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5 Tips for Getting Out of Debt (and Why)

5 Tips for Getting Out of Debt (and Why)

When young people are first starting out in life, either as college students or young workers, debt looks like an easy solution to the shortage of money that seems to go with this period of life. It’s only a temporary fix, however, and will set a person back in the long run. Suze Orman, in The Courage to Be Rich, points out the outrageous amount of money that is paid on interest over the years with credit cards and other debts. She and other financial experts offer some tips for getting out from under.


1. Know about your credit cards. When you get the bill, look it over until you find the APR (annual percentage rate), which is the interest rate. Credit cards sometimes list other percentages and fees, but the APR is what will get you in the end. List your cards from highest to lowest APR. For instance, put that 27% interest card first, and the 0% cards last.

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2. Work from the top down. Pay as much extra as possible on that top card each month. Make minimum payments on the others. When that highest card is paid off, start the process with the next card on the list. Carry out this procedure until all the cards are paid off.

3. Round up. For speeding up the time it takes to pay off your mortgage, simply add a few dollars each month. Those dollars are applying to the principal, and even a few dollars a month can trim years off your debt. One idea is to round the amount up to the nearest ten.

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4. Emergencies? Experts disagree about the wisdom of keeping one low interest card on hand for emergencies. Frankly I think it makes some sense, but Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, says No. He says you should perform “plastic surgery” on those cards and cut them up. The bottom line is how you define an “emergency.” If it’s seeing a great deal on something you’ve been wanting, like a new guitar, maybe, but you don’t have enough money to cover it right now . . . well, that’s not really an emergency!

5. Keep it empty. If you do keep one card on hand for convenience or whatever, the best policy is to always pay it completely every month. Otherwise you are actually living beyond your means. Orman describes that lifestyle as living a lie. It’s been said that many people “spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” Think about that statement and see if it applies in your own situation.

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An old classic success book is Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone. These authors listed seventeen principles of success, of which one was what they called “O.P.M.” This acronym refers to “other people’s money.” They advised borrowing money to invest in one’s own business efforts, and then thinking positively so that money would grow. It’s an interesting idea. What do you think?

References:

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Ramsey, Dave. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Orman, Suze. The Courage to Be Rich: Creating a Life of Material and Spiritual Abundance.

Hill, Napoleon and Stone, W. Clement. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

Barbara Wood is a writer and educator living with her family in the Missouri Ozarks.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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