Hello and welcome fellow debt haters. Being that it’s Monday, you are either broke from the weekend and can’t wait until payday, or you are refreshed and ready to return to this weeks business at hand. I remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck and believe me when I say I NEVER want to go back.
One of the best decisions I ever made, besides marrying the most beautiful woman in the world and being a dad, has to be improving my finances…hands down! I look back and wonder what I could have possibly been thinking to have wasted away so many financial opportunities all because I was too stubborn to look at the danger in what I was doing.
Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are past the stubborn phase and are looking for real solutions to better prepare yourself financially. Congratulations! Now the question is: Where are you at right now?
Recently, I had the honor and privilege of being mentioned in the LA Times in an article titled; These financial blogs are worth your time, written by Kathy M. Kristof. Since then I have been trying to keep up with her work and came across the quiz below published on her blog at CBS Money Watch. As soon as I finished the quiz, I immediately contacted her to get permission to share it with you. Kathy Kristoff, the National Foundation for Consumer Credit and Clearpoint Financial created this quiz to help you figure out where you are financially. (Subscribe to Kathy’s blog)
I believe this quiz not only shows you where you are, but it also gives you a basic understanding of where you should be in order to gain control of your finances once and for all. Don’t procrastinate any longer. The time is NOW, to get your financial mess in order. You’ll be so glad you did.
Be sure to check out my BEFORE and AFTER results at the bottom! 😀
TAKE THE QUIZ
1. The amount I have socked away in savings to handle emergencies could pay all of my living expenses for up to : a. three months; b. six months; c. 8 months or more; d. about an hour and a half, if I cut back.
2. My spouse and I fight about money: a. frequently; b. sometimes; c. never; d. through court-appointed lawyers.
3. Payments on my consumer debts–that’s auto loans, student loans, credit cards and home equity lines of credit–amount to less than: a. 20% of take-home pay; b. 15% of take-home pay; c. 10% or less of take-home pay; d. way more than 20% of my monthly paychecks.
4. When it comes to saving for retirement, I’m socking away: a. 6% or a little less of income to get the company match; b. 10% of my income; c. the maximum allowed by the company plan; d. change in a jar. Seriously, who can afford to save for retirement?
5. My housing costs, including property tax (when applicable) and insurance, amounts to less than: a. 30% of my take-home pay; b. 25% of take-home pay; c. 20% or less of take-home pay; d. more than 30% of take-home pay.
6. I make more than the minimum required payments on my credit cards: a. sometimes; b. most of the time; c. actually, I pay off the balance in full; d. never. If they demand $29.50, that’s what I’m paying and not a penny more.
7. I spend less than I make: a. unless there’s a sale; b. except in cases when I’m investing in something long-term, like education or a car that gets me to work; c. always; d. when I manage to work enough overtime.
8. My finances are: a. an occasional source of concern; b. largely in control; c. good–never a cause of worry; d. give me cold sweats.
9. I have enough insurance to cover medical costs: a. as long as they’re not catastrophic; b. for both me and my family; c. and I have money set aside to cover co-payments and deductibles; d. only if I never get sick.
10. I know my net worth and: a. while it’s not what I want it to be, I’m working on it; b. it’s good and growing; c. I’m the typical millionaire next-door; d. and that tells me I’m insolvent.
HOW DID YOU SCORE?
Give yourself 5 points for every A answer; 2 points for each B; 1 point for each C; and 10 points for any D answers. Add ‘em up.
75-100: Danger, Will Robinson! You are in the economic red zone. Get yourself to a credit counselor, pronto!
50-75: Teetering: You may be making your payments now, but you’re on the razor’s edge of trouble. It’s time to get serious about budgeting and saving. If you can’t do it alone, get help.
25-50: Healthy and Happy: You’ve got adequate savings and good habits. Keep it up and you’ll be comfortably rich in no time, if you’re not already.
0-25: Rock Star: You only took the quiz to gloat, didn’t you? Congratulations. You deserve it. But, try not to sprain your arm patting yourself on the back.
How Did I Score?
My financially clumsy Clark Kent phase (prior to becoming sick and tired of being sick and tired)
90! Ummm…hides head under the sand in total shame. Were we ever that blind to reality that we completely ignored the importance of planning for our future? Doesn’t being 10 points away from the worst possible score on this quiz answer that question? I look back and I do feel embarrassed, but I feel something else too. I feel excitement! I am excited because I can look back and see that we are no longer there anymore. We’re no longer blissfully lost in a place that society deemed normal for far too long. We said bye-bye forever, and if you’re smart you will gleefully join us!
My financially heroic Superman phase (two years after exiting the phone booth)
32! In the words of my son’s favorite cartoon character, Lightning McQueen; “Kaa-chow!” Not Financial Rock Stars yet, but we are financial super-heroes, because we saved the day and our future. We have adequate savings and building, NO DEBT (except for our house), and are socking away some money towards retirement. Once we build our emergency fund to $15,000 (6 months of expenses), which is a 2010 financial goal of mine, we will not only be increasing our retirement savings to 15%, but we will also be investing money towards our kids college fund by building the Educational Savings Accounts (ESA). Take a hike Sallie Mae!! There…I said it. 😀
What did you score on this quiz? Share your results below, and don’t worry about being embarrassed you are in good company. Most of us have done stupid with money and have no room to criticize you. What’s embarrassing is if you realize the truth and DON’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Welcome to the moment of truth and accountability—let your voice be heard! Don’t look back and regret this day, change your financial future and become the Rock Star you deserve to be!!