7 Stages of Credit Card Debt

The 7 Stages of Credit Card Debt

7 Stages of Credit Card Debt

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the famous “7 stages of grief”, which helps those who’ve been through an ordeal or a loss identify where they are in recovery.

Interestingly, these 7 stages can also be applied to debt management and the emotions and thoughts one might have while under it’s pressures.

We’ve put together a handy infographic to help you navigate through the experiences of credit card debt management specifically. Whether you’re in the denial phase or you’re nearing the end and seeing hope on the horizon, know that everyone will hover in each of these stages at some point and for completely customized lengths of time.

Just remember – it’s going to be alright.


This is your debt awareness “honeymoon period”. Why worry, right? You only bought a new T.V (even though your current one works just fine) and your card has a great interest rate. You’ll pay it off in no time, you tell yourself. Too bad it doesn’t work that way. How do you know if you’ve been in this period for too long? Three words: debt collectors calling.


You’re angry you let yourself buy that thing you didn’t need.
You’re angry that some emergency came up that is going to cost you money.
You’re angry you didn’t set a better budget for yourself.
You’re angry you’re behind on your payment schedule – and that you didn’t stick to your budget.

You’re just angry, and you’re probably most angry at yourself. Thing is, anger is a waste of time. Let yourself feel it but make sure you’re acting at the same time.


If you’re finding yourself in a bit of trouble financially, it’s understandable you’d be depressed about it, especially if you have to cut back in other areas or even make dramatic changes.
Even though it is understandable, watch for behaviours that can loop you back to the “euphoria” of Stage 1. Don’t keep spending to keep the sadness at bay.

If you’re worried that the depression you’re feeling is more than just situational (as in, it’s chemical), then seek help immediately.


This is generally when you want to negotiate…unreasonably. Don’t do it! Don’t make unbalanced sacrifices just because the pressure is on. Ask for help from a financial advisor or a trusted friend to help you see clearly and rationally. Since bargaining is actually a legitimate step in debt management (especially if there are debt collectors involved), make sure you do it right! Don’t make promises you can’t keep – be reasonable with the collectors (and yourself).


You made it to a truly important step! Congratulations. Hopefully you’ve realized that the power is all in your hands to climb out of your credit card debt.
This is when you’re willing to start making the sacrifices, because back at stage 2, you were upset about having to make any at all.

You’re officially on your way to recovery.


Look at that! You stuck to your plan, practiced some serious will power and climbed your way out of your credit card debt.
Now, it’s the time to rebuild in multiple ways. Rebuild your original budget (so you don’t fall into this spiral again).
Rebuild your long term financial goals (having something big to look forward to will keep you on track when things are tempting). Rebuild your credit, if you have to.

You can do it.


This is the time of growth, both financially & mentally. You won’t fall back into the same patterns. You’ll stick to your budget. And you’ll hope that if temptation rings again, that you’ll be ready for it.

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