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15 Reasons Why You’re In Debt

15 Reasons Why You’re In Debt

No matter how young or old you are, you have probably had some experience with being in debt. Maybe you’ve never had it yourself, but have seen others affected by it, or maybe you have a lot of it. Some people consider some types of debt as good (such as a mortgage or student loans), and other types of debt as bad (such as credit card debt).

Whatever type of debt you have, there is probably a reason why you have it. I do believe that learning and understanding why you have debt is the first step to controlling it and, ultimately, eliminating it. If you don’t understand your reasons for having debt, then it would be very hard to stop engaging in these debt-inducing behaviors.

Below are 15 common reasons why you may have debt:

1. You are trying to keep up with the spending of others.

You might be in debt because you want the latest and greatest things, and you want to buy the things that you have seen others have. However, if everyone is spending money and going into debt to keep up with others, then it’s just a never-ending circle. An example would be keeping cable even though you know you can’t afford it.

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2. You think, “Oh, I’ll have time to pay for it later.”

You might think that you will have plenty of time to pay off your debt later, but each dollar charged now can really hurt you down the track. You should be able to afford your lifestyle now. Can you really afford that item?

3. You think, “What’s a couple more dollars charged?”

You might think that one more charge on your credit card won’t hurt you, but this isn’t the best way to view it. It all adds up!

4. You have not thought about your total pay, including taxes.

If you don’t pay taxes directly out of each paycheck, then you may be spending more than you actually have. If you don’t account for taxes, then you might be surprised at tax time each year.

5. You don’t have health insurance.

You might be in debt because of a medical issue. This is why health insurance is important. Because even if you don’t think something will happen, if it does you might not be prepared for medical costs. Treat health insurance like any other necessity (such as car insurance), and find room in your budget for it.

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6. You were never taught about credit card debt.

Many people don’t know much about — or even understand — credit card debt. Do you know what minimum payment actually means? Surprisingly, many people don’t know! Interest still accrues when you only make the minimum payment (unless you have a 0% interest rate card).

7. Your friend bought it, so why can’t you?

I have a friend who always buys the latest electronics. However, if I spent the same amount that they did, my budget would not be happy. Just because your friend can “afford” it, does not mean that you can.

8. You are overspending.

It can be as simple as that. You are spending more than you make each month, and you are charging the rest. This then leads to an increase in your debt. You need to sit down and come up with a realistic budget.

9. You have a house or a car.

Homes and cars are expensive, and there are a lot of little expenses that pop up. If you are not prepared for these expenses, then it can lead to even more debt.

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10. You go to school.

Attending school is expensive. You might have to take out student loans for it. However, try to (legally) make as much as you can in order to pay in cash each semester. It can be hard though. Try to find the best value school and earn scholarships.

11. You don’t have savings.

Without savings, life can be very hard and stressful. The smallest surprise expense can lead to debt. This is why an emergency fund is important to have.

12. You have a reduced income.

If your income is suddenly reduced, then this can really hurt your budget. This might then lead to you adding to your debt. Try to think of ways to diversify and increase your income, so that you are not as reliant on one form of income.

13. You gamble.

If you gamble, then there is major risk of getting into debt. If you cannot afford to gamble, then it is not wise to do so.

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14. You take on high-interest loans.

If you take on a loan with a high interest rate, then it will take you longer to pay it off. You might be paying more in interest each month than you are paying on the principal, which makes it very hard to get rid of high-interest debt.

15. You have a life.

Life is expensive. Things come up. Medical issues may arise in your family, maybe something with your dear pets, losing a job, and other things. Surprises like these may lead to debt.

How are you trying to become debt free? Feel free to share in the comments.

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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