Living Without a Salary

How to reduce your expenses, so you can live without a salary!

Debt Repayment Plan June 10, 2010

Filed under: Getting out of debt — joetb @ 3:42 PM
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Paying back debts is a very popular subject these days. For instance, look at the many debt consolidation companies that exist today compared to 30 years ago. There was not a need for them like there is now. Considering the state of the economy for the past few years, is it any wonder debt repayment is a hot topic? However, there are several confusing messages when it comes to debts and debt repayment plans. If you are in a similar situation, how do you know what will work and what will not? If you use common sense, you may be able to figure it out on your own. In the meantime, here are some common sense ideas to speed your process along.

Where to Start

Often, when people are trying to get a grip on their finances, they get lost not knowing where to start. Like a song from a popular movie, “Start at the very beginning; a very good place to start…” Where is the beginning? Analyzing your situation, of course. This will involve getting real about how much you owe, to whom you owe it to, what your monthly bills come to, and what your total income looks like. When you have done that, you can then begin creating a plan.

The Next Step

Once you have analyzed your situation, it is time to create possible scenarios of what your debt repayment plan will look like. A possible scenario may be that you aggressively pay back your debts, while cutting back on other, non-essential, expenses. Another one might be to pay a little less on your debts while keeping some non-essential expenses in your budget. With each scenario, project out how long it will take you to pay off each debt. Doing this will help you to choose which scenario you want to go with.

Follow Through

Choosing a plan will not be that easy, but is a very essential step in the debt repayment process. After committing to a plan, you must follow through with it. Otherwise, a debt repayment plan will remain a plan on paper only, and you will not reap the benefits of it. On your very next paycheck, make the necessary payments according to your plan. Theoretically, this should get you out of debt pretty easily. However, life does not always work that way.

Evaluate and Adjust

After about 6 months, look at your plan and the actions you took. Did you make any headway on clearing your debts? More importantly, was the plan workable? Were you able to make the payments on time, and still lived comfortably? If you answered negatively, then you need to readjust your plan so that you can handle all expenses comfortably. Of course, if your plan is working well, there is no need to adjust it. A plan that allows you to pay off your debts within two years and still live comfortably is a plan that will work in the long term. Just as with weight loss, any eating plan that allows you to indulge once in a great while, while still losing weight is one that will work in the long term.

 

When Proper Budgeting is Not Enough June 9, 2010

For years, experts have warned us that if we do not budget properly, we will all go into debt and nothing we do besides budgeting can help us get out of it. But what if you budget carefully, watch where your money goes, and you are still having financial difficulties? Debts can add up for the best of us, no matter what we do. Medical expenses, car repairs, or a multitude of other repairs can put your carefully laid plans in an early grave, creating a serious problem for your finances.

Alternatives

When you find yourself buried in debt, with no way out, it can be difficult to see that there are other alternatives besides taking out a loan or defaulting on your debts.  But there are other ways to pay off your debts and repair your credit along the way. Taking on a second job can help you find the extra cash you need, which may be just a temporary solution. Once you have earned the money needed to pay off your debts, there would be no reason for you to continue working a second job.

Another alternative may be to earn money from doing odd jobs for people, such as babysitting or yard work. If you are good with a needle or thread, doing repairs or alterations can help you earn money. Or, if you are proficient in accounting or bookkeeping, advertise your services to help others with their finances.

Snowball Effect

Of course, you could just re-work your budget to include extra money to pay down your debts. One of the finance writers that I really like suggests using a “snowball effect” with your debts. ┬áMake a list of all your debts, ranging from the smallest balance to the largest balance. In your budget, plan to make payments on the smallest amount first and pay that off. Then, take that amount of money next month to begin paying off the next smallest amount. Continue doing this until it creates a rolling ball of snow effect, saving the largest amount for the last. By that time, you should have enough leftover money to make substantial payments on the last debt, paying it off in no time. The point is to get out of debt as soon as possible, so that you do not end up paying extra fees.

Last Resort

Once you have exhausted all possible options and you see no other way out of your situation, maybe a short term or even a traditional loan may be what will help you find temporary relief. Notice that I said, “temporary”. Because of the very nature of any loan, it will eventually get you further into debt. But if having money when you need it will keep you from being homeless, then it can be a good idea.

With traditional loans, interest rates may be low, but they may be harder to be approved for. Especially if your credit score is not as high as it should be. However, this may be a good option if you need a large loan at a low rate. Another loan option is a short term, or payday loan. These loans essentially work like an advance on your salary, and are small loans. The most you can really take out is about $ 1,500 due to the nature of how they work. When you apply online for a cash advance, you will give the essential information on a secure form. After submitting your information, you should hear back from them in a few minutes, and upon approval, have the money to pay your debts in a few hours.

But be very careful with this option! The reason is that if you do not pay back your loan on time, it will be rolled over, making it much more difficult to pay back. The rollover fees, if left for an entire year, can equal to at least a 100% interest rate! Having a plan before even applying for a payday loan will help you stay out of this situation.

Bottom Line

If you came to this blog from a search engine, chances are you are responsible with money. Or at least, you are looking to get responsible with your finances. The last thing you want to do is get further into debt, right? Then get a grip and take charge of your finances. If you must use loans, make sure you are using them responsibly. If instead, you want to earn money to pay off your debts, then by all means, do it! Your financial future is your responsibility and no one else’s. The government is not in control of your finances, and neither is anyone else. If you think you can, then you can. If you think you can’t, then you can’t. It’s your choice.

 

I’m Back! May 29, 2010

Posting daily to a blog has not been one of my strengths. However, I have been kept busy working on other writing projects that brought in some money. One of those things involved writing for the Personal Money Store when their writers’ programs were up and running. Unfortunately, about every 4 months, they tend to stop all their programs except for the commissioned writing programs. Basically, that means writing articles and receiving a commission every time someone applies for a personal loan. Maybe not exactly honorable writing intentions, but at least it was some money coming in.

After a short sabbatical, I have re-worked my priorities and chosen to come back to consistently update this blog. Many people are having financial trouble these days and are looking for ways to make ends meet, and perhaps come out ahead. While I have not always followed my advice in the past, I have learned some valuable lessons along the way that you may be able to apply to your life. Therefore, the new purpose of this blog will to show you, not only how to save money, but how to make it as well.

Thank you for your patience while I was gone, and I hope to continue to see you all as we start this new phase together. Now, according to that Vulcan saying, “Live long and prosper!”

 

If it’s Not One Thing… January 25, 2009

So, I found out today that I was cut out of the health insurance I was covered by on my ex’s insurance. Technically, we are still married, but I thought that we had made an agreement that I was going to be on the insurance until we got divorced. Didn’t happen…he cut me out in November to “free up some money” for them. And he claims that I was supposedly going to find something else, which is why he did that. And now, he can’t divert any extra money, because they have to save up for a vehicle. (So do I, by the way.) Wow. The greed of some people…

But I guess I can’t complain too much. Why? Because there are programs that I can join, or ways I can get what I need. It’s just the idea that he didn’t even tell me that I was cut, or that he didn’t renew the FSA card. I had to find out through trial and error, which I don’t want to go into now. The point is, he didn’t even have the decency to let me know!

Why is this on a blog about living without a salary? Because if you put too much faith and trust into something that you cannot control absolutely, then in the end, you will wind up with nothing. Eventually, you will be screwed by the ones in control of your financial future. That is one important topic of many in my book, “How to Budget Without a Salary“, in which I tell you that you need to put the money that you would normally pay on health insurance premiums into a savings account of some sort. (You can read more about that here.) Buying this low cost book will help contribute to helping me with my high cost prescription….

The moral of the story? Be sure that you have something lined up before you lose health insurance benefits! Also, be sure that you are in complete control of whatever you line up!

 

An Odd Way to Make Casual Income January 19, 2009

In this blog, we have talked about different ways to create a casual income for yourself and your family, but I heard about something yesterday that made me re-think, and re-evaluate what casual income is at its core level. You see, this way that I heard about is not only odd, but illegal in a few states. But not unethical…it’s only illegal because most people approach this method with a “get rich quick” attitude, and they fail miserably. This is why some states have outlawed this method.

I heard a story yesterday that this guy would go to a casino, play a few machines with just a few dollars, and win somewhere between $40 to $160 at one time. Not much, when one considers the cost of living today. However, bear with me, because I have more. Every time he needed to get some extra money to buy a part for his car, or buy wood for his wood burning stove, he would take a free bus up to the casino, play the machine on what they gave him on the bus, or even what he had in his wallet (a few dollars tops), and he would be able to get the money he needed to buy the car part, or the wood.

Now I can hear some of you saying, “Well that is not real work, and it’s based on luck, and not hard work.” But if you were really interested in working hard at a salaried job, would you be here at this blog reading my words on how to get along without a salary? Point made…let’s go on. Working hard is fine if you want to do that…however, working smart pays off, and sometimes, going to a casino would be working smart–if you do it right.

The first thing to remember is that you are working against the casino system–the system that says that they must make money off of you. That is the game they are playing…why must you play by their rules? Now, please don’t try to cheat them, because you will get in a lot of trouble. The rules I am speaking of are the rules that says you have to use up alot of money in their machines, or on the games, or whatever else is there, and that you cannot stop until your money is gone. (Well, that seems to be the unwritten rule that society has placed on casinos anyway.) This doesn’t have to be the case…here is how you do it:

If you have a dollar, which you will more than likely spend on something anyway, take it to a casino (assuming you are old enough to go) and play it in a slot machine. Chances are, you will walk away with nothing, and you are out your dollar. Oh well. Time to go home. However, there is also a chance you could win at least some money and walk away with enough to go out to eat, or even more. You don’t want to take a lot of money here, because the more you bring, the more you will be tempted to waste, and that is not a great idea. But if you risk just that one dollar, and you lose it, it’s not going to blow your budget or make you broke. Especially if that is not your only dollar. (But that’s another blog post.) Of course, you could go spend that dollar on something else…but that something else doesn’t really give you a chance to earn more money on it, does it?

The point here is…if you are going to go to a casino in the first place, make sure you play smart–not foolish like most people do. You don’t have to save up money to go to a casino if you play by your own rules. Take a few dollars to play the machines, and then go home. If you win $100, that is a great return. If you don’t, then at least you got to get out and enjoy life.

And this only works if you have some sort of self control. If you know you cannot control yourself when it comes to this sort of thing, then by all means, stay away!! Don’t spend more than you can afford….that is the philosophy on this blog.

You don’t have to go to the casino…you can create a casual income by doing other things that are more concrete and will give you “sure money”. But I wanted to share with you an odd way that some people create a casual income the gambling way. After all, isn’t that what people do on the stock market??

 

Living on a Tight Budget January 13, 2009

The news is littered lately with businesses cutting jobs or shutting down plants in various cities and towns across the United States. Of course, this is nothing new to see today because it has been happening for at least two years now, or more. Those affected by these decreasing jobs are finding it harder and harder to create a workable budget. They may find odd jobs, or another job that pay less than their previous jobs did, and it is making life extremely hard. And on it goes…the media loves to talk about how hard it is to make a decent living in today’s economy, and sensationalize how tough it is. While I have compassion for those who are suddenly left with little to no income coming in, I feel the media is blowing the situation way out of proportion. The reason? Because they don’t focus on the other side of the spectrum–creating your own job, or living on a casual income. They don’t focus on the hope there is…only the discouragement. Really, why do you think America is called “The Land of Opportunity”?

A tight budget is also the fallout of the recession we have right now. However, life doesn’t have to be depressing or fall short of the abundance of love and life. Living on any size budget doesn’t mean only the rich get to have fun…

While you may not be able to spend as much money, the best part of living on a tight budget is to find the adventure of searching for ways to conserve money, while having fun. What do I mean by that? Here is an example…say it is summer and you want something fun to do with your kids. Instead of sitting home, bemoaning the fact that you have no extra fun money to go to places that cost money, why not search for the free attractions in your town/city or surrounding areas? You will more than likely find that those things can be just as fun, or more so, than the activities that actually cost money.

And how do you even create a budget with a limited income? I wrote a book about that very topic. You can find it here.

 

It’s 2009–What are Your Goals? January 1, 2009

Around this time of the year, many people make resolutions to improve their lives, and others’ lives around them. And while it’s a lofty goal to resolve to be better, what is usually the outcome of these “New Year’s Resolutions”? You got it–most, if not all, fall by the wayside and people go back to doing what they have always done, and reaped the rewards they have always gotten. (Rewards, punishments, etc…whatever the consequences of your habits–it’s all the same thing.) Nothing new ever happens, because no one is doing nothing new, at least in the long term. For example, if your resolution this year is to lose weight and be more fit, what are your long term plans to acheive this? For most people, they would say, “Cut down on sweets, exercise more, and eat more healthy foods.” While this is all well and good, there is not a real plan in the former sentence. What happens when the first temptation comes along, and you give in to have more sweets than you plan on? Most people give up by this time, and abandon all their well-intended resolutions. Same thing for finances–wanting to save money, and spend less, is all well and good. But this too will fall away without a definite plan.

The point to all this is that resolutions are fine as a wish list, but they won’t work in the long term. The reason is that if you don’t have a plan to implement them, along with a contingency plan to use when you fail, then all you are doing is making a wish list. Sounds harsh? Wait–it gets better. (Or worse, depending how you see things…) Say you want to increase your savings this year, but you have a hard time with your spending habits. You can’t have both. Either you spend or you save…not a hard point to understand. Unfortunately, this is what people keep thinking, and what a certain credit card company wants you to believe with their card where they put in a certain amount of money every time you use their card to spend money. The problem with this is–how much interest are you paying to save that money? Stop spending and start saving. Besides, you should be paid interest to save money, not the other way around!

So before you can start saving, you must decrease your spending. (Like with weight loss–less calories in, plus more calories spent equals weight loss.) This can be acheived by cutting down on the little things you spend money on, such as buying coffee on your way to work and bringing your own in a travel mug. Doing this little habit change could save you at least $3-$4 per cup, or more! If you were buying coffee every work day for a year, think of how much money you were spending just on your coffee per year! Let’s see…$4 per cup X 5 days per week X 4 weeks a month X 12 months = $960 per year you could save just by not buying a cup of coffee every day and bringing your own in a travel mug. I am sure that you could do that every day, right? And the money you were spending, you could put into a savings account. If you were to tally up every convenience option that you spend money on, and come up with a less expensive plan, I bet you could save a few thousand dollars every year just with very simple habit changes.

Or, say you wanted to lose weight this year. How are you going to do that? Popular diets don’t work, as you may have seen over the past two decades. Well, actually nothing will work if you don’t make a conscious choice to make it work for you. Fact is, if you implement very simple changes here as well, you could lose weight almost as effortlessly as you can save money. Maybe not as fast as you would like, but it will happen. Simple lifestyle changes, such as putting a bit less food on your plate at meal times, work better in the long run than the diet fads will. The other reason that diets don’t work is because human beings do not like feeling deprived of anything. Why do you think that the more impoverished a person is, the more stuff they tend to collect in their homes? The more stuff they have, the less deprived they feel. Same with weight loss…if you feel deprived, you will crave more food to the point of overstuffing yourself each and every time you eat. That’s why you shouldn’t cut yourself off completely from sweets…eat what you like, only in moderation. Nor should you cut yourself off from fatty animal foods, or delicious potlucks. The less deprived you feel, the less food you will eat, and the more weight you will lose.

Everything I have written today is all about choices–you make choices every single moment of every single day. If the choice you make doesn’t fit with the goals you create, then make different choices. You haven’t failed just because you made a choice that isn’t congruent to your goals. You just made a different choice is all…choose differently next time.

New Year’s Resolutions are stupid…only because people don’t put the effort to make those resolutions into reality. Every day is a new day…every moment is a new moment. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to choose to spend your life differently. Choose each moment that your life will be powerful, full and as wonderful as you want it to be!