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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
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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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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There

Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There
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Have you ever considered your life now, and how it would be if you had more time to spend with your family and less worries about money?

Nowadays, financial stress is one of the most troublesome weights in life. If you’ve ever encountered financial stress, you know the difficulty of not having enough income to pay your obligations or bills.

Many people say that money is not the ultimate goal of life. While that’s true, money certainly plays a very significant role. The meaning of financial freedom changes with the different phases of our life, but ultimately, it is something that many people strive for.

In this article, we’ll explain how to capture that financial freedom you’ve been looking for. Read on to learn the secrets to financial freedom.

Break Free of Your Finances

Financial freedom is about having a constant flow of cash from your assets to cover all your regular needs.

When you are not worried about your income, or living paycheck to paycheck, you gain a great sense of freedom. It’s the freedom to be obtain and do what you truly need to make your way through everyday life.

Gaining financial freedom, though, is a process of growth, making small improvements and gaining emotional strength.

Though it seems hard to believe, it is really very simple to get financial freedom.

To do so, you simply need to make sure that your assets exceed your liabilities. In other words, you’ll need to find the sweet-spot where your residuals meet or surpass your expenses. This is something that you can achieve with the proper plan.

While not every person will accomplish financial freedom, the potential for anyone to do so is certainly there. Anyone can achieve this success, regardless of their income level.

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Outlined below are 9 secrets that will help you in your goals of achieving financial freedom.

1. Stop Unnecessary Spending

We often spend money inwardly, instead of objectively.

For example, you may spend when you’re anxious, depressed, restless, exhausted, from fear of missing out, or to please others. This is a very unhealthy way to handle your finances.

To stop this habitual spending, log down all your spending over the course of a month.

Just as some people keep a food diary, keep an expense diary. Remember not to just write down how much and what you spent the money on, also include the circumstances of why you spent the money. Was it an impulse buy at the checkout line or was it something you planned to purchase?

This increased self-awareness could enable you to avoid triggering situations in the future when you are considering an impulse buy.

2. Plan a Monthly Budget

This is a great opportunity to get serious.

Take a seat with your spouse or partner and make a monthly budget based on your income, not your expenses. You are never again going to spend more cash then you have on hand.

Overspending is the thing that led you to more financial obligations. Make sure you decide every month what is coming in and what will be going out and stick to that budget… no matter what.

3. Cut-up Credit Cards

Perhaps you are the type of person who always pays your credit card balance in full before the end of your billing cycle, and enjoys the reward points you gain. If this is the case, then you’re already way ahead of the game.

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If not, you may want to consider ridding your life of the burden that credit cards bring.

Many cards have strategies set up so that if you make a certain number of late payments, they will raise your interest rate much higher. This can really add up in the long run and you won’t be doing your financial situation any favors. If you’re prone to late payments or have a large balance due on your cards, cut them up!

Without proper self control on credit card spending and payments, you are basically throwing your money away. To ensure that you have better control over your spending, use only cash or debit for all future purchases (and don’t forget to pay at least your minimum payment on your cut-up cards each month!).

4. Increase Savings

There is no doubt that for a comfortable retirement you must accumulate satisfactory savings throughout your working life.

It’s good practice to save up to 15% of your income.

Start with your workplace 401(k), if you have one. If not, a Roth IRA (if you are eligible) or a traditional IRA (if you are not eligible for the Roth) are the next logical steps.

Increase in longevity means you might be able to look forward to 25 to 30 years in retirement, or possibly even significantly more. Investing now in good retirement plans will ensure that you have a guaranteed a stable monthly income when the time comes to stop working. [1]

5. Invest Wisely

Consider investing in funds.

Specifically, you will gain higher returns if you invest in different types of mutual funds such as Debt funds, Equity funds and Hybrid funds with a proper balance, although it absolutely relies on your personal preferences and sense of risk taking.

To get the most of these benefits, make sure you are investing in a variety of assets. Another resource of investing in mutual funds is SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) where you invest some money every month in funds. SIP works by averaging the per unit price of the stock.

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Mutual fund investors are aware of the benefits of an SIP (Systematic Investment Plan). For one, it is the most secure way to invest in equity mutual plans so that wealth is created over a long period of time. This plan also helps you to gain a better sense of financial discipline, which will come in handy in all your financial endeavors.

6. Invest in Gold

There isn’t really a better way to invest in gold than to have the physical gold itself in your possession.

You can purchase gold coins and bars from mints as well as from coin dealers and other private sellers.

Another way to invest in gold is through ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).

These are is similar to mutual funds but they are exclusively investments of gold. ETFs are great because they offer more liquidity; the ETF owns the actual physical gold, stores it, and retains the value of the shares. These shares can then be bought and sold in the stock market, and one big benefit is that the transaction costs of gold ETFs are much lower than the that of physical gold.

With its consistently-increasing demand, investment in gold can be very wise long-term investment to make.

7. Stash Emergency Funds

Whether it’s a cash gift or a work bonus, always try to save any extra money that comes your way rather than making unneeded purchases.

If you get paid every other week, you’ll get an “extra” paycheck (three rather than the usual two) twice a year. Either save those paychecks towards your emergency funds or utilize the money to pay down other obligations, such as loans, credit cards or other debts.

Make it hard to get your cash.

Put your savings in an alternate bank, maybe an online bank that forces you to delay for several business days before transferred money hits your regular bank account.

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8. Find Fabulous Mentors

Find a mentor, such as a friend or family member, who has exceptional control over their finances and pay attention to everything they do.

If you do not have any friends or family that are enjoying financial freedom, then find a mentor online! There are numerous blogs and guru websites featuring the advice of many people who have reached financial freedom, and they exist primarily to let you in on how to achieve it for yourself.

There are also plentiful forums available that share tips and tricks on how to best achieve financial freedom. Read as much as you can and start changing your habits for the better.

9. Be Extra Patient

Patience is the key of financial success.

Being patient can be quite tough, especially when you’re struggling with your finances, but having faith is worth it. You’ll continuously be on the right track if you are taking the proper steps above.

So don’t be discouraged, even if you are only saving a few dollars a month; it all adds up. Within just a few years you’ll look back proudly at your accomplishments and be glad that you had the patience to get there.

Financial Freedom for All

Anyone can achieve financial freedom, regardless of their financial circumstance.

Use the tips provided above to get yourself on the track to financial freedom and toss your monetary concerns out the window. If you wish to achieve a life with financial freedom for yourself and your family then you must adopt a disciplined approach towards your finances.

Following the simple secrets above is a great start to making your money work for you, so you can work less and live more!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Hartford Gold Group: IRA Retirement Accounts

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