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9 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Financial Life

9 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Financial Life

You’ve probably heard it said that to get to the “right” information, you have to ask the correct question. Makes sense, but when it comes to money, what exactly are the questions?

No matter what the current state of your relationship with the green stuff, there are nine questions that will empower you to be a more secure, confident, self-aware master of your financial fate. Revisit them often to re-tool and update your goals and keep your outlook grounded:

1. What is the role of money in my life?

Money is a tool. For many people, however, there is so much emotion tied up in having money, or the lack thereof, that all aspects of financial life are laden with emotion and fraught with tension. It is extremely difficult to make calm, rational, clear decisions when emotionally saturated, and wealth management is no different.

Before you tackle any other questions, first ask yourself – what role does money play in my life? How much time do you spend thinking about it? Worrying about it? Dreaming about it? When you have thoughts about money, are they tense, frustrated, disappointed thoughts; how do you feel? Do you dread making that monthly budget?

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Write it all down in a notebook or on a scrap of paper, and notice how your physical body reacts to your thoughts about money by tensing or relaxing. Commit to noticing how you feel, and working toward being as relaxed and neutral as possible each and every time you think about money.

2. What did my role models teach me about money?

You’ve learned attitudes about everything from politics to personal hygiene from those who raised you, and your attitude about money has also been heavily shaped by those who cared for you during formative years. While you can, and likely will, develop your own approach as you mature, your immediate response to stressful or new situations will be drenched in “what my parents thought.”

Take some time to identify their attitudes so you know on what foundation yours are built – how important was or is money to them? Did they talk about money openly and easily, or is it something secretive? Did they offer an attitude of abundance and gratitude for what they had, or were they constantly seeking more?

3. To what degree does money control my happiness?

Money may not be able to buy happiness outright, but it sure can buy a lot of things that contribute to happiness and well-being. There is always more than can be had, however, and in our modern technologically connected world, it is easy to become acutely aware of what we lack.

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Do you wake up with a smile, independent of your financial status? Do you have faith in your ability to work your way out of, and be delivered from, financial troubles? Can you appreciate a gift that is of low monetary value? Are you comfortable giving gifts of low monetary value, if that is what you have to give? Can you enjoy a date arranged on a budget, or a shoe-string vacation, or does everything have to be “five star” for you to have fun? If you lost your job, would you still be able to define yourself?

If your answers lead you to conclude that money is a vital part of your happiness and sense of self, commit some time to figuring out who and what you are, without the dollar signs. You can appreciate and enjoy money and all that you can experience with it without having your financial status become a core part of your identity.

4. How do I react to financial stress, disappointment, or fear?

No matter how much money you have, or don’t have, there will be events that cause you to experience financial stress. There will also be disappointing times when you take a gamble that doesn’t pan out, or when you fear for your ability to provide for a child’s education or an aging parent’s medical needs.

During these times, does your stress take over your life? Do you lash out; do you sabotage what you already have? Or, do you take a deep breath and develop a plan to acquire more resources, get back on track, or whatever action is required? If you are in need of new ways to cope, try turning off the television and avoiding advertisements, all of which compete to rearrange your priorities. Consider your answers to the previous point – what and who are you without money?

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5. Do I know what I want?

Once your basic needs of food, shelter, water, and so on are met, what are you earning money for? Be specific about both your current needs – do you want to own a car? Do you dream of being able to provide for a family when it’s time to have one?  Do you reasonably anticipate needs such as children or parental care?  Do you want to share your home with pets?  Are there places on the globe you want to trot around?  Would you enjoy daily life more with more leisure time or if you had more funds for a favorite hobby?

There is no point in earning money simply to earn it – you can’t take it with you when you kick the bucket. So why, exactly, are you earning it?

6. If not, what am I doing to determine what I desire?

You may not have ever paused to think about why you care about money and what you are saving for, and that is entirely understandable. If you don’t know what you want, acknowledge that fact and dedicate time and energy to figuring it out, at what point will you be able to sigh, relax, and say “I have more than enough?”  What does life look and feel like at that point?  Write it down if you need to, or create a vision board.

7. If so, do I expend resources in a way that is aligned with what I desire?

If you are able to clearly and specifically articulate what you desire and believe will transpire when you reach a certain financial point, to what degree are your resources of time and energy aligned with that financial goal? If you are working toward an ambition, are you spending the money you have today in a way that will help you reach that goal?

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If, for example, you want to own your own business, do you know what your financial launch point is? Are you spending time educating and preparing yourself to leave the conventional work force? Or are you watching a lot of television, spending money on expensive nights out, and daydreaming more than taking action?

8. Do I know how to budget, plan, strategize, and get to what I desire?

Once you have identified what, exactly, you want, be honest with yourself about how much you do or do not know about how to get there. There are many ways to budget, invest, save, spend, and handle money as there are stars in the sky, and there is always something to be learned about financial management.  Do you know what it will take to reach your financial goal?  If not, what are you doing to better inform and prepare yourself? Are you seeking out mentors, studying online, spending time conducting research in the library, scouting out online forums, attending classes?  There is a way to get to your desired end point, you just have to figure it out.

9. How much, and in what ways, do I give?

Finally, what good are you doing in this world? If you are able to contribute financially to a cause or to help others, are you doing so in a way that reflects your values, morals, and personal areas of interest? If you are not able to contribute financially to a cause, are you sharing your time or wisdom? It’s not all about money, and it’s not all about you; your satisfaction with the human experience will increase exponentially when you give to others.

Craving more?  Check out these 12 Things You Can Do Now To Improve Your Financial Life.

Featured photo credit: Dollars via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

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Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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