Money And Me – A Love Story

All my life money has had issues with me. I’d work hard to make it, put it in the bank and watch it disappear.

Oh there were patches there where money and I would reconcile and stay together for long periods of time, but inevitably I’d find my money cheating on me with my bills and I’d realize  that money didn’t love me as much as I loved money.

It took me a half a century to figure out how to keep money happy and believe you me, that makes me happy too. I want to share what I’ve learned with you and if I can help just one person to improve their relationship with money – well that would be a good thing.

1.     Don’t spend other people’s money

Other people’s money, that means credit cards,credit union loans, bank loans, student loans and anything else that you will have to pay back with interest.

Other people’s money seems like a great idea when you’re in the line at Macy’s and the cashier says you can get 10% off of your purchase today if you sign up for a card RIGHT NOW. Trust me the one day sales and percent off coupons and those gratuitous credit limit increases will have you in debt up to your eyeballs in no time and that 10% off won’t offset the 16 to 30 percent interest you’ll be paying on your balance each month.

IF YOU CAN”T PAY FOR IT WITH CASH, YOU CAN PROBABLY LIVE WITHOUT IT. Remember your money will leave you when it discovers your affair with other people’s money.

 2.     Don’t spend money now that you think you’re going to earn later

You just got a new job, big promotion, your tax refund is going to be awesome this year- so you think to yourself “I’m going to earn that money later, so why not go ahead and  treat myself or the family to____”. I think this was one of my major shortcomings, always spending money I thought I was going to earn before it was actually in my pocket, I like to call that “euphoria spending”. Just think about it, if I’m spending as though I’m making more, when I’m not, then something is going a gangling as they say. Maybe it’s the electric bill, the gas bill, money for the commute to work next week, lunch money for the kids…whatever.  DON’T SPEND WHAT YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE…YET.

3.     Pay your bills in full every month

Keeps the bill collectors at bay, makes you feel rich , and helps you to keep your sanity.  This is a hard one for some people, they tend to pay half of this and a quarter of that, steal from Peter to pay Paul and end up in this deep pit full of past due bills. I’ve never been one of those people, just wasn’t in my DNA, but I wasn’t always able to stay  on top of things and would suddenly  discover that the cell phone bill was 3 months past due because I  got busy and wasn’t keeping up. Continue reading and I’ll tell  you how I fixed that and how you can too.

4.     Open an ING account

I am sure that by now there are other online banks that allow you to open as many accounts as you’d like and manage your money in the way that I am about to explain. Back when I started ING was the one that I found and that’s the one that has worked for me

  1. Open an Electric Orange account and have your paycheck Direct Deposited there.
  2. Add a savings account and call it “Emergency Fund” because this is where you will stash a little money every month for unexpected things like a busted water heater or car repairs and the like
  3. Open one savings account for each one of your bills – this will keep you on track so that you don’t miss any of your monthly payments. I name my accounts after my bills: The Rent, Gas bill, electric Bill, Cell Phone,Car etc.


5.     Set up automatic transfers from your Orange account to each of the savings accounts

This will ensure that each month when that bill comes due – you have enough to pay it. Here is an example:

Bill and his wife earn $1000 per week. The table below shows their bills and the automatic transfers that should go into each account when they get paid every week,( the math may be off but I hope you get the idea):

Bill Amount Weekly Automatic Transfer
Mortgage $1000 $250
Electric $120 $30
Gas $30 $7.50
Cell Phone $200 $50
Cable $75 $18.75
Car $350 $87.5
Credit Card $100 $25
Gas and groceries $550 $137.5
Savings (external Account) $800 $200
Emergency Fund $300 $75
$3525 $881

As I hope you can see – by saving money from each check to pay their bills, Bill and his wife are able to live happily with their money.

6.     Open an external savings account

I need to have money that is hard to get to, so I have an account outside of ING where I transfer out 20% or so of my income each paycheck. That amount is based on how much I usually have left over after bills, groceries, gas, and other necessities.

Today, money and I have a healthy relationship based on mutual respect. I’m able to eat out, shop, shower my children with unexpected gifts, build up my savings – and pay my bills on time. We’re finally happy together – and you can take that to the bank.

Your Reality Bites – How to Deal With Bill Collectors & Other Blood Suckers

dino debt collector
Image by niznoz via Flickr

Did you read my previous post  “Your Boss is Not Your Daddy” ? Read it again, I’ll wait. Well can I call it or what? You’ve been laid off and have no fall back position. To top things off, now that you are a payment or two behind on the car or the mortgage or a credit card – your phone rings constantly and it’s not recruiters with lucrative job offers. What can you do besides cower in a closet or turn the ringer off (i mean if you turn the ringer off you may just miss that lone recruiter with the lucrative job offer).

So what’s this all about? Well, I’ve been there more than once, I have walked through the fire for you and I am here to tell you that you have to face your fears or the calls will never stop. Now I’m not going to give you financial advice, there are smarter people than me for that; but I am going to give you some tips that I hope will help you to get out of that funky space that hiding from debt-collection calls puts you in.

  1. Answer the phone! If you don’t answer the phone they will continue to call and believe me you don’t want to prolong this experience. Florence Scovel Shinn says when we are prepared to face the lion in our path, he magically disappears.
  2. Be nice! Like your Mom probably told you countless times – you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.You attract what you are and if you answer the phone with a growl, the lion will roar. Remember that the person on the other end
    • is just like you
    • might even be deeper in debt than you
    • is probably reading from a script and will be critiqued at the end of the call by someone listening to that recording that is being done for quality assurance purposes
  3. Explain your situation calmly and let them know that you want to pay your bill as much as they want you to pay your bill. Often this will lead to them offering you a deal of some sort like eliminating the interest and late charges and letting you pay 50% or less of what you owe. Deals like that are nice if you have the wherewithal to pay, but even if you don’t there may be a hardship program that you qualify for.
  4. If they are nasty and ask personal questions or try to make you angry – hang up. Why make yourself sick and cloud your Karma by arguing with them? Just say nicely “Thanks for the call, I’m going to hang up now, have a great day OK?”
  5. Learn your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; one of your rights  is that you can send a letter to the collection agency and the original debtor that says “for petes sake please stop calling me!” Here’s and example (remember to send it certified mail and get a receipt):
Tired of all these bills bills bills
Image by banoootah_qtr via Flickr

Dear Mr Bill Collector Sir,

I am exercising a right granted to me by the Fair Debt Collection Act. I am currently unemployed and cannot  pay the $240.00 per month required to keep this account current . I can pay $20 per month, but given my present circumstances that’s all I can afford .  I have no other property to use to pay this debt, and I cannot borrow anymore than i already have from family and friends.
Please cease all communication with me.

Broke in Boise

Use this letter as an example only and make sure that you look into what your other rights under the THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT are.  Do you have some tips for dealing with bill collectors? Please share!

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