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How You Easily Get Into Debt

How You Easily Get Into Debt

Here are nine ways that you can get into debt. It can easily happen to anyone and with the average U.S. household credit card debt at $15,252 there is a fair chance that it’s something that you are familiar with. This article describes the top ways people get themselves into debt. By being aware of the pitfalls hopefully you may be able to avoid all of them and stay debt free.

1. Getting a credit card or 2, or 3 or 10

In 2008, credit card companies were falling over themselves to extend your line of credit. Even now, they entice you with low initial interest rate offers, air miles, cash back, etc. But if you don’t clear your balance then you get into debt. With credit limits increasing as you near them, it becomes easier to get into debt further and much harder to escape.

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2. Not saving money

Spending all of your money every month means that you will have no emergency fund if something goes wrong. When these bad things happen then out comes the flexible friend and the more you get into debt. Alternatively, if you want to splash out on something big and you don’t have money set aside, it is easy to fall into the temptation of using credit.

3. Not setting a budget

By not setting a budget you will never know if you have sufficient money each month to make ends meet. By not setting a budget you may well go into the red at the end of each month and have to pay those annoying fees. If teamed with a savings plan, setting a budget can help you out of sticky situations and make sure you have sufficient funds should you wish to treat yourself.

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4. Not sticking to a budget

If you set a budget but don’t stick to it then you will end up in debt – or further in debt. In a way this is worse than not setting a budget as you’ve done a lot of the ground work already. Stick to your budget and every month you will be able to pat yourself on the back (and see your money grow).

5. Spending money not yet earned

If you receive a bonus from your employer it is very tempting to spend it before it has landed. This usually means having to borrow. Rather than paying off what you’ve borrowed you will find something else “more important” and your bonus gets spent twice. Don’t count your chickens, wait until you have the money in your hand to avoid this easy pitfall.

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6. Getting into debt by studying

Student debts are very large financial commitments that are gathered in the hope that one day you will have a big enough salary to clear them. While studying is recommended, being aware of the debt accumulated has a potential impact on your future options. Not taking your studies seriously can also be a massive waste of money as not only could this affect your chances later on in life but doing this will burden you with painful debt that will take years (if not decades) to clear.

7. Trying to win big

Spending money to make money is the mantra. But if you spend on credit big hoping to make it big then don’t be surprised if you fail big too – and get into debt of course.

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8. Not paying attention when juggling credit cards

Juggling credit card debt to get the best rate is an excellent idea if you are looking to pay them off. Be fully aware of when the low interest rate expires so that you can either make sure that the debt is cleared before that date or swap it to another low-interest card. Having access to a longer line of credit can be tempting and having multiple credit cards can take work. So if you don’t take care of them you will get into debt just because it is available to you.

9. If only I had…

I think we’ve all said, “If only I had X, then my life would be complete / life would be easier / I’d be happier etc.” You use credit to get the magic ingredient and it fails to live up to its promise in the long run, so X becomes Y and so on…

Featured photo credit: http://www.lendingmemo.com via flickr.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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