Lifestyle

Guest Post: How to Spot the Signs That You Might Be Living Beyond Your Means on Your Credit Card


How to Spot the Signs That You Might Be Living Beyond Your Means on Your Credit Card

 

Today, I would like to introduce to you Patty Moore, a newish blogger at workingmotherlife.com She has some amazing tips and insight on how you may be living beyond your means on your credit card and way’s you can stop. I’d like to welcome her to my blog and to the blogosphere. You can connect with Patty on her blog referenced above and on Twitter at WorkMomLife!


It’s actually not that difficult to know when you might be living beyond your means on your credit card. By definition, you are living beyond your means when you need a credit card to fund any part of your lifestyle. But, it doesn’t usually dawn on people that they have a real problem until they are knocking on the door to credit card hell. Right now there are millions of Americans carrying an average balance of nearly $16,500 on their credit cards who are knocking on the door, beyond which is a life of financial servitude and dashed dreams. You don’t have to be staring into the abyss before realizing you have a problem. Just look out for the following signs.

You Carry a Balance on Your Credit Card

If you carry a balance month to month, it means you are spending more than you can afford. It may have started innocently enough with a small splurge and the rationalization that you would pay it off in a few months; but, because you are spending money you don’t have, it difficult the find the money to pay it off. Soon, you get accustomed to carrying the balance and build the monthly payments into your budget.

You know your credit card balance is getting high when you don’t bother to check it because you know you can pay it off anyway.

You Can’t Pay Any More than the Minimum Payment

If you continue with your spending habits — using the credit card to pay for things you can’t afford to pay for with cash — your balance increases. Unless something changes with your income or your budget, you will continue to carry a balance and it will grow. When your balance grows to $5,000 and you can only afford the minimum payment, you will spend more than $8,000 over 13 years to pay off the balance. When you start living your life making only the minimum payments, it’s time to reevaluate your lifestyle.

You Play the Credit Card Shuffle

The credit card shuffle is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. You’re juggling payments between the cards because you don’t have enough money to make the payments on time. You might make a payment on one card and take out a cash advance to pay another card.

You Can’t Qualify for a New Credit Card

One of the first things people do when they get into credit card trouble is to apply for another credit card. The day finally comes when you can no longer qualify because you’ve run up your credit utilization and you’re only making minimum payments, which causes your credit score to fall. If your credit card spending results in a late payment, you’ll have trouble getting another credit card for a while.

Budget? What Budget?

You may start out with a budget, but, when you start using credit cards to meet your living needs, the budget becomes obsolete. A part of it is denial because you don’t want to see how badly you’ve blown your budget. The other part is it is the recognition that you can’t really afford the lifestyle you are pursuing. If you had stayed strictly within your budget, to begin with, you wouldn’t be in the mess you’re in. Getting back on a budget is the only way out of the problem.

You Have No Savings

This really should be your first clue. If you aren’t saving money for an emergency or for your financial future, you could be on the road to financial ruin, especially when you carry credit card debt. What happens when you do have an emergency — your car blows up or you have a big medical emergency and can’t work for six months? A lifestyle pursuit should be put on hold until a six to 12-month cash reserve has been built up and you have the ability to set aside 10 percent of your income in savings.

When You See the Signs

The worst part of getting into credit card trouble is it’s a lot like getting into quicksand. Unless you do something immediately to get yourself out, you will only struggle and sink further. At the first sign, you should take these essential steps to correct the problem and turn things around.

  1. Reevaluate your lifestyle needs. You may have tried to bite off more than you could chew with your lifestyle choices. It’s time to get back to the basics of what you really need at this time in your life.
  2. Stop using credit cards. Put your credit cards on ice and commit yourself to cash. It guarantees you will only buy things you can actually afford.
  3. Establish a strict spending plan. Budget like you really mean it. Cut out the non-essential spending until you pay off your debt. Build your budget around your top priorities, which are to pay off debt and save.
  4. Set a goal to become debt and credit card free. You’ll enjoy the taste of financial freedom much more than an expensive dinner you can’t afford. Thinking about refinancing your credit card debt using a personal loan. Personal loans are relatively easy to obtain. They offered by a wide variety of financial intuitions including traditional banks, online lenders, and credit unions. By using a personal loan, you can lower your total interest expense and expedite your debt payoff.
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10 Steps To Getting Out Of Debt

Being in debt can be stressful, I know, I have been there and done that. No matter what your circumstance is, if you signed for a loan, you are obligated to pay it back even if you have a life altering experience like losing a job, getting into an accident, or even if you have increased expenses due to having a child.

Sometimes debt can just be an unintended consequence of too much holiday spending — or overspending any time of year. Many people try to get out of debt, but life slaps them in the face so hard that they give up. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are so many people who are getting out of debt every single day, and not only that, but they are getting out of debt in a short period of time.

So if you’re ready to get on a path to financial freedom, it’s important to have a plan for how you’re going to tackle that debt! Follow these 10 steps to getting out of debt, and you will be free in no time.

 

If your bills give you anxiety and your debts are getting in the way of other dreams, it may be time for you to follow the path of these 10 steps to getting out of debt

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11 Money Tips for Older Adults

 

Getting older isn’t all bad. If you’ve accumulated wealth over your working years, it can be the time to enjoy all of that hard work. But financial stresses often arise, including budgeting concerns, income limitations and even fraud. These tips will help older adults ensure their cash lasts as long as they do.

 

Getting older isn’t all bad. If you’ve accumulated wealth over your working years, it can be the time to enjoy all of that hard work. But financial stresses often arise, including budgeting concerns, income limitations and even fraud. These 11 money tips for older adults tips will help ensure their cash lasts as long as they do.

Budget carefully.

During retirement, income tends to be lower than it was in the prime earning years, and that means older adults need to look for ways to limit expenses to make their nest eggs last. One key is to track living expenses to make sure you don’t burn through savings too fast.

Don’t be too generous.

When grown children are struggling with their own financial lives, it can be tempting to open up your bank account to them. The problem with this approach is that it can stress your finances and lead to family tension. It’s important make protecting your money a priority, even while trying to help your children.

Plan with your partner.

Even if you’ve been married to your spouse for years, it’s possible that you have different visions of how to spend your retirement years.  Once you know about your spouses hopes and dream, you both can start planning for it.

Make sure your bank is on your side.

Some banks cater to older clients more than others, with perks such as using larger print in communication, meeting outside of the bank and speaking clearly without being condescending. Asking about your bank’s age-friendly policies before you need them can help ensure you don’t get frustrated with its policies later.

Put fraud safeguards in place.

Older adults are at a greater risk for financial fraud, but there are ways to reduce that risk. Family members can be alerted to large withdrawals from accounts. Debit cards can be programmed to only work in certain locations and names and numbers can be placed on “do not call” lists.

Prepare for cognitive decline.

When it comes to managing money, signs of cognitive decline tend to show up in one’s 60’s and 70’s. It can become harder to manage bills, calculate tips and make change. Sometimes adult children or others can help prevent bigger problems, like falling behind on bills, by noticing those red flags and stepping in to help.

Keep learning.

While cognitive decline is real, other research suggests that older adults with higher levels of financial literacy are more likely to have higher wealth levels. Understanding concepts of investment risk and the stock market is associated with the ability to build and preserve wealth.

If you’re active on social media or have an extensive digital library or music or books, you’ll want to consider how to pass on those digital assets when you die. You can include your wishes in your will, pick someone to share account information with and restrict your privacy settings now so you’re not oversharing personal details with strangers.

Get money help from your adult children.

Adult children can often play a useful role in helping their parents manage money as they age. It’s important to enlist the support of children before experiencing a crisis or cognitive decline, so they know the basics of where to find account information if they need to. Talking through plans and wishes, and even writing out an overview of how you want to manage money as you age, can also help.

Consider launching a business.

Starting a business in midlife or later can add to your income in retirement as well as bring a measure of professional and creative satisfaction even after you leave your day job.

Teach your grandchildren about money.

Grandparents can play a significant role in teaching grandchildren about the value of a dollar. A 2014 survey from TIAA-CREF found that many young people say they are open to talking about finances with their grandparents, but only a small percentage actually have those conversations. Still, most grandchildren say their grandparents do influence their financial habits.

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Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Debt?

debt mistakes

Do you know why paying the minimum payments is a long term trap set up by credit card companies? If you’re in debt, do you know why you should follow the strategy of big banks to get out of debt? These are innocent mistakes made by consumers who are trying to get out of debt. But these mistakes are small potatoes to the most common mistake of all – Not knowing how credit card companies use YOU to create profits.

 Here’s the problem:

Competition for profits in the credit card industry is at an all-time high with new payment technologies coming out that are squeezing company’s profits. These companies must find new ways to push profits, even at the expense of the consumer. So few people even know about these strategies, it gives you an almost unfair edge.

Here’s what you should do:

1. Follow Big Business

If you’d like to get out of debt, the best way to learn is to see how big corporations handle debt. They learn how to make debt work for them and use it to profit. They clearly understand the loopholes that banks and credit card companies don’t want you to know.

2.  Avoid The Monthly Payment Trap

First realize that your monthly payment is calculated by the banks to MAXIMIZE their profits. Companies don’t have interest in you paying off your credit card debt because that hurts their profits. Realizing credit card issuers are companies looking to maximize profit at your expense is helpful to getting out of debt.

3.  If you get in too deep, get help

If you get to the spot where you’ve gone 6 months or more and the amount you owe on your credit cards is not decreasing, then seek the right kind of help. You still have a number of options to get out of debt using the money you already earn and without hurting your credit.

Remember, debt doesn’t have to rule your life, your marriage and your family. You can be debt free if you take action on the right information.

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Debt Keeping You Up At Night? My 3 Most Effective Steps To Pay Down Debt

Pay Down Debt
Pay Down Debt

 

I remember a time when I could hardly sleep at night,I was plagued with debt. I would lay awake thinking about all the debt I had looming over me, wishing that it was some magic debt elimination pill that I could take to erase all my debt. With five children, I kept sinking deeper and deeper into debt and there just didn’t seem any way out.

With a new year approaching, many of you may want to pay off debt. If my story sounds familiar, read on. Because I’m about to share 3 tips to help you pay down your debt and get a good night’s sleep.

The truth is, you have all the tools you need to change your financial picture today. I’m here to tell you that you CAN end the madness and put yourself on the road to safe and easy recovery with just a few simple steps. Just like any tough situation that seems impossible to change, it takes a bit of time. But, once you get on the right track, the road to a debt-free life is painless and incredibly freeing and rewarding. Let me show you an example, below you will find an actual MasterCard debt of mine from about 22 years ago:

Debt Balance MonthlyPayment Interest Rate Months toPay Off
MasterCard $972 $24 22.9 6 yr, 6 mo
  1. Pay off high-interest rate debts first

This is more than a rule of thumb in the debt relief business, but most people don’t understand it until they see it in print. Once you pay off your highest interest credit card debt, you will start seeing a complete change in your financial picture.

One way to do this is obvious – pay more than the minimum payment, right? For example, if you paid just another $24 per month on the MasterCard account, you can pay it off in just over 2 years – not 6 years! Plus, all the extra interest you would have paid to the bank goes into your pocket – not theirs! You might think, “easier said than done”.

  1. Review daily expenses

It actually is easier than you think. Have you ever taken the time to review all of your extraneous expenditures? For example, how much do you spend on expensive coffees, beauty treatments and shipping from online purchases? I’m guessing that it is a lot more than you think.

Reducing and eliminating your unnecessary expenses will, most definitely, add up and you will be able to fold the extra cash into higher monthly credit card payments. Just another $24 could be all you need! But you need to start with a reality check of your actual spending beforehand, especially incidentals. Are you ready?

  1. Negotiate interest rates

This is a tip that is rarely considered by those who are in debt. Did you know that some credit card companies are willing to reduce the interest rate for a set period of time if you speak with one of their customer service representatives? Believe it or not, you may have more power than you think, particularly if you mention a strong interest in transferring your balance to another financial institution.

Get started today!

Start with my top three steps and you will immediately see a difference in your financial outlook for the future.

  1. Pay off high-interest rate debts first
  2. Review daily expenses
  3. Negotiate interest rates

I have many more pertinent and effective steps you can take, but do yourself a favor and get started today. Then you can breathe a sigh of relief and know your life’s pendulum is going to swing toward positive change.

Have the debt free life you desire!

Tracie B.Threadford,

Your money make up artist

Contouring your pockets, lifting your bottom line and highlighting your future

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Protecting Your Identity during the Holiday Season

10 way;s to protect yourself from identity theft
Protect Your Identity

The holiday season is in full swing! This can be one of the busiest times of year as we juggle office and school holiday parties, gift purchasing, and family celebrations. This is also the biggest shopping season of the year, making holiday shopping hot-spots, including brick and mortar stores and online retailers, primary targets for identity thieves. Don’t take protecting your identity for granted now or anytime.

The Grinch is real and here are six simple steps that you can take to help protect yourself from him this holiday season (and year-round):

6 Steps you can take to protect your identity

  • Be aware of your surroundings while shopping.
    Is someone standing too close behind you in line? Are they taking pictures with their cell phone? These could be signs of “shoulder-surfers” who try to take a picture or write down your credit card information from behind. To limit the opportunity of shoulder-surfers only have your credit card out while your transaction is taking place and use your hand to cover important information such as your credit card number, pin number, and name.
  • Limit what you bring and/or carry with you.
    When you are shopping, it is important to have your hands free. Limit what you bring with you shopping so that you are not constantly sitting down with a purse or other items that could be forgotten or left behind. It is important to carry your driver’s license, but do not bring extra credit or identity cards with you. Your Social Security ID card should definitely be left at home in a safe place.
  • Protect your smart phone.
    Smart phones are designed to put information at our fingertips.  Many people use their smartphone for banking, online shopping, and to track personal information.  Be certain to have safeguards in place on your smartphone in case it is lost or stolen to prevent someone from instantly gaining access to all of your personal information. If your smart phone has an auto-lock, consider setting up a unique passcode. Automatic log-in on apps and the “remember-me” feature on websites can be very handy; however, they also allow a thief instant access to your personal information.
  • grinch-2images-1Shop with cash or credit.
    Shopping with cash is a great way to limit your holiday spending and stay within your budget. However, some individuals may find it more practical to shop with their credit or debit card. Use your credit card instead of your debit card. Your credit card will offer additional protections if it is lost or stolen as compared to your debit card.
  • Be mindful of your accounts.
    It is easy to overspend during the holiday season. Being mindful of your accounts and transactions will help you stay both within your budget and aware of any fraudulent activity. Double-check your transactions to make certain that they match your purchases. Often credit card thieves will only make small dollar amount purchases to make it less likely for you to notice the transactions on your bill.
  • Safety first, when online shopping.
    When shopping online, you are often entering a tremendous amount of personal information, including your name, phone number, address, etc., not to mention your credit card information. Always make certain that you are using a personal/home computer for online shopping. Public computers, like those at work or the public library, may store your information that someone could access later. Be certain the website you are using is secure. Once you enter into the shopping cart phase of a website, the web address should have an “s” after the http. The “s” indicates that your data will be transmitted securely. Also, be certain that you are on a legitimate retailer’s site. Knock-off websites do exist and at times it may be difficult to tell the difference from the real thing.

Safeguarding your identity is important year-round. The strategies to protect your identity are easy and quick to introduce into your shopping routine.

Tracie B. Threadford

The Money Make Up Artist

Contouring your pockets, lifting your bottom line and highlighting your future!

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Frugal Friday

Frugal friday
Frugal Friday

Okay, so if you have been following me any length of time, you already know that I am frugal. I am a staunch proponent of saving money whenever and however possible. Take a look at the video below and learn just how I save money on breakfast and lunch while at work. This, and other lunch and breakfast techniques, has saved me countless dollars

 

 

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Thrifty Thursday: How I Eat HEALTHY For Free

thrifty thursday how i eat healthy for free
Eat Free!

 

One nifty trick I use to keep my refrigerator full for minimal costs are community gardens. I frequent Huntsville, Alabama A LOT, as I have a son that lives there. I always stop by the Huntsville Community Garden and load up on seasonal vegetables. Huntsville has several and there are a few in Madison as well. This past weekend, I was able to get enough turnip greens and kale to take me through the winter. When I come back next time, the collard fields will be open and I will stock up on those as well. You can pick as much as you want and it is absolutely FREE! People think it is expensive to eat healthy, not so.

I know you are wondering what I do with all of those greens. Some I cook, some I put in my smoothies, and some I share with other family members. I make it a point to fill up my trunk with plenty. I know we eat more than turnips, kale and collards, but it does help on my grocery bill that I really never have to buy collards, turnips and kale.

I know we have community gardens here in Birmingham, but I am not familiar with them. It may be worth a look to see what the stipulations are for the one’s here.  Take a look at my pics from my trips this past weekend. I can’t wait till the spring, I will be stocking up on okra! Have a great week!

 

thrifty thursday how i eat healthy for free
Turnip’s
thrifty thursday how i eat healthy for free
Picking Turnip’s
thrifty thurdsay how i eat healthy for free
Huntsville Community Garden
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Twas The Night Before A Debt Free Christmas

twas the night before a debt free christmas
Merry Christmas from The Money Make-Up Artist

Twas the night before a debt free Christmas and all through the house not one credit card was used, not even for mamas pretty frilly blouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, as all of the grands knew stock options would be there.

The grandkid’s were all nestled in their beds, while visions of financial freedom danced in their heads

And me in my kerchief and William in his cap, had just settle down for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the roof arose such a clatter I sprang from the bed and sent William to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he flew like a flash, tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below, when what to his wondering eye’s should appear, but the three credit bureau CEO’s looking with wonderment and fear.

With the CEO of each bureau questioning the Threadford’s of this debt-free Christmas feat, I knew in a moment they were about to feel the heat.

More rapid than eagle’s their credit card companies came and the CEO’s whistled and shouted and called them by name.

“Now Visa Now Discover

Now Amex and Master Card

On Best Buy! On Capital One!

On Chase and Barclay Card!

They aren’t using credit

this Christmas at all

Now cash today! Cash today!

Cash today all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky

So up to the house-top the credit card companies they flew

with a sleigh full of debt, and the CEO’s too

And then in a twinkling I heard really hard

the swipping and swiping of each credit card

as William drew in his head and was turning around

down the chimney the CEO’s came with a bound

They were dressed in all black from head to foot

as their clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot

a bundle of debt they had waiting in their hands

and they looked like they had no other plans

Their eyes how they sparkled their faces all merry

as they tried to convince him of debt he should carry

their droll little mouths were drawn up in a scowl

and their shrill little voices sounded like a howl

their ink pens were held tight in their hands

as they waited to raise credit limits for the Threadford clan

Then out of the room Tracie Threadford came

with fire in her eyes and flames on her tongue

she shouted and fussed “No debt this Christmas now leave

before I cuss’!

They knew what was good for them

so they turned to leave

but not without one last trick up their sleeves

They begged and they pleaded with promises of

30-40% cash back for each purchase of love

As Tracie took a few steps their way

they knew they better not stay

she waved them out from her sight

with a  “Merry Debt Free Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

May you all have a Merry Christmas and make it a debt free Christmas if you can!

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9 Way’s To Protect Your Identity

9 way's to protect your identity
Protect Your Identity

In today’s society, identity theft is all to common. It seems as if every time you listen to the news, another corporations system has been hacked and the hackers made off with thousands of customers credit card and identity information. We even hear of identity thieves being able to obtain your credit or debit card number as we stand in line to purchase groceries. As technology and communication forms change, criminals are finding different way’s to prey on innocent hardworking people. The good news is-you can take some simple steps to protect your identity and save yourself from many headaches in the future. Read on to find out 9 way’s you can protect your identity.

1. Remember To Take Your Receipt. Often times I have failed to take my receipt, because I knew the cashier at a certain store, and I trusted that she would dispose of it for me. Luckily for me she did properly dispose of it. Certain receipts may contain personal information, so never leave your receipts.

2. Keep Your Social Security Number Safe.  Never, ever keep your social security card in your wallet. Make sure to keep it in a safe place. Make sure any other documents that may contain your social security number are kept in a private safe place.

3. Don’t Give Personal Information Over The Phone. This is something that I constantly remind the older people in my family. Be very wary of anyone who requests your personal information via telephone, especially if they are calling you and you are not the one placing the call.

4. Report Lost Or Stolen Cards IMMEDIATELY. Alert the creditor of each card so they can cancel the lost or stolen card and issue you a new one.

5. Beware of Scammers. I know we all hear about the email scam’s where you receive an email telling you that you have inherited millions of dollars, or something to that effect. Scammer’s even try to make you believe that they are employees of certain companies, like the Alabama Power scam presently going on. Don’t give any personal information via email and make sure to research and check people before conducting personal business.

6. Inquire About Privacy Policies. Every business should have a privacy policy. Check and see what information they need from you and why they need it, that way you don’t disclose more than what is needed.

7. Only Log Into Personal Accounts From Home. I am guilty, I sometimes log into my bank account at work. I feel safe at work, and maybe some of you do too. Feeling safe is no excuse, you should never conduct personal business on a public or work computer.

8. Go Paperless. Having your account statements sent online in a secure environment prevents them having to go through the mail where they can be stolen. If you are like me and just have to have a paper statement, have a separate mailing address where there is someone there that can retrieve the mail as soon as the mailman puts it in the box.

9. Shred Your Junk Mail. I know you are thinking, why would I shred my junk mail, it doesn’t have my personal information on it. WRONG! It has your name, and that may be all an identity thief needs to carry out their wicked plan. Sometimes, credit card offers have a temporary card in them and in the wrong hand’s this card could be activated and used.

You know I want to hear from you. What do you do to ensure that your identity stays protected? Comment below and let me know.

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