Repay! Repay! How to Find Hidden Money in Your Budget

The Sunday edition of The New York Times had an excellent article titled, Given a Shovel, Digging Deeper into Debt, about the dangers of using credit cards and cash-out refinances to live beyond your means. The story focuses on a woman, who like millions of homeowners in recent years, refinanced her home several times to pay off credit card debt, until she ended up $271,000.00 in debt; $129,000.00 more than the original loan amount she’d taken to buy her house. Her financial house of cards came crashing down when she had a serious medical emergency, and then later lost both her jobs. Her home is now in foreclosure.

The article also placed some of the blame on lenders’ policies of easy access to money for both mortgages and credit cards, and their strategic marketing campaigns designed to ease the guilt associated with spending money and increasing debt. The woman in the article says what she regrets most is all her needless shopping. She said if she had it to do all over again she would learn to deal with her emotions instead of using shopping as therapy.

I’ve written several similar posts on this such as; Is Advertising Making up Poor?; Creating Kindergarten Consumers; Will We Ever Learn When it Comes to Mortgage Lending?; and How to Reduce Credit Card Debt all dealing with the issue of living beyond your means, and our addiction to consumerism. The road to financial solvency and real wealth begins with reducing, and then eliminating credit card debt.

To find the extra cash needed to pay off credit cards take a hard look at where your money goes each month:

1. Bottled water. Buy a water filter instead and “make” your own.

2. Don’t use paper towels for everything from cleaning to spills. Buy some good dishtowels and micro-fiber cleaning cloths that can be washed and used over and over.

3. Do not waste another cent on disposable ANYTHING from paper plates, plastic cups and utensils, coffee filters, toilet scrubbers, to mop cloths. Buy permanent and reusable items instead.

4. Go through your pantry once a month and pull everything out. You’ll probably find you already have 2 or 3 of everything you keep buying each time you go grocery shopping.

5. Cut back, or cancel your cable television entirely. You’ll be surprised how much time opens up to do other things in your life.

6. Stop shopping for clothes for every occasion. Go through your closet and find all the clothes with tags on them, or that you rarely wear – and start wearing them. Everyone will think you bought new clothes anyway.

7. Use up all the shampoos and conditioners you have lining the shelves of your medicine chest before you go out to buy more.

8. Don’t pay to have others do the things you can do yourself such as house cleaning, manicures, or hair coloring. Cancel the fancy landscaping and fertilizer service. Scale back to just a mowing service, or better yet cut the grass and trim the bushes yourself.

9. Wait a day and think before making a purchase on credit. Many times the impulse to buy fades within a day or two and we realize we really don’t need the thing as much as we thought we did anyway.

You’ll be surprised how much more money you’ll have to pay down credit card debt when you cut back on just a few of these things. Look around there are probably more things you can cut. Commit to buying with cash from now on and you’ll be on your way to attaining real wealth.

To read the NYT article paste this link into your browser:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/business/20debt.html?th&emc=th

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