What is Christmas about? Is it about gifts under the tree, or dazzling your guests with the most amazing feast they've ever seen? I understand that it may feel that way, but we're not doing ourselves any favors when we pretend we can afford extravagant purchases at Christmas. Trust me, your best friend does not want to be the person you went into debt to impress.
The first step to becoming debt-free is to pay off a larger chunk of your credit balance. It's such a simple solution, right?
If you want to improve your finances, you need to set yourself up for success. When you have a small success, it motivates you to keep going - and can lead to even more success down the road.
As we get ready to wrap up the newly dubbed "Cyber Week", Black Friday sales, Small Business Saturday successes, Cyber Monday mania, and Giving Tuesday triumphs, how do you feel?
As it gets closer I am forcing myself to be more proactive about my life after debt. So, I started to do a little research. Funny thing, when I did a quick internet search on "what is life after debt" the main things that come up are articles about our country's financial situation!
My beloved son recently returned home after graduating from Culinary College and having some initial cooking jobs. Seeing my son's need to save money and get on a firmer foundation, we agreed to his moving home for awhile.
We made our list as we have done for years. We wrote down ideas about what to make for meals for the coming week, and then made a list of the ingredients needed to make them, adding to that other household items that we needed. After we were done I scanned the ads for the two major grocery stores that are nearby our house for coupons for anything on the list.
I'm not recommending that you become an overachiever. Life isn't all about ticking off accomplishments, as though you could "win" at life by achieving enough things. But life is certainly not about sitting back and feeling self-satisfied because you hit one goal -- even a very good one.
My husband and I discussed some ways we could try to stretch our retirement dollars and the idea of money-free weekends was one of those things. It turned out to be quite a lot of fun, so I want to share with you and challenge you to try a money-free weekend.
My next step was to include setting goals to pay off certain bills within a specific time frame.
The closer it got to my credit card debt free date, the more I knew it was not enough for me. I wanted something more detailed. I wanted some sort of plan. So, I set up my ING account with different categories. This way I knew how much I had in my emergency fund, hair cutting fund, etc.
The holiday season is not a secret, we all know that it is coming. Do what you can now to plan and prepare to ensure that you can actually enjoy the season. Plan ahead as far as possible, so your stress level can be kept to a minimum.
If I close my eyes and try hard enough, I can hear my mother's words in her own voice in my head, just like you replay a saved voicemail message on your cell phone. It remains one of life's little lessons that has stayed with me my entire adult existence. I consider it propulsion fuel for my motivation tanks.
Here's a fun exercise you can do in just 20 minutes that might be the catalyst for some positive changes. At the very least it's a mind-opening experience.
I was then informed that the rest of the day should be spent putting seasonal decorations into color-coded bins, collecting tools from the garage shelves and putting them back into my toolbox, cleaning our closet out and putting everything back in an orderly and easy to find fashion, and sorting and organizing the "junk" drawer in the kitchen again.
The best way to build self-confidence, I believe, is to start piling up little successes that you can believe in -- the building blocks of bigger achievements that will strengthen your psyche and make your reputation.
But most importantly, he had to understand why I was doing this plan and why it was worth the current struggle. I needed my husband to understand how our current sacrifices would ultimately help us retire comfortably.
Keeping a record of all money moving in or out of my household was essential. I would also add expenses such as taxes, insurance, even the occasional splurge, and whatever expenses I incurred those were not monthly but I knew would come up during the year (I use monthly averages for them). This helped to cut down on surprises that can seem like unmovable obstacles.
I have had debt several times in my life, and I have worked hard to keep it under control and pay it off early.
I have to admit I am one of those crazy people that go out shopping on Black Friday. My reasons for going have nothing to do with sales, deals, doorbusters, or free stuff (ok maybe just a little); this is a tradition I started with my mom when I was just sixteen years old.
A careful review of your debt relief options is important. Make sure what you choose is something that you can commit to. If you are still not sure or need help deciding, please contact one of Certified Personal Finance Counselors who can help you pick the option to help you get started on your journey to debt freedom.
For years, I happily ran from store to store using credit to finance holiday extravaganzas. I bought everything from enough food to feed a hungry army, to a mind-boggling pile of Christmas gifts. Throw in many, many expensive restaurant dinners because I was too exhausted to go home and cook, and you have a good picture of the spending frenzy that ran from pre-Thanksgiving until New Year's Day.
My request was declined because my debt-to-income ratio was still higher than the bank's liking. This is AFTER we've paid off over $70,000 of credit card debt through our debt management plan.
Years ago, I learned a business lesson that's as valuable as it is simple: When you're setting out on a project, you want to have it very clear in your mind -- and in the mind of anyone involved in the project -- how you'll know when you win.
Welcome to Part III where we will talk about freezing vegetables. I'll share some new ideas I learned and really like as well as give you some tips that may help you if you have never attempted to freeze vegetables.
In addition to the blogs, be sure to check out the new CareOne Groups:
Are you finally out on your own and figuring out how to balance your finances? If so, this is the group for you. In Starting Out, you can talk about the challenges you are dealing with in a group of like-minded people.
Do you feel like you are finally understanding what being a "grown-up" is all about and are settling into your adult life? If so, this is the group for you. In Settling In you can connect with others who are just like you.
Struggling to balance all that an established lifestyle has to offer? The balancing it all group is for you. Discuss the challenges you face when your responsibilities at work, at home and with family and friends all compete for your attention.
Are you currently retired or planning on retiring very soon? If so, this is the group for you. Times have changed and so has retirement. Learn how others are redefining retirement.