Too Much Debt? Look Out For The Warning Bells

Everyone has a certain amount of debt, which is good. It is better to take a loan and enjoy a commodity now, than wait until you saved that amount to buy it. The critical point here is that you should know where to draw the line when you handle debt. This should ideally not cross the one-third of your income threshold, or it might interfere with your basic living expenses. Though you would think it is easy to realize you are having a debt-related problem, it is surprising how many people live in denial that such financial crisis exists.

Here are a ten warning sings that tell you, you need help with your debts. Check it out:

1.Credit cards payment – you are unable to make more than the minimum payment on your credit cards, and the debts are mounting up.

2.Credit card usage – you want to stop using the credit cards so you catch up with the payments, but are unable to do so; there is simply not enough cash around.

3.Credit card limits – one or more of your credit cards are maxed, about to be maxed or even over the credit limit.

4.Unable to compute total debt – you are unable to say for sure the total amount you owe the different lenders.

5.Bounced checks – occasionally your check bounce when you felt you had enough to cover it.

6.Debt becomes an uncomfortable subject – you find yourself getting tense when the subject on debt comes up among friends and family.

7.Dependency upon payday loans increases – you find that you are more and more attracted to the borrow-and-spend idea than earn and spend. There always seems to be some major gaps.

8.Credit problems – you find that your applications for different credit are denied or offered unviable high percent interest rates.

9.No savings budget – you are unable to save anything because your income falls acutely short every month.

10.You need to juggle payments to keep up with them. You find yourself alternating payments of your bills or using one credit card to pay the dues of the other.

Take a close look at this list. If your answer is 'yes' to three or more points here, you have a debt problem. Take action now. It is easy to deny the problem, but do remember that this would snowball into huge problems later on; it will definitely not go away because you choose to ignore it.

You can take charge of your finances and turn them around if you are willing to take action now. The following steps would be of help:

1.Take stock of the situation – compute how much you actually owe and prioritize your debts. Try to pay off those, which attract the highest interest or penalty first.

2.Consolidate your debts – calculate how much you could put aside every month after your basic necessities are taken care of. You might need to stick to this 'need-only' regime for 6-18 months, but at the end of it you would be rid of your debt problems. Once you have a number, consider consolidating your debts.

3.Take debt counseling seriously – most of the debt-related problem are due to financial indiscipline. Counseling would teach you sound financial management principles, which would prevent debt problems in the future.

Frugal living – the best way to live

You are all aware of the adage, 'A penny saved is a penny earned.' At the same time, frugal living does not need to be an uncomfortable one. You need not be or behave like a miser in order to save money; what you need to know is how best to get value for your money. The difference between frugality and misery is that the former is getting the most out of your money, while the latter is getting the least.

Here are some tips that can save you a great deal:

1.Plan a monthly budget and stick to it – it is wonderful to know where your money is going. A budget would help you keep track of it and also tell you how much you need for basics and how much you have spared for savings. Ensure you keep about 5-10 per cent of your budget for contingency or unplanned expenses such as a sudden illness, a visit, a party, etc. Not having this expenditure head would push you off your budget and once you deviate from it, it would be difficult for you to maintain financial discipline. You also need to save for vacations.

2.Save every month – whatever the percentage, you need to save every month. Choose whatever method you find comfortable: a retirement plan, pension schemes, a saving bank account, an investment plan, and the like and ensure that every month you make your deposits. This would not only give you great advantage when you look for any loan, it would also act as a cushion in case you ever run into financial troubles.

3.Branded clothes need not cost an arm and a leg – look out for sales. This would mean that you do not give into those impulsive buys, but all is worth it. Think! You could get three for the price of one. Is that not great value for money? A little patience never hurt anyone; as you can see it is rather helpful.

4.Shop around, even for groceries – granted that you love the familiarity of "your" grocery shop and prefer to buy all your stock from one shop. However, this is not a good practice. You need to look around; often two grocery shops have amazing variations in prices. Identify where you can get the lowest and move your shopping cart there. Another great way to save good money is to shop about 30-45 minutes before closing time; the perishables come down to ridiculously low prices.

5.Take advantages of sales – budgeting is helpful here as you would be able to compute the amount of advance stock you would need. Stock up during sales; this will save you both money and time.

6.Transfer your loans to low interest ones – always shop around for places where you could get lower interest for your loans/ mortgages. Even a 0.25 per cent decrease in the interest rate would mean a huge difference over the years.

7.Buy off-season – you would be amazed with the prices you get on the majority of items during off-season. Learn to shop off-season and save a small fortune.
Remember, to write down every expense you incur as this would give you the complete picture every month.

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