How to Figure Out the Amount You Can Afford to Pay Toward Debt Each Month

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“Debt.” It’s a financial four-letter word that you’d rather not talk about. But you know it’s time to face the music and get real with your money. That means doing something about your debt.

Hey, I get it. Life is expensive and stuff happens. Sometimes that stuff requires more money than you have on hand.

Maybe you needed to take out some student loans to get through college and earn your degree. Or you had to hastily pull out the credit card when you were hit with an unexpected (and big) bill. Or you kept swiping away assuming just paying the minimums on your card balances would be enough for now — until you actually looked at what you owe and realized how awful interest really is when it’s accruing on money you owe.

Regardless of how you found your way into debt, it’s time to get out. And as you may already realize, making the minimum payments isn’t going to provide a real solution.

As Mr. Money Mustache puts it, your debt is an emergency. That means doing everything you can to solve this financial problem and get yourself out of the red.

If you’re ready to start your journey to debt freedom but have never paid more than the minimums on your balances, let’s walk through how to figure out what is the maximum amount you can afford to pay toward debt each month.

Affordable Winter Vacation Ideas

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Summer might scream “vacation” for most people, but winter’s frigid temps and long list of holiday obligations might offer an even better reason to pack up and get out of town – or at least take a break from the day-to-day.

Whether your budget has room to spare or it’s already stretched thin, there are plenty of ways you can rest, relax, and recharge your batteries for the potentially cold, grey months ahead.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

9 Money Mistakes I’ll Never Make Again

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I make mistakes. A lot. I always have the best of intentions – but we all know where that can lead…

When I realize I’ve made a mistake, the only way I can even remotely make myself feel better is to learn from the situation. I want to figure out exactly what I have to do to make sure I never make that mistake again. I figure, if I can’t learn from it, then what’s the point? I’ll just continue to make the same mistake over and over again.

Unfortunately life isn’t always so clear cut – which means there are plenty of mistakes that I do make more than once. In those cases, it either takes a really hard lesson to get me back on course or a decision to develop new habits. It also helps to keep a list of the top mistakes I’ve made to remind myself of what I don’t want to do.

Read on to find out the top mistakes I’m vowing to never make again. Some of them are doozies and some are creepers that perniciously eat away at my money. It’s not easy to share the things I’ve done wrong but hopefully some of these will help you (and you can help hold me accountable in the comments!).

How The Long Road to Building Self-Confidence Got (and Kept) Me Out of Debt

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This is a guest post by Jon Dulin

Back in college, and a few years afterwards, I got myself into debt. In total, it was a little more than $10,000 worth. While I was indeed overspending, that wasn’t the real problem I had. The real problem was much deeper than that, as I’ll explain below. My guess is that for most others that have dug out of debt and stayed out of debt ever since, they probably had to do some digging like I did. If you find yourself on the opposite end, where you get out of debt just to find yourself right back in the same place a few years (or months) later, my story will show you why you need to start digging too, because I was in your shoes at one point. Here is my story and how I overcame my debt.

Christian Debt Consolidation Reviews

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We’ve noticed that frequently when people search for debt consolidation services, they search for companies that identify themselves as Christian debt consolidators. While we’re not affiliated with any religion, we can certainly understand the desire to work with a company that shares your values, especially when it comes to debt consolidation – an industry where there is a significant amount of fraud and plenty of disreputable companies looking to take advantage of innocent people.

But that begs the question: are the companies that advertise christian debt consolidation living up to their reputation and are they a good choice for consumers?

In this post, we’ll take a look at some debt consolidation companies that advertise themselves as being christian, and we’ll discuss how you can make sure you wind up with a reputable company.

Overcoming the Stigma of Saying “I Can’t Afford It”

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This is a guest post by Taylor Gordon.

It’s like a dagger to the heart.

 When you can’t afford something you really want. I’m not talking those instances where you make a decision to be frugal. Rather the moments when you don’t have much extra cash after paying rent, bills, and contributing to your savings account.

Whether it’s not being able to buy lunch from a food truck or that awesome jacket on display at H&M, you likely feel a combination of these emotions:

Sorrow, self pity, and shame.

I’ve been there.

Can I Consolidate Credit Card Debt?

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Credit card debt is a sneaky beast. Whether it comes on in a flash of lightening or creeps up like a long winter snowstorm, the havoc it wreaks can feel like a tornado has ripped through your life.

What’s worse, it’s painfully easy to feel as though you’re stuck. That you have absolutely zero options. That you may pay forever and never see real results – or stop paying and live a life of bad credit and calls from collections agencies.

I know this feeling all too well. I’ve been there and luckily now I’ve made it to the other side  - but not without a good deal of anxiety along the way. And now I’m going to tell you what I wish I had understood better then:

You have options. You have a choice in how to handle your credit card debt. Credit card debt does not have to be a financial death sentence.

“What options,” you might be thinking. There are many! But the one I want to focus on here is one that can help you lower your interest rates and shorten your repayment period: debt consolidation. 

Done well, debt consolidation can be the key to taking control of your credit card debt. Done without a plan, debt consolidation can unfortunately lead to more debt. That’s why it’s important to choose your options carefully and firmly follow a plan as you go. Here’s how you can.

Defining Financial Values is Crucial – Here’s a Template to Help Determine Yours

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I didn’t start tracking my finances until I was well into my twenties. By most measures I’d been financially independent since high school, but that didn’t mean I was actually thinking much about my financial future. My overall money plan looked a little like this…

  • Wake up everyday to go to work.
  • Pay bills.
  • Don’t overdraw on accounts.

In some respects, I was chugging along just fine. Fine, that is, until I became more personally involved with the world of finance. Then – and what a shock it was – my eyes were opened to all the financial tasks I should be thinking about. I’m talking about investing, retirement, emergency fund, building credit, negotiating interest rates.

Learning how much more there was to building a financial foundation beyond opening a  savings account pushed me from simple tracking mode to panic mode. I became hyper-focused on paying my debt. I began contributing to my retirement. I stuck to strict budgets as often as I could. I tried to do it all, and quickly. But that left me with one big problem…

I was throwing money at goals but giving little thought to where it would all land. Turns out, that’s less like making it rain bills and more like tossing your money in a wind-tunnel that’s kindamaybebutimnotreallysure headed in the right direction.

In other words, I lacked a deeper understanding of my financial goals. I knew I wanted to achieve financial milestones, but the task of doing so day after day quickly became stale. The result? I became bored, frustrating, and quite frankly felt a little lost and downtrodden. It made sense to save, but time and time again I was discouraged by the nagging question: “But why?”

Topics We’re Talking About: Shaking Up Your Money Motivators

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Hello readers and welcome to Friday!

Today I’ll be talking about the financial wisdom a squash can impart – for the third consecutive week! Just kidding. I cut myself off from squash related anecdotes. I think two a pretty appropriate limit to set.

So what’s up on deck today? Why’s there a photo of a dreamy beach? How can I get on this beach!?

This week, we’re talking about: refreshing your financial goals via implementing different methods of motivation! For instance using visuals is a great way to stay focused on achieving a particular goal. As someone with a traveling heart that beats in harmony with the lapping of ocean waves, a compelling visual reminder of the purpose behind my savings goals reminds me to remain engaged with my strategy (this explains the photo of the dreamy beach).

Our  brains are little creatures of comfort. It’s so easy (too easy) to get stuck in the pattern of saying, “One day, or someday…” If I were to go about each day without a clear, detailed end goal (say, a two-week vacation in Fiji during August of 2015), I’d easily get caught in the trap. To stave off the stagnancy, it’s incredibly useful to reevaluate daily routines and actively look for ways to add fresh motivation every once in a while. I imagine it a little like a snow globe of inspiration – once the dust settles, time to get movin’ and shakin’ again!

While I myself am a fan of using visuals as motivators, there are tons of other ways to spark inspiration. Motivators can be number based, audio based, accountability based, etc. – no one method will work for everyone! So in the same vein, I thought I’d round up some of the more unique ways you might go about fine-tuning your finances (and inspire  motivation in the process). Enjoy!

What Is a Reason Code? (Hint: It Unlocks the Secrets of Your Credit Score)

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When we first moved to San Francisco several years ago, my husband and I decided to try a temporary corporate apartment until we had time to get to know the city. I still remember sitting in the leasing office and waiting to see if we were going to get approved. My husband already had a job but I was still looking, so we knew our chances would be slim in comparison to other applicants.

Then the leasing agent let out a whistle and said, “Heyyyy you two want to buy me a car or anything? Yeah…. you’re approved.” We high fived and played on her sense of humor to see if she’d show us our credit scores. After a few seconds of deliberation she turned her monitor around so we could see and then quickly snapped it back before she got caught showing us our scores.

That was the first time I’d ever seen my credit score. In those days it felt like anyone who could see your score had some magical power over you – as if they understood your financial situation even better than you did. And they held the power to approve or deny you for reasons unbeknownst to you.