You Can’t Borrow Your Way Out of Debt

By Jackie Beck   Updated 07/20/2022 at 1:49 pm

Trying to borrow your way out of debt happens all the time. It’s completely normal to try things like using balance transfer credit cards and debt consolidation when you first start working on getting out of debt.

I did, and it didn’t work.


Because the thing is, you can’t borrow your way out of debt.

The offers sound good, but…

Of course paying less interest or having to make fewer payments each month sounds good, so it’s only natural to look into things like that. But — unless you’re talking about payday loans — it’s probably not the interest that’s the problem.

The real problem is that you need to end the cycle of debt, and you can’t do that by borrowing your way out of debt.

Change your habits

So before you even consider using balance transfer offers or debt consolidation, change your habits. Doing otherwise is likely to put you even deeper in the hole, despite your best intentions.

It is possible to use 0% balance transfers to reduce the interest you pay on what you owe, once you’re already well into debt-reduction mode.

You “just” have be sure:

  • that you’ve already cut up your old credit cards,
  • that you never use the new card for anything other than the initial balance transfer,
  • and that the new one will be paid off before normal rates (which can be pretty high) kick in.

And you have to avoid the rest of the cons of balance transfer along the way.

But it’s a whole lot easier just to pay off your debts by shoveling money at them as fast as you can.

Don’t try to get fancy, because interest isn’t usually the problem.

Looking to debt as a solution is.

If you want to pay less interest, the surest way to do so is to get an extra job and use the money you earn there to get your debt paid off even faster.

Why the argument doesn’t apply

The argument, of course, is that using these offers responsibly can be a great way to pay less interest and get out of debt faster. To which I say….if you owe money and are struggling to get it paid off, you haven’t been using debt responsibly. Telling yourself that things will be different this time won’t make it so.

Of course you didn’t intend for things to be this way. You may have had some unusual circumstances, or been sucked in by all the “logical” reasons for using debt. But getting out of debt isn’t logical. It’s emotional.

Remember, you can’t borrow your way out of debt. Stick to your plan and get it done, instead of looking for shortcuts.

4 thoughts on “You Can’t Borrow Your Way Out of Debt

  1. I think you make a valid point about having the right mindset.
    Just shuffling debt from one card to another isnt really dealing with the problem – and doesnt lead to a change in habits which result in paying off meaningful amounts

  2. I can see what you’re saying if you’re the person with the spending problem, but for me being able to use a 0% card to help me make a dent in a problem that I didn’t create I’m all for it. So far I’ve saved almost $5,000 in interest by doing so. Yes it won’t change the habits of someone with a spending problem but for me it’s a HUGE help!

    1. Sounds like it’s working great for you, because you don’t have a “debt habit”. Oddly enough though I suspect many people with debt don’t view themselves as having a spending problem. (For example, I never went out on shopping sprees or anything, so I couldn’t see it.)

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