As 2011 comes to a close, I thought a fun way to end the year would be for you to hear from other personal finance bloggers out there. So I posed a question to my personal finance blogger friends and got tons of answers on two different questions. The first part of this series answers this question:
There is a lot of information out there on personal finance as a whole, especially the topic of getting out of debt. What is your best advice on getting out of debt? What tools do you use and recommend to accomplish this?
You’ll hear from 4 personal finance bloggers today and a few more over the next few days. Then you’ll get to hear from bloggers who answered the second question about building wealth. I hope you enjoy hearing from these bloggers as much as I did!
Name: Emily Hunter
Website: Million Ways to Save
The best advice that I have to get out of debt is to ask yourself a single question before each purchase.
This technique is effective for online purchases as well as trips to the grocery store. Putting the item under the magnifying glass has saved me countless dollars (that I put toward my debt) and countless regrets. Frivolous purchases usually get caught in the net and put back on the shelves. If the item is necessary, I look for ways to save on that item, so I’m not caught paying full price.
This mindfulness extends to the debt reduction efforts that I employ. With each dollar that I put toward reducing my credit card debt, I know that I am one step closer to becoming free of my financial obligations. I try to push for the long game, knowing that the debt is temporary and that it’s a yoke that I need to put down.
I love the spending graphs available at Mint.com, but I believe that the truest form of debt relief rests within the mind.
Name: Travis Pizel
Blog Name: Our Journey To Zero
I personally am paying off my debt by utilizing a debt management program through CareOne Debt Relief Services. When I enrolled in my program, CareOne negotiated a monthly payment and reduced interest rate with each of my creditors. As long as I do not violate the terms of my program, my monthly payment and interest rate will not change until my debt is completely paid off.
But a debt management program is certainly not the only solution out there. There are countless programs available to help people get out of debt. The “best” one is dependent upon a person’s financial situation, as well as their personal style. There is no “one size fits all” debt solution, there is no magic pill. My advice to anyone in debt looking to take action is to research your options. Look into things you can do yourself such as cutting costs and budgeting better. Investigate debt relief programs such as debt management plans, debt settlement plans, and even bankruptcy. Load up with information on debt consolidation loans, and well publicized programs such as Dave Ramsey’s. Compare and contrast as many options as you can and make an informed decision as to your next step. It may even be a combination of solutions.
Whatever method is used to rid yourself of debt, I believe that it has to be paired with education to fix the underlying behavior that caused the debt to begin with. There are certainly ways to incur a large amount of debt by no fault of your own, such as a medical emergency. However, the rest of us need to learn self control and proper budgeting techniques. Those, and other financial skills combined with a debt elimination program can help a person eliminate debt from their lives forever.
Website: 3 Kids Here
My best advice is whatever the method on personal finance, it should be something that you can do yourself if you really had to. There is no special gadget or plan that gets someone out of debt without effort from that individual. It’s a decision by the individual and then there are many ‘TOOLS’ that may assist with an individual’s plan, but nothing that will do it for you.
After deciding that you want to get control of your financial situation, including reducing & eliminating debt, then you need to find the right method & tools that fit within your lifestyle or belief system.
For me, I like Dave Ramsey because he tells it like it is and has a stable christian belief system that keeps him in check. I like one of Dave’s suggestions that you cannot meet your goals of being debt-free until you GET MAD about your situation and tell yourself you aren’t going to take it anymore.
I also have a financial background so I fall back on that as another tool to keep my spirits up and my goals in check. Having this background means that I also have many friends that have worked in the industry or there are a few more resources to pull from then the average person. However, I know if a person doesn’t have a finance background, success can still occur. Talking and finding support with friends, family and even strangers (like Twitter) can be a huge ally when you are just looking for raw information on a process or support to know that others have the same struggles. A person doesn’t have to pour his/her heart out to easily find other people who are making financial decisions every day. Once you are in-tune with the process, information appears in the strangest places.
Best of Luck, but more importantly, Best of Intentions!
Name: Dr. Jason Cabler
Website: Celebrating Financial Freedom
The overall best advice I can give is also the simplest: Live on less than you make. Sounds simple and it is… if you go about it in the right way. It’s very difficult to live on less than you make if you just go about using your money day in and day out without a plan. Lack of a plan is the reason most people end up in debt in the first place.
But when you actually make plans as to how to use your money every day, every month, and take action to stick to that plan, getting out of debt becomes much more easy to do.
First you’ve gotta have a written budget. You can work out your budget for the month in a budgeting software program like Quickbooks or another, but I prefer the simplicity of pencil and paper because if I make a mistake I can more easily make corrections, notes, etc. When you figure it out in your own head and write it down on paper instead of letting a computer do it for you, I believe you understand it better and you’re more likely to make it work.
The other tool in arsenal should be a written, progressive get out of debt plan such as the debt snowball. In my Celebrating Financial Freedom course I call it the “Debt Rocket” because it starts out slowly, but gathers speed quickly and launches you into the blue sky of debt freedom. If you have this kind of written plan and you stick to it, it becomes easier to change your habits with money and you get out of debt much quicker than if you have no written plan at all.
I believe getting out of debt is all about behavior change. When you learn to do things differently, work diligently, and happen to your money instead of letting your money happen to you, then you can get out of debt, stay out of debt, and begin winning financially.
Stay tuned for tomorrows post to see Part 2 of the getting out of debt series.