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How to Prepare a Cash Basis Personal Budget That Works

woman holding cash money

Prepare a cash basis personal budget.

Contrary to popular belief, personal budgets are not designed to make your life miserable, quite to the contrary. Personal budgets are great tools to help individuals properly manage their finances and avoid getting into debt trouble. In a world where credit cards get worn out from use within a few short months, having a cash budget as a personal guideline makes a great deal of sense.

“Cash Basis” Budget

A personal budget has to be prepared on a cash basis. Why? Cash is the only reliable barometer for what you can afford to spend on a monthly basis. After all, cash is what you earn and cash is what you have to spend. You can’t keep yourself financially stable if you look at credit cards as an extension of your buying power.

After incurring interest, your credit card balances still have to be paid off in cash and should your cash continually run out, you might find yourself facing debt issues. Note, the average American household uses as much as 14% of their disposable income just making payments on credit cards (Federal Reserve data as of May 2015). That isn’t a formula for success. If you keep it cash, you keep it real.

How to Prepare a Cash Basis Personal Budget That Works

You don’t have to be an accountant or finance major in order to learn how to prepare a proper cash basis personal budget. In fact, all you need is a pencil, paper, common sense and a little dose of reality.

If you are not sure how to proceed, debt management companies like Rescue One Financial can be helpful. Before you begin the process, you will need to accumulate your total disposable income (all sources) and monthly expenses (rent or mortgage payment, car payment, insurance, utilities, food, transportation, school and miscellaneous).

Step 1: List Your Sources of Income – In the top section of your page, you need to list all sources of income. If your primary income comes on a semi-monthly basis, you should have two columns, one for each paycheck. List any other sources under the most applicable column with a sub-total.

Step 2: List All of Your Expenses in Detail – The best way to list your expenses is by due date. This will allow you to put the expenses in the appropriate semi-monthly column and sub-total. This is a process called “matching income with expenses.” (Example: Your paychecks come in on the 15th and last day of each month. In the column with the income that comes in on the 15th, you should list any expenses that you need to pay with due dates between the 21st and the 5th of the next month. For the paycheck that comes in on the last day of the month, list expenses with due dates between the 6th and 20th). By taking this approach, you will have a realistic guide that shows the money coming in and which expenses should be going out at that same time. Strict adherence to this method will help you avoid late payments and late charges.

Step 3: Calculate Excess Disposable Income – The subtotal is calculated by subtracting your total expenses from total income. The positive difference is your excess disposable income. If the sub-total comes back negative, you are operating from a negative position and need to increase your income or lower your expenses in a hurry.

Step 4: Determine Savings – From your excess disposable income, you need to subtract something to contribute to an emergency savings account. If you are serious about saving, the amount should be at least 50% of the available amount. If you already contribute pre-tax dollars to a 401K or IRA retirement savings, it would be acceptable to save a little less.

Step 5: Fun Money – The remaining amount after deducting savings should be considered your personal monies. You should feel comfortable spending this money as you see fit, having already acted responsibly by paying your bills on time and putting extra savings aside.

There you have it. After an investment of 30 minutes and $1 of office supplies, you now have a realistic cash basis personal budget that will help you stay on track with your finances.

In you would like more information about managing your finances and staying out of debt, you could benefit by scheduling a consultation appointment with a professional debt counselor here at Rescue One Financial. Our goal is to better equip our clients with the tools necessary to maintain financial stability.

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10 Ways Marketers Are Making You Addicted to Debt

Ways Marketers Are Making You Addicted to Debt

Appealing sale offer to entice consumers to use credit cards

Advertising is an interesting game for marketers. Their job is to make you want to buy something whether you need it or not. For the most part, they are very good at their jobs. Why else would anyone buy a slinky or silly putty? They have all kinds of tactics that are tried and true. The fact is they aren’t evil-doers, they are just men and women paid to do a job. What they are good at is understanding what motivates you and others to buy when reason says don’t.

Debt Marketers

That’s right, there are marketers who are charged with getting you to want debt. Have you ever seen a commercial for a payday loan company or American Express? That’s what they are doing, trying to get you to seek debt. They aren’t doing this so you will destroy your financial stability, on the contrary. They are marketing the way debt makes your life better and more enjoyable. The more they get you addicted to debt, the better they are doing their job. The fact it sometimes turns into financial disaster is probably your fault.

10 Ways Marketers Are Making You Addicted to Debt

In order to make the game fair between two worthy opponents, it is important for you to understand how they get you addicted to debt. This awareness stands to keep you better prepared for the unintended consequences of too much debt.

  1. Block the Thinking Process – Debt Marketers have to relieve you from your rational mind. They do this by appealing to emotions like happiness, joy, excitement and sexuality.
  2. Now is the Time – Under time pressure, people tend to act impulsively. Debt marketers are quick to let you know that when you need it now, they have just the right solution, consumer debt.
  3. Glamorize Credit Card Debt – Not only do you need the gold card, but the platinum card will give you so much more buying power. Best of all, it’s accepted at all the five-star restaurants and hotels in the world.
  4. Sell the Abnormal as Normal – With images of beautiful houses, luxury cars and exciting vacations, debt markets will remind you that nothing is out of reach if you have available consumer debt. When your checkbook says no, your credits cards will say yes.
  5. You Want to Be One of the Beautiful People – Have you ever seen debt marketing piece that uses ordinary looking people? The reality is that debt marketers want to assure you that you to can be one of the beautiful people if you have the right credit card.
  6. Mood Enhancer – People love to shop and spoil themselves when they feel down and out. Nothing spells SPOIL better than a spending spree compliments of your credit card.
  7. Rewards – Everyone loves to be rewarded for good behavior. Debt marketers are sure to remind you that the more you use your credit card, the more points you can earn towards a wonderful vacation.
  8. Avoiding the Truth – When casinos, alcohol beverage companies or tobacco companies market its goods, they have to disclose the possible risks. Have you ever seen debt advertising that speaks to the possibility of too much debt leading to bankruptcy?
  9. Everyone is Doing It – By making it seem like everyone needs a credit or personal loan to fit in, they are appealing to your sense of belonging. If everyone uses credit cards to enhance life’s experiences, why shouldn’t you?
  10. 10. Get Another Card and Save Money – Just when you credit card is tapped out, debt marketers will remind you that you can transfer your balances to a “better” credit card, free of interest for the first 12-18 months. Who can resist the temptation to save money?

If you would like more information about how debt marketers might be manipulating you, you should schedule an appointment with one of our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial. We feel we are prepared to help you better recognize debt marketing trends that could spell trouble for your financial security.

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Types of Insurance That Can be Used to Protect Your Financial Security

Types of Insurance That Can be Used to Protect Your Financial SecurityEven in the best of times, your financial stability always seems to be at the mercy of fate. On your own, you can certainly make enough mistakes to create a precarious debt situation. That said those situations are usually within the scope of your control, making them preventable. However, there is another category of events that are out of your control that stand to create the kind of financial damage that is difficult to manage. These events are called financial emergencies or disasters.

What Qualifies as a Financial Disaster or Emergency?

As indicated above, a financial disaster or emergency is something that is beyond your normal control. Typical financial disasters or emergencies include getting laid off from work, a long-term medical problem due to illness or accident, death to a family member who contributes income to the household, liability issues related to an auto accident and damage done to personal property as a result of a natural disaster (flood, fire, tornado, hurricane).

Best Ways to Deal With a Financial Disaster or Emergency

The ideal way to handle a financial disaster or emergency is to have a savings account set aside for just these kinds of events. It takes time to save this kind of money, but the intrinsic value of having this kind of financial protection is worth its weight in gold. In lieu of significant savings, an investment in insurance usually offers enough protection to keep you financially stable regardless of the seriousness of the emergency. When you don’t need it, insurance feels like a waste of money. All of that changes the second a financial disaster or emergency occurs and you realize the financial impact is going to be minimized, making you grateful you made the investment.

Types of Insurance That Can be Used to Protect Your Financial Security

Regardless of how you feel about paying for insurance, you owe it to yourself and your family to protect your financial stability as much as you can. These are the types of insurance you need to cover the most likely negative events.

Mortgage and/or Credit Insurance In the event of losing your job or getting sick, you don’t want to run the risk of defaulting on your mortgage or credit cards debt due to the inability to make payments. Mortgage and other types of credit insurance will cover your payments should you not be able to do so through no fault of your own.

Healthcare Insurance If you are fortunate enough to have healthcare insurance from your employer, you still want to make sure the coverage is adequate enough to cover most major medical situations. If you need to purchase it on your own, you want to make sure the coverage in comprehensive with manageable deductibles and co-pays.

Life Insurance The loss of a family member is difficult to handle emotionally. When that person is a primary financial contributor to the household, you need to make sure you have a substantial life insurance policy on those persons in order to make sure the family is left with the resources to continue on and reorganize.

Auto Insurance If you are like most Americans, you can ill-afford to pay for property damage, loss of life or the replacement value of your automobile in the case of an at fault accident. You need full coverage in order to assure your financial stability is not irrevocably damaged.

Homeowners Insurance Your home and personal belongings have real value. You don’t want to lose that value should you become victim to a natural disaster. That could create a major financial setback. With the proper coverage, you should be able to replace most things of value with nothing more than a deductible payment.

If you would like more information about the importance of protecting you and your family through insurance policies, you should contact one of our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial as soon as possible. We would like the opportunity to explain how insurance works and offer you advice on how to best protect you and your family.

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Debt Consolidation Solutions from Rescue One Financial

Debt Consolidation Solutions from Rescue One Financial

Oh, those pesky credit cards. They are so easy to get and so difficult to handle in the wrong hands. There are approximately 2,000,000,000 credit cards in the United States alone. With 200,000,000 credit card holders, that works out to almost 10 credit cards per card holder. After factoring in more that $901 billion in combined credit card debt, you can only assume there is a whole lot of payment activity going on in the States.

When the Hassles Begin

One of the big downsides to so many credit cards and too much debt is the amount of stress it puts on cardholders. Remember, many of them also have mortgage and car payments, student loans to pay for and the requisite insurance and utility bills to be paid. For many people, that much personal financial activity quickly becomes overwhelming. It’s not always an issue of affordability, it is just the hassles and stress than come with constantly having to deal with bills, especially consumer debt bills. If anything goes awry, the calls from creditors start coming and stress levels can quickly escalate.

Relieving Stress Through Debt Consolidation

It may not be necessary to endure all that unnecessary stress if your credit score is still in reasonably good shape. You may be able to qualify for a debt consolidation loan that stands to cut the number of consumer bills coming in the door each month from many to maybe one or two. Wouldn’t that be a big relief if you only had to cut one check each month on your consumer debt? If you qualify for such a loan, there are some extra benefits to be had. Depending on your credit score, the rate offered by your new lender might be lower than the aggregate rate on all your other debt. With a lower effective interest rate, your monthly cash outlay should also be lower. Finally, you can effectively decrease the risk of ruining your credit score by not allowing your debt to become unmanageable.

Debt Consolidation Solutions from Rescue One Financial

If you want to consolidate your consumer debt or generate a little extra cash to pay for unexpected bills or that well-deserved vacation, you should consider contacting Rescue One Financial. Rescue One Financial is in the business of helping people when they need it the most. While seeking a loan from other lenders can be tedious and disappointing in the end, Rescue One Financial cares enough to make the application process as easy as possible. The company’s unsecured consumer loan programs are designed to provide you with the extra cash you need to make your life just a little bit better. The good news is the whole application process can usually be completed in one business day with a check in your hand or bank account by the next day if approved. The benefits of securing a loan with Rescue One Financial include:

  • No collateral requirements
  • A fixed interest rate that is low and affordable
  • No pre-payment penalties

If you are consolidating debt, all you have to do is make that one payment each month and enjoy your peace of mind.

If you have any questions or need help with personal financial issues, our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial are available for an immediate consultation. After reviewing your current financial situation, we can work together to get you into a financial situation where you can avoid unmanageable debt problems while maintaining financial stability for now and into the future.

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Spending Habits That Lead Straight to the Poor House

Spending Habits That Lead Straight to the Poor HouseFar too many American families find themselves in debt without ever understanding exactly how it happened. For some, it happened because of an unseen event like an unexpected illness, injury or getting laid off from work. It’s hard to fault those individuals due to their misfortune. On the other hand, there are those horror stories of people who systematically spent their way right into the poor house. The Federal Reserve recently reported that the average American family was carrying more $17,000 in credit card debt. With 15% of those families being proud owners of at least $10,000 in credit card debt, there is not much left for a bystander to do but shake their head and wonder what they were thinking.

Ignorance is Not so Bliss

The reality is many people don’t know how to properly handle their finances. They get an apartment/house, buy a car and start living life without understanding the economic realities of life. The most basic premise is money is finite. Believe it or not, that’s a hard concept for people to grasp. As long as someone doesn’t say no or enough is enough, they usually feel empowered to buy what they want and/or need without giving it much thought. That brings about the second economic reality of life. Debt is also finite. When a person is spending their way into the poor house, there will come a point in time when creditors say no or enough is a enough. By the time that happens, it’s usually too late and the culprit is left sitting in the poor house looking for a way out.

Spending Habits That Lead Straight to the Poor House

The best way to avoid debt issues from overspending is to recognize spending habits that tend to create unmanageable debt issues. By taking the time to identify these habits, you might be able to avoid the unhappiness and stress that comes from too much debt.

    1. Using Credit Cards When Cash was Available – Accumulating all those rewards points from all that credit card spending is exciting knowing you are putting yourself in position for some great free stuff. However, you might neglect to put your cash aside to make your credit card payments and find yourself a bit short of cash come bill paying time. Those bills don’t pay themselves and they grow exponentially in quick order thanks to high interest charges. It doesn’t take long before you’re in debt when you could have paid cash from the beginning.
    2. Spending More Than You Have – Another way credit cards will cause you problems is when you decide to use them as an extension of your buying power. What you can afford to spend is based on how much cash you have. The cash from credit cards belongs to the credit card companies and they are going to want that money back at some point in the future, plus interest.
    3. Impulse Buying – Impulse buying is the act of buying things without planning to do so. Many times, it will lead you to buy things you don’t need, can’t afford or don’t even really want. You just see it and get this great desire to buy it without considering the financial consequences.
    4. Always Paying Retail Full Price – Everyone has needs and are entitled to a few wants. The problem is people are too lazy or impatient to shop for bargain prices. In most cases, everything you want or need is going to go on sale at some time in the future. If you take the time to do a little research and wait, you could save yourself a lot of money.
    5. Dining Out – Dining out certainly saves you the hassle of having to buy groceries and cook the food. It also costs you 200%-300% more money for the pleasure of doing so. If you have finite financial resources, dining out should be a treat not a way of life. It takes 20 minutes to buy groceries and 30 minutes to cook a meal. Surely, your time is worth the savings.

If you feel you might be the owner of bad spending habits, you might benefit by scheduling an appointment with one of our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial. We would be glad to sit down and help you find ways to create a budget and refine your spending habits in order for you to avoid the poor house in the future.

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7 Healthy Spending Habits of People Who Don’t Use Credit Cards

7 Healthy Spending Habits of People Who Don't Use Credit Cards, Rescue One Financial

The standard of living for Americans is among the highest in the world. Of course, it can be a little misleading when you consider how much personal debt Americans incur trying to maintain that standard of living. One of the great advantages Americans have when it comes to buying the things they want and need is easy access to credit cards. There are almost 2,000,000,000 active credit cards in the hands of American consumers (Federal Reserve – 2015). With 200,000,000 cardholders carrying an average credit limit of $20,000, there is about $4.0 trillion of artificial purchasing power in this country alone.

 The Trouble With Credit Cards

Unfortunately, all of that artificial buying power has turned into over $900 billion in credit card debt. The average American family owes over $17,000 with about 14% of their disposable income being used to service that debt. It’s these numbers that are used to explain why there as so many people suffering from debt problems. The only way to keep these numbers from continuing to grow is to retrain American consumers to adjust their spending habits and cut up those credit cards.

7 Healthy Spending Habits of People Who Don’t Use Credit Card

Let the retraining begin with the following seven spending habits that responsible consumers use to maintain their standard of living without using credit cards

  1. Preparing a Budget – Smart spending starts with a budgeting process. By preparing a monthly budget, you are able to get a clear and precise idea of exactly what you have coming in, what you have going out and whether or not you have anything left over to spend on the extras you may need or want.
  2. Tracking Expenditures – There is very little value in a budget if you are not willing to track your actual expenditures. By tracking everything you spend, you will know exactly where your money goes and whether or not you are living within your means.
  3. Cash Only – The best way to avoid credit cards is to not use them. Cash is an accurate barometer of what you can afford to spend on a monthly basis. When the cash is gone, it is time to stop spending until more cash appears in your account.
  4. Use Shopping Lists – Anytime you get ready to go shopping for anything, you should prepare a shopping list. It is the perfect tool to keep you focused on what you really need, and it helps you avoid impulse buying, which is the number one spending downfall of many consumers.
  5. Put Something Away Money for Emergencies – Living within your means should include putting money away in savings. When you have adequate savings, you are better able to avoid the temptation to use credit cards when an unexpected situation comes up.
  6. Discount Shopping – Smart consumers know that almost everything goes on sale sooner or later. When you make a decision to buy something, you should invest the time and effort to find it on sale. If it’s not immediately available at discount prices, you can wait until the product’s time finally arrives.
  7. Limit Dining Out – Most meals consumed in restaurants and fast food places will run 200%-300% more than the same meal would cost if prepared at home. Smart consumers are willing to invest their time shopping and cooking in order to save money for more important expenditures.

Here at Rescue One Financial, we employ professional debt counselors who know a thing or two about good spending habits. If you would like to learn more about how you can avoid credit card debt and still maintain a decent standard of living, you should consider scheduling an appointment with us at your earliest convenience.

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Yes, Paying Your Rent Late CAN Affect Your Credit Report

Yes, Paying Your Rent Late CAN Affect Your Credit ReportAt some point in your life, you were probably a renter of an apartment, condo or house. If you ever found yourself in a difficult financial situation, you might have wondered how not paying your rent would affect your credit score. Perhaps, you were actually late on a rental payment or two in the past, maybe even went through eviction proceedings. If you have never had occasion to check your credit history, you might still be wondering if anything currently sits on your credit report.

Do Rental Payments Show Up in Your Credit History?

The short answer is sometimes. Currently, only two (TransUnion and Experian) of the three primary credit reporting agencies collect data related to rent payments, and it’s fairly limited. Also, there is a small group of specialty consumer credit agencies that more actively collect rent payment data from landlords. While the primary agencies provide little in way of reporting, these specialty agencies have more available information and are often used by potential landlords to vet prospective tenants. Therefore, it would be best to assume your rental payments are being reported somewhere. The information typically collected by specialty agencies includes:

  • Your Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Rental Address
  • Time at Rental Address
  • Payment History
  • Prior Addresses and Landlords

Can Paying Your Rent Late Affect Your Credit Report?

The answer is yea it can, but not usually in ways you would assume. The reality is most landlords do not put forth the effort to report on each and every payment tenants make. For most apartment complexes, this would be a tedious task given the fact there are usually 1-2 people working in the rental office and they have little time to report 100-300 rent payments every month. Therefore, any goodwill you have accumulated by being a conscientious tenant stands to provide little benefit on your credit report. However, payment issues could be reported should the landlord see fit. It all depends on how your landlord operates and how willing they are to share rent payment information with outside agencies.

On the other hand, rent payment issues can sometimes result in a lawsuit. If your landlord files a lawsuit against you for lost rent, the judge may decide in the landlord’s favor and issue a judgement against you. Major credit reporting agencies have a process of checking public records for new judgements and should anything appear under your social security number, the agencies will most likely pick it up and report it on your credit history. As you can see, the landlord does have indirect recourse against your credit report should you decide to forgo making rent payments as promised.

How Do Rental Payments Appear on My Credit Report?

In some cases, late payments may not affect your credit score, but might still appear on your credit report as an alert to potential future landlords. Also, any inquiry made to a credit bureau by a landlord or potential landlord will most likely be classified as a hard inquiry, which stands to affect your credit score.

If you would like more information on how late rent payments will affect your credit score, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with one of our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial. We would be happy to sit down with you and review your credit report and late payment situation to determine whether or not you have been affected by late rent payments. In order to make late rent payments moot, you would be best served to treat your rent as one of your highest priorities.

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8 Winning Strategies for Negotiating With Bill Collectors and Saving More Money

No one likes going through the bill collection process. Bill collectors tend to be aggressive, often leaving the debtor feeling angry and frustrated. Of course, the borrower has little room to complain be
ing it was their actions, intentional or not, that led to the situation. The good news is there are certain strategies that can be used make the process a little less painful and a little more pal

Dealing With Bill Collectors

8 Winning Strategies for Negotiating With Bill Collectors and Saving More MoneyBy the time your bills are turned over to collectors, you have likely already experienced a bit of stress and a significant hit to your credit score. There isn’t much you can do about that. It would have been nice to try to negotiate with your creditors, but once you go to collections, you lose that option. Now, you need to focus on getting the best possible result, which should include saving as much money as possible while limiting the damage to your credit score and history.

8 Winning Strategies for Negotiating With Bill Collectors

Once you have been informed you are being sent to collections, it would be a good idea to come up with a strategy for dealing with the bill collectors. They have already heard every sob story in the universe, so don’t waste your time thinking sympathy will deliver you from their clutches. Instead, you should focus on these strategies, which are designed to offer you the most help.

1. Learn Your Rights – Based on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have certain rights that bill collectors have to abide by. Before your start interacting with any bill collectors, you need to do the research necessary to help you understand exactly what those rights include. This is a necessary step to keep you from doing or saying the wrong things and to limit the bill collectors from becoming to aggressive in the collection process.

2. Disclose Limited Information – You are under no legal obligation to disclose phone numbers, addresses, banking information or contacts of any kind. If they ask for that kind of information, you can politely decline to provide it. You are better served to keep all communications with bill collectors short and to the point, offering nothing more than basic facts.

3. Try To Handle the Process in Writing – By law, you are entitled to request all communications from bill collectors be handled in writing. By choosing this option, you can prevent harassing phone calls and eliminate the need to take notes about every conversation.

4. Ask Leading Questions – Many times, bill collectors will try to bluff or scare you into abiding by their requests. If they make threats (lawsuits) of any kind, you can respond with a series of detailed questions that will force them to back-off or step out on a limb by providing false or illegal information.

5. Predetermine How Much You Can Actually Afford to Pay – Prior to beginning the negotiation process, it is advisable you figure out exactly what you can afford to pay and don’t go beyond that point. Once you are in the collection process, it’s an adversarial situation where you need to look out for your own best interests.

6. Don’t Over-react – When bill collectors become aggressive, you need to stay calm and rational. They are just trying to do their job and getting angry only serves to give them cause to get more aggressive.

7. Save All Communications – If you end up being sued following an unsuccessful collection process, you want to make sure you have a detailed account of everything said or written. This includes taping calls if possible. Documentation prevents your opponents from making claims that you agreed to things you never agreed to do.

8. Seek Assistance – If you get overwhelmed by the process, you might want to enlist the services of a professional debt management company. They can be very helpful in explaining your rights and negotiating with collectors.

Here at Rescue One Financial, our professional debt counselors are experienced in dealing with both creditors and bill collectors. If you would like our assistance, you can schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. The bill collection process can be quite stressful and our support might be enough to help you achieve the best possible results.

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5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Spending Any Money

Oh for the pleasure of being an impulse buyer. It’s hard to imagine the thrill of being able to walk into any business and buy whatever you want without having to make other intrusive decisions. The reality is a lot of people are impulse buyers. While some people have the means for supporting that kind of spending behavior, it’s unfortunate that many people don’t have the means.Money Questions

Making Spending Decisions
Impulse spending perpetrated on a frequent basis is a recipe for financial disaster. There often reaches a point where impulse buyers get in the habit of buying what they want no matter what and when the cash runs out, the plastic demons called credit cards start coming out. Over an extended period of time, those who are guilty of this kind of consumer behavior find themselves in financial trouble. According to Federal Reserve research, Americans are currently holding over $900 billion in credit card debt. It wouldn’t be a surprise to find out much of that resulted for impulse buying. In order to prevent debt problems from impulse buying, the best alternative is learning to ask yourself key questions about each purchase. If you can make the transition to this kind of spending behavior, you’ll find yourself making fewer purchasing mistakes and be able to avoid consumer debt issues.

5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Spending Any Money
As indicated above, there are certain questions you should ask yourself before you spend significant amounts of money. This kind of spending doesn’t involve necessities like food and clothing as long as you are using common sense. This relates more to the extras everyone likes to buy when the mood hits. Here’s five questions to consider.

1. So I Really Need It? – The key to determining whether or not you really need something is to properly identify each possible expenditure as either a want or a need. If you have limited resources, the wants may have to wait in favor of the things you truly need. However, you have to be honest with yourself and avoid rationalizing ways in which you need everything you see. Food, reasonable clothing and shelter come first. The rest of your buying decisions need to be made with a practical mindset or face possible consequences.

2. Can I Afford This? – This is the question that tends to get people in trouble. Affordability relates to whether or not you have enough cash left after normal expenses to make the purchase. If you are counting available credit card purchasing power, you are not spending what you can afford. It might be what you think you can afford later, but things happen and far too often you might be wrong. Use cash as your affordability barometer.

3. Will Spending This Money Help Me Survive, Thrive or Be a Waste? – Any money you spend should be directed at helping you survive such as meeting your basic needs or set you up to thrive. A good example of spending money to thrive would be paying to take a class if it will land you a better job. If the money you plan to spend doesn’t help with your survival or thriving, it’s most assuredly a waste of money.

4. Can It Wait? – Sometimes, making mistakes on purchases is more a function of bad timing instead of being a bad decision. If you sense you need it now because you might not be able to get it later, you might be guilty of impulse buying. By waiting, you might realize you don’t really need/want to make the expenditure, or you may find an alternative or better prices at a later time.

5. Are There Cheaper Alternatives? – In a pinch, you might be able to find alternatives to what it is you want/need to buy. In many cases, you might be able to find used substitutes that will suffice if only on a temporary basis. It’s nice to buy new things, but used items can often fill the void at a fraction of the cost. You should always be on the lookout for cheaper ways to spend money.

If you are interested in learning more about acquiring good spending habits, our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial might be able to help. With our vast experience, we are privy to many of the tricks financially responsible people employ to maximize the value of what they purchase and minimize the wasting of money.

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Financial Hardship: When to Hire a Personal Finance Coach

financial coachAfter completing high school and even four years of college in some situations, it’s amazing how few people go out into the world prepared to properly handle their financial matters. Unless someone finds him or herself on a business track, there is simply no training or education provided on issues such as personal budgeting and dealing with debt. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a finance major to see where America’s personal debt numbers are going to lead so many consumers.

The Numbers Spell Trouble

In May of 2015, the Federal Reserve issued a follow up report updating data previously released in mid-2014. According to its numbers, the Federal Reserve reported Americans were carrying $11.85 trillion in debt. While $9.85 trillion of that debt is secured, there is still another $2.0 trillion in unsecured debt that stands to be problematic. The biggest issue seems to be the average American household is carrying over $17,000 in credit card debt, which is simply unsustainable for the average American family that has to use 14% of its disposable income paying down credit card debt. The potential for financial hardship is evident by the fact 2.2 million people filed for bankruptcy for the 24-month period ended October 31, 2014 (US Bankruptcy Court).

The Effects of Poor Financial Management

Anyone who has ever encountered financial difficulties has most certainly experienced the way it can negatively impact one’s life. Anytime you live with overriding stress on a day to day basis, it tends to permeate all areas of your life. The mind isn’t able to stop thinking about the end result of debt problems. Will it result in bankruptcy or losing assets? Will you have to move? What about the kids education? These are just some of the questions that will start weighing on your mind. Both your attention span and temper might get shorter, creating problems at work and in your personal relationships. When debt problems become unmanageable, it takes no prisoners.

Preventing Financial Hardship

By the time payments are being missed and creditors are starting to call, you are going to be forced to consider debt relief options such as debt consolidation, debt settlement and bankruptcy as a worst case scenario. It would be a far better idea to put safeguards in place before debt issues reach crisis mode. That demands you learn the kind of debt and financial management skills that will keep you from making poor financial decisions. If you have ever been part of an organized sport, you have been exposed to coaching. A personal finance coach might be the best way to learn the skills necessary to prevent financial hardships.

Benefits of Hiring a Personal Finance Coach

Regardless of your debt situation, it’s never too late to learn how to better manage your finances. That said, it’s far better to hire a personal finance coach before problems become evident. The benefits of hiring a personal finance coach include:

1. Developing Financial Goals One of the biggest failings of young people is not taking the time to establish short-term and long-term financial goals early in life. Financial goals are necessary to provide you a target for reaching retirement financially solvent.

2. Learning Accounting ConceptsMost people don’t understand basic accounting concepts such as assets, liabilities, cash basis, debt ratios and budgeting. With a crash course in some of these basic accounting concepts, you will get a sense of how important it is to prepare a budget and control your spending.

3. Learning How to Invest and Save Learning to save money for key purchases (home, car) and retirement is the key to avoiding financial hardship. Personal finance coaches can teach you how to save money, invest it wisely and keep yourself financially stable no matter what occurs during your life.

If you would like more information related to the value of hiring a personal finance coach, you should schedule an appointment with one of our professional debt counselors here at Rescue One Financial. We can hopefully advise you on your financial matters and help you locate the finance training you want or need.

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