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When you are busy and running late, it’s so easy to fall into the habit of driving through, picking up, or eating out.Make your own homemade pizza or taco salad.Begin taking daily walks or working out for fifteen or twenty minutes in your home.Park your car farther away from the store, so you’re forced to walk.Walk rather than ride, if possible.Have your family participate in outdoor sports together, rather than watch television.You’d be really surprised the amount of ways you can talk yourself out of a workout routine, so it is best to have everything ready.Sign up for seed catalogs and browse through the varieties available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.Nothing beats the wisdom of experience!Spending less than you make is vital to financial security.How interest works against you or for youGood debt and bad debtCreating a budgetSticking to a budgetRefocusing your prioritiesFamous American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, A man in debt is so far a slave. Getting into debt or living beyond your means does more than affect your credit rating, it affects your life.Statistics show one of the primary causes of divorce is financial problems.Choosing to spend today and pay tomorrow will indenture your future.As you gain control of your money, you will be free to move forward with the changes you want to make in your life.How Interest Works Against You or for YouSimple interest is the type of interest used for most consumer loans.The original amount of the loan is your principal.The interest accrued or accumulated is calculated by counting the number of days since your last principal payment multiplied by your daily interest factor on the outstanding balance.If, however, you make payments of $90 every month, it will take you half the time to pay off your loan and you will have only spent approximately $72 on interest payments.The average American with a credit file is responsible for $15,788 in debt, excluding mortgages, according to Experian, a credit reporting bureau.The longer you take to pay off your loans and the smaller the amounts you pay toward the principal, the more money you pay in interest.You can use these not only to determine how quickly you can pay off your current debt, but also to get a realistic grasp of how much it’s actually going to cost you to borrow.Interest can work for you, too.If you have a checking or savings account that earns interest, the money you have deposited in it is growing.However, before you start putting money into a savings account earning 4 percent interest, be sure you are not maintaining a balance on a credit card at 16 percent interest.You are actually losing money by not paying off the credit card first.Only after eliminating debt should you put your money into a savings account, with the exception of allowing a small amount to be saved in case of emergencies.Good Debt versus Bad DebtAre their good reasons to go into debt?If you are investing in something that will increase in value, like a home, a business, or even student loans, that is good debt.However, be careful you don’t spend your home’s equity on bad debt like a vacation, new furniture, or other items that will not increase or retain value.A good rule to live by is if you can’t afford to pay off your credit card at the end of the month, you can’t afford to make a purchase.It’s important to know your credit score.Your credit score will dictate how much borrowing money will cost you.Each of the three main credit bureaus offers free reports each year.CarsAutomobiles are another area where people make poor financial decisions.You should consider how much car you really can afford.You should also consider that over the first year of ownership, some cars depreciate at a rate as high as 35 percent.Can you find a used car that is still within the original manufacturer’s warranty, yet because it’s used, it will depreciate at a slower rate?How much money can you put down on the car, and how much will you have to borrow?When you combine interest and depreciation, will your car be the value you thought it was?What is the depreciation on a used car?According to Safecarguide.com, the yearly rate of depreciation on a used car is anywhere from 7 percent to 12 percent.More specific information depends on the model and make of the car, as well as the mileage.Creating a BudgetThe first step to getting out of debt is to see where you spend your money.If you find you have more bills than money at the end of the month but don’t understand where it all went, a budget is an essential step.However, a budget will do you absolutely no good if you create it and file it away.You need to make daily entries into your budget until you have better control of your finances.The first step in creating your budget is to pull together all of your financial information.This includes paycheck stubs, bank statements, bills, and any other expense or income.A monthly expense might be a utility bill or credit card payment.A quarterly expense might be your garbage or water bill.And an annual expense might be your property taxes or vehicle registration.First, create a list for income.If you receive a regular paycheck, you should only count your net income, or the amount you receive after the taxes and other deductions are subtracted.The next list will include your weekly expenses.This list will have three columns.In the second column, record your estimated cost for these expenses.Fill in the third column at the end of the week, when you tally your actual expenses and compare them to the second column.Create lists for your monthly, quarterly, and annual expenses in the same way.Make sure to include every expense, no matter how small.Highlight the expenses that are variable.Now, add up the columns.If you find yourself in a situation where your expenses exceed your income, you need to look at your variable expenses and see which ones can be altered.You can also look at some of the luxury expenses, like cable television, entertainment, or other nonessential charges, and decide which ones to eliminate.You need to put yourself in a situation where you are in control of your money, not the other way around.If you find that you have eliminated all nonessential bills and have cut your variable expenses as much as you can, and you still have more expenses than income, you need to make some serious decisions.Talk to your creditors to see if you can reduce your payments for the time being.Most creditors will want to work with you if they know you are trying.Look at alternatives in some of your expenses.When was the last time you had your insurance policy updated?Could there be a savings in switching providers?Are you buying costly items like soft drinks, packaged bakery goods, and bottled water that you might be able to do without?Of these, 79 percent of workers and 60 percent of retirees say this is because they cannot or could not afford to save.Finally, you need to keep a daily record of any money you spend.At the end of the week, sort these amounts into the categories you’ve already created in your budget.Add the amounts to see if the estimate you placed in the first column when you created your budget is realistic or if you underestimated your spending habits.If you are like most people, you will be amazed at the amount of money that flows through your hand without conscious thought.If you are spending more than is budgeted, you need to curb your impulse spending, because that is the only way you are going to get out of debt.Maintain your daily record keeping for at least a month, so you have a good indication of where your money is going.
 

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