Most personal finances are jacked up. They are upside down at best.
Too many work harder to supposedly live more fully and have more stuff. But in that pursuit of getting more stuff we have to work that much more which leaves little time to enjoy the aforementioned stuff. It is upside down! What needs to happen it financial responsibility on a number of levels. Such freedom can bring about better health, better sleep, less anxiety, more time, and even more money! And being a man of action, let’s not talk about it. Let’s do it. Here’s how:
PULL YOUR CREDIT REPORT
- Visit Annual Credit Report. Visit annualcreditreport.com. This is the #1 trusted source for online credit reports.
- Quickly check your report over for errors. Over 2/3 of credit reports have some sort of existing error. A number of them are minor and are often overlooked. Don’t be victim to a false claim or incorrect score.
- Store a copy of your report in a safe place. You can use your report to reference all sorts of information in the future, including listing every debt you owe, following up with errors, or when applying for different services.
- Monitor your scores. Using free tools Credit Karma and Credit Sesame allow you to monitor the activity on your score throughout the fiscal year.
How this can change your life: Fixing errors and collecting on refunds and claims possibly shown on a credit report are the fastest way to improve your credit score. Did you know over 30% of American banking account holders go 3-5 years without pulling their personal credit report?
Additional Resource: How to Get Your Free Credit Report Online: A Step-by-step Guide
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT REPORTS
- Learn what a FREEZE is. A “freeze” will restrict new creditors (and identity thieves) from being able access your reports. You can easily lift a freeze (should you want someone to access your reports) in as little as 10 minutes or as long as a couple of days. Some states have a small cost to place a freeze. Others are free. It has been said that free reports are granted to senior citizens and victims of identity theft in most cases.
- Freeze with TransUnion Online. Click here
- Freeze with Experian Online. Click here
- Freeze with Equifax Online. Click here
- Call customer service. Most of the time, freezing takes just a few clicks. If you have problems, call Customer Service.
- Turn down any upsells. As with most for-profit companies, credit reporting firms may try to sell you on additional services. Just state you would like a ‘credit report freeze’ only.
How this can change your life: A credit report freeze is one of the best ways to lower your exposure to identity theft and with it taking sometimes weeks to discover and fix an identity theft case it is clearly worth it.
DRAFT YOUR FIRST BUDGET
- Estimate your income. If you work a steady job and are not a client-based, self-employed, person, you will have pay stubs and tax returns to base these numbers off. But if you are self-employed try rounding down whenever possible to make convenient numbers. If you are on an extremely inconsistent income, start by budgeting based on last month’s income. At least you know that will never change.
- Brainstorm fixed expenses. Brainstorm your fixed, regular expenses or the overhead you pay every month. Round these numbers up so you don’t shortchange what you MUST earn.
- Brainstorm irregular expenses. This is the hardest part for most people and subsequently where most budgets fail. Think ahead to any non-regular expenses or bills that are coming up in the next 30 days such as gifts, repairs, holidays, supplies, taxes, hosting fees, travel, etc.
How this can change your life: The toughest thing about the budgeting process is getting started. But it is such a rewarding discipline. Too many people try to perfect a budget and spend within the penny. That sort of behavior will only cause anxiety and heartburn in the long run. Always be willing to fix, amend, substitute, etc.
Additional Resource: Personal Monthly Budget Google spreadsheet