Melissa, a stay at home mom, admits she buys small items for the home like a crock pot, a computer, or a camcorder and keeps her purchases from her husband. She also justifies her purchases because Bill bought a new truck. "When you're not on top of the bills," Bill says, "There is no extra money."
In an effort to be smart, Bill and Melissa got rid of all their credit cards. But they used debit cards and over drafted on their bank accounts. Then they resorted to cash advance loans—a dangerous financial trap. In addition to $235 a month in overdraft fees, they are paying thousands of dollars in interest charges on the loans. "My biggest regret is the pay day loans," says Melissa. "It's a cycle that you can't break. I've hit rock bottom."
How can they save themselves from bankruptcy and start building wealth?
Financial expert David Bach says the first thing they need to do is: "Stop leasing your lifestyle. You can't buy things that you don't have the cash to pay for." David's rescue plan put them on a hard core financial fast for a month.
1. David had Melissa and Bill sit down and create a list of core values together. Melissa and Bill were surprised to learn that their spending kept them from living according to their values.
2. Then David helped them tackle their finances as a team. David opened all their bills, calculated their debt and organized their bills using The Finishrich File Folder System™.
3. Now Melissa and Bill need to make critical cutbacks. Bill is paying $700 per month on his truck. David suggested selling the truck and getting a used car to cut his payments in half. And, he says, Melissa's "payment plan mentality" must stop immediately!
4. David says next they have to pay off their "bad debt" wherever their interest rate is highest. Bill and Melissa were paying interest rates as high as 575% on some of their cash advance loans and have $13,000 in bad debt.
5. Most couples have a "latte factor"—a small amount of money spent on little things, such as coffee, cell phones or cigarettes—that add up to thousands of dollars in a year. If Bill and Melissa cut out their latte factor, they can save over $1200 per month. If they apply that money to their bad debt, they will be debt free in less than two years. Bill's cigarette factor alone could save them $344,000 in the next 35 years!
6. Once Bill and Melissa pay down their bad debt they can start paying themselves first and building wealth.