Are you dealing with your debts like Mr. Micawber? Do you know who this guy was? Well, Wilkins Micawber is a fictional character from the Charles Dickens novel “David Copperfield”. But he has some great advice – and some terrible practice – for us today in dealing with our debts.

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The character was actually modeled on Charles Dickens’ real father who, like Mr. Micawber in the book, was incarcerated in a debtors’ prison for failing to meet his creditors’ demands. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen anymore, but if you’re in debt, you know it can feel like a prison sentence.

Mr. Micawber’s wife, Emma, stands by her husband in the novel despite his financial excesses that force her to pawn off all of her family heirlooms. In the novel, Mr. Micawber lives in continual (but largely misplaced…) hope and optimism that “something will turn up”. In fact, the very name Micawber is sometimes used both here and in England to describe someone who lives in this state of continual financial hopeful expectation. This, in turn, forms the basis for the so-called “Micawber Principle” which is based on his statement in the novel:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

Now for a man with such a keen insight into what makes for a relaxed and happy life, financially speaking, Micawber surprisingly failed to live by his own principles. And how many of us today are guilty of the same financial sin? Yet the statement is as true today as it was back in 1850 when Dickens’ novel was first published.

To get yourself free of debt without going bankrupt, you have to spend less than you earn. That’s it. There’s no magic formula, you simply have to make more than you spend (including all interest and mortgage payments etc.) and pay off the debts. In this way, you will become free of debt. It’s not complicated really!

Lorena Benchis is a cinephile and amateur photographer with a passion for business and finance. I work as a freelancer and I do a bit of blogging in my spare time. I aim to bring readers the latest tips and advice about everything and anything finance related.

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