Editor’s Note: As part of a special project on The PerkStreet Blog, we’re offering free question and answer columns on Saturdays with Customer Columnists Clint and Katy Davis of Davis Coaching. If you have a question you’d like to submit to get advice from these financial coaches, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question 1: How Can I Grow My Wealth?
Dear Clint and Katy,
My wife and I make a total of around $180,000 per year, but we always seem to spend everything we make – and then some. Even at our income level, we can’t afford to purchase a home. We have over $100,000 of debt and nothing in savings. We struggle from month to month just to stay current with our bills. We make too much money to have so little to show for it. What are we doing wrong and how can we finally break this cycle?
It sounds like you’re learning something we say all the time – No matter how much money you make, if you spend it all, you’re broke. Many high-income earners tend to think that, because they make so much money, they don’t really need to pay attention to their budget and spending. Their lifestyle gradually creeps up, they overspend, they take on a lot of debt and eventually they look up to realize they’re drowning financially.
To turn this situation around and get on the path to financial freedom, you need to do three things:
1. Take Full Responsibility For Your Current Situation
Be honest with yourselves about your lifestyle, how much you’ve really been spending, and the fact that you haven’t been as financially responsible as you should have been. I’m not coming down on you – we’ve been there ourselves. But the journey starts by taking full responsibility.
2. Set Up A System of Accountability
You need an objective opinion, emotionally removed from your personal situation, who can look in, help you determine what’s broken in your finances, and help you develop a plan to get back on track. We are coaches, but we also hire coaches – for our business, our marriage, and other areas of life. So I’m not trying to be “salesy” here. I just know that the coaching process and the accountability it provides absolutely work! Whether you ever hire us as coaches or not, find someone to be that mentor, guide and accountability partner for you.
3. Make Massive and Drastic Actions
You can’t take control of your finances, become debt free, or build savings and wealth by sitting on the sidelines. You have to setspecific financial goals, develop a precise plan for achieving them, and take serious action toward making them a reality. If your goal is to spend less, what action can you take to make that happen? If your goal is to get debt free what is your plan and what action steps will you take to get there?
Brad, you guys have a fantastic income and great potential to turn this around and become very wealthy. It may not seem possible right now, but I know you can do it if you start implementing these changes into your life.
Question 2: Can I Fight Against a Same-As-Cash Plan?
Dear Clint and Katy,
My husband and I bought a new TV a while back using what we thought was a 24-month “same as cash” plan. The original purchase price was $1,800. Last week, I received a call from a collector saying that the plan was actually a 12-month plan, and the balance we owe is now $2,500. We looked back at the paperwork, and we were mistaken on the length of the plan. Even so, that means the interest rate is well over 30%. Is there anything we can do to fight this?
Unfortunately, you’re experiencing one of the main reasons we tell people to stay away from these “same as cash” plans. They’re no more than a trap designed to lure you in and make you pay more than you expected. I haven’t seen your specific purchase contract, but I’m fairly certain that, by signing, you agreed to these ridiculous rate and fees.
That’s how people get into these messes. They think they can beat these companies at their own game. The truth is, stores only offer these “deals” because they know the odds are stacked in their favor. Even if you had read the contract correctly, it would have been unlikely for you to pay it off in time – statistically speaking. And, when you don’t, these stores make a huge profit!
I would call the collection agency and try to negotiate a discounted settlement, but only if you actually have the cash to pay the settlement amount in full. Be sure to get any settlement agreement in writing before you pay a dime. Beyond that, it looks like you’ll to have to consider this an expensive lesson in the dangers of playing with credit and debt. As the saying goes – if you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.
I’m sorry you’re in this mess. We’re all human and therefore we all make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Pick yourself up, learn the lesson, and move forward knowing you won’t make this kind of mistake again.
Have a tricky question Clint and Katy can answer about your finances?
Email it to Editors@PerkStreet.com
Clint and Katy Davis are PerkStreet Customer Columnists and founders of Davis Coaching. As financial coaches, their passion is helping people become and stay debt free! Their personalized coaching is designed to help you get your financial life where you want it to be. Like personal trainers for your finances, they can help you develop a specific plan to achieve your goals, and provide the expertise and accountability to get you there. If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, visit Davis Coaching online, check out the Davis Coaching blog, and connect with Clint and Katy on Twitter and Facebook.