My oldest but most prevalent challenge needs immediate attention for upcoming changes — budgeting.
Yes…I am used to getting what I want; “No” is something that I am unaccustomed to telling myself and being told. I maneuver around that “no” until I get what I want. (blah blah blah, right?)
I participated in Lent this year. Like most people, I participated mostly in the sacrificial portion, but anyways…I forgave shopping, sweets, and fast food restaurants. Fast food was extremely easy. The sweets and shopping was my Mt. Everest. Yet, sweets are still my vice. We will see how that plays out years from now when the metabolism slows.
Shopping was thee hardest, but the most rewarding sacrifice. Victoria’s Secret knew to send me the catalog every week and it did not take appealing to a guy’s fantasy for me to spend $400 plus every season. Any VS shopper knows that the lines change colors and prints every season. Nordstrom was bookmarked and had my phone number for upcoming sales. Forever 21 accessory shopping trips. I bought outfits without purpose, but…’it’s not you, it’s me.’ The mall no longer calls my name and claims stake on my check. It’s not over, though.
I dissected my spending habits and found a silent but deadly killer ——-> Eating out and entertaining. Because I was no longer hiding shopping bags in my car where the spare tire is and felt no anxiety at the mall, I thought I was okay. Oh-NO.
I love eating out, buying drinks, and entertaining. It’s insane! So…I finally signed up with www.mint.com via the advice of a friend. It monitors the use of my money and alerts me to stay within my set budgets, which I set according to MY financial goal. Get your own! www.cnn.com also has a Debt Reduction Planner that’s really good.
I have friends that drool and gawk when finances come up. Here is quick information about your Credit Score. Your Credit Score is extremely important. Do not listen to people who say, “oh you can improve your score over time,” right before you make one of the dumbest financial decisions of your life. Here’s some information:
Credit Score measures:
payment history · debt ratio · length of credit history · types of credit
Your payment history and debt ratio make up more than half of your credit score.
700 or above – Excellent · 601- 699 Good · 500 – 600 High Risk · Below 500 – you have some work to do
TransUnion · Experian · Equifax
Anytime you do anything that requires credit, these three agencies are notified. The scores will be slightly different from agency to agency. This is due to them using different measurements. Typically, all of them are ran when you request credit.
No credit: seek a credit card with a low-interest rate or no APR (annual percentage rate) for 6-months or a year, so you can pay it off before you have to pay interest. Request a feasible credit line (do not go overboard). Credit card companies will increase your credit line without your permission; they can also lower it, depending on changes in your credit. Do not pay the card off immediately. Double the minimum payment and payoff over time.
DO NOT GET A DEPARTMENT STORE CREDIT CARD; they typically have extremely high interest rates and most of the time you can not use them anywhere else, so why not get a 10% credit card that you can use multiple places.
Limit yourself to two credit cards. You have no need for more than 2 credit cards.
Signs you are going into credit card debt:
- Choosing to pay one credit card bill over the over
- Ignoring monthly statements (you are not concerned with how you are spending. You just are.)
- Frequently doing balance transfers
- Using your card for basic needs such as gas, food, clothing, food, and household needs
If you have several high-interest high-balance credit cards, see if you can find a lower interest card to combine all balances. This is called a balance transfer. Please read the terms before doing so. Ask for help, if you are unsure. Sometimes, the lower interest cards have No APR. The more interest you pay, the less you pay on your balance/principal.
Debt Settlement is a “no-no.” This is the plan. Do not pay any of your payments—-> Credit Score falls off of a cliff. You pay the Debt Settlement company a payment less than what you are currently paying in credit card bills while they “negotiate” the settlement of your debt for X years. DUMB! If you can make your payments, pay them. Revive your credit score by budgeting and paying them off rather than escaping the responsibility of your past spending habits.
Stop disguising wants as needs. Look at your bank and credit card statements line by line to change your bad spending habits. Nothing is more real than looking at how you have wastefully spent money. Pay all bills on time.
I do not know how I am going to do this…I love eating out. *humph
I guess I’ll go pack this lunch, so that I do not buy it tomorrow <—– Huge money-saving tip that I have a hard time with.
I’ll let you know.