Finally, we come to the end of the cycle, from organizing accounts to creating a sustainable plan for financial stability.
It all started with Jordan Page’s Budgeting tips, workshops and tricks and it ended with a simple (though time consuming) system of budgeting system. The Eazy Peezy Budget Sheets were built to be an easy way to build financial freedom, it was tested while living on less than $1000 a month, and refined during the COVID pandemic.
In step 1, I organized 5 accounts to label where my take-home income is distributed. My take-home income totaled $541.00 bi-weekly; this comes out to $1082 a month after taxes.
In step 2, I created a monthly snapshot of which expenses take priority, what my goals are for the month, and displayed all of my bills for the month in one easily accessible place.
In step 3, I budgeted based on the exact amount of income and expenses, developed a fool proof way of making sure my bills are always paid and to constantly re-evaluate what I’m spending my money on.
Now, we are finally at Step 4, credit budgeting.
STEP 4: CREDIT BUDGETING
To increase my success of becoming financially stable with an income of $15,000 a year, I wanted to create something that helped me capture three things:
Access to all of your collections, loans, and outstanding credit NOT included in your monthly bills already.
Credit Scores for all three bureaus
A clear end goal!
If you are wanting to build your credit and/or decrease your overall debt, the absolute best way to do this successfully is to have a specific goal in mind.
Building Credit to Buy a Home
Speak to a housing counselor, they are free and will give invaluable information, including pre-qualification standards and the necessary assets and credit scores. Figure out what your options are today and then plan to be ready to buy 'tomorrow.' You can also reach out to a mortgage lender to ask for a free consultation but be weary, it can be difficult to vet reputable lenders.
This is where research is key.
Whoever you talk to, don’t be surprised if they ask you questions you may not have the answers to. I had no idea how to even apply for a mortgage, let along the minimum and maximum price of a home I was looking for or how much I could put down.
Start with how much you can afford a month for a mortgage and fee's. You can easily search for a mortgage calculator and try to figure out some of these answers before speaking with a professional.
Your 'tomorrow' may seem likes it's far off but consider using other services and gathering more experts to help you plan out a success path.
Cleaning up Credit/Collections
Your path to success doesn't have to focus on credit building or buying a home, it could just mean you have no more debt.
Think of what your next step goal is, discuss ways to improve your credit and decrease debt with a debt professional. I used Ovation but there are plenty of other agencies out there; be warned that this may be where you need to spend a bit of money. There are also third-party places that refer you to services based on your need like debt.com, they do the vetting for you. Really the right option for you, depends on what you need.
If you need to clean up very old credit, try disputing items on your credit report yourself, you can go to the bureau's websites to dispute collection items. If you need to build credit, then paying off debt and then disputing the 0 balance might help you get a loan or credit card. If you need to clear a specific large debt – like an eviction charge or utility bill, then consolidation might be an option.
Again, make sure you consult a professional before going head first into any of these strategies; I found a few thorns were hidden in some of these strategies.
Paying Off Loans
These are the most stressful but there is a system to the madness. If online access to your student loan accounts are available, use them! Organize your loans based on when they become active. Ignore consolidation until you are stable enough to be able to pay regularly. Although the rule of thumb is always to pay on interest even when your loans aren't due, if you are living in poverty, that's usually not an option.
Most people have to apply for a economic hardship for years before they secure a job that pays enough for them to actually afford paying their loans, and at this point you're usually only paying the interest for a while. There are several professions and service opportunities that can help alleviate the student loan burden but they often require commitments that some of us aren't able to take advantage of.
Overall, I’ve found that crashing your credit and getting buried in debt is much easier than building your credit and erasing debt. It's hard and it's almost impossible if you aren't privileged enough to be able to pay for professional help or even just make payments on time.
It can feel like an uphill battle and for a while it will be but your dreams and aspirations are worth the climb.
The Eazy Peezy Budgeting Templates:
Step 1: Budget Set Up
Step 2: Monthly Budgeting
Step 3: Paycheck Budgeting
Step 4: Credit Budgeting