Traits You Need To Develop To Achieve Sustainable Borrowing

You can bet almost everybody has had that feeling when money is short. That unexpected expense or sudden drop in income can throw your whole budget out of whack. And let’s face it, sometimes that limited-edition pair of sneakers is just too tempting.

Borrowing, whether it’s a credit card, personal loan, or a friendly IOU to your cousin, can seem like a lifeline. But debt can be a slippery slope, so how do you become a savvy borrower?

Taking on debt to finance a home you can realistically afford or to invest in education can be smart moves. These are investments that may appreciate in value or help you earn more. It’s the high-interest credit card debt racked up for impulse buys or continuously using loans to pay basic living expenses that can land you in hot water.

How do you develop the skills to manage and sustain your borrowing habits? Learn below.

Trait 1:  Mindfulness Over Mindlessness

Take a moment to collect yourself before you swipe that card or hit “Submit” on that loan application. Ask yourself these questions:

Do I need this, or do I just really want it?

Few people in our vast world have yet to give in to a “want” for something they didn’t really need. Trust us, it won’t hurt to take some time to think it over. Who knows, the next day or two you might realize that you don’t need it? Money = saved.

Can I truly afford it?

Paying attention to big monthly payments for private money lenders is easy. But what you really need to do is add up the interest rate, the total amount you’ll need to repay, and the length of time it will take you to pay it off. How much money do you have to spend for that whole time?

Are there alternatives to borrowing?

Could you save some each month to pay for it outright? For extra money, could you work a side gig?

Trait 2: Master of Your Own Money

Everyone knows that knowledge is power! Nevertheless, here’s where some folks struggle:

Get to know your credit score

Imagine your credit score as your financial ‘street cred’.  It shows lenders how trustworthy you are with money.  A high score unlocks better interest rates and loan options. The good news? You can check your ‘street cred’ for free on lots of websites.

Embrace the ‘B’ word

Budget is the correct term; it is not a swear word! The key to sustainable borrowing is knowing your money’s origins and destinations. If you look at your spending, you can see where you can save money.

Trait 3: Proactive, Not Reactive

Don’t wait until you’re in over your head to make a move. There are some things in your control, so make sure to maximize them.

Emergency fund – your financial life jacket

Even a small emergency fund can keep you from turning to credit cards when the car breaks down or the washing machine gives up. Aim for a few hundred dollars at first, then steadily try to save up a couple of months’ worth of living expenses.

Talk to lenders sooner rather than later

Many lenders are willing to work with borrowers who are having trouble making their payments. The problem gets worse if we do nothing. Imagine phoning your doctor the moment you feel the first symptoms of illness, rather than waiting until you’re on your way to the emergency room.

Trait 4: Honest with Yourself (It’s Okay, We All Slip Up)

We all have financial missteps; it’s part of being human. But it’s how you recover that truly matters.

No shame, just solutions

Criticizing yourself will not resolve the issue. Recognize the mistake you made without dwelling on it, and then proceed to find a solution.

Seek help if you need it

If you are feeling overwhelmed by debt, seeking advice from non-profit credit counselors can be incredibly helpful. On your behalf, they can talk to your creditors and show you how to get your financial house in order again. Seeking assistance is an act of bravery, not frailty.


Being frugal doesn’t mean you should never borrow money. Taking the initiative, knowing your stuff, and acting with purpose are key. It requires time and practice, just like anything worthwhile.

While you flex your financial muscles, be gentle with yourself. You will soon find yourself in charge of your finances, rather than the other way around, so enjoy the victories and grow from your mistakes. I hope this is of assistance!


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