Category Archives: Personal Finance

How you can live debt free and build a strong financial fortress

Written by Andy Masaki

How you can live debt free and build a strong financial fortress

You may not think this is the appropriate time to discuss retirement, especially if you’re only in your 20s. But, it never hurts to prepare for the future especially when you’re struggling to meet your financial obligations. In that case, how do you manage your finances, live a fairly luxurious life, stay debt free and create a financially secure future? Well, the key to a secure and debt free life is proper management of your financial resources. The sooner you realize this fact, the better for your financial life.

Act now to strengthen your finances

If you really want to remain debt free and lead a financially secure life till your last breath, then start saving money as soon as possible.  As the experts say, better late than never. In other words, even if you’re about to retire, you can still get rid of your debts. Remember, every extra penny saved will help you cover your household and other lifestyle-related costs in the future.

If you save $100 a month for 40 years at a 5 percent interest rate, your savings will be far greater than  that of the person who has been doing the same for only 10 years or so. Still, even if you only save money for a few years, whatever the amount of your savings, it will help pay for your post-retirement living expenses.

In addition, you must have a holistic financial plan. And this will only be possible when you have your assets properly allocated in a diverse fashion. This part of your personal financial life will gradually become more important as you approach your golden years. The fact is, risk tolerance is directly proportional to the time taken in recuperating from any kind of loss.

Embrace a good budget to have flourishing financial health

Remember, budgeting must always come first, before you plan to pay down your debts or build your nest egg. First of all, saving loads of cash will be of no use if your money is siphoned off by loan sharks or unscrupulous debt collectors rattling you for debt repayments. Secondly, high-interest revolving debts like credit cards and payday loans (which have become illegal in many states) will give you constant stress until you eliminate them. Then you’ll have to use your remaining money to pay for basic living expenses. Thirdly, you’ll also need to include your retirement savings as part of your monthly non-discretionary costs. This will help you determine a proper income figure out of every paycheck for both discretionary and non discretionary spending.

Trim your lifestyle costs to boost your wealth

If you’re a new graduate, try to follow a moderate standard of living instead of mimicking your wealthiest friends’ luxurious lifestyle. You might have a tough life ahead. Save money and try to be prepared for whatever comes.

According to the Federal Reserve Board’s study, approximately 43 percent of people spend more than they actually make. Moreover, recent data show that household debt reached a new record in 2005.  A whopping 2039214 number of bankruptcy cases were filed in that year alone, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

With that in mind, you should see the need to trim your lifestyle costs. This is absolutely necessary if you want to break free from all your debt obligations . You need to figure out expenses that you can eliminate.  For instance, most of people never use all the features of their smartphones. Many people don’t watch all the channels they subscribe to.  So get rid of them!

Granted you need a car, but that doesn’t mean you should buy a luxury one. And you definitely don’t need a sports car, at least for the time-being. There’s no point in owning more than one car, since you can’t drive two of them simultaneously.

Costly toys and other high-end goodies are not always as satisfying as you might think.  The joy you get from buying them can be short-lived since before you know it another expensive “must-have” toy appears.

So, the best piece of advice would be to recall the golden words of your mother – “ignore what others have or do, just mind your own business and worry only about yourself.”

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Build Emergency Fund First then Tackle your Debts.

emergency-fund-break glassBuilding an emergency fund is the most important first step in debt reduction?

I know, boring. Who cares about an emergency fund anyway?  Let’s just start throwing money at those credit cards and watch the balances plummet.  Sounds good, right?  Wrong!!

Before we dive in, let’s look at this emergency fund concept from another perspective.  The holidays are over and you’ve decided it’s time to lose a few pounds.  You pour your heart and soul into your Men-are-More-Efficient-at-Sweating-than-Women-say-Scientists3efforts, and things are moving along well.  You’re seeing the weight come off and are excited about the new thinner you.  Now, let’s say you wake up one morning and all the hard work is gone.  All those fat cells you worked so hard to lose suddenly reappear and you’r back to where you started.  Do you think if this happened, you would be motivated to hit the gym again knowing that at any moment  all your results would be lost?  Probably not.

Now, same scenario except this time instead of losing weight, your goal is reducing your debt.  You’r doing great and are excited about how well you’r sticking to your goals.  Your mountain of debt is crumbling and your momentum ball is rolling smoothly.  Then it debt-canadians-1354214134happens.  You wake up one morning to go to work and your car won’t start.  This, unlike the exercise example above, can and most likely will happen.  To make matters worse you only have a few hundred dollars in your checking account.  Guess what?  Looks like you’r using that credit card you’ve been working so hard to pay off.  So let me ask the same question I asked earlier.  Do you think if this happened, you would be motivated to continue paying off debt knowing that at any moment your results would suddenly be lost?  And the answer again is probably not.  Bummer, and so the cycle repeats.

tips-saving-money-2Now what if you had $2,000 in your checking account when your car broke down and didn’t have to use your credit card to fix it?  Your debt reduction progress is not lost and more importantly your momentum ball is still rolling.

I’m not only a guy who has build an app to help people get out of debt but also a guy who has struggled with debt.  The reason I say struggled is because every time I start to pay off my debts, I don’t think about building up an emergency fund first.  No matter what happens I always get hit with unexpected expenses that destroy my debt reduction efforts and the momentum I worked so hard gain.

Don’t fall victim to this endless roller coaster ride of watching your credit card balances rise and fall.  Stop it in its tracks by building up an emergency fund first, before you even think about reducing those balances.

In my next post let’s look at what an “emergency” is and what are some good guidelines for establishing your own emergency fund value.

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Great app to help pay off those debts

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As an app developer, its tough to get exposure and good reviews for our creations.  Most quality review sites receive hundreds of app submissions per day.  That being said, I’m happy and excited to share a great review we just received from appPicker.com.

I absolutely love the thinking behind this app and would definitely like to commend the developer for providing a slightly alternative solution for people who find it a daunting prospect to pay off large or numerous debts.

To read more, check out the full review here.

 

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Can’t Help Getting into Debt

by Giselle Aguiar, Guest Blogger

Sometimes, no matter how much you try, you just have to get back into debt.

Two years ago, I was so proud of myself — I was debt free — even my car was paid off!

Then I started my own business. I needed to get a better, faster office computer (my old laptop just didn’t cut it), so I charged it.

Then l needed to get a solution for presentations, because the old laptop kept crashing on me in the middle of teaching a class. I decided to look into a tablet. The salesperson told me that it had a presentation app and that I could connect it to a projector or HDTV with an adapter (extra, of course). So I got it and got into more debt.

Then when I try that app for a presentation, it didn’t import well. I would need to redo most of the presentation to make it look decent.

Back to the computer store to get a new laptop and deeper in debt.

Then I went to get the oil changed in my car and the check engine light was on. My 9-y/o car needed a new catalytic converter before it would pass the emissions test.  The car’s probably not worth $2000. I had to think about this, but I had a May 30 deadline.

Then I went to the dentist. (Isn’t the dentist just as bad as the car repair place? — Go in for an oil change and you need $2000 worth of work; go in for a cleaning and you need $2500 worth of work.) But of course, they have several payment options. My mountain of debt is growing.

Back to the car issue. I decided (after researching the idea of getting the car parts online and having my neighbor do the work) to buy a new car. Yikes! The mountain got even bigger!

MyMtnofDebtGettingBigger

Sam, is adding my car loan debt. I wonder what will happen when Amex gets paid off next month!

Disclaimer: My Mountain of Debt is a client of mine. I got the app when I just had the computer purchases and it was cool to see the little ant knock down 15% of the bricks in my mountain when I made a couple of payments.

Now, as I add more debt, I still have to pay down the other cards, so I’ll have that little guy working overtime! Considering my mountain seems more like a pit, at least I can have a little fun, watching Sam, the ant, knock it down.

My Mountain of Debt

I work hard to pay of my debt, now its Sam’s turn.

I’ve taken Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it’s easier said than done. Every time I’ve got a handle on the debt and start building the “emergency fund”, an emergency happens. I’m sure many of you can relate. I do recommend listening to Dave Ramsey as he has great advice for folks like you and me in regards to debt, budgeting and buying big-ticket items.

About the Author:

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Giselle Aguiar is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields.

Giselle has worked in Internet Marketing in one form or another since 1995. Before that, she worked in traditional marketing, promotions, hospitality, event planning, retail and broadcast media. She’s the Official Blog, Newsletter and Social Media Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and an Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. Contact her at giselle@azsocialmediawiz.com. Website: http://azsocialmediawiz.com

 

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Teach Your Kids About Debt Early

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Rachel Cruz, Dave Ramsey’s daughter talks about the importance of teaching kids about money from an early age.



Looking forward to designing the next app My Mountain of Wealth. It’s tough for kids to have fun paying off debt because, well, they don’t have any. Saving money on the other hand starts at an early age. I’m excited to use the same concept behind My Mountain of Debt for My Mountain of Wealth. If kids have fun saving money at an early age just imagine the possibilities.

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Need Help Paying off Debt? Make it Your Passion!

Uphill Battle

I’m a guy who’s full of passion.  From the first time I stepped on a skate board as a kid, everything I touched I had to own.  I don’t mean everything I touched I had to buy, I simply mean I had to be good at it.  I became addicted to taking on new challenges.   From  learning to wake board, whitewater kayaking, riding a sport bike to my biggest challenge and victory ever – building the app My Mountain of Debt.

Taking on the challenge of paying off debt is just the same as taking on any other challenge in life.

Yes, figuring out a strategy to pay off debt is important but let’s put that aside and look at what’s really important.  It’s all about digging deep and making it your passion. It might seem a odd to think of paying off debt as a passion but why shouldn’t it be?  If you want to be successful at anything in life, you need to become passionate about it.  Paying off debt is no different. So how in the world can you become passionate about paying off debt?

Live it, Breath it, Own it

Think about your debt reduction efforts it in a positive way at all times.  Slap a piece of duct tape over that negative voice in your head and force the positive voice to dominate your thoughts.  Think about it when you wake up, think about it on the way to work, think about it on your lunch break,  think about all the positive things that will happen when you reach your goal of debt freedom.

Learn it, Love it

While you’re thinking about it, also learn about it.  If you’re paying down your debt monthly, use the time between payments to learn all you can about how to succeed in your efforts.  Thousands of articles provide great tips and tricks to help you on your journey.  Investing time in this study will not only help you make good decisions but will help you stay fired up and motivated.

Keep the Momentum Ball Rolling

For me the easiest part of any challenge is always in the beginning.  Why?  Because it’s when you’re most excited and fired up about taking on the new challenge.  But what about months down the road when the initial excitement wears off?  The trick is to be realistic.  It’s important to understand that life happens.  You’re doing great and sticking to your plan, then suddenly your car breaks down and you have to fork over $1,000 to get it fixed.  If this happens, don’t let it derail your efforts.  The momentum ball has not stopped, it’s just slowed down a bit.  If you keep in mind ahead of time that these things might happen, you will be more mentally prepared to deal with them and keep pushing forward.

 Fuel the Passion

Being successful at your steady debt reductions will be the fuel that sustains your passion.  By seeing your progress monthly, you can anticipate and even visualize your long term goal of debt freedom.  Keep your mind focused on the positive and never loose sight of your ultimate goal.  It’s going to be a tough fight but in the end the rewards will be well worth the efforts.

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Are Smart Phones Smart Enough to Help You Out Of Debt?

Using Smart PhonesWith more than one  million apps existing today and thousands of new apps being developed each month, it seems as though there is an app for just about everything.

Do you want to slingshot a bird into a house, find a good restaurant for lunch or find out when you favorite movie play at the theater?

Is there one that can help you out of debt?    Is there really an app for that?  The answer is absolutely yes.

Why Use an App?

So what is it about these apps that make them so special?  Why is tracking your debt using a smart phone even worth your time?

The answer is simple.

Cell phone apps have a funny way of connection you to everything in your life.

“Apps can take a serious and troubling situation and make it entertaining.”

Sometimes that is all you need to get headed in the right direction.

Have you ever told yourself that you needed to shed a few pounds?  This is something that is on everyone’s mind especially after the holiday season.

Make Debt Repayment Fun

Paying off debt and losing weight have similiar challenges.  If it is fun going to the gym, can you stick to your goal of reducing weight?

If is is fun paying off debt, can you stick to your goal of reducing your debt?  Yes you can.

My Mountain of debt is an app that helps people visualize their debt reduction progress in an entirely new way.

The idea of using an app is to add a little fun into the daunting task of paying off debt.

My Mountain of Debt is designed to do just that so users will be more likely to stick to their goals.

With all the apps available, take the time to research the one that will work best for you.

Whether you are paying off the highest interest rate or your lowest amount of debt first, it is important  to have a debt repayment strategy that you can stick too.

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Introducing the iOS app My Mountain of Debt

Sam the Ant with a PlanHey everybody, welcome to my blog, and welcome to my first blog post.  I’m excited to get under way so pull up a chair and let’s dive in.

You’ve stumbled across this site and might be wondering  what in the world does an ant with a hard hat and a pick axe have to do with helping people get out of debt?  Hmmm–good question.

CorrectMore on that in a minute, for now let’s take a little trip back in time to where and why it all started.  My name is Chris Brew and besides being an extremely passionate person, I’m pretty much an average Joe.  I love fitness, riding motorcycles, having a cold beer with a close friend and anything that involves being outdoors.

iOS app My Mountain of Debt

iOS app My Mountain of Debt

Two years ago I was struggling with credit card debt.  Nothing too crazy but enough to make me think it was time to make a change.  So I sat down and created a simple line graph that plotted my total debt balance.  Every month after paying down some debt, I plotted my new lower balance.  Seems simple but I soon realized that it was a major motivator to help me stay on track.  Why?  Because that little dot on the line graph moving, visually represented all my debt reduction efforts for the previous month.  Hey,  I’m on a roll.  My debt is dropping and I’m actually sticking to my goals.  Then it hit me–an idea that would completely change my life.  I thought, “What if every time I lowered my debt balance, an animated story unfolded?”

At that moment the idea for My Mountain of Debt was conceived.  A lot has happened since that moment but let’s save that for a future post.

 

The reason I’ve created this blog is to not only talk about debt 3reduction tips and ideas but to try and look at debt reduction from different angles-angles that aren’t typically talked about in finance blogs.  Sure it’s important to have a method and a strategy but what good are those things if you don’t stick to them.  Also, I would like this blog to be a place where you can freely talk about your debt reduction efforts.  Debt reduction can be a lonely effort.  It’s not easy to talk about these issues with friends or even family.  Let’s break down the walls and talk openly about what you’re going through.

Because my app “My Mountain of Debt” is a completely new way of looking at debt reduction, I truly appreciate comments, feedback and even disagreement.  In order for me to continue my passion of making finance fun, the more you let me know what you think, the better I can achieve this goal.

Feel free to leave comments, sign up for this blog or if you’re not a blog comment person, shoot me an email (chrisbrew@mymountainofdebt.com).  I would love to hear your comments and feedback.

Please note that I am not a professional financial advisor.  My specialty, my passion is finding ways to make personal finance more fun and interesting so people stick to their goals.

Paying off debt is TOUGH!!

 

Sam the Ant with a Plan

You paying down debt lets Sam get to work on the mountain

Let’s make it FUN!!

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