Welcome to the final stretch. You’ve made it to the end of the series. How do you feel? Money is good, right? It gives you the choices you need to lead the life you want. Throughout the series, we’ve discussed beliefs and intentions. Your financial health matters because it allows you to pursue the things that matter most.
The goal is not to think about money every moment of the day. That’s not freedom. Set your intentions and your behaviors will follow. You will no longer need to worry that you are not using your money in a way that serves you best.
Today is the day to start living your budget. But it’s not just a budget. You are making a commitment to yourself to build a strong financial foundation. The steps you take now will support you throughout your lifetime.
Over the past five days, you’ve had time to really think. So, just what is important to you?
The last question is key: When you find that you are using your money in a way that aligns with the things you value, money management becomes effortless. You won’t even need to think about it. Wouldn’t that be great?
You can certainly go back over the series — I encourage you to do so. But, it might be helpful if I lay out some core financial principles that we’ve touched upon. I call them guiding lights to debt-free living.
Guiding Lights on the Path to Debt-free Living
- Spend less than you make. Live well below your means. Buy the cheap underwear… drive the econobox with the manual windows… eat tuna sandwiches. Wear your frugality proudly.
- Save for large purchases. If you can’t fit a purchase into your monthly budget, start putting aside a little each pay period. This not only avoids the use of credit, it gives you time to think about whether you really need to spend the money.
- Set aside money for emergencies. There will be emergencies. You need an emergency fund. Even if you feel you have too much debt to start saving right now, you should set aside $500 to $1000 for the inevitable surprise expense.
- Know your balances. You can avoid underestimating the amount of your debt by taking note of your credit card balances each month. If you want to curb spending, you’ll want to think in terms of total balance due rather than monthly payments.
- Be realistic about what you can afford. Don’t spend every penny. But do give each dollar a job. If you have leftover money, put it in savings or toward your debt.
- Plan for your periodic expenses. Be prepared to make those once-a-quarter or annual bill payments. When you create your monthly budget, include these items so you don’t turn up short.
- Automate everything. Make your budget a no-brainer. Don’t rely on memory or discipline to pay your bills or put money aside for future expenses. Let your bank do the heavy lifting. If necessary, eliminate easy access to your emergency funds. In other words, skip the ATM card.
If you follow these principles as you move forward, you’ll have great success.
So we’ve come to the end of the series. Congratulations! If you followed the exercises, you should have a much better idea of your financial standing and a clear path to your debt-free life. Your work is far from over, however. In some ways, you’ve only just begun.
Make sure you stay on track as you move forward. I suggest that you answer the following questions, The Diligent Dozen, today and then once a month until you’re out of debt. I have attached The Diligent Dozen as a worksheet, as well, so that you can print it out for future reference. Review it often to ensure that you’re diligent in your financial choices.
The Diligent Dozen
- Are you building an emergency fund?
- Is your savings (even if it’s just a small emergency fund right now) automatic?
- Have you stopped using your credit cards for expenses you can’t pay off during the month?
- Do you have a realistic plan for paying off your debt?
- Does your rent or mortgage payment work within your budget?
a. If not, do you have a plan to remedy the situation?
- Do you know how much debt you have?
- Do you know how much you spend each month?
- Are you paying your bills on time and in full?
- Are you making an automatic minimal payment to the credit card you are paying off? Are you making additional payments to that card each month to reduce the balance?
- Does your partner know the extent of your debt and expenditures?
- Can you answer the phone without fear that it is a collection call?
- Do you have enough money to pay your bills or a $500 emergency?
If you answered no to a couple of these questions, don’t panic. Make the adjustments you need to get your financial house in order. On the other hand, if you answered no to more than two or three questions, please review the material. A few tweaks should get you back on track.
If You’re Still Struggling
Was no your default answer? Are you still struggling to find a clear path forward? I hear you. For many Canadians, the burden of debt is just too much. No matter how you got to your current situation, there is a way forward. There is turmoil in the uncertainty. You need answers.
If you find that you are overwhelmed by the burden of too much debt with seemingly no way out, get help now. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to meet your financial goals and create the life you deserve. There are more options than you might imagine. You don’t have to suffer.
A Huge Thanks
Thanks to everyone who has come along on this journey with me. A better financial path is right in front of you.
Good luck…and keep striving to meet your debt-free goal.
1 action item, 2 worksheets
Action Item 5:
Assess your budget at the end of the month.
Worksheet 5A: Additional Resources
Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Scott Marshall, has helped thousands of Canadians who are overwhelmed with debt and need a solution.
Debitize allows you to link your checking account and credit card. When you make a purchase Debitize takes the money from your checking account just like a debit card. You can’t spend what you don’t have.
Credit Karma provides free credit reports and get personalized insights into your score.
Credit Karma’s Balance Transfer Calculator can help you determine if a balance transfer could save you money.
Allan Marshalls’s Debt Calculator will show you how long it can take to pay off your debts (in case you missed it Section 1!).
Bankrate’s Retirement Calculator will let you know how much money you should save for the retirement you envision.
Worksheet 5B: The Diligent Dozen
If you answered no to a couple of these questions, make the adjustments you need to get your financial house in order. On the other hand, if you answered no to more than two or three questions, please review the material. A few tweaks should get you back on track.
Was no your default answer? Are you still struggling to find a clear path forward? If you find that you are overwhelmed by the burden of too much debt with seemingly no way out, get help now. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to meet your financial goals and create the life you deserve. There is no reason to stay stuck.
Call Allan Marshall at 1-888-391-8900 for a free no-obligation consultation.