Resolution Cheerleader: Getting Your Money Under Control
When it comes to resolutions I’m a sucker. After all it is a full week after New Years and I’m still talking about resolutions. This year I’m pretty proud of my list. It isn’t unrealistic and it pushes me just enough out of my comfort zone that I’m not going to back down. So how are yours coming along? If you have actually stuck with your New Year goals congrats you are part of the 75% of the people who stick with them through the first week. And according to the Huffington Post in 6 months 46% of the people who made resolutions will stick with them.
So what goals did you make? If getting out of debt, weight loss, getting organized, or getting more sleep is on your list you have more in common with most Americans and Australians than you think. These goals actually made up the most common New Years resolutions in both countries. As an avid goal setter I thought I might pull out my pom poms and help cheer on anyone who has decided to take on any of these goals. Let’s start with getting out of debt.
1. Don’t get overwhelmed: I know. Trust me I really do feel where you are coming from. Right now I’m looking at bills, 5 different student loan payments, and credit card bills. All of which I want to pay off so that I can’t put myself even further in debt by buying a house. However first we need to get R’s out of control credit on track. Yeah, it is easy to go into freak out mode very easily and when that happens it is easy to want to push aside the bills and ignore it all. Calm down, it will be okay and you will get it under control. It is seems overwhelming get some help. Talk to a friend who is great with money or find a financial advisor who can help you sort through everything.
2. Set up online payments: Have you ever checked out what you pay in late fees? If my credit card payment is late I get an automatic $35 late fee added. Oh, and my interest rate can be increased to as much as 27.99% for one late payment. Ouch. Almost all places now allow for online payment of bills and signing up may only take as many as 5 minutes. Add to that the connivence of having your payment automatically deducted from your bank account on time, you can manage you accounts online so there is no messy paperwork, it will always stay organized, and you really have no need to worry about getting a payment out or wonder if you sent it.
3. One at a time: If you are trying to pay off your debt start with one think at a time. If your monthly bills are under control make a list of all debt you own. Add in car payments, house payments, any loans, credit cars… basically anything that once it is paid off you will never have to worry about again. Now look at this list and take the smallest amount that you owe and work on that one first. Throw any extra money that you have at this debt until it is eliminated and move on to the next. It is all about baby steps. Also once one debt is gone think of how good that will feel and now on to the next.
4. Over pay: Let me tell you a story. Once I knew a girl who loved to shop. She had a store credit card with a high interest rate and low minimum payments of $10.00. She loved to max it out and pay it off with that $10 a month. If she spent no more money on that card and paid it off at the rate she was going it would take 7 years to pay off and she would pay $862 in interest. However if she just paid $7 more a month (making the payments $17) it would only take 3 years to pay off and saved $247 in interest. Big difference.
5. Cut out the extra: If you are serious about saving money and cutting debt just take a look around you and see where your money goes. Instead of spending $4 a day on coffee brew your own. Try dropping the gym membership and go out and walk or invest that money in a few work out tapes. How many magazines do you get? How many do you read? Can you get them at the library? What about your appliances? The average household can save $75 just by unplugging. Take a serious, no excuses look at where your money goes and start making cuts. That $10 on a magazine subscription can be used to help pay off your credit card.
6. Get a second job: The best way to bring in a few extra bucks is to break down and get an extra job. An easy way to pick up a few hundred bucks is to get a part-time job in retail or doing odd jobs. The hours can be flexible, the money wont be great but an extra $400 a month wont hurt.
7. Talk it out: If the problem is that you got behind on some payments, the interest and late payment fees are racking up, and you don’t know what to do the best solution would be to call the company that you owe money too. Many times you can make an agreement that will benefit both you and the company. Sometimes they will even drop the extra charges. The key is to be nice, really nice, explain your situation, and just ask for help. You would be surprised how much people are willing to help if you ask politely.
Do you have any suggestions on how to help someone who is trying out to get out of debt this year?