Empty The Wallet!

Here in the US we’re just finishing up our end of the year holiday season. A joyful time of year that many will celebrate for religious reasons, while others will celebrate now just because that’s what it’s come to mean for them.

Whatever the reason we celebrate this time of year it’s also a time of year where we tend to spend a lot more money than normal just because of what is happening around us.

I can remember so often when the payments would come due for January, and how I would dread seeing what I now owed knowing that too often I had overspent what I could afford.

This is just one of the many ways that I placed myself into the hole of financial slavery many years ago.

Too often it’s so easy to just whip out that piece of plastic to slid on through and take care of whatever we just decided was needed.

Or years ago, there was the checkbook that I would haul out and just write out pay to and how much, then sign my name and walk on out without a worry thinking all was taken care of!

Today, the checkbook might not be used as frequently as credit cards or debit cards, but the concept of what these things do to us is still the same.

We use them to purchase things we often don’t have the actual cash for!

If I would have been required to actually pay cash for many of the things I purchased in my past my life would have been completely different.

A lot less junk, and a lot more of my money would have remained with me rather than ending up in the hands of various financial institutes!

Don’t get me wrong. Having a credit card to use in times of emergencies is good and everyone should have one available. But that’s what the main purpose of one credit card should be for, using when we don’t have the cash on hand to pay in times of an emergency.

As we’ve been discussing, when we’re out shopping we should already know what we’re out for and about how much we’ll be spending. That in mind we can have the cash in hand when we head out to the stores for what we intend to purchase!

Some might say, why not just use the debit card?

Too often they end up being used just like a credit card. Without the actual cash in hand to limit how much we’ll be spending, a debit card still allows us to go above and beyond what we intend to buy just because it’s too easy. And what the heck, we deserve that anyway, it’s been a hard day/week/month…

The debit card should always be kept at home and only be used taking care of necessary transactions with your financial institutions.

The same is true with your checkbook for those who have them and use them on occasion. Keep it at home and only use when taking care of necessary transactions that require a personal written check you already have separate funds set aside for.

One example for myself is when I pay my property taxes, I always write a personal check and already have the funds set aside to take care of the amount.

This is an excellent next step to gaining control of our money:

  • Remove all credit cards except one for emergency situations only
  • Keep all debit cards at home and use only for transactions at the bank
  • Keep the checkbook at home and use only when separate funds have been set aside

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke

Stick to the Plan!

As we plan for our next shopping trip, be it for groceries, or for clothes, or items that we need for fixing things around the house, it’s always good to be able to buy them when they’re on sale or when we’re able to have a discount applied!

Sticking to those items we were intending to purchase only we’ll always end up spending a lesser amount in the end.

Many places we shop will have sales or coupons available on different days to bring in buyers on a regular basis. These sales of coupons may be in anticipation of upcoming holidays, or in the case of many places now they may just have a weekly sale specific to certain items.

Flyers are made available consistently for what’s available now and for what’s to come. Be aware of these sales and how these items are being rotated or how the sales are being rotated. Knowing the merchant’s patterns can help to prepare for having to purchase items in the future.

Many of these merchants will offer their customers the opportunity for membership where additional discounts or coupons are also available.

Since most of these memberships require a plastic card to obtain the benefits offered, they can be beneficial when the merchant is used on a frequent basis. If the merchants aren’t frequent users the cards can be a burden unless the merchant has some personal information allowing us to confirm our membership, such as a phone number or email address.

When preparing for shopping it’s important to take the time to research online at the locations where it is known you’re be intending to go and see what might be available for a discount. Consider other nearby locations to see if they have similar products available on sale.

The few extra moments that this will take, possibly in the evening before or the morning, might result in tremendous savings depending on what is being shopped for!

What is beginning to show up more frequently are apps for use on smart phones that can be flashed at some of the stores and the discount is then applied.

Most of these apps are specific to the merchant that the app is relevant to, thus potentially requiring multiple apps for the many locations one might go to regularly. Similarly, to the multitude of cards for each place.

I do want to make you aware of one free app that will be made available January 18, 2019.

It’s free and is downloadable to your smart phone providing you between 5 – 25% discounts at thousands of retail stores, restaurants, etc.!

You’ll receive immediate discounts at checkout and get paid to use it and share it with others!

If you’d like to try this new app out that launches on January 18, 2019 go to http://bit.ly/2EarnsApp!

Here are just a few of the of the merchants where you could use the free phone app:

Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Buffalo Wild Wings, Home Depot, Old Navy, The GAP, J.C. Penney, Chilis, Outback Steakhouse, Lowes, American Eagle, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Barns and Noble, Applebee’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chipotle,  Banana Republic, Sears, TGI Fridays, Express, Domino’s Pizza, Bonefish Grill, Staples, O’Charleys, IHOP, Krispy Kreme, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Papa Johns, Kmart, Tijuana Flats, Lands’ End, Cold Stone Creamery, Game Stop, Sephora, Aerie, Ulta Beauty, AMC Theaters, Steak N Shake.

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke

What’s Your Plan For Today?

Consider what we always seem to have the least of every day.

Time!

If you’re like me I’m always finding myself short of that in just about everything I seem to get into. Mainly because either I find myself procrastinating on what’s most important or I allow myself to become distracted and lose focus of why I’m doing what I initially started out to do.

Or a combination of both!

To be in control of what it is we want in our lives we must know what it is we want and to have a plan to achieve it.

Always keep in mind, be flexible on the path traveled while accomplishing a goal. Be firm on what the result should be. Once there look back to determine how that trip could have been made better before turning to make the next step forward!

Setting up weekly goals are necessary to achieving a long-term plan.

Once the goals are put in place it may seem as if we’re looking to pick up all the garbage along the path while attempting to maintain a jogging pace.

The importance here is to realize we have something to accomplish and that we need to keep our eyes focused on what’s ahead of us so that we don’t trip and fall.

When we complete the task at hand, we’ll recognize that there were some things that possibly could have been better. These are opportunities we must learn from and apply when the situation happens again.

Remember, we’re looking for the quickest way to get out of debt and become financially secure. This includes things that we’ve already discussed:

Every week there is a need to prepare for what’s given in our lives, eating and working. Then we need to consider what else there is in our lives, children, school, bills to pay, appointment co-pays, maintenance expenses.

Start with a plan to take care of those things that are givens and what it’ll require to take care of them. Be reasonable with everything. If it’s not needed, then put it aside for now and revisit it later to see if it’s possible or even still wanted.

These are new habits that will change your life so it’s important to work through any old habits and get this done to reach your destination!

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke

Who’s In Control?

Recently we’ve been discussing better ways to shop, the importance of being in control of our finances, and being aware of our weakest links so that we may remain committed to what we believe in and the changes we’re working to make!

Today we’ll look at what it means to be in control of your expenses too!

Let’s look at what all our expenses might be during a month and how we pay for them.

First, consider all that you must pay out on a monthly basis for bills received requesting payment. These might include:

  • Utility bills
  • Credit card balances
  • Auto loans
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Rent/mortgage payment
  • Insurance payments (Auto, health, life are common ones many will have)

Next, there are the everyday weekly living expenses that everyone has. Some of these might be considered a monthly expense depending on where you live or work and how you pay for them, but for now I’m including them here to make the point as needing the money on hand to pay when purchasing. These might include:

  1. Groceries
  2. Gasoline
  3. Taxi/Bus/Train
  4. Tolls/Parking
  5. Medications
  6. Entertainment
  7. School expenses (Personal or children)
  8. Dining out

Then for some there are a few living expenses I want to include as being prepared for on a quartly, semi-annual, or an annual basis. These are a few odds and ends expenses that many will have, but not all depending on their living circumstances. The importance thing here is to recognize them and know they are part of our lives and to be prepared for them when they come. These might include:

  • Automobile maintenance
  • Other maintenance expenses for appliances, furnaces, or other small equipment around the house or apartment
  • Property taxes
  • Income taxes

There might be more, but this covers a large majority of what most will see on a regular basis.

Most of us may not see all these expenses regularly, but we do see them. Unfortunately, we may even see many of these about the same time, and that is when things become overwhelming. Especially when we aren’t prepared for them!

We all live our day to day lives often without giving what we own the world a second thought until the bill comes due. That’s were some much of this really hits us. Sure, the loans and credit cards wouldn’t have been issued to us if we couldn’t have afforded it. But things are changing all the time, and some of these additional expenses most likely have been acquired after the loans and credit cards were first provided.

That’s what makes it so easy to get deeper and deeper into debt!

Having done some tracking of our weekly spending we know where we tend to purchase things that aren’t necessary. Depending on how we will pay for them, i.e. cash or credit, will show how easy it is for us to not be in control of our finances.

Knowing where we need our finances to be is being in control of our expenses. This means making certain there’s enough money to:

  1. Pay all the bills as they come due
  2. Pay for the weekly expenses that will be needed each week
  3. Put aside a set amount for future expenses so they won’t create problems when they arise

It’s your life and your finances. Take the few minutes to regularly keep track of your finances daily making certain you’re who’s in control of them.

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke

Shopping Is An Art!

To get the most out of it when we go shopping, I believe we need to look upon when we go shopping as if it were an art!

Consider Michelangelo and when he created the statute David from the stock of marble he had. Starting from just a single piece of marble, planning ahead and knowing what he wanted to create. Michelangelo chiseled away at the marble, piece by piece, taking time to review where he was at on his journey, until he had completed his masterpiece, the statute David!

Now we’re having to go out into the world with all that’s before us. The many different options that are presented to us at any one moment, suggestions of what to purchase, the many things that we are intending to buy but are now available for a better price elsewhere. So many pieces of marble to choose from where we may begin to create our personal masterpiece.

Just like Michelangelo, we need to first be prepared before we head out to and do any shopping. A masterpiece requires knowing what it is that we want to create. Shopping too, requires that we know what it is that we’re looking to purchase!

For example, going grocery shopping one should have a list of items needed. These items shouldn’t be just what’s missing from the shelves or the refrigerator.

Plan a menu for what meals will be made over the next week so that this helps to prepare for not only what’s needed, but it helps keep one focused on necessary tasks. Something that can be discussed another time.

Having a menu will identify what’s needed when out shopping. Just like having a list of items that are required when we’re fixing things around home, or on a vehicle, or preparing for a demonstration at work.

Knowing what we have and what we don’t have is important steps whenever we look to add on to personal inventory. Making certain that the items we’re about to acquire are needed for a project we’re about to take on is of utmost importance.

Just because something is available at a great deal and we can put it in our stock serves no purpose and is a waste of money. When we’re ready to use specific items, we can acquire then at that time, and most likely we can find a great deal for it too.

Know what you want to purchase through a plan or a menu. Identify what’s presently missing around home to complete the plan. Locate the best places to purchase those items before heading out.

Something to keep in mind when out shopping, depending on what we’re looking to acquire it may behoove us to consider the additional cost where we’re at versus the what it will cost us in the end going to other stores to purchase items for what may only be minimal savings.

What’s our masterpiece to look like when we get home and we’re all done?

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke

Payments With a Purpose!

When we look to take care of an issue or fix a problem, we’re all going to attack it first in a way that we’re most comfortable with and that we feel confident will work.

Why do we do that?

Mainly because somewhere in our life we saw something that gave us information on how to deal with this type of an issue or problem. And even though we may never have dealt with it before we all know that what we’re about to do is the right way, because it’s our way!

That is until something goes wrong. Then we go to Google, or somewhere similar, and start searching for answers. Not that we find the necessary answers to help us there. The main thing to remember is that all the information available on places like Google is that they’re either an advertisement or they’re personal information that someone else is sharing on how they will recommend dealing with a similar situation.

Again, the answers found will not be specific to our situation since they are not our situation!

All we can do is review as many different situations as possible to decide what might be the best way to attack the issue or problem that we have. Even then there may be other complications that weren’t accounted for in our research.

That’s why I’ve always found working with a coach or mentor is especially helpful, especially on personal finance problems. This is something that we offer to anyone looking to improve their financial situation and looking to become financially independent!

On the road to financial independence after having grasped a good handle on where and how our money is being spent, it’ll be necessary to remove extra credit cards balances and outstanding loans.

There are different ways one will find to attach this, but I’ve always found it most beneficial that when I want to begin paying off the credit cards or loan payments it feels best to begin with the account that has the lowest balance.

Being able to pay this off as quickly as possible not only gives me the satisfaction of having accomplished something, but it provides me a feeling of being on right track and that things won’t be as difficult as I might have initially thought.

Many people will be paying the minimum monthly payment, or something close to that to keep the household afloat. Now that there is some extra money available due to the removal of wasteful spending, this extra money can be applied to that account with the lowest balance.

For example, you had a credit card with a balance of $600 that required a minimum payment of $15 per month. With interest, let’s say at 18%, and no additional use of the card you would be able to pay that balance off in about 31 months.

Double that payment to $30 and the balance is payed off in 18 months. Triple the payment to $45, and the balance is done in 12 months. From this you begin to see what happens by increasing the payment amount depending on what’s available.

You see how quickly just a few dollars can change things. Depending on how much has now been made available through the removal of wasteful spending will determine how quickly some of these accounts will be removed from ones accounts due.

And once a specific account is paid off, we need to roll over all the money that had been going to that payment into the next account we want to pay off. What a huge difference that will make as it speeds removing that account too!

This process will then continue until all credit cards and loans are paid off. Depending on the number that are owed, this might take from two to five years.

Don’t start thinking how long that is, consider how long it would have been if this change had not been enacted! Remember our example above? That was just over two and a half years without further use of the card.

Also, we need to remember how quickly we can put ourselves into the position we may be in without even realizing it. A few swipes of a card and a couple signatures may not take long to put us really deep in the hole, especially when they take place around the same time.

Without paying attention to where we’re at and how we’re going to get through it all, the problem of not enough to pay for it doesn’t hit us until it’s too late.

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke

Filling In the Rabbit Hole!

There are times when we might admire others for what we see that they have. As we were discussing previously, we’re all different. Just because someone might seem to be doing well doesn’t mean that they are!

As our discussions have been trying to bring to light, most people have a tendency to purchase things they want without having the money on hand. This will put them in debt to whatever financial institution that loaned them the money to buy whatever item they wanted.

The more we do this for our own satisfaction the worse things can get, and the further we go down that rabbit hole until quite often we’re stuck and just can’t get back without help. The unfortunate thing about this type of help is that the focus is only on the financial situation and not on how we got there in the first place.

In these situations, there’s no real direction to keep us from going back down that hole once we’re above ground.

Now, we’re looking to contain our spending through removing unnecessary temptations, i.e. filling in that rabbit hole! Knowing where our weakest links lie, we’ll be better prepared to not only avoid those temptations, but also build up resistance admitting we have that weakness.

This will ultimately result in our ending up with extra money at the end of the month that we’ll want to apply elsewhere helping ourselves further along. Something I touched on briefly previously and will get into shortly.

I can’t make this point clear enough to all interested in making a difference in their lives and willing to put out the extra effort to change.

There’s a reason we’re in the situation we’re presently in. It’s no one’s fault but our own. How we got here is no longer important, but it is important to accept that the path was one specific to us and therefore to get out of this situation that path will be our own as well. Because we placed ourselves here, we can also pull ourselves up and out of where we’re at. We have the strength and the courage to admit we were wrong and are willing to be given direction and mentored as we move forward on our path to clean up our financial situation and bring ourselves to financial independence!

Believe in yourself,

Warren La Duke