Paying Off Debt http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11699/all en-US 8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_calculating_accountancy_at_home.jpg" alt="Woman calculating accountancy at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're struggling with debt and don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, working with a credit counselor may be your best move. Credit counselors are trained to help you manage your debt and understand credit, cash flow, and budgeting. They will take a holistic look at your financial situation, then help you craft a plan to get out of debt and handle your money problems once and for all.</p> <p>While this may sound like exactly what you need, it's important to note that all credit counselors are not created equal. The <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor" target="_blank">Federal Trade Commission (FTC)</a> says that most reputable credit counselors work for nonprofit firms. But it warns that &quot;nonprofit&quot; status doesn't guarantee that their services are &quot;free, affordable, or even legitimate.&quot;</p> <p>Some credit counseling organizations are known for charging high fees, which they try to hide with layers of complexity. The FTC also notes that credit counselors sometimes ask for voluntary contributions to their business, even if making those contributions would put you into more debt.</p> <p>Obviously, you'll want to avoid credit counselors with high fees or shady practices. Before you choose a credit counselor, approach the situation with a list of questions to ask right away.</p> <h2>1. Is this a nonprofit credit counseling agency?</h2> <p>While this may seem like an obvious question, credit counselor Joseph Martin of Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency, says this question is crucial to ask right away. Because there are many different types of debt relief organizations with similar names and very different services, you should make sure you're speaking to a credit counselor instead of a different type of business, he says.</p> <p>If you think you're speaking with a credit counselor but are instead speaking with a debt settlement company, for example, you could wind up receiving advice that doesn't help you reach your goals. Credit counselors offer budgeting and financial education services. They can also help you create a plan to get out of debt by paying off your debts, often at reduced interest rates, through a long-term debt management plan (DMP). Doing so will eventually help to rebuild your credit.</p> <p>By contrast, for-profit <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt settlement</a> or debt relief companies focus on helping you negotiate a settlement for your debts that is less than what you owe, and this may cause your credit score to plummet. These are totally different services, and what works for one person may not work for another. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways to Negotiate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>Even though &quot;nonprofit&quot; credit counselors can charge hidden fees, you'll still want to know if you're working with a nonprofit organization, says Martin. Why? &quot;The initial financial assessment, budget, and education are always free with a nonprofit,&quot; he says.</p> <p>Since a nonprofit credit counselor offers free advice that you can use even if you decide not to move forward with their services, seeking out a nonprofit is a solid first step. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-organizations-that-really-can-help-you-with-your-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Organizations That Really Can Help You With Your Debt</a>)</p> <h2>2. Are you accredited?</h2> <p>A smart way to weed out unethical or substandard credit counselors is to find out if the credit counseling agency belongs to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). Members of these industry associations must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation and must &quot;abide by specific guidelines, ensuring consumers receive a full, comprehensive guided session to identify individualized debt and budgeting solutions,&quot; says Martin. By choosing a credit counselor that is accredited, you'll be choosing the cream of the crop.</p> <h2>3. How much do your services cost?</h2> <p>If you're talking to an accredited nonprofit credit counseling organization, services like budgeting and receiving general financial advice should always be free. Your antenna should go up if a credit counselor wants you to pay anything for those services. &quot;If an organization won't help you because you can't afford to pay, look elsewhere for help,&quot; the FTC writes on its website.</p> <p>Entering a debt management plan will usually cost more. According to CreditCards.com, most counseling agencies collect monthly fees from people who enter DMPs &mdash; up to $50 a month. A DMP usually lasts three to five years, so that means you could end up paying as much as $1,800 to the credit counselor.</p> <p>In addition to asking what recurring fees the agency charges, you should also ask whether there is an initial setup or consulting fee, says licensed insolvency trustee Michael Krieger of Krieger &amp; Company in Toronto, Canada. If your credit counselor glosses over the topic of how they get paid, definitely dig deeper, says Krieger. Or just move on and find someone else to work with.</p> <h2>4. What services do you offer?</h2> <p>Here's another common sense question that should be asked right away. Before you decide to work with a credit counselor, make sure you know what services they offer and if they're services you actually want.</p> <p>The FTC says you should look for an organization that offers several different services &quot;including budget counseling, and savings and debt management classes.&quot; The FTC also says you should avoid organizations that only offer a debt management plan (DMP) or push a DMP without fully analyzing your situation.</p> <p>&quot;Individuals very quickly head down the wrong path from counselors and financial service providers without really looking at the value they are adding,&quot; says Krieger. &quot;Those making promises that seem too good to be true usually are, yet people latch onto those promises.&quot;</p> <p>Instead of believing promises such as, &quot;everything will be okay&quot; or &quot;we'll get you out of debt,&quot; you need to find out exactly how the counselor plans to help you achieve your goals and what services they plan to use. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-sell-your-home-to-pay-down-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Sell Your Home to Pay Down Credit Card Debt?</a>)</p> <h2>5. What is your monthly DMP dropout rate?</h2> <p>If you do decide to enter a DMP, go into it knowing that only about 25 percent of debtors complete their plans with a credit counselor, according to CreditCards.com. Another 25 percent report that they finish paying off their debts on their own. But that's hard to verify. So the question to ask a counselor whose advising a DMP is how many people drop out of the plans every month &mdash; 2 percent is low, 5 percent is high.</p> <h2>6. How will we meet?</h2> <p>Before you connect with a credit counselor, it's important to know exactly what you're getting into. Will you talk to them online using technology like Skype or Google Hangouts? Will you talk on the phone? Or will you meet in-person to go over your budget and financial situation?</p> <p>If you believe meeting someone in-person would be the most helpful, then you should seek out local credit counselors that offer this option. If not, Krieger says you should decide if you're OK working via the internet or phone where your service may feel less personal overall.</p> <h2>7. Can I get my family involved?</h2> <p>Whether you're receiving credit counseling in-person or over the phone, Krieger says it should be a family affair. This means that, ideally, you'll be able to sit down with your credit counselor and your spouse or partner to go over the family's finances and debts and how everyone can be involved in the solution.</p> <p>&quot;Money problems start at home and both are influenced by and impact the entire family,&quot; he says. To solve your money problems or get on the right track regarding budgeting or debt, you have to get all adults in the family involved or it may not work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-couple-paid-off-147k-of-debt-even-while-unemployed?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How One Couple Paid Off $147k of Debt, Even While Unemployed</a>)</p> <h2>8. How will working with you help me in the long run?</h2> <p>The FTC says that you should ask any credit counselor you're thinking of working with how their advice will help you in the future. After all, you don't just want to get out of debt &mdash; you want to stay out of debt.</p> <p>By asking your counselor about their methods, you may gain some insight into how they can prepare you for a financial future free from the debt and financial strain you're experiencing today.</p> <p>And really, that should be the whole point. You want to get out of the mess you're in, but you should also strive to avoid more problems in the future. A nonprofit credit counselor should be able to help you with both goals, but you have to ask the right questions first. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-bankruptcy-is-the-right-move?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Times When Filing for Bankruptcy Is the Right Move</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520Before%2520Hiring%2520a%2520Credit%2520Counselor.jpg&amp;description=8%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20Before%20Hiring%20a%20Credit%20Counselor"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20Before%20Hiring%20a%20Credit%20Counselor.jpg" alt="8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems">The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce">What Happens to Debt After Divorce?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/re-age-your-credit-card-debt-to-protect-your-credit-score">Re-Age Your Credit Card Debt to Protect Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management credit counselor credit score debt management tips managing debt Paying Off Debt questions to ask Thu, 26 Apr 2018 08:30:10 +0000 Holly Johnson 2133920 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/busy_lady_working_on_a_computer.jpg" alt="Busy lady working on a computer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;What gets measured gets managed&quot; is an adage, and it's true. If you're in debt, one of the best ways to motivate yourself to get <em>out</em> of debt is by tracking it. Debt tracking websites and apps allow you to create debt payoff plans, calculate how much interest you'll pay in the process of becoming debt-free, and predict the all-holy debt-free date. Many even let you play around to see what the effect of extra monthly payments are.</p> <p>There are a ton of free debt tracking tools, but which one is right for you? As a debt blogger, I've spent three years trying and reading extensively about various tools, and have come up with a list of five that I think are best.</p> <h2>1. Undebt.it</h2> <p><a href="http://www.undebt.it" target="_blank">Undebt.it</a> undoubtedly has the most features of any debt tracker out there. It's the Cadillac of debt-payoff trackers. This comes in especially handy for student loans and credit cards, many of which have helpful (but complicated) repayment schemes and promotional offers.</p> <p>Undebt.it also has a number of options for calculating a debt-payoff plan. You can choose from the debt snowball method (lowest balance first), debt avalanche method (highest interest rate first), or even create a custom payoff plan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Snowballs or Avalanches: Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?</a>)</p> <p>It even supports the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-of-debt-faster-with-the-debt-snowflake?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt snowflake</a> method of making small, extra payments as you're able. And you can switch among all these plans whenever you want.</p> <p>The only downside of Undebt.it is that it's a bit clunky until you get used to it. The full suite of free features is nice, but it does take a bit of time navigating the website to understand all the ins and outs.</p> <h2>2. Unbury.me</h2> <p>If Undebt.it seems too confusing, try <a href="http://unbury.me" target="_blank">Unbury.me</a>. Its simple block-style layout is pleasing to the eye, and entering debts is a snap. It's almost <em>too</em> simple, which is why this debt tracker works best if your debts are relatively straightforward with no confusing, shifting APRs or payment schemes. Just remember to sign up for a free account after you enter your debt information to save your work, or it'll all be lost as soon as you leave the page!</p> <h2>3. Mint</h2> <p>You might be familiar with the popular budgeting software <a href="http://www.mint.com" target="_blank">Mint</a>, but did you know you can use it to track your debt as well? Using its Goals function, click on &quot;Pay Off Loans&quot; or &quot;Pay Off Credit Card Debt.&quot; It'll automatically populate the screen with your loans or your credit cards, and ask you to input any missing information about your interest rates and minimum monthly payments.</p> <p>By sliding the payment toggle, you can instantly see how much interest you'll save by raising or lowering your monthly payment amount, along with how long it'll take you to get out of debt. Select your payment amount, and follow Mint's instructions on where to send the extra payments.</p> <p>The beauty of the Mint system is that it updates automatically, meaning you don't have to login and update your account every time you make a payment. Plus, you get all of Mint's extra budgeting tools.</p> <h2>4. Debt Payoff Assistant</h2> <p>The <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/debt-payoff-assistant/id475099959?mt=8" target="_blank">Debt Payoff Assistant</a> app is the most basic, no-frills debt payoff tracker. It comes with three payoff plans to choose from: lowest balance first, highest balance first, and highest interest first. You can also come up with a custom plan if none of these work for you.</p> <p>Debt Payoff Assistant doesn't really offer much in the way of visualization except for a pie chart that shows you what kinds of loans make up your total debt. If you really want a graph of your debt over time, try Undebt.it or Unbury.me.</p> <h2>5. Debt Payoff Planner Calculator</h2> <p>If your debt payoff scheme confuses you, consider going with the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/debt-payoff-planner-and-calculator/id1009323715?mt=8" target="_blank">Debt Payoff Planner Calculator</a> app. The strength of this app is that it shows you exactly how much money to send to each debt every month, with the amounts changing as you pay off certain debts. You can choose from three payoff plans: the debt snowball plan, the debt avalanche plan, or a custom plan.</p> <p>Again, this app doesn't really show you a great visualization of your debt payoff progress. Choose another debt payoff tracker if that's important to you.</p> <p>If you're not sure which tracker is right for you, choose a couple to try out for a month or two. The idea is to help you get clearer about what you owe, the best way to pay it off, and to help you stay motivated until your balances are cleared.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-5-best-debt-tracking-systems&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%25205%2520Best%2520Debt%2520Tracking%2520Systems.jpg&amp;description=The%205%20Best%20Debt%20Tracking%20Systems"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%205%20Best%20Debt%20Tracking%20Systems.jpg" alt="The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lindsay-vansomeren">Lindsay VanSomeren</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor">8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce">What Happens to Debt After Divorce?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-people-without-debt-do">10 Things People Without Debt Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-millennial-money-apps-everyone-should-use">The 5 Millennial Money Apps Everyone Should Use</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Technology debt management tips debt tracking system debt-free financial apps money apps Paying Off Debt Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:30:05 +0000 Lindsay VanSomeren 2127515 at http://www.wisebread.com What Happens to Debt After Divorce? http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/spouses_having_their_first_disagreement.jpg" alt="Spouses having their first disagreement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you consider that 40-50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, it shouldn't surprise you that some marriages end in a financially messy way. Marriage typically involves the joint payment of debts just as it involves collecting joint assets, and everything &mdash; both assets and debts &mdash; must be distributed in some way when a couple calls it quits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-financially-during-a-divorce-or-separation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Yourself Financially During Divorce or Separation</a>)</p> <h2>Community property vs. common law states</h2> <p>In a lot of ways, what happens to your debts and assets depends on where you live. If you reside in one of the nine community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin) or &quot;opt in&quot; for community property in the state of Alaska, then all debts accumulated during a marriage are the responsibility of both parties no matter how they were held. This means that if your spouse ran up a secret credit card balance during your marriage, that debt is your responsibility as well as theirs in a community property state.</p> <p>If you live in one of the remaining states, then you live in an equitable distribution state (also known as a common law state). Typically, this means that debt incurred during a marriage is the responsibility of both parties, if both parties were joint owners of an account. If one spouse opens an account in their name only, on the other hand, that debt is their sole responsibility.</p> <h2>What happens to debt incurred during separation?</h2> <p>Note that debt incurred after a couple separates may be treated differently than debt incurred during a marriage. Your liability for such debt usually depends on your state, whether you took out the debt jointly or separately, and whether the debt was used for, say, a spending spree in Las Vegas or necessities for your children such as food and rent.</p> <p>Since the moment of separation is figured differently in different states, the cutoff for new debt can also vary. In some states you need to legally separate while others consider the moment of separation as starting when you begin living apart. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</a>)</p> <h2>How are debts divided when you divorce?</h2> <p>Sally Boyle, a certified divorce financial analyst and author of <em>Deconstructing Divorce</em>, says that no matter whether you live in a community property or equitable distribution state, debts are divided along with assets during a divorce. This means the court system that handles your divorce will help you figure out ways to split your debts equally and fairly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced</a>)</p> <h3>Credit card debt</h3> <p>If a couple has credit card debt that is jointly held, for example, both spouses can try to move the debt into two separate accounts.</p> <p>&quot;The challenge with joint debt is going back to the lender to split the debt up,&quot; says Boyle. It's possible your credit card issuer may not want to help you move part of the debt into a new account in one spouse's name, although they will usually cooperate if both spouses have good enough credit to qualify for an account on their own.</p> <p>As an alternative, Boyle says a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">balance transfer card</a> can be a good way to split up credit card debt if at least one spouse can get approved. &quot;It all comes down to whether the card issuer approves or not,&quot; says Boyle. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-divide-rewards-and-keep-your-sanity-in-divorce?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Divide Rewards and Keep Your Sanity in Divorce</a>)</p> <h3>Mortgage debt</h3> <p>Mortgage debt is handled similarly to credit card debt, except that there is an asset involved, since mortgage debt is secured by your home. If you own a home together and the debt is in both of your names but you get divorced, then it's possible that one spouse can keep the home. In that case, Boyle says most couples go to their mortgage company and ask it to approve the remaining spouse to refinance the home in their name only.</p> <p>If there is equity in the home, there are several ways to split it. If one party keeps the house, they could &quot;buy out&quot; the other person with cash. &quot;You could also refinance the home for what it's worth and get cash out,&quot; says Boyle.</p> <p>Another option is for the remaining spouse to get a home-equity loan and use some of the cash to give the other spouse their share of the equity. A final option is to just sell the house and split the proceeds, notes Boyle.</p> <h3>Auto loans</h3> <p>What about cars? Auto loans can work a number of different ways. Many times, each spouse will keep the car they drive and take over the payments even if both spouses are on the loan. However, it often makes sense for each spouse to refinance the car loan into their own names when they don't want to continue sharing a joint debt after divorce.</p> <h3>Student loans</h3> <p>Then there are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-divorce-affect-your-student-loans?ref=internal" target="_blank">student loans</a> to contend with. Boyle says that since student loans are taken out by only one spouse most of the time, the debt is often retained by the borrower. However, there are some exceptions.</p> <p>&quot;I've had situations where a spouse might pay off the other spouse's student loans as part of a broader divorce settlement,&quot; she says. &quot;Maybe they were the breadwinner or they had more assets.&quot;</p> <h2>Why couples typically split up debts during divorce</h2> <p>Attorney Nicholas Dowgul of <a href="http://www.feltonbanks.com/" target="_blank">Felton Banks</a> in Raleigh, North Carolina says couples there occasionally continue holding debt together after divorce.</p> <p>Basically, if the parties get a divorce and no equitable distribution action is filed, then equitable distribution (property settlement) is waived by both parties and the debt remains in whomever's name it was, says Dowgul. But if it's joint debt, then it remains the obligation of both spouses.</p> <p>However, the problem with joint debt after divorce is that one spouse may not stick to the agreement. In that case, the creditor would likely go after both spouses for repayment, regardless of their agreement to remain jointly liable. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-divorce-and-credit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What You Need to Know About Divorce and Credit</a>)</p> <p>For example, imagine there's a court order from a North Carolina court that says the husband is required to pay the credit card held jointly by the parties, but he stops paying his part of the bill. The card issuer will hold both spouses liable for the debt and repayment, meaning the bank will come after the wife as well, even though, according to the divorce decree, she's not responsible for paying that credit card bill.</p> <p>This doesn't mean that the husband would be off the hook, however. If he agreed to hold the debt jointly during the divorce settlement, then he could be held in contempt of court unless he pays what was ordered, notes Dowgul. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-myths-about-divorce-and-money-debunked?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Myths About Divorce and Money Debunked</a>)</p> <p>To avoid situations like this one where one spouse stops paying their share, many couples opt to pay off joint debts and close all joint accounts, then refinance remaining debts in one or the other's name only. It's just too risky to remain in an account with an ex-spouse, especially if you can avoid the situation altogether by moving debts into separate accounts.</p> <h2>What can you do to ensure debt is distributed fairly when you divorce?</h2> <p>While Dowgul only practices law in North Carolina and believes people in other states should consult a local divorce lawyer for specific advice, he says he recommends his clients write up a separation agreement once they decide they are going to divorce. A separation agreement should include a basic understanding of who gets what after the divorce, including which person is responsible for each debt accrued up to that point.</p> <p>In the state of North Carolina, couples have to be separated a year and a day before a divorce is granted, he says. While there's no requirement in his state that couples get their separation in writing, it makes things easier if the parties can at least agree on matters involving debt and assets upfront.</p> <p>Finally, hire a divorce lawyer who can represent you and ensure you're left with a fair number of assets and no more than your share of the debts once your divorce is final. &quot;The goal of divorce is for each spouse to end with assets of similar value,&quot; says Boyle. &quot;It's not always a 50/50 split, but it needs to be a fair split.&quot;</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-happens-to-debt-after-divorce&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520Happens%2520to%2520Debt%2520After%2520Divorce_.jpg&amp;description=What%20Happens%20to%20Debt%20After%20Divorce%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20Happens%20to%20Debt%20After%20Divorce_.jpg" alt="What Happens to Debt After Divorce?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor">8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems">The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tough-questions-about-debt-answered">7 Tough Questions About Debt, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Family debt management tips divorce getting divorced lawyer fees Paying Off Debt Fri, 30 Mar 2018 09:30:19 +0000 Holly Johnson 2124619 at http://www.wisebread.com 2-Minute Guide: How to Use Balance Transfers to Pay Off Credit Card Debt http://www.wisebread.com/2-minute-guide-how-to-use-balance-transfers-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/2-minute-guide-how-to-use-balance-transfers-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_with_credit_card_and_laptop.jpg" alt="Woman with credit card and laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Balance transfer credit cards can help you get out of debt, once you know a few things. Take a couple of minutes to learn the basics about what they are and how to use them.</p> <h2>What is a balance transfer credit card?</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">balance transfer card</a> has a low interest rate or none at all for an introductory period &mdash; typically six to 21 months. You move your debt from high-interest cards to the balance transfer card and get a low- or no-interest period in which to clear your debt.</p> <h2>Who qualifies for a balance transfer card?</h2> <p>To get the best terms, you'll need excellent credit. There are balance transfer cards for people with fair credit, but they may have shorter introductory periods and higher interest rates.</p> <h2>How do balance transfers work?</h2> <p>Once you're approved for a balance transfer card, you'll use it to pay off the balances from your old cards, usually over the phone or via the web. Then you can pay down the debt on the balance transfer card during the promotional period without any interest added to your payments. Every penny you pay toward your debt comes directly off your credit card balance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/step-by-step-guide-to-doing-a-balance-transfer-on-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Step-by-Step Guide to Balance Transfers</a>)</p> <h2>What are the costs?</h2> <p>Most of these cards charge a balance transfer fee of 3%&ndash;5% of your balance upfront (though a handful do not). You'll need to do the math to make sure you still come out ahead by transferring the balance.</p> <h2>What are the dangers?</h2> <ul> <li> <p>If you fail to pay off your balance before the introductory period ends, whatever debt is left will be subject to interest rates, which can be higher than the rate you were paying previously.</p> </li> <li> <p>If you pay late or fail to make your minimum payment, you could lose your introductory offer and be hit with a higher interest rate right away.</p> </li> <li> <p>Once you transfer a balance, it may be tempting to start running a balance on the old card again. That could put you in a worse situation than when you started. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-hidden-dangers-of-credit-card-balance-transfers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Hidden Dangers of Balance Transfers</a>)</p> </li> </ul> <h2>5 tips for balance transfer success</h2> <ul> <li> <p>Look for a card that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">doesn't charge a balance transfer fee</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p>Create a plan to pay off your debt during your card's introductory offer.</p> </li> <li> <p>Don't use your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-new-purchases-on-a-balance-transfer-card-can-cost-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">balance transfer card for purchases</a>. It will keep you in debt longer, and you'll forgo your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-didn-t-understand-about-credit-card-interest-grace-periods-and-penalty-aprs?ref=internal" target="_blank">grace period</a> on new purchases as long as you carry a balance.</p> </li> <li> <p>Don't quit making payments on your old cards until you know your balances have been transferred. Missing a payment or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit?ref=internal" target="_blank">paying late</a> can damage your credit score.</p> </li> <li>Keep old cards open. Closing credit cards can also lower your credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-comprehensive-checklist-for-a-successful-balance-transfer?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Comprehensive Checklist for Successful Balance Transfers</a>)</li> </ul> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F2-minute-guide-how-to-use-balance-transfers-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F2-Minute%2520Guide_%2520How%2520to%2520Use%2520Balance%2520Transfers%2520to%2520Pay%2520Off%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=2-Minute%20Guide%3A%20How%20to%20Use%20Balance%20Transfers%20to%20Pay%20Off%20Credit%20Card%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/2-Minute%20Guide_%20How%20to%20Use%20Balance%20Transfers%20to%20Pay%20Off%20Credit%20Card%20Debt.jpg" alt="2-Minute Guide: How to Use Balance Transfers to Pay Off Credit Card Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/2-minute-guide-how-to-use-balance-transfers-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/step-by-step-guide-to-doing-a-balance-transfer-on-credit-cards">Step-by-Step Guide to Doing a Balance Transfer on Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt">4 Ways to Negotiate Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-couple-paid-off-147k-of-debt-even-while-unemployed">How One Couple Paid Off $147k of Debt (Even While Unemployed)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Debt Management balance transfers credit card debt credit card tips debt repayment Paying Off Debt Mon, 26 Mar 2018 09:30:23 +0000 Holly Johnson 2123636 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Make Debt Repayment Fun http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-debt-repayment-fun <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-make-debt-repayment-fun" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/calendar_concept_with_a_yellow_pin.jpg" alt="Calendar Concept with a yellow pin" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I were first married, we used to race home on the 15th of each month, each one of us hoping to be the first to get the mail out of the mailbox. Our highly anticipated mail was not our favorite magazine, or the cheese of the month club, or even the newest Netflix DVD (remember those?).</p> <p>No, we were hurrying home to be the first to open up the monthly statement for our home equity loan, which we were in the long process of paying off. Whoever reached the house first got to see the official tally for our previous month's payment, and color in the next chunk of the debt-payoff thermometer we had posted in the kitchen.</p> <p>We're not the most boring people on the planet, despite what our kids might say. Our anticipation of the home equity loan statement just showed that we had found a way to make the long slog of debt repayment not only tolerable, but actually enjoyable.</p> <p>Before you decide that &quot;fun debt repayment&quot; is an oxymoron, consider how getting out of debt can be improved by making it more like a game. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-surprisingly-simple-ways-to-motivate-yourself?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>Gamify your debt payoff</h2> <p>Games offer both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to keep you playing. Intrinsic motivation refers to the internal or personal satisfaction you might feel for completing a task, while extrinsic motivation is the reward something else gives you for completing a task.</p> <p>For instance, you might spend an afternoon playing <em>Call of Duty</em> both because of the game's extrinsic motivation of rewarding you for completing the missions, and because of your intrinsic motivation to have some fun shooting digital Nazis in the face.</p> <p>Understanding how games tap into both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can help you figure out how to gamify something as traditionally &quot;unfun&quot; as debt payoff. In particular, arranging for extrinsic motivators to keep you on the straight-and-narrow of debt payoff can help make the &quot;game&quot; of getting your balance down to zero an intrinsic reward.</p> <p>Here's what you need to do to create your debt payoff game.</p> <h3>1. Choose the levels in your game</h3> <p>A game is not designed as a single huge step to overcome in order to win. It's broken down into achievable levels that allow you to enjoy your progress without feeling like you'll never reach the end. Video games generally make the first level an &quot;easy win&quot; in order to get you hooked on the game. As your competence at the game increases, the levels become more challenging.</p> <p>You can do the same thing with planning your debt payoff &quot;game.&quot; Start by determining exactly how much you need to pay off, and figure out how much extra you can send to your creditors each month.</p> <p>For instance, let's say you have $25,000 in credit card debt. You're currently sending the minimum payment of $625 each month, and that is already a big bite out of your monthly budget. You might decide that your first &quot;level&quot; will be sending an additional $100 to the credit card this month. An extra Benjamin a month is achievable but feels like an accomplishment if you're already struggling to pay the minimum &mdash; and this is why it's a good first level.</p> <p>From there, you might make the next levels when your balance has gone down by $500, and then $1,000, then $2,000, and so on. Once you've knocked $5,000 off the balance, make your levels a little further apart, so they occur every time $2,500 of balance is wiped out, or every $5,000. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>2. Decide on your extrinsic motivations per each level</h3> <p>Now that you have chosen levels for your debt payoff game, figure out how you can reward yourself for reaching them. Eventually, just reaching these levels will feel pretty great. But at the start of a debt payoff plan, it's a good idea to also build in the extrinsic motivations that will spur you to think of your debt payoff first when you're tempted to spend money.</p> <p>This is where you brainstorm ways to celebrate reaching the various levels you've chosen in your game &mdash; without spending money. Find rewards that cost nothing but still make you feel great. You might consider the following &quot;level up&quot; rewards:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Movie night at home.</p> </li> <li> <p>A nap in the middle of the day.</p> </li> <li> <p>An at-home pedicure.</p> </li> <li> <p>An entire Saturday afternoon playing your favorite video games.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The trick is to think about the things you normally don't allow yourself and pick out the ones that require no (or very minimal) cash outlay. Assign different rewards to different levels. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-free-and-fun-ways-to-reward-yourself?ref=seealso" target="_blank">20 Free and Fun Ways to Reward Yourself</a>)</p> <h3>3. Create a game visual</h3> <p>It's a lot more fun to play a game with good graphics or good design, and that's no different with your debt payoff game. Once you've determined the levels and rewards of your debt payoff, it's time to find a way to render them visually so that you can both keep track of your progress and enjoy the anticipation of getting closer to each reward level &mdash; and your overall goal.</p> <p>Debt payoff thermometers are a common method of creating a visual for your repayment plan. These are great for a couple of reasons: Anyone can easily draw a thermometer and label various levels on it, it makes for a motivating visual, and it can be a lot of fun to color in the thermometer as you go.</p> <p>However, that's not the only way to visualize your debt payoff game. Using a spreadsheet or other digital tracker can help you see your progress over time. In addition, if you are motivated by coloring or other artistic endeavors, you could create a beautiful visual of your debt payoff journey that you color in as you make progress. Or, if board games are your jam, consider creating a game board of paying off your debt. You can have fun with figuring out what your board will look like, and how you will represent each level.</p> <p>Making your game visual means that you can be creative about finding a system that will give you extrinsic motivation to pay off your debt.</p> <h3>4. Watch your extrinsic motivation become intrinsic</h3> <p>As you work through your debt payoff game, you'll find something strange happens: Figuring out ways to save money so that you can send more to your creditors goes from being a drag to being fun. That's because you'll find yourself wanting to color in the next level on your game board or reach the next level of reward, and so you stop thinking of paying off debt as a horrible slog. Instead, each step allows you to do something you enjoy (coloring in your debt thermometer or your game board) and also brings you closer to a reward you want.</p> <p>Once you get used to thinking of sending more money to your creditor as fun, it will become fun in its own right, without needing the game to make things enjoyable &mdash; although there's nothing wrong with continuing to treat it like a game.</p> <h2>A spoonful of sugar</h2> <p>Mary Poppins had it right when she sang, &quot;In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.&quot; It might seem impossible that paying your credit cards, student loans, or other debt could be the thing you most look forward to each month &mdash; but the spoonful of sugar that you add by gamifying your debt payoff may just make you rush home in joyful anticipation on the day you receive your monthly statement.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-ways-to-make-debt-repayment-fun&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Ways%2520to%2520Make%2520Debt%2520Repayment%2520Fun.jpg&amp;description=4%20Ways%20to%20Make%20Debt%20Repayment%20Fun"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Ways%20to%20Make%20Debt%20Repayment%20Fun.jpg" alt="4 Ways to Make Debt Repayment Fun" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-debt-repayment-fun">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor">8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems">The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce">What Happens to Debt After Divorce?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-fun-frugal-things-to-do-tonight-besides-watch-tv">25 Fun, Frugal Things to Do Tonight Besides Watch TV</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management challenges creativity fun games motivation Paying Off Debt setting goals Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:39:08 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2076822 at http://www.wisebread.com We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt? http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-514332608.jpg" alt="Couple wondering if they should save for retirement or pay off debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? If you're carrying a card balance, you may be wrestling with whether to put all your resources into attacking the debt, or start building your retirement nest egg while you slowly pay off debt.</p> <p>Which one will give you a better net worth? There's no simple answer. For some people the situation may warrant clearing credit card debt first; for others, it's better to start investing right away. To figure out which scenario is better in a given situation, we'll need to do some math. Don't worry, we'll show you how to do it in a few easy steps.</p> <h2>Step 1: Gather important numbers about your debt and your retirement plan</h2> <p>First, look through your credit card statements and accompanying information to pull up the following numbers:</p> <ul> <li>Credit card debt. You'll find this on the front of your credit card statement.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit card interest rate, or APR (Annual Percentage Rate). You'll find this further down on your statement, in a section labeled &quot;Interest Charged&quot; or something similar.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment. You'll find this in your card's terms and conditions, under a discussion about how minimum payments are calculated. It will probably be a percentage, but there may also be a flat sum.</li> </ul> <p>Next, consider any retirement plan you are enrolled in or have available. What is the average annual return? You can identify past returns by reviewing your retirement account statements. For example, your 401(k) plan account may list your annual return. Note that past returns don't guarantee or predict future returns, but we'll use the average annual return as a proxy for future returns in this case, knowing that if our portfolio takes a long-term downward turn, our calculations will change.</p> <p>Finally, how much extra do you have in your monthly budget that you could put toward credit card payments, retirement investments, or both?</p> <p>Follow along as we consider a hypothetical debt situation and retirement opportunity. Let's say there's $500 in our monthly budget, which equals $6,000 annually ($500 x 12 months = $6,000) to put toward debt or retirement.</p> <p>Currently, the balance on our credit card is $5,000. Our APR is 22%. Our minimum monthly payment is 3% of our outstanding balance or $25, whichever is greater.</p> <p>Our employer offers a 401(k) plan. For the sake of keeping this illustration simple, we'll say our employer doesn't match employee contributions and we choose to make taxable contributions with a Roth designated account within the 401(k).</p> <p>In reality, you might choose instead to make tax-deductible contributions to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-an-ira-to-build-wealth?ref=internal" target="_blank">traditional retirement account</a>. With a Roth 401(k) there are no immediate tax benefits, which makes our calculations simpler and therefore better suited for this purpose.</p> <p>We'll say the default investment in our 401(k) is a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-best-investments-for-lazy-investors?ref=internal" target="_blank">target-date mutual fund</a> with an average annual return of 6.3% since its inception. We know that future performance is unpredictable. But to run the numbers for the retirement vs. debt decision, we'll apply an annual return of 6% to our retirement account.</p> <p>We'll look at the retirement account and credit card balance after five years to compare the two choices: 1) making minimum payments on our card balance so we can start investing right away, or 2) putting all our extra money toward our credit card debt before we consider retirement investing.</p> <p>In both scenarios, we'll assume that we won't make additional charges on our credit card. In addition, we'll contribute to our retirement account when we have money available to invest.</p> <h2>Step 2: Calculate net worth if you prioritize retirement savings over paying off credit card debt quickly</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll see what happens if we only make minimum payments on our credit card so that we can get started investing for retirement right away. Your credit card statement should state very clearly how long it will take to pay off your balance if you make minimum payments.</p> <p>You can also find an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card" target="_blank">online calculator</a> to help you with these calculations. Here's the information we'll enter for our example (you can put in your own numbers from your real-life situation):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 3%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $25<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>Results indicate that we'll carry this debt for more than 17 years (205 months) and pay more than $7,000 in interest during this time. Click the button that says &quot;Detailed Results&quot; to see a breakdown of the payments. Make sure that under the Assumptions tab, you've asked for a monthly table display.</p> <p>In the first month, our payment is $150 and this amount slowly diminishes until we're paying the minimum amount of $25 for the last several years.</p> <p>Since we're making minimum payments on the credit card, we'll be able to put $350 of our total available $500 toward retirement in the first month ($500 - $150 = $350). The second month and subsequent months, we'll be able to increase the amount we invest, as our credit card balance dwindles. Every month we also earn some interest (6%/12 months), so our retirement account balance grows in that way, too.</p> <p>After five years (60 months), our credit card balance will be trimmed to less than $2,500.</p> <p>At the end of five years, our retirement account grows to just over $27,300. Considering our debt and retirement balances, our net worth is $24,800 ($27,300 in assets and $2,500 in liabilities). Note that investment returns are not guaranteed; the 6% rate is for illustration purposes only.</p> <p>You can&nbsp;<a href="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/Rains_We Do The Math Spreadsheet - Sheet1.pdf" target="_blank">download the spreadsheet</a> with these calculations.</p> <h2>Step 3: Calculate net worth if you pay off credit card debt completely before investing for retirement</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll apply all of our extra income to credit card debt first. When the debt is paid in full, we'll begin to contribute to the retirement account.</p> <p>We enter this information to learn how quickly we'll pay off the debt with $500 per month (again, enter your own information to get personalized results):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 0%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $500<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>To keep the credit card payment at $500 per month (and pay off credit card debt first), we'll enter the minimum payment percentage as 0% and the minimum payment amount as $0 &mdash; even though the actual terms of the credit card agreement will most likely specify a percentage of 2% or more and a minimum payment of $10 or more. When we view the results, we find that the payoff happens in 12 months. We'll make 11 payments of $500 and one payment of $74.</p> <p>After we finish paying off the credit card debt, we can begin investing. We'll invest $426 in the twelfth month ($500&ndash;$74) and $500 in subsequent months. Consider using a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calculator.net/future-value-calculator.html" target="_blank">Future Value calculator</a>, to determine how much your retirement account will be worth at the end of five years.</p> <p>Here's the information we entered into the Future Value calculator:</p> <ul> <li>Number of periods: 48. (We'll invest for four years, or 48 months.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start amount: $426. (We'll start with the first month's contribution as the balance in our account.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Interest rate: 0.5% (6% annual rate divided by 12 months).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Periodic deposit: $500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Deposit made at the beginning or end of the period: End.</li> </ul> <p>If we earn 6% annually on our investments, our retirement account grows to $27,590 in five years. In addition, our credit card debt is paid off. Our net worth is $27,590 &mdash; that's $2,790 <em>more </em>than if we had prioritized retirement savings first and stuck with only paying the minimum on our credit card debt each month.</p> <h2>What else to consider</h2> <p>These calculations are a starting place. Your situation may be similar to this scenario, but it might not be. For instance, if your APR is considerably lower and your retirement returns higher than in the scenarios above, you may very well find that you're better off investing in the market while reducing your credit card debt slowly. Changes in one or several of these factors could alter results:</p> <ul> <li>Larger or smaller credit card balances;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Higher or lower credit card APRs;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Better or worse investment performance;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Availability of a company match on your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Administrative fees associated with your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Choosing to invest in a traditional 401(k).</li> </ul> <p>If you opt for a traditional 401(k), your contributions come out of your pretax income, thereby reducing your taxable income, which could result in a lower tax liability and a higher tax refund. A tax refund could be applied to your credit card balance, allowing you to more easily pay off debt while also saving for retirement.</p> <p>To calculate the immediate tax benefit of saving within a traditional 401(k) account, multiply the contribution amount by your marginal tax rate. In addition, you could be eligible for a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-savings-contributions-savers-credit" target="_blank">saver's credit</a>, which further increases the benefit of retirement savings.</p> <h2>How to get started with either scenario</h2> <p>Whatever path you choose, you may need help taking first steps. Consider these ways to get started:</p> <h3>Debt payoff</h3> <ul> <li>Consider transferring or consolidating your balances on a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% balance transfer card</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Consider a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=internal" target="_blank">no-spend week or month</a> in which you don't spend on anything except essentials.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Apply cash gifts from family to credit card balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work a part-time job to pay down balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find ways to spend less on everyday expenditures and apply savings to debt payoff.</li> </ul> <h3>Retirement saving</h3> <ul> <li>Consider enrolling in your employer's retirement plan, if offered. You may have the opportunity to contribute to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/403b-vs-401k-how-are-they-different?ref=internal" target="_blank">401(k) or 403(b) account</a>, for example.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-retirement-account-whats-available-and-what-s-best-for-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">IRA</a> with a brokerage account or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-trust-your-money-with-these-4-popular-financial-robo-advisers?ref=internal" target="_blank">robo-adviser</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sep-ira-is-how-the-self-employed-do-retirement-like-a-boss?ref=internal" target="_blank">SEP-IRA</a> if you have self-employment income.</li> </ul> <p>When considering your choices, keep in mind that credit card interest rates are relatively fixed, whereas investment returns tend to be much more variable. The main instances in which credit card rates fluctuate these days are when the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, or when you make late payments and are charged a penalty interest rate.</p> <p>The point is, if your card's APR is 22%, you could be certain to save at least 22% of your balance by paying off credit card interest early. In contrast, the precise benefit of early investing is less certain.</p> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? Doing the math can help you make a decision.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwe-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWe%2520Do%2520the%2520Math-%2520Save%2520for%2520Retirement%2520or%2520Pay%2520Off%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Debt-.jpg&amp;description=We%20Do%20the%20Math%3A%20Save%20for%20Retirement%20or%20Pay%20Off%20Credit%20Card%20Debt%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/We%20Do%20the%20Math-%20Save%20for%20Retirement%20or%20Pay%20Off%20Credit%20Card%20Debt-.jpg" alt="We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/funding-your-401k-when-youre-in-debt">Funding your 401(k) when you&#039;re in debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-roadblocks-to-retirement-and-how-to-clear-them">7 Roadblocks to Retirement (And How to Clear Them)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Retirement 401(k) APR bills calculating comparisons interest rates nest egg Paying Off Debt Thu, 18 May 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Julie Rains 1949201 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Money Moves to Make Before You Start Investing http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-before-you-start-investing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-money-moves-to-make-before-you-start-investing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/coins_growing_plants_67145371.jpg" alt="Finding money moves to make before you start investing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm a staunch advocate for investing &mdash; especially if the alternative is piling up money in a savings account just to have &quot;savings.&quot; Savings are great, but you only need so much in that offensively low-interest account. Put the excess to work, hopefully making even more money out of your investment. Before you take that plunge, however, there are a few financial matters you need to mind.</p> <h2>1. Organize Your Budget and Expenses</h2> <p>If you're considering making an investment &mdash; whatever it may be &mdash; you should have a solid handle on how much money is coming in and going out on a monthly basis. You want to make sure you can afford the investment without teetering on the edge of debt, but this also is a good time to find any weak spots in your budget so you can address them accordingly. Online money-tracking services like Mint.com can make this task much easier on you, and help you stay on track over the long term.</p> <p>&quot;When you know where your money goes, you are in control and can be thoughtful about aligning spending with priorities,&quot; says Carla Dearing CEO of SUM180, an online financial planning service. &quot;Mint, for example, gives you complete access to your data through the website and your mobile device, whether you use iOS or Android. Better yet, Mint keeps an eye on your money for you. It even sends alerts to remind you to pay your bills or when you go over budget.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Get That Emergency Fund in Order &mdash; Stat!</h2> <p>In almost every &quot;money moves&quot; article I write, the &quot;emergency fund&quot; usually pops up somewhere. That's because it's a critical and indispensable part of your overall financial picture. You should have a sizable cushion in the bank to cover life's little mishaps, and that &quot;should&quot; becomes a &quot;must&quot; when you add investing to the equation. If you don't have an emergency fund, you have no business investing &mdash; bottom line.</p> <p>Just how much dough are we talking for an emergency fund to be considered satisfactory? Six times your monthly expenses, according to Dearing.</p> <p><strong>&quot;</strong>Be disciplined about saving a little every month until your emergency fund is where it needs to be, even if it means sacrificing little luxuries once in a while,&quot; she says. &quot;Remember to replenish the account every time you use it. Having your cushion ready whenever you need it will give you a great sense of security and freedom. It will also free you up to work on other savings goals without getting derailed by unexpected expenses.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Your High-Interest Debts</h2> <p>You don't need to be completely out of debt before you start investing. Many financial advisers argue that you should be debt free before you start investing, but that's just not true. Most people don't pay off their homes for up to 30 years, and you wouldn't want to wait that long before you start a retirement fund.</p> <p>You should, however, pay off your high-interest debts. They'll drag you down faster than the Titanic.</p> <p>&quot;Whether it's a credit card or student loan, it doesn't make any sense to invest and make a market average return of 7% annually while you're paying 20% on credit debt,&quot; says Nick Braun, founder of a pet insurance company. &quot;Pay off your high-interest debts first, then start using excess income to save for the future.&quot;</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=article">Fastest Way to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt</a></p> <h2>4. Contribute to Your Retirement Savings</h2> <p>Retirement savings <em>is</em> an investment. It may not seem like it now, because what you're funding seems so far away &mdash; but you'll see it as such when you reach retirement age. Which is why, before you start throwing money at other investment opportunities, you need to invest in yourself. If you don't have a retirement account set up yet, make that a priority. If you have one currently, like a 401K, for instance, take advantage of free, pretax contribution opportunities where available, like matching funds from your employer. Then max those contributions out so you don't miss a single cent.</p> <h2>5. Contribute to an HSA</h2> <p>If you have a health insurance policy that comes with a qualifying Health Savings Account, take full advantage of it and fully fund it.</p> <p>&quot;Most contributions are tax-deductible, and withdrawals to pay qualifying medical expenses &mdash; at any time in life &mdash; are tax-free,&quot; explains Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Freedom Financial Network in Phoenix. &quot;These accounts are essentially emergency funds devoted to health care costs, and so savings have a double benefit of tax relief and savings.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Refinance Your Student Loans</h2> <p>Are student loans holding you back from building your savings or investment accounts or from making other types of investments? Free up some of your budget by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-refinance-your-student-loan?ref=internal">refinancing your loans</a> for a lower monthly payment.</p> <p>&quot;The average Class of 2016 graduate owes more than $37,000 in student loan debt,&quot; says financial expert Michael Blattman, professor at University of Maryland. &quot;With 43 million borrowers nationwide, Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. Individually, this crushing debt delays borrowers' life decisions, such as getting married, investing in the stock market, buying a house, or having children. Collectively, it's hampering the U.S. economy.&quot;</p> <p>You don't, however, have to be part of these statistics. Take back some of your financial freedom by making a call to your loan provider(s) to discuss refinance options that are right for you.</p> <h2>7. Get Started on a Taxable Investment Portfolio</h2> <p>After you've maxed out your retirement accounts, Dearing suggests starting a taxable investment portfolio. You can get started investing with just a few simple steps.</p> <p>To get set up, call one of the high-quality, low-fee money management companies, like Vanguard, Fidelity, or T. Rowe Price, tell them about yourself, and ask them to tell you what type of account or fund you need, and what minimum investment requirements apply. These companies, which are the gold standard in the financial services industry, are extremely knowledgeable and committed to serving their clients (who, in the case of Vanguard, are also their shareholders).</p> <p>&quot;Companies like this get you started with a comprehensive, diversified, low-cost fund that will serve you well as a beginning investor,&quot; says Dearing. &quot;Follow their recommendations and you won't go wrong.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Set Savings Goals for Your Taxable Investment Portfolio</h2> <p>Once you have your taxable investment portfolio established, set goals &mdash; $10,000, then $25,000 and, eventually, $100,000.</p> <p>&quot;When you are just starting out, choose one or two tax-advantaged funds, like the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF or the Vanguard Small Cap Index ETF, or similar index funds,&quot; Dearing suggests. &quot;These passively managed funds do a minimum amount of buying and selling &mdash; what the industry calls 'churning' &mdash; which translates into significantly less taxable investment income for you to deal with each year. They also tend to outperform most actively managed mutual funds over time.&quot;</p> <p>Revisiting the goal aspect of this equation, it helps to have a contribution target in place so you have a solid idea of what you're trying to achieve. Likewise, make sure that it's a goal that you <em>can</em> achieve. $10,000 may take a while to reach, but you can do it. If that goal is too steep for you right now, start smaller. There's no harm in that. The most important part of this is that you set the bar just high enough to accomplish it and be motivated by your success to continuing striving further.</p> <p><em>Do you have additional suggestions on money moves to make before investing? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-before-you-start-investing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-rules-every-mediocre-investor-must-know">The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-for-building-a-profitable-portfolio">5 Essentials for Building a Profitable Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-treat-your-social-security-benefits-like-a-bond">Should You Treat Your Social Security Benefits Like a Bond?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment advice emergency funds health savings account money moves Paying Off Debt portfolio retirement savings stock market student loans Wed, 17 Aug 2016 09:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1771628 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Think Like an Olympian to Master Your Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-think-like-an-olympian-to-master-your-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-think-like-an-olympian-to-master-your-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/olympic_runners_athletes_79121499.jpg" alt="Olympic athletes learning how to master their money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may not think you have much in common with an Olympian, but when you put these world-class athletes' level of commitment, perseverance, and practice in the context of your own finances, you might be surprised at just how alike you are &mdash; or, at least, how alike you can be.</p> <p>Start looking at the bigger picture and keep your eye on the prize with these ways to think like an Olympian and master your money.</p> <h2>1. Commit to a Goal &mdash; Or Goals</h2> <p>The ultimate goal of an Olympian is to take home the coveted gold medal in their discipline. Your goals, with regards to your money, may vary. Perhaps you want to pay off your consumer debts or school loans, establish a sizable emergency fund, or start making investments. Whatever it may be, you have to set your sights and focus on achieving that goal by contributing to it as best you can. An important part of that process is holding yourself accountable by tracking your spending and saving habits and monitoring progress toward your ultimate goal &mdash; and that often starts with budgeting.</p> <p>&quot;Olympians set goals &mdash; ranging from hitting a turn better in swim practice to winning a medal &mdash; and then devising a training program around the goals,&quot; offers Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Freedom Financial Network in Phoenix. &quot;In personal finance, the idea is to look at what you want to do in life, set goals, and then put together a budget that will help you achieve those goals. Along the way, you may need to modify the goals or the 'training program' that gets you there &mdash; just as an Olympian would.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Put Those Goals in Places of Visibility</h2> <p>Keep track of your goals and put them in places of visibility. Whether it's a dream board with your endgame (i.e. a gold medal) or a cheat sheet of stats, many Olympians visualize the end in mind.</p> <p>Personal finance expert and blogger Cherie Lowe did just when she and her husband committed to paying off $127,000 in debt.</p> <p>&quot;While we were paying off debt, a running tally hung on our refrigerator (four years later, it's still there), reminding us where we've been and where we were headed at the time,&quot; she says.</p> <p>This strategy can work for you, too. Monitoring your progress &mdash; so you can visually assess your small successes &mdash; will provide the stamina and drive you'll need to make it through the long haul.</p> <h2>3. Recognize the Necessary Sacrifices</h2> <p>Nobody likes to make sacrifices &mdash; least of all Olympians who need to stay on the straight-and-narrow if they're to be the best of the best (so long, junk food and booze!). But if you're in a financial pickle, sacrifices are likely in order.</p> <p>These sacrifices will depend on your lifestyle. I don't know what your personal vices are, but when you identify these monetary distractions, it's wise to devise a plan to nip them in the bud, or at least lay off them as you get your situation under control. You won't get very far in achieving your goals if you're constantly sidetracked or diverted by these things that expressly prevent you from your own success. You'll soon realize they're not worth the negative impact they have on you, and you may even feel better than you thought you would without them.</p> <h2>4. Practice, Practice, Practice</h2> <p>Athletes show up to practice every day and continue to perfect their skill. This is according to four-time real-life Olympian Lauryn Williams, who has started a financial planning firm that serves professional athletes and young professionals.</p> <p>&quot;Practice is about working on your weaknesses until they become skills,&quot; she says. &quot;Saving may be something you don't do well, but you show up and practice and sometimes you save a little and others times you save a lot, but to create the habit of saving you must consistently practice it.&quot;</p> <p>Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch echoes that sentiment.</p> <p>&quot;As the popular saying goes, 'practice makes perfect,' and this applies to both athletes striving to be the top talents in their sport and individuals who want to effectively manage their finances,&quot; she says. &quot;Tasks like investing and saving money take practice; proficiency in these areas is not achieved overnight and requires the same tireless pursuit employed by Olympians seeking gold in the games. Do the same thing everyday as it relates to your money, whether that's reviewing your bank and credit card statements or tracking your goal. And when you perfect your process, keep going and never stop.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Show Up Every Day &mdash; Whether You Want to or Not</h2> <p>No matter how tired you are, or beat down, or how woe-is-me you're feeling about your finances, keep pushing every day. Olympians don't skip the gym. They pay attention to their training daily. In the same way, if you're reaching for a financial goal you have to be willing to show up and put in the hard work, even when you don't feel like it. This means balancing the checkbook, working extra hours, and being an active participant in your money goals.</p> <h2>6. Overcome Setbacks</h2> <p>In your pursuit of sound money-management, there will always be setbacks, whether it's a drop in the market or an impulse buy made in a moment of weakness. But you will bounce back &mdash; and you'll be better for it.</p> <p>Let's use a self-imposed moratorium on clothes shopping as an example. You want to commit to your savings goals full force, and eliminating clothing purchases (or at least for a while) are necessary to achieve that goal. Alas, sometimes life gets in the way, but that doesn't mean that all your hard work to this point has to go up in flames.</p> <p>&quot;When you're trying to cut back on spending, but back-to-school season is demanding your funds, for instance, download apps like <a href="http://shopsavvy.com/">ShopSavvy</a> to compare prices or Coupon Sherpa for such in-store savings as $10 off $40 or more with a <a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/kohls/">Kohl's coupon</a>,&quot; Woroch says. &quot;Recovering from these mishaps quickly and continuing to practice good financial habits is key to your ultimate success.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Cultivate Self-Discipline</h2> <p>Reaching that podium as a medalist isn't a cakewalk for an Olympian, and neither will be achieving your financial goals. Which is why self-discipline is required, especially if you're going this alone.</p> <p>&quot;It takes discipline to train for hours every day leading up to the Olympic Games and it takes this same kind of strong will to reach your financial goals,&quot; says Woroch. &quot;After all, it's much more fun to spend money on vacations and the latest gadget than it is to put money toward your savings goal or debt payoff plan. Having the control to forgo wants and focus only on your needs is a challenge, but it's a worthwhile pursuit, whether you're striving for gold or financial freedom.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Strive for Consistency</h2> <p>Consistency is key if you want to achieve any kind of goal, whether it's related to fitness or finances. Olympians must be consistent with their training, both mental and physical, to qualify for the games and compete with other top athletes in their sport. Similarly, consumers must be consistent with their savings goals and spending behaviors to stay on track financially. Digital tools like <a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint</a> can help you track your spending and keep an eye on your investment portfolio, while the<a href="https://digit.co/"> Digit app</a> automates savings and transfers unused funds from your checking account to your savings account.</p> <h2>9. Stay Positive</h2> <p>There will be days along this journey that you'll want to give up, throw in the towel, close the blinds and hide under the covers. We all get that way sometimes, but it's true what they say &mdash; only the strong will survive. Stay focused and maintain a positive outlook, and you'll come out the other end victorious, just like a U.S. Olympian.</p> <p>Woroch notes, &quot;To compete, Olympians must remain positive through arduous training and in the face of fierce competition. It's easy to feel defeated both as an athlete and as someone pursuing a financial goal. However, positivity can help you endure the low moments and keep your sights set on your goal. This is especially true when the stock market drops and your net worth suddenly takes a dive along with it.&quot;</p> <p><em>Are you an Olympian when it comes to your finances?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-think-like-an-olympian-to-master-your-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-a-reverse-bucket-list-to-improve-your-money-management">Create a Reverse Bucket List to Improve Your Money Management</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-inspiring-quotes-about-money-from-successful-women">6 Inspiring Quotes About Money From Successful Women</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-lessons-we-could-all-learn-from-dwayne-the-rock-johnson">6 Money Lessons We Could All Learn From Dwayne &quot;The Rock&quot; Johnson</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-10-money-podcasts-will-help-you-save-tons">These 10 Money Podcasts Will Help You Save Tons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-3-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-oprah-winfrey">The 3 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Oprah Winfrey</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance advice commitment discipline goals inspiration money olympics Paying Off Debt working hard Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1767117 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Can Buy With $5,000 http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-can-buy-with-5000 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-can-buy-with-5000" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kitten_cash_000008767834.jpg" alt="Learning you can buy a kitten and more for $5,000" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>If I had a million dollars&hellip;</em></p> <p>So the song by Canadian alt rockers Barenaked Ladies goes. While it may be fun to imagine what you would spend a cool mill on, it's a lot more realistic to imagine that you may find yourself with $5K to dispose of as you wish. Maybe you got a big tax refund this year, or an unknown uncle left you a little something.</p> <p>Whatever the backstory, here are 11 fun and/or responsible things you could do with $5,000.</p> <h2>1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>The average American household with credit card debt owes about $15,000. If this is you, making only the monthly minimum payment at a very typical 15% annual interest rate, it could take you seven years to pay off &mdash; and you'd end up wasting $8,000 to $9,000 on interest.</p> <p>Pay down $5,000 of that debt now, and you could finish paying the rest in half the time, for only about $3,000 total interest. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso1&amp;utm_campaign=article">Use a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Debt Faste</a>r)</p> <h2>2. Get a Cat</h2> <p>Half leopard, half house cat, the Bengal is a beautiful animal and can be yours for <a href="http://adorablekittens.com/20-of-the-most-expensive-cat-breeds-in-the-world/18/">just about $5,000</a>.</p> <p>If being ignored by one feline doesn't cut it for you, you can get more cat for your cash by adopting. With an average fee of around $100, you could bring home <a href="http://www.thecatsite.com/a/how-much-does-it-cost-to-adopt-a-shelter-cat">50 felines for $5,000</a>. Then again, maybe you'll need to save some money for litter and food &mdash; and a really good vacuum cleaner.</p> <h2>3. Start a Business</h2> <p>There are a number of low-overhead businesses you could start with a $5,000 or smaller investment, many of them work-from-home gigs such as being a <a href="http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/15-businesses-you-can-start-with-5000-or-less-2.html/?a=viewall">virtual assistant</a> (expenses include computer, phone, Internet, and possibly training and marketing). You could also buy a small franchise, such as a <a href="http://www.thefranchisemall.com/franchises/details/13818-0-all_american_hot_dog_carts.htm">hot dog cart</a>, for $5,000 or less.</p> <h2>4. Take Your Inner Geek on a Vacation of a Lifetime</h2> <p>For about $5,000, you can take the <a href="http://www.firstlighttravel.com/group-tours/new-zealand-adventure-tours-new-zealand/new-zealands-lord-rings-location-tour">Lord of The Rings New Zealand Tour</a>. The trip includes staying at the adorable Hobbit Hotel &mdash; but second breakfasts and elevenses are on you.</p> <h2>5. Bank It</h2> <p>Interest rates are still low, but you can get <em>some</em> return on your money if you deposit it.</p> <p>EverBank currently pays 0.61% on its money market accounts and compounds interest daily, so after five years of compounding interest, you would have $5,154. So basically, after five years of saving, you'll have earned enough interest to buy a scooter or have your house cleaned once.</p> <h2>4. Give It to an Old Person: Future You</h2> <p>If you're not regularly depositing money in an IRA from your paycheck, you can meet almost the entire year's <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-IRA-Contribution-Limits">maximum deposit</a> with a $5,000 lump sum contribution.</p> <p>Because traditional IRAs grow tax-free, you might be amazed at how much your $5,000 deposit could blossom into by the time you retire. Assuming a 7% annual return, if you deposit $5,000 at age 20, you could have more than $50,000 by age 65. Not bad!</p> <h2>5. Indulge Yourself for a Year</h2> <p>For $5,000, you could get a one-year subscription to a <a href="https://www.caskers.com/clubs/whiskey/">whiskey club</a> ($600), a <a href="http://www.1-800-kobebeef.com/48ozkobestpe.html">Kobi beef of the month club</a> ($1,250), a <a href="http://thefreshlobstercompany.com/product-category/seafood-of-the-month-club/">seafood of the month club</a> (about $1,660), a <a href="http://www.sweetemotionscandy.com/">candy of the month club</a> (about $300), and order one <a href="https://www.soothe.com/sf?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=san+francisco&amp;gclid=CjwKEAjw0pa5BRCLmoKIx_HTh1wSJABk5F_4CGfgwWvoqqotkCvC7pNOm8aG4rKMnxmebDmV5JZU7BoCyJDw_wcB">in-home massage</a> per month ($1,200). A great deal for xenophobes, freelance writers, or folks on house arrest!</p> <h2>6. Donate to Charity</h2> <p>It will make you feel great, and you can deduct your gift from your taxable income. Make sure your recipient is a qualified nonprofit &mdash; you can look it up on the <a href="https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/">IRS website</a> &mdash; and remember that you need a letter of verification from the charity for all donations over $250.</p> <h2>9. Eat a Burger</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.alux.com/most-expensive-burger-in-the-world/">Fleurburger 5000</a>, served at Hubert Keller's Fleur eatery in Las Vegas, is made with Wagyu beef, foie gras, shaved black truffles, and truffle oil. It comes with a bottle of fine wine &mdash; and fries.</p> <h2>10. Grill Your Own Burgers In an Outdoor Kitchen</h2> <p>While you can flip burgers on the most inexpensive hibachi, making your yard into a <a href="https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-outdoor-kitchen-cost.htm"><em>plein air</em> living space</a> where you can comfortably cook starts around $5,000 for a decent grill, an island with a built-in refrigerator, and a dining set.</p> <h2>11. Skip Waiting in Lines for a Year</h2> <p>Estimates for how much time Americans spend waiting in line in a lifetime vary from <a href="http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1657807,00.html">two to five years</a>. That boils down to hundreds of hours per year! You can pay line waiters about $25 per hour on TaskRabbit or through local services. So for $5,000, you can get out of 200 hours of line waiting. Pro tip: Don't blow it all on one phone.</p> <p><em>What would you do with $5000?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-can-buy-with-5000">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-free-things-that-arent">8 &quot;Free&quot; Things That Aren&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flower-power-a-guide-to-frugal-valentines-flowers">Flower Power - A Guide to Frugal Valentine&#039;s Flowers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-flea-shampoos">The 5 Best Pet Flea Shampoos</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Shopping donating extra money Food Paying Off Debt pets savings Splurging windfalls Wed, 18 May 2016 09:30:22 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1703944 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Manage Debt While Unemployed http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-debt-while-unemployed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-manage-debt-while-unemployed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000050909676_Large.jpg" alt="trying to manage debt while unemployed" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you're unemployed, it can be harder than ever to manage your debt. But with the right strategy, you can stop worrying about debt and start focusing on finding a new job. Here's how to get a handle on your debt during unemployment:</p> <h2>Assess Your Assets</h2> <p>First consider all assets and possible sources of income available to you. Can you accept part-time work, sell belongings on eBay, or take a local babysitting gig to make a little extra cash for the necessities? This can make it easier to stay afloat and make your minimum monthly payments on-time. And if you haven't already done so, visit the <a href="http://www.dol.gov/">U.S. Department of Labor</a> to apply for unemployment benefits.</p> <h2>Create a Survival Budget</h2> <p>Determine what your basic living expenses are, such as food, mortgage, utilities, transportation, insurance, and medical costs. Create a budget that details every single dime you spend each month so that you can determine what can be cut during this time. Once you find new employment, try to stick to this survival budget so that you have extra funds available to pay down debt or invest in an emergency savings fund.</p> <p>Assess your remaining costs to determine if there is anything that can be cut. For instance, try reducing your credit card and cable bills, forego the land line, cancel any magazine subscriptions, cut back on entertainment expenses and streaming services, and reduce or eliminate costly habits (such as drinking, smoking, and eating out). Look for other creative ways to save money, such as relying on public transportation and finding easy ways to cut back on utilities. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed?ref=seealso">10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed</a>)</p> <h2>Set Priorities</h2> <p>Prioritize your debts. Determine which bills need to be paid first, once your basic living expenses are taken care of. Secured credit accounts, like credit cards, loans, and car payments should be paid next.</p> <p>The goal is to preserve your savings, so don't try paying off any debts early at this point. Make only the minimum payments on your credit cards and avoid using any sort of credit for as long as possible. Once you find new employment, you can start working on paying down your debts as quickly and efficiently as possible.</p> <p>If you have a federally-backed student loan, there are a number of payment options available during tough times. Often, the loans can be deferred until you find work again. Check with the <a href="http://www.ed.gov/">U.S. Department of Education</a> for more information.</p> <h2>Negotiate With Creditors</h2> <p>Speak with your mortgage lender and credit card issuers at the first sign of trouble. If you wait to contact them until after you've already missed a payment, it's less likely creditors will work with you to find a reasonable solution.</p> <p>Your creditors may be able to help you ease loan terms, reduce your monthly payments, or even put your payments on hold for a short period of time. While there are no guarantees that they will work out an arrangement with you, it's worth a shot.</p> <h2>Pursue Alternatives</h2> <p>There are alternative options, such as debt management, debt settlement, debt consolidation loans, and bankruptcy. Speaking with a <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/">credit counselor</a> can provide you with precise information on the options available to you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-steps-to-take-when-bankruptcy-is-your-only-option?ref=seealso">11 Steps to Take When Bankruptcy Is Your Only Option</a>)</p> <p><em>Do you have other tips for dealing with debt when you're unemployed? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-manage-debt-while-unemployed&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Manage%2520Debt%2520While%2520Unemployed.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Manage%20Debt%20While%20Unemployed"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Manage%20Debt%20While%20Unemployed.jpg" alt="How to Manage Debt While Unemployed" width="250" height="374" /></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-debt-while-unemployed">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-credit-card-debt-when-youre-unemployed">How to Handle Credit Card Debt When You&#039;re Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor">8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt">4 Ways to Negotiate Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems">The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Creditors negotiating out of work Paying Off Debt survival budget unemployed Mon, 02 May 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1700680 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_thinking_000045365316.jpg" alt="Woman wondering if she should pay down debt or invest" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Should you pay down your debt before you focus on investing? This is one of the most important questions in personal finance, and the decisions you make now can greatly impact your financial future.</p> <p>The sooner you start investing, the more time your investments have to grow. The effect of compound interest creates a big incentive to start investing as soon as possible. Compound interest is responsible for the &quot;snowball effect&quot; that grows your small investment into a substantial sum over time.</p> <p>But what about paying off debt? Debt grows through the same effect of compound interest that fuels investment growth. The longer you take to pay off debt, the more it costs you due to compound interest. High interest credit cards have interest rates that likely exceed the best returns you will get in the stock market. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Credit Cards with the Lowest Interest Rates</a>)</p> <p>So what is the best money move &mdash; pay off debt or invest?</p> <h2>The Simple Answer</h2> <p>Mathematically, the best choice is to put your money where it gets the best return on investment. For example, if you have credit card debt at 12.9% interest and your stock market investment account that grows at 8%, then you are better off putting as much money as you can toward the higher interest opportunity &mdash; paying off your credit card in this example. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">How to Save Money on Credit Card Interest with a Balance Transfer</a>)</p> <p>However, there is a complication with this simple answer right off the bat. There is no way to know the rate of return from your investment accounts ahead of time! You could get huge investment returns, even higher than your credit card interest rate, or you could even lose money in the stock market and get negative returns.</p> <p>You have to make an assumption about your rate of return to decide where to put your money. The long-term historical average return from the stock market is around 8% including booms, recessions, and even the Great Depression. No one knows what is going to happen in the stock market, so a reasonable assumption is that you will get returns consistent with the long-term average over the long run.</p> <p>So if the interest rate on your debts is higher than about 8%, you are better off paying debts down first rather than investing. If you have low interest debts such as a mortgage or student loans, you are better off making minimum payments on your debts and investing as much as possible to get the maximum return on your money.</p> <p>As I said, this is the simple answer. There are a few details that make the decision of whether to pay debt or invest a little more complicated. Let's look at some of them.</p> <h2>The &ldquo;Life Isn't Simple&rdquo; Answers</h2> <p>Even with the simple assumption that the long-term historical stock market return of around 8% will continue into the future, there are other complexities to consider in the decision between paying off debts or investing.</p> <h3>Incentives to Pay Down Debt</h3> <p>There are negative consequences of carrying debt that go beyond mathematical calculations of return on investment. Carrying debt is stressful. You have payments to make every month and face immediate severe consequences if you can't make them. If your source of income is disrupted while you have a lot of debt, you can lose everything quickly. Paying off your debts can take this sort of risk off the table.</p> <p>There are other advantages to paying off debt as quickly as possible before focusing on investment. For one thing, focusing on paying off debts is a good deterrent to borrowing more money. If you have investments that are growing, you might be more likely to take on additional debt if you have debt already and are not focusing on paying it off quickly. Paying down debt can be a good way to focus on your financial health and develop sustainable spending habits.</p> <p>So the risk of carrying debt tips the decision toward paying down debt first, but as I mentioned, life isn't simple.</p> <h3>Incentives to Invest</h3> <p>If your employer offers a 401K retirement account matching funds program, the balance tips toward investing. Many companies will match employee retirement contributions with 50% matching funds. This is free money! For example, if you contribute $500 to your retirement fund and your company has a 50% matching program, the company will add $250 to your retirement account. This can tip the balance in favor of investing. If you have $500 available per month, the choice effectively becomes $500 for debt payments or $750 for retirement contributions. This makes investing hard to beat.</p> <p>Let's not forget about taxes. Another advantage of investing in a retirement account is that you can invest pre-tax dollars in an investment program such as a 401K. When you pay debt, you are paying it with post-tax dollars. The impact of pre-tax vs. post-tax dollars is that you can effectively put more money in your retirement account at the same cost to you. For example, you could invest $665 before taxes or pay down a debt with the $500 you get after taxes. This results in an advantage for investing instead of paying off debt.</p> <p>It is true that some types of debt such as mortgages and student loans have tax advantages. You can get a tax deduction for mortgage and student loan interest, but this benefit is small compared with the tax advantages offered as incentives to fund retirement accounts.</p> <p>Another variable that you may be able to change to tip the decision toward investing is the interest rate on your debt. If you can refinance your high interest debt with a debt consolidation loan or a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">balance transfer</a>, you will save money on interest &mdash; and investing before paying off your debt may make sense if your interest rate is lower than your investment returns.</p> <h2>Example Scenarios: Pay Off Debt vs. Investing</h2> <p>Let's say you have $20,000 of credit card debt at 12.9% interest. Are you better off paying off that debt first as fast as possible before investing, or should you pay the minimum balance on the debt so you can start investing as much as possible right away?</p> <p>If you wait to start investing until you have the debt paid off, you will miss out on years of growth of your investment account. However, the longer you leave the high interest debt around, the more it will cost you to pay back. What should you do in this scenario?</p> <p>Let's say you have $535 per month that you can use to pay a credit card debt <em>or</em> invest for a term of 25 years.</p> <h3>Option 1: Pay Off Debt First</h3> <p>A monthly payment of $535 per month will pay off the $20,000 credit card debt at 12.9% interest in 48 months, or four years. The total cost of paying it off is $25,700 due to compound interest.</p> <p>Now, after four years, you start investing the $535 per month. It grows at the historical average return of 8% for 21 years. You end up with $348,000 in your retirement account. That's pretty good!</p> <h3>Option 2: Make Minimum Payments On Debt, Start Investing Now</h3> <p>In this scenario, we will make a smaller payment on the credit card of $297 so we will be able to invest the rest of the $535 per month that we have available, or $238 per month.</p> <p>With our minimum credit card payment, it will take 10 years to pay off the credit card balance at a total cost of $35,800. It takes much longer to pay off the credit card by making smaller payments, but this move allows us to start investing right away.</p> <p>Our 10 years of investing $238 at the historical average 8% return gets us $43,500 in our investment account. We'll start with this balance and invest the full $535 per month for 15 more years. The final balance: $329,000.</p> <p>In this scenario, the high interest rate on the credit card debt <em>still </em>outweighs the lower rate of return from the investment account. With high interest debt, the best move is to pay it off before starting to invest.</p> <h3>Consider 401K Match, Pre-Tax Investment Dollars</h3> <p>The result above does not include the 401K company match or the use of pre-tax funds. Considering these investment incentives, the balance at the end of 25 years improves, but the choice between investing vs. paying off debt first does not change.</p> <p>Pay Off Debt First: $650,000<br /> Minimum Debt Payment, Start Investing: $630,000</p> <h3>Without the Debt, You Would Almost Be a Millionaire!</h3> <p>So what is the effect of having $20,000 of debt to pay off early in your investment cycle? If you didn't have debt and started investing right away, you would have $951,000 at the end of 25 years!</p> <h2>Final Answer: Should You Pay Off Debt or Invest?</h2> <p>The basic principle of putting your money into the option that gives the best rate of return leads to the best financial results. If your investments yield a higher return than the interest on your debts, then you'll be better off investing right away and making minimum payments on your debts.</p> <p>However, if the interest rate on your debt is higher than the rate of return from your investments, then you should pay off your debt first before investing. The example calculations showed results for a scenario where it would definitely be better to pay off high interest debt before starting to fund an investment account.</p> <p>One big conclusion from this analysis is how much debt impacts your investment growth. In our 25 year investment example, you could have about $300K more in your retirement account if you didn't start with $20K credit card debt. If you have high interest debt, look for opportunities to consolidate the debt or get a balance transfer and end up with a much lower interest rate.</p> <p>Ultimately the choice of whether to pay off debts before starting to invest depends on your tolerance for risk and your assessment of potential rate of return from investments in comparison with the interest rates on your debt.</p> <p><em>Are you investing or paying off debt? </em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fshould-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FShould%2520You%2520Pay%2520Down%2520Debt%2520First%2520or%2520Invest-.jpg&amp;description=Should%20You%20Pay%20Down%20Debt%20First%20or%20Invest%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Should%20You%20Pay%20Down%20Debt%20First%20or%20Invest-.jpg" alt="Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor">7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Advisor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-online-sites-for-building-wealth">Best Online Sites for Building Wealth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-biggest-myths-about-investing">The 10 Biggest Myths About Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Investment 401k comparisons compound interest money decisions Paying Off Debt retirement Thu, 24 Mar 2016 09:30:23 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1678010 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Financial Decisions You'll Never Regret http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000058476892.jpg" alt="Woman making financial decisions she&#039;ll never regret" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new year is here. And even if you've already broken the resolutions you made at the end of the holiday season, it's never too late to make new ones, especially when it comes to your finances.</p> <p>Here are eight financial decisions you can make now that you'll never regret. Make the moves on this list soon, and you'll dramatically increase your odds of a happy financial future.</p> <h2>1. Save More for Retirement</h2> <p>How much money will you need each year to enjoy a happy and healthy retirement? That depends on what you want to do after you leave the working world. You'll need more money if you plan to travel the world, and less if you envision days spent reading, binge-watching TV, and playing with your grandchildren.</p> <p>A survey released last April by the Employee Benefits Research Institute suggests that more workers understand they'll need large amounts of money to enjoy their retirement years. The survey found that more than one in 10 workers think they'll need to save at least $1.5 million for their retirements. That's a lot of money. One way to reach such a lofty goal? Put away as much as you can each year now, even if your retirement days seem far away.</p> <p>You'll never regret your decision to maximize your contributions to your 401K plan or your annual deposits to an IRA. Start boosting those savings today.</p> <h2>2. Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>What happens if your furnace conks out today? What if your car's transmission needs to be replaced? If you're like too many people, you'll put the cost of replacing these items on your credit card, building your debt.</p> <p>The better option is to draw from an emergency fund of cash that you have already saved, usually in a savings account. Financial experts recommend that you build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of your daily living expenses. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">6 Emergency Fund Myths You Should Stop Believing</a>)</p> <p>This might seem daunting. But if you deposit what you can each month &mdash; even if it is as small as $100 &mdash; that emergency fund will steadily grow.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Your Credit Cards</h2> <p>Carrying a balance on your credit cards each month is a terrible financial decision. That's because cards come with such high interest rates &mdash; sometimes 18% or more. This makes your monthly debt grow by too much, even if you don't add any new purchases to your cards.</p> <p>Don't just make the minimum monthly payment on your cards. If you do this, it will take far too long to pay off your credit card debt. Say you have a credit card with a balance of $5,000 and an interest rate of 18.9%. If your minimum monthly payment is 4% of your outstanding balance, it will take you more than 11 years to eliminate this debt, even if you don't make any new purchases with this card.</p> <p>The better move is to always pay more than the monthly minimum. And don't buy items with your cards that you can't afford to pay off at the end of every month.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your Bills on Time Every Month</h2> <p>A single missed payment &mdash; on credit cards, mortgage loans, auto loans, and other debts &mdash; can drop your three-digit FICO credit score by 100 points. That missed payment will also stay on your credit report for seven years.</p> <p>Decide today to never make a late payment again. Having a low credit score makes it difficult to qualify for loans or credit. When you do qualify for these loans, you'll be faced with high interest rates.</p> <h2>5. Buy a Home That You Can Actually Afford</h2> <p>It's tempting when home shopping to stretch your budget to get into a bigger, more expensive home. But buying a home that's out of your budget, even by a bit, can be a big financial mistake. Those monthly mortgage payments can quickly become a burden.</p> <p>Instead, buy a home that you can comfortably afford, even if it's not your dream residence. Mortgage experts recommend that your total monthly housing expenses, including your estimated new mortgage payment, be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. Follow this guideline if you don't want to feel the strain each time your monthly mortgage payment comes due.</p> <h2>6. Track Your Spending</h2> <p>You might be surprised by how much you spend each month on take-out lunches or morning coffee runs. But if you create a spending book and track those expenses, it might help you make lifestyle changes that can add up to big savings each year.</p> <p>A spending book is just a notebook in which you record all your daily purchases for a set period of time, usually anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once you're done tracking your expenses, add them up. This gives you an idea where you are overspending. (You can also use automated tracking at free sites like Mint.com.) If you're spending too much on those morning coffees, for instance, you might decide to limit your time at Starbucks to twice a week instead of five times.</p> <h2>7. Create a Household Budget</h2> <p>You might shudder at the thought of drafting a budget for your household. But you can't get control of your finances if you first don't know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your home each month. Fortunately, creating a budget isn't difficult.</p> <p>First, write down the income you receive each month. Then write down those monthly expenses that never change, everything from your mortgage payment to your auto payment to your student loans. Then, write down those payments you make each month that fluctuate a bit. This would include your utility bills, credit card bills, and transportation costs to and from work. Estimate these. Finally, include estimated amounts for monthly groceries, entertainment, and eating out.</p> <p>Once you have these figures, you can determine how much money you should have left at the end of the month. Armed with this information, you can figure how much money you can save, invest for retirement, or put away for a child's college education.</p> <h2>8. Save First, Then Buy It</h2> <p>You want that new computer or that high-end flat-screen TV. It's tempting to simply use your credit cards, but the better move is to save up for that big-ticket non-necessity, and only buy it when you can pay for it with cash.</p> <p>This takes patience, of course. It might take you several months to save up for that new TV. But you'll enjoy your new electronic treat more if you don't have to dread next month's credit card bill.</p> <p><em>What financial decisions have you never regretted?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Financial%2520Decisions%2520You%2527ll%2520Never%2520Regret.jpg&amp;description=8%20Financial%20Decisions%20You'll%20Never%20Regret"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Financial%20Decisions%20You%27ll%20Never%20Regret.jpg" alt="8 Financial Decisions You'll Never Regret" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-anyone-can-conquer">4 Money Resolutions Anyone Can Conquer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-rules-every-working-adult-should-know">10 Money Rules Every Working Adult Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-critical-money-mistakes-people-make-in-their-40s">7 Critical Money Mistakes People Make in Their 40s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-signs-your-emergency-fund-is-too-big">4 Signs Your Emergency Fund Is Too Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance emergency funds goals Paying Off Debt resolutions retirement saving money Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1634855 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Debt Lessons From Darth Vader http://www.wisebread.com/5-debt-lessons-from-darth-vader <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-debt-lessons-from-darth-vader" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2271426854_ea90012b8b_z.jpg" alt="Darth Vader" title="Darth Vader" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the most evil heroes in science fiction history is Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader. He went from being a great man and good friend to betraying everyone he loved and becoming a sinister Sith Lord. Ultimately, the story of Anakin Skywalker is one of redemption. We can learn a few lessons about debt from his tumultuous tale.&nbsp; Anakin's life was full of ups and downs just like your journey to pay off debt.&nbsp; Although things seemed bleak and beyond repair, good forces kept up the fight and triumphed in the end. Here are five lessons about debt we can take away from the Jedi who finally brought balance to the Force. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-personal-finance-lessons-from-harry-potter">21 Personal&nbsp;Finance Lessons From&nbsp;Harry&nbsp;Potter</a>)</p> <h2>1. Debt Often Entices You Bit by Bit</h2> <p>Anakin didn't turn to the dark side all at once. No, he was enticed a little bit at a time. Debt is the same way. You consider buying something small with your credit card, telling yourself that you can pay it off soon. Then you buy something else. Soon you are making increasingly large purchases. You tell yourself that you will pay it off in two or three months, but you don't. One day, you wake up and realize that you are so deep in debt that you're not sure you can get out. This is just like when you realize that you're so deep into the dark side that your only option is to kill off nearly all of the remaining Jedi.</p> <h2>2. Debt Becomes Your Master</h2> <p>When Anakin became Darth Vader, it seemed as though he had all the power. In reality, though, he was merely the apprentice. His master was the Emperor. While you're racking up the debt, it might seem as though you are in charge. You feel great about all the stuff you have. However, debt can become the real master. Your financial resources are claimed by the principal and interest payments. Over time, you find that you have less at your disposal &mdash; just as Darth Vader's will was subservient to the Emperor's.</p> <p>Don't let debt rule your life.&nbsp; It is oppressive, but you're not a broken person just because you got into debt. To borrow a quote from the &quot;Get Out of Debt Guy,&quot; <a href="http://getoutofdebt.org/about-steve-rhode/">Steve Rhodes</a>, &quot;you ain't your f*$#$*# debt&quot;.</p> <h2>3. Blaming Others Won't Help Your Problem With Debt</h2> <p>I'm going to go into the prequels a little bit for this one (sacrilege, I know, but it makes a good point). Anakin blamed others for his problems, especially Obi-Wan. Rather than owning his issues and facing his demons, he retreated into the comforting idea that his difficulties were someone else's doing. With debt, you need to take ownership of the problem and recognize some of the behaviors that put you in this situation. Until you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-fighting-debt-today">face your own debt demons</a>, you won't be able to overcome them.</p> <h2>4. Beware What Seems Too Good to Be True</h2> <p>When Anakin is filled with self-doubt and worried that his wife will die, Chancellor Palpatine takes advantage of this weakness and makes promises that are too good to be true. Palpatine claims that he can teach Anakin how to save his wife's life and keep her alive. All Anakin has to do is follow Palpatine and listen to what he says.</p> <p>Unfortunately, when you're in debt, the bad guys come after you in full force, making lots of promises they can't keep. Don't get taken advantage of by people trying to sell you <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2013/01/17/3-debt-reduction-shortcuts-to-handle-with-care">shortcuts out of debt</a>. If you fall for them, the shortcuts will end up putting you even more in the hole than you were to begin with.</p> <p>That being said, don't rule out alternatives to getting out of debt until you've done your research and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taming-your-debt-aggressive-repayment-strategies">understand the pros and cons of each approach</a>. Our society has a stigma about bankruptcy and some of us avoid it at all costs &mdash; which could end up hurting you and your family in the long run. Your best option is to learn about what you owe and what your payoff options are &mdash; then choose what makes the most sense.</p> <h2>5. It's Possible to Conquer Debt</h2> <p>Ultimately, the best debt lesson to learn from Anakin Skywalker is that debt can be overcome. In the end, Anakin managed to throw off the persona of Darth Vader, defeat the Emperor, and die his own man. While you don't have to die to reach debt freedom, you can overcome it and reclaim your financial resources. In the end, Darth Vader turned himself into a hero. You can pay off your obligations, free yourself, and become a <em>debt hero</em>. Are you ready?</p> <p><em>To read about 21 real life Debt Heroes who got into and out of large amounts of debt check out my new book </em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BLLT79W"><em>Debt Heroes</em></a><em>.&nbsp; Put together with Jeff Rose as part of the </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-debt-movement-edition"><em>Debt Movement</em></a><em> this book walks you through your own personal journey to </em><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/get-out-of-debt-like-a-debt-hero/"><em>pay off debt</em></a><em>, giving you success stories for example and motivation!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-debt-lessons-from-darth-vader&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Debt%2520Lessons%2520From%2520Darth%2520Vader.jpg&amp;description=5%20Debt%20Lessons%20From%20Darth%20Vader"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Debt%20Lessons%20From%20Darth%20Vader.jpg" alt="5 Debt Lessons From Darth Vader" width="250" height="374" /></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ben-edwards">Ben Edwards</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-debt-lessons-from-darth-vader">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-credit-counselor">8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Credit Counselor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-debt-tracking-systems">The 5 Best Debt Tracking Systems</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-debt-after-divorce">What Happens to Debt After Divorce?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-debt-repayment-fun">4 Ways to Make Debt Repayment Fun</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Debt Problems Paying Off Debt star wars Thu, 28 Mar 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Ben Edwards 971529 at http://www.wisebread.com When It's Time to Destroy Debt, Start With a Goal http://www.wisebread.com/when-its-time-to-destroy-debt-start-with-a-goal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-its-time-to-destroy-debt-start-with-a-goal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Setting Goals.JPG" alt="Setting Goals" title="Setting Goals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hey, let&rsquo;s go for a ride! Where do you want to go? Nowhere? OK, we&rsquo;ll just drive around aimlessly and hope we accidentally end up somewhere interesting. Hop in!</p> <p>That&rsquo;s the way most people plan their lives, financial or otherwise. They may have a vague idea of a destination, like living debt-free, for example. But they&rsquo;re not really sure how to get there or how long the trip will take. So they waste time driving in circles and wondering, &ldquo;Are we there yet?&rdquo;</p> <p>If you feel like you&rsquo;re not getting where you want to go, this could be why. Because if you don&rsquo;t know what your specific goals are, you&rsquo;re not likely to achieve them.</p> <p>Watch the following video about goal-setting, then meet me on the other side for some specifics to get you started.</p> <embed width="480" height="300" src="http://blip.tv/play/kjqBvNg5Ag%2Em4v" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed> <p>So as you saw in this news story, I'm a big believer in goals. Your goal is your destination. You get there by describing that destination as specifically as possible and getting everyone who&rsquo;s going with you on board. You visualize your goal in as much detail as humanly possible, then define the exact steps required to achieve it. You divide those steps into manageable tasks. Then you follow through until you arrive. If you don&rsquo;t do each and every one of these steps, you&rsquo;ll drive around in circles.</p> <p>This is explained in detail in my recently released third book, <em><a title="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/store/" href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/store/">Life or Debt 2010</a></em> but here&rsquo;s the condensed version.</p> <h3>Name your destination.</h3> <p>If your goal is to live a debt-free life, write it down. Put reminders on your bathroom mirror, on your dashboard, on your computer screen. Keep it in front of you as much as possible. And when you look at that goal, take the next step.</p> <h3>Visualize it.</h3> <p>Visualize your goal: What will your life be like when you have no debt payments? What will you do with all that extra money when you don&rsquo;t have any credit card payments? Car payments? Mortgage? When all the money that used to go to lenders is now going into a big, fat bank account? How will your life be different? Try to actually feel the freedom you&rsquo;ll experience.</p> <p>Do that every time you see your goal, especially when you first wake up and just before bed.</p> <h3>Get everyone on the bus.</h3> <p>Unless you live alone, your goals will likely affect those you live with. So if your goal is paying off debt, for example, you&rsquo;ll most likely need the cooperation of your family. After all, it doesn&rsquo;t do much good if you&rsquo;re trying to pay off debts and your husband is out new-car shopping. Make sure your goals are shared and the people who can affect the outcome endorse them.</p> <h3>List the steps to achieving it.</h3> <p>Obviously, to achieve a debt-free life, you&rsquo;ll have to pay off all your debts. Start by listing them all, then decide in which order you&rsquo;ll pay them off. How? Try ranking your debts by starting with the one with the fewest payments left. To do that, list all your debts. Divide the amount owed by the monthly payment. That gives you the number of months it will take to pay them off.</p> <p>For example:</p> <table border="1" style="clear:both;"> <tbody> <tr> <td><b>Debt</b></td> <td><b>Current Balance</b></td> <td><b>Minimum Monthly Payment</b></td> <td><b>Months to Payoff</b></td> <td><b>Debt Rank</b></td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Visa Card</b></td> <td>$2,239</td> <td>$45</td> <td>50</td> <td>2</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>MasterCard</b></td> <td>$1,845</td> <td>$37</td> <td>50</td> <td>2</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Car loan</b></td> <td>$7,500</td> <td>$212</td> <td>35</td> <td>1</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Student loan</b></td> <td>$11,700</td> <td>$182</td> <td>64</td> <td>3</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Mortgage loan</b></td> <td>$120,000</td> <td>$917</td> <td>131</td> <td>4</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>In this example, the first debt I&rsquo;ll pay off is the car loan. Then the credit cards, the student loan and finally the mortgage.</p> <p>Now, in addition to having an overall goal of a debt-free life, I&rsquo;ve got a more digestible, definable, shorter-term step: to pay off my car loan. I&rsquo;m going to focus like a laser beam on that debt, applying as much extra money as I can on it, until it&rsquo;s gone. Then I can move on to the next step of paying off the Visa or MasterCard.</p> <p>Of course, there are other steps I&rsquo;ve got to take, like finding the extra money to destroy these debts. <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/store/">In the book</a>, I ask that you set aside 10% of your gross monthly income to do it and show you specifically how to go about finding that money with literally hundreds of specific ways to save.</p> <p>We&rsquo;ll be going more into that in coming news stories and blog entries. But in the meantime, start now by setting a goal and ranking your debts for payoff.</p> <p>One more word on debt ranking: The reason I rank debts by fewest payments rather than highest interest first is that I&rsquo;m going to use old debt payments to help pay off debts further down the list. It&rsquo;s a system called snowballing. For example, if I apply an extra $500 a month to my car payment, it will be paid off in about 10 months rather than 35, and I&rsquo;ll use the $212 I&rsquo;ve freed up to apply to the Visa or MasterCard.</p> <p>But if you&rsquo;d rather pay off higher-interest debts first, that&rsquo;s OK. Just decide and get started!</p> <h3>Follow through.</h3> <p>And that leads us to the last step in goal realization: following through. Goals like living debt-free take time, so long-term follow-through is critical. That&rsquo;s one reason you keep your goal in front of you, visualize it as often as possible, and track your results often.</p> <p>Bottom line? When you finance with debt, you&rsquo;re wasting massive amounts of money &mdash; money you should be using to create a better life. So, paying off debt is definitely a worthy goal. But don&rsquo;t just wish it. Make it real: Write it down, plan it out, and make it happen.</p> <p><b><i>Note:</i></b><i> To go along with <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/store/">Life or Debt 2010</a>, I&rsquo;ll be doing 20 related news stories and blog entries at <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/">Money Talks News</a>, as well as hosting monthly <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/live/">live webcasts</a> where I&rsquo;m inviting everyone to participate with advice, tips and motivation &mdash; all with the goal of getting together, motivating one another and destroying as much debt as possible this year.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stacy-johnson">Stacy Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-its-time-to-destroy-debt-start-with-a-goal">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-of-debt-first-then-focus-on-saving">Get Out of Debt First, Then Focus on Saving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-part-i-fast-money-in-the-09">Recession Journal Part I: &#039;Fast&#039; Money in the &#039;09</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-heart-my-high-deductible-health-insurance-plan">Why I (Heart) My High Deductible Health Insurance Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind">Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting Debt Management Goal-Setting Paying Off Debt Tue, 12 Jan 2010 14:00:09 +0000 Stacy Johnson 4586 at http://www.wisebread.com