Online Budget EBook – In Between Moderation

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I am so excited to finally release my new ebook…Since it is release week, look towards the bottom of this page for a special…

Source: Online Budget EBook – In Between Moderation

Why Living Debt-Free Creates a More Joyous Life

I know so many people who portray themselves as happy on Facebook, that I can see are not very happy at all.  People are keeping up with the Joneses, piling up credit card debt, feeling the pressure of impending college tuition, wondering how in the world did I get in this much debt and how am I going to get out of this? They work jobs they abhor and live lives that are severely disorganized.

101My challenge has always been to push people to challenge themselves, to break the cycle of a life that is designing them vs them designing their life. And as I type this I realize some might read and say most people’s lives aren’t that bad; and my response is you have not been paying attention.  It might be the case that not all families encapsulate my description above, but many families deal with a few.  I believe we have been conditioned to accept debt as a reality, when in fact it is a defeatist mentality.

We must realize that our life is our responsibility and it is possible for us to make positive changes.

I have talked often in the past about debt and I have wondered myself why so many of my thoughts regarding living out dreams come back to debt.  And I guess the answer is that in conversations with people I have heard the money excuse used all too often. And when I hear the money excuse used I immediately wonder how much cash they waste each month or how they use their money.

I personally have two resources that I guard as sacred: my time and my money.  The money situation is very sensitive for lots of individuals because they feel a sense of embarrassment when light is shined on their inability to manage their personal life. If you speak to someone who works in the financial business they will tell you how defensive people get when their debt is criticized (and by criticize I mean it in the truest definition of the word, not pointing out flaws or making fun of).

I believe it is important for you to understand one fact: your debt could be getting in the way of you living a fulfilled life!  We live in a society that tells us we must live in a certain type of house, drive a certain type of car,  send our kids to a top school, we must work a certain type of job, we must associate with a certain type of people. And if you do not you are not successful. And you must obtain these things at any cost. So get yourself some credit cards, acquire a line of credit and go buy things so that people think you are successful and these things will make you happy and fulfilled.

And in the end what you have attained is a life that is fake, that you don’t own because you owe others for it, and a mountain of debt that you carry around like a 300 pound gorilla each and every day. Your debt restricts your ability to move out of a job that makes you unhappy, it restricts your ability to move out of a city or town that you do not like, it restricts your ability to see the world around you and it sets an image of the type of life your children expect to have for themselves.

For your information, Warren Buffett still lives in a house in Nebraska that he bought 50 years ago and drives an old Buick,  both of which he paid off many years ago.

121908-600x349Do not wait for tomorrow, do it today!  And contrary to what some might say Starbucks is not necessary. Car payments are not necessary. Shopping at the most expensive grocery stores is not necessary. Eating out is not necessary. Gym memberships are not necessary.  Boats & motorcycles are not necessary. Cable television is not necessary. And these are just a few of the things I see people spending money on that they can neither afford nor sustain.

Your attitude towards buying things should always be: if you do not have the cash to buy, do not buy it.  I will guarantee you if you eliminate all unnecessary spending each month you will have approximately $500 to pay on debt. My advice would be to pay down the smallest credit card first and gain some positive forward momentum. Then choose the second debt item and take the $500 plus whatever you were paying on the first credit card and pay that on the second credit card.  You duplicate this formula as many times as it takes to get you out of debt and if you commit three to five years to this you will be 100% debt free.  There are many methods or plans that one can use so be sure to educate yourself as to the best method for your situation.

Don’t forget to take a few moments and visit my Partners’ pages located in the sidebar and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr!

Many of the happiest people I know have extremely low debt. And by extremely low debt I mean they have an affordable mortgage, no car payment, and zero credit card debt.

Successful people do not stumble upon being successful. Their lives are purposely designed to give themselves the best opportunity possible to find success. And it is time for you to take control of your life and design it to give yourself the best opportunity possible to be successful.  The first step is acknowledging that your life is your responsibility.

 

Easy Ways to Save $$$

Great tips for saving some cash while paying down debt!

Loren Gasser

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My husband and I are committed to paying off our student loan debt ahead of schedule, as far ahead of schedule as we possibly can. So, we frequently look at our spending habits and try to figure out areas we can cut back a little in order to devote more money to paying extra on our loans. We changed phone carriers to cut our bill almost in half and parted with our beloved HBO & Showtime package in order to prioritize our debt payoff. One area that can be a little tricky to scale back on is household essentials, like groceries, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies, batteries, clothing, etc. Some people do “extreme couponing” to save money on these items, but I don’t have hours to clip coupons, so I’ve found a few easy ways that don’t take up a lot of time to save money on the things we…

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Is Debt Strangling the Life Out of Your Dreams?

I am not shocked that most people are relatively unsuccessful; money wise that is.  I do believe that any human being can accomplish what they desire if they have a mind to do so, but I don’t think the majority truly have burning desire.

I believe the majority of people go to school to get a job and if they make $50,000 per year combined with their soon-to-be spouses’ $50,000, they will be happy and live out their life working for “the man.”

After all, the average household income in the U.S. is $50,000, so compared to the average, your family would be sitting pretty.

credit-card-debt

image credit: stingyliving.blogspot.com

The problem with our society today is not that people cannot make enough money to live their dreams or work their dream job(s).  The issue is that most Americans have fallen for a great lie: credit is a necessity.

Credit can be evil.  It is a modern form of slavery for most.  It restricts you, it binds you, it ties you up and keeps you right where “the man” wants you: working your job to pay for stuff you couldn’t afford in the first place.

I want to paint 2 scenarios, then we will continue our discussion.

Scenario 1:

Jane and Jon get married with both partners making $35,000 per year. They have been responsible with their money, putting off the temptation of credit card debt.  One has a school loan the other does not.  They decide to rent an affordable, small apartment and drive dependable, yet slightly older model cars, with only 1 small car payment.

Each month, because of their responsible living, they are able to put $800 into their savings totaling nearly $10,000 per year.  They decide to live this lifestyle for 5 years and add all additional raises and bonuses to their savings account.

They have a small cable bill, basic utilities, one small car payment, car insurance, student loan payment, renter’s insurance, etc.  They eat out but not extravagantly and not too often.  They practice cooking and eating at home.

At the end of the 5 years they accrue a savings balance of over $60,000 including interest and have nearly eliminated the student loan.

They then use part of that money to buy their first home, but use restraint and buy a home slightly larger than their apartment, yet large enough to start a family.  Their mortgage is slightly higher than their rent, which was their plan so they could own a home AND continue to add to their savings.

They continue to add to their savings and at the end of 10 years they have made one extra mortgage payment every year for the 5 years and have a savings balance exceeding $80,000 due to raises and bonuses.  The extra mortgage payment has created an additional $20,000 in equity in their home.

They now have options because of their responsible living.  If either one wants to start a small business or one loses a job, they have savings to fund themselves.

 

Scenario 2:

Jane and Jon get married with both partners making $35,000 per year. They have been irresponsible with their money, giving in to the temptation of credit card debt.  One has a school loan the other does not. They decide to rent an apartment that is a little pricier than they planned, but Jane loved the layout so they went for it.  They both drive new cars, with 2 car payments.

Each month, because of their irresponsible living, they are unable to put money into savings.  They hope that once they get a raise next year or a bonus they can begin a savings account.

They have credit card bills, a student loan, full cable television service, basic utilities, 2 car payments, car insurance, renter’s insurance, etc.  They eat out regularly and rarely cook at home.

After a few years they decide to buy their first home.  As they did with their apartment they buy a home slightly larger than they planned, but rationalize the extra expense by believing they can make a few cuts here and there to offset the additional increase.  This purchase uses all of their small savings.

They continue to add  what they are able to their savings, but at the end of 10 years they only have a savings balance of $2,500 due to large property taxes and living expenses.  They also don’t have much equity in their home as they are not able to make the 13th extra payment each year.

They have limited options because of their irresponsible living.  Jon doesn’t sleep well at night constantly worried about money and dreams of the day he can tell his boss where to stick his miserable job.  He works constantly to make sure the bills are paid, meanwhile neglects his relationship with his wife and kids.

Jane loves her husband, but wishes he didn’t work so much and paid more attention to her and the children.  Her feelings of loneliness cause arguments with Jon when she tries to talk about it.

Both feel trapped.

 

My previous statement was “credit is an evil.”  And I believe that.  I don’t buy into the statement that a mortgage is a “good” debt.  Debt is debt.  And if someone can come and take “your” stuff due to failure to pay, then you own nothing; so don’t be fooled.

Most people fall for the trap of the credit mindset.  I want you to stop and think about credit and why it exists.  Credit is a system that allows people that cannot afford stuff they think they need, to have stuff they think they need with an interest rate applied.

Credit would not exist if people didn’t want for things they couldn’t afford.

credit-card-bills

image credit: moneycrashers.com

 

And buying into the credit lie is what will eventually restrict your life and those restrictions will have a direct impact on your ability to do the things that will bring you joy, thus stifling your dream life.

If you have fallen for this lie, then you must take action immediately.  I have emailed and talked in person with many individuals that have paid off incredible amounts of debt and they have all said the same thing: “I wish I had taken action sooner.”

If you are in a place where your money decisions are hindering you, then why not do something to change the situation?  Why do you continue to ignore the problem or wish the problem away?

I will tell you why!  Because your desire for stuff you can’t afford exceeds your desire to live the life of your dreams.  It is that simple.

***side note***  I attended a funeral Saturday of a woman that died of multiple myeloma.   I had never met her, but she was an extended family member of an in-law, so I felt I needed to be there to show support.  Death always reminds me of how unimportant material things are.  I am sure the last thing on her mind as she breathed her last breath were all of her possessions.  Be careful about the value you place on material things.***

Once you realize that stuff is not important you will make the necessary decisions to pay down your debt.  Until then you will continue with the status quo.

Now you might ask, how am I supposed to get stuff?  Or what if I am already consumed with credit card debt?  Or what if I already have that huge mortgage?  Or worse, what if my life is represented by scenario #2?

As in all aspects of life you are left with a decision that only you can make. Are you willing to downsize or move into an apartment?  Are you willing to cut cable or eliminate eating out?  Are you willing to cut up your credit cards?

If I were you I would immediately read anything Dave Ramsey has ever written on debt.  Figure out a way to build an emergency fund, develop a strategy to pay off your debt and make the sacrifices necessary to relieve yourself of the debt burden.

Scenario #1 is attainable, but not if you continue to want for things you cannot afford.

 

 

 

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck: 4 Easy Tips

jumpstartWho would ever think to find life advice on Better Homes and Gardens or as the cool kids call it: BHG.  I found this article today talking about how to get ahead and stop living paycheck to paycheck.  If you are struggling and living pay to pay, do yourself a favor and make some home budget cuts.  The pressure of paying bills kills your joy when you are worried about where you will find the money.  Pay television, wasted electricity, wasted spending on eating out, gym memberships are just a few areas to review.

Trust me when I say, you will appreciate the eliminated stress much more than you enjoy television.

http://www.bhg.com/health-family/finances/tips/stop-living-paycheck-to-paycheck/

How to Start Getting Ahead: 4 Areas for Improvement

jumpstartWe talk a lot on Dream Big about living the life you see in your dreams; the life you see in your mind’s eye.  When you envision the life you would life to live I’ll bet it includes more trips, leisure time, relaxation and enjoyment.  And less stress, jobs you hate, penny-pinching and worrying about bills.  I couldn’t imagine the life of my dreams including the latter!

So what is standing in your way?  What is separating your actual life from the life you see in your mind?  Is the life you see in your mind’s eye obtainable?

The answer to the last question is an emphatic YES!  But, it is contingent on how you address the first two questions.

Many of us allow simple problems to overwhelm and ruin our lives.  Health neglect, overwhelming debt, disorganization and selfishness are 4 areas that I witness daily that add to a less joyful life.  And notice I referred to these problems as simple? That’s because they can be rectified!  Debt can be eliminated in a few short years.  Health can be recovered. Disorganization can be overcome and anyone can learn to give of themselves!

These are not monumental achievements! You are not being asked to sail around the world in a dingy or climb Mt. Everest so keep these things in their proper perspective.  They simply require the proper action.

Sir Bentley

Sir Bentley

Here are 4 areas that are holding you back:

  1. Stop neglecting your health.  I do not expect you to become the next Shawn T, but you don’t have to live your life 60 pounds overweight.  I can personally attest to the increase in the quality of my life after losing 25 lbs.  The reduction in the pressure on my knees and legs has been reduced by 100 lbs.  My ability to get out and walk Bentley a couple of times per week allows me to get some exercise and my MS symptoms have lessened a little; not a lot, but a little.  And every bit helps!   Set a calorie goal each day and hit your mark.  Eat a few more veggies and walk a little each day.
  2. Stop ignoring your debt.  Your debt problem is not going to fix itself and ignoring the problem will not make it go away.  It is time to take back control of your life, make some budget cuts and pay off this ridiculous debt once and for all!  You may not realize, but the gorilla-like weight of your debt is causing your physical and emotional strain.  Sacrificing in the short-term will set you up for long-term happiness.
  3. Remove the clutter.  Disorganization affects every part of your life, whether you see it or not.  You’re always late.  You’re usually scattered.  You’re definitely suffering.  And you simply don’t realize the toll that being disorganized is taking on your life.  A cluttered and disorganized life means a cluttered and disorganized mind.  And a disorganized mind will stand in the way of your success.
  4. Stop being selfish.  Selfish people are those that focus on their lives, their needs, their families, their stuff, their time, their wants and rarely consider the needs of others.  And, rarely ever go out of their way to volunteer in any shape or form.  If you want more joy and fulfillment in life you must begin to focus on those in the world that are in need.  I do not know one happily content individual that is selfish; not one!

It is time for you to start getting ahead in life instead of just getting by and that will not start until you realize the changes that you need to make.

If you seek fulfillment, then you cannot continue the cycle of insanity where you continue the same actions expecting a different result.

cycle-of-insanityLook at your current actions as X and your current undesired results as Y.  If X produces Y and Y is undesired, then you must change X in order to change Y.

When I realized this simple equation I completely restructured the habits of my life.  I instilled 14 habits of success over the course of 7+ months in order to bring about different results.  Will that change pay off?  I believe so.  But I knew that I could not continue holding on to the status quo; I had to make changes.

If you are tired of struggling, then assess your habits and make the necessary adjustments.  Start taking care of your body, pay down your debt, get organized and start giving your time to charities.

When you start improving upon these 4 principles your life will change for the better.

Escaping the debt trap

I wanted to share this quick thought with you folk regarding debt…

thabo's journal

Can we live without debt?
Most people believe we can’t live without debt. There are people who never had a credit card in their lives, don’t have a retail clothing card and don’t owe anybody anything. How do they survive?

Is it a personal (image) thing?
Getting into debt to maintain a lifestyle is called ‘bad debt’ while a lot can be said about good debt. Why keep an image you can’t afford?

I came across this statement…

“Corruption thrives in countries with higher inflation rate”

Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. These days, everybody is in debt; the trick is to manage it.

Three rules to get wealthy
1. Earn more.
2. Spend less.
3. Invest, invest, invest!

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How Being Debt-Free Can Improve You Emotionally!

photo 1Today’s discussion has revolved around the importance of obtaining financial freedom.  It has more than just financial benefits.  Those achieving this freedom report less stress, improved relationships and other emotional improvements.  Read this article on The Art of Simple:

http://theartofsimple.net/the-emotional-benefits-to-becoming-debt-free/

How I Paid Off $30,000+ of Credit Card Debt in Two Years

Anyone can pay off their debt…IF they have desire and are willing to sacrifice!

Double Debt Single Woman

happyWomen

Yes! Recently credit-card debt free and exhausted from a marathon session of bad dancing, I’m back to share how I did it. By writing this, I don’t mean to imply that everything that I did was necessarily the best course of action, or that it would work for everyone. I’m only sharing what worked for me, a single female with no dependents.

There were 5 simple components that all played a part. None of this was easy to experience, but the steps were simple.

1.  I resolved to do it.

I had a wake up call back in late 2012 when I did a bit of math and realized that when my student loans came out of forbearance, I would no longer be able to make ends meet. I knew that I had to start paying off these two debts. Dave Ramsey books and DVDs got me psyched up and…

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