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Teaching Yourself to Say NO to Debt

Today’s Guest Blogger is Matthew Woodley, creditexpertrepair.com.

Be sure to implement some of his insightful tips for dropping debt!

Teaching Yourself to Say No to Debt

If you are struggling with debt then you have to make a commitment to change the way you spend your money. There are many places you can turn for help, such as financial advisors, and there are many ways to help turn your finances around with programs involving debt management, refinancing, or even debt consolidation. Tapping into professional assistance and teaching yourself to say no to debt can pave a new path to financial freedom.

With that said, no matter what options you choose you need to commit to saying no to any more debt. No matter how tempting it may be to spend, if you want to get out debt you have to stop adding to it.

It is true that it can be hard not to take on new debt, especially if you are used to using your credit cards and are living pay-check to pay-check. To get started here are a few suggestions for teaching yourself to say NO to debt and changing your habits.

Avoid New Loans

When you are having trouble paying bills, it can be very tempting to seek out a new loan in order to cushion yourself and have a sense of security. However, you are much better off reducing your expenses in other ways and creating a monthly budget. This can show you how easy it can be to save money and allow you to learn how to live within your means.

Begin teaching yourself to say no to debt by using cash for all of your expenses. You will begin to realize just how much of a crutch your credit card and loans have been. If you have a lot of debt and cannot afford to buy something in full using cash, then you should not be allowing yourself to buy it.

Breaking Bad Habits

It is very important to allow yourself to put paying off debt before anything else. By avoiding loans and only spending the money that you have in your account you will be able to break away from your spending habits and stand up to your finances.

Another great way to learn new habits is to start paying yourself before you turn to other expenses. You can do this by setting up a deposit into your savings account on the first of the month. When you start to see this money disappearing each month you will begin to treat it like any other payment, and even forget that you are actually saving money. This is one of the best habits to get into and is a great way to save for an emergency or start to build up a nest egg.

Even if you set up a withdrawal that puts $50 a month into your savings – you will have at least $600 in an emergency fund at the end of the year. While that may not seem worth it right now, it can be the difference between bankruptcy and making it through any difficult times. Something as simple as avoiding buying a cup of coffee each day can allow you to pay yourself first, and is more than worth it in the long run.

Reducing Toxic Debt

Aside from putting away a bit of money, you should always do your best to target toxic debt with any extra money you have from your budget. Toxic debt refers to the high interest payments that you have in terms of credit card balances or pay advance loans. You should always being focusing on paying off this kind of debt first before upping your payments on things such as student loans or car payments. Tackle the worst debts first and then you will be in better shape to slowly pay off other debt such as your mortgage.

The fact is that most of us have more money than we think we do, we are just guilty of impulse buys and not having our priorities straight. By teaching yourself to spend in cash, avoid loans, pay yourself first, and attacking toxic debt, you can form all new habits and in many instances find out just how much extra cash you will eventually have lying around at the end of each month.

Be smart, stick to your guns, and that dream retirement or debt-free future could be closer than you think.

Matthew Woodley is the founder of CreditRepairExpert.org which provides users with free and unbiased information on how to repair and improve their credit score. Make sure to follow him on Twitter for the latest on credit repair and debt management.

For more info, please visit CreditRepairExpert.org

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Put the Cold Freeze On Shopaholic Spending

 

Put the cold freeze on shopaholic spending!

This is a challenge for all of us who battle overspending on the latest trends:

You May Say

I really want to own a home, not just an ordinary home – but a gorgeous one that I LOVE! But with a credit card in your wallet that has a growing balance, it won’t happen. Making small changes to your spending habits will free up more cash to invest in your bigger life goals. Owning a home is more important than having every color of the newest designer shoe or “tricking out” your 1969 Dodge Charger.

Fear Can Hold You Captive

If the only thing keeping you from cutting up your credit cards is fear that you might desperately need them in an emergency, this tip is for you. Using credit cards to manage your daily budget can quickly lead to high monthly bills – with little cash in the bank. Making minimum payments maintains your credit standing, but will never make a dent in the outstanding balance. This habit is one of the universal recipes for long-term debt.

Deep Freeze Technique

Here’s a simple solution! Fill a large container half full with water, and put it in the freezer. Wait twenty-four hours, put your credit cards in there, fill it up with water, and place it back in. The result? A giant ice cube with credit cards stuck in the middle. The benefit? You have set yourself up to be more intentional with your financial choices. And, you still have your cards in the event of an emergency. You have put the cold freeze on shopaholic spending!

Plastic vs. Cash

Many Americans are spending far too much of their “perceived money” with credit cards. When you use the cards for unnecessary purchases, your shopaholic spending habit places more value on “wants” rather than long term needs. Put your money to work for value-based decisions. You need to add a saving habit, and lower card balances to ensure that you can handle costly emergencies. That’s why this easy concept works. Instead of cutting up our “plastic,” you put the cold freeze on those cards.

By freezing credit cards, you still have a line of credit, but it’s harder to use.
The best part: It’s an ingenious and effective psychological trick to get yourself out of the plastic mentality.

Now, emotions aren’t driving your spending habits. You are making a conscious choice to manage your money.

Instant Willpower

Freezing several lines of credit gives you instant willpower, even when you are blindsided by emotional impulses. Now, if you feel the urge to use credit, you have to wait until the ice melts. Hopefully, during that time you may come to your senses and realize you don’t need one more “widget.”

Try it! Let me know how it goes.

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Unconscious Choices: Time To Stop

Unconscious Choices

Stop Making Unconscious Choices

Do you ever try to juggle payments on numerous credit cards to stay afloat? Is it an unconscious choice to constantly transfer money back and forth to pay bills?

Do you free up expenses on one credit card so you can charge more on another card? Do  you “need” a new pair of running shoes? Have you made a payment on a credit card, crossed your fingers, and hoped your paycheck would be deposited in time to cover the check?

If you have too many things going on financially, make time to stop. Take a deep breath. Your unconscious choices are wreaking havoc with your financial journey.  Become more aware of your actions and begin to focus on streamlining your life. You cannot keep all this mumbo-jumbo going on and ever expect to reach your dream destination!

Slow Down to Make Conscious Choices

Unconscious choices create an “auto-pilot mentality.” This happens when people fall back on old habits, and make choices without thinking.Determine where you are today, and where you want to go tomorrow. As a result, you can make better decisions moving forward. Set up a proactive plan and use conscious choices to reach fiscal goals.

One unusual tool to get out of this cycle is to freeze your credit cards. Once you have a place to live, enough money for food and access to transportation, most other “things” are “wants.” If most purchases are for entertainment, fine dining, clothes and extra things you could live without. Stop! Freeze Your Credit Cards!

Cool Down Your Emotional Impulses

Take all the credit cards you have maxed out, and put them in a container. Fill it with water and place in your freezer. Many people buy more impulsively when using credit cards, which results in purchasing tons of unnecessary items. Since your cards are in the “deep freeze,” you must thaw the cards out to use. As a result of waiting, the unconscious urge to splurge will pass.

Create A New Mental Map

 Maybe your current mental map tells you that life cannot be enjoyed without using credit cards. Do you even know what the interest rate is? If you don’t know, you could be paying 20 percent or more on your credit cards. Create a new mental map about money.  Shift your perspective to move toward your financial goals. As a benefit of curbing your expenses, money saved from interest charges could be a down payment on a new car or a romantic trip to Italy.
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WHY WORRY ABOUT MY CREDIT SCORE?

A Snapshot of Your MoneyWhy Worry About My Credit Score?

Why should anyone worry about a credit score? I know many people who think that worrying about raising a credit score is so “Old School.” Many people think if they have a cell phone, pay their rent and lease a car, they must have “good” credit, but there is much more to this story!
Almost 49% of people polled don’t realize that a credit score measures credit risk. Do you know how a score affects your life? Do you know how to read a credit report? Why worry about my credit score? One reason: It is your responsibility to manage your credit, understand your credit score and know what’s being documented by businesses and institutions.

Your credit score is unique, much like your fingerprint. It identifies your risk & financial health and follows you everywhere. In fact, your credit score can fluctuate daily without you doing anything. Creditors report their data about you at different times during the month and depending on the data added to your report; your score will go up or down.  It is not an exact science, and each credit company has its own scoring models that can differ from each one. So you could have a different score on Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. You can check your credit score here: https://www.creditkarma.com/

Thus, it is critical to worry about your credit score and check the pulse of your credit situation every six months or at least annually. You need to have good credit to function in the world. Contrary to many “quick-fixes” you may read about, the best way of increasing your credit score is good payment behavior over time and a healthy mix of credit types.

Here are a few things that your credit score determines:
•    What kind of insurance rates you can receive
•    If you can qualify for a home mortgage and at what rate
•    Whether or not particular companies will hire you
•    If you are eligible for an auto loan and at what rate
•    What credit cards you can qualify for and if you will receive special rates or travel perks

Makes sense to schedule a summer check-up of your credit health today! Why worry about your credit score? It could save you tens of thousand of dollars when purchasing a home and getting the best credit cards with the most generous benefits!

Stay green, my friends!

~Bob

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TAKING STOCK – A FINANCIAL PICTURE

3x3 Credit ScoreJanuary is often a “holiday-hangover” month for many. February is a great time to take stock and move forward. This week, we will explore credit scores and reports and how they affect you.

What is a credit score and why is it important? Credit scores were initially set up as a way for large financial institutions to provide an algorithm for determining people’s credit worthiness. Most people have misconceptions about their credit and the credit scores. Credit scores are defined by a three digit number – although most Americans would prefer to see a grade: A, B, C, D and F for easier understanding.

• Excellent Credit: 750+
• Good Credit: 700-749
• Fair Credit: 650-699
• Poor Credit: 600-649
• Bad Credit: below 600

Will my credit go down if I keep checking it? How often should I check my credit reports or my score? No, checking your credit or applying to pre-approved offers will not impact your score. Multiple credit card inquiries or applying for a mortgage will show up as a “hard inquiry” and could lower your score a few points. You can check your credit every four months without repercussions, if you are monitoring to raise your numbers, but a good rule of thumb is to check it annually.

You can get your credit score free once a month at Credit.com.

Will my credit score affect getting a new job? No, when companies ask for permission to access your records, they are looking at your credit report to see your credit history.

How do I check my credit report?
You can review your full credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, which provides you with a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus. You want to confirm that all the details are correct. If you find outstanding loans that do not belong to you or see that an account is listed as unpaid- when that account is in good standing; you can make corrections or stop any fraudulent activities. Another free website for checking your credit is Credit Karma.

How can I build my credit? Paying utility bills on time, open a savings account and take out a small, secured loan (using the amount you have in the bank). You repay that loan from your savings account. Be sure to set up automatic payments, so you are never late. You can also get a secured credit card that is tied to a set amount you have in savings.

Have a diverse financial path that includes paying bills on time, a car note and a credit card, on which you make weekly or monthly payments. Late payments will ruin your credit report and your score.

If you own three credit cards, only use 1 or 2 of them & keep the 3rd in reserve so that your % of debt stays low.

Being conscious of your “numbers” can provide you with the ability to see where you are NOW, helps you set your financial GPS to set new goals and to gives you the opportunity to make proactive decisions for an abundant life!

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Hidden Costs

What is the real cost of careless money management or your lack of decision making?

Choosing to look the other way, sticking your head in the sand when “things” get overwhelming or not assessing your current financial situation can become your default method of reacting to life. Instead, select how you want your life to unfold.

Hidden costs show up on many levels. There are COSTS that cannot be seen or are not included in a purchase that can often affect you negatively in the future.

Smoking is a good example; a pack of cigarettes may cost you five bucks today. Be aware of the implications from hidden costs. Decreased health and a higher cost of insurance and medical bills due to lung cancer may be a much greater cost than you want to pay in the long run. Those high health bills could be a hidden cost that most people don’t ever expect to face, but studies have shown are a real risk.

Another example is the hidden cost of winning. My aunt used to win every contest she ever entered. Of course, as a child, I thought this talent for winning was the greatest! However, there were numerous costs associated with every FREE prize. One year my aunt won a boat. She and my uncle were so excited, they named the boat “Wee Won.” First they had to pay extra income taxes on the free boat. Second, they had to purchase boat insurance. And third, they needed to buy a trailer so they could get it to the ocean and back to the house. Next they took lessons because neither one of them knew anything about boating. Then, of course, each trip required a tankful of gasoline to zip out into the ocean! Honestly, they LOVED that boat and had years of enjoyment, but they also spent tons of money on that one free gift!

Let’s zoom in on one hidden cost many of us are affected by and may not always know about. That is the ever-increasing interest rates that credit card companies and banks charge for the privilege of using their services. This is an area where buyers really need to be smart.

Invest some time into exploring various vendors. Investigate what their rates are and what happens to that rate if you make one late payment. You may pay the full amount due on time and still get hit with interest charges if you pay after the billing cycle ends. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Also, check to see if the interest rate goes up after your first year. That 0 % card may be great for the first year and then it may balloon up to 17% or 23% moving forward. That is a huge chunk of your hard-earned money! If you work to keep your credit score high, you will be rewarded with better rates, some as low as 7% for select credit cards.

Be curious and shop for the best deal you can find. It will save you thousands of dollars in a five-year period! Knowing what all the hidden costs are will help you make the best decision. You now have a more complete picture of how you manage your dollars, your cost of doing business and staying focused on a few long-term goals.

If you slip up and overuse credit cards, put a freeze on them – literally! Fill up a container with water, dump your cards in there and stash them in the freezer. You may have a burning urge to use them, but by the time the ice melts, the urge may have cooled!

Use your knowledge and a little bit of humor to take back your power and choose the best direction for your financial freedom!

Bob