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If You Suddenly Came into More Than One Million Dollars and Have Exactly 10 Years Left to Live?

If You Suddenly Came into More Than One Million Dollars and Have Exactly 10 Years Left to Live?

“If you suddenly came into $20,000,000 and the same day you found out you have exactly 10 years left to live, how would you begin living your life?”

This is called the “20/10 question” and it’s one of my all-time favorites when working with clients.

Most people say things like “I’d quit my job and go traveling,” or “I would take my family around the world” and one very amusing response “I would buy my own cruise ship.”  Unfortunately for the last girl, we ran the numbers and found that $20 Million was NOT enough for her to enjoy a private cruise ship, though for the next ten years she could cruise almost non-stop and be okay.

What’s odd is what people who find themselves in this situation ACTUALLY do.

When someone gets this kind of money, they are far more likely to KEEP working than QUIT working.  The reason is quite simple: sitting around on vacation all the time is boring.  Very, VERY boring.

Sure, enjoying a drink on the beach for a couple of days is nice, but there’s only so much sun, swimming, and Anne Rice novels you can read.  After a while, you need something to DO.

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The second part of the question “10 years to live” provides a sense of urgency to the equation.  This helps us get rid of safe answers like “I’d invest in real estate/gold/tulips” or “pay off my house and put it away for retirement.”

If we know that our life is short, we choose to live a little more recklessly because we understand we can’t take that money with us.

Now, you may be wondering “Trent, what does this question actually DO for people?”

Why Should I Ask Myself This?

The answer is simple: it’s the way truly successful people approach life.

The vast majority of us will go to work with the plan to earn a steady pay check every week for the next forty years so we can retire and enjoy our grand-kids for the last 25 years we’re alive.  We might retire in Florida with other people in their “young 60s” and relax, but that’s usually the most exciting decision we’ve made in a long time.

We operate on the premise of “save now, play later.”

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This is a broken idea because it’s based on two flawed assumptions:

1) it is difficult to amass enough income early in our working years to enjoy ourselves without working constantly

2) we will have a “later” to enjoy

Let’s tackle the first assumption: earning enough income to enjoy your life early is difficult.  This isn’t really true, depending on what you consider a comfortable life.  Many times, we associate material possessions with happiness, so we work to buy “stuff.”

John goes to work at a job he doesn’t really like but which pays $70k/year.  With that money, he, his wife, and their three boys share a nice 3400 sq/ft brick home in a nice neighborhood.  He drives a nice car and his wife has the SUV.  After all the bills for said house, cars, kids, and other various bills add up, John can put back $7,000 year into investments for retirement (10%).

Does John sound like someone you know?  Maybe someone you see every day?  He should: he represents 60% of the American population.

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The problem with John is that there will never be enough money or “stuff” to provide the happiness he wants.  There will always be a new car or some nice addition to the house to purchase, which keeps him working at his less-than-satisfying-though-well-paying job.

The sad fact is, research has shown John would be just as happy living in a much cheaper 1800 sq/ft home with much cheaper vehicles.  People aren’t happier based on what they own; they are happier based on what they DO.

The second assumption: when we retire we will enjoy the benefits of a lifetime of hard work.

This is also false: depression is one of the major issues facing retirees.  When you’ve spent 30 years in a routine, even one you hate, finding yourself with nothing to do will leave you feeling useless.  No amount of Bridge can make up for a lack of purpose.  If you wait until retirement to enjoy the “fruits of your labor” you will miss out on life’s most enjoyable moments.

What’s the Solution to Life Enjoyment?

Do what successful people do: find something you would do for free and get so good at it people will pay you for it.

I have two friends which are stark examples of the effects of these philosophies.

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James is a very successful salesman.  He works for a company he doesn’t really like, dealing with issues he doesn’t really care about, and makes a very lucrative income doing it.  He diligently goes to work every day and his first thought is about when he will get to leave.  He has a very large house and nice cars, and his kids are taken care of.  He feels he’s “doing what he should.” If a company offers him better pay and benefits, he will probably take it to make some upgrades to his house and cars.

Kevin is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  After graduating college, he couldn’t find a job easily.  He started building furniture and signs in his shop as a way to pass the time.  He sold a few to friends and neighbors, eventually deciding to create a business out of his hobby.  He wakes up every day with ideas on what he will make and goes to work with excitement.  His wife is a schoolteacher who loves her job as well.  They live in a modest house with their little dog.  They love cooking together and hanging out with friends.  They don’t have a lot of extra money, but they can afford to live comfortable and take vacations during the summer.

Who do you think is happier?  Who stays awake at night stressed about work and dreading the alarm clock?

Now, here’s the million-dollar-question: which one sounds more like you?

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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.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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