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This New and Creative Strategy Can Help You Pay Off Student Loan Debt

This New and Creative Strategy Can Help You Pay Off Student Loan Debt

Debt and art – these are two words that tend to have radically different connotations. Debt, particularly student loan debt, is a term riddled with dread, worry, and even regret. Art, on the other hand, is light, fun, and uplifting. It’s no wonder so many people are turning to art to help lighten the process of paying off their student loan debt.

With so many graduates defaulting or struggling to pay off heaps of loans, a new and creative strategy is needed to help them bridge the financial gap. Color mapping is a new trend that many people are using to take back control of their finances.

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What is Color Mapping?

Essentially, color mapping is the process of creating a visual representation of your debt. While this may sound like even more of a bummer, the images used are not tedious charts or graphs. Instead, the images you can use to create your color map are beautifully intricate – like these. Being able to visualize and track your progress through imagery is not only motivating, but empowering, as you observe how much of an impact you can actually make.

How to Use a Color Map

Once you’ve decided on an image, you have to determine what each little unit or “swirl” of your map means. For example, a swirl might equal $100, 1 week, or 1 payment – whatever medium of measurement makes the most sense for your particular goals and amounts of debt. The process is similar to a paint by number, except you are deciding the colors. Once you complete an action associated with paying off the debt, such as making a payment, simply color in one unit. (You’ll want to have a vivid variety of colored pencils or markers on hand.) So your goal might be to make a $50 payment every single week. For each week you make a payment, color in one unit. It may seem too easy, but people are already touting the effectiveness of this method for tracking student loan debt, credit card debt, and other goals like weight loss.

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Why Color Maps Work

While there is no research that specifically examines why color mapping works as a motivational tool to pay off student loans, it’s not hard to decipher some possible reasons. First off, having a visual representation of your debt on display gives a sense of unfinished business – you can see what work still needs to be done. And if you’re a Type A personality, the simple fact of having an unfinished color map may snap you into action even quicker. Unlike your actual debt, which is a distant and abstract concept, a color map sits in your home or office, giving you an immediate understanding of how far you have to go.

Studies have shown that the use of “visualized information” has increased astoundingly over the years, making our brains wired for it. Visuals are processed in our brain much faster than words (you know, that awful stuff that’s written all over your student loan statements). They also require 50% of the brain and 70% of your sensory receptors, so it would be tough to ignore your vivid color map each day.

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Another reason why color maps may work is due to information overload – the constant influx of data to and from our brains every day. Imagery eliminates the need for complex thinking and provides relief from all of this interpretation. Thus a color map makes your once-massive and confusing debt problem seem much easier to tackle. Make a payment, color a unit, make progress toward financial freedom.

For those who frequently forget to make payments, color maps will provide you with a much more memorable reminder. According to research, humans recall a whopping 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and just 10% of what they hear. So if better reminders are what you need to pay off debt faster, color mapping may be worth a shot.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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