Clearing Up Social Debt in 3 Steps

Debt can be thought of as a disease–probably social.  Most of the time, it was acquired through poor decision making, possibly while competing with your friends, occasionally after having a few too many, often as an ego boost.  Unfortunately, you can’t make it go away with a simple shot of penicillin.   It takes work, commitment and dedication.  Here are three steps to treating this particular affliction.

1.  Burn it, bash it, torch it, toss it, disinfect. Get rid of the things that enable you to accumulate debt.   If you keep using debt as debt, you will never have it all paid off.   That’s like only taking 3 days of a 10 day antibiotic.   Do you really want that itchy rash bloodsucking debt rearing its ugly head when you’ve got an important destination for your money?   Take steps to protect yourself. Wrap that debt up and keep it away.

2.  Quit buying stuff. Chances are, you have enough stuff.  Do you really need that Tusken Raider bobble-head or the brushed titanium spork?  They may make you feel better in the short term, but after breakfast, what have you gained?  A fleeting memory, a bit of cleanup, and an odd ache that you can’t quite explain to your friends.   Only buy the stuff you need, and make it things you will keep forever.  If you do need to indulge, hold off for 30 days to see if it’s really worthwhile.   If it’s really worth having, you can scratch that itch in a month with far fewer regrets.

3.  Spend less. This is the obvious one.  The simple one.  The one that makes breaking a heroin addiction look like a cake-walk(My apologies to recovering heroin addicts.  If you’re to the point that personal finance is important to you, you’ve come a long way.  Congratulations!).  Cut your bills, increase your income.  Do whatever it takes to lower your bottom line and raise your top line. Call your utilities.  If they are going to take your money, make them work for it.   If they can’t buy you drinks or lower your payments, get them out of your life.   There’s almost always an alternative.   Don’t be afraid to banish your toxic payments. Eliminate your debt payments.  This page has a useful guide to debt and how to clear it off.

Update:  This post has been included in the Festival of Frugality.

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Late Pass: Insurance for the Terminally Ill?

Insurance

Insurance (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

This is a guest post.

Uh oh. Not only have you put in decades of loyal service for a company that does not offer a life insurance policy to employees, now you have a terminal disease that has numbered your days. You always meant to get a life insurance policy at some point, but it was just one of those things that there was never enough money left for at the end of a month after bills, groceries and just enough fun to make worthwhile.

Your life is one that needs insuring to protect your family following the now-inevitable, but has that ship sailed? Is it possible to make up for lost time by obtaining a life insurance policy as a terminally ill patient?

You already know that insurance companies are experts at assessing risk. Each potential policy holder is effectively examined to determine their likelihood of living a reasonably long time, and a terminal illness is an obvious negative in this department.

Many insurance companies will be hesitant to offer a comprehensive policy that they know they will have to pay out in fairly short order, but you may be able to get a type of life insurance known as graded premium life insurance.

With graded premium life insurance, you pay a monthly premium to retain coverage. If your illness should terminate within two years, your family will receive all the premiums you have paid as a benefit. Should you last longer, the insurance provider pays the full value of the policy. This is a compromise that gives you the peace of mind that a life insurance policy can provide while allowing the insurance provider to minimize their risk.

These policies typically have cash values ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, so while they might not guarantee the permanent stability of your family, it will offer them much-needed assistance through what is sure to be a difficult time in their lives. Premium amounts vary by age and relative health, but generally the closer you are to qualifying for a payout, the more it costs to enter the lottery.

Life is unpredictable except for its certain end, and sometimes this reality leaves us less prepared for the future as we would like. Fortunately, a terminal illness does not make a person completely uninsurable in most cases. Of course, it is much easier and less expensive to get life insurance as a person who is not dying, so the best strategy may be to invest before your health becomes an issue.

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