Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Four-Week Financial Detox: As Seen on Steven and Chris

I'm teaming up with Steven and Chris to put you on a diet—a financial diet, that is. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to embark upon a month-long financial cleanse. Every week, join fellow S&C fans in tackling one of the fiscal challenges outlined below and share your experiences on Facebook. For an extra challenge try my daily detox by creating a money-do jar full of financial to-dos!
I'll be doing all the challenges and tweeting and commenting of Facebook along the way.  

 Week 1: Declutter & Make Money
Comb your home for an item(s) to sell. We all have extra stuff stashed away in our basements and closets. If you haven't used it in months, it's time to get rid of it. Whether it's furniture, clothing, shoes or electronics, your trash could be someone else's treasure. Immediately deposit any money you make on the sale into your savings account.

Week 2: Lower Your Interest Rate
Call your credit card provider and ask if it's possible to switch to a lower-interest account. If you are currently holding a $0 balance on your card, call your bank and ask to renegotiate your mortgage rate or try and get the interest rate lowered on your personal line of credit. The point here is to make the call and negotiate! Take back control by having a firm grasp on what you're currently paying and asking for something better.

Week 3: Talk Money!
Reach out to three people who you think are in good financial standing. Email or call them and ask if they would be willing to meet you and talk money. It's important to find out how other people are managing their finances so you can increase your knowledge and pick up some successful tips. Talking about money is not as taboo as it used to be—especially if it comes from a sincere place and you admire the person you're meeting. Get the conversation started with these three questions:
What is the best way to pay down debt?
How do you decide to make a big-ticket purchase (e.g. car, house, renovations)? How do you know if you can afford it?
What was your worst money mistake, and what did you learn from it?

Week 4: Get Organized...Big Time.
Dedicate the entire weekend to getting your financial paperwork organized—and yes, it will take the whole weekend. Set up a filing system, if you don't have one already. Organize your bills into "in" and "out" folders. Make sure each type of payment has its own specific folder. If you subscribe to paperless invoicing, go into your accounts and print off three months worth of summaries so that you have a paper trail. Most importantly, take this opportunity to collect all the papers required for tax filing and keep them in one spot

Bonus: Take a close look at your statements and see if there are charges that should be removed. Maybe you're paying too much for cable or you have an extra magazine subscription that could be cancelled; take the time to examine your financial paperwork closely.

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