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Is there anything more scary than not having enough money for the things you need to take care of? Whether it’s food, bills, clothing, kids, other things, it’s a frightening proposition when you can’t figure out if you have enough money or, worse yet, don’t have a job or work in a career where you work from project to project.

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I’m in that last boat. As an independent consultant I’m never quite sure when my next gig will come up. Luckily I make enough money where I don’t have to immediately turn around and work but I certainly don’t have unlimited money, and there comes that “push to shove” moment where I need to get going, otherwise things might get cramped.

For the majority of people this isn’t an issue. Still, there are fears about money, or lack thereof. They can be conquered by changing the way you think about money however; that’s what we’re going to do now with these 4 ways of conquering money fears.

1. Change the way you think about money

In his book. Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker stated that he had two beliefs that kept taking him from the riches he kept making back to the poorhouse over and over that he had to overcome. Both were phrases from his childhood that his father would repeat over and over. The first is “Money is the root of all evil.” The second was “All rich people are crooks.”

He realized that he didn’t want to be evil or a crook so every time he made a lot of money he lost it quickly and had to start over again. By changing his mindset he was able to figure out that not only does having a lot of money not mean you’re bad, but you can do great things for others with money.

2. Know what your money situation is to either comfort your mind or know you have to figure out a way to fix it.

Almost everyone I know hates the term “budgeting“, yet the beginning process of it is necessary for you to actually see how much money you have on a regular basis and what your outlay of funds is for the things you really need. By doing that, you’ll either recognize that you’re really good, good enough to pay your bills and survive, or potentially in trouble and need to find a way out.

It’s always better to know; trust me on this. You can’t do anything about, well, anything in life, if you don’t know where you’re starting from and what you need to do. Maybe you need to get either a new job or second job. Maybe you need to start putting some of your money away for a rainy day. Maybe you want to buy something significant in the near future; maybe you want to work towards a secure retirement. No matter what, knowing where you stand is always more comfortable a place to be than worrying about what you don’t know.

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3. There’s always something else out there for everyone; just expand your mind.

I know too many people who worry about losing their job who aren’t making the money they need to make. When you approach things from a position of fear, it’s hard to think straight.

Too many people think of themselves as the job they presently do and nothing else. Every person has a skill that someone needs. Every person also has the ability, unless the economy is tanking and unemployment is around 10% (which it’s not right now) to find jobs that might seem lateral that may actually pay more or have other benefits that equate into a better income. If you need more education, or a change in hours or anything else that you’re not used to, why not give it a try. Nothing says you have to stay there after all.

I’m a health care finance consultant. However, I started this blog during a time when consulting was slowing down because the economy slowed down (actually, the anniversary of this blog was the 7th, 6 years ago to be exact) and I was making a little bit of money off it back then. I was also writing, doing budgeting, running a web design/SEO company and a host of other things, all to make enough money to pay the bills during a tough economic period. If all I thought of myself was that I was a health care consultant, I might have had to declare bankruptcy; didn’t want to go there.

So, think about all the skills you have, because everyone has more skills than they know about, and figure out what you might be able to do to make more money. Who knows, you could end up being like Sara Blakely.

4. There’s always help; you’re not alone.

Whenever there are money problems, most people feel like the weight of the world is on them and that they don’t have any options. Truthfully, there are always options, always people who are ready to help in some capacity, and I don’t mean looking to your friends to borrow money from, although that could be an option.

There are services that will help you figure out a budget. There are services that will help you find a job or help you put together your resume. There are free training classes you can take to move in a different direction. There are networking groups of all types where you can go to meet others who did or do what you do, who might need some help or know of jobs you can apply for.

It can be demoralizing to lose a job, or worry about not having enough money, but remember #1 above. As Zig Ziglar used to say, “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” Believe in yourself, know your position, and money will never be a problem that bothers you all that much.

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Let’s face it, many people, especially young married couples, start thinking that they need to buy a house, and as soon as possible. Home ownership can be pretty cool… that is, if you can afford it.

A Usual House
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Even if you have a pretty nice salary, individual or both spouses, you might find that owning a home costs way more than you expected it would. If you’re good at budgeting you might figure it out. If not… well, it could be harrowing.

Here are some things you need to know:

1. Many rental agents you go to, who figures out how much home you can afford, are going to tell you that you can afford a home at least 3 times your income. If that sounds scary it is. They’re not really being sneaky but a reality is that the more you spend on a home, the higher their commission is. They follow a formula, though I don’t know who sets it, and that’s that.

2. What should you consider instead? Even though every community has different standards for home prices, for the majority of buyers a safe place to start is taking your entire income and adding 50% to it. So, if your income is $100,000 a year, start off looking for a house that doesn’t cost much more than $150,000, less if possible.

3. Why? If you’re a first time homeowner mortgage isn’t the only thing you have to deal with. Unless you can put down 75% of the cost of the home (and how often does that happen?), you have to have property taxes (escrow) attached to your monthly payment. So, even if you get one of those 3% interest rates, you’re most probably going to have to think about adding anywhere from $400 to $700 a month to your payment, depending on where you live.

4. That’s just for starting purposes. Unless you moved into a totally furnished home where you love everything and don’t change things around (really?), you’re probably going to spend at least $10,000 to get it the way you like it. Most people save up just enough money to get the house without thinking about the other stuff, which of course means most people put a lot of stuff on credit cards. Suddenly, you not only have mortgage but higher credit card bills.

5. If you’ve been living in an apartment, be prepared for sticker shock when it comes to utility bills. You might get lucky and move to a community that supplies its own electricity but for everyone else, expect the bills to at least double. If you never paid separate utilities before expect bills anywhere from $150 to $500 a month depending on where you live and seasonal changes. Also, electricity cost more than natural gas to heat your home so if it gets really cold…

6. Lawn care doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to cut your grass but if it’s your first home you’re going to need to buy a mower and some other things. At least this should be a one time purchase. While you’re at it, you might as well think about things like, depending on where you live, snow shovels, leaf blowers, trimmers, etc.

7. One more thing about your monthly house payment. The amount you start off paying for mortgage and property taxes isn’t going to stay that way. Hopefully you haven’t gotten an adjustable interest rate for your mortgage; you’ve heard about all those people who lost their homes between 2009 and 2011 right? Well, property taxes go up almost every year. If you’re lucky they won’t go up a lot but some communities have their property taxes go up as much as $100 a month, and some places can have their property taxes go up twice in one year; ouch!

8. Final thing. You don’t have a choice; you MUST buy homeowners insurance as a first time homebuyer. If you buy it from the same people you get your car insurance from the rates might not be that high, and it could even end up with you getting a discount on your car insurance. Still, it’s another addition you have to think about, and the amount you’ll owe depends on how much you pay for your house and, of course, it’s location.

Home ownership isn’t all that bad once you get used to making the payments, especially if you’ve set out to make sure what you purchase is affordable. But many people find the grind hard to keep up with; don’t put yourself through that without considering the realities above.

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Last week there was a story on CNN’s website talking about people in Florida, who thought that they had settled with lenders regarding homes that were foreclosed upon, suddenly getting contacted by, and in some cases sued, by collection agencies. It seems that, by law, if agencies buy debt from lenders that they can go after those homeowners for the difference owed between what was settled for and what was really owed on those homes.

United Finance Co.
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It seems this is also a special case in that Florida had passed a law in 2013 saying that collection agencies only had a year to go after what’s called foreclosure debt so the figures are astronomical at this juncture. Whether the courts will be able to keep up with it all is questionable but you can bet there are many former homeowners pretty jittery about it all.

The thing is, if you thought that old debt that was sitting on a credit report and has now been removed after 7 years keeps collection agencies from chasing you, I’m afraid to tell you that’s not quite true. What the law says is that credit reporting agencies have to remove any negative reports after 7 years; it doesn’t say you’re absolved from having someone decide to chase you down to pay the rest of what you owe.

You might not think this is all that lucrative a business but it is. Although many people will totally ignore these agencies since they know that most businesses have collected insurance payments for those debts, there are other collection agencies that will purchase the debt from companies that only go after people for 7 years for literally pennies and attempt to go after debtors. Because some people will start paying on these claims, some of these companies can make a lot of money with a little bit of effort.

Of course, you have rights also. For instance, in some states a debt is considered uncollectible if it’s more than 5 years past the last time a payment was made, even if it stays on the credit report. So, you’ll have to do some research to find out how the law works in your state.

Also, you can write a company and tell them you’re not going to pay anything unless they file a claim against you and win a court judgment. This can be a good tactic unless the agency is in your state or somewhat close to you and the debt is high enough to warrant it. Still, if it’s past statute you’ll probably be okay.

So, don’t be surprised if you get a call after many years here and there. Just remember to do some research to find out what your liabilities might really be.

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