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5 Tips for Dealing with Money Roadblocks

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago I was interviewed by Radio Disney on 910 AM which broadcasts in Detroit, MI.  I was asked to give some tips on how a person can eliminate debt.  I wasn’t able to get through all of my suggestions in the 30 minute interview so I’m posting them here.  These are some out-of-the-box tips to help people who know what to do but need some help with will power or motivation.

1) Form or join a support group. Most of us have grown up being very secretive about money.  We don’t share the fact that we’re having problems or let people know that we are in above our heads.  We often feel shame and let our debt spiral out of control.  One solution to this problem is to join a support group for people who are dealing with financial problems.  Many people find that participating in a small group helps them to address their financial demons and get on the right track.  They learn that they are not alone and that they are not bad people.  With support, they can put themselves on the right track.

2) Stop hanging out with people who will encourage you to sabotage your financial future.  You don’t have to dump your friends but if you tend to rack up debt because you and a particular shopping buddy encourage each other to spend until you drop, you are enabling each other.  Find a different activity for you and your friend.

3) Eliminate temptation.  If you’re the type of person who gets out of debt, just to get back in a couple months later, stop signing up for coupons and email lists for your favorite stores.  When they ask you for your email, say that you would rather not share it.  If you get put on their email lists anyway, unsubscribe right away.   Don’t sign up for sales website that will constantly email you about their latest bargain.

4) Determine if you are an abstainer or a moderator (this is from Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project.  Some people have more self control if they completely refrain from participating in an activity (abstainer) while some people have better self control if they allow themselves to indulge a little (moderator).  Knowing what type of person you are goes a long way in controlling your expenses and understanding why you’re spending.  I know that I’m an abstainer and knowing this helps me make decisions.  I’m not good at having a little bit of something and then moving on.  It’s best that I refrain from indulging in the first place.

5) Determine if you need to seek professional assistance with your internal financial demons.  For many people, reducing debt is not just about tracking your expenses and paying off your credit cards in a timely manner.  It’s often about internal issues that cause us to spend and rack up debt in the face of all things that tell us we shouldn’t be behaving in that manner.  Consider speaking with a therapist or a financial coach who can help you work through your attitudes toward money.

Categories: Cost cutting tips, Saving

Five Steps to Your Financial Future

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

So now that we’re about a week into the new year, I’m sure we’ve all had a chance to think about our goals and resolutions for the new year.  Maybe you’ve picked the same resolutions you had last year because you didn’t get around to making those things happen.  It takes a lot of energy to really stick with your resolutions.  If it didn’t we would have already made these improvements in our lives.  But, there are steps we can take to make ourselves more successful than not.

I’m a big fan of The Happiness Project Blog, written by Gretchen Rubin.  I have a special place in my heart for her because like me, she’s a former lawyer who gave up practicing to pursue her passion.  But I really like her because she doles out great pieces of information to help you improve your mood and your life.

One of her more recent posts gives five tips for planning effective resolutions.  I urge anyone who has a goal but who hasn’t been able to stick with it to take a look at the post.  The post takes you through the steps of not only selecting your resolutions but coming up with a concrete plan for how that will happen.

A lot of people come to me and say “I want to feel more financially stable” or “I wish I didn’t lose sleep over money.”  But the real question is:  What does that mean for you?  Does that mean starting a 529 plan for your child?  Saving more for retirement?  Saving up an emergency fund?  Eliminating credit card debt? What specific goal(s) do you need to reach to achieve that stability or to get that good night’s sleep?

Still need some help articulating what you need to do?  Here are some important steps that you can take to get closer to achieving your 2010 financial goals:

1) Track your spending through financial software, a spreadsheet or just simple pen and paper.

2) Write down your important financial goals so that you’re reminded of them throughout the year

3) Reduce debt by creating your own payment plan and/or reaching out to your creditors to ask for reduced interest rates and payments

4) Set up an automatic savings system to get you to that six to nine month of emergency savings

5) Make sure you’re setting money aside for retirement in a 401(k), 403(b) or an IRA

6) Make it a plan for the entire family to be money conscious.  If you are changing your money habits but your husband or your children or a parent you support is spending like it’s 2007, have a talk with them about establishing new money habits. 

And finally, the most important thing is to do something!  Anything!  It can be overwhelming to overhaul your entire financial life and financial philosophy.  If you feel you’re chest seizing up when you sit down to think about your finances, pick one achievable step  and get it done.  It really is about baby steps.  And don’t be afraid get help if you need it.  There is help available to assist you in getting your money in order.  You don’t have to do it alone – but you have to do it. 

Good luck!

Take (Some of the) Pain Out of Saving

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

I lot of people ask for my help because they want to increase their financial fitness but have a hard time cutting back on purchases.  Cutting out your daily caffeine fix or saving money may be difficult but there are ways to make these things a little less painful.

Real Simple magazine has a great article called How to Save Money Without Giving Up Too Much.  If you need some good tips on ways to cut spending while minimizing the pain of cutting back, check it out.   Whether you’re looking to boost your savings a bit or if you need to come up with a debt reduction plan, these tips can give you a great place to start.