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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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Paying Off Student Debt

Paying Off Student Debt

According to the Wall Street Journal: Should repayment of student loans be a family affair? For those who answer “yes,” there are ways to give financial assistance, while still holding the young adult accountable. Listen to this informative podcast from WSJ. Dive into an in-depth discussion of student loans and best options for becoming debt-free.

Parents who want to help their children paying off student debt need to be sure they have taken care of their retirement plans first. To avoid reaching out to their adult children for money as they age, it is essential that parents take control of their personal finances. Don’t allow well-intended emotions to dictate personal financial security.

Some parents offer to pay the loan payments until their child’s salary exceeds the loan amount. Then both parties can create a plan to allow the student to finish paying off the remainder of their student debt. Some parents agree to match payments made by the student. It is often best to pay off private loans, with set terms. Let students deal with the government loans, which may have negotiable terms. Parents need to be aware of the gift tax when assisting a student unless they co-signed the loan. Any payments made by either party would not be affect taxes. Parents should all pay the bills directly rather than giving cash to the young adults.

Other Options

One popular method for paying off student debt is the “debt snowball” method. Pay off the smallest loan. As that loan is canceled out, apply the same payment to the next smallest loan. If you currently owe money and need help, this resource from nerdwallet.com (below) is very helpful.

If you have excellent credit: Student loan refinancing can save you money by lowering your % of interest. Earnest is one of several companies that refinance student loans. To make sure you are getting the lowest rate, get several estimates before choosing a lender.

To qualify for refinancing, you typically need a credit score at least in the mid-600s and enough income to afford all of your bills every month. Not sure what your score is? Find out with NerdWallet’s credit score tool.

***Important fact: If you owe money to the government, you will lose access to income-driven repayment and forgiveness if you refinance federal loans.

Budgeting Tools for Today’s Students

If you have a student beginning their journey into higher education, be sure to check out the online budgeting resource from the affordablecollegesonline.org. This company specializes in ranking the best online college offerings and assisting people to earn college credits while keeping costs down.

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BUDGET FOR YOUR FUTURE

Start a Savings AcctAre you saving? If you are in the hole one hundred dollars this month, and you continue down that path, how long will it be before you get so far behind that you will not be able to turn it around? You need to create a savings habit. Some financial advisors suggest eliminating all debt before saving. I believe you should pay off debt and save simultaneously.

Start putting twenty-five dollars into a savings account. Today. NOW!

Set up an automatic debit with the bank so that, when your direct deposit hits on the 5th of each month into your checking account, an electronic transfer goes into your savings account on the 6th. Start this habit at the same time you learn to pay down your debts. You want to establish a method for both. Yes, you’ll pay a little more interest than if you put the extra twenty-five dollars toward the credit card debt, but you’ll start to see your savings account grow. My experience is that, as people begin to save a little, they feel a sense of accomplishment and can’t wait to start putting more away.

Remind yourself to “pay yourself” first. That is what saving is about – paying yourself for your future. People say they want to pay themselves first, and they usually don’t follow through. I ask my clients, “Why aren’t you saving?” I often hear, “I am waiting to get this big check, and then I’m going to kick-start my savings plan.” Or they say, “I want to pay off all my debt before I start saving.”

My experience with many clients (and my previous self) is that we often promise ourselves to save, and we rarely do. There isn’t usually a big windfall or a money tree that lets us wipe away all our debts and obligations. Assume there’s no big lottery win in your future and just start putting away small amounts.

Get into the new habit of saving. You should start with twenty-five dollars. Start experiencing the gratification of seeing your savings grow while paying down your credit cards and other debts. Incorporate the habit of saving while honoring your prior financial obligations. You are now becoming debt-free while building your wealth and that equation will provide more freedom for future plans.

Each evening, I empty my pockets and drop the change into a jar. I have three or four jars. When one fills up, I add a second one… and then a third. I may have about eighty bucks of change at the end of the year. If you like to save your change like I do, you don’t even have to keep filling those jars. Take the coins down to the bank and throw them into your savings account where it will earn a little interest. It may be little change at first, but lots of small change turns into dollars. Going from being in the red to managing a positive flow of income is a great feeling!

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STARTING THE JOURNEY

3x3 STarting The JourneyHere are some tools to help you determine where you are financially. Learn what your credit score is, plan how much money you want place in your savings account and start a budget for all the important things in life.

Getting ready to buy a house? While it is always important to set intentions and visualize your goal, nothing will happen until you take action and get some momentum flowing. I always wanted to play basketball but sleeping with a basketball under my pillow and wearing shorts and a jersey with a number on it, will not make me a player! To play the game, I have to learn the rules, dribble a ball and practice making a basket. These actions will get me much closer to my goal.

Keep that in mind when your goal seems to be “just out of reach.” Implementing proactive plans and following up with the best action will always take you many steps closer toward the prize!

To help you have a healthy relationship with money and to learn new habits, we have placed numerous tools on the Money Nerve website. It is my hope that these tools will help you to determine how you are spending or saving your income and assist you on your financial journey. Please see the tools page on the #MoneyNerve website for more options.

Here are just a few:
Determine your credit score: https://www.creditkarma.com/

Explore how much your monthly payments would be for a house, depending on the money you have to put down on it and the amount of time your loan is scheduled for: http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/

If you want more house than you have money, now might the perfect time to bump up your savings and plan a budget to make your dreams come true: http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/home_budget_calculator/

How to create a balance sheet to determine how your assets and liabilities. And as you purchase a house, learn how to determine what your equity is: https://youtu.be/mxsYHiDVNlk

And last, check out this video from Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest.com. She shares 5 principles to live a debt free life: