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8 Easy Ideas to Teach Yourself to Live Within Your Means

Money is such a wonderful temptation. It makes us feel powerful, like we can conquer the world. Consequently, when we have it, we want to spend it. This is especially true when the money comes in the form of a seemingly bottomless pit: a plastic card with the word “credit” attached to it.
The only problem is that when you look at your credit card bill at the end of the month, you’ve discovered that you’ve vastly overspent your budget, bringing your account balance back down to zero, where you feel powerless and frail again.

This is a common problem amongst people. It’s a difficult problem for a lot of people to solve. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of 8 of the easiest ways to teach yourself to live within your means.

Keep Track of Each Purchase

Number eight, know how much you are allowed to spend on each type of purchase. This tip assumes you have a budget that details exactly how much money you can spend on food, gas, entertainment, etc. Review that budget periodically and remind yourself how much is in that budget.

Make a Budget, and Commit To It

Number seven, commit yourself to never go over that budget, even if you think you have a few extra dollars you didn’t use in another category. The purpose of the budget is to help you discipline your spending. Imagining that you have enough in another category to take care of extra spending is justifying the expense. Don’t allow yourself to justify spending more. Commit to the task.

Making the commitment is the hardest part. From them on out, all you have to do is say “no” and look for a creative solution to a problem you may be experiencing. Once you have a firm “no” behind you, you can focus your full attention on solving the problem, which oftentimes makes it easier to solve.

Run Your Own Race

Number six, stop comparing yourself with others. Half of the things pushing many people to buy the latest and greatest is the fear of being left behind. A huge trap is the newest technology. Rather than keep an affordable phone budget, many must have the newest iPhone or Galaxy along with 10 gigabytes of data.

The price of throwing out a perfectly good phone to purchase another one that also makes calls, texts, and accesses the internet can often put you behind a few months on your financial goals. Don’t fall into the trap of “falling behind.” Although it may not be the best and the greatest, this isn’t a race. You are no better a person for buying the newest thing.

Only Spend Cash

Number five, only use cash. You literally can’t overspend your cash. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Not to mention the fact that you’re always very well aware of how much cash you have in your pocket. Withdraw your budget of spending money and only allow yourself to spend from that budget.

Get Excited About Saving Money

Number four, glory in saving money. Get excited about saving money. If you have enough money at the end of your budget to save more money, it brings home a sense of satisfaction. Not only are you making ends meet, but you’re also able to save for college/a rainy day. Doesn’t that mean you’re successfully living within your means? If you’re a competitive person you can think of this as a contest, you can look at each credit card balance or short term loan that you need to pay off as the next goal to focus on, as you do this you can focus on small victories and relish in the excitement that comes with winning.

Cut Down Expenses

Number three, cut down your expenses. What are you paying for that you don’t need? Are you paying for 10 gigs of data when only 2 will do? Are you paying for a landline on top of that? Do you have cable, Netflix, and Hulu accounts? What about that gym membership you never use. Cut out the expenses you would like, but don’t need. That instantly boosts your ability to stay within budget.

Find Free Alternatives

Number two, find free alternatives. Why spend money on a fancy dinner when there’s a public event that’s serving hot dogs? Why pay for a movie when you can borrow one from a friend? There’s always an alternative that will provide you more satisfaction then guiltily spending your last dimes would.

Track Your Expenses

Number one, track your expenses. The easiest way to ensure you don’t overspend your paycheck is to track what you purchase and for how much. Updating your budget sheet daily and totally all expenses to this point will help you spend under your budget every month. The process is quick and simple. It doesn’t take more than a minute. The benefit of staying out of debt is well worth the price of a half hour spent over a month.

Try these eight easy tips out. You’ll begin to notice a difference in your spending habits and bank account within the first month.

What is the Best Way to Get Out of Debt?

As you can tell from our previous posts about budgeting and getting out of debt as well as our responsible lending statement we here at Check City are huge proponents of making wise decisions with your personal finances. Whether it’s how you use a cash advance or how you control your credit card spending it’s always important to not take on any debt that you can’t afford to pay back.

When you are in a lot of debt, it can be hard to understand how it is going to be feasible to get back to financial freedom. There are a lot of people that struggle understanding how they are going to slowly but surely climb out of their debt. As you are working on getting out of debt, you will want to create a plan. The plan that you create can ensure that you will be on your way to financial freedom as quickly as possible.

As you are starting to pay off your debt you will want to do all that you can to pay more than the minimum payment. More than likely the minimum payment on your card is going to be about two to three percent of your outstanding balance. When you are only paying your minimum payment, you will find that you end up paying a lot more in interest. Each month your interest will accrue and you will end up paying more the longer you are in debt.

It Starts With Cutting Costs

To ensure that you are able to pay more than your minimum payment you may need to cut costs in other areas of your life. As you are cutting costs in other areas of your life you will end up saving money in the long run. If you have more than one credit card that you need to pay off, it is important that you know which card has the highest interest rate.

Target Your Highest Interest Loans First

Focus as many resources as you can toward your highest interest rate. As soon as you pay off that card, you will then want to focus all of your energy on the card that has the next highest interest rate. While you are focusing the majority of your resources on one card, you will also need to be paying the minimum payments on the rest of your cards.

As you are working on paying out your credit cards, you may want to call your creditor. When you call your creditor, you may be able to renegotiate the terms of your debt. When you are working on the terms of your debt with your creditor, you may be able to lower your interest rate. There are a lot of creditors that will lower your interest rate if you simply ask. Give your creditor a call and talk about what you can do to pay your debt off quickly.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Future Debt

When you are deciding what the best way to get out of debt is, you should also understand how to keep yourself out of debt. When you have paid off all of your credit cards, you should realize how important it is to keep yourself out of debt. As you are keeping yourself out of debt, you will need to change your spending habits considerably.

Creating a budget for yourself is a great way to ensure that you are going to spend less than you make. While you are working out a budget for yourself you have to understand how you are going to keep your budget reasonable. Although you want to save money, you have to be able to provide for yourself adequately. You want to be sure that you have enough money to provide for your living costs.

Finally, you should understand that you may need to file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy is often not the most sought after option, but it is important to understand that there are instances when filing bankruptcy makes the most sense. Talking with a financial advisor to ensure that you are able to make this decision wisely will probably be your best option.

If you should decide to file bankruptcy, you will want to work with a trusted financial advisor. By doing this, you can navigate the bankruptcy waters without any problem. It can be scary to file bankruptcy, but by having someone to help you through the process you can be sure that your questions are answered and that it isn’t too scary.

Getting yourself out of debt can be frustrating and difficult, but it is important that you make this a priority in your financial life. Paying of your debt quickly is your best financial option and it is important that you get started paying off your debt quickly. Make a plan for yourself today to ensure that you are able to start paying off your debt as quickly and as efficiently as you possibly can.

Getting Out of Credit Card Debt

If you are like most Americans, you use plastic to pay for a lot of your major purchases. The term “plastic” here means a debit or credit card.

A debit card is a card that is connected to your specific bank account. When you make a purchase with your debit card, money is pulled directly out of your bank account.

A credit card, on the other hand, is quite different from a debit card. When you make a purchase with a credit card, the card pulls money out of nowhere to make the payment.

However, this money isn’t really coming out of nowhere. You have to pay back that money that you spent, just at a later date.

Credit cards are good in some ways and bad in many others. Credit cards are good when you’re making a big purchase and you don’t have quite enough money in your account to make the purchase.

You can just swipe your credit card and then pay the amount in full at the end of the month when it is due. This can be very useful when you are trying to catch a sale on an item, like a TV or furniture set, and you don’t want to wait to buy it because then the sale will be over.

As you can probably guess, credit cards have their downsides as well. Many times people don’t actually have the money to buy whatever it is that they want to buy, so they just put it on credit.

By the time the bill comes in the mail, they still don’t have enough money to pay the bill. What’s worse is that the bill comes with a certain amount of interest tacked onto it.

So with a credit card, you’re not just paying the amount for the thing you bought, but you’re paying interest as well. You can probably see how it can be easy for people to rack up inordinate amounts of credit card debt on their cards.

If you have found yourself in this situation, try not to panic. There are things you can do to help yourself get out of debt.

There is no panacea, however. There is no cure-all where you can snap your fingers and all of your debt will go away.

The process may take time, effort, and even more money, but you can get out of debt. And it is worth it to be free of debt.

One of the most important things you can do to start getting rid of your credit card debt is to take inventory of how much you actually owe. This can done by examining all of the statement your credit card company has sent you.

If you can’t remember how much you owe, or you’ve lost the statements they’ve sent you, give them a call or look online. There will be a way for you to find out how much you owe.

Another important thing you can do is to try to start making a budget. Figure out how much money you’re making and where your money is going when you spend it.

This can be difficult at first, but with time, you’ll get better at it. Budgeting is crucial to successfully managing finances.

One of the next steps you can take is to try to understand why you are in so much credit card debt. Think about the things you bought with your credit card and the justifications you made to yourself so you could feel good about buying each thing.

While you may have wanted the items you bought with your credit card, were they really necessary? Sometimes the answer is yes, but most of the time the answer is going to be no.

It is important to be honest with yourself in this process, because you are the one who has to worry about the credit card debt that is piling up. Try to pinpoint why you’re in so much debt and work on solving that specific problem.

The next step could be to stop getting into more debt. There are several ways to do this.

One way is to simply stop spending money using your credit card. This may sound easy, but if you’re used to paying for things with your credit card, it will most likely be very difficult to just stop your credit card usage cold turkey.

Work on cutting back on your credit card usage, and soon enough, you’ll have conquered your problem. If you find yourself in the midst of credit card debt, follow these simple steps. They will help you get back on your feet and out of your credit card debt.

Exploring Your Options to Get Out of Debt

When it comes to getting out of debt it can oftentimes seem like a insurmountable task. Depending on the cards life has dealt you, the extent of your debt will vary. Regardless of the amount of debt you may have incurred whether personal or business below is a list of options you might consider to get out of debt.

Credit Card Debt Consolidation

What is it? Credit card debt consolidation is the process of taking all of the debt you’ve accumulated on multiple credit cards consolidating it into one debt consolidation loan that you pay monthly.  It was created as an aid to help people with multiple credit cards pay off their debts rather than default on them.

It is extremely helpful to people that struggle with various interest rates. All credit card debt is added together into one bill that is given a particular interest rate. In some cases, that interest rate will be lower than that of many of the cards taken into consideration. Debtors then have a more manageable sum of money to pay back.

It is also wonderful for those that truly struggle to remember all of the deadlines associated with their credit cards. Consolidation into one monthly bill will help ensure that the credit card companies get paid. They fear one thing and one thing only: not getting the promised money back in a timely manner. Credit card debt consolidation helps that process go through more reliably.

Other Benefits

The added benefits include a sense of relief for finding a light at the end of this very long tunnel. Managing multiple accounts is extremely stressful. They take a lot of energy and worry. Bringing them together into one relieves much of that burden. The payments are more manageable in the mind this way.

The creditors and collection agencies also lay off the pressure. Your phone lines are clear and threats are diminished.

Everything happens behind closed doors. Your debt consolidation services work under discretion. They talk directly to your creditors and in essence, explain the situation. They petition for reduced interest rates and help meeting the debtor in the middle to ensure they get paid.

The main danger with credit card debt consolidation is finding someone honest to do it for you. Unfortunately, just as in every business where money is involved, there are the sharks that will ruin it for the rest of us. They will try to scam you. Their tricks will leave you in a worse position than when you began.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you are properly informed and prepared to go through this process.

First, call your creditors yourself (since this is what debt consolidation companies would do for you anyways). Explain your situation and express your desire to pay them back. Many times, they will be willing to work with you to negotiate a new payback plan. This can include lowering your payments, interest rate, late fees, etc. They will often take a lower payment to bankruptcy any day, as you may actually pay your debt back when they meet you in the middle.

Second, seek out the help of a professional. This can mean you go to a reputable debt consolidation company. It can also mean you visit a credit counselor, or a bankruptcy lawyer. Any of these options can help guide you to a payment plan that actually works for you.

Third, do some research on the companies and professionals you talk to. One of the best reporting sites on the web right now is the Better Business Bureau. If people are having trouble with a business, it’s reported to the Better Business Bureau. More and more rating sites are showing up on the web. Yelp and Google are just a few examples of places looking to give you honest ratings. See what you can find to validate that these guys know what they’re talking about on the web.

Credit Card Debt Consolidation might not be the best thing for you either though. If you would rather just grit your teeth and punch your way through this thing, there are a couple of other options to consider.

Work another job

If you can, add another job to your list. Working two jobs can be an uncomfortable experience, but it can sometimes give you just the money you’re looking for. You’re not the only one that could take the extra job though. A wife or older child could help out as well, if you asked.

Find an investor (if you’re starting a business)

Find someone who believes in your work enough to invest in your company. Investors can help you out of tight spots occasionally.

Bankruptcy

What is bankruptcy? Bankruptcy is a way to stave off the creditors when things get really bad. When you file for bankruptcy, you are alerting the public that you are unable to pay off your debts. There are a number of different “chapters” under which you can file for bankruptcy. Each means something different to the law (and your creditors) and each absolves you of certain responsibilities (if your filing is approved). The following are the 3 most common.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is the most popular type of bankruptcy. Under Chapter 7, you liquidate all valuable property to pay off a debt. You essentially sell everything worth something; put the proceeds in the debtor’s hands, and whatever’s left of the debt is no longer your problem. This type is extremely difficult to qualify for and various parts of the law vary from state to state. The main effect is that you get to start over with a fresh slate as a Chapter 7 will clean up the loose ends.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is essentially a re-evaluation of the current payback plans. Whatever the reason you cannot pay back your debt according to the current payback plan. As you can imagine, most collectors aren’t very lenient on this matter. You want to pay it off, but can’t seem to find a way. That’s what Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for. Debtors come to the court system waving a white flag and asking for a more lenient pay back schedule.

To qualify, you must have less than a million dollars in secured debts and less than $360,000 in unsecured debts. The exact numbers adjust according to the current consumer price index, so be sure to check what the true limit is before you try filing. Any more than these amounts will disqualify you on the spot.

They come forward with more than just a white flag though. The law requires you give a full disclosure of your assets, income, debts, and other financial information pertinent to your current situation. You must also have a steady source of income and present a proposal of a payment plan you can afford to pay off over the next 3-5 years. The benefits are amazing. You get to keep your current assets and get a more manageable plan to work with, a plan that your creditors can’t demand more from over the course of the bankruptcy.

When you receive the green flag to go through with the new payment plan, you must keep to it.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is most popular with people in the business sector. It is the next resort for people that have secured, or unsecured debts that exceed the limitations of Chapter 13. Very few individuals have opportunities to be in that much debt (hence the reason businesses tend to take advantage of it more often).

Chapter 11 offers companies some time to continue operations as normal until their case is completely reviewed, even though they are in considerable debt. In filing for chapter 11, the debtor agrees to only purchase things needed for day-to-day operation; not sell any major piece of equipment, a part of the company; and not expand in any way. This can sometimes lead to closing locations, laying off employees or renegotiating existing contracts with unions.

If it doesn’t look like the company is going to operate profitably while making payments, their filing may be converted into a chapter 7 case.

What are the consequences of filing for bankruptcy? Filing for bankruptcy is detrimental to your credit. It is the ultimate breach of trust in a person. Consequently, it may be almost impossible to get good credit again for years to come, chapter 7 cases taking longer than 13. Your credit history sticks with you for a very long time too. Bankruptcy may be a good way out of your current predicament, but it sticks to you like a black eye for years to come.

You also become ineligible to apply for bankruptcy again for a further 8 years, meaning that you need to get responsible with your credit again if you want to make it through the coming decade.

Filing for bankruptcy can also hurt your future career opportunities. If you drove your personal finances into the ground, what are the odds that you’re going to do well by the company, especially if you were a director or spender of money? Your career can plateau pretty quickly when you can’t be trusted with the expenses of the company.

Going for bankruptcy isn’t always your best option when it comes to getting out of debt. It is a great way to legally extend your time to pay back your debts, but you will be hurting over it for a long time to come.

There is a way out of nearly every situation. Regardless of which option you choose to get out of debt Check City is here to help you out. Whether it’s a cash advance to by you a little time until you decide which option is best for you, or a deb consolidation loan to get all of your payments into one convenient payment we can help. Take your time deciding which route is best for you, it’s important to know your options and choose one that will work for you.

 

Teaching Your Children How to Budget

Leading By Example

As a parent, you have an incredible opportunity to teach your children and teens how to budget, live within their means and even save. In order to set the best of examples, make sure you practice good money management skills so you can pass on these necessary life skills to your kids! If you aren’t setting a good example, chances are your kids will not learn how to manage their money well.

If you teach your children to be thrifty now, you can help keep them from making money mistakes that can haunt them in the future.

Budget Wisely

Begin by showing your children your budget sheet, and how it all works. Show them what each column means and what expenses go under which column. As you share your budget, it’s important you stay calm and in control. If you convey a sense of equilibrium as you teach, your kids will learn to trust their feelings about money and not spend out of fear.

You might consider making fun and informative trips to the bank to help your kids open a savings account. You can even have a banker talk to your kids about how money works. By including your children in your budget, you can help them feel included and like they’re more a part of what is going on. Banks often have balloons and candy for youngsters who are in the bank with their parents, so these types of things can help your children feel comfortable inside the bank.

Groceries

You can also let your kids help with the grocery shopping. Give them a budget for a meal, and help them choose the ingredients so they can successfully buy and create a meal for the family. As they get more comfortable with budgeting, you can add extra budgeting challenges. Eventually, you can help your kids understand how much money it takes to feed the family on a monthly basis. By introducing your kids to the idea of a food budget, you can also introduce them to an entertainment budget and help them understand when $120.00 shoes just aren’t in the budget.

As you shop, you can have your kids add up each item, to better their budgeting and how much items cost. Discuss with them the idea of generics vs name brand. If you have an item that you are willing to spend full price, help them understand that an occasional splurge is okay.

You might also enlist your kids in coupon and bargain hunting. You can introduce them to the excitement of the chase.

There are many differing opinions among parents about how allowances should work. Some parents believe that children should only receive an allowance if they’ve done some form of work for it, such as household chores. Other parents think it is best to give their children a small allowance each week, and then leaving it up to each individual child to decide whether to save or spend what they receive. Still, there are other parents who believe that children should get a part-time job as soon as they are old enough. Obviously, there is no right answer as to how to navigate the allowance situation with your children.

Make Budgeting Fun

Something to remember throughout all of your budgeting talk with your children is to keep it light and make it fun. Kids respond much better to learning when they have a fun activity or game to associate it with. Games like Monopoly and other money-related games can help your kids learn about money and budgeting using only cash in a fun and lighthearted way. Another major thing to focus on when teaching your kids about money is the importance of short and long-term goals.

It is important that you emphasize the importance of planning ahead, for big purchases or even retirement. Talking to them about saving for specific things that they want can help them work towards a goal. When they eventually earn enough to purchase the item that they wanted, it solidifies in their mind that they are capable of saving and that it is possible to buy the things they want. Teaching your children how to budget when they are young will help them become more financially wise and well-rounded adults.

$26,500 in Student Loans Paid Off in Just 2 Years

CNN recently wrote an article telling the story of a Brian McBride. Brian has lived the life of many Americans. He graduated High School, chose a major, took out a bunch of loans to finish school and finally graduated from Arizona State University in 2010. The only thing that makes him different from his peers is that just 2 years from graduating, he is completely debt free.

Coming out of college, Brian owed $26,500 in debt. $6,500 of that was for a car, the rest were student loans. He says that he initially feared paying off that debt for years to come, but after he did some number crunching and cut back on a lot of expenses, he was able to pay the car off in just 6 months, and finish off his student loans in the year and a half to follow. So, instead of paying off student loans into his late thirties, he’s 25, can pay all of his bills and feels a sense of freedom he hasn’t felt before. His peers tip their hats to him because he has accomplished the seemingly impossible. His strategy for doing so was quite remarkable. He learned to sacrifice for his goals.

He set a goal to pay off his car bills in just 6 months (before his student loans started coming in). He set a goal to pay $1,000 a month and realized that wasn’t possible on the budget he was living on. Brian cut down his expenses until he could afford to meet his goal. When he finished off the car, he was blessed with a higher paying job and set new goals. The result was a lot of cold winter nights, hot summer days and scraping mold off of older vegetables. His blessing was the sweet freedom that he experiences entering 2012.

He lived without certain luxuries—like heating during most of a Green Bay Winter, and staying in instead of going out to dinner. He disciplined himself and made his way to the top of financial liberty in just 2 years when most thought he couldn’t for at least 10. Would you like to get out of debt fast? Where can you sacrifice to get yourself out?

At Check City we are firm believers that when loans are used the proper way, great things can be accomplished.

Source:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/08/pf/debt-payment/index.html

Don’t Wait, Start Setting Goals Today!

New Year’s Resolutions

Each year, we have the opportunity to set new resolutions and goals. The opportunity to reevaluate and start your life fresh each year is a great gift that humans enjoy. Too often, people do not achieve their full potential due to the misuse or neglect of proper goal setting. The power of goal setting is extremely important and can help you reach your full potential.

Millions of people have proven that goal setting is a powerful tool to increase knowledge, broaden experience and help us be the people we want to be. If you are willing to set and follow through with a goal, you will be able to achieve anything you desire.

Don’t wait, start setting goals today! Here are some great tips to keep in mind when you are setting goals.

Make Smaller Goals

If you’ve taken the first step and decided to start setting goals, it’s important to make the goals achievable. Rather than creating broad or vague goals, break your goals up into manageable pieces. Think of your small goals as stepping stones towards a larger goal. When you are learning how to set goals, this is very important.

Break each goal down into manageable chunks to make the goal doable. Here are some great examples:

  • If you want to become more well-read – set a goal to read a book every month. If you struggle reading, consider joining a book club to increase your ability to discuss what you read and help you reach your goals. Start with books that are easier to read, then slowly ease into more difficult books.
  • Save Money – set yourself a stringent budget, and consistently stick to it. Set small goals like a food budget, or working a 2nd job. Before you know it, your savings will start to increase.
  • If you want to be more politically informed, start reading from numerous sources. As you broaden your exposure, you will eventually become better well-rounded and will be able to discuss politics with co-workers and friends.
  • If your job requires you to learn new computer skills, such as Microsoft Excel, begin by creating spreadsheets for your own budgets. Set practice goals and you will be a pro before you know it.

Write Your Goals Down

Once you have decided on your goal, write it down. When you write your goals down, you increase the likelihood of achieving them. You build a sense of accountability into your goal-setting that will keep you honest as you strive to attain your goals.

Make a Plan

It’s very important to have a plan when striving to achieve your goals. You’ve heard the saying, “Failing to plan is to plan to fail.” Well, when you are setting goals you have to plan to put your goals into practice. Just as you broke your goal into easily digestible parts, you will need to plan each step of the way. If you aren’t consistently striving to achieve your goals, you will not attain them.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight, find healthy/low calorie recipes and plan your meals daily. A good trick is to make your meals ahead of time and portion them out. If you create delicious meals and snacks, you will be less likely to cheat. It is always important to get aid from the resources around you. Many people do not accomplish their resolutions simply because they are not aware of the multitude of helpful resources that are available to them

Each goal you set is a potentially life-changing endeavor. You can increase your happiness and expand your horizons when you set and achieve quality goals. By setting and planning worthwhile goals you can accomplish much more than you ever imagined. You can increase your marketability, expand your knowledge and make yourself a better person, just by setting and keeping your goals. We hope you have enjoyed these tips. Don’t wait, start setting goals today!

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