unhealthy relationship with money. From childhood, we are surrounded with messages to buy things in order to be happier. That’s because the basic principle of marketing is to tell customers (a) that they have a problem, then (b)  tell them how such-and-such product can help them solve that problem. Without meaning to, this system eventually may teach us to idolize wealthy people and to want what they have. Similarly, this gives us very little exposure to the ideas of gratitude for what we do have and the abundance of having less. And so, the credit cards come out.

Social media may have started out as a way for us to keep in touch with friends, but during the past two decades we went from writing thoughtful comments on Friendster profiles to endlessly scrolling through heavily-filtered “influencer” posts. People who spend a lot of time on social media often complain of a sense of constant dissatisfaction with their lives. Much of this can be traced to watching the idealized versions of life people post on social media. It leaves you wanting more, and when you don’t earn enough money to have what you want, the credit cards come out.

Unforeseeable expenses are another rough one. You might be rolling right along with health money habits until one day your car throws a piston or your cat racks up a $2,000 vet bill. You may depend on your car to earn a living, and you may love your cat very much; suddenly, you reach for your credit card and begin to carry a balance into the next billing cycle. Chances are, that balance comes with a high-interest rate. Before you know it, you’re bogged down with credit card debt.

The spending trap–that is to say, reaching for credit cards–is so ingrained in our lifestyle and in our culture, we often don’t give it a second thought.

How to Escape the Trap

One of the most reliable ways to escape is to stop using your credit cards. Second, put focus on getting out from under the mountain of high-interest credit card debt you may have amassed. Find a company like Polo Funding that would be willing to work with you to consolidate your debt. They’ll do this by getting rid of the high-interest credit card payments so you can start paying off what you owe. It’s sort of like getting a fresh start right away. Polo Funding also won’t likely decline to help you if you have bad credit, which is more than you can say for many credit card companies.

From there, it may be helpful to research on how to alter a lifetime perception of money. In some articles online, this is called a change from a “scarcity mindset” to one of abundance. You can also read many articles on how Eastern Philosophy (Taoism or Buddhism, for example) can help you accomplish this.

It can certainly seem daunting when you’re standing at the foot of a mountain, whether that mountain is Mount Everest or a pile of high-interest credit card debt. Remember that the trick for conquering either is to take the challenge one step at a time. And that’s what getting out of debt really is: a challenge, an adventure. You can change your life; all you have to do is start. The uplifting truth is that there are some resources where you can find help, and Polo Funding is at the top of that list of resources.