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Friday, Jul 19 2013 04:00 PM

PAUL ANDERSON: How to recognize a personal debt crisis

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    Paul Anderson is an investment advisor and partner at Moneywise Wealth Management.

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BY PAUL ANDERSON Contributing columnist

I recently witnessed an argument between two people in a parking lot of a grocery store. As tensions rose, one woman in particular continued to get louder and more verbally aggressive as the other kept control and spoke in an even tone as she tried to get her point across.

I couldn't hear all that was being said but I did hear the aggressive woman angrily yell, "I am not raising my voice and I am not yelling." This elicited audible chuckles from those witnessing the event. Eventually, things calmed down and they both went their way but I was left to wonder what makes us, like this woman, at times so blatantly unaware of our own reality.

Often the biggest roadblock to our financial success is not realizing and accepting our own financial realities. You probably know someone who has some major struggles with debt. But could that person actually be you and you don't even realize it?

DebtorsAnonymous.org offers a great list of warning signs that should alert you to the fact that debt may be a big problem in your financial life. Below is my alternate list of items that could also be included.

I understand it may be difficult to read this list without hearing the voice of Jeff Foxworthy in your head giving his "You might be a redneck" bit, so feel free to let him in to your head but don't hold me accountable if you can't get him to leave.

If any of the following statements apply to you, you might have a debt problem:

1. If you have ever received a handwritten thank you note from a credit card company.

2. If waiting to have your credit card clear at a grocery store creates more suspense than an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

3. If you're still paying interest on the Air Jordan's you bought in 1992.

4. If you think CASH is an acronym.

5. If you borrow money from your child because they don't charge interest.

6. If you're happy to have your identity stolen because the identity thief could probably only improve your credit score.

7. If you are Facebook friends with all the employees at the local payday loan branch.

8. If most of your T-shirts are from credit card application giveaways.

9. If the "Tooth Fairy" leaves a credit card under your child's pillow instead of cash.

10. If you consider your retirement plan an unused credit card.

Like most personal challenges, recognizing you have a problem is the critical first step to getting the help you need to get out of debt.

If you think you may have a personal debt crisis, be honest with yourself and take action before debt steals or destroys your financial future. Like the woman who denied raising her voice in a raised voice, you may find that it is only you who is being fooled. It may be painful to admit to yourself that debt has control of you but it is the only way to start taking that control back.

Paul Anderson is an investment advisor and partner at Moneywise Wealth Management. He is also a host of the Moneywise Guys radio program on KERN 1180 weekdays 10 a.m. to noon. His email is Paul@moneywiseguys.com and website is www.MoneywiseGuys.com. Advisory Services offered through: SCF Investment Advisors, Inc. Corporate Office: 155 E. Shaw Ave. #102 Fresno, CA. 93710 800-955-2517. These are Anderson's opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian or SCF.

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