Firstly, I want to say thanks to all who've continued to support us through the years. My journey hasn't been easy but like anything else, you have to first admit when you're more wrong than burlap drawers. Long story short, I managed my money wrong when I decided to stay in my POS relationship and not think about the future. Although I've managed to move past the ugliness, I want to share some consumer finance resources if you or someone you know needs a money overhaul.
Now, I've spent the past few weeks going over some of these "expert" tips and I'll keep it 100. While I've always been about a frugal lifestyle, some things I just won't do because it's more trouble than it's worth -
- Buy clothes from the irregular section
- Give up my vehicle (I still live in L.A. County and rideshare services aren't the same in every 'hood)
- Eat ramen noodles or any cheap processed foods (too much sodium)
- Intentionally starve myself (there goes my normal blood sugar)
- Give money to anyone who claims to have "the answer" to my money issues
Taking it Back to the Money Fundamentals
Why? In most cases, getting ahead is fairly simple. Funds go in, then they go out, and the owner of said funds controls how much they should remit in the future. Pay off a little credit and deal with interest rates, or knock it out and build a nice score without going through some stupid app. If you choose to get into the stock market or long-term investment, do your research.
This has been me for many years and I've done it without the use of a credit counseling service, financial planner, or any special materials by a promoter. Yes, many people who are selling these packages are taking everyday common sense, putting a pretty bow on it with a little glitter, and looking for their next victim. However, if you have an extensive financial portfolio, you may want to reach out to someone who's honest and unbiased.
Actually, a lot of people I run into with money problems also have simple solutions to their problems. It could be that they need a part-time or residual income to balance things out but oftentimes, it's their choices. One choice that got me a few years ago was getting not one or two but a few second chance credit cards. When your limit is $1000 and your minimum payment includes a 29% interest rate, it's not balling by any means. You might as well get a roommate that doesn't pay their share of household expenses (more on that in a future post).
Securing Your Money First (then the Bag)
I've spent the past few years at home and notice the TV ads concerning money. This isn't to say all the merchants that advertise are bad but it wasn't that long ago that record producer-turned-fashion mogul-turned-sickenly rich person Russell Simmons (and his then-wife, Kimora Lee) did similar ads for the Rush Card. I mean they really came across as understanding how rough it can be for the regular working person.
Despite a major hiccup a few years ago that has appears to have been resolved, the Rush Card is still around. Still, who wants surprises when bills are due? It's bad enough that a mere few of the financial institutions that advertise have a brick-and-mortar (or native ATM) location that customers can visit. My takeaway, based on experience and the horror stories I've heard, is that when you don't use a traditional bank or credit union...you will pay a price.
If going to a regular bank isn't happening right now, going with an institution that doesn't use ChexSystems is the best alternative. While there are many good indie banking apps, choose carefully before sending over ANY information. Read consumer reviews and maybe even the BBB site to get honest feedback.