Tag Archives: emergency savings

Seven Debt Warning Signs

7 Debt Warning SignsCNNMoney reports “Americans have a debt problem.”

Yeah, well, we could have told you that.

Every third person in America  owes so much in payments, that their account is considered “in collections.”

The good news is the debt might only be $25. The bad news is the average amount owed is just over $5,000, with some debts as high as $125,000. The super duper bad news is delinquent debt can put your credit score in the toilet…for years…even if you’ve paid off the debt. And a wrecked credit score can hurt many things from employment opportunities to securing loans.

While it may seem that your debt crept up on you, there are warning signs…here are just seven of them:

  1. You hide bills from others.
  2. You use a credit card for most purchases, and only pay the minimal balance.
  3. You have little or no savings.
  4. You believe that checking account overdrafts are a normal part of everyone’s financial life.
  5. You don’t know what your living expenses are because you have never tracked your spending.
  6. The loss of a job in the household would cause an immediate financial crisis.
  7. You borrow money from payday loan offices, pawnshops, or title loan companies.

More debt warning signs included in the Money Possible workbook. (pdf, page 13)

Need help getting your debt under control? Consider a credit union, where some offer financial education programs and have financial counselors on staff, or contact your local non-profit credit counseling agency like Kansas Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Quick Tip: Debt Warning Signs

Destroying your debt doesn’t have to take hours. Watch our 15 second tips and then be on your merry way. These tips also air on KAKE-TV’s (ABC, Wichita, KS) regularly.

View all our quick tips.  Follow along on social media at #moneypossible.

Debt Warning Signs


While it may seem that your debt crept up on you, there are warning signs like revolving balances on your credit cards, no emergency fund or relying on payday loans to cover monthly bills.

The Freshman $30,000

We took an informal poll last month regarding your grade in financial literacy. The majority of US adults give themselves a C or lower in money smarts. Either smart people took our poll or you think you manage your money better than you do, because the majority of the respondents gave themselves a B. See the poll results.

Education SavingsIn light of this being the graduation season, and the fact that we ran across a survey that said students wished they learned more financial management in school, this post will be about how kids (or their parents) can become be money smart at school.

Forget the “Freshman 15.” We need to worry about the “Freshman $30,000.” The average student graduates with close to $30,000 in debt. That’s a lot of financial weight.

Students are screaming for education in how to manage their money. Some states require a class in financial education to graduate, but many do not. And just ONE class? We all know it takes more than that to get through to a teenager!

This is where parents need to step up and teach their kids. Or find somewhere that can…like a credit union or consumer credit counseling service.

Here’s why: First-year college students required to take a financial literacy course in high school are more financially responsible than those students who didn’t take the class, a recent study found. This means they were more likely to pay credit card bills on time and less likely to go over their credit limit. Both of those add up to less debt. But just 17 states require a course. And ongoing education is critical.

Our friends at A Smarter Choice have some good tips to get students started on the right foot. Here is a scaled down version of their blog post Get Started on the Right Financial Footing.

Stay frugal. Be mindful of what you’re spending. Check with your gym, and cellphone and cable providers, to make sure you’re getting the best rates. Pack lunches from home. Have friends over for dinner and movies instead of going out.

Negotiate your pay. Starting out with a higher salary will mean higher earnings over the course of your career.

Build an emergency fund. Prepare for the unexpected by setting up an emergency savings account and have your paycheck directly deposited into that account. You should have three to six months of living expenses saved. For real.

Start saving for retirement now. If your job offers a 401(k) or similar retirement savings accounts, put money into it! Even better is if your employer offers to match a percentage of your contributions. Your 50 year-old-self will think you were super smart for doing that.

Pay down student loan debt. Know what you owe and contact your lender immediately–before the due date–if you’re going to miss a payment. Pay extra if you can.

Use credit appropriately. A strong credit history will pay off when you want to buy a house or purchase other big-ticket items (the new iPhone 6 doesn’t count). Here’s the biggest piece of advice that you don’t really want to hear: Don’t charge more than you can afford to pay off monthly! And please, pay your bill on time. Spending too much and having late payments can get you in a heap of trouble…and fast.

College students are smarter, but have more on their plate than in years past. Make financial education a requirement for them, and maybe as an adult, they’ll be shedding that $30,000 before swimsuit season.

A “C” in Financial Literacy

One room schoolhouseSchool is so lame. Having to do what teacher says, all those dumb assignments, and who looks at your grades anyway?

April is Financial Literacy month, and a recent survey shows adults give themselves a “C” or lower when it comes to their financial knowledge. Not exactly making the honor roll, are we?

Here’s what the survey revealed:

  • Forty-one percent of adults gave themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance.
  • More than half of respondents (61 percent) admitted to not having a budget. This is the highest percentage in six years.
  • About a third (34 percent) carry credit card debt month to month, and 15 percent roll over more than $2,500 in debt per month.
  • Top concerns are not enough in emergency or retirement savings.

So basically, we are AT BEST a “C” student. We don’t have a budget. We carry credit card debt and we don’t have money for emergencies or retirement. And here’s the best (worst) part: Adults are spending MORE than in previous years, with only 29 percent saying they spent less than last year.

People: Get a hold of yourself!

First, watch this:

Financial education is what this campaign is all about. Our participants are learning that with proper budgeting, mindful spending and saving, and financial organization, you can beef up savings, pay down loans, stop impulse buying….and be on your way to financial health. The result of this knowledge? Living with less stress.

Here are a few more tips:

Spend less than you earn.
Period.

Make goals.
Goals can create actions plans that help you stay on track.

Be realistic.
Start small. Eliminate one lunch out and save $10 a week. Trim $20 from your grocery bill. Then SAVE that $30 or apply it to one of your debts.

Consider your financial institution.
Kansas credit unions can save you $30,000 over your lifetime simply by using them as your primary financial institution. Most offer seminars or classes, some even have a person right on staff to help you. Credit unions are local establishments with a fierce loyalty to the their communities. Search here for a Kansas credit union, or visit asmarterchoice.org to find one nationally.

You can do it. We know you can. Make a commitment now to get control of your finances.
Download the Money Possible workbook. Call a financial counselor. Google it. Watch a video.

Strive for that “A” … that spot in the National Honor Society. Don’t you want your own “I’m an honor roll student” bumper sticker?