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Who Figured? Having more money doesn't signal debt free existence

There's an old adage as it pertains to business, more specifically growing it, that goes something like this: “You have to spend money to make money.”

That phrase simply means you have to spend money on advertising, marketing and get word out, which isn't going to be an inexpensive endeavor. Therefore, you might have to increase that marketing budget more than just a bit in order to actually start making some real money and thus turning a profit that is deemed respectable by those who are in charge.

When it comes to personal finances, the “spend money to make money” needs a bit of an edit. Those who consider themselves “well off” financially, let's say a six figure household income, often have no trouble spending money, and that often starts the ball rolling in the wrong direction.

You see having more money tends to lead to spending more money and not really having as much at the end of each two week pay period that you might believe. This tends to get you into financial hot water and more consumed by debt that those who have a more modest income.

What often never comes into play is if your higher income suddenly goes away due to a layoff and you're left with a lifestyle that you no longer can pay for since you haven't been saving much of anything.

More important is what you do with your substantial salary the moment you receive the news that it is yours. Far too often that group of proverbial high rollers tend to raise the stakes to the point that they overspend initially and have little wiggle room to actually save money.

Take the two easiest and most notable purchases you can have: house and car.
Let's say you have a $150,000 salary, but you opt to purchase a home that tips the scales at close to $500,000 and a car that easily trumps a standard $15,000-20,000 vehicle purchase. Call it house or car poor if you will, but you'll be wishing you had thought through borrowing the absolute maximum amount you're approved for when it comes to the home specifically.

Smart money managing tells you to split the difference between your salary and what you're pre approved for, whether you're talking about the home or even the car. Often with the vehicle, you're not pre approved but rather given the opportunity to shop for what you want and have a decent idea if that $60,000 car is in your budget. Chances are you can get a similar, comparable car for about half that if you can put aside your salary that drives your want and need to have the very best, when in actuality above average more than suffice for the practical reasons of saving money and securing your financial future.

Ignoring your income isn't what is being offered as advice but rather taking what you're making with a grain of salt and choosing to spread it around evenly and cautiously, rather than without much reasoning behind it.


Credit Check: Are you using your credit card correctly?

Do you consider yourself smart when it comes to money, more specifically how you use credit cards?

Most likely, you'll answer affirmatively to that question. You can look at your credit card debt and see that you have a decent amount of debt but “nothing you can't handle.”

You pay your monthly minimum payment and while you're not so much getting ahead, you pay on time and the rest you chalk up to blind faith that everyone else has debt, so you do, too.

That passive, hands off approach to credit is the norm relatively speaking. Most accept credit card debt as a part of life, no different than having to pay taxes or get up and go to work every morning. The real issue with credit cards as it relates to debt isn't so much where you are but how you got there.

Do you use a credit card for the right reasons? And, what exactly is deemed “right?”

Let's say for instance you recently landed a new job and you're in dire need of a new wardrobe. That might be grounds for getting out your Visa or MasterCard and hitting the stores, right? Yes and no. To some degree, you need something that doesn't scream “I haven't worked in six months,” so getting a few essentials is paramount. But much like anything else credit related, you have to check the balance on the card and buy with some caution in mind. Moderation makes sense most of the time, and this particular circumstance is no different.

Common sense doesn't hurt, either. Buying a thousand dollars worth of clothing isn't exactly the credit salvation you had in mind as it relates to buying new work clothes.

And what about the real dilemma of paying a credit card bill with another credit card? In this situation, you'd most likely be going the cash advance route, which depending on the issue at hand is credit and debt suicide.

Cash advances typically carry with them a monstrous interest rate to the tune of 20 or 30%, something you'd see out of a traditional department store retail credit card. Cash advances should only be used if there is some money you're expecting to receive (i.e. end of the year bonus, settlement or life insurance policy or something of that ilk). Essentially, you're borrowing money that you'll have within a certain number of days, and you'll pay back the “advance” the moment you receive that income.

Those who use cash advances for things like buying a car or vacationing are the poster children of credit gone awry.

Using a credit card correctly can be the proverbial slippery slope, especially for the people who inherently believe they know what they're doing when in actuality they're a credit disaster the moment the card is swiped.


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