7 Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means And How To Fix Them

In the age of plastic spending and mobile payments, it’s easier than ever to buy stuff you couple looking at billscan’t pay for right away while supporting a lifestyle you can’t really afford.

Let’s take a look at seven red flags that might mean you’re living beyond your means and the steps you can take to get back on track.

1. You’re carrying a credit card balance from month to month

Credit cards are a great way to earn rewards, pay for emergency purchases when things are extra-tight and build a strong credit history. Unfortunately, though, they also make it far too easy to fall into the spending trap. It’s a lot harder to feel like you’re spending money when all that stands between you and a purchase is a plastic card.

If you have an outstanding balance on one or more credit cards and you’re only paying the minimum payment each month, you can end up carrying this balance for years while paying hundreds of dollars (or more!) in interest. You might also be tempted to make more purchases on this card since you already have an open balance.

The fix:  Try to double down on your monthly payments and/or make one extra payment each month instead of paying just the minimum amount. Stop using your card until the debt is paid off.

2. You stress about paying your bills

No one likes paying bills, but if you’re losing sleep over your bills, you need to take a step back to review your monthly budget and spending habits. Bills should be fixed into your budget and you should be able to pay them easily without any stress or nail-biting involved.

The fix: Take a long look at your monthly budget to find ways at cutting back. Cancel a subscription you never use, trim impulse purchases, start brown-bagging it at work more often or tighten the belt in any other way possible.

3. You can’t save 5% of your monthly income

Financial experts recommend putting 20% of your monthly income into savings, or even more if you can swing it. At the very least, you’ll want to sock away 5% of your monthly take-home pay to fund your retirement and any other expensive purchases or events you might need to pay for in the future. If you can’t possibly do that now, and you’re left with little or no money at the end of the month, you’re living beyond your means. Savings aren’t an extra; they are a necessity that should be a fixed part of every budget.

The fix: Again, you’ll need to trim your expenses and restructure your budget to include a minimum of 5% for savings.

4. You don’t have emergency and rainy-day funds

Unexpected expenses, like a household repair or extra tutoring for your child, can disrupt your monthly budget and really set you back-unless you have some way to pay for them. Ideally, you’ll want to have an emergency fund to cover major unexpected expenses, like a job loss or a medical emergency, and a rainy-day fund for small expenses you can anticipate, like replacing an aging appliance and sending your child to summer camp.

The fix: Start building your funds now by putting away as much as you possibly can each month.

5. Your mortgage payment eats up more than 30% of your monthly income

Most financial experts agree that your monthly mortgage payments should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay (that’s after taxes). Take a few minutes to do the math. If your mortgage is more than 30% of your income, you’re in over your hea

The fix: You have two choices here:

  1. Find ways to boost your income. You can seek a raise or promotion at your current job, freelance for hire or find another side hustle to bring home extra cash.
  2. Scale back your mortgage payments by considering a refinance. [Speak to a home loan counselor at (credit union) to see if this is the right choice for you.] If your mortgage is really crippling your budget, you might want to consider downsizing to a smaller and cheaper place.

6. You lease a car you can’t afford to buy or finance

Leasing lets you live the life of a high-roller without the huge bills. The problem is that many people can’t really afford their leases either. You might be covering your monthly payments, but if you can’t do that while also putting money into savings and meeting your other expenses, your car is too expensive.

Can you afford to pay for or finance your car? If the answer is no, you’re in financial trouble.

The fix: Downgrade your vehicle to one you can actually afford.

7. Your financial decisions are influenced by your friends’ spending habits

Thanks to social media and the hyper-sharing culture it introduced, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is stronger than ever. If you find yourself making financial decisions-from what kind of footwear to buy to where you vacation-based on your friends’ choices, you’re likely spending more money than you can afford.

The fix: Stop looking over your shoulder and keep your eyes on your own life and your own wallet. If your friends have expensive tastes, try to be the budget-conscious influence in the group. You may just start a new, financially responsible trend!

If you’re in over your head, Destinations Credit Union can help! Stop by today. Our HOPE Inside Financial Wellbeing Counselor will be happy to help.

Your Turn: What’s your personal red flag that your spending has gotten out of control? Share it with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hermoney.com/invest/financial-planning/warning-signs-of-living-beyond-your-means/amp/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/in-over-your-head.asp
https://rockstarfinance.com/7-signs-that-you-might-be-living-well-beyond-your-means/

All You Need To Know About Wage Garnishment

Q: I have several outstanding debts and I’m starting to worry about wage garnishment.young man looking over bills - concerned What do I need to know? Is there any way I can protect myself if my wages get garnished?

A: Wage garnishment is the process in which funds are deducted from a person’s salary to pay for their outstanding debts

If you owe lots of money, don’t panic; you can prevent a wage garnishment by working out a manageable payment plan with those you owe money to (your creditors). In the event that your wages are garnished, there are steps you can take to reverse the process.

Read on to have all your questions about wage garnishment answered.

How does the wage garnishment process work?

Unless you owe child support, back taxes or student loans, creditors require a court order to garnish your wages. These creditors can include credit card companies; medical facilities, agencies or hospitals; auto loan creditors and more. To garnish your wages, creditors will have to sue you, win the case against you and receive the court order to move forward with the garnishment process.

Once the court order is in a creditor’s hands, they must send you written notification of the wage garnishment at least 30 days before the garnishment is set to begin. The notice must include the following information:

  • Exactly how much money you owe the creditor
  • Instructions for how you can obtain a copy of the loan records
  • Instructions for entering into a voluntary repayment schedule
  • Instructions for requesting a hearing on the planned garnishment

The creditor will then forward a copy of the court order to your employer, who will withhold the garnished amount from your next paycheck. This way, your creditors are getting their due. Unfortunately, that means making do with a skimpier paycheck.

Under federal law, your employer cannot fire you for a wage garnishment. However, if you have multiple garnishments, or a single creditor has garnished your wages for two or more debts, you are no longer protected against retaliation.

How much of my wages can be garnished?

There are strict federal laws limiting the amount of money creditors can skim off your paycheck. By law, creditors of consumer debt can only garnish 25% of your take-home pay, or the amount by which your weekly wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever amount is lower. Some states have even stricter guidelines and set a lower percentage limit for wage garnishments. When state and federal laws surrounding wage garnishment are in conflict, the law falls on the side that is more favorable to the employee.

Other kinds of debt can have higher maximums for wage garnishment, as detailed below.

What are the most common types of wage garnishment?

The following three wage garnishments are the most common and don’t require a court order:

1.) Child support and alimony

All new or modified child support orders include an automatic wage withholding order.

After the court has ordered you to pay child support, the court or the child’s other parent must send a copy of the order to your employer. The employer is then responsible for garnishing the specified amount from your paycheck and sending it to the child’s other parent. If the court has made you responsible for maintaining health insurance coverage for your child, payments to fund the coverage will be deducted from your paycheck as well.

The amount of money garnished from your earnings for child support varies with circumstance, but it can be as high as 65%.

2.) Defaulted student loans

If you default on your student loan, the U.S. Department of Education, or an agency collecting money on its behalf, can garnish up to 15% of your income.

3.) Back taxes

If you owe money to the IRS, the federal tax agency can help itself to a chunk of your income without obtaining a court order. The percentage of your salary it’ll leave for you varies with the number of dependents you have and the amount of your standard deduction.

To garnish your wages, the IRS is required to send a wage levy notice to your employer, who must provide you with a copy. The notice you receive will include an exemption claim form for you to complete and return.

State tax agencies can also lawfully take a chunk off your salary, though state laws vary regarding how much they can collect.

Can I protest a wage garnishment?

There is always a course of action that’s open to you when you’re the subject of wage garnishment. To protest a wage garnishment, you’ll need to file papers with the court for a hearing date. At your scheduled hearing, you can then present evidence demonstrating that you need more of your paycheck to pay your expenses or that you qualify for an exemption. The judge will then decide to terminate the garnishment or leave it in effect.

Of course, it’s best to avoid having your wages threatened by garnishment in the first place. Once a creditor wins a lawsuit against you, judges tend to be unsympathetic and getting a garnishment lifted can be difficult.

If you’re in over your head with debt, we can help! Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union to talk about our debt counseling services and more.  We have recently opened an Operation HOPE Inside office at our Parkville location. The HOPE Inside model, created by financial dignity nonprofit Operation HOPE, provides no-cost one-on-one financial literacy coaching, workshops, and education programming to participants through the support of financial and corporate partners. Destinations is the first credit union in the country to offer this service. Credit and Money Management, a core program of the HOPE Inside adult offering, is provided at this location. The Credit and Money Management Program is designed to transform disabling financial mindsets—teaching people the language of money, how to navigate credit, and make better decisions with the money they have.

Your Turn: Have you ever been the subject of a wage garnishment? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.garnishmentlaws.org/wage-garnishment-facts/

https://www.garnishmentlaws.org/what-types-of-income-can-be-garnished/
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/if-wages-are-garnished-rights-33050.html