Here are five simple steps on how to eliminate debt and create financial success from Al Riddick, President of Game Time Budgeting.
When you hear the phrase, “turn up”, I am sure you do not associate it with personal finance. Well, my goal is to get you so turnt up on how to eliminate debt, that you will never have to ask, “Turn down for what?”
Personal finance is a simple topic that often ruins your buzz because you assume it is too complicated. Achieving your financial goals is easy when you follow a proven plan for success. Similar to how a DJ controls the crowd based on his music selection, controlling your emotions has a major influence on your short-term financial success. Here are five simple steps on how to eliminate debt and ensure a guaranteed turn up in your financial life:
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- Know where your money went – When was the last time you looked at your banking statement to understand your spending habits? Categorize your spending for one month (e.g., rent/mortgage, car payment, eating out, gas, utilities, groceries, retail therapy, etc.) to uncover opportunities to decrease spending.
- Create and follow a spending plan – Give every dollar flowing through your household an assignment. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Money only does what you tell it to do.
- Determine why you need to save – If you do not have money in your emergency fund today, it will not magically appear a month from now if you do not change your behavior. At some point in the near future, an emergency you did not expect will occur that is going to cost money. Why not start saving an extra $50 to $100 a month now to avoid financial pain later?
- Reduce or eliminate debt – Debt is one of the biggest barriers to creating a stable financial future. Would you believe credit card debt in America at the end of 2016 was approximately $999 billion? If you believe a credit card is what you use in cases of emergency, WAKE UP! Cash is king! While creating your spending plan, be sure to pay extra on your smallest debt until it is gone. Do not forget to make sure your emergency fund is in place first. Repeat this process every month until you are satisfied with your progress.
- Clean up your credit report – Visit Annual Credit Report to retrieve a copy. You are entitled to one FREE report every 12 months from each of the three major bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). Learn to resolve your disputes for FREE. If raising your score is a concern, try these simple tips:
- Pay down your balance – It is not how much you owe, it’s your utilization ratio. The music is too loud. My what? If you have a $1,000 credit card limit and the balance owed is $500, your utilization ratio is 50%. Aim for 30% or less.
- Pay twice a month – If you max out your credit limit every month to earn rewards, your utilization ratio is probably being reported by the credit card company as 100% although you may be paying your balance in full.
- Negotiate outstanding balances – If, for example, you had a $5,000 debt and suddenly came into $2,500 (e.g., income tax refund check), your lender may settle for this amount. Before sending any money, get the agreement in writing. Do not be surprised when you receive Form 1099-C (cancellation of debt) in the mail from your creditor since forgiven debt ($600 or more) is considered income by your friends at the IRS.
You already have everything you need. There are not many financial secrets that you do not already know. Since you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, the only other skill you have to master is controlling your behavior and emotions. That is the biggest factor when learning how to eliminate debt. The next time you think about making a purchase, pause and ask yourself a question. Will this move me toward or away from my goals? Never make an impulse purchase that may haunt you for months.
Hopefully, by now, you are in full turn up mode and saying, “This is my jam.” My hope is that you hired a babysitter. Don’t worry! Your children can get their groove on with this one financial tip:
- Eliminate allowance, use commission – Create a chart which lists weekly household responsibilities (e.g., taking out the trash, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, etc.) and a respective pay scale that you decide. Let your child experience what it is like to work for money instead of being given a sum of money regularly (i.e., allowance) which can produce laziness.
Al Riddick is President of Game Time Budgeting, an award-winning, Cincinnati-based financial wellness firm. He is the author of The Uncommon Millionaire (featured at select Kroger stores) and a workbook for youth titled Money $mart Teens. Al and his wife were recently featured in Money magazine’s A Comprehensive Guide to An Early Retirement.
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