I’ve long suspected that most people in debt don’t even know how much they owe. […] This is why throwing a personal-finance book at someone in debt, or showing them some stupid compound-interest calculator, produces virtually no behavioral change.
Because if you’re too afraid to even open the envelopes that will tell you how much your total debt is, “information” is not what you need.
But you don’t have to wait till you’re in that situation. If you see yourself doing any of the following, assess your money habits at once!
1. You’re rolling bills over.
Bills need to be paid on time. If last month’s bills haven’t been paid because you don’t have enough in the bank yet, that’s a clear sign that you haven’t set enough aside to do so.
Bills can come from many places, including your mortgage, car, utilities, insurance premiums and rent—and that’s not counting your credit card charges! If you fall sick or are caring for a loved one, hospital and medical care bills also come into the picture.
If your bills are piling up and you’re not paying on time, that is not something to be taken lightly.
2. You’re counting down till salary comes in.
Countdowns are for the New Year, an anniversary or a celebratory event—not your ability to pay the bills! If so much of your salary goes into paying your bills, you could be earning too little to settle them all. Remember that a dollar on your bill today is a dollar you won’t have tomorrow.
As an exercise, collect all your bills for the month, find the total you’re paying and compare it with your salary. (For annual bills, divide the amount by 12.) Obviously, if there’s too little left to save up for your wants, understand which expense you can cut down on.
3. You don’t fare very well when applying for credit cards
Your annual income fulfils the criteria, your CPF record is clean and you’ve been having a steady income for months. Yet, your credit card applications get rejected. That’s probably worth getting your credit score checked out.
If you don’t know how ‘healthy’ your credit scores are, get your Credit Report test online (www.creditbureau.com.sg). As its hero banner clearly states, “Know your personal credit health and make the best out of your financial capabilities without letting it be a liability. Make informed decisions. ”
The banks track borrowing patterns, and those with consistently late payments on their loans will be considered too ‘high-risk’ to take on. Banks are but businesses after all, and are experts in risk assessments.
4. You don’t have a safety net
You may be putting aside 10% of your salary every month as part of your savings plan, and you’ve been doing that from the beginning of your work life. Yet, at the end of every year, you find yourself emptying those savings out for a much-desired trip overseas. You think that as long as you’re not borrowing or owing any money, you’re good.
But when the rainy day really comes, you realize that you don’t have any savings left except for what’s remaining from your trips, and the untouchable CPF.
If that’s you, it’s high time to get started. The general rule of thumb is to have three to six months of your nett pay, readily available. Read more here.
5. Gambling seems like an attractive way to recoup losses.
Are you going to Singapore Pools day in and out, or making frequent trips to the casino? Gambling is one of the least reliable ways to gain more money, and far more people lose out than win. The most probable outcome is that your debt gets even worse.
Debt-clearance is a long process, and there’s no quick fix for it—only the creation and execution of a strategy that works. In coming posts and our seminars, we’ll help you work through the emotional and financial sides of paying off your debts, earning more and creating income streams that free you from it for the long haul.
If you want to know more about Our Income Investing Mastery Programme and its benefits . . . email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org (Singapore)
Jade Lee is the Chief Editor of Giants Learning Technologies. Her life purpose is to help; thus committing to youths like herself through articles regarding early financial planning. Jade graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic where she attained a Diploma with Merit in Early Childhood Education, having dedicated three years in understanding preschool children. Under a scholarship, she reads Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Nanyang Technological University. Jade is also a commercial model and engages in Hip-Hop dance. Find out more about her insights via email@example.com
 Ramit Sethi, “Most people in debt don’t even know how much they owe.” I Will Teach You to Be Rich (22 April 2011), at http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/debt-how-long-to-pay-it-off.