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Drop the extra pounds — and the extra debt

Drop the debt

By Tanisha Warner, Communications Manager

Every New Year, shedding weight and debt is at the top of the list for millions of people resolving to change for the better. According to a recent Time magazine news report, these two are also among the most often broken resolutions.

While experts have offered numerous techniques and strategies for losing weight and paying down debt, the basic fundamental lifestyle change required to be successful at both is the same: Consume less. Financial stability begins with spending less than you make, followed by paying more on what you owe. Losing weight begins with consuming fewer calories, and becoming more active.

If you are among the millions vowing to finally achieve a healthy waistline and a healthy bottom line, consider the following five steps:

  1. Make the commitment. When considering any major lifestyle adjustment, the first step is to decide – are you ready to make the commitment to do what it takes to improve your health and financial wellbeing? Are you ready to accept responsibility for changing your situation? Do you believe that you can and will change the way you make decisions about food and money? It isn’t until you can truthfully answer yes to these questions that you will be ready to face the challenges of creating a healthier physical and fiscal lifestyle.
  2. Create a plan. Creating a budget and a meal plan starts with tracking – tracking expenses and tracking calories. Consider carrying a pocket notebook for noting every penny spent and calorie consumed. Review your results and look for areas where you should and can make cut backs.
  3. Develop SMART goals. One of the most vital aspects to success in these areas is to set clear goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, trackable and rewarding. Remember to create short-term, or milestone, goals as well as a target accomplishment. If your ultimate goal is to become debt free, celebrate when you pay off 25 percent. The same goes with weight lost. If you aspire to lose 50 lbs., acknowledge ever five to 10-lb. loss as a huge accomplishment. Treat yourself to an occasional outing for a treat when you reached a short-term goal weight.
  4. Eliminate temptations. Once you have a clear calorie and spending budget outlined, remove any obstacles that may hinder your success. Don’t carry your credit cards in your wallet and don’t keep high-calorie sweets in the house. Leave your cards at home in a safe place and only take them out when you have a planned purchase and a pay-off strategy. The same is true for food temptations. If you know you’re going to be in an environment where you’ll be tempted to indulge, prepare yourself by carrying a granola bar with you, or eat a light snack before you leave the house.
  5. Stay flexible. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the pounds or debt melting away as quickly as you had hoped. Change doesn’t happen overnight; and there are no quick fixes. This is why it’s important to remain committed and flexible. If you aren’t meeting your goals, revisit and adjust your plans as often as necessary.

Remember, you’re only human and set-backs are inevitable. But if you’re truly committed to your goals, you can overcome anything.

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Three steps to help you manage your finances

The A's of financial wellness will help keep you focused on your goal

Just one week into the New Year, many are finding that their financial resolutions have already fallen by the wayside – but that doesn’t mean you should admit defeat!

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and MMI offer three simple steps that you can easily utilize to get back on the road to financial stability.

The three A’s of financial wellness are as follows:

Action – Many are paralyzed by their situation, frozen in a state of financial anxiety. Others feel that they are in such deep financial trouble that there is no real help available. Unfortunately, failure to act will only make matters worse, as the problem isn’t going to cure itself. You owe it to yourself and your family to sit down with a certified credit counselor at a legitimate nonprofit agency, such as MMI. Our counselors are trained to do a thorough review of your unique situation and provide concrete solutions – which can mean the difference between financial failure and financial success.

Automate – Make technology your friend by signing up for direct deposit, automatic bill paying and online banking. You can avoid paying late fees by arranging credit card payments to be sent automatically before the statement due date each month, making sure the payment amount equals at least the minimum amount due. Further, the surest way to save is to have money automatically deposited into a savings account before you ever see it.

Accountability – People are well-intentioned justifiers. Financial accountability starts with financial honesty. If you find that you have more excuses than money in the bank, enlist the support of an accountability partner. Make sure this person is someone you’re comfortable revealing your financial dirty laundry to, is someone you respect enough to follow their advice, and is strong enough to speak the truth to you.

Ultimately, small steps can equal big rewards. Once you make the decision to take control of your financial future, you can revel in the fact that you’ve already taken the most important step.


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Tips for Success

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit MoneyManagement.org.

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