Your Questions About Debt-free America

Ken asks…

Where can I find Grants to pay off debt?

I heard on an infomercial, that there is grants that help pay off debt. Is there really such a thing and if so where can I find them & apply for this grant?

John answers:

I keep hearing about those grants but I have never seen one. And considering the increase in the National Debt with all of the bailouts, I assume that those grants, even if they exist now, will be cut from the Federal budget. You better make up your mind that you will have to pay off your debts all by yourself and get it over with.
Please do not consolidate. It is not free, they will lower your payments by increasing the length of time until you are debt free, and you will take a hit on your credit score. Or they negotiate your debt down after telling you not to pay for awhile adding another hit to your credit score. Student loans are the only debt that can garnish your wages for non payment without taking you to court first. Just list them out on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet and follow the plan. If you work the plan, the plan will work for you.

A. Have a garage sale and sell anything that you no longer need or want.

B.Get a temporary part time job, if you have one, get another.

Here is a plan that can help you. If you work the plan, the plan will work for you:
1. Make a budget. Make the budget a week before you get paid. A budget is not a punishment! It is a tool which will free you from ever having to worry about money again. Put everything in your budget. Especially those annual, biannual, or quarterly bills like car registration, insurance, etc. Give every dollar you are going to bring home the name of where it is going. Add an “emergency fund” category to your budget for 25 dollars and save up until you have 1000-1250 dollars. Your emergency fund will help keep you from getting into new debt because of an emergency. If you can, set up a direct transfer to a savings account for your emergency fund. That way it moves automatically and you don’t even have to worry about it. You must cut your spending and live on less than you make.

2.First get current on all of you debts and make no more late payments. Stop using your credit cards immediately. Do not take on any more debt. Credit cards are like quicksand only the death is much slower. Make a list of all of your debts in order of highest interest rate to lowest interest. Use cash only for your spending from now on.

3.Pay the minimum due on all of your debts and then put your extra money towards paying off the highest interest one first. After you get that one paid off, you put the money you were paying on debt #1 (the minimum payment and the extra payment) towards debt #2. That will pay debt #2 off faster. When that is paid off, you put all three payments towards card #3 and that one will be paid off pretty quickly. As an example:

To start :
Debt #1 (highest interest): minimum payment+ extra payment
Debt #2 (middle interest): minimum payment
Debt #3(lowest interest): minimum payment

Debt #1: paid off
Debt #2: minimum payment from Debt #1+ Minimum payment from Debt #2 +extra payment
Debt #3: minimum payment

Debt #1: paid off
Debt #2: paid off
Debt #3:Minimum payment from card #1+ minimum payment from Debt #2+ minimum payment from Debt #3+ extra payment.

That way, you will get them all paid off, on time, and pay the least interest. It will also help towards rebuilding your credit since you will no longer have any late payments. This works no matter how many different debts you may have.

4. After you get all of your debts paid off, add to your emergency fund until you have 6-12 months of income saved up. Put that emergency fund money into a liquid money market fund or into a Bank of America no-risk CD so that if you need the money you can take it out without penalty.

5a. When you have your emergency fund in place, add a category for “fun” to your budget. Save for a holiday, a vacation, a big screen, or dinners out, whatever goal you want. Remember to enjoy your life.

5b. When you have your emergency fund in place, start saving for your retirement. Join the 401(k) plan at work and contribute the maximum. Your employer probably matches at least part of your contribution so why give up free money? Open a Roth IRA and contribute the maximum on a monthly basis. If you start saving for your retirement now, you will probably retire a millionaire.

5c. When you have your emergency fund in place, start saving for your next car. Only buy cars, or other things that depreciate, with cash. Save up for a nicer car. That way you get the interest instead of paying the interest.

You can do it and it isn’t as hard as you think. Just follow the plan.

Thomas asks…

How has the screwed up economy changed your life?

I notcied i’m more stressed and easily concerned, but then again I’m only 17, I guess I don’t understand all the way yet.

John answers:

I am 24, and it has been a good learning lesson. I have not yet lived through a depression in my lifetime where I was affected. Now that I have graduated from college and working/living on my own it has taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Conserve: Conserve your money and make good decisions with it. Save electricity/gas and find ways to minimize what you are spending. Sometime we have to learn to live with out some things. Like brand new clothes/shoes when the ones we have are perfectly fine. We can live without big screen tvs and video games.

2. Be Debt Free: When you have debt, you have interest working against you. Whether it is a mortgage, student loans, credit cards etc. Debt is a killer for people because if you owe say $10,000 on a credit card at 20% interest, you have to pay $2000 out of your pay just to pay for that interest, and then you will have to pay $2000 the next year just to stay in the same $10,000 debt that you owe, if not the debt will continue to grow and get out of hand. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE CASH, YOU DON’T NEED IT.

3. Make Smarter Decisions: Shop smarter where you can save the most money. Instead of spending money eating out, cook your own food. A family can eat a steak dinner every night for the same price as eating out at a fast food restaurant every day. Does everyone really need Starbucks? $4 for a cup of coffee every day? I used to until the my finances started to dwindle. Now I make coffee at about $0.10/cup. A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned. America pays for convience, but being broke is not a convience, so by making your own food- its more work but worth it.

4. Educate yourself- Start Reading more and actually learn what is going on. Don’t take everything you hear from the news media for real. The news has turned into Entertainment now instead of News. Always biased to get the ratings. Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see. Talk to people, and listen. Listen when they tell you the good, listen about the bad and find out the decisions that lead to the bad so that you do not make the same decisions. In my first job, i found that every one on Welfare “had a story.” I don’t want to tell a story.

5. Be Prepared- Who knows what is going to happen in our future. I am starting to diversify the little money that I have into different things such as gold, silver, different currencies, capital. Foreign Bank accounts etc. The state of our economy has taught me that we need to save money for a rainy day. Well it is storming right now, and our rainy day money is gone. I have started buying extra canned food every time I go to the store. If things get worse and there is a food shortage, very bad things will happen. I also have started picking up goods that will have trade value in an economic crash such as coffee, tobacco, canned food and alcohol. This sounds a little extreme, but in the time of a crisis, these items will be in high demand, and I can also use them if nothing happens.

Everyone is stressed. If anyone says money doesn’t make them happy then they are full of it. Not having money doesn’t make you happy either, but having the support of loved ones is still the most important thing of all. Only you can make your own decisions.

Maria asks…

when was the last time america was debt free?

John answers:

U.S. National debt has always been negligible to none existent until WW1, then began the slow drop into indebtedness. Strangely, in WW2 U.S. National wealth actually increased, America was rolling in money and most of the world owed America money. Then came the Korean War which saw an increase in debt, this was was partly paid off when Vietnam became one of the biggest debts in American history, but again America cleared most of the debt. The U.S. Plunged into massive debt during Mr Reagan’s Presidency, not so much because of Defence spending, but because Mr Reagan slashed Taxes and increased Public spending. Mr Clinton cleared most of that debt with the help of a GOP Congress. Mr Bush saw U.S. Debts reach record levels, at one point around 2006 it looked like the U.S. Would actually crash and go bankrupt, literally, broke. Today the U.S. Has the worse debt it has ever seen. If it is any conciliation, England is as debt ridden as the U.S. Which surprises some people. English people were always seen as fiscally Conservative and very care-full about living beyond their means, but Britain has spent money like a ‘drunken sailor’ and is in hock up to it’s eyeballs.

Carol asks…

When do you think America will be debt free?

or at the very least be cut in 1/2 and not increase ever again?

John answers:

Ha, Ha, Ha ! ! !

No, seriously, I’m sure Obama is all-llll over it.

Really, when the US dollar colapses and we have to go back on the gold standard. Assuming we survive the war with China.

Charles asks…

how do you envision a perfect America?

John answers:

An america free of illegal aliens, with secure borders and a balanced budget, also debt free, and every one speaks english

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