INTRODUCTION Debt is a killer. It's a drag on our hearts and minds, an energy hog, and a full-time guilt-making machine. It leads us in only one direction: Down, into lives of worry, fear, and desperation. Even a little bit of debt can cause us enough grief to agonize over, our heads swirling in sleeplessness when we should be resting, our stomachs tied in knots whenever we think about our finances. We know--as anyone who has ever been in debt knows--the downside of being in over our heads financially. It's uncomfortable. It's painful. We can feel it right now, in our gut, and we don't even have to conjure up the details of it. Most likely it's caused us to stay up nights, grind our teeth, sweat bullets, overeat, have indigestion, break out in hives, or some other version of physical or spiritual discomfort. We know what it's doing to us. But the worst part about debting is that it's not just exacting psychological and physical payments for what we've done in the past. The horrendous worry comes from the fact that we are still doing it.We are in debt, we keep debting, and we don't see a way out. Our expenses are greater than our income, we say. So what else can we do? We can even argue that we feel okay about it--"it's just a board game," "what's the big deal?" "I front myself money, then I pay it back later. . . ." But we all know that being in debt does not produce feelings of peace and well-being. If we've dug ourselves a hole, debting against our home-equity line, running up credit cards or project debting (as I did), these rationalizations just make our guilt and self-loathing worse. We can get philosophical and argue that the debting machine of credit produces income for our economy--that it's "just the way things get done" in our cultural timeline, and we're just a cog in the wheel. We have to use credit cards. We have to be part of the machine. And even while we vent such justifications, we take no pleasure in being in debt, and we surely do not feel industrious for having accrued it. And most of the time, we have no idea how we're going to pay all that money back. So instead of feeling engaged and a part of our lives, we find ourselves yearning for the proverbial "one day" when we might (1) make twice as much money as we're making now, (2) get bailed out by an inheritance, (3) get a big pay-off from a "minor" car accident, (4) find a bag of cash by the side of the road, or, depending on the magnitude of the amount we owe, (5) escape to Bogotá for a lifelong visit. "One day" makes us feel trapped today, and a lot of the joy we could be experiencing in daily life vaporizes into worry over debt. We may have tried credit consolidators, borrowing from parents or friends, or getting an extra job to pay off creditors, and even when we have been able to zero those balances out, a year, two years, four years later we're in debt again. "How did this happen?" we lament. This is how it happened. We got ourselves into debt for one simple reason: We have no spending plan. We have no idea how much it really costs us to live, what we're able to live on, and what "wants" and "needs" we can afford. We think budgets are constricting and want no part of them, but our lack of spending clarity causes us even greater grief. We're afraid that if we look deeply into our finances we'll never have another luxury or fulfilled want for the rest of our lives. The Debt-Free Spending Plan will help you end all of that. It will help you take simple steps to stop running up debt, live within your means, and start building something that's meaningful to you. It will offer you guideposts to funding what you want, as well as what you need. It's easy to use and specifically designed for people who tune out when it comes to their money. It does not require that you learn a special computer program. It does not require that you live on noodles and toast. It does not require any special skills besides the use of a calculator and basic addition and subtraction. And it doesn't matter whether you make $14,000 or $14 million. If you can add, you can use the Debt-Free Spending Plan to live free from debt for the rest of your life. I'm not kidding. If you've had enough of the pain that comes from living in debt, then read on. If you want to live free of worry over money and start choosing where you spend your cash, then read on. This book is for everyone, everywhere, who has believed that money wisdom belongs to a special class of people with a special class of skills. It doesn't. It's yours for the taking right here in The Debt- Free Spending Plan. Excerpted from The Debt-Free Spending Plan: An Amazingly Simple Way to Take Control of Your Finances Once and for All by JoAnneh Nagler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.