Q: What is your favorite money-saving tip?
My favorite tip if I’m saving on daily purchases and expenses such as groceries, eating out, gifts, clothing, etc. is using cash for those purchases. I budget for those expenses monthly and literally pull cash from the bank account to put in envelopes each month. Not only will it hold me accountable to stick to my budget, but I will typically spend less because it’s emotional and it hurts. Swiping a plastic card, even a debit, doesn’t have the same emotional punch as when you put a $20 on the counter and you get nothing in return. If I’m looking to save on large purchases, I will shop long and hard. Patience will be the key on this one. Be careful not to fall prey to your own impulses and sleep on it. Even those one of a kind deals on EBay or Craigslist. There will be another deal!
Q: How do you differentiate between want versus need?
Great question! I’ve found that just making a two column list of needs and wants really works for me. I know it sounds simple, but there is something about seeing it in writing that does two things. First, we realize the difference between the two, it’s much clearer in writing. Second, there is a powerful correlation between writing down your desires and goals and accomplishing them. If you are married, do a “his and hers” list then merge the two. If you are single find an accountability partner who will help you discern the truth between the two.
Q: How to budget if you’re unemployed?
A budget is simply a goal worksheet for your money. Your income may not meet every
need, expense, or debt payment, but no matter how little money you have you must tell
it where to go. In a situation of unemployment, as with any limited or irregular income, first write down your expenses in order of priority which will include food, shelter, transportation, and necessary clothing. Then name, or spend, your money down the list of priorities until you’ve named it all. You may not meet every need but you have a plan for you money and you can turn your focus to creating income to meet the shortfall. The fact that “there is just not enough money to go around” increases the need for more control and managing your income. Managed money goes further and peace will come with the plan.
Q: My credit is bad or I have no credit. How do I create a good credit score?
A: Use money as your measure of winning with money rather than a credit score. The best way to become prosperous is to avoid debt and use cash for your purchases. If you live within your means and save for the things you want there will never be a need for credit. Some of the myths floating around out there is that you will always have a car payment or that you can not purchase a home without a good credit score and they are simply not true. Pay yourself the car payment, save and purchase with cash. You can certainly find a good mortgage company who will manually underwrite a mortgage loan.
I’m falling behind on my credit card payments and can barely meet my mortgage payments each month, am I bankrupt?
A: Most who believe they are bankrupt really aren’t. They just feel they are out of options and do not know how to make a plan to get themselves out of the mess they are in. Many times the mess has been brought on by some life circumstance such as a job loss, illness, or major emergency they just were not prepared for. So if that’s the case and jobs or health are restored and income increased with a solid spending plan you can regain control. It won’t be easy, but it can be done. You really need to weigh the consequences of bankruptcy also, it feels like it will be a quick fix but it can be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually devastating. Don’t make the decision hastily, seek wise council.
I want to go back to school or I need to send my children to college. Why not take out student loans?
A: Find a school that will fit in your budget then put a plan in place to pay for it. You or your children may not be able to attend the first college of your choice or complete in your ideal time frame, but you will complete it without debt! Take the extra job and pay as you go. Your children may have to work full time and go to school, most of us in my generation worked at least one job if not two to get through school and pay for our necessities. No taking summers off, work. It not only grows your wallet, it will grow character!