Tips and Tricks

This is recycled material from the old Clarkhoward.com forums. It was started when Opiesmama suggested the often posted list be made it's own thread.
I would like to see some of 1 Character's material from the old boards added as well.

And it would be nice if we could get Opiesmama, Wallaby and Carrie to do a section on dealing with creditors.
Wallaby and Carrie could do a section on secured cards and life after bankruptcy.
JIMB could put some of his charts and math examples in a section on Retirement and in the attacking your debt.
Scrappy and a few others could head up a section working to finance your education without putting your HOME at risk. And, some of the others with tips on financing your education. And managing your student debt AFTER you have already made mistakes in how to finance your schooling.

We could eventually break it out into two areas: How to stay out of debt while dealing with bumps on the road of life, and one on how to get out of debt.
Game on?




The below consists of 99.9% recycled material.
  1. In almost all cases, it is a bad idea to rob from your future retirement - see later post [JIMB]
  2. Don't get into debt in the first place - responsible use of CC
    • with balance paid in full each month. [Hondaexpress]
    • Only use for what you have in your budget
    • Do not consider it "emergency fund"
    • Wait for the statement, no need to pay for things as they post - just pay IN FULL (full balance not full minimum due) before the DUE date.
    • Allow time for delivery.
  3. Learn and understand how interest rates work and mount up. [Hondaexpress] -
    • Different types of loans and interest rates
    • learn how to track with spreadsheets [Check with human calculator "JIMB" for help with spreadsheets.
  4. READ before you SIGN! [GF, HE, others]
    • Bank/CU accounts - terms and agreements
      • How do debits, check, bill pay, auto drafts work, etc
      • Never let anyone Autodraft - always schedule and push from your side.[possibly some rare exceptions if you say on top of your accounts]
    • Gym contracts, cell phone and other contracts
      • Auto renewals?
      • Cancellation policies
      • etc.
    • Vehicle and Boat contracts -
      • Understand the terms, your responsibilities and liabilities BEFORE you sign.
      • Never Co-Sign for anything.
      • Do your shopping and research
  5. DON'T Cosign!
    • Repeat - DON'T Co-sign: School loans, vehicles, mortgages...
    • Don't Co-sign unless you control the statements and plan on giving the money as a gift.
    • Repeat after us - don't co-sign.
  6. Budget for known future expenses (that roof that won't last forever - new roof - plan now for full funding of it's eventual replacement, appliances? When the fridge up and dies, often it's roommates are not far behind - plan for it).
  7. Written Budget
    • Go read the nfcc.org site and their sample budget template. It all starts with a Good budget.
    • Envelop system
  8. If you pay by mail, use the envelops that come w/ the bill with the bar codes to assure prompt delivery and processing [Kira]
  9. True emergency fund - and it should be bigger now than historically needed).
  10. Make a spreadsheet of each debt and interest and track it so you can see how much you have and are essentially doing the same as putting in a brown bag and running over with a lawn mower. [From Scott Ventures - use an inverse thermometer approach]
  11. Normally you would start with the highest interest rate, but sometimes if you need a kick start or to simplify things a few really small might be the first targets. Especially if you can clear a CC to use for recurring budgeted items and pay it off each month in full. Never add to a card with a balance carried forward while you are paying them down.
  12. Read the savings list at the top of the board. All of us have used it at some point, including some of the very wealthy on this board. [Now on Wikispace]
  13. Look around your home - garage, attic, basement and see what STUFF you have that you can sell. Everyone has STUFF. This is stuff that can't love you back and usually does not include your pets or grandma. e-Boards at work, Craigs List, yard sale - whatever.
  14. Consider extra jobs / odd jobs.
  15. Carry a notebook and record everything you buy.
    • Mark as NEED>Nice to Have (NTH)>WANT. Review it frequently to keep your budget honest and on track.
  16. Closely scrutinize your grocery budget - this can be a big source of budgetary excess/leaks.
    • One poster said he had to give up doing the grocery shopping at Walmart unless his wife was there to control him from all the other "Good buys" that he really didn't have in his budget.
    • Less processed food. Less junk food.
    • Buy a thermos and make your coffee at home - avoid the convenience store traps.
  17. Look at your phone/cell/Internet bills for ways to save.
    • Do you really NEED to be connected to the Internet 24/7 on your phone?
    • Check out prepaid [threads are often in the Technology board]
  18. Look at your with-holdings - are you using Uncle Sam as forced savings?
  19. You will fall off your game plan. You just have to get back up and Go at it again until you get it done.
  20. Reading material:
    • "How To Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously". J. Mundis <-- highly recommended by former poster 1character (RIP).
    • Buy a copy of "Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times: 250+ Ways to Buy Smarter, Spend Smarter, and Save Money " -[RasputinII -11/11/11: I have it in ebook and it was worth the $ 10.00. I give it a B instead of an A because he failed to point out that there is tons of good quality free software out there like OpenOffice.Org, B2B Express, Oracle Express, MS SQL Server Express, and his section on internet security did not even use the word encryption much less talk about free email digital certificates or disc wiping and/or destruction to avoid ID theft.]
    • Other reading materials will hopefully appear in this thread.
  21. Nine Bad Money Habits (and how to break them):http://www.quizzle.com/blog/2012/03/9-bad-money-habits-and-how-to-break-them/?qls=QZL_qaprogrm.110413ru46
  22. End result - you need to start bringing in more than you pay out. Second/third jobs, odd jobs, babysitting, helping neighbors with lawn care, or other stuff, and bartering services.