“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.”
–John D. Rockefeller
Martha was having a restless night. The other day she got a billing statement from her credit card company that told her she was behind schedule on her monthly payment. She also felt harassed every time a debt collector would call her at the office and at home, sometimes even in odd hours of the night. They were also having troubles paying the mortgage and the monthly installments on the new car. Their financial woes are partly due to her husband Ben, who himself admits being a big spender. Ben is an avid car enthusiast who spends a lot of money to “spice up” their Japanese car and make it look like one of those street racers in the movie, “Too Fast, Too Furious.”
The money problems have become so big that both Ben and Martha now experience enormous stress and anxiety every single day. Due to their financial difficulties, they now quarrel a lot and exchange the blame for falling into the debt trap. It is no wonder that money is now one of the leading causes of divorce.
Money, or more appropriately, the lack of money is one of the main reasons for stress and anxiety in marriage. In the United States, the average household has at least $9,200 in credit card debt. The Bens and Marthas hardly know about the strategies and techniques to gain financial success. The common mistake among hard-pressed couples is spending more than they make. Lack of discipline in the use of credit cards also leave many people enslaved to making payments to settle both the principal loan and interest fees.
We all face different challenges and pressures about money. It can be really overwhelming to face these financial problems if nothing is done about them early on. Because of the constant demands to meet our day-to-day living expenses, it also becomes the leading cause of stress and anxiety that can eventually ruin your emotional and physical well-being.
But money should really help us improve our lot and not make our lives miserable. In order to lessen the pressure brought about by financial problems, it may be helpful to read and consider the following financial management advice:
First, develop a realistic budget. This is the very first step you need to take to regain control over your finances . Make a list of all the money you owe or bills to pay — then decide to pay them one by one based on your fixed paying capacity. Also, it is good to make a list of all other sources of income. The next step is to write down all your “fixed” expenses like mortgage, rent, car payments, electricity, credit cards, and insurance premiums. After that, determine just how much money you have left to know exactly how much you have left to spend on other things. It is important to stick to your payment schedule and not create other payables before you finish paying for the priority accounts. It is highly recommended to keep a small notebook that you can use to list down all your expenses. With the small notebook, you can track where your money goes. In addition, using a computer budgeting program can be a helpful tool for balancing your checkbook.
The second step is to teach your kids about money matters. Children nowadays are easily lured by commercials and advertising gimmicks. With peer pressure and the constant barrage of fads, children may end up losing their allowance to some things that they don’t really need. It is never too late to teach kids about money matters. They must be told how hard it is to earn money and that not everything they see in the toy store or on television should or can be bought for them. Children around eight years old can already be trained to manage their allowances and to start their savings.
Another step towards financial freedom — believe or not — is to contact your creditors. Explain your situation to them and ask them to restructure your loans. Ask them to present an option for debt consolidation but make sure that the interest rates are manageable and the monthly payments are within your capacity to pay. Also, try to convince your creditors to design a modified payment scheme that will lead to a win-win financial situation.
Cost-cutting measures should also be an automatic undertaking if you want to regain financial freedom. You can save money by doing simple things like turning off the lights when not using it… scheduling your trips or errands to the grocery stores… or simply cutting down on junk food purchases. All these will help in lowering your monthly expenses. One sure way to cut down costs is to lessen your spending on entertainment. For example, you can stop that magazine subscription or choose a cheaper cable program with less channels.
After you have enough savings, you may choose to consult a financial advisor regarding investment options and instruments such as mutual bonds and stocks.
Your financial situation shouldn’t go from bad to worse. You have options and you can take control of your money. But regaining your financial freedom will depend on your goals and how disciplined you are in achieving those goals.
The key to financial freedom and debt-free living rests entirely on you. Being free from debt is, after all, a big stress relief.