A Common Sense Approach To Personal Finance And Debt

Many people are struggling under the burden of debt and are having problems bringing order to their finances. Arguments between spouses increase, as do stress levels. Often, they may feel they are on a treadmill, barely maintaining their current positions but making no progress at all.

If this sounds familiar to you, you might find it interesting that there is a way to apply common sense to your situation and bring both your debt and your personal finances under control. It isn’t an instantaneous fix and it will not be totally pain free, but it will work where other personal finance plans fail. It also isn’t some new idea (although many may find the concept somewhat novel) but a return to how things were done for centuries. Simply put, it is the idea of not spending more than you earn.

You may not like the idea of living within your means, but that may be because you do not truly understand how it relates to personal finance. It is not eschewing all debt, nor does it mean giving up everything you love. It does not mean you must wear rags, make soup out of catsup, or never taste cappuccino again. What it does mean is that you take control of your personal finances and debt.

The first thing you need to do to take control of your personal finances is to establish a workable budget. List all of your normal expenses and how much you spend monthly on them. If you are like most people when they first tackle their personal finances, there are going to be some things you do not know. It is not uncommon for many people to have no clue how much groceries cost each month, for example, or how much is spent on clothing. It may be necessary for you to track your expenses for a few weeks to get a good handle on your personal finances. In the meantime, start with fixed costs, such as your mortgage or car payments, and include your best estimate for flexible expenses. You can always adjust these next month.

Include a line item in your budget for savings, something that is often neglected in money plans. Set some target percentage to save, since even 3% of your income is better than nothing. Over a period of time, gradually increase the percent going into savings until it reaches at least 10%. Savings accounts, when reserved for true emergencies, are an important part of personal finance security. They mean you do not need to pull out a charge card if the hot water heater breaks or your car needs a repair. This in turn means that you are not increasing your debt load.

To examine how you regard personal finance and debt, consider the following scenario. Your net monthly income is $3,000. Your total payments are $2,500. If you make a credit card purchase of $4,000 that requires a monthly minimum payment of $400, you still have $100 before you exceed your income. A lot of people will say that is a true statement. It is not, because you actually went $1,000 over your income and $1,500 over what you had available to spend that month. There will be times when you have no choice but to charge something. Just keep in mind that in personal finance, it is the debt, not the payment that determines the health of your financial situation.

Enlist the support of all family members if you need to bring your personal finances or debt load under control. Each individual needs to consider what is most important-a college education or designer jeans? Keeping your home after retirement or going out for a steak dinner every week? With just a little cooperation, you can make drastic improvements to your personal finances and reduce your debts substantially.

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How To Tell If Your Personal Finances Are Out Of Control

Struggling under a mountain of debt is no fun, but it is a way of life for many who do not keep their personal finances in balance. Some people ignore warning signs that they really need to regain control of their finances until it is too late. Here are some quick ways to tell if you are in danger of being buried by debt, along with some tips on how to take charge of your money problems.

Have you ever taken a cash advance on one credit card in order to make the minimum monthly payment on another card? This means that your debt load is way too high, and you need to find a way to bring it down fast and restore order to your personal finances. Do whatever is required, whether it is taking a part time job or just limiting spending to bare essentials until your financial picture improves. Commit to paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first, if possible, and the ones with the lowest balances if it is not. Set a specific time limit, such as six months, to reach your goal, and follow through on your commitment to control your finances. And do not add any new charges unless it is literally a matter of life and death.

Have you ever taken a cash advance on a credit card to make a bank deposit so that a check won’t bounce? This is similar to using one card to pay another, only worse. This means your finances are so out of control that it is critical you find a solution. Perhaps you have not been reconciling your checking account regularly. If not, start immediately. If returned checks are a problem, start using cash to pay for living expenses until you can regain control over your personal finances. Make all of your regular payments, and then take whatever is left in cash. Divide it up according to how long it has to last and place it in envelopes which are labeled with the purpose, such as lunches or groceries. Pay for purchases out of the appropriate envelope. Some people like this method so well that they continue to use it long after they have resolved any issues with their personal finances.

Do you have to check the available balance on your credit card before you can go to the grocery store? Using credit cards for living expenses is fine for your personal finances if you want the convenience and can pay off the balance each month. However, many people who are struggling with their personal finances frequently charge things like groceries and gasoline, and then make only the minimum payments. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to your personal finances. You are increasing your debt load for items that are long gone before you even receive your statement, much less pay the bill.

Is it a struggle to just pay the minimum amounts due on your credit cards each month? This is creating a personal finance scenario where you will probably never be out of debt. Stop using your cards until you have reduced your balances and regained control over your personal finances, or find a way to earn extra income and dedicate those earnings to paying off your debt more quickly.

Some of you may have found the personal finance scenarios described humorous. Sadly, these are actually circumstances that happen more often than many want to admit. As a nation, we have never been more deeply in debt nor maintained so little control of our personal finances. But the good news is that you can remedy your situation with your personal finances and debt. It won’t happen overnight, but if you are willing to work at it, you can regain control over your personal finances and eliminate your burden of debt.

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