What a long winter! Thank goodness spring is here! I’m looking forward to fresh air, birds chirping, and flowers blooming. As these signs of spring arrive, many of us start to plan our spring cleaning schedule and this got me thinking…We clean up our houses in the spring; yet, many of us don’t think to clean up our finances. The winter was harsh and we survived, but can we survive taking a good, hard look at our debt?
According to CNBC.com, eight out of ten Americans are in debt. Unfortunately, many of us have developed poor spending habits. We think nothing of spending more than we earn and our debt storm grows. Suddenly our bills are stacked up like a bunch of pancakes at IHOP. As the bills pile high, we continue to swipe away, thinking it will ease the pain.
In order to get out of debt and stop spending, it is important to look at the reasons why we overspend. Often, many of us were never taught how to budget or some spend to fill a void. Others spend to keep up with the neighbors or maintain an image. Whatever the case, discovering the meaning behind the spending will help us make a change.
However, this is harder than it sounds. I mean, how many times have we gone over our budgets while simply buying groceries? It is so easy to continue putting items in the cart and packing our homes and lives full of stuff. The next thing you know, we are cringing every time that bill shows up. It is like one big storm that keeps burying us. So once and for all, let’s dig our way out and get to the bottom of our destructive spending.
We all know credit cards are dangerous, yet if used correctly, they can actually be very advantageous. There are an array of cards available that offer points, rewards, airline miles, statement credits and YES, they are all very lucrative. However, if you do not know how to use your card to your advantage, you could be digging yourself into a whirlwind of debt. It is estimated that the mean credit card debt for the average American is $5,700. (Source ValuePenguin)
With this amount so high, I’m not suggesting you use your card to go on a spending spree. (Although that would be fun!) Nonetheless, I’m offering some advice to help you build credit and earn some of the amazing rewards these plastic gems have to offer.
Let’s change that $5,700 figure around and let the cards work in our favor. If you are sick of being one of the people that pays interest on your card and gets nothing in return, keep reading…
An emergency fund is a fund you set up to cover surprises that pop up, you weren’t expecting to pay. It happens to all of us at some point and having an emergency fund will give you security and less stress. You can take comfort in knowing you are covered when you end up in a surprise situation. If you do not have an emergency fund, it is best to learn how to save for an emergency fund quickly. You can start a mini-emergency fund for now of $1000 and build it up more when you are able.
Do You Need an Emergency Fund?
In short, yes, you need an emergency fund to cover different financial situations that come up unexpectedly.
Imagine you wake up, get ready for work, and start to walk out the door. Suddenly you step into a puddle on the carpet. The next step is an even bigger puddle! Why is the carpet drenched? After searching more, you realize your water heater has flooded! This happened to us! Yes, our carpet was ruined and we needed a new water heater.
Or your son fell off the monkey bars at school, landed wrong, and ended up in a cast. Your insurance doesn’t cover the entire bill and you are left paying around $300. This also happened to us. An unexpected medical bill or two can leave you reaching for your plastic card.
Both of these situations happened to me and my family. These were times when we needed a large amount of money to fix the situation at hand. Fortunately, we had an emergency fund saved to ease the burden of these surprise bills. Whether it be your water heater, new roof, health emergency, car accident or any other situation with a surprise bill, there are times in life when you need extra money above your regular budget.
Kids learn at different ages and different stages. With that being said, one important lesson every parent should teach is the power to be in control of money. According to CNBC.com eight out of ten people are in debt in the United States alone. Moreover, wouldn’t it be amazing if your kiddo was one of the two out of ten that are not in debt?
“Mighty Oaks from little acorns grow.” anonymous proverb
If you teach your child basic money lessons through-out all stages of development, he or she will then be able to handle finances as an adult. Therefore, starting early is the key! Plant the seed and your child’s money IQ will grow. You can begin a solid money foundation with your child. This will be in your best interest because they will not ask you to borrow money!
How early is too early? Children can understand the concept of money at a very young age. My two-year-old knows that we have to pay for items when we go to the store and he helps me hand our groceries to the cashier upon checkout. Nonetheless, I was just telling my four-year-old son how much money I have in my retirement accounts and he asked me if I had interest and investors. Kids are little sponges and they soak up what they hear mommy and daddy talking about. I’m not saying my son really understands what investing is, but he will one day. Start those conversations and be open about money with your kids.
As you continue reading, this post will give you ideas on how to begin teaching your child about money. You will find age-based examples to help guide you in your money-teaching quest. Furthermore, I am a former teacher and if there is one thing I love, it is teaching kids real-life skills.
Ahhh… The New Year is upon us. Many look at the New Year as a time of reflection. A time to reevaluate what is working in our daily lives and what needs a facelift. Yet, in all the Holiday hustle and bustle, we forget to reevaluate one important thing…our budget.
After the Holidays, many are left with mounds of credit card debt and are left thinking, “Now what?” Where are the funds to cover the debt. or pay bills?
Moving forward, it is best to enter the New Year with a fresh outlook on your budget, among all the other resolutions that come to mind. Furthermore, you are reading this post, so you are making a step in the right direction.
As you plan out your resolutions, keep your budget as a top priority! Staying within your budget in 2021 will help everything else fall into place like a key into a lock. With a few simple budget calculations, this will be a great year for all of us, my friends!