How to Audit Your Life for Potentially Money-Draining Relationships and Behaviors

Relationships

If you’ve ever had a heated argument with a significant other about an unplanned purchase, secret debt, spending habits, or any other money-related topic, you know the impact that finances can have on a relationship. In fact, studies continue to show that the strain of financial incompatibility can be hugely detrimental to a marriage, often times ending in divorce.

It makes sense that money issues would arise in the process of running a household with someone who might have different habits and priorities than you. The truth is, however, money is so engrained in our physical and emotional life experience, the state of our finances aren’t just impacted by a marriage. They are impacted by a variety of relationships, behaviors, and life forces we may not even be aware of.

Being firmly in control of your financial picture sometimes means taking a hard look at these things that might be placing unnecessary strain on your wallet and, in turn, your well being.

Here are a few things to look for:

How We Got Out of Debt While Beating Cancer

Andres and Christina

This is a guest post by Andres and Christina. They have a very unique story to share. See below!

We were living a “normal” life when it happened, out of the blue.

Steady jobs, a nice rented apartment in San Diego, world travel as often as possible, friends, family – oh, and some debt!

Needless to say, cancer wasn’t part of our plans for 2012.

But there we were, 32 years old, in a doctor’s office being told Christina had cancer: stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma, to be exact.

Our first concern was Christina’s health. It was a scary time as we had to grapple with questions like, How serious, how life threatening is this? What happens next? What are the treatment options?

As the reality began to settle in around us, we realized that, when dealing with cancer, it’s not just your health that you need to worry about.

Cancer can wreak havoc on your finances, too.

Even if you have great health insurance, cancer still requires major unforeseen expenses. And sadly, many cancer patients forgo scans, skip medications, delay treatments and/or incur astronomical debt (a side effect known as financial toxicity).

Fortunately, we had done two things in the previous months to help prepare ourselves for such a potential catastrophe:

1. We had begun to dig ourselves out of debt in an effort to become financially free.

2. Thanks to some very fortuitous foresight, we had upgraded our health insurance plans.

Thanks in great part to these two little decisions, we were ultimately able to get through two consecutive bouts of cancer, and come out on the other side with zero debt – and the inspiration to start our own businesses and travel the world.

Here is how we did it.

Learning to Think of the Future “You” and His or Her Financial Needs

Future you

Typically I spend my days in wonderment about how much I love my work. My sheer desire to do what I do for a living makes my job in many ways very easy. After years of working jobs I hated, this feeling of fulfillment is something that still takes me by surprise.

However, no job is without its challenges. And the job of writing about personal finance comes with two very unique challenges:

  1. Remembering to keep in mind that not everyone spends their days wrapped in the world of personal finance

  2. Taking my own advice

It’s funny how the more time you spend with a subject, the more removed you can get from it. How that relates to finance is the idea of how easy it is to dispense financial advice….and how hard it can sometimes be to turn that advice into action.

In other words, the advice I give is sometimes easier said than done.

Though I try to make that clear in my writing and not give the perception that I think these changes are all very easy to make, what you don’t see is how many attempts and failures I’ve gone through to implement these tactics into my daily life. The fact is, maintaining good financial habits is a daily effort – for everyone.

So when I think about maintaining the daily effort myself, the question I have to constantly answer is why. Why do I have to skip that second coffee of the day – even when I’m really tired and need to get through the workday? Why do I have to say no to a lunch or dinner out when I really don’t want to eat what’s in my fridge? Why can’t I take a trip to Macy’s when I want to try something new – or even after the third button in a row falls off my Fall coat?

The answer to all these questions is: because splurging on these things now goes against the needs of my future self. Sure, they’ll all make me feel better right now…but at the end of the month I’ll feel a lot differently after reviewing my bank statement. When I see the missing money, I’ll think about how I could have brewed that second coffee instead of bought it, how I could have eaten what I had at home, how I could have created new outfits with my existing wardrobe, and how I could have just sewn those buttons back on my coat myself (or taken it to a tailor – which is still cheaper than a new coat).

In short, the present me wants everything NOW. But the future me wants to think purchases through and see if there are ways to spend my money more wisely rather than going willy nilly with every whim. So the only way to truly stick to my good financial habits is to always be considerate of the future me.

One Couple, One House, Two Kids, and Almost $40,000 of Debt Paid Off: How One Family’s Hard Work Helped them Reach Success

Christian and Laura
Total Debt Paid Off: $40,000
Months using ReadyForZero: 19
Accounts paid off: 4 of 4

“The fact that we made the amount of headway we were able to in a year is awesome. We couldn’t have done it without the help of friends and family.”

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with milestones. I remember my excitement over nearing my “pre-teen” years, reaching my teen years, then high school. I imagined college, moving to another city, and… getting rich and buying my parents a house on the beach.

A lofty goal to be sure! But when I thought about measuring what success would look like as an adult, I decided that “making it” would mean giving my parents a home (before you think I’m too altruistic, keep in mind that I fully intended to buy myself a house on the beach as well). Years later, I now realize that “getting rich” isn’t a goal – and that there are unlikely to be any beachfront houses in my future (thanks in part to my habit of living in very expensive cities).

As lofty as my early goals were, it’s not out of the ordinary to view homeownership as an important milestone in adulthood. I even remember learning in high school that the “American Dream” was to have a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. Unfortunately, the current rise in debt (especially student loan debt) is stealing this American Dream for many. But not everyone’s! Read on to learn about one couple who fought debt while working to achieve their dream of homeownership… and are well on their way to those 2.5 kids!

Minimalism: Fad or Solid Debt Payoff Tool?

Minimalism

When I moved from my hometown in Ohio to New York City, I became sort of an accidental minimalist. By no means did I believe I had too many things in Ohio, but there was no way to transport it all to the tiny half bedroom that was my first place in New York. I still remember separating everything I owned into three piles: store, take with me, give away. Once the entire contents of my room were displayed on the floor (practically burying my friends in the process), I was completely shocked to see how much I really had.

After all was said and done, I filled two suitcases to take with me. I wasn’t sure how I would get by with so little, but even that ended up feeling like too much after a plane ride, a subway ride, and a six flight walk up the stairs to my new apartment.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to begin accumulating more things again…but I had to be mindful of what I bought. Most often a new item meant getting rid of an old one lest I end up with a closet that remained permanently open and overflowing. But as much as I hated playing closet tetris anytime I needed something new, I grew accustomed to having less stuff over time. And eventually I actually started to like it.

There’s something truly freeing about not being encumbered by so much stuff.

As life was forcing me to learn to love minimalism, the very idea of it was becoming a movement across America. People were vowing to reduce their belongings to the bare minimum in an effort to find peace and happiness. And now people are taking it to the next level to improve their finances. But the question is, can living a life of minimalism actually help you pay off debt?

How to Shift Your Mindset Toward Saving When You Have a Spending Problem

Flower portrait

A few weekends ago, as I awoke to a day that was blissfully void of deadlines to meet and projects to produce, my first thought was what I needed to buy and what stores I could visit to fill my time. Given the newfound breathing room in my budget, this would be relatively okay — except I had acted on that thought the previous three weekends in a row. (Or maybe four. Okay, possibly five.)

In the wake of work pressure and moving stress, I had somehow shifted from a shopping only when necessary type of a person to shopping when induced by any type of uncomfortable emotion type of person.

And that, as many of us know, can quickly spiral out of control – without any of those feel-good endorphins you hope to experience when you whip out your credit card and purchase the latest _______ (enter your vice here).

So, I’ve been working on returning to a mindset where saving takes center stage and spending takes a seat in the back row. Here’s how I’m making it happen.

9 Actions that Can Help You Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Actions to pay off student loans faster

Student loans have a tendency to follow people around for a long time. In fact, new studies show that people are now retiring… and hauling their student loan payments along with their golf clubs and cruise tickets.

While new measures have been put in place to forgive people of their student loan debt after a certain number of years, the fact is, you don’t want to hold onto the loans that helped you pay for college. You’re better off using that money for your future, such as to help save for a down payment on a home, start a family, or anything else that you’re looking to do.

So how can you get rid of your student loans faster? Here are 9 actions to help you do just that.

How Overdraft Lines of Credit Work

Bank overdraft line of credit

When you have insufficient funds in your bank account for a transaction, you are usually either denied at the cash register, or you find your account overdrawn, and a fee as high as $45 is deducted from your balance as well.

Each of these situations is painful in its own way. But one way to avoid these issues is to make use of an overdraft line of credit.

How to Deal with Feeling Unworthy or Unsatisfactory

Clouds landscape

One thing I know is true: my own inner dialogue when I fall short of where I feel I should be is far worse than any criticism I’ve ever received from any outside party. And the truth is, I don’t think I’m alone in this.

This internal battle we wage against ourselves when we don’t achieve what we set out to do, or when we falter in any other way, can quickly take us down the path of feeling incapable and unworthy. Once those feelings ruminate for a while, it can be incredibly tough to gather up the energy, motivation, or positive mindset to keep moving forward.

So what can you do when these feelings start circulating? Here are a few tips.

How I Could Have Paid My $28,000 of Student Loans Off Faster

Trees landscape

This is a guest post by Zina Kumok

ZinaRecently I finished paying off $28,000 worth of student loans (over the course of three years) while making about $30,000 a year. Paying of my loans so quickly required a lot of sacrifices, but not as many as you’d expect. I didn’t live with strangers, I didn’t get a second job, and for the most part, I saw my friends as often as I wanted.

Even though I accomplished my goal, there were ways I could have paid the debt off faster. Why does that matter? Because every month that I paid my loans, I also paid 6.55% interest (or sometimes higher). Here are some easy ways I’ve realized in retrospect could have helped me pay off my loans sooner: