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OTHER ITA SITES:
8 Warning Signs of Financial Doom!
1. This is the electronic age. If your surprised that checks clear almost immediately, you shouldn't be. There is no significant "float" time any more. "Float" is term used to describe the period between the time a transaction is implemented, and when it clears your account. In the past it has been up to a few days. Now it is almost immediate. Sometimes no longer than close of business on the same day as the transaction.
If you are relying on float time, you're in danger. Banks love to slap heavy fees on bounced checks. Even if they pay the check, they charge you a significant amount for the service.
Make sure you know what your balances are. Use MS Money or Quicken to actually balance your checkbook and keep it up to day at least every week.
2. Your savings account has a zero balance. There is no money to access in the event of emergency (without going into debt by using a credit card). The old advice about 3 months income is great, but in many cases just not possible. That being said, you need some cushion to land on if something happens.
3. Your carrying huge credit card debt. Pay this off quickly. Its costing you interest and reducing the amount that you have available if you actually need the money for something important. And no, a big screen t.v. is not an emergency.
4. You have nothing left over at the end of the month. You spend your paycheck before you even see it. Your regular expenses eat up your entire salary. Something has to give here. You need to cut unnecessary expenses, and be ruthless about it - your future depends on it.
5. You have no idea what the terms of your mortgage are. As the single largest purchase you will probably ever make, you need to give yourself an education before you obligate yourself to it. Don't trust the loan guy across the table. He really doesn't care. He gets his commission when the loan closes. What happens after that is your problem. If you have no idea when or if your payment resets, whether you have a fixed rate or an a.r.m. - you need to find out. I mean, you do want to keep on living in that house, right?
6. You are under insured, or without any insurance. If you don't have health coverage at your job, dump them. Get another job. Make sure that the liability limits on your home and auto are adequate. Just because you have the amount thats legal, doesn't mean you have the amount thats adequate the protect you in the event of a loss.
7. You have a rental or a business that is bleeding money. If your business isn't making you a profit, and you're using your personal credit to keep your head above water - you need to come up with a plan. Basically, set a deadline for profitability. Make any changes you think will help. If it isn't profitable by that time, dump it. As badly as all of us hate admitting defeat, the ultimate defeat is complete financial ruin.
8. Your avoiding financial action because its just too painful to think about. Avoiding calls from creditors. Borrowing from a credit card to pay your car loan. Taking out payroll loans of any kind. Paying only the minimum payment on your credit cards. Using your home equity to pay off credit cards, and other bad decisions.
Debt causes stress. When we are stressed, we don't always think clearly. You need to get a plan in place, and stick with it. Your future depends on it. You can turn your financial condition around. You can't afford to wait - your future is coming whether you ignore it or deal with it. Start today, plan for the future, get out of debt and get on with your life.
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