Debt Help 101

What is an Emergency Fund? – part 1

Posted by on Jun 12, 2015 in Debt Help 101 | 0 comments

What is an Emergency Fund? – part 1

An emergency fund is something that I recommend every person starts out with BEFORE trying to pay off debt.  An emergency fund is just what it says:  money set aside for an emergency.  The reason that you will want to start with this first, is because THERE WILL BE some type of “emergency” come up when you start trying to pay off debt.

Saving for a Rainy Day

Have you ever heard this expression?  I’m sure we all have.  I bet that most of us have heard it from our parents or grandparents.  When you are setting aside money for a rainy day then there will be no rain – only sunshine.  You will be filled with lots of sunshine knowing that you have the money to pay off that emergency and then you can just keep working towards your goal of paying off debt.

Use Only in Case of an Emergency

This saying can be found on the glass door of a fire extinguisher.  Why would it say this?  Maybe…just maybe they don’t want you spraying down the entire office with that white foam unless it is just absolutely necessary.  Pulling out that extinguisher before needed would make a complete mess.  It is the same when pulling out money for something that you think you  “need”.  Taking out that money for just anything could cause you to have more of a mess on your hands than you already do.  Ask yourself this question before pulling money out of your emergency fund to make a purchase:  “Is this a need or a want?”.

Proverbs 6:6

“Go to the ant, you sluggard!  Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

How do you think this verse relates to what I said above?

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How We Were Able To Accrue $53,000+ Of Debt!

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Debt Help 101 | 2 comments

How We Were Able To Accrue $53,000+ Of Debt!

During the first two years of our marriage, Greg and I were able to accumulate $53,000 worth of debt.  Wow!  When you see the breakdown of how we accrued that much, it doesn’t seem like it could actually total that amount.  Even though we are debt free, it is still hard to face that number.  I have heard people tell me that they don’t know how in debt they are and they don’t want to know.  They don’t want to face the music.  The only problem is that if you want to get rid of the debt, you have to face the music.  You need to know how much you have in debt and then make a plan to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

How Did You Accrue That Much In Two Years?

Well, unfortunately we did not start off our marriage being debt free.  That was the first mistake we made.  Greg had quite a bit of money accrued on a couple of credit cards and I had a small amount (to help my credit score:) on a card.  I think our total amount on credit cards was a little over $18,000 (some of which we spent on the honeymoon and after we were married).  I will say, though, that Greg forewarned me about his debt before our marriage but I was too head over heels to care.

When Greg and I got married I still had a year left of school.  The four previous years I received pale grants because of my Dad’s income.  Well, when I married Greg that all changed.  He made more than the amount for the grant so I took out a $10,000 loan to finish school.  I was mortified at the amount I had to take out until I talked to the finance office and the lady said “Oh, this is nothing.  This is the smallest amount I’ve seen all year.”  I’m not sure if that made me feel better or not.  WOW!

Then after I was finished up at school it was time to get a teaching job.  Of course, when you get a new job that pays (what seems like) a lot of money then you have to get new things.  Right?!  That’s how we looked at it.  We deserved all of this stuff  because we went without for so long.

That stuff included a $26,000 car.  We already had one car that we were making small payments on per month and now we were going in way over our heads to get a brand new car.  The car I had before this was one was the car I paid for IN CASH at 19.  We sold it for $600 and then turned around and bought a $26K headache.  Smart thinkin’ there on our part!  You should’ve seen the car salesman’s face when we said we had no money to put down.  Nothing.  I’m not sure who was more ignorant on that deal…us for putting down no money or the company who allows people to do stupid stuff like that.  The jury is still out on that one!

Well, then of course you have to get a brand new Sleep Number bed so that you can rest peacefully before going to work at your stressful job.   I’m not sure how much that cost us because we just slapped it on a credit card.  (I will say that Sleep Numbers are AMAZING…especially when you’re pregnant – but it would’ve been even more amazing if we actually had the money to pay for it.)  And then, of course, we needed to buy a brand new bedroom suite to match our hold our amazing Sleep Number mattresses.  I’m sure we paid well over $1,000 for the suite and it was through financing.

I’m sure this was not the end of our spending adventure, but I think you get my drift.  We all make stupid mistakes.  I can sit here and dwell on the fact that we really screwed up or I can look ahead to the future and see how to fix the problem.  It was so easy to spend all of that money in two months, but it took us years to pay it all off.  And we pretty much paid off everything on our own.  The only thing that was not paid in full was my student loan.  I was able to apply for a loan forgiveness program since I worked in a Title I school for 5 years.  They forgave $5,000.  That was truly a blessing!

Looking back I don’t blame anybody but Greg and I for our mistakes.  God was walking alongside us the whole way probably shaking His head and thinking “Here they go again.”  I made it a point to never blame God for our debt.  He didn’t want to see us go down that path, but he gave us a choice.  We made a lot of  wrong choices and He was merciful to stick with us the whole way.  Then He showed us how to get the wisdom that we needed to get out of this mess.

Are you looking for a way out of your disastrous financial path?  I can help you.  Click here for a FREE consultation.

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Become DEBT-FREE in 2015

Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Debt Help 101 | 0 comments

Become DEBT-FREE in 2015

When telling people that I’m a financial coach, somebody always tells me that they need someone like me.  They want to change their habits and change their ways but sometimes they just don’t know how to go about that.

Here is a list I made of things that might help you to get on the path to financial freedom starting now.  Don’t wait!  The more you procrastinate the less likely you are going to ever change your habits.  Feel free to add to my list by leaving a comment below.

 

  • Start Small

Becoming Debt-Free in ’15 doesn’t have to start off with anything big.   Maybe this month you set aside a little money.  Maybe next month you set aside a little more.

You have to remember that your situation is unique.   Your story is not like mine or anybody else on this planet.  It’s your story.  Start out small but in the end know that you’re doing something BIG.

I am sitting down with a friend in two days just to go over a budget.  Seems like a small feat, but it was a HUGE blessing in our life.  The first month we budgeted, we were able to find $1K extra floating around in our paychecks.

 

What about you?  Where could you start right now to help yourself become debt-free this year?

  • Goal:  Save $1,000 immediately!

I know this sounds IMPOSSIBLE, especially when you are living paycheck to paycheck.  Trust me on this one when I say that if you don’t have this money saved when you’re trying to get out of debt that it will be a choice you may regret.

 

Every year we teach Financial Peace, it never fails that someone’s vehicle breaks down.  Sometimes people come to us with multiple problems all while they’re taking the course and trying to work their way out of debt.  You can call it what you want, but I always say that Satan is on the attack!

He doesn’t want us doing something to better ourselves.  He wants us to stay miserable because that’s what he enjoys the most.  So, quickly save your $1,000 before you begin your debt-free journey.

Need some ideas of how to get money quickly?  Read here….

  • Absolutely NO excuses

Don’t keep saying “I can’t get started because….” or “I think I need to wait until another time because…”

Stop making excuses for your poor behavior.  Own up to what you have done and face the facts.  Once you can take an honest look at your situation (which is one of the hardest things to do) then you can say “Look, I’ve made these mistakes and now I need to fix it.”

And yes, YOU, need to fix the problem.  It’s not the government’s fault that you are in debt.  You can’t blame it on your parents.  It’s all you.  The great thing is that now YOU can be the one to make things right.  So, stop making excuses and change your spending habits – TODAY!

 

  • Stay Focused

This seems to be a hard thing to do in our society.  Set your goals and then focus on them.  Don’t let things keep you from meeting your goals.  If you are married, then ask your spouse to be your accountability partner.  If you are single, then search out on your own to find an accountability partner.

An accountability partner will help you to focus on what’s important.  They will remind you that you don’t have the money to eat out or that you really don’t need to spend lots of money on a elaborate shopping trip.

Keep the goal in mind and hone in on that goal until you’ve accomplished it!

 

 

 

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How Do Your Finances Measure Up?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Debt Help 101 | 0 comments

How Do Your Finances Measure Up?

Are you ready for a pop-test?   Here is a quick list of questions to help determine if you are in need of a coach.

So, go ahead…take the test and then see how you score at the bottom of this page.

 

LESS TRUE               MORE TRUE

STATEMENTS

1        2         3         4           5

This month’s bills come in before I have paid last month’s bills.
1        2         3         4           5 I receive at least one cutoff/past due notice per month.
1        2         3         4           5 I have a stack of unopened bills/notices.
1        2         3         4           5 I keep a negative running balance in my checkbook.
1        2         3         4           5 I search for products I can buy with minimal down payments.
1        2         3         4           5 I get excited about how much credit line I have left.
1        2         3         4           5 I get at least one cash advance per month from my credit card.
1        2         3         4           5 I am frequently short a few dollars and borrow from friends, family, etc.
1        2         3         4           5 I get a high from telling the clerk to “charge it”.
1        2         3         4           5 I am always interested in getting new credit cards.
1        2         3         4           5 I feel inordinately good when I pay routine bills like the phone or the rent.
1        2         3         4           5 I am reticent about discussions of money and walk away from social conversations about it.
1        2         3         4           5 I have had an account closed in the last six months and am angry about it or have blamed others.
1        2         3         4           5 When my paycheck or loan money comes in, I experience a great sense of relief.
1        2         3         4           5 I rarely keep a running balance in my checkbook.
1        2         3         4           5 My credit card balances run near the maximum credit line.
1        2         3         4           5 I have little or no savings, investments, or assets; nothing available for emergencies.
1        2         3         4           5 I bounce more than three checks per year.
1        2         3         4           5 I have only a vague idea of my various financial obligations.
1        2         3         4           5

 

TOTAL SCORE:  ____________

Money is tight, but there is always someone I keep turning to who won’t let me starve.

After finding the sum of your numbers, here’s the scoring key:

20 – 35 Doesn’t look like a problem

36 – 50 Get on  a Budget!

51 – 75 Borderline situation

76 – 100 Clearly a problem

Form courtesy of “The Coaching Starter Kit”

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When Does an Emergency Not Feel Like an Emergency?

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in Debt Help 101, Money and Marriage | 0 comments

When Does an Emergency Not Feel Like an Emergency?

When you actually have the money set aside to cover that particular “emergency”.

 

You need to stop and set aside money for a emergency fund or rainy day fund.  TODAY!  Don’t wait until the emergency actually happens before you begin saving.  That will cause you a lot more stress and you possibly won’t get the money that you need.

 

Which will then cause you take out a credit card or ask for a loan.  Ouch!  Don’t pay somebody else interest, when you could just be stockpiling that cash on your own interest FREE.

 

EMERGENCIES WILL HAPPEN

 

I was not prepared for the day when my son put six small aquarium rocks up his nose.  We were able to retrieve four of the rocks, but the other two were jammed up in there too far.

 

After seeking out an ENT, he told us to meet him at the surgery unit of our local hospital to remove the remaining rocks.  The rocks were successfully removed – we actually keep them in the container in our house as a reminder to our child about putting rocks up his nose.

 

Those two rocks (actually three – there were two stuck together) cost us around $3,000 out of pocket. That was AFTER the insurance took affect.

 

So, when this same child put a rock in his ear and the school calls to tells us – we were not surprised.  No biggie.  We went through the exact same procedure.

 

He was too upset for the ENT to take it out and wouldn’t let the guy touch him.  We took him to the local hospital, surgery unit only to find out that there was not just a rock.  There was also a popcorn kernel behind the rock.  The doctor’s comment, “It looks like it had been there for a while.”  Yuck!!

 

Did I already mention that EMERGENCIES HAPPEN!!!

 

By the way, we actually saved money on that trip.  The rock/popcorn kernel only cost us around $2,500 out of pocket.

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN AN EMERGENCY ARISES?

 

Don’t panic.  You have already set your money aside because I told you that an emergency will happen.

 

Just go draw out the money and pay for it in cash.  If it is a medical condition, I would let it ride for a few months to make sure that insurance has covered all their costs first.

 

One of these cases listed above even went to collections.  We had money saved, but not $3K.  Once it hit collections, we called and were able to save about $700 because we told them that we had the money in cash to pay the bill that day.

 

That was nice.  We had complete control of the situation.  It didn’t affect our credit, they didn’t come take our children – probably because they see how much our kids cost!!

 

If we didn’t have that money saved then our scenario would have looked completely different.

 

Think of your biggest emergency right now.  How much would that cost?

 

Set that money aside.  The top line item on our budget is GIVING and the next item is EMERGENCY FUND.  Maybe even have the money drafted out or your paycheck so that you don’t even see it.  I have a client that is doing that and it works great.

 

What costs have you encountered because of an emergency?  Does this article cause you to think that you need to start an emergency fund? 

 

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Why Seeing is Not Always Believing in the Financial World

Posted by on Sep 4, 2012 in Debt Help 101 | 0 comments

Why Seeing is Not Always Believing in the Financial World

Do you find yourself comparing your financial situation to that of your friends?  Do you wish you had what they had?  Do you get tired of always feeling so broke when everybody around you has so much cool stuff?

Well, let me fill you in on a little secret.  Just because people look like they have it all together financially does not necessarily mean that they actually have it all together financially.

This is something that I battle with on a continual basis.  I get jealous very quickly when I see so many people around me with the latest I-Pad, the newest phone, a cool laptop.

I have to remind myself, though, that it may seem like they own these things when in reality they may not.  Credit cards or loans may be the true owner of a lot of these items.  Now there are those people who use cash to buy everything, but that number is very small compared to the people that are in debt.

Yesterday while I was laid up in bed with a stomach bug I thought I would watch one of those housewife shows.  I won’t say which one, but if you’re an addict you will probably figure it out.

The entire season pretty much stems around the fact that one couple has hit bankruptcy and I believe they lost their home (I have actually seen this same reality on another one of these shows).

Now if you look at this couple they look like they have it all!

Big house, nice cars, beautiful clothes, and anything else luxurious that you could imagine.  How does someone like that just lose it all?

Huh…maybe like many of us their living beyond their means.  One relative even asked about if they were living on a budget.  The husband laughed and said that his wife would never spend on a budget.  She spends too much on clothes shopping.

How sad!  The husband of the home, the one that God has placed to be in charge is not looking out for his family financially.  Unfortunately, he’s not the only one.

People don’t want to consider the bad.  They don’t think about something financially going wrong, and if you’re in the financial world then you know that something always goes wrong.

People don’t consider the fact that jobs are lost, cars break down, kids grow up and become more costly.  These things are not planned or budgeted for which can cause a mess out of your finances.

So, before you just assume that you know someone listen to them.  You may find out that things are what you really see.

Oftentimes we’re just looking through rose-colored glasses and don’t want to face the reality.  You will never become debt-free if you can’t face the reality of your situation.

You have to go about it with a Fearless Heart.

If you would like help looking at your situation and don’t want to face it alone, please contact me.  If you are tired of wearing those rose-colored glasses and you’re ready to face reality then please call me (979-776-5170).  I am here to help you!

 

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