It is hard to believe that some people are still shocked when they “discover” how deeply in debt they really are. While accumulating debt can occur much more quickly than the time it takes to pay it off, it rarely occurs overnight. There are some bad money management habits that most people dealing with debt will recognize. If you are seeking true financial freedom and relief from debt you need to recognize how you got in so deep in the first place and then formulate a plan to get back on your feet. Here are some common habits that keep people in debt.

* Failing to create and stick to a budget. The word budget is often associated with having a lower income. Here’s the reality of budgeting- it is not just for poor people trying to make ends meet. Everyone needs to have a handle of how much they earn and how much they spend. Poor people just have less wiggle room in their financial planning than middle or upper class households. Unfortunately by not having a household budget you might find yourself coming up short paying bills or having to use credit to pay for expenses that should have been covered elsewhere.

* Playing the transfer game. You might be hard pressed to find many lucrative offers for balance transfers in today’s economy, and if you do think twice before transferring a high interest balance to another card. While a lower interest rate saves you some money, many people use the new card to make new purchase thus acquiring more debt. If you carry balances on a higher interest card, a better option to reduce your debt is to pay off the debt quicker, not bounce it to another card to save a few months in interest charges. If necessary consider picking up a part-time job to put toward paying down balances.

* Ignoring inaccuracies on your credit report. If you are going to take the time to check your credit report you must be willing to take the time to report and correct inaccurate information. Just because you know the information is inaccurate, others viewing your report do not. Information on your credit report affects your credit score, which in turn determines your interest rates on credit cards or loans. Remember in today’s society your credit worthiness not only affects your finances, but also your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, get a cell phone or good rates on car insurance.

* Paying credit cards late. In the technological age in which we live, there really is no reason to have late payments. You can schedule automatic payments to be deducted from your checking account, pay by phone, or online. If you lack the funds to make the minimum payment on time every time you are only prolonging the day when your debt load will become unmanageable, if it isn’t already.

There are endless amounts of resources, programs and information available to anyone struggling with debt. Hard work, discipline and sacrifice are required to pay off your balances and lay the footwork for a debt free life.

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Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for, a debt community featuring debt forums. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of getting out of debt and personal finance.