When Debt Forces You To Stay At An Untenable Job

Will wrote in with this terrible lament:

My boss keeps ratcheting up the hours that have to be worked and it has reached the point where I would rather do anything than go to work. The problem is that I can’t quit: I have a family and so much debt that if I were to quit my job, the foreclosure and repossession wouldn’t be far behind. What can I do?

For me, Will’s experience is the single worst aspect of having significant debt: it forces certain life choices upon you. It’s bad enough paying back the money itself, but the requirement of paying it all back, month after grinding month, means that it affects your other decisions, too. If you run up a credit card debt, suddenly you’re stuck at work, unable to quit and seek out better solutions in your life because you may default on the debt, destroy your credit, and face repossession issues, for example.

What’s the way out of this situation? There is no easy way out – you have to sit down and take control of your financial situation and eliminate that debt. There’s really no way around it, but there are a lot of little things you can do to make things move in the right direction. For starters, here’s a list of forty ways to reduce your monthly expenditures.

Another major step you can take is to minimize the interest rate on every debt you have. If you have credit cards, call the number on the back of the card, get to a human, ask to talk to their supervisor, then request a rate reduction. For your other debts, see if you can get a personal loan or a home equity loan at your local credit union (these are usually the best places to go for such loans).

You should also always look for additional sources of income. Start a side business or take a second job – you may find that you end up transitioning to that as your full-time employment without too much of a loss in salary if you find you’re good at it and there’s a demand for what you’re doing.

One final step is to find sources of positive reinforcement, not negative. Look for friends who spend less, not more. Visit websites with a positive financial focus, not ones that encourage you to spend your hard-earned cash. Find hobbies that are inexpensive (like reading) and scale back on more expensive hobbies. The more you surround yourself with positive financial influences, the better off you’ll be.

Required expenses (including debt) is one of the biggest reasons that people stick with jobs that drain their soul and their freedom. Don’t let the want of material goods ever put you into this position.

Trent Hamm

Founder & Columnist

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 and still writes a daily column on personal finance. He’s the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press, has contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and his financial advice has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.