Personal Finance Series: No 23 – Sick to the Stomach With Statutory Demands?

The sizeable debt problems in the UK and USA are well documented and are growing so quickly that quoted statistics become quickly obsolete. In Ireland, the issue is a growing problem too, and in all 3 countries, charities and government sponsored bodies set up to handle debt problems are over run with enquiries.

The credit industry and their relentless lending, collection and recovery methods created a debt management solutions industry where companies represent their clients to creditors in return for a professional fee. These debt management companies can provide debt consolidation counseling, and if chosen carefully, can be very helpful and professional.

Our lifestyles are dominated by borrowing and servicing debt, finance charges and fees.

The Dangers Of The Debt Spiral

The Debt Spiral starts off when a new credit card arrives in the post. Most people believe that because their credit rating ‘passed’ the lender believes that they can afford to have it, why else would it have been issued? So false authority is given immediately to a piece of plastic and the belief “It’s all right” is seeded.

Constant usage seeds a habit, then a behaviour until clearing the monthly balance becomes difficult. The next downward stage is to make part payments, and finally only the minimum payment each month. Interest on Interest quickly compounds and the minimum payment does not make any significant impact on the balance. This gets repeated on average over 3 of 4 different cards, until the average debt payments become a burden.

Then in that situation, a life event happens and the money funding the repayments stops. Yet the interest, demands and bills are relentless – building and growing. Matters at this stage become desperate.

How To Get Out Of A Desperate Situation

There are a number of options, which largely depend on the personal finance statement. The first thing to do is grab a clear hold on the money in and the money out. Consult the personal finance budget software online and make lifestyle adjustments.

As things deteriorate, renegotiate with each creditor for breathing space, or seek professional help from a debt consolidation counseling centre who can walk you through all sorts of tools. Tools like a debt snowball calculator, an affordability calculator, financial goal setting and a range of insolvency options to suit the circumstances.

How To Become Debt Free Forever

Common sense dictates that living within the money available each month is the way to do this, yet so many do not. The first task is to create some ‘wriggle’ room. Pay off the most expensive debts with as much as is available to do so, then transfer to the next and the next until it is done.

Next, turn all these repayments to the capital on the mortgage and it is entirely possible to become debt free in less than 10 years, and owe nothing.

Why Your Parents Were Wrong About Debt

Previous generations didn’t encounter the credit culture we all live in today. Their values are still worth following in that if you couldn’t afford it, you didn’t get it. However, debt can be harnessed and managed if understood properly. This issue isn’t debt, it’s unmanagable debt.

Subscribing to a money management system, like the kind provided by personal finance budget software online is an easy way to keep track on money. With the right tools, debt, charges, and fees do not need to be things we fear.

Personal Finance Series: No 7 – The Seven Secrets of Switching in Shelter Provision

When considering personal finance budgets, most people will only consider making cutbacks when the money begins to run out, and only then will they think about creating a home budget worksheet, or a personal finance worksheet. The more proactive will have done this well before they get that far, some will even investigate personal finance online, and a proportion of those who do will find that their search leads them to some personal finance online software.

This behaviour though, is in itself not a financial planning definition, and there are seven things that people just don’t think about when completing a personal finance spreadsheet.

1. Shelter Provision – Why People Don’t Switch

Switching means to change service provider either because the service being received is no longer satisfactory, or because it can save money. Yet despite these obvious benefits of better service and financial savings, most people don’t switch.They don’t switch bank accounts because they believe there is a disadvantage to moving from ‘people who know me’. They don’t switch utility providers because they think it’s ‘too much hassle’. The REAL reason why people don’t switch though is apathy. Most people just can’t be bothered.

2. Shelter Provision – Overcoming Apathy

There is a psychological effect known as “bystander behaviour” when people in crowds fail to take any action when they witness a crime or accident together- each believing another will be the one to act. People don’t want to overreact or be embarrassed.

Other studies on apathy showed that people experience apathy when things just don’t affect them, they have a visible lack of emotion or drive. The second secret of switching is to understand that overcoming apathy is easy and possible, and that holding back is damaging the personal finance statement!

3. Shelter Provision – Motivation

Often, Apathy and it’s cousin, procrastination, come from a lack of motivation, which simply means that people either don’t have any goals, or don’t have the right goals.

People in this situation have simply forgotten what they want, their activities just don’t fill them with enough enthusiasm- and this can be traced right back to the lack of goals setting with students, or goals setting templates taught to us at an early age.

Financial goal setting is a powerful way to overcome this apathy – and switching is an instant way to achieve quick savings within a personal finance budget.

4. Shelter Provision – Budget Target

Budgeting can be one of those things that people put off, because it doesn’t necessarily bring pleasure. Yet the whole point of a goal is to connect you to something you want. Saving money releases funds to do exactly that. Often, it is possible to save hundreds just from switching – so set a target from all the possible routine and regular outgoings.

5. Shelter Provision – Prioritise the Prize

It makes sense that one you look at your family budget worksheet, you target the biggest spend items first, and shop around to switch. Some won’t be possible until contracted dates, such as mobile phones or special utility deals, but if you start with the largest first, and then work down the list, you will understand the value of the biggest prize for the least effort.

6. Shelter Provision – The Power They Have

Most service providers are big companies who don’t really know you at all. We think their power is the ability to restrict services – that the bank won’t lend us the money we need because we only just joined them.

We pay Utility bills quickly or on time because they have whole departments of people dedicated to chasing us for money when we don’t and in extreme circumstances we have all heard the tragic stories about people dying because they lost electricity, gas, or water supplies.

We think that they have more power than they actually have. We think that because they are so huge and powerful, that they have all the power – that we have no individual significance to them.

7. Shelter Provision – The Power You Have

Actually, you have much more power than you think. The competition among mobile phone providers, power companies, and in fact every supplier to your home is a very good thing for personal finance budgets.

These organisations now have customer retention departments who try their best to keep you. Savvy customers are very valuable and customer retention departments will offer all sorts of ‘deals’ to keep your business because of the lifetime value of your custom, and the high costs to them of replacing you with someone else. You actually hold ALL the power, because you get to choose who gets your custom.

Personal Finance Budget Series: No 20 – What Wealthy People Really Think About Their Money

One of the main characteristics of wealthy people is that they have confidence in their ability to make decisions, in their purpose, and in their personal finance budget. Confidence, self confidence specifically, is a learnable skill, and to become strong in confidence is to understand how to place the mind in the right state. With mind and money aligned, wealthy people are much happier than those who only chase money as an end goal.

Confidence: The Four States of Thought

Autopilot Thinking is when people are over familiar with routine decisions, and can quickly form assumptions about what is expected – like when using credit cards in the store, or driving home along a well known route. This is an external thinking state and can be harmful. Another harmful state is the internal, critical voice, which so often tells people that they are an imposter – that they “can’t do” or “aren’t good enough”

There are two helpful thinking states which balance this – the internal voice is the thinking state where the mind assesses options, while the external helpful state is the engaged state, where the mind is concentrating on solving problems.

The objective in managing money, in assessing the personal finance statement, and especially if financial planning has been ignored and money is a problem, is to move from a harmful state to a helpful state, by working out where all the money goes, balanced against when it all comes in. Reflecting and evaluating alternative choices brings confidence back into the personal finance budget process.

Confidence: Why Negative People are so Destructive

Negative people are destructive because they can suck out the enjoyment of life from all the people around them. These people suffer from afflictive emotions, they become jealous, angry, fearful. They are critical, condescending and demeaning. These people are the opposite of what they seem because they are not at all confident, and project their toxicity as a protection against being touched by the people around them.

In seeking to build confidence as a skill, these people need to be avoided, or managed because they will do everything to precipitate doubt in those around them

Confidence: Strategies to overcome Doubt

The secrets to overcoming doubt, are to become confident in taking action and making decisions with personal finance. By moving away from self consciousness, by deliberately tuning out, focussing on something else, concentrating on financial goal setting, budgeting and forecasting, people can grow confidence because they can see a future to pursue, which takes attention away from self – building confidence.

Another way to overcome doubt is to picture the situation as a movie in the mind. Then make it black and white, then dim the picture before finally moving backwards as if leaving a cinema, so the image gets smaller and distant. Finally, positive thought and positive action both dispel doubts – so doing something active, and surrounding yourself with positive people works too.

Confidence: The difference between a Public victory and a Private victory.

In growing the skill of confidence, it is necessary to experience both private victories and public victories. Private victories are where outcomes are focussed on the personal results of being proactive, thinking about the end game before starting, and then choosing the first steps to take. In matters of personal finance planning, it is important to work with a personal finance spreadsheet, or a family budget worksheet.

Better still to subscribe to a personal finance budget software, preferably online for ease of use. The outcome is to be clear and precise about the budget decisions to be taken. Public victories are where attention turns to the outside world, where it is important to see the win for both sides, to understand first the consequences of spending money, and then to involve the family or those around you in a team effort to curtail wasteful spending.

Personal finance online software allows for this behavioural victory, the growth of confidence in managing money and in forming new personal finance budgets.