Pep Talk: Ready to be Debt-Free

How can I get on track if I am always in the hole?

I’m a 32-year-old mother of two and I’ve spent a great deal of time living paycheck to paycheck, but now I want to improve my credit and become financially responsible. I’ve cut down on spending, but my bank account is always overdrawn so bills go without payment. How can I get on track if I am always in the hole?

T. Jones
Chicago

I’m glad you recognize your problem and want to change it. Initially, it will seem tough, but it’s well worth it. And there are lots of free resources to help you do it.

First, educate yourself on being proactive about your finances. The U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission was put together for the purpose of improving Americans’ financial literacy, so explore the Website for tips and advice.

Also, record your spending habits for one week. Once you see where the discretionary funds really end up, you’ll be confident in your decision to make adjustments. And we at Black Enterprise can’t stress this enough: You have to monitor your credit. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request a copy. Speak to someone in your HR department about setting up direct deposit to a savings account. Start with a small increment and build from there. You won’t miss it—trust me. And seek out help from a financial adviser either through your bank or via a recommendation. If you need more help, read Girl, Get Your Credit Straight! by Glinda Bridgforth. Also, read “STOP Living Paycheck to Paycheck!” (March 2008).

Breaking the cycle starts with a more disciplined you and continues with the education of your children.

Tennille Robinson is the Motivation editor of Black Enterprise.