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How I Learned to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Today’s blog post was written by our guest author named Adam. He wanted to share with everyone some helpful tips that he’s used to stop living paycheck to paycheck. We hope you enjoy his insights as much as we have!

Sometimes, during the week leading up to payday, I find myself clinging for dear life to my finances. If I can just survive until I get paid, I think to myself, then everything will be OK. I go into crisis mode, axing all discretionary spending and hoping that no unexpected expenses pop up.

When my paycheck finally appears in the mail, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. And then I revert to my old spending habits—eating out, buying the latest gadgets, etc. A few weeks pass, and I’m right back where I started, panicking about making it to my next paycheck.

It’s a cruel cycle, like the spin cycle of a washing machine. But instead of coming out clean at the end, I would just wind up dizzy and half-drowned.

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Thankfully, I found a way to escape the constant spin cycle and stop living paycheck to paycheck.

My Arch-Nemesis: The Dreaded Budget

Saving money does not come naturally to me, and money gets spent often without me even realizing it. I knew right off the bat that I was going to get nowhere without a budget.

Budgets take hard work and discipline especially if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. You need the self-control to resist making any unnecessary purchases, and you need the personal honesty required to separate wants from needs.

Taking a Long, Hard Look at My Spending

It was time to take out the old magnifying glass and look at how I was really spending my money.
I was shocked. Did I really spend that much money eating out every month? It was atrocious how much of my paycheck went to entertainment.

As soon as I had a strong grasp on where I was spending my money, I was able to craft a budget that accounted for my needs, and even made a little room for some wants (for the sake of my sanity).

My Game Plan for Dealing with Credit Card Debt

One of the big motivators for turning my finances around was that I wanted so badly to get out of debt. Over the years, my spending habits had been subsidized by various credit cards, and I’d built up quite a chunk of debt.

Thankfully, my credit card debt provided short term goals to help me along the way. Basically, I would zero in on one balance, keeping all other balances on the back burner. Once that one card was paid off, I felt the accomplishment of having achieved a goal, which helped me forge ahead with my budget.

Reevaluating Progress

Every six months or so, I take time to reevaluate my budget and spending, and make adjustments accordingly. As I’ve reduced my debt and added to my savings, things have gotten easier. I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve even been able to fit in a few purchases for things I really want, like gadgets and such.

How did you stop living paycheck to paycheck? Leave your tips in the comments section below.

Cutting Down on Wintertime Expenses

In the wintertime, it can often be difficult to balance your budget. Between gifts, trips, and food, there is a lot of money to be spent and much of this spending is extremely important to the happiness of yourself and your family. Keeping costs down in the wintertime can be a key to kicking the new year off right. One of the best things you can do to decrease your wintertime expenses is to pay attention to your energy use, and conserve energy appropriately. By conserving your energy you can stay warm this winter without going over your budget.

Keeping Energy Costs Down in the Wintertime

When it comes to your energy bill in the winter time, sometimes the costs can get astronomical, but if you know some of the tricks to the trade, you will be able to stay warm this winter without breaking the bank. Knowing how to conserve energy will help you not only to save money, but also to have more resources available for your other wintery needs.

What Can You do to Lower Costs?

One of the best things you can do to keep your energy costs low is to invest in a programmable thermostat and use it appropriately. This means that you should set your temperature about ten degrees lower than usual in the night, and when there is no one in your home. Lowering your thermostat ten degrees at night can help lower your energy bill up to twenty percent.
Along those same lines, if you choose to don a pair of socks and a sweater and turn your thermostat as little as one degree lower, you will be able to save up to three percent on your energy bill. By conserving energy and keeping your bill down, you will be even happier and have a little more cash in your pockets.

Efficiency = Savings

To improve your efficiency, you should try to keep the opening and closing of your doors to a minimum. You will also increase efficiency by making sure that all of your doors and windows are well insulated. By keeping your house insulated and weather-proofed, you will be able to save yourself a lot of money and hassle this winter.
By keeping your south-facing window treatments open in the daytime and closing them at night, you will be able to invite and trap the heat from the sun into your home. This will help you to need less energy than usual to keep you house heated.

What To Do with Your Money Saved?

Now that you are keeping your house energy efficient this winter, you will have a little bit of money to spare, and there are many different things you can do with it. Whether you use the extra cash to work towards your New Year’s resolutions, or save it in the bank for a rainy day, you won’t be disappointed that you took a little bit of time to conserve heat.

How to Save Money When You Have a Baby

Bringing a new child into this world can be an amazing experience. Whether it’s your first child or fifth there always seems to be a time soon after the baby arrives that you start to realize exactly how much having a child can actually cost. And while you can’t put a price tag on the love that you’ll feel for your new child, it’s always good to be prepared for the actual expenses you’ll be faced with, and figure out how you can save money whenever possible.

You may have been somewhat prepared by getting the nursery all ready, saving up on diapers, or just scrounging around to get all of the necessities. Here are some ways that you can save when you have your baby.

Freebies at the hospital and pediatricians

Hospitals are solicited all the time with offers from hundreds of companies that sell baby products. Many times these companies offer coupons with free trials or with special offers. This is definitely a good time to start using coupons especially for diapers. If you have questions about these samples and other offers, talk to your nurse. They all know but sometimes forget to let you know about them. In addition to coupons these companies usually provide hospitals and pediatricians offices with free samples of their product which they will freely give to you, all you have to do is ask.

Clothing

Everyone wants to start buying baby clothes in advance. The problem is that these little babies end up growing a lot faster than what we are planning and you end up throwing those cute clothes away the first month. If you are thrifty and understand that other people are going through the same issues, you will be able to pick up on when people need to get rid of their baby clothes and you will be able to pick up on some good deals.

Don’t buy the shoes! They are babies and however cute those shoes are they just aren’t worth the price especially when your baby doesn’t walk. There are always good prices on booties and they can keep their feet just as warm outside.

Baby shower

Make sure you invite all of your friends to it! This is a great opportunity for friends and family to show their love and support by helping you start out. It is definitely something you will be grateful for so make sure that you plan it out in advance. If you get a lot of things that you can’t use make sure that you take them back as soon as possible as many merchants put a time limit on returns.

Go bulk

When you are buying diapers, wipes, or anything else you need in bulk, make sure that you get it at your local wholesaler. This can save hundreds each year. This idea of going bulk can be as effective as using coupons to take care of some of those necessary expenses.

Baby classes

Many parents spend hundreds of dollars each month to put their kids through special programs like music classes or special preschools. There are hundreds of free opportunities out there. For instance, libraries offer reading times or other fun classes for younger children. Sometimes they offer classes for infants as well. Another thing that many parents on a budget choose to do is have their kids go to college campus. Some colleges actually have child development programs that require students to work with children often. Sometimes these playgroups can be free or at least half the price.

There are many different options for parents on a budget. It is most important to realize that proper planning and budgeting is essential though. Also, keep in mind that the due date your doctor gives you is an estimate so the baby might end up coming a bit early. If you find yourself in a situation where your baby gets here before you’ve had a chance to get all the essentials Check City can help with a cash advance or payday loan to get you the money you need.

The Secret to Good Credit, Be a Responsible Consumer

If you are trying to figure out how you are going to fix your credit score yourself, don’t get too worried, it is possible. You can easily fix your credit score yourself if you understand the importance of the different contributing factors to your credit score.

The best way to fix your credit score yourself is to stay out of credit problems. By keeping your credit score high in the first place, you can be sure that you do not have to scramble and struggle to get your credit score back to a healthy number.

Plan Ahead on Purchases

First, you should be sure that you know how you are going to pay your bills on time. When you take on a new expense, you
should make sure that you have adequate funds to cover the expense and you should understand exactly how you are going to make your payments. Creating a payment schedule and doing what you can to make your payments automatic is a great way to ensure that you are going to make your payments on time and make them in full.

Any time that you are going to take on a new expense, you should sit down and figure out if you can afford it or not. Getting into this habit early is a great way to ensure that you are able to stay in control of your finances throughout the rest of your life. Creating a budget that you know you are going to be able to stick to is an awesome tool to make sure that you are always living within your means.

Don’t Miss Loan Payments

When you miss payments, it reflects heavily on your credit score. If your credit score takes hits on a regular basis from late payments then it will make it harder for you to get short term loans and long term loans in the future. Make sure that you stay current with all of your bills. If you have not been current in the past, it is important that you get current as soon as possible. By getting current, you can be sure that you are not going to have late payments that will drag your credit score down.

If you have a credit card, you should be sure that you understand how you are going to use your credit card wisely. Your credit card can be a great tool to establish a quality credit score but you have to make sure that you are using your credit card wisely. It is important that you take the time that you need to pay off any debt that you have on your credit cards and keep your balance on your credit cards as low as possible.

By keeping your balance on your credit cards low, you can be sure that you are able to demonstrate your responsible spending habits. Creditor companies like to see that you do not max out your credit card on a consistent basis. If you do use all of the credit line on your card, it is important that you understand how you are going to pay it off quickly. Pay off your credit line quickly and you can be sure that your high balance is not going to negatively affect your credit score.

Applying For Credit, Can Hurt Your Credit!

Applying for a variety of new credit accounts in a short amount of time can hurt your credit score. You should do what you can to slowly build your credit and let time work in your favor as you are working on building your credit score.

Checking your own credit report is encouraged and will not negatively affect your score. Some people get afraid to request their score but checking your score is a great way to ensure that you are going to be able to track your progress and do what you need to do to get your credit score where it needs to be. Checking your score on a consistent basis and tracking your progress may give you the encouragement that you need to keep working.

Stick With It

Finally, make sure you stick with the good habits that you establish. Throughout the time that you are working on improving or repairing your credit score you should understand that the habits that you are forming will be beneficial to maintain throughout the rest of your life. Just because your credit score improves you should not forget the new habits that you have formed.

Develop a process by which you know you will be able to keep your credit score high. Take the time that you need to find a system that works with you and then do what it takes to make sure that the system is going to work for you for many years to come.

Protecting Yourself from Debt Fraud

Debt fraud is a real problem in America. Many think that it doesn’t happen: assuming that no one is dumb enough to fall for it. And yet it happens every day, making scammers richer on dishonest work.

Scammers learned a long time ago that people are generally an extremely trusting species. If you can walk into a place like you own it, many just assume that you do. Hence, if a scammer can call you up on the phone, pretend like you owe them money and demand payment, some will actually pay up.

That’s surprising right? Without ever verifying who the debtor was or what the money was for, people respond with a check if the scammer can throw enough fear into the situation. As Diana Mey found out though, keeping a cool head can keep you safe.

Back in 2010, Mey received voicemails from a debt purchasing company telling her that they would seize her house if she didn’t pay back a debt she supposedly owed. Mey knew she didn’t have any debt against her home and sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company. Soon after that, she received continual hang-up calls from “the local sheriff’s department.” In one instance, she answered too quickly and got an ear full of swearing and sexual assault threats.

It’s legal to record calls in her home state, and so she had this call for proof. She brought forth the evidence against the company and called them to court. Their lawyer never showed. The judge awarded her $10.8 million for her troubles.

Since then, over 1,000 complaints have come out of the wood work against this company. The company garnished enough attention for the Federal Trade Commission to raid the property, sue it, and freeze all of its assets. After examining records, they discovered that this company had scammed approximately $140 million from people between 2009 and 2013.

That means a lot of people were driven to pay a debt they never owed. The reality of that drives home the importance of keeping track of all debts you may owe and investigating any agency that pretends you owe them money. A call filled with threats isn’t enough. Nor is it professional.

How can you investigate the legitimacy of a claim? Well here are ways given by the Federal Trade Commission to figure out if they are sketchy.

First, double check the claim. Ask them what you owe for. Check your records to see if (1) you ever borrowed the money you claim they did, and (2) you have records showing you completely paid off that debt or not. Both are good signs of legitimacy. If you have paid off the debt, get on the phone with the company you borrowed money from and get it cleared up with them.

Second, ask them for a mailing address or phone number. As both of these things can be traced back to owners of property or phones, they will be unwilling to hand over that information. If they do give it out, do a quick Google search for the address and phone. Check to see they are attached to the agency name and a website. If they’re not, question. If they are, then move onto the next step. Using the street view of Google maps, check out the address. Is it in a residential neighborhood? Is it in a business complex? Is it an empty lot? These are all clues as to the legitimacy of the company.

Third, are they asking you for personal financial or other sensitive information right away? Fake debt collectors pressure you into giving them your personal information. Read debt collectors don’t do that. And they certainly don’t need your social security number or other extremely personal information. This is a warning sign.

Fourth, the agency is exerting a lot of pressure on you. As said before, these scams thrive off of fear. Fear makes people think less coherently. Threats for arrest, seizure, or reports are common. Although these are real consequences of failure to pay a debt, they are not professional tactics. If you feel excessive pressure or threat, be very cautious of them.
If things aren’t adding up, don’t talk to them anymore, send a cease-and-desist letter (making a copy for yourself), investigate the issue with your creditor, and report it if things just aren’t adding up.

The Federal Trade Commission has seen the sad trend time and time again and they want to stop it. They want to encourage people to follow examples like Mey. Protect yourself from future fraudulent attacks by (1) knowing your current debt situation well, (2) being skeptical of debt collectors applying phone pressure, and (3) report suspicious activity so they can get to the bottom of the issue.

3 Tips to Wean Adult Children into Independence

With the new school year starting young adults are moving out on their own all across America. If done incorrectly the process of teaching your young adult how to be self-sufficient can be difficult. In this post we’ll cover three of the best ways to wean your young adult or adult children into independence.
Many adult children are still extremely reliant upon their parents for financial needs. Even into their mid-twenties, mom and dad are still paying for absolutely everything. And although this can be helpful to get through college, it isn’t always the healthiest approach.

Many students don’t take their education seriously when they’re not paying for it themselves, and others find it difficult to adjust to independent life after they graduate.

If you’re one of these parents but want to help your kids become independent, the following are three great ways to help wean them off of your bank account.

First, the joke, “he probably lives in his mother’s basement” is truer than a joke these days. Considering how cheap it is to live at home, many adult children default to a parent’s basement rather than pay for an apartment. It’s easy to do because mom loves to have her kids around, and it saves them a lot of money. The crazy thing is that it’s not just single children who are doing this either.

Many children move in with their spouses. It’s true that they first years of marriage can be difficult, especially where finances are concerned. These children will sometimes nest in for years to come. They have children and stay at home. Their children head off to elementary school, from their grandparent’s home. These families should be sheltering their kids under their own roofs, especially when they have a job that could be paying for their lives.

If you’re housing a single guy, a girl’s not going to want to find out that he’s still living with his mom. He has a much better chance at a social life outside of the home than he does where he’s at. He may even get married.

If this has happened to you, and you’re ready to have your kids get a move on with their lives, be up front with them. Reaffirm your love, but make it clear that they should be working on finding a place for themselves. It is your house. These are your rules, and you can still lovingly talk to them about how much better it is for them to seek their own life style.

After they move out, a great way to show love for them is to invite them over for dinners once a week. Show them that your home can still be a safe haven from the worries of the world with a free meal and familiar company, and that can give them encouragement during their time of adjustment.

Second, if they still rely on you to pay for their lifestyle, adjust that. You don’t have to drop every financial responsibility in the book on them all at once. That kind of adjustment would be extremely hard. It can be extremely good for them, but they might resent you for it and you might even hate the idea.

Wean them off instead. Set up a plan. Tell them that in three months from today, you no longer intend to pay for an expense: tuition, books, car, food, title loan payments or cell phone bills for example. In six months you will no longer pay something else. In a year, you won’t pay for something else, etc., etc. until they are finally financially independent.

You can help them find ways to support themselves though. If they’re not working, they will need to learn to find a job. If they have a job that isn’t making enough, encourage them to find a better one. If they are going to school and aren’t sure how they’re going to pay for tuition, encourage them to get a scholarship or grant. Student loans are always another option. You can guide them on a path to financial independence, helping them to grow up and helping you to gain financial independence as well.

Three, sit down to discuss their long-term goals. Have a good chat with your son(s) or daughter(s) about what their future goals are for independence. Ask them questions. When do they see themselves becoming independent? How long do they intend to live with you? What do they want out of life? See what goals for independence they’re trying to achieve and offer your help to get them there. Sometimes just talking about the issue can help them meet future goals much sooner than you expected. They might just need a bit of support from an interested parent.

Take these three ideas to heart and give them a shot. Your kids will have the best chance of success in this world when they’re introduced to financial independence, not sheltered indefinitely. Although you don’t need to kick them out and cut them off, you can go a long way to help your adult children seek complete financial independence starting today.

5 Secrets to Stop Living Pay Check to Pay Check

Wouldn’t it be nice to stop living with an uncertain financial future? Wouldn’t it be great to not only have enough for what you need, but to be able to put aside a bit extra every month for a rainy day? With your current situation though, you may not be able to see a way to get out of this financial deficit so you can save for a rainy day.

Amazingly, people with less money and more financial responsibility have found ways to reach their goal of not living from pay check to pay check. Here are some secrets that could help you do likewise. Make each a habit and encourage savings at every corner.

First, create a weekly meal plan that uses the same ingredients for a variety of meals. The thing that tends to increase your shopping expenses is purchasing different ingredients for every meal you plan.

For example, Monday night is pasta night; Tuesday is Mexican; Wednesday is soup; Thursday is Hot Dogs; and Friday is Steak night. Your shopping list tends to build up because each meal requires a different set of ingredients, which costs a lot more than buying just fewer ingredients in bulk would.

There are websites, like supercook.com, that will help you determine what variety of meals only take a set amount of ingredients, e.g. chicken, noodles, bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. Choose a meal you want to cook that week, type in the names of these ingredients into that website, and see what other meal options you can try out. Then go to the store with that same list and purchase in bulk for the week. This can often save you quite a bit of money in the long run, while increasing your home menu.

Second, determine to save $1 every two weeks. Surely one dollar isn’t that hard to put aside. You can often willingly forgo a more expensive brand name item for generic if it means you get to put $1 to your future.

Habits are created with simple, persistent effort. One measly buck every paycheck is a great start. After a year, you’ll have created such a deep habit that it will seem unnatural to not save. You may even lift your sights to $2 per paycheck (and in fact, you should strive to shoot for more if you want this savings to grow). For now though, concentrate on what you can manage, and save $1 every pay check until you’re ready to increase that expense.

Third, change your spending attitude. If you live from pay check to pay check because you throw money around at your leisure, then you have the financial opportunities to quit that lifestyle. Go back through your bank statements over the past three months and identify what was (1) needed, and (2) frivolous.

Keep the needed expenses in place, but make a goal to cut the amount of money you use frivolously. Frivolous expenses are a necessary part of life, but it should be limited to an affordable amount. Make a goal for how much you want available for discretion and then track your spending every day throughout the month. When you have a goal and then track your progress, you are far less likely to spend as frivolously as you did before. Save the surplus money for another day.

Fourth, work together with your spouse. If you’re married, then work through your finances together as a couple. No one person should think they have full control of the money. This creates inequality, and that inequality often ends up in relationship trouble, or over/unexpected spending on either side of the equation.

Approach your finances as equals. It’s not about what’s “yours” it’s about what’s “ours.” Plan and address your current spending habits like the frivolous spender would. Identify your needs. Find places you can improve on your discretionary money and start saving today.

Fifth, save everything you can and find ways to make more money to save. Any extra money you find in your budget should be saved. Reduce spending on unnecessary luxuries like cable TV, or air conditioners set expensively low at 68 degrees.

Any old items that you want to get rid of can be sold. Take the money from that sale and put it away. Find ways to sell your skills or hobbies outside of work to get a few extra bucks to put away.

Living from pay check to pay check can make you feel imprisoned. Shed those shackles and be free from the pain of financial worry every month by applying these five secrets to your life.

Cutting Costs on the Water Bill

Summer is in full swing and that means that water bills across the country are on the rise. Historically water usage goes up exponentially in July and August so in this post we’ll cover some simple ways that you can save on your water bill not only during the summer but year round.

The once a month water bill can sometimes be the forgotten child of the monthly utility bill round up. With other utility bills, like the gas and electric bills, often adding up to be more than what is owed to the city water provider, the monthly water bill can often times go over looked by those who are striving to save money by home conservation practices.

But this should not be the case as saving on the monthly water bill can actually save a household up to hundreds of dollars per year, and those savings will be even more important in the future. The saving practices and conservation efforts by homeowners on their water usages will soon become a vital money saving technique due to the upcoming repairs on water pipelines across the nation.

According to the American Waterworks Association, there are over one million miles of water pipelines spanning the United States that will need to be repaired or replaced by the year 2035. The costs of those repairs are estimated to reach over one trillion dollars and the majority of that money will be garnered from the citizenry’s monthly water bills.

While the estimated increase to homeowners and property owner’s water bills will be nation-wide and seemingly unavoidable, the practices of in-home water conservation will still be vital for a family to over spend on their already increased water bill. Conserving water every month in the home can be simple for those who will take the time to turn water saving techniques into habits.

It Starts in The Kitchen

One of the major areas of the home where water saving practices can come into effect is within the kitchen of the home. The kitchen area of the home is often a leading area of water use due to the kitchen sink being in use for cooking and cleaning, as well as the dishwasher using gallons of water to wash the family’s dishware.

Don’t Wash By Hand

While some may think that washing dishes by hand will save them money on their water, the truth is that washing dishes by hand will actually expend more water than if a family uses their dishwasher correctly. So the first way that a family can save money on their water utility bill is to stop washing their dishes by hand.

It is estimated that those who wash their dishes by hand will expend up to twenty seven gallons of water in the process while those who use their dishwasher to wash their dishes expend only fifteen gallons of water per load, or, if they own an energy efficient model dishwasher, that number could be closer to four or five gallons. As one can see, choosing to use the water over washing the dishes by hand can save a family gallons of water per cycle and per month.

Use the Dishwasher Correctly

Along with using the dishwasher over washing dishes by hand, a family can save even more water if they will use their dishwasher correctly and efficiently. The first way to use the dishwasher of a home effectively is to make sure that the dishwasher is fully loaded before every use.

Having the dishwasher completely filled on both top and bottom racks will directly translate into having an efficient dishwasher, as less water will be used to clean the dishware per dish. Additionally, another way that a family can get more from their dishwasher is by understanding the dishwasher’s capabilities. Many modern dishwashers have settings such as energy efficient or eco-friendly cycles as part of their options for cleaning and switching the dial to have the dishwasher run on these settings will have the machine use less water overall. Likewise, most modern dishwashers can handle the grim of food stains and little pieces of excess, meaning that a family no longer needs to pre rinse their dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Not only is pre-rinsing dishes is literally a waste of water if a family owns a modern dishwasher, but it also leads to another water waster while in the kitchen—running the disposal. Every time the disposal is engaged, the water must be turned on.

Running the disposal can be avoided by simply saving the leftovers for future consumption (another helpful money saving tip, by the way) or by throwing the unwanted leftovers into the trash or a compost pile. Saving water in the kitchen is a primary way for families to save money on their monthly water bill.

Shorten Those Showers

In connection with saving water in the bathroom by taking shorter showers or smaller volume baths and by turning off the water while brushing teeth, saving water in the kitchen will help to save a family potentially hundreds of dollars per year on water bill costs.

Reducing Credit Card Debt Wisely

When you know that you need to reduce your credit card debt, it is important to understand that you will need a plan. Planning to reduce your credit card debt will enable you to track your progress and ensure that you are going to achieve the goals that you have set. Don’t be afraid to sit down and assess your situation to ensure that you are able to make a comprehensive plan that will help you get out of your credit card debt as soon as possible.

Lower Those Interest Rates

First, you should be sure that you know where you stand. There are a lot of people that do not have an accurate idea of how much money they really owe to their creditors. You should be sure that you take the time that you need to look through all of your debt and figure out exactly how much you owe and to whom you owe money.

Once you have figured out how much money you owe you will then want to figure out the interest rate for each line of credit. Paying off credit with a high interest rate first will ensure that you are not wasting money throughout the time that you are working on paying off your debt. Make sure that you have your interest rates correct when you are figuring out which line of credit you will want to start working on first.

When you know how much your interest rates are, you will then want to see if you can get them lowered. There are a lot of people that do not realize that by simply calling their creditor they can get their interest rate lowered and save hundreds of dollars as they are working on paying off their debt. Call each of your credit card companies and make sure that you ask politely to see if there is any way that you can get a lower interest rate.

Consolidate Those Debts

Once you’ve negotiated your interest rates as low as you can with your credit card company you should look into whether you could get lower rates with a debt consolidation loan. Getting a debt consolidation loan will often allow you to pay off all of your higher interest credit card debts with a more manageable lower interest loan. It will also allow you to focus on paying off one loan as opposed to making payments to several different companies each month.

After you know exactly what you owe and who you owe it to, you will then want to track the costs that you incur throughout the month. There are a lot of people that do not realize how much money they are spending on things that they do not need. You should take the time that you need to look through the different costs that you incur and then figure out which costs you can systematically get rid of. When you know which costs you can get rid of, you can put that money toward the debt that you are working on paying off.

Figure Out a Budget

As you get your finances under control, you will also want to create a reasonable budget for yourself. A reasonable budget will provide you with the money that you need to pay all of your necessary bills and ensure that you are not spending too much money. Don’t be afraid to reach a little outside of your comfort zone with your budget. You may need to cut some of your luxury expenses, but getting your finances under control will be well worth the cuts.

When you have your finances under control, you can then start making payments on your credit cards. The most effective way to eliminate debt is to put all of your extra cash toward the credit card with the highest interest rate. You want to make sure that you put as much money as you can towards paying down your debt. While you are doing this you will also want to make the minimum payments on any other credit card.

As you pay off a credit card you can then move the cash that you were using for that card and put it into another card. Continue paying off all of your cards to ensure that you do not owe any money to a credit card company when you are done.

Once you get yourself out of debt, it is important that you then stay out of debt. Working to stay out of debt can be frustrating when you are used to poor spending habits, but if you can recognize those habits and do all that you can to change them, you will be able to keep your debt to a minimum. One additional tool that you can use to help you stay out of debt is prepaid credit cards, this will allow you to still use the functionality of a credit card for paying bills etc.. but you will be more aware of how much you’re spending. When you keep your debt to a minimum, you can use your money as you wish rather than having your minimum payments dictate where you can spend your money.

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