Okay so many people in America are economically challenged but being unable to speak for them I’ll speak for me personally.
I’m 59 will be 60 late this year 2013.
I have a 401K with a modest balance, if Social Security isn’t there to help me, well I guess I’ll be in a world of hurt OR work until I drop.
Still have a mortgage and a kid getting ready for college soon.
Basically I’ve started late with just about everything in my life and although I have few regrets, I do face challenges that other, better planners may not face at 60 years of age.
Oh something else I haven’t mentioned which probably should have been stated first, I have more than 90 THOUSAND DOLLARS in debt! NOT including my mortgage, 90 grand in unsecured debt as in credit cards!!! What an idiot I am for allowing myself to get into this mess. BUT here I am and now I’m struggling to get the debt paid off so I can at least spend a year or two retired and hiking the Appalachian trail before I die.
So what do I do?
So what HAVE I been doing?
First, I’ve put together a Word document listing every debt I have. Every credit card, every loan, every cent I owe is listed on one page of this document.
Second, on a separate sheet I list every monthly expense I have. Things like utilities, gas for the truck, groceries, doctor bills, clothing allowances for my son, lunch if applicable, which by the way I brown bag and that saves over 100 bucks a month easily! Insurance policies like homeowners or life insurance policies, etc… Anything you write a check for or make an online payment for that isn’t part of the credit card & loan debt is on this page.
Third, I list my typical income. Not hard for me since I don’t have much coming in other than a bi-monthly paycheck.
Now some simple math, subtract the MUST PAY totals from the monthly income. What’s left is what’s left and if you’re like me it’s not much.
Okay, so now I return to the debt page (credit cards; loans) and tally the MINIMUM payments to keep each up to date and paid. The late charges and negative reflections on your credit report for late or worse yet missed payments is highway robbery so do not fall into that trap. Once you have all of the minimum payments covered, select one specific debt and focus like a laser on killing that balance. Cover every minimum payment and then every cent that remains goes to pay off that one debt you’ve selected. I’ve picked the card with the lowest balance so that psychologically I can see it go down and feel a degree of satisfaction with a “gained ground” attitude.
Once that bill is paid off, select the next balance to destroy and add what was going to the one you just paid off, towards this one. Sure it’s hard. yes it takes time but getting in the hole as bad as I am didn’t happen overnight and getting out of this hole is sure to take even longer!
Now, something that’s key to keeping this system progressing in the right direction is to never use credit cards! STOP using them. But what if the car breaks down and must be repaired to get me to work and the kids to school? I understand and that’s happened too many times to me. I had one thousand dollars stashed for just such emergencies but not one but 2 car breakdowns killed it and forced me to use a card. So I understand how circumstances can at times arrive like a swift kick to the financial groin. I have nothing to say about how to deal with this except for this next point or aspect of my approach.
Income… Well let’s face it the best way to facilitate this plan is to increase my income. So I’ve gathered many of my possessions and have been selling them. garage sales, Craigslist, classifieds, however you can sell what you don’t need. AND think hard about what you THINK you do need. Most of my essentials really aren’t essential and can go if they’ll bring in some extra money.
Something else that can help in the increased income aspect of this approach is perhaps a second job. Do you have any skills or talents that can be turned into income? Maybe mowing lawns, painting, repairs or handyman services. there are thousands of folks that need minor repairs on their homes but can’t pay the PROFESSIONALS so perhaps you can fill that niche with lower rates that a pro would charge.
Maybe you have a hobby like creating stained glass pieces such as decorative windows or mirrors. People love artwork and creating a number of pieces and perhaps every few months have a yard sale of artwork can be quite lucrative. Of course be sure to track expenses so the sales bring in more than the materials cost to create. Common sense but then again I didn’t have enough common sense to keep out of debt so I thought I would toss that in should anyone be as “less than smart enough” LIKE ME! To have kept out of debt.
Finally and definitely related to a point made earlier about not using credit cards is stop dining out and going to movies. You would be stunned if you tally how much money it takes to dine out and take in a movie even just twice a month! The movies for a family of four is sure to cost 70 or more dollars. do that twice a month and you’re looking at around 100 to 150 bucks that could have been added to the credit card you’re trying to pay off. Now add dinner out for a family of four, twice a month and BAM! that easily 80 to well over 150 bucks depending upon the restaurant, even more in the classier joints, that could also go towards knocking out that debt.
So in closing let me say if anyone out there is in debt, as many Americans are, get out ASAP. If you need coaching try Dave Ramsey. Sure my methods are not exactly like Mr. ramsey’s, his are far better than mine. But he is my “Get out of debt GURU” and even listening to his radio show or reading his books is sure to inspire because it’s not easy. In fact it’s tough, can be depressing and overwhelming. But it is possible, at least that what I must say to myself every day!
Don’t give up, don’t breakdown. Just keep on pushing, remain focused and keep your eye on the ball so to say. The younger you are the better your chances will be to get it paid off quickly. When I was younger working 2 jobs was the norm but at 60 years of age it’s not that easy any longer. But it is possible!
- Keep working and think of how to increase income.
- Track debt and target balances specifically, then throw every cent you can at the targeted balance.
- Stop spending! Do not use credit cards!
- Stop eating out and rent a movie for a dollar instead of going to the theatre for 50 bucks!
- Sell that stuff you don’t use. If you have skills or talents put them to work to increase income.
- Read Dave Ramsey’s books, listen to his radio broadcasts for a daily shot of inspiration.
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First Place winner will receive - A $150 gift certificate for $150 off Wolf ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner. A Humless 2.5 Watt Portable Solar Panel courtesy of LPC Survival, Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals courtesy of Campingsurvival.com.
- Second Place winner will receive – One Emergency Seed Bank (stored in military ammo cans) with over 33 varieties of non-hybrid garden seed courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net.
- Third Place winner will receive - a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and a copy of my book 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness.
Please be sure and read the rules before entering… This contest will end on September 9 2013
Please post your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments below…