Posted in Budgeting for Everyone, Building Wealth, Buying Your Dream House, Car Buying, College & Student Loans, Credit Cards, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Saving for Your Future, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

Now or Never

In this world of social media, internet, and credit cards, we can have anything we want right away – whether it’s to know how old Taylor Swift is or to buy that Coach purse. Instant gratification is as natural as breathing.However, just because it is natural and all around us, doesn’t mean it is a good thing. “Back in my day”, we had to work for everything we wanted. When we needed to know when someone was born, we had to go the library, pull out a long drawer and find a resource that gave us that information. It took time and effort to get what we wanted. Today, it is easier, but as I have found out, easier isn’t always better.So, what have we lost in this instant gratification world we live in today? Here are just a few of the important skills we have lost with this change:

  • The work – When you don’t have to work for something, it doesn’t mean as much. When something is just handed to you or is easy to get, you lose the importance of the process. Working for something gives you the purpose that you need for the item to have value.
  • The filter – With everything being so instant now, we don’t take the time to run things through our filter first. We don’t take the time to think about whether we should buy something or not. We don’t take the time to think about whether we should post something or email something or not. And once it is out there, you can’t undo it. You need to make sure everything runs through your filter before you proceed.
  • The lesson of failure – With instant gratification, when something doesn’t work out right away, we give up. We lose the gift of time to try, try again. We expect it to happen immediately exactly the way we want and when it doesn’t, which most of life doesn’t, we give up. One of my mantras is never give up! I know some things work and some things don’t and I learned this lesson before the instant gratification era. But I never give up – I just try something different.

There are so many subjects, including personal finance, that have been removed from the schools simply because “they can look that up”. Personal finance is 10% math and 90% emotion – so Google can help with the 10%, but what about the 90%. With instant gratification, we have put ourselves in over $13 trillion – yes, trillion, of consumer debt. We believe if I don’t buy it now, I will never have it. How many of you have bought a house at the wrong time and have spent the last years in a nightmare? How many of you can’t live your dreams because you have a stack of bills filled with instant gratification? How do we overcome instant gratification when it is everywhere and seems to make life so easy? Here are a few tips:

  • Pause for 24 hours – for every decision, not just the money ones
  • Never give up – no matter what
  • Be willing to be the turtle
  • When you don’t get what you expect, try again or simply wait
  • Go old school and learn something not using the internet
  • Be ok if you don’t get your way right away

We may be an Instant Pot society, but you don’t have to live the Instant Pot life. Make one change today that will help you fight the instant gratification world we live in. You won’t regret it!

Posted in Buying Your Dream House, Credit Cards, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

The Credit Score Game – Part 1

credit-score-report-historyWhen I was getting out of debt, I was told numerous times, credit scores mean nothing.  However, I learned that that is not exactly true.  Your credit score is your financial reputation – plain and simple.  When necessary, it shows people how you handle your finances – the good, the bad and the ugly.  I agree that your primary focus in your financial life should not be your credit score.  However, when you make positive financial decisions, your credit score will reflect that and in essence take care of itself.

In order for you to understand how that happens, you need to understand how the credit score works and what positive, on purpose money decisions you can make to help your score along.  So for the next 3 blog posts, we are going to cover the top 3 most important factors of your score and I will share tiny tips that you can do to raise your score simply and easily.  When I started focusing on getting out of debt and making positive decisions, my score went up 100 points in just one year – some take longer, some are quicker, but you have to start somewhere.  So here we go!

Part 1 – 35% of your score is your payment history.  That is over 1/3 on just this one thing.  And this is where many of us go way wrong.  Anytime you are overextended financially, someone doesn’t get paid.  If you don’t have the right health insurance and emergency fund, medical bills don’t get paid and end up in collections.  When you go credit card crazy and look up and owe hundreds every month that you don’t have, bills end up in turmoil.

Your payment history is very important to your financial reputation.  It shows people whether you have it together or not.  People don’t have to look at your bank accounts to know if you have a proper emergency fund – they simply need to look at your credit report.  You don’t have to show anyone your budget for them to know if you are doing one or not.  It is all reflected in your credit report.  Many people fall on hard times and if you are not properly prepared, it will affect your credit history and your financial reputation.

But don’t worry – it is never to late to fix it.  The first thing you need to start doing is get on a budget and pay every bill’s minimum payment every month on time or early.  If a bill is due on the 20th, pay it no later than the 15th – I mean the payment posts on the 15th.  Online payments usually posts within a day, but mailed payments can take 10-20 days to post.  Take this into consideration.  If you have to start with one, then another, then another and so on.  This is better than every single bill being late every single month.

Once you have everything being paid on time or early, begin to work on cleaning up any collection items that may be sitting out there.  They are already being reported as not being paid, but once you settle them (even if it is for a written settlement partial) it will show paid and raise your score.

The one thing you need to know about all of the parts of your credit score is that what is done is done.  You can’t go back and change it.  However, you can make better decisions going forward which will begin to outweigh the bad ones.  Trying to do it all can seem very overwhelming which is why I wanted to talk about the top 3 factors so that you can begin there.  You may not be able to start paying everything on time immediately if you have struggled with this for a while, but there is no better time than today to sit down, list out all of your bills with their minimums, set up a budget and begin to make it happen.  You can do it!  I was $200,000 in debt making just $10,000/year with a 560 credit score when I started the process.  And look at me now – debt free, making way more than 10 grand, and my score is over 800.  It is not impossible and I hope that these small tips that I will be sharing will help you to start the journey now.

Credit is a part of life – we need it for things other than debt in today’s world.  It is your financial reputation.  And it’s okay if your reputation is scared a little right now.  Just make the decision to start over – start today making one better financial decision, pay one bill on time, anything!  Today is your day!

Posted in Building Wealth, Buying Your Dream House, Debt Free, Financial Freedom

Money Can’t Buy Happiness or Can It?

Grandma

This beautiful lady is my grandmother.  I was thinking of her yesterday as I do everyday.  Yesterday would have been her birthday.  She is in heaven now, but she lived 102 wonderful years here on this earth.  Having lived that long, she obviously did a lot of things right.  The thing I remember the most is her smile.  She always had a smile.  Even if she was fussing at my daddy in her later years, she would smile while doing it.  She was happy no matter where she was – when she lived alone because my grandfather was in a nursing home, when she lived alone after he died, even when she was in a nursing home.

Now I’m sure she had moments – my family tells stories sometimes that I find hard to believe.  But this is because her overall demeanor was happy and positive.  When I began my journey to go from $200,000 in debt to financial freedom, my grandmother was one of the first people I looked to to learn from.  Not because she had money, but because she didn’t.

How could she be so happy and be poor?  At the time, I couldn’t understand it, but now I can.  She was happy with life.  She lived everyday to the fullest and I believe this contributed to her living longer.  She also was very content.  Even when she needed clothes, she always wanted that money to be spent on someone else, usually a grandchild.  She didn’t need “stuff”.

I just read a great post from the @DebtFreeGuys about whether you are a “TP” or an “EP” – things person or experience person.  Most people can’t afford to be both and they go broke trying.  That is what happened to me.  I was trying to own everything my parents owned as well as take trips and do things that I enjoyed and convinced myself that I deserved.  Today, having gone through everything I went through – from bankruptcy to financial freedom – I can truly say I am an “EP” just like my grandma.

Now to answer the question posed in the title – money cannot buy happiness, but many times it takes money to do what makes you happy.  It takes money to buy things and it takes money to have some experiences.  What makes me the happiest is the beach (or the lake).  For me to go there and to hopefully one day live there, that will take money.  But how I do it will determine how much.  I don’t need granite countertops, 3 bedrooms, fancy amenities – I just need a bed, a bath, a kitchen and oceanfront.  This will cost me less than trying to have the experience and the stuff.

Determine your dreams – what makes you truly happy – and set up your finances accordingly.  Budget, set goals, and save to pay cash for those dreams because debt can turn a dream into a nightmare in about 3 seconds.  Live the dream and be happy – live to be 102!

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