Foreword by Colorfulifesite admin:
The sub-series presented in this third part of the “Adulting and Money Management” series aim to share real-life experiences of 2 guest bloggers. One of them is a retired international ballet dancer from Canada, and the other one is a managing partner at a couple of startups in the Philippines.
I thought it would be worthwhile to expose two very different types of people from two very different contexts, bound by a single objective to effectively manage debt. The final part of this sub-series will contain Colorfulifesite’s own perspective on the topic.
The first of the guest bloggers is a Ballet Master who have had his share of rags-to-riches-to-rags story. In between those events, he has experienced fame, prosperity, bankruptcy, hunger and resurgence. His account on debt management is but a tiny piece of precious advice within the beautiful mural that is his life.
(Minor edits have been made with respect to the original written piece.)
I am greatly humbled by being asked to contribute to Colorfulifesite Blog. I in no way can replace Karessa, but I can offer my insights on how we fall into debt, how to manage debt and how to make the positive changes to stay out of debt.
How do we fall into debt?
Image courtesy of: https://clipartfest.com
If you are in debt, you have bought things you did not have money to pay for at that time. I do not know anyone who has never experienced debt in one way or another. It might be a personal debt to a friend, a car loan from the bank or a credit card debt.
If you are in debt or sever debt, some perceptions and habits must change.
Not having money for what you need is a serious problem. However, not having money for what you want should not be viewed equally to what sustains your life. In short, you will not develop malnutrition or be put out on the street if you do not buy those new shoes. They in no way sustain your life. You will however, develop malnutrition if you have no money for groceries and could be put out of your home if the rent is not paid. Recognition of this brings about a change in perception. We begin to see food and shelter as necessary and the latest smartphone as nonessential.
Remember that money in the bank or any other investment vehicle pays periodical interest, making your money grow. But if you have a debt on credit card or on a department store, YOU are the one making the periodical pay offs and making your money shrink.
A recent MasterCard bill contained the information that if I made the minimum payment each month, my debt would be cleared in June 2060. For most people, this idea might seem interesting. Yet for me, this is a sobering thought considering I will be long gone from this world by that time. Suffice to say I did not take the 43 years to pay the debt. I paid it in 5 minutes at the bank. If I took 43 years to pay the $1000.00 debt, I would have paid over $3,000 in interest charges.
Conclusion: it is very expensive to be in debt.
How to manage debt?
One thing that worked wonderfully for me is debt consolidation. If you have multiple debts to different companies, it is best to consolidate them at a better rate of interest. Ask a financial adviser how you could do this as it allows you to have only one single creditor to pay for all of your different debts.
With a line of credit, you could pay debts that have a monthly interest charge of 23%, and the reduced interest rate to 3%. The larger your debt is, the more practical this becomes.
Investopedia explains the concept of Debt Consolidation in a few words:
… multiple debts are combined into a single, larger piece of debt, usually with more favorable pay-off terms: a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment or both. Consumers can use debt consolidation as a tool to deal with student loan debt, credit card debt and other types of debt.
… any use of one form of financing to pay off other debts is practicing debt consolidation. However, there are specific instruments called debt consolidation loans, offered by creditors as part of a plan to borrowers who have difficulty managing the number or size of their outstanding debts. Creditors are willing to do this for several reasons – one of them being that it maximizes the likelihood of collecting from a debtor. These loans are usually offered by financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions; there are also specialized debt-consolidation service companies.
My best advice for getting out of debt is to delay satisfaction or gratification. This means that if you delay the satisfaction you get from buying a new product, it is appreciated all the more because you have saved the money for it. The new product comes with no guilt, no debt and no interest charges.
Another very practical way to manage debt is to make debt payment a part of your budget. Treat your debt payment the same as your rent, your phone bill or your electric bill. This would allow you to look at your debt realistically and honestly evaluate your capacity to pay: could you do it in 6 months, in one year or maybe in 5 years?
Image courtesy of: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/
What positive changes could you make to stay out of debt?
Getting out of debt could be likened to dieting: neither of the two is easy for many. In the case of dieting, people must do without eating what they crave in order to attain their desired weight. When paying off a debt, we must also learn to do without the unnecessary things if we want to achieve our goal. In my case, I had to quit smoking. This nearly “killed” me as I had to learn to live without the single thing I craved the most. I had to do this in order to greatly reduce my expenses and pay my debts off a bit easier (and of course, to reach the state of health I felt was rightfully mine). Likewise, you would also need to give up your whims in order to achieve your goal of financial stability which you correctly feel is rightfully yours.
I can confidently share that in time we develop a pride in paying our bills in full each month, in saving for what we want and living without the burden of guilt, stress and the interest charges that accompany debt.
Experience has taught me how there are endless ways of saving money so you may buy what you want. For instance, I still cut all the store coupons and have not bought anything that is not on a special sale (I started doing this during the time I was living in hunger). I still plan my weekly menu by looking at the flyers of the store specials. I get to save more than 60% on my groceries, pharmacy and paper products.
I love the smell of Speed Stick Original. One costs $4.00. When they come down to two for $5.00, I buy 6. Total savings = $9.00. These are nine dollars I may apply to my phone bill, my rent or add to my bank account. Instead, I use this $9.00 to buy paper products on special sale. (I shall not reach a time in this life when I no longer need toilet paper, paper towels or Kleenex.) With my $9.00 saving, I bought 72 rolls of toilet paper and have not bought any for two years now. When possible, I buy in bulk.
Trust me when I say: focus on the debt like a laser beam. Most importantly, get excited about reducing it, take pride in watching the debt go down and celebrate your success and financial responsibility.
Image courtesy of: http://www.bankrate.com/
– The End –
As I mentioned at the start, I can never replace my friend Karessa. My thoughts do not appear in a logical order and I tend to ramble without a strong focus. However, I welcome your thoughts and questions (click here to access Edward’s Facebook page). I may be contacted by private message if you have questions about your debt that you do not feel comfortable discussing in a public form.
Colorfulifesite’s note: Edward Hillyer used to tour around the world as a professional ballet dancer and instructor. He carries the title of Ballet Master. A former Principal Dancer of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, he is currently living a quiet but active life in Montreal. Take my word for it, Edward means it when he offers to attend to any questions you might have. Thank you very much, Edward, for taking the time to share your insight and useful advice on debt management.
- Debt Consolidation definition, Investopedia, available at: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/debtconsolidation.asp