Week 30: Tips to Embrace a Simpler Lifestyle

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You are reading Week 30 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

Ultimately as you work toward getting out of debt, you are going to have to Embrace A Simpler Lifestyle. If you are here and following our series, then you are most likely already in a place that needs help financially. With extra debt weighing you down, it can become difficult to function. Working harder to simplify your life and create more room in your budget is important not only for paying off debt, but for remaining debt free.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy any of the luxuries in life. It means that you will focus more on meaningful experiences instead of meaningful possessions. Let go of the things that could draw you in and suck money from you. This week we get serious about the mentality of a simpler lifestyle that will free up money and help you connect to things of valuable.

Don’t look at brand names, but at quality and usefulness. This goes for everything from your smart phone to the clothing you buy. We often get caught up in the, “best brand on the market”, but forget all bout the fact that it may actually not be the best as much as the most known brand.

In everything you choose to buy, look at how useful and functional it will be and less at how popular that item may be. Kids simply do not need a pair of shoes that cost $100 for sitting at a desk in school all day long. Expensive clothing and shoes for children is generally a waste of money when they will grow far quicker than they will use the item.   Adults should consider the quality of an item and how long it will last.

Before making a purchase, ask yourself how long you will wear an item.  Will it go out of style quickly?  Will the fabric fade after just a few washes?  Is it just for special occasions or could you wear it daily?   Make the most out of each and every purchase.  Spend wisely. Don’t make purchases just because it’s the brand everyone else is wearing.

Create home cooked meals. Take out and convenience food have become the standard. Instead of going out to eat as a special treat, get in the kitchen and prepare a real home cooked family dinner. Your budget and your family will thank you for the effort. A steak dinner at home for a family of four can cost as little as $20, but in a restaurant could cost upwards of $100. Which is a better choice?

Walk more and drive less. Remember the days when not every family had a car? Neither do I, but I know it was a fact. The truth is not only would our budgets be healthier, our bodies would be too if only we took up this habit again. If you live in the city you can easily put your shoes on and walk to the store a few blocks away instead of driving. You can even take advantage of public transportation to save on expenses in some areas.

Focus on conversation instead of entertainment. How often do our date nights or family nights involve sitting in front of a movie or television show for entertainment? Embrace a simpler lifestyle simply by making conversation or a family project mandatory. Focus on getting to know each other instead of getting to know the latest movie star.

This year as you work toward getting out of debt, focus on how you can create long lasting changes that will stay with you in years to come. Getting rid of debt isn’t always about how much more money you are making, as much as it is embracing a simpler lifestyle and way of living.

Week 30 Challenge:

How can you live a more simple life?  Talk with your family about ways you can cut out the unnecessary.  Cook together, take walks together, talk more.  Enjoy being a family without all the distractions of the 21st century.

Embrace-a-Simpler-Lifestyle

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 29: Practical Ways to Teach Your Kids Healthy Money Habits

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You are reading Week 29 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

Use you’re experiences and mistakes with budgeting to teach your kids healthy money habits. One important thing for kids to learn from your mistakes is that debt isn’t something they want to have. This week we are going to look at some practical ways to teach your kids healthy money habits.

Practical Ways to Teach Your Kids Healthy Money Habits:

1. Encourage them to save. Whether they receive an allowance, have birthday money or have a part time job, it is your job to encourage them to save their money. If you are at all in control of the money they receive (allowance), make savings mandatory.

Go with them to your local bank and open a simple savings account that allows them access to their money as needed, but also encourages them to put money away for the future. Some banks even off incentives for kids to open accounts.  Out of sight often does mean out of mind. An actual savings account makes that much easier for children to manage.

2. Get them involved in family budgeting. Each month as you sit down to go over your own household budget, encourage your children to participate. Let them in on the inner dynamics of how your household runs, what it takes to pay for things like rent, insurances and food. Let them help make decisions, or look over the numbers and add or subtract to verify your calculations. Getting them involved teaches them healthy budgeting habits for future use.

Obviously, kids do need to be protected from certain aspects of your financial situation.  While kids do need to realize there isn’t money for all their wants, you don’t want them thinking they can’t eat when their hungry because you need to save money.  As parents know, kids something don’t fully grasp what is going on.  Make your budget talks age appropriate.

3. Make them responsible for some expenses. For older children this is easier to encourage, but even youngsters with a small allowance can be held accountable for the way they spend their money. Things like buying gifts for friends birthdays, bus fare or even expenses related to extra curricular activities can all be items you require them to handle out of their own money.  This teaches them real life practical budgeting, and helps them understand the value of their money in a more practical fashion.

My kids know there are certain things we will buy and other things they need to save their own money to purchase.  If my son REALLY wants a new Nerf gun, he needs to save up his own money.  It’s interesting to see how a toy or game previously HAD TO HAVE, it’s really necessary when they have to shell out their own cash.

One idea to help kids understand money is Financial Peace Junior by Dave Ramsey. My kids have completed the course. They even enjoy using the give, save, and spend buckets to track their money.

As a parent, you don’t want your children to suffer from the same mistakes you have made. These practical ways to teach your kids healthy money habits will help them to stay on the road to financial freedom as adults.

Week 29 Challenge:

Sit down with your kids and discuss what debt is, when it can be necessary, like home-ownership, and when it should be avoided, like putting new clothes on the credit card when you really can’t afford them.  Teach kids that money really doesn’t grow on trees.  Let them know that you do have to pay for the things you swipe with your credit card. Have them use cash and watch you do the same.  Maybe let kids help add and subtract money in your cash envelopes for more hands on experience.

We live in a time when everyone expects instant gratification and believes they NEED the latest and greatest gadgets and toys to be happy.  Help kids understand the value of a dollar and what it means to work and save for the things they want.  They will thank you later.

*Here is an interesting article on CNN.

Teach-Your-Kids-Healthy-Money-Habits

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 28: How to Vacation for Free or Cheap

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You are reading Week 28 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

In all of our debt relief topics, you’ve probably wondered why we haven’t mentioned how to vacation for free or cheap. Reality is, this is a possibility. Sure, you expect thousands of dollars in debt to take your family on a vacation, but it isn’t necessarily true.

Vacations are what you make them, and they can be cheap or even free. As you work to get out of debt, it’s more than just paying down your credit card balances. It’s all about rethinking the way you look at any expense.

How to Vacation for Free or Cheap:

Save rewards points. If your credit is in good standing, just more than you would like, there are numerous credit cards that offer great rewards. Not only can you redeem points for miles with popular airlines, you may be able to redeem them for all inclusive resort vacations. Rewards points can be used to pay for all but a few expenses involved with great vacations.

I just used points from my Bank of America Travel Rewards card to get train tickets FREE!

Spend time with family. There is no shame in staying with your out of town parents for a week and considering that a vacation. If family or friends welcome you to their home, take advantage for a low cost and potentially free vacation.

Go to free entertainment. Stop thinking about vacations as being pricey theme park laden events. Focus instead on fun family friendly destinations with tons of free entertainment options.

You don’t even have to leave home for your vacation.  Have you ever heard of a staycation?  Play tourist in your own city.  You will be surprised at the number of free and cheap activities on the tourism website for your city.

St. Louis is a great location with literally tons of totally free things like kids museums and the zoo at no charge.  You can visit the Smithsonian museums in DC for free.  Hampton Roads locals might like my article, free and cheap things to do in Virginia Beach.

Whether you’re planning to stay home or travel, look for free activities.  Google and Pinterest are your friends when it comes to finding things to do in your city.

Go camping. Cook out on the grill with food from your own pantry while you sleep in tents under the stars.  Go fishing, swimming, and hiking by day.  Camping can be totally free depending on where you set up camp.   You can also get low cost campground fees for a few nights at a nearby national parks.

While you are working on getting rid of debt, you must also learn to focus on free options to meet you families needs and desires. Giving up everything can create frustration and burnout that results in more debt later on. Knowing how to vacation for free or cheap can make a big difference in your family and their state of mind.

Week 28 Challenge:

If you’re like many people, you’re ready to take a summer vacation.  You may not be in a financial situation now for a cruise or trip to Europe, but you can still enjoy time off with your family.  Think outside the box by using credit card miles, staying with friends and family or choosing to stick close to home and enjoy some of the free activities your town has to offer.

vacation-for-cheap

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 27: Downsizing Your Vehicles for Ultimate Savings

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Sometimes the things we have to give up to get rid of debt may be tough to let go, but the end result is worth it. One thing you can do is focus on downsizing your vehicles for ultimate savings. Many people can’t imagine not having their car, but reality is there are many ways you can downsize and change your transportation situation to create more funds to pay off debt.

Have two cars but only one person works outside the home? This one is is really tough for those who feel stifled without the ability to come and go as they please. Reality is, there are few times when a second vehicle is mandatory in a situation like this. Especially if you are making two car payments. If you own one vehicle, it is only a matter of extra insurance and maintenance. In that instance, you may not want to give up the car as much as limit using it as much as possible. Otherwise, it is time to look for a way to sell the extra car and save this expense each month.

Have an SUV? SUV’s are great for many things, but commuting to and from work is not one of them. If your general use car is an SUV, it may be time to actually look at trading in for a more reasonable car. Lower payments, lower insurance and lower gas prices and maintenance are much more important than the possibility of needing that larger vehicle the one or two times a year it’s SUV status comes in handy.

Admittedly, I have an SUV and love it to pieces.  I know letting it go may be hard and it may not be practical.  You have to make the choices that are best for you and your family.  I just want you to consider the possibility that you could free up a lot of extra money by having a smaller car.

Spending more on repairs than a new car payment would be? Sometimes we have one vehicle that is paid for, but it is always breaking down and the result is high repair and maintenance costs. Sometimes it is actually cheaper in the long run to invest in a newer car with a payment that is lower than your current monthly upkeep costs.  IF you do need to invest in a new vehicle – a new-to-you car is a great option.  Consider a used car that is in better condition than your current vehicle.

When you are looking at the big picture of getting rid of debt, you must consider things like downsizing your vehicles for ultimate savings. Look at the big picture and focus on the total numbers and not just on the immediate changes it would create.

Remember the change won’t be forever.  Once you get our of debt and have a comfortable savings account, you can start putting money away for a new or upgraded vehicle.

Week 27 Challenge:

Take a look at your vehicles and weight your options.  Would it be wise to downsize?  If not, hold tight and wait for week 28 when we discuss other money saving options.

downsize-your-vehicle

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 26: Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions – Don’t Miss These 6 Memberships

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You are reading Week 26 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

When you are working to eliminate debt, you have to literally think about everything in your list of expenses. One quick way to create a few hundred dollars in your budget is to cancel unnecessary subscriptions. There are many things that we pay for each year and could easily live without. This week we are going to focus on going over some of the common subscriptions you can do without, and a few suggestions on alternatives.

 Don’t Forget to Cancel These 7 Memberships:

  • Cancel your gym membership. Instead of paying $20-$50 per month for a gym membership, invest in a few items to have at home to help you get in shape.   Walk, jog or ride bikes for cardio. Spend the $20-$50 you will save the first month on some simple hand weights and a workout DVD for strength training.– Small 5 – 10 lb hand weights are perfect for most workout routines.
    Jillian Michaels DVD’s are popular and inexpensive
    Kettlebells are all the rage right now and you can find many videos on youtube for free.
    — Read this article on 5 Easy Home Workout Routines Without Weights.
  • Cancel magazine subscriptions. Many magazines are available for free or discounted in an digital version. If not, head out to your local library to read your favorite magazines each month. You can also ask for magazine subscriptions for gifts from friends and close family when your birthday or the holidays arrive.If you subscribe to All You Magazine for the coupons – order or renew during the promotions!
  • Cancel online site subscriptions. Occasionally there are clubs and sites online that require a monthly or annual fee to participate in.  Some of these are for work or education like kids learning sites. Evaluate the ones that truly offer a benefit. If not, let them go.Even $5 a month adds up to $60 a year. With 4 or 5 subscriptions per month at that rate you have created $240 in income for the year. That is a utility bill, small car payment, insurance or a weekend getaway.  Don’t forget about the annual subscriptions that you forgot even existed!
  • Cancel auto-renewal policies on subscriptions. Sometimes you don’t think about your subscriptions because they auto-renew via your credit card once a year. Go through your subscriptions and cancel any that auto-renew, so you aren’t charged before you get a chance to cancel the service. Are you paying $4.95 per year for something you don’t even use?
  • Cancel monthly subscription box services.   There are monthly subscription box services for everything from kids toys to makeup. These little monthly expense of $10-$30 can add up quickly and create up to $1000 in expenses over the course of the year. Cancel these and look for lower cost alternatives in stores.
  • Cancel newspaper subscription. Yes, people do still buy newspapers. If you are only using them for the coupons on Sunday’s, then negotiate for a Sunday only service. If not, look into the digital version online. Most newspapers have a discount for digital subscriptions or even offer the paper online for free.

You could come up with over $1000 in money in under an hour just by choosing to cancel unnecessary subscriptions. This is a great plan to help you get rid of debt this year.

We were paying over $80 per month for a YMCA membership.  While I loved my Y, I couldn’t see spending the money when I could walk outside instead of on the treadmill and add $80 to my credit card debt.

Week 26 Challenge:

Go through all your monthly subscription expenses and see what you can let go.  Spend an hour on the phone or online cancelling subscriptions or auto-renewals.

subscriptions

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 25: Are You Planning for Your Retirement?

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You are reading Week 25 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

When we talk about getting rid of debt, we tend to forget that real debt resolution comes when you are also preparing and preventing an instance of debt coming back to haunt you.  Planning for your retirement should be a big part of your debt plan.  Just like savings accounts are not optional, neither is planning for the future.

We have talked about this before, but it is worth repeating. The things that cause debt are typically emergencies, medical crisis or poor spending habits. Planning for your retirement is going to protect you from emergencies and medical crisis that crop up in the future. While we realize you are here to get rid of debt, you also need to change the way you look at your income, expenses and financial situation.  You need to be in this for the long haul.

Social Security benefits are typically not enough to cover all expenses. Very rarely will your social security retirement check be enough to cover your average expenses and needs. Simply surviving until the age of retirement isn’t a guarantee for better income status. Many individuals are already living so closely within their means that shifting to a lower income can skyrocket them back into debt. While Medicare and supplements offer medical coverage, other emergencies and even long term care can crop up and create huge debt issues.

Take advantage of employee offered 401K or Roth IRA benefits plans. There is nothing easier than taking advantage of these options from your employer. The money is automatically deducted form your paycheck, and they often match up to a set amount contributed each year. Take advantage of this method of saving for your retirement for as long as possible.

Yes, paying off your current debt is very important. However, as you begin learning how to control your finances and the importance of funding your savings account, you will need to plan for your retirement.

While I advise getting rid of all debt, except the house, before starting to invest heavily in your retirement account.  Just know that retirement should be in the back of your mind.  You need to be prepared with proper retirement funds to offer protection in your Golden Age.  Forty years will go by faster than you think.

Week 25 Challenge:

Do you have a retirement account?  Does your employer match contributions?  Start investigating your options, so you are ready to dive in head first once your debt free.

retirement-saving

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 24: Credit Card Settlement Facts – You Need to Know

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You are reading Week 24 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

If you are currently facing large quantities of credit card debt, there may be a point when you want to make a settlement with your creditor. This week we are covering the basics of credit card settlement facts. This will help you to understand what a settlement is, and how it will affect you and your credit score in the long run.

In case you don’t already know, a credit card settlement is when you are able to pay a large percentage of the credit debt to clear your account and have the remaining balance forgiven by the creditor. If you have gotten behind on a debt and have received a letter from the collections department, it is very likely you have been offered a chance to make a settlement. You can also approach a creditor and ask for a settlement as well.

Settlements require 70% or more of debt be paid off. While on a rare occasion you can see a lower percentage accepted, typically the amount a creditor will require before they settle is 70% or more of the original debt owed. Usually they are figuring in you paying off the principal and they will be forgiving the interest and fees. This is not always the case, but should be understood so when you are negotiating you can understand why different creditors offer different things.

You have to pay taxes on the difference in original debt and amount paid. The amount that is forgiven by the creditor can be considered income by the IRS. Since it was not paid, but was forgiven, it is almost like it is considered a gift to you. You may have to account for this money on your income taxes and pay taxes on it.

Settlements do ding your credit report. While a settlement is better than having a civil judgment and garnishment places on your account, they will still be rated lower on your credit report. It will look good to potential creditors that you have paid off the debt, but the settlement will also ding you because it shows you did not fulfill your original obligation.

Settlements result in account closure. If you had hopes of getting that account back open to use later, a settlement will end that option for you. Account settlements almost always result in the account being closed completely.

When you are looking at the big picture of credit card debt and these credit card settlement facts, you will want to acknowledge that there are some times when it can be a great option for you. It can also be a bad option for some people. As with any major decision regarding your debt, make sure to crunch the numbers and look at all options before making a final decision.

Week 24 Challenge:

Read more about Credit Card Settlement facts before making any decisions and talk to a professional.

Credit-Card-Settlement-Facts---You-Need-to-Know

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 23: 7 Ways To Save Money On Groceries & Household Expenses

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We will continue throughout this series to focus on the multitude of ways you can create funds in your budget to pay off debt. Here are 7 of the most common ways to save money on groceries & household expenses. Each of these methods is just one more step toward getting out of debt and finding financial security.

7 Ways To Save Money On Groceries & Household Expenses:

1. Use coupons and savings apps. Right away you have free and easy savings on food, household and health supplies just by using coupons. There are tons of options for savings that can easily cut your grocery bill by 50% or more. Savings apps are also great options if you aren’t into clipping the coupons. There are many stores with rewards cards or savings apps that you can scan at check out or upload receipts to and get cash back on your purchases.

2. Make your own household cleaners. Homemade laundry detergent, fabric softener, hand sanitizer, all purpose cleaners, natural bleach solution and more are easy to make for often times half the cost. This also results in a safer and more green home.  I have a post on how to make your own frugal green cleaners from your kitchen – no extra supplies needed.

3. Drop cable or satellite. We will mention this a lot throughout the year, but we often spend money unnecessarily on entertainment each month. Cable and satellite can be upwards of $100 per month. Instead invest in the $99 per year for Amazon Prime that offers free movie and television show streaming along with tons of free books, music and shipping.

Alternately, you can pay low monthly fees to places like Netflix and HuluPlus for streaming services.  We have a Roku for streaming movies on our TV, but I’ve heard the Fire TV Stick is a good option.

4. Go to prepaid cellular phone service. You can easily find prepaid cell plans that are a fraction of the cost of your current contract plan. Crunch the numbers and make a choice to go with prepaid in the future.

My sister-in-law recently switched to this option.  She’s saving a ton of money, has a phone and texting abilities while on the go, and uses her iPad for messaging while connected to WiFi at home.

5. Menu plan or use freezer meals. Last minute drive thru purchases or wasted food in your refrigerator are some of the biggest frivolous expenses in your grocery budget. Create functional menu plans and utilize them or freezer meals to guarantee meal time is smooth and you aren’t wasting food that is being thrown in the garbage.

6. Carpool when available. Gas prices yo-yo up and down all the time. Carpooling with your spouse, neighbors or friends to and from work can split expenses easily. It can also come in handy for taking kids to school, school events, practices and other after school needs.

If there is no carpool in your area, simply work hard to make sure your time out and about is used wisely. Plan your trips for errands well so you aren’t back tracking or making multiple trips when unnecessary.  Read these 6 tips for saving money on gas now.

7. Change the temperature on the thermostat. One simple way to save money on your heating or cooling expenses is to set your thermostat differently. In the summer set it at 78 degrees and wear looser lighter clothing while utilizing small fans or ceiling fans instead. In the winter set it at 68-72 degrees and add layers of clothing, throws, blankets and alternate heat like wood burning stoves as needed.

These ways to save money on groceries and household expenses are simple things anyone on any budget can evaluate and change. It’s often the little things like this that add up quickly to create hundreds of dollars per year to pay toward your family getting out of debt.

Week 23 Challenge:

Pick one new way to lower your expenses.  Start using coupons, shopping sales or driving less.  Adding in just one of these new habits to your daily routine can increase your savings over time.

What are simple ways you can reduce your monthly expenses?  Share with us your ideas.

7-Ways-To-Save-Money-On-Groceries-&-Household-Expenses

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 22: Knowing When You Should Refinance Your Mortgage

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You are reading Week 22 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

So far this year we have covered budgeting, negotiating terms with your creditors, and even getting serious about your expenses. This week we are going to look at knowing when you should refinance. This is topic is usually looked at when you are working on your credit score, debt relief or simply trying to be more responsible with your money.

When interest rates have dropped significantly. Watch interest rates on housing mortgages. If you purchased at a higher rate than is currently available, you may wish to consider a refinance. Being able to get a significantly lower rate can offer you thousands of dollars in savings over the course of your mortgage repayment.  This can lower your monthly payments as well as the overall amount you have to repay.

When refinancing would give you funds to pay off debt at higher interest rates. While you may hate to extend your mortgage, there are often options to use your equity to actually finance for more than the original loan and give yourself funds to pay off debts that are carrying a higher interest rate.

When you are in debt and have decent credit, but feel yourself struggling to keep on top of everything, a refinance to get money that will pay off other debts can be a great choice. In the process, you must establish better financial practices and not recreate the debt you just paid off.

  • Make sure it is fixed interest rate and has no balloon payment.
  • Remember you can always pay more to your principle each month than what is owed.  Don’t go for a shorter term loan that will lock you in on paying a higher monthly or bimonthly payment.
  • Make sure the loan repayment will be lower than your current mortgage and loan repayment.

When you are working to get rid of debt, you must look at all options available. Knowing when you should refinance could make or break your financial life. Finding extra funds that you can pay off debt and create lower monthly payments at better interest rates is one of the best and easiest ways to get rid of debt.

Week 22 Challenge:

Discuss ALL options with your lender and financial adviser before making a decision.  Consider the added expenses of refinancing and what those fees will do for your total mortgage amount and monthly payments.

We looked into refinancing our home a couple of years ago.  After weighing all the options including our homes current value and how long we planned to stay in the home, refinancing wasn’t a wise option for us.   Knowing when you should refinance is all about doing the research and crunching the numbers.

Knowing-When-You-Should-Refinance-Your-Mortgage

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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Week 21: Evaluate Your Success And Make Changes

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You are reading Week 21 of 52 Weeks to Eliminate Debt & Curb Spending. Please read the overview here to learn more about the series & get your FREE financial planner. If you just joined us, please start with week 1.

This week as we look at your debt relief goals, we are going to stop and evaluate your success and make changes. This is necessary, so you don’t find yourself in a rut and begin getting discouraged. Periodically pulling out your budget and list of debts to make changes is what will keep you successful financially.

Have you been able to stick to your budget? Pull out your spreadsheets for the last few months and evaluate if you have managed to stick to your budget. This is also the time to adjust for things that may have fluctuated. Perhaps utilities were more than expected.  Add in the additional funds needed to your budget, then see what areas you can subtract that from. Ultimately you want to maintain the same amount of savings and debt repayment or more.

If you’re lowered utilities or expenses – that is awesome!  Add those savings to your debt repayment plan.

Are you still in default on accounts? If you are looking at your budget and finding that you are still in significant default on accounts, you may want to go back and reevaluate our posts about when bankruptcy is a good choice and how to avoid bankruptcy. Accounts that are in default for multiple months are much harder to get in check again.  I’m still not suggesting bankruptcy, I’m just suggesting you go back and read those articles again.  I would also suggest getting professional advice if you have yet to take that step.

Have you found increased income?  Have you asked for a raise, taken on a second job or downsized? If your budget is still not providing for debt repayment, it may be time to look at these options again. Continue working on increasing your income and lowering your expenses throughout your journey to getting rid of debt.

What areas need improvement? This is when you have to just get brutally honest with yourself. Look at your spending habits. Have they changed? Check the expenses in your budget and see which ones could be lowered even further. Can you menu plan or lower your grocery budget even more? Maybe it is finally time to step toward dropping your satellite, cable or entertainment budget? Check for areas that still need improvement.

At this point in your journey, it is time to truly evaluate your success and make changes. If getting rid of debt is your goal, it is time to get serious and make some big changes to see this happen. Work smarter and harder to see your financial goals met.

Give yourself a pat on the back!   If you’ve been following along with the series and have been working to make changes, no matter how big or small, stop and give yourself a pat on the back.

Congratulate yourself on sticking with your goal to eliminate debt.  You’ve earned it!

Week 21 Challenge:

Pull out your budget and adjust as needed for current debt, expenses and savings goals.  Make a note of how much debt you have reduced in just a few months.  Stop and acknowledge your accomplishments.  It’s not all about how much further you have to go.  It’s also important to celebrate how far you have come.

Take-time-to-Evaluate-Your-Success-And-Make-Changes-to-your-budget

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser nor do I have formal financial training. All articles are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice or consultation. Please consult your account and/or financial adviser before making changes to your finances. All situations are different, so please consult a professional to determine your individual needs.

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