I have just written a post on my Facebook page about one of the most common questions I am asked:-

“Should I consolidate my debt?”

20111702_sBefore I give an answer, I always ask if they are still using credit cards and if they are, are they paying them off in full every month. If they are then debt consolidation can be useful. It makes payment easier, just a single payment for all of the different debts you have eg. credit card(s), store cards, personal loans etc and it is often a much lower interest rate than credit and store cards.

If however, they tell me that they are still using credit cards I strongly advise that they don’t go for debt consolidation.

Why? It is all too tempting. Suddenly, all your credit cards are paid off and all that wonderful credit is available to you again and you are still in the habit of using it. The first time you tell yourself “I need a new dress, pair of shoes (fill in the blank………) you’ll be reaching for the credit card! In an earlier post of mine http://bit.ly/1IuNvVj I discussed the difference between needs and wants and the impact, not knowing the difference, can have.

I wish I’d had that advice a long time ago. I had a very friendly bank manager and I was always consolidating my debt, only to go back in a month or two to do it again!! The only people who benefitted by this apart from the bank, was the guy who was always coming to put a value on my home so that I could borrow against it. By the time I sold it  and paid off all my debt ( the ultimate debt consolidation) there wasn’t much equity in my property.

So if you are thinking of consolidating your debt, make sure you are not increasing it before you do. This means for most people, stopping using your credit cards first.

If you want to get out of a hole, first you have to stop digging! So it is with debt. If you want to get out of debt, first you have to stop incurring it.

There was an interesting article in the NZ Herald on Sunday.

This is my take on the subject!http://https://vimeo.com/124811703

I’d love your comments on this. Do you use credit cards so that you can get air points or other rewards?

Often, when talking to people about the work I do, I tell them that I help people clear their credit card debt once and for all and never have to use a credit card again. For many that sounds like the definition of impossible! They have cleared their debt before, often many times, and know that it just goes back up again.
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Then, when I tell them about the process I use and explain that, if possible, I will get them to commit to not using their credit card at all until I see them next time, I see the horrified looks and panic setting in!

The reason for this is that, like so many people, their credit card is their security blanket! It’s what stands between them and financial disaster if the car breaks down, the child needs orthodontic work, the dog needs surgery, Christmas arrives, someone has a birthday, friends ask them out for dinner, they need a holiday etc etc! It is where they go for “money” when all else fails. I know this, I have done this, more times than I care to remember, but I also knows that it doesn’t work and only makes the situation worse.

I am not going to go into all the other reasons people use credit cards, like air points etc and the reasons why it is better and cheaper to use debit cards or better still cash! Today I am just talking about using them as your back up plan! I have been a bit facetious above with the “emergencies” people use their credit cards for, but I have either given them myself or heard them, and more, many times when people have told me that they only use them for emergencies.

Now, if you are reading this and thinking “but I do only use them for emergencies and then immediately pay them off in full” then fine. Whilst I do think that there is a better way, this message is not primarily for you, but read on because you might be interested in how you could do it differently.

I then go on to explain how I help them save their way out of debt, once and for all!  Doesn’t that sound good? Too good to be true? Not at all. If you follow the method which I teach you, which was developed by Karen McCall of the Financial Recovery Institute, that is exactly what you can do. I never ask people to cut up their credit cards, nor put them in a container of water in the freezer, I just ask them to trust the process, which has worked for thousands and thousands of people, and not use their credit cards until they see me again. As Karen says, “ if you want to get out of a hole, first you must stop digging”!

The other key steps are to pay the minimum on your credit card each month whilst building up a savings account, which we call a Periodic Savings account. Now I can hear all of you with financial backgrounds or those who pay off your credit cards in full every month, exclaiming that this will cost extra because of the interest. Yes, you are right but if you are someone who constantly uses your credit card and can never manage to always pay if off in full every month, then, trust me, this is a much cheaper way in the long run. Remember I teach you how to pay if off, in full, once and for all and to never have credit card debt ever again.

That’s because the Periodic Savings account becomes your security blanket; it’s where you go to get the money to pay the dentist, the vet, the restaurant, the holiday and Christmas! Using a formula I teach you, you can plan for all these and more, and know that you will always have the money available to cover all these events, without having to bring out the credit card. Once this is functioning well we also start another account which we call a “Safety Net” account and here you provide for coverage of all your expenses if you were to have an interruption in income.

So, if you would like to learn how to save your way out of debt, once and for all, use one of the methods below to contact me and we can have a coffee and discuss it further, to see if I can help you.

I’d love your comments about all of this and feel free to share it with your friends either by email or socially below.

Have a great week everyone and give it a try… Can you manage to not use your credit card for the next week?

Getting to today! My story

February 4, 2014

Another of the most common questions I get asked is how did I get to be doing what I do! This up close and personal video tells most of the story.

 

Can you identify with my story?Let me know in the comments below or if you would like to do that in person click on this link and request a strategy session with me. It’s free and if you’re in Auckland I will meet you for coffee and I even buy the coffee! I can’t say fairer than that!!

 

Hugs

 

 

18665868_sIt’s confessions time. Whilst I don’t always know what I’m going to write on Monday morning I usually have at least some idea and sit down at 0630 do a bit of research and away I go!

Today, I was up at just before 6 as usual, but couldn’t move past watching the All Blacks eventually win against Ireland. What a nerve wracking experience that was!! Consequently it is now 8:30 and my mind is pretty blank! Tried to work in something about team efforts, team discipline, doing what needs to be done and team goals but let’s face it I don’t really send this to teams! But then I decided: what about if I changed it to all of those things for individuals!

So here goes!  Some key factors necessary to achieve any financial goals!

Goals! Yes first you need to set a goal or maybe several goals. What do you want to achieve, by when, how are you going to do it and what will have to happen for you to know that you have been successful? The clearer you can be on all of these points the easier it is to achieve them. They need to be so real that you can almost taste them. The All Blacks went into today’s game with the goal of beating Ireland so that they could achieve the record of going through the season, having won every game they played. It was going to be done today, achieved by playing better than Ireland and they knew they had achieved when, at the end of the game and the final whistle blew they had more points than Ireland! Yours need to be as clear as that.

Discipline. You need to be so focused on your goals that this is easy. You want what is at the end so badly that it is easy to keep yourself on track and not spend money on stuff that is outside the plan. If you do, then as soon as possible you straighten up and get back on track. A word of warning here:- Don’t make the plan so strict that you finally call quits and have a big splurge! Just as when you are on a food plan or the dreaded word, diet, it is important to not make it so strict that it is impossible to maintain for the time needed to lose the weight, so it is with a spending plan, or another dreaded word, budget.
Team work. Now this one is not always part of financial goals but it may be; sometimes more than you think! If you are in a relationship then it is important that you have goals that are inspirational for you both so that you are both motivated to stick to the plan. This goes for families too, especially if your children are old enough to understand what you are aiming for. They can then understand that not getting the latest X box is not such a hardship if it helps towards the bigger family goal of eg going to Disneyland! They are much less likely to be motivated by paying off the mortgage unless they can see the advantage to them!! The All Blacks are always very big on this…everyone is working towards what is best for the team.

Celebrate. When you have reached your goal be sure that you celebrate your success and make all the hard work worthwhile. Usually the achievement of the goal has a great deal of satisfaction inherent in it, but a celebration helps reinforce the positive side of striving for success. It reinforces the positive side of goal achievement and makes working toward the next one easier. Now I don’t mean blowing a hole in the credit card you have just paid off by going out and splurging on a dinner at the best restaurant in town accompanies by the best champagne and wines! Sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? It would be nice but something slightly more modest will still fit the bill! One would imagine that the All Blacks probably celebrated with a beer or two!

What goals are you focusing on at the moment? Are you well on your way to achieving them or are you having some struggles? I’d love to hear about your experiences and I’ll help where I can.

5158257_mLast week I entitled my MMM (Monday Money Motivator) – It’s not too late!

In it I gave you some tips on Christmas and holiday spending. I had some very favourable comments so it did seem to strike a chord with you.

 

In some ways “it’s not too late” could be the title for this week’s MMM too!

 

Two recent pieces of news attracted my attention.

  1. That credit card spending was going up … “Actual retail sales on electronic cards were up 7 percent to $6 billion in October from the same month a year earlier.” http://bit.ly/1iXID9F
  2.  There is a prediction that interest rates will rise http://bit.ly/1cgzkzg. Many commentators predict that this could be as high as 2%.

I must state again that I am not a financial advisor, but am talking about this because these two factors together could make huge a huge impact on people’s spending plans.

 

In the second article …“Mortgage broker Geoff Bawden calculates for every $100,000 borrowed, a 1% rise will add $64 to a weekly mortgage payment. “ It also said that the average mortgage in Auckland was $400,00, so for that “average” mortgage that would mean an additional $256 a WEEK that you would have to find. Monthly that would be $1109! That is for an increase of 1% … double that for 2%!! $2218. That is a lot of money to find in most of the spending plans ( budgets) I see.

 

I don’t bring these to your attention to scare you, but rather to persuade you to act now, especially if you are affected by both pieces ie you are using credit cards more than you did last year (especially if you are not able to pay them off every month) and your mortgage repayments may significantly increase next year.

 

Take these steps:-

  1. Stop using your credit cards now!! Revert to cash or debit/eftpos cards. Research shows that your spending on credit cards is likely to be about 20% more than it would on debit cards and that number is even higher when compared to cash! Then work very hard to get them paid off ASAP. If mortgage rates rise you can guarantee that so will the interest rates on credit cards!
  2. Relook at your spending plan for Christmas and the holidays and reduce the spending where possible.
  3. Get help now. Don’t leave it until you are in trouble; do what you can to prevent it happening. Remember that I offer a free chat over coffee. If time and or location make that impossible we can always have a virtual chat by phone of Skype!

Whatever you do, take action now and get yourself better prepared for what could come in the New Year! If the interest rates don’t rise think how much you could pay off your principal instead!!

 

I hope I haven’t put too much of a dampener on your Monday, but just know I am doing it with your best interests in mind! Please don’t bury your head in the sand; it will be that much easier if you act now!! You will feel much better if you are proactive.

If you have  a mortgage are you making any plans on how you might manage the increased interests rates? Is your mortgage on a fixed interest rate? Please share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about money? Does it interfere with your work life?
 
A recent arti12637931_scle in US News cited a study by McGraw Hill Federal Credit Union, which showed that in a survey of more than 1000 people, 36% of them said that they spent at least two hours a day either worrying about their finances or handling them. “…another study, “Stressed at Work,” from Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, an employee-assistance program provider, that suggests almost half of workers are so stressed out that it interferes with their ability to get their jobs done. About 44 percent of male respondents and 49 percent of female respondents said they had “difficulty concentrating” as a result of “personal problems and stress.” Meanwhile, Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report finds that 7 in 10 workers are not engaged with their work.”
 
If you are an employer this must make scary reading!
 
I was interested in the article, because I have been approached recently by an employer seeking assistance for one of their staff, who had a significant amount of debt and was very worried about it. It was agreed that they would pay for their employee to see me. We have met several times and have made some plans for dealing with their situation, which has eased her anxiety considerably. Even if she wasn’t worrying about her money situation at work ( and I’m certain she was!) she was losing sleep over it. This alone would have reduced her effectiveness at work.
 
So her company paying for her work with me will, I’m sure, be very cost effective. As well as improving her productivity it will also increase her company loyalty, because she appreciates how they have supported her personally.
 
Many companies now subsidise gym memberships; a good case can be made for also providing access to financial education and support. I have done several talks for companies to provide this. I am very happy to do it for your company as well; just give me a call.
 
As promised a couple of weeks ago now, here is the link to request my article “How to get through Christmas and the Holidays without blowing out the credit cards!” Simply click on the Christmas tree. You will also be sent a Holiday planner from Karen McCall of the Financial Recovery Institute along with the spreadsheet to go with it.

Have a great week.