To Your (Financial) Health VI

by James C. Hess

Success, I believe, comes of having a plan. A plan succeeds, I believe, because of specifics. But too many specifics can lead to failure. Therefore, I believe, success must come of relative simplicity.

When it comes to success regarding your financial health, specifically the elimination of credit card debt, there are but three specifics you must adhere to: Dedication, desire, and determination.

How determined are you to eliminate your debt? How much dedication are you willing to commit to the effort? How much do you desire to get rid of this particular burden?

Previously I set forth a structure that will eliminate your debt and bring forth a measure of financial health and well-being. This time I will explain how to implement the structure, assure the elimination of your debt, and give you your financial health.

Once upon a time, not too many years ago, I worked in a corporate environment. As such experiences tend to go I wanted to fit in, so I did what almost everyone else did: I spent the first thirty minutes or so of a given day drinking bad coffee, at twenty-five cents a cup.

In a very short period of time, however, I came to realize this particular practice was bad in a number of ways. So I decided to give it up. I also decided that the money otherwise spent on the bad coffee would instead be put into the change tray in my car.

At the rate of one dollar per day.

Which quickly added up.

Inspired and motivated by the amount of money I was able to save without too much effort I decided to improve my fortunes further: I stopped buying two soft drinks a day from the vending machine at work.

Another dollar a day into savings.

Automotive change trays tend not to be physically big, and mine quickly filled. So I got into the habit, daily, of emptying mine into a small, unused fishbowl I had at home. It was a practice whose results quickly became apparent. Results that quickly filled the fishbowl. So I got into the habit, when I went to the bank on Fridays, of exchanging the contents of the bowl for one dollar bills.

Dollar bills fit the dimensions of a small fishbowl better than change, but it didn’t take long before I found myself exchanging one dollar bills for fives. Fives for tens. Tens for twenties–

I stopped when I started collecting twenties mostly because I was getting weird looks at the bank.

Besides, I had a new container for my savings and filling it with twenties was a long-term effort.

But I kept adding to the savings I was gathering, and in time my efforts became so substantial I decided it would be in my best interests to deposit it in a bank. In an interest-bearing account.

Of course, there was a reason for why my savings were so sufficient: Shortly after I shifted containers–a cookie tin for a fishbowl–I made a change in how I was saving: Every dollar I saved by not drinking bad coffee and soft drinks I matched, effectively doubling my savings. A practice that proved to be a wise decision: A few years after I began this effort I was informed the corporation I worked for was undergoing a massive restructuring and I would be downsized.

The good news to this otherwise unpleasant announcement was thus: I would receive a buyout based on my years of service. The good news to this was thus: By the time I was to leave this company my savings would be almost four times my buyout.

I know what you may be thinking: What does that have to do with credit card debt and getting rid of it, and achieving financial health?

Everything.

It has everything do to with getting rid of your credit card debt. It has everything to do with achieving financial health. Everything.

When I started saving money by way of not drinking bad coffee, resulting in a daily savings of one dollar I did so because I desired to better myself. As I began saving I became determined to make something of my savings. As my savings increased I dedicated myself to increasing them further, and doing so with purpose.

Your purpose must be to eliminate your credit card debt. Your purpose, framed by the structure previously provided, tempered by desire, dedication, and determination, is to achieve financial health.

And how you do this, how you achieve this is relatively simple.

Day One: Set aside one dollar. Put it into an envelope, a discarded fishbowl, or a cookie tin. But put aside one dollar. You do this because you are determined to eliminate your debt.

Day Two: Set aside another dollar. Two, if you can afford it, and you can if you give up drinking bad coffee, or a daily visit to the expensive, trendy coffeehouse you otherwise frequent.

Day Three: Set aside another dollar. If you put aside two dollars on Day Two, put aside two dollars today. Three, if you can afford it, and you can if you forgo a soft drink or two and a snack from the vending machine at work.

Day Four: Set aside a fourth dollar. If you put aside three dollars on Day Three do the same today. Four, if you can afford it, and you can if you bring your lunch to work instead of eating out.

Day Five: Let’s say yesterday you set aside four dollars. Today you must set aside five dollars.

To this point you should have saved at least five dollars. If you are determined, dedicated, and honestly and truthfully desire to eliminate your credit card debt you will have put aside at least fifteen dollars.

Admittedly, it is not a substantial amount. But that is not important. What is important is that you have started saving and you have begun a habit you will soon find difficult to break.

Here’s how: Let’s say you have twenty-five thousand dollars in credit card debt. Let’s say you decide you will eliminate this debt over ten years. That averages to about twenty-five hundred dollars a year. Or about two hundred and ten dollars a month. Or about seven dollars a day. Make it ten dollars a day, just to keep the math involved simple. At ten dollars a day you can pay your credit card debt off in just under seven years.

Then what?

Before you answer the question allow me to make a suggestion: Instead of setting ten dollars a day set aside twenty dollars a day. You can do it. You know you can. You just demonstrated, over the past week, you have the ability to do so.

Let’s say you set aside twenty dollars a day. That means you can pay off your debt in about three and a half years, right?

No.

Your goal is to pay off your debt in ten years. You will pay it off in under seven years, saving at the rate of twenty dollars a day.

Half of which will go to savings.

That’s right: As you pay off your debt you will also be saving.

And savings are the first step to financial health.



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