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Is Your Way of Thinking Keeping You Broke?

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Getting Out of a Broke State of Mind

“More money, more problems.”

That’s only what rich people say.  Broke people have “broke-people problems.”  These are much harder to climb out of.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but money scared and overwhelmed me for years. Watching my parents struggle, I took on their ‘poor’ habits as well. I was afraid to take the leap into working for myself. I was afraid to invest in growing my business. I always had side jobs which inevitably distracted me from success. Like many, I would ignore my debt.  I would blame outside forces instead of working within my means and build a plan.  I lived my life, paycheck to paycheck.

I am proud to say, I am no longer a complete broke-ass. In fact, everything shifted, when I realized my ‘broke-dom’ was a state of mind. Yea, I know what you are thinking: The money struggle can result in a very real state of one’s empty wallet too.  Sadly, not everyone has the skills and resources to get out of being “poor.”  However, it is likely if you are reading this and living  in the Bay, you are actually being held back by a broke state of mind.  Like me, you most likely have all the tools you need to reframe your situation but do not know it!

Luckily, you can make money by saving money!  Here are five money-altering strategies that you can implement today — regardless of what you have in your bank account right now! These are the very tools that got me out of years of debt, into a career of my passion, and Homeownership heaven (yes, in San Francisco)! All of this began by getting out of a Broke-dom state of mind!

debt

1) Deal with Your Debt

Experts say the average U.S. household credit card debt stands at $15,185, with average student loan debts of $31,509 and average mortgage debt of $147,133.

Getting out of debt when you are living paycheck to paycheck can be a ginormous feat.  Your debt will not go away unless you actually deal with it.  Paying your minimum interest is not dealing with it either!  The presence of debt, or lack thereof, can have profound physical, mental and emotional repercussions.  Since you most likely have a block around money if you are in debt, it is crucial you get help with a financial counselor.

In San Francisco, there are non profits that you can get free debt consultation and credit counseling. You can set up a free appointment by going to 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 and calling (800) 777-7526 to set up an appointment now!

Paying-Taxesimage from Hudson Valley News Network

2) Do your Taxes the Right way

It is almost comical how many of my friends have been working since we were teenagers, but still have little idea of how taxes work. Especially if you work for yourself as a freelancer, it is super important that you understand what you can write off, what you can’t, what are red flags to the IRS, because it’s not a matter of if you will get audited, it’s a matter of when.

That is why you should always invest in an accountant aka a tax expert who can save you tons of money,  time, and give you the peace of mind of knowing your taxes were filed correctly. Elan Kamesar, who is my Bay Area accountant, was able to tell me about a Videographer credit I would have no idea even existed! That savings alone, paid for the cost of the yearly $400 tax accountant fee.

Kamesar says, “The only way that you can change and improve your attitude about money is to learn how it all works. Taxes are an integral part of our financial lives.  Because the tax rules are not taught in school, literally the only way to learn is through experience. Having a relationship with an expert, is a great way to learn over time.  It takes repetition and having questions answered as circumstances change.”

You can hire Elan by contacting him directly @Ekamesar@gmail.com or  file for free online via the government website.

Whether your hire an accountant or file your own tax return, the most important thing to do is to file on time, or get your filings up to date as soon as possible. The late filing penalty is 5% of the amount of tax due per month, whereas the late payment penalty is only .5%. What this means is that even if you don’t have the money to pay the tax, it’s important that you file.  And the IRS is almost always willing to grant a monthly payment plan to pay off your tax debt. And remember, tax debt is not relieved in bankruptcy. Can’t get out of this one, folks!

old people

3) Save for Retirement & Get Tax Credits while at it

I know what you are thinking? How am I supposed to save money, if I’m hardly making any money?

Expert tax genius, Elan Kamesar, advises, “one of the best ways you can keep your money, especially if your income isn’t very high, is to take advantage of the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (aka the “Saver’s Credit”) This credit has been in existence for more than a decade, but still many people aren’t aware of it.

The amount of the credit is 50%, 20% or 10% on up to $2,000 of retirement contributions if your adjusted gross income is less than $30,000 for single tax filers (or $60,000 for married).

Imagine that your income last year was $18,000 and your tax is $900.  If you put $1,800 in an IRA that tax is reduced to zero, and essentially instead of owing $900 of tax you have a retirement savings of $1800.  That’s powerful!

Kamesar adds, “There are many nuances to consider in terms of deciding which type of retirement account makes the most sense, and what the rules are. But many people at these income levels never even consider putting aside money for retirement, when they are advised for example that by contributing $2,000 to an IRA, their tax is reduced by $1,000, all of a sudden it’s like a light bulb is lit above their head. I love seeing that!”

piece of shit carimage from kbaer.com

4) Let Your Car Payments Go

Owning a Car can be one of the biggest drains to your bank account. If you do the math, between monthly payment, tickets, insurance, gas, accidents, and inevitable car maintenance, getting rid of this burden alone can change your money game. Plus, car payments are so 1990’s. There is no reason, anyone should not share the benefit and burden of car ownership in this time. That is why, if you live in a city, you should only rent when you need a car, or if you own, your should rent when you aren’t using your car!

As a car owner (actually I lease), I made $517 profit  last month renting my 2013 Smart Car, Napoleon, 50% of the time when I’m not using it. I have a car kit installed so I don’t have to be there to give the keys. I just fill out a calendar of when I want to use my own car, and leave it available for renting the other time. This pays for all of my monthly car costs (lease, insurance, gas, parking garage), and I even made a small profit!

Click on this link to get $25 free to try out GetAround!

funny-The-Scream-debt-painting-student-loans-collegeimage from metapicture

5) Get Your Student loans lowered and forgiven

Student loans can also take a big chunk out of your paycheck. If you are broke, work in the nonprofit sector, or simply want to lower your monthly loan debt, then call your current Student Loan Servicer asap!  Student loan forgiveness is the process in which you are relieved of your obligation to pay a portion or all of your student loan debt. Your repayment amount and duration before the almighty forgiveness shall be given, is based on your income, family size, and if you work in the Public Service Sector. Whether you owe $15,000 or $150k, after 10, 20, or 25 years will be forgiven!

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a report showing that more than one-quarter of America’s workforce  more than 33 million people) are eligible for public service student loan forgiveness — yet most people are not taking advantage.  You can read more in depth about how to get your loans forgiven here or go to www.Studentaid.ed.gov, and call your Student loan provider to sign up!

 

Conclusion: Change Your Mindset Around Money

The #1, most important and crucial element you have to do, is change your mindset around money. For the longest time, I was afraid to charge what I was worth, invest in my business (like tax accountants), invest in my future (savings & tax credits) and invest the time necessary to implement strategies (like car sharing),  that would save me money (student loan forgiveness) and time. Time is money, after all. But I had the meaning twisted.

“Money is just a means to an experience” Tim Ferriss, author of Four Hour work week, said to me a few years back. Once you can get you basic needs met, you can start risk taking more and investing in opportunities that feed your soul.

If money were not an issue, and you could do anything in this life, what would you do? How would you spend your time? What would you create?  When you break it down, contributing with your passions is what makes life worth living!

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Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss is a San Francisco native, Entrepreneur Whisperer, Sharing Economy Evangelist. Just Vagenius. Co-author of www.ItsaShareableLife.com, & Videographer for hire www.BrandbarSF.com, Director of www.OneCouchataTime.com.