There can be negative effects of debt even if you're debt free

The Debt Next to You

by Jeffrey Strain

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When it comes to debt and debt reduction, we almost always talk about it in regard to the individual. If you are debt free, you might feel that a co-worker being in debt has little to do with you, but in reality, it probably has a lot more to do with you than you ever considered. How? It doesn't take much to know that anyone under financial stress doesn't work optimally, and if your co-workers are not working at their best, that means more of the load likely ends up on your desk. If you happen to be a manager, the situation is even worse. You have employees who aren't working efficiently or effectively on the work you need accomplished because of financial issues that are preoccupying their minds and likely their time.

When debt is viewed in this light, it ceases to be an individual's problem, but one that effects the entire organization (not to mention family and friends). While rarely done so today, debt should be treated by companies in a similar way that many of them currently view obesity and smoking. Companies know from numerous studies that employees that smoke or are overweight cost them money compared to those that don't smoke and are not over weight. In response, they offer incentives and encourage those people to live healthier lifestyles through education and training since this will ultimately help the bottom line of the company. The same could be said about debt.

If companies would help take the steps and give their employees the tools to create healthy finances, it would increase the productivity of those who are currently stressed about their finances and help to make those individuals more productive. Of course, this is not a magic bullet. You can't make someone look at their finances if they don't want to just like you can't make someone stop smoking if they don't want to. Giving the person the resources to tackle the problem, however, makes it a lot more likely that they will solve it than if they are left to their own resources to do it.

Whether or not you are in debt, chances are that someone that is working with you is. I would encourage you to broach the subject with your company or manager. Simply explain that training employees in the basics of personal finance - how to reduce debt, how to manage their finances, how to maintain a good credit rating and how to save and invest their money - will help relieve the financial stress employees are feeling and make them more productive. This is no guarantee that your company will accept the suggestion, but changes have to begin somewhere and you may be able to make a positive change that can be of great help to others.

Jeffrey Strain is the owner of, a website dedicated to saving you money, and also writes the daily updated blog Personal Finance Advice.

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