Five to Thrive, 5 Steps to Financial Freedom
By Lisa Christiansen
1. Break Free From Debt
If you carry credit card balances, debt is your biggest financial oppressor. “You’re in bondage of things you bought or did in the past that you’re still paying for today,” says Lynnette Khalfani, author of ‘Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom’ (Advantage World Press). “And it’s costing you for tomorrow, because you don’t have the opportunity to save or invest for your other financial goals.” … … … The best strategy for paying off your debt is simple: Focus on paying off the card with the highest interest rate first, and never settle for making only the minimum payments. (You say you can’t possibly squeeze any more dollars out of your budget? visit www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/save-300-a-month-19398/ for tips on how to save $300 a month.) …
Consider this: A $5,000 balance on an 18% credit card would take nearly four years to pay off if you made a $150 monthly payment — and would cost you $2,013 in interest. With $450 monthly payments, you’d wipe away your debt within 13 months and pay only $519 in interest. (To see how much interest your plastic will cost you, visit www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/debt…-will-you-pay-9660/.)
For more on beating credit card debt, and for more debt advice, We will be gearing up the toughest economic experts to help you in these times of tremendous opportunity.
2. Build a Nest Egg, Always have Cash
A cash cushion — enough to cover three- to six-months’ worth of living expenses — is your protection against falling into debt. “Without it, any time an emergency comes up you’re forced to resort to plastic,” Khalfani says.
The good news: Thanks to rising interest rates your cash can earn decent returns in the bank. Visit www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/5ive-t…ng-interest-rates-0/ here for the best deals.
3. Fortify your assets
According to the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, the major reasons for bankruptcy filings are job loss and medical problems.
The best way to protect yourself: Make sure you have adequate insurance. “Most people are woefully underinsured,” Khalfani says. “The problem is, if you suffer any kind of setback, illness or disability and don’t have enough insurance to cover that, you’re thrown into financial crisis.”
If you aren’t offered health insurance through your job, consider private health insurance. Visit www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/buying…lth-insurance-14819/ for advice on finding the most affordable policy with the best coverage.
Disability insurance is another tricky area. Most employers offer it, but for many people, the policies don’t provide adequate coverage.
Contact me if you need a worksheet to help you figure out where you are at and how to get where you are going.
4. Creat a budget
Your mortgage payments, insurance and food — the so-called “must-haves” — should comprise no more than 50% of your monthly spending. Then, allocate a solid 20% to savings for retirement, college costs and other long-term savings goals. Finally, leave a pleasing 30% for the fun stuff, be it golfing or clubbing, buying shoes or fine dining.
Need help creating a budget? email me firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Master your emotions, Create Peace of Mind!
It’s a subject no one likes to discuss, but the fact is that having a will is more important than you may think. “People have big misconceptions about why and who should create a will,” Khalfani says. “A big one is that wills are only for people with big estates, elderly people, people who are married or have kids. All of those are myths.”
Even if you’re a recent college grad renting a studio apartment with two roommates a will is always a good idea. Once you start building a portfolio and acquiring assets, When the time has come to draw up a will, you have already done so. Hiring a lawyer may cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000, depending on where you live and the complexity of the paperwork. But at online law clinics like Buildawill.com and Legalzoom.com a basic will costs as little as $19.95 and $69, respectively.
Also, consider a VUL (Variable Universal Life), it is never to soon or to late to start also a ROTH IRA is a great place to start, it is especially a good idea for people nearing retirement. The VUL is a better vehicle when you are planning on buying life insurance.
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