Debt consolidation is not something you want to learn about first hand. Letting debt get out of hand can destroy all reasonable financial planning. Much of what we work with in trying to accumulate and preserve wealth is out of our hands.

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Not so with expenditures. We create our own world and so can shape it in any way we choose. We must control it and not allow it to control us. This discipline is not easy to master. It must be mastered first for peace of mind and secondly to have any chance of being able to take advantage of the opportunities life may send our way.

Begin with a budget and then work to build a modest reserve. Getting ahead of the game is a game winning strategy. This is not an easy game to master, but master it you must if you are going to have reasonable control of your financial destiny.

Debt is a click away. Billions of media dollars are invested each day to get you to add to your cart. Somehow we all must learn to deal with the debt temptation. We know that a house or a car justifies debt. How much debt and when, is within our control. Self-control comes before self-sufficiency. The better you are at one the greater will be the other. Everyday economics require that you deal with economics every day. How you do that determines long term results. Reality is always with us.

What is a realistic life style is a difficult question to answer especially if your life involves more than just you. It is true that life’s economic challenge can be met better as a partnership, but that doubles the degree of decision difficulty.

The question becomes one of deciding where you are going and do you really want to go there? The decision making tools are available to each of us. A pencil and paper are the basics. An eraser brings you to an advance level. Get these tools into your hands on a regular basis and you will remain out of the clutches of the debt consolidation industry, as you should. Keeping your financial life in your hands and out of the hands of others can be done.

Jack Falvey is a frequent contributor to the Union Leader, Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal. He can be contacted at Jack@Falvey.org