Get Out of Debt!
It seems like six-figure salaries aren't what they used to be! Heidi and Sean Yates learned that the hard way when they found themselves in debt despite their collective $100,000 income. Watch the video above to see Heidi and Sean's story.
Carmen Wong Ulrich, author of Generation Debt, says Heidi and Sean's problem is actually part of an alarming trend. According to the National Federation for Credit Counseling, the number one reason people file for bankruptcy is poor spending habits. Wong Ulrich urges Heidi and Sean to get on the same page. "Marriage partners equal money partners. It's like you're running a corporation together. You need to communicate and talk about where the money is going," she says. "It's not how much money you have; it's what you do with it. Our relationship with money is emotional, and it can be changed."
Wong Ulrich believes there are five practical steps you can take to get your money on track:
1. Make sure both people stay involved and go over bills together once a month. Even if you are not the partner doing the bill paying on a daily or monthly basis, you should know where your cash is going.
2. Find out where your cash is going by tallying up all your ATM and cash receipts for one month. This will help cut down on extra spending for items you may not need.
3. Set up a goal chart of how your money should be allocated. It frees up a lot of money when you know where your cash is going.
4. Before you put your pay check toward your expenses, make sure to put 10 percent of your take-home pay into a savings account.
5. Open a college savings account for your children.
Wong Ulrich divides the couple's expenses into the following categories on a pie chart: housing costs, debt payments, groceries, child care, car costs, household expenses and miscellaneous. This allowed them to see where their money was being mismanaged.
Her suggestions for financial improvement include cutting back on their housing expense. Sean and Heidi currently rent a home, but if they considered downsizing to a smaller place they could put 10 percent of that housing cash toward paying off their debt, opening up a savings account, and starting a college fund for their two young boys.
A pie chart, graph, or other visual can help to layout your expenses and allow you to see your goals. If you want some help sorting it all out it, doesn't have to cost a lot of money to get advice from a financial planner. Go to www.nfcc.org, and for around $40-50, you can hire a financial adviser for an hour to go over your savings plan. That small investment can go a long way!
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