Financial Advice

Financial AdviceAnother Big Brother season is underway and viewers are still gripped by the gradual (and sometimes quite dramatic) psychological demise of people who appeared to be living on the edge to begin with. It’s easy to tune in and gaze in disbelief at the people who have chosen to put themselves in this bizarre position all for the sake of the elusive prizes of acceptance, approval and more money. Why do they do it?

Perhaps they don’t quite realize what they’re getting into in the first place. Maybe it just seems like a good idea at the time so they go for it. Perhaps the temptation is just too compelling. But are we really all that different to the housemates?

Just the like the Big Brother house you probably share your life with some unwanted partners and maybe they’re beginning to take over your life. In this case they’re called Credit Card Debt, Late Payment Fees and Overdraft Charges. They seem to come into your life, uninvited, and just established themselves there. And now you can’t seem to get rid of them. And there’s no public vote to take them out.

So who really invited them in and why can’t you evict them? The answer lies in a real Big Brother that’s lurking in the background of your life. And it’s not really some sinister Orwellian nightmare, it’s simply your own temptation getting the better of you.

Of course there are some cases where people have really fallen on hard times and are dealing with challenges of debt and poverty that are not their own making. However, there are many more earning a decent salary with no real challenges who have simply slipped slowly into more and more debt.

Perhaps you’ve been tempted by the attractive offers for loans and credit cards. Maybe the magazines full of the latest must-haves have grabbed your attention for just long enough to get you buying. Could it be that those impulse buys, or the offer of a 10% discount at the department store were just the push you needed to put you in your own Big Brother house with some new housemates?

And once those unwanted housemates of Debt, Charges and Fees get their feet in the door it can feel like their immune from eviction every month. They just stay there and if anything they get more of a foothold and get larger. They’re eating you out of House and Home and you can’t even go to the Diary Room to complain.

So what can you do?

Well the first thing is to accept that you actually invited them in and stop denying that you were responsible. It’s tough to do but it’s the first step to putting yourself in charge.

Next you need to decide, once and for all, that you want them out. And you need to decide that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to evict them.

The Charges and Fees can be voted out quite easily by getting yourself a little more organised and setting up direct debit payments to make sure at least your minimum credit card payment is covered each month. You may need to speak to your bank for an extended overdraft but you’ll need to stay within in to avoid overdraft fees and that does mean watching what you spend for a little while as you get back in charge. Of course, if you’re avoiding a few $25 late payment charges each month then you’ll find staying in credit a little easier. Many people find they can get these unwanted visitors out within a few months or less.

The slightly bigger challenge is your Credit Card and Loan Debt. This takes a little more work but, by sticking to an effective plan for paying off the debt, many people find they can clear their debts within a year to two years. The more focus and concentration you put in the faster it goes.

And once you’ve evicted those unwanted housemates you can start inviting a few more friendly faces in, like Savings, Investments, Wealth and Good Relationships. Now wouldn’t you prefer to spend your time with those?

Why a Debt Consolidation Loan Could Be for You

Why a Debt Consolidation Loan Could Be for YouDebt consolidation loans, used properly, can be the solution to a financial nightmare. If you have lots of different debts such as loans, credit and store cars, HP etc, all paying varying rates of interest, then a debt consolidation loan could be for you.

These loans do exactly what it says on the tin - they consolidate all your debts, and pay them off, leaving you with just on monthly commitment to meet each month and, normally, at a larger rate of interest.

The benefits are two fold – you pay less in interest overall (for example, a typical loan is around 7—8% APR, while a credit card is anything from 13% APR upwards) and you also have the physiological benefit of knowing that just one payment has to be serviced every month as opposed to worrying about paying bits and pieces here and there.

That is how debt consolidation loans should be used. So that at the end of the term, you have paid your debts off and are debt free.

However, you do need to have financial determination and restraint if this is the route you go down, as sadly many people accumulate further debt. Many people pay off their existing debts and replace it with a debt consolidation loan, but still keep hold of their credit card ‘just in case’. Then, before they know it, they have maxed it up to it’s limit and are in an even worse financial position than before.

In fact, recent research showed that three out of five consumers who do take out debt consolidation loans end up even further debt.

And just a quarter of people actually clear their debts early after having taken out a debt consolidation loan.

So, if you do take out a debt consolidation loan, cut up all your credit cards, remove any authorised overdraft from your bank account and don’t take out any further credit.