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Use A Debt Checklist To Examine Where You Are

A Debt Checklist allows you to look at items and areas of your financial life. You need to examine these to gauge how you stand. Even if you believe you are in good shape take a close look at these areas to be sure.

  • Your Budget. Almost nobody likes this word, which is why so many people have problems with their finances and debt. You need to know how and where your money is being spent. In addition, you should be sticking to a spending plan.

  • Your Savings Account. You should pay yourself each month. To do this you need have an account in place, in which you keep your funds. At least until you can move them to an account with a higher rate of return. Visit your bank or credit union to set one up.

  • Your Use Of Credit. You need to review your use of credit to see how, what, and where you are using it. Using credit to pay your bills or buying groceries is a recipe for trouble.

  • Your Percentage Of Income For Debt. Nothing makes it harder to stay with your spending plan than credit card payments. You are paying for your past while trying to purchase your present. If your percentage of income going toward debt exceeds 15 you could be headed for trouble. Any amount over 20 percent, you need to put on the brakes.

  • Your Minimum Payments. These add up. If you are to the point where you ca only make minimum payments on your debts, you will stretch your indebtedness far into the future. You don't want to extended like this. Find ways to add extra to one payment each month. Then when you pay one off move the extra payments to another.

  • Your Protection. You need to put into place and maintain protection for your assets. Your home, autos, life, and health, need be insured. Make certain the protection is in line with the value of your assets and the needs of the people whose lives would be effected.

  • Your Retirement. Two factors come into play here. You are going to live longer and life is not getting any cheaper. You should pay into an account for retirement every month. More is better. If you have been paying attention you'll know not to depend solely on social security.

  • Your Job Skills. Things change and change rapidly. A constant update should be part of your plan. You need to be able to obtain better jobs, or sometimes any job. The more skills you possess the better your chances.

  • Your Money Skills. Since money education is not taught in school you will need to learn on your own. You need to learn to manage your money, even if you turn it over to others. Become familiar with how credit and debt works, so it doesn't work against you.

Once you have taken this inventory get to work shoring up the areas where you are weakest. Put into place the ones you don't have. Then check back every so often to make sure all is well and as it should be.

(C) 2004 David Wilding.

David Wilding has for the past ten years worked with groups and individuals to help them reach the goal of being debt free. Visit his web site for more ideas, tools, and strategies.

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