Personal Finance: A Simple But Powerful Step To Start Digging Your Way Out Of Debt

Throughout the middle class there is a personal finance disaster looming as personal debt rises to record levels. If you're struggling with personal debt levels or even getting close, here's a simple first step to turning it all around...

Credit card debt is often the biggest personal debt load after a mortgage. When you got your first credit card, you most likely promised yourself you'd treat it with respect - you'd keep it for emergencies and pay it off in full whenever you did need to use it, right? Not quite the way it turned out though, is it?

Your personal finance plan worked OK at first, but then that started to slip and through habit you started using your credit cards more and more and today you couldn't possibly pay them all off this month - or even in the next 2 or 3 months, most likely. And how many times have you sworn you'd stop using them for a while and get things back under control? Unless you're foolishly overspending for your current income and debt load, the problem is convenience.

The earliest credit cards were for those already fairly well off, to help them keep their accounting simple. They weren't thought of as credit cards but as 'travel & entertainment' cards, and they HAD to be paid off in full every month. Diners Club, American Express and a few others led the pack, and most people would be better off today if all cards still worked that way.

But then there was a demand for 'convenience' cards among the growing middle class and Chargex was created to fill that need. Over time Chargex became Visa, MasterCard emerged on the scene and department stores began creating their own credit card programs, usually at a much higher interest rate. In the 1960's and 1970's the western economies were moving ahead full-tilt and credit became easier and easier to obtain - and people slowly started using credit cards instead of cash for many, if not most, of their purchases.

In theory, that should create more jobs, build the economy and lead to greater income for all, making it easier to pay higher and higher credit card bills each month. Cardholders would make a major purchase and just pay part of it the next month, then make another major purchase before paying off the existing balance. People still made their payments each month, but each payment was more than the minimum but less than the full balance. And over time most people's personal finance plan went out the window, replaced by higher credit limits, more cards and more total debt.

You know you've hit the point where you need to pay your cards off, or at least pay them down, if for no better reason than to save all of the interest you're paying across all your cards. Fortunately, Visa and MasterCard recognize the issue too, and have a solution that can be your first step in correcting your current personal finance imbalance - the pre-paid credit card.

Don't mistake these for the gift cards you see by the cash registers of the big chain stores. These are actual reloadable cards that are accepted just like any other credit card worldwide. And while they're still referred to as credit cards, they really aren't - there's no credit involved since you can only use them up to the dollar amount you've already deposited on your account. You do pay a small monthly fee for these reloadable pre-paid credit cards, but in most cases it's far less than the interest you're paying currently.

So if you're serious about taking control of your finances and starting to dig you way out of debt, get yourself one of these cards today - or at least this week. They're available at many banks, some big organizations like the auto club, and a variety of other outlets. Be sure to find out the fees for the card, the maximum and minimum loads you can put on the card, and double-check to be sure it's a reloadable prepaid card. Most can be loaded online through your bank, but check to be sure so you don't run into any problems.

Load the card with enough to get you through each month, with a little extra just in case - there's nothing wrong with building up a bit of a cash balance. Then take the other credit cards out of your wallet or purse and put them away in a safe place for now - if you keep them on you you'll end up using them from habit, not from need. Keep paying as much as you can on them each month, just don't use them. That will keep them in good standing in case of emergency, but your balance will be dropping each month. If you're deep in debt most of your payment will be eaten up by interest, but the total will drop a bit - and each month it will drop by a little more since the interest drops as the outstanding balance does.

This is by no means a cure-all for your personal debt, but it IS a step in the right direction and a fairly painless one at that. You're starting to wrest back control over your personal finances and moving toward a viable personal finance plan. As you see your overall credit card debt receding, use the confidence and motivation it brings to tackle other aspects of your personal finances and bring them under control as well. Your current situation stems from too little income, overspending or both - your goal over time is to balance that back out in your favor. You CAN do it - just be sure to focus on solutions instead of worrying about your current debt load or worse yet, ignoring the problem.

Doug Champigny, the Success Lifestylist, is a world-famous success coach, marketing mentor, certified personal trainer, author and speaker. To learn more about Doug, consult directly with him, hire him to speak at your event or read more about this topic, visit his site at and be sure to add Doug to your circles on Google+.

Recovery From Divorce and Personal Finance Planning

The financial advice I would give to divorced women is: education. Find something that can educate you; whether it's creating more income, or managing money or something educational about finance.

Doing something, I'm a big believer in do what you love, because when you do what you love, the money just flows. When you're in your passion, when you're in love of what you're doing, then everything just seems to.

I know for me, the experience, everything seems to flow, everything falls into place for me. And when I do things that I think, or someone else says you should do this, that's where I always falter. But when I do something that I absolutely love, the blessings just flow.

Not being afraid of money, because sometimes women aren't used to dealing with money and have been dependent on their partner or their husband to take care of those kinds of thing. Don't be afraid of it. Look at it as a game and "oh, here's a game and I'm going to learn how to play it."

It is a game and it is something that is learnable and it has nothing to do with sex. But we, as women, we do have more stigma around money because we are, DNA wise, we 're bred that men are stronger. Men are the stronger of the sex and we are the weaker of the sexes and they are the providers, they are the protectors, they are the ones that should be taking care of us and they are they hunters and we are the gatherers.

So its DNA and that's something that men don't have to deal with. They just go out, they produce, they bring the money and that's it. They go, they hunt, they kill the deer, they bring it home, and we eat it.

So for women to have to go into, oh now I have to go out, I have to create money, I have to go hunting and kill it and bring it home, it puts us out of our feminine energy and into our masculine.

Although research shows that in actual fact women are better than men in financial terms especially when it comes to investing. It's because we don't have a problem following the rules. And we don't mind asking questions if we don't know.

They've proven that women's investment groups generally do better than men because they're willing to follow the rules. It's like OK, here's the rule, great! Follow them, perfect.

It's at the society level, on the grander level, it's shown that, oh yeah, men are in the high power positions, they're way better at money. I think it's a societal conditioning that we see it. It's like especially if you're growing up and you're a little girl you see that your dad is the provider, protector, brings the money and mom distributes. That's what I would experience, it's like my dad was the primary bread winner in the family.

So that's what I saw, my dad made the money, my mum made a little bit of money but she was the one that balanced the check book, she was the one that followed the rules, she was the one that did the grocery shopping and took care of this and took care of that and could follow the budget.

If you are interested in hearing more about moving on financially and emotionally after divorce, click on the link below for a free copy of my interview along with some other goodies!

The Key to Personal Finance

Additional effort in managing one's personal finances will result to a more positive usage of personal resources. With attainable, realistic goals, ones financial standing will progress in no time at all. However, for the part of the individual concerned, this calls for proper planning and monitoring. There is also a need to assess at some point to see if the goals set are being met or further intervention is needed to alleviate the financial condition.

Available Income:

    Regular household cash flow
    After Budget cash or net flow

Regular household cash flow is what remains after the expected yearly expenses are subtracted from the expected yearly regular income. After budget cash or net flow is simply what one ends up with after subtracting regular household liabilities from the known assets. The part of the regular income that does not go towards normal expenses is a very important resource that can be diverted towards other personal financial goals. A balance sheet should be able to determine the net worth before proceeding to plan further on how to save enough for bigger and more important purchases.

Factors to be considered if 50% net increase is desired:

    Full liabilities
    Outstanding debts
    Investment Instruments
    Savings yield- savings + interest gained
    Outstanding student loans

It only goes to say that when liabilities decrease, a person's net worth increases along with it. The number one advice for people with plans to progress financially is to avoid taking juicy bank loans on offer as they are ever-potent dangers to one's credit score specially when the interest pile up. Recovery from debts will be a much needed boost to personal finance. The more payables are settled, the fewer the liabilities are and this carries a positive reflection on one's balance sheet and also his credit standing.

Personal investments make up most of a person's net worth and thus it is a perpetually good move to gain as much valuable assets as a person possibly can in the course of his lifetime. This is not to say that forethought should not be employed here but the contrary. Investing by buying up profitable assets should always be preceded by careful analysis, so that a purchase will actually add vigor to one's portfolio. The general trend is that if you are the risk avoidant type of investor high risk investments are avoided. These are properties which have value that changes with the ebb and flow of time like real estate, precious metals like gold and other physical goods that are known to have volatile values.

The riskier among us, those whose mettle are undeniably more resistant to fear easily trade in stocks and other financial instruments of our time. In this type of assets, the rule goes that the higher the risk, the higher the possible gains. This kind of investments no doubt needs to be studied and studied again due to the very nature of it to avoid excessive losses and to catch gains when and where they are likely to fall.

As savings is an important and integral part of a person's net worth, due research is called for to yield the names of institutions that offer better products or simply better rates for one's hard earned dollars. For example, American soldiers have the option and the privilege to take advantage of the DOD Savings Deposit program that has very high interest rates at 10%.

Savings accounts and CDs serve you in two ways: firstly by increasing your total net worth and secondly by giving a much needed buffer zone to your personal finance portfolio, as seen by prevailing trends all over. The reason for this is because such instruments are federally insured and grows at a steady, favorable rate every year.

One thing that has perennially damaged net worth are student loans as they can persist a long time after a person has graduated and worked. To counter the negative impact of this, one effective practice is to take advantage of seasonal tax breaks. With American opportunity tax credit alone, an individual can save as much as $2,500 and those who are still studying should altogether shun away from private student loans in favor of federally funded loans as these carry a lower, or fixed rates in general.

Most effective ways to maximize cash flow:

    Highly informed financial decisions
    Making and adhering to a budget
    Controlling impulsive buying
    Putting Cost cutting measures in place

Smart financial choices can sometimes spell the difference between ruin and progress. For instance, there is a choice between buying a house which becomes unaffordable later on as opposed to renting a modest accommodation. If the sale price of the house is proven to be a figure greater than 20, when the actual sale price is divided by the yearly rental, then you would be wiser if you rent. Managing personal finance need not be a daunting task; it only requires patience and practice.

Where you can cut costs:

    Cut back on unnecessary expenditure
    Cooking instead of dining out
    Look into car insurance cost cutters
    Collecting and using coupons
    Buying wholesale instead of retail wherever applicable

There is absolutely no shame in using coupons and the benefits are tremendous, it can even get to be a habit. Why pay the full price when a little vigilance in cutting and saving coupons goes a long way? If no printed material is available from where to glean coupons, the internet is always there, the perfect place to search for printable coupons.

Cook at home and cook in batches. Then freeze for later meals. Have the due diligence to look after leftovers and you will probably save a fortune in take-out budget. There is no shame in keeping eatable food and it does wonders to a family or individual's food budget.

Cut down on company offers, like phone packages, cable or internet packages, whatever has hidden charges, zero in on them and ask to get only the basic service, pay only for what you actually need and use. The extra features cost and pile up in the long run.

Carpooling is also one way to save, and if you must absolutely drive, drive safely to avoid charges. These small things all contribute towards managing one's finance in a sane and productive way. And the habits that are changed also stick, so it is best to make sure that you make changes for the better.

How to estimate: Tools in Determining Worth

    Simple Net worth calculator
    Retirement calculator- many are downloadable
    Mortgage rate calculator, again downloadable
    Spouse or partner income calculator for multiple income households
    Loan calculator, for free from many sites
    Currency converter- already in wide use everywhere
    Home budget calculator- a standard for many housewives
    FICO score range tool- again available for free online
    Student loan calculator- for up to date interest rates

These personal finance calculators are absolutely necessary when strategizing and setting up your long and short term goals, tax payments and schedules, mortgage resolutions and other financial steps. The closer the estimates are to real figures, the closer you will be to realizing your plans and these depend heavily on calculators.

Personal finance is simply net worth, cash flow, the relevant planning, savings, investment instruments, budget or allocations and cost cutting. If effort is made to understand the concepts in theory and applied wisely, a personal balance sheet and credit score will improve continuously beyond recovery and go well into growth.

Financial Hardship: When to Hire a Personal Finance Coach

We've all been at that point in our lives where our finances just don't seem to be working out, for whatever reason. Whether it is all about having to try and get out of a debt that you've created and set for yourself, or something more in line with dealing with issues related to poor credit or other problems, financial problems can take a toll on your life and greatly affect how you live and what you are able to do in the future and over time.

But financial coaching is one significant and effective way that you can get out of these financial problems and issues (or stay out of them in the first place), while learning the tools and abilities needed to maintain and manage strong finances for the rest of your life. In fact, there are a few direct benefits to financial coaching that you can use and employ as you deal with a talented and experienced financial coach that will create a game plan for your needs.

Learn the ins and outs of accounting

Unfortunately, school just doesn't teach basic home accounting and bookkeeping any more, and it's a shame because a generation of people are likely in your shoes: good intentions, great ideas, hardworking, but with little recourse for how and why to balance budget and use their finances properly.

A financial coach, though, can create all that learning and education you missed out on in a relatively short period of time, as they teach you about investing, savings, accounts, and other basic and complex ideas in a way that is designed specifically to meet your needs. Whether you're in the market for a coach to help you with major purchases (more on that below), or you just need some advice when it comes to creating a plan to save money and move forward, financial coaches are there to help over time.

Receive advice on major purchases and savings

Thinking about buying a car or a house in the near future? Are you ready for the investment and commitment? And, most importantly, can your finances and savings handle an investment like that? Financial coaches work to advise you on major purchases, while helping to prepare your assets for whatever may come your way when it comes to financial futures and outlooks for your life.

No matter the need itself, financial coaches are critical when it comes to figuring out whether or not you can make that big purchase in the first place, and if you can, how you can use that big purchase to your advantage as you seek to improve your own life and that of those around you with the investment itself. You, in turn, can walk away knowing you are capable of making the purchase, and can take specific steps to ensure it does not become burdensome over time.

I believe that financial coaches are just smart to have in this day and age; especially considering the recent recession and major credit card and housing debts faced by millions of Americans. Consider asking a financial coach to improve your financial outlook today!

Emotional Cost of Personal Finance

What's your reaction when the monthly bills arrive? Do you feel nauseous? Do you feel sick to your stomach or have headaches? Or, do you feel overwhelmed or panic?

I am sure that you are working very hard to pay off your bills. However, your bills seem to never get smaller. Actually, it looks like they keep growing! You are not sure what is happening here, but you feel very exhausted working to pay all the bills. You feel like you can't do anything you want, no matter how hard you work. You feel upset and even despair. You feel inadequate, shame, and don't know what to do.

What's happening here? Your life is being taken over by the bills! Notice, your personal finance issues are costing your health! They are affecting both your physical and mental health. Are you stunned? As you see now, personal finance issues are very much intertwined with your emotional well-being, and they can even increase your chance of developing clinical depression and anxiety.

We are living in materialistic and consumption driven culture. The society makes us feel that we constantly need to purchase stuff. I know, we just try to fit into the society's norm. We don't want to feel left out. We don't want our kids to feel inferior. So, we continue to spend money to buy things. Besides, it feels good to buy stuff. Buying kind of comforts our feeling. So, what happens then? Basically, we work for stuff, and we drive ourselves into personal finance trouble.

Are we working for things?!?! Actually, we work to improve our life, don't we? Does stuff make our life better? Yes, in some degree, but when all your basic needs are met, probably, having another "I-phone" or "Shoes" will not make our life much different, would it? Yes, we get temporary comfort from buying stuff, but it will not last for so long. Then, we start to feel anxious. So, what do we do? Buy more stuff! It's a vicious cycle.

Controlling your finances is one way to boost your mental health. Instead of buying merchandise to comfort yourself, maybe, you can learn a new way to cheer yourself up. For some, maybe, there are underlying emotional issues of your financial struggle. Maybe, you could talk to someone? It may give you a new perspective on your problems. Going to see a therapist or life coach may be one way to straighten out your personal finance issues. Instead of spending money for stuff, maybe, you may want to invest money on yourself? Investing in yourself may be the best deal for your life.

Personal Finance Apps For Your Smartphone

Remember that foggy zone you used to be in when you wanted to take complete control of your finances? When you wanted to be more responsible in saving and spending to plan the present and future? Those foggy days are over and the days of finance apps on your smartphones that bring more clarity with ease of use are here. We are discussing top 5 finance apps that will prove to be useful to you. Personal Finance

This application is one of the best personal finance apps. It syncs with your bank transactions and categorizes them automatically. It creates customized budget based on your past spending. It keeps track of your spending and keeps reminding you about your budget. You can create separate mini budget for entertainment, gas, eating out- things you want to monitor. The app sends you reminders, alerts and colour codes the categories so that you know when you reach danger zone. It also offers tips on stocks and investment.

Platform: iOS, Android

Price: Free

2. MoneyWise

This app is very easy to use. It is a budgeting and expense tracking app. MoneyWise enables you to set your financial goals. It monitors the cash flow, categorises your expenses and with the help of colourful charts and graphs it lets you know about the status of the expense categories. You can export the data from this app as HTML or CSV files.

Platform: Android

Price: Free

3.Spending Tracker

This app as the name suggests tracks your expenses. It will help you unlock the mystery of where exactly your money goes every month. You will be able to organise your expenses on daily, weekly or monthly basis. It can be customized to suit your needs. The easy to read fonts and charts make it a fun little tracker.

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

4. Expense Manager

This app enables you to track your expenses across categories on weekly, monthly or yearly basis. You can search for individual transactions, set up payments alerts, import and export data from your phone to your desktop and take pictures of receipts while storing. It has currency calculator, tax calculator etc. It is a neat little useful app.

Platform: Android

Price: Free

5. You Need A Budget (YNAB)

This app is one for the whole family. It syncs with YNAB desktop software (required). It can budget across multiple accounts, analyse and can show the transactions of the whole family instantly. A free version is also available.

Platform: iOS, Android

Price: $4.99

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