Tag Archives: destroy debt

Budgeting: Not as hard as it looks!

Budgeting: Not as hard as it looksWhy is it that the right thing to do is always the hardest? Like not eating that double fudge chocolate brownie warm from the oven. Like breaking up with that person whose laugh drives you insane and you know it just won’t work out with. But when it comes to budgeting, you can’t use the old ‘it’s me, not you’ excuse.

So why don’t we do it? Is it because we don’t like to see the hard reality staring back at us? Or that it takes a little thought and planning? Whatever the reason, we promise you that making and sticking to a budget isn’t as hard as it looks. (Check out the ‘Basic Money Management’ section of our Money Possible Workbook)

Our participants are well on their way to destroying their debt. But guess what? They all started by making a budget. While some were budget newbies, others had tried before.

Lisa and Bryan said, “We did have a budget before. However, it was hard to stick to when unexpected things would show up.” We know, how can you plan for the unexpected? Having a little cushion in your budget will help keep you on track for the long haul.

Fredica and Raquel never had a structured budget.

Fredica, “just mapped out what was owed and the due date.” That’s a good start, but planning for the future requires long term budgeting and goals.

Raquel’s method was, “to pay with what you have and pay the most important things, rent, utilities, medicines, daycare, etc.  I think the hardest part is trying to find and figure out EVERYTHING that you owe, and what to start with first.” Getting everything down on paper (or the computer) makes your budget tangible. From there, you can begin determining what next steps to take to destroy your debt.

So here are three easy steps to get you started:

  1. Identify how you’re spending your money now.
  2. Evaluate your current spending and set long-term financial goals.
  3. Track your spending monthly and adjust if necessary.

Join our participants and follow along – you, too, can be on your way to destroying your debt. As for your relationship woes, just do it already! It really isn’t you, we promise.

View the television segments.

Follow along on twitter: #moneypossible

Meet the Participants

“I need to pay down loans.”
“We want to save for retirement.”
” It’s hard to control my spending.”

Sound familiar? These are the challenges facing our three Money Possible families, and the issues affecting millions of Americans who want to take control of their finances.

Each family has agreed to tell their story, and show that getting control of their money isn’t hard, it just takes dedication and a little self-control (of course, self-control is a whole other problem for us Americans…evident by our super-size nation…and we’re not just talking about food!)

Meet the participants
RaquelRaquel
Raquel is married and a mother of two young children.

In her 30s, her goal is to pay down payday loans, and learn to save.

Lisa & BryanLisa and Bryan
In their 40s, Lisa and Bryan want to save for retirement.

They have three older children. They need to learn to say “no” and live within their means.

FredicaFredica
A divorced mother of four in her 50s, Fredica wants to control impulse spending.

She always wants to save enough to buy a house.

Follow these Wichita area credit union members’ stories here, and every Tuesday on KAKE-TV’s (Channel 10, ABC) 4 p.m. newscast. Follow the hashtag #moneypossible.

Let’s face it…with Americans $11 trillion in debt and struggling with saving money, many of you can probably benefit from following them and learning from their successes and their challenges.

Who hasn’t had loans to pay back? Who doesn’t need to save a little (or a lot) more for retirement? And who isn’t plagued by the temptations at the grocery store?  By following Raquel, Fredica and Lisa and Bryan, they will show us that we can do it. We can destroy our debt.

This program highlights the need for consumer financial education, as well as the value of credit unions as strong financial partners. The campaign aims to give consumers tips and explain that there are resources available to those who need extra help.

It’s America Saves Week!

America Saves Week February 24-March 1, 2014
America Saves week
(February 24-March 1, 2014) is an annual event promoting good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

Although the week focuses on saving, it’s a good reminder for you to take a long hard look at your financial plan (or lack of) and determine a game plan for you or your family.

According to a recent survey by America Saves, most Americans still face savings challenges. Only 35 percent of respondents were making “good” or ‘excellent” progress in their savings goals. That means two in three adults are making no progress or “fair” progress in their savings needs. Come on people…we need to switch those around!

Saving money is essential for your financial health. You can’t pay down debt if you don’t have any money left over at the end of the month. You can’t build up a solid cushion of money if you are constantly trying to manage your bills. It’s  like the hamster in the little hamster wheel…spinning around but not going anywhere.

Start with this post: 54 Ways to Save Money. Surely you can find something you can do…there’s more than 50 tips!

Here’s two of our favorites:

  • Reduce credit card debt by $1,000. That $1,000 debt reduction will probably save you $150-200 a year, and much more if you’re paying penalty rates of 20-30%. (Read more about credit card debt and the amount of money people throw away on interest fees)
  • Take the amount the item costs and divide it into your hourly wage. If it’s a $50 pair of shoes and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself, are those shoes really worth five long hours of work? It helps keep things in perspective. Maybe retail stores should start putting that information on price tags?

Credit unions are another good place to start. Many have financial counselors at your beck and call, who can put you in the driver’s seat of a good financial plan, and definitely not one that will have you running in circles. Credit unions focus on financial literacy and people, not making money. As not-for-profit organizations, any profit they make goes back to the people who use the credit union. Here is more information about credit unions.

In the meantime, stay tuned because we’ll be unveiling our participants next week.

Money Possible Participant Sneak Peek

Last week we posted pictures from our first video and photo shoot.Your-photo-here-for-blog-post

Here’s a sneak peek profile of each (we’ll reveal their headshots later):

  • Single mom of three, 50-ish, administrative worker who rents a home.
  • Married couple with three children, 40-ish, owns their home.
  • Married mom in her 30s with two young children, works in education, renting a home.

Here is some insight into why they applied to be a Money Possible participant:

“I need to stop spending and buying. If it’s on sale, I know someone who can use it.”
We’ve all fallen victim to the merciless “sale” tactics or “I have a coupon” mentality. Stick to a list to deter impulse buying.

“I’ve tried other programs, but without talking to someone regularly, I have not stayed on track to save for retirement.”
Ah, this one is accountability. Telling someone (and it can even be your friend or neighbor) your goals and struggles can be just the thing you need to stay on track.

“I need to save so I don’t have to turn to payday loans…if I have it, I spend it, down to the cent.”
Is your cash burning a hole in your pocket? Gone shopping “just to see” if you need anything? Saving money is hard, and takes dedication and self-control. Set up an automatic transfer so you don’t “see” how much is being taken out of your account, or give it to a trusted friend for safe keeping.

Do these scenarios sound familiar? They should. Money management is at the top of  “things I need to do” for the majority of Americans. And it’s not something that can be delegated to the “honey-do” list.

Remember, you’ll be able to follow our participants by watching weekly television segments on KAKE-TV…we’ll post the television schedule soon.

Pay Down Debt With These Four Letter Words

Oops. Are we not supposed to talk about four letter words?

No, not those four letter words. These are words you can say out loud and on regular television, and they won’t get you a trip to the principal’s office. Words like debt, more, high and time. See? Innocent four letter words.

Let’s start with DEBT:

$15,270.

It’s the price of a 1.13 carat round brilliant flawless finish diamond or a used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder.

It’s also how much the average American household owes in credit card debt (according to NerdWallet.com).

Seem like a lot? Yeah, well, swipe and spend is as American as burgers and fries.

Do you know how long it will take for you to pay down a $15,000 credit card debt?

We didn’t think so, which is why we did it for you using this handy-dandy calculator. This graph shows $15,000 debt, at 18% APR and only paying the minimum payment. In this instance, the minimum payment is calculated at 4% of the balance, which comes to $600 for the first payment. As debt is paid down, the minimum payment is reduced as well.
$15,000 credit card debt paying minimum payment
Wait…that said 14 YEARS. Yes, my friend, it did.

Now, let’s add $25 to the minimum payment, which means you are paying $625 per month, and we’ll continue paying $625 until the debt is gone.
$15,000 credit card debt paying $25 more than minimum balance

I don’t know about you, but two years sounds a whole heckavu lot better than 14 years. Fourteen years is twice as long as the average marriage in America. It’s also about how long a kid has been in school by the time he or she graduates from high school. You remember how long THAT was, right?

Oh, and did you happen to notice how much you’ll save in interest just by paying $25 more per month? (About $5,000, if you are wondering).

One more thing: These amounts are based on the fact that you aren’t ADDING to the debt.

So, let’s nip this in the bud. The above shows that by paying a little bit MORE toward your credit card DEBT can be extremely beneficial. Those are the first of your four-letter words!

Here’s the rest:

HIGH: Got a card with a high interest rate? Pay off that card first, even if other credit cards have larger debt. And in case you didn’t get it the first time, the more you pay, the quicker the debt goes away.

TIME: This is a no brainer. Make your payments on time. Making a late payment could result in a fee. And being 60 days overdue could result in a late penalty fee, which increases your interest rate on that card, and possibly your other cards too! That’s blasphemy! I know, right? But it’s true. Pay on time, people.

Debt, more, high and time. Four letter words that can actually get you out of (financial) trouble.

Consumer Debt is Rising, but Consumers Say Getting Out of Debt “Extremely Important”

With headlines like “US Household Debt on the Rise Again” it’s easy for consumers to fall into the “everyone is doing it” mindset.

Reports indicate that consumer debt is climbing faster than Austin Powers’ Jaguar can go from 0 to 60 (7.4 seconds if you are wondering). Outstanding student-loan balances have reached more than $1 trillion.

That’s right.
Dr. Evil: One Trillion Dollars!A trillion dollars is a million million. One followed by 12 zeros or $1,000,000,000,000. And of those loans, more than 12% were delinquent 90 days or more!

Before you and Mini Me throw up your hands in despair and wonder who is racking up all this debt (because we know it’s not YOU), there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

A recent survey from Credit.com (Americans and Credit Card Debt) indicates Americans with credit card debt believe that getting out of debt is “extremely important” and plan to shape up their finances this year.

I know we started out talking about student loan debt, and this recent survey is only about credit card debt, but according to this infographic, 75% of those who sought help from a financial counselor had credit card debt. Let’s face it, who doesn’t have one or two…or eight credit cards?

If you are a numbers geek, here’s more survey findings:

  • 55% of survey respondents said they have at least some credit card debt.
  • Of those 55%, half are chomping at the bit to develop a debt reduction plan for 2014.
  • 68% are ready to roll now, as they said it is “extremely likely” that they will start to pay down their debt in 2014. Yeah baby! (That has to be said like Austin Powers or it’s just not as funny.)
  • A little more than 40% of those surveyed say it is extremely likely they will be able to eliminate all of their credit card debt this year. Let’s do it!

That’s what this campaign is all about. Most people know they have debt. Most people know they spend too much. They just need guidance and a little push in the tush to get them going on a path that’s going to make them a Saver Superhero or Debt Destroyer. I mean, who doesn’t want that alter ego following them around?

[ Your Photo Here ] Wichita area credit union members

Your-photo-here-for-blog-postTrying to pay down debt? You are not alone.
Eight in 10 Americans are too. So why not get some help?

Money Possible is looking for Wichita area credit union members who want to receive financial counseling, plus learn ways to help pay down your debt.

This campaign is loosely based on “The Biggest Loser” TV show, but instead of losing “physical” weight, participants will lose “financial” weight. And you won’t event have to take your shirt off…

Financial weight? What?

That’s right. Financial weight…the amount of debt people have. The average American is thousands of dollars in debt which includes credit card debt, loans and plain old “I owe Uncle Jimmy $200” type debt.

Who are we looking for?
Ideal candidates have some kind of debt, and don’t mind sharing on local media, social media and this blog.

“Oh no, I don’t want to share my personal financial issues!”

Have you seen what people share on Facebook?

All kidding aside, think of it this way. The majority of American have some kind of debt. We’re all in the same boat. Not only will you be on your way to financial health, you will be inspiring others to do the same.

A group of people cheering you through success or encouraging you through challenges just might be what you need to get your finances under control. And we’re hoping to find three individual or family credit union members, so you won’t be alone in the program.

What you’ll do
You will meet weekly (for 16 weeks) with a financial counselor from the consumer credit counseling service, who will evaluate your current situation and map out your road to success.

Each week you’ll write a blog post…a little something about what you’re doing.

  • This could be as easy as “we found out we spend way too much on Cheez-Its, so instead of buying 25 boxes a month, we’ll only buy 10 boxes…which will save us $37.50 per month. We’ll take the money we saved and apply it to one of our credit card debts. In three months we’ll have paid down $100 toward our debt.”
  • It could be something you learned about credit reports, or that some debt is actually good debt.
  • You could write about a setback you’ve come up against…an unexpected expense and how you are coping with the situation.
  • The post could be that you helped your fourth grader calculate the difference between a name brand item and a generic item and how much you will save in a year if you went with the less expensive version.

The ideas are endless…and if you’re stuck, we’ll help provide you with some ideas.

Oh, and there’s the TV element
Some of your sessions will be recorded and your updates will air on a local TV station. Don’t worry, we won’t share your confidential information or even make you talk on live TV (unless you really want to). You might be interviewed for brief segments, but you’ll be talking about yourself, which you’re already an expert on, right?

When does all this start?
You will begin your sessions in mid-February and continue through mid-May. The TV campaign will air March through mid-June.

So…are you up for it? Visit your Wichita area credit union for an application form. But hurry, they are due back to the credit union on December 20. Selected participants will be notified in mid-January.

The campaign is a partnership between Wichita area credit unions, the Kansas Credit Union Association and the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Follow along on twitter: #moneypossible

For questions, contact Melissa Baptista, (316) 942-7965, ext. 3016.