There is no escaping the fact that Americans like “BIG” from the Big Mac to the Big House and Big Car. We either have, wanted to have, or work towards having those things as our goals in life. Because of that single fact, Americans spend and spend their money and, oh yeah, it’s money they may not even have! Today, as consumers, we acquire more than double of what we did about 50 years ago in material goods. That translates to an average retail credit card debt per household in the USA today of over $8,000 per family. This begs the question: why are you spending more than you make?
I have to laugh a little now talking about this subject. After all, I’m no different than you. I think I used to be obsessed with bigger is better and more, more, more just like most of us have over the years at one time or another. We seem to have that idea in our brains almost from birth. It continues to find ways into our lives all the time, for example just last month, McDonalds introduced a bunch of new Bigger and Better (I guess only time will tell if they are actually better) big sandwiches that border on the ridiculous! In fact, they’re big and also budget-bustlingly big. It’s certainly not uncommon these days to see prices at fast foodies as high as $7-$8 each. Continue reading
Americans are well known around the world for certain things. One prime thing is our tendency to talk and even brag about our lives and our abundances. We are pretty proud of living in what we refer to as the “greatest country” in the world and we have good reasons to feel that way. If you are a bigtime world traveler, you are probably sending a clear message to everyone you meet: you have lots of money and you enjoy spending it freely. You probably stay at a fine hotel, eat at a fancy restaurant, travel at the height of the season, etc. and that is the message you’re sending.
The Art of Braggadocio
Speaking of bragging, we also have great fervor when spreading good news to others, especially our family and neighbors. We make it obvious so they will notice when we drive into our garage with that big new $85,000 2017 Land Rover that’s so perfect for those cross country trips and exploring the Gobi Desert, but will more likely spend its time parked at little Debbie’s soccer practices every Tuesday and Thursday! Continue reading
Update 03/15/2017: The Fed has announced a quarter point increase as expected.
For almost 10 years, while our economy has been struggling to recover from the recession, one thing that has been a big plus and important to people has been the historic lows in interest rates, but that may be about to change. While the job market was down, the stock market was down, and the emotions of the American people were down, interest rates were adjusted so that many people were still able to afford to buy a home and use their credit cards. But, the Federal Reserve Board (a.k.a. the Fed) raised interest rates last December for just the second time in the last 10 years. That may be the beginning of a huge change over the next couple of years, and that begs a lot of questions.
What a Fed Interest Rate Hike Could Mean
1. How certain is a rise in interest rates?
There is little doubt that interest rates will go up again, beginning this coming week. On Wednesday, March 15th the Fed is expected to announce just that. It’s a move that was almost guaranteed by the good news about the job reports released last week, increases of 235,000 jobs and the drop of the unemployment rate to a low 4.7%. There was also good news about wage growth that further indicates the recovery is moving along at a much better rate than before. Continue reading
It’s practically a given that you’re in debt. According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, 80% of Americans have some form of debt and 39% of Americans have credit card debt, which is typically high interest debt. And 69% said debt is a necessity in their lives! It doesn’t have to be…paying off debt helps to bring financial security to your life. As part of America Saves Week 2017 (#ASW17), today I’m going to talk about how to pay off high-interest debt.
While a low-interest mortgage to secure housing or education may make sense, carrying high-interest credit card debt is a financial disaster waiting to happen. Some of us can’t stay away from racking up huge debt no matter how much money we earn. It has little to do with age, gender, background, or even where you live. It is, however, a common thread that results in spending money we just don’t have. Habits like that are not only hard to break but can result in financial suicide. It happens every day to someone. Continue reading
Please welcome Stacy Barbee from Oak View Law Group for today’s guest post on debts you can’t discharge in bankruptcy.
“Today, certain people file for bankruptcy, business and individuals, and it no longer has the stigma it once had. Now it’s almost considered wise, a way to regroup and come back again.” – David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City
Bankruptcy, a popular debt solution, allows you to pay most debts and make a fresh financial start. But, there are a few kinds of debts that aren’t dischargeable. This means you can’t get rid of a few kinds of debts in bankruptcy. If you’re planning to file bankruptcy (especially without getting any help from an attorney), then it’s important to know about the debts that aren’t dischargeable. Otherwise, you might apply for bankruptcy unnecessarily and end up wasting time and money.
Debts That Can’t Be Discharged
This is a great time of the year for most of us: getting together with our family and friends and enjoying the holidays that we have looked forward to all year long. Who doesn’t love the holiday season with the food, parties and spiritual joy we all can share? And look to the beginning of a new year when we can plan for improvements just up ahead! But I say most of us enjoy it because there are some who don’t quite see it that way.
Acute Financial Stress
According to a study done by Payoff, about 23% of all Americans and an even higher percentage of millennials suffer from what is known as AFS, Acute Financial Stress. This “disease” is caused by one’s reaction to financial stress which of course the holidays’ emphasis on spending and shopping can trigger. This and so many other financial issues can turn someone’s life completely upside down and even lead to a physical and/or mental debilitation resulting in things like heart disease and mental health problems. It has been compared with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as to its reach and severity among Americans today. Continue reading
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When you go to the doctor, they check your vital signs like blood pressure and temperature to make sure you’re healthy. But what about the vital signs for your financial health? These numbers tell you if you’re financially healthy (or not!) and can give you goals to shoot for.
Over time I’ve learned the hard way that I have to go to the doctor and get checked out or else my health suffers. It’s the same with your money. If you don’t pay attention to your financial vital signs, you’ll be headed for disaster. Continue reading
Have you ever thought about the possibility of filing for bankruptcy? You know it happens all the time. Today, many people find themselves drowning in debt and unable to keep up with their obligations. They find themselves in a desperate situation and bankruptcy offers a pathway back to stability. While it’s better to take responsibility and pay down your debts, there are times when this simply isn’t an option and bankruptcy is the only way.
If you haven’t done it yourself, I am betting you probably know of someone or some business that has declared bankruptcy. In fact, it’s become so common that even a presidential candidate can have had multiple business bankruptcies and still garner respect and admiration as a responsible and savvy money manager (as incredible as that might seem). Today it’s become the way to “liquidate debt” or “reorganize debt” in order to manage financial problems. It even may turn a very negative situation into a positive one. Continue reading
Every once in a while, if I’m lucky, I stumble onto something that intrigues me and I feel like I must share it with you. That is exactly what I’m doing today, when I share the surprise I had in discovering the new reality TV show “Life Or Debt” last month on Spike which airs Sunday nights at 10 pm Eastern.
The show is a reality show in the truest sense possible. It deals with real life, real people and real problems. It’s the kinds of problems that most of us have dealt with at some point, but in this show it’s magnified with a huge lens that puts the problems under the microscope for all of us to view. Continue reading
Are you the kind of person who is smart about your money? Do you think about your spending in advance? Do you have a budget and almost never deviate from it? Do you actually know where you money comes from and goes every week? You’d be very surprised to know that a lot of people haven’t a clue about those things and in fact can’t control their spending. That’s hard to believe I know, especially if you’re a person like me, who makes knowing about my money a real priority. But for a lot of people, spending money, shopping, and going out on the town isn’t something they think about like I do. In fact, for many people, spending money (even when they don’t have any left) is an overwhelming urge or need. It’s a compulsion and is really part of an addiction. It’s called Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD).
CBD spending comes from someplace within the mind and is almost always a desperate attempt to satisfy some negative emotions like anger or sadness. It may be an attempt to block out something like stress or a sense of inferiority that buying something new or spending to an extreme will cure, if only for a moment. Continue reading