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July, 2010


Given that the economy is still suffering its worst downturn since the Great Depression and may continue to do so for quite awhile more, there might be reason to hope that a large number of Americans are once again leaping onto the big-spender bandwagon. The consumer, after all, makes up about two-thirds of United States' monetary growth. Do not yourself, however, succumb to that Sirens' Call!

On average, Americans with credit card debts already individually owe $15,000 and, even if they cut up all their cards today and never get another, can take years to pay them off. Not counting impulse purchases, many of us still owe a lot on mortgages that we really cannot afford. Often too, we drive expensive or large, powerful vehicles that we are paying on monthly via both big car loans and filling the gas-guzzlers' tanks.

Not infrequently, we do not even know how we got into such fixes. The causes vary, but typically boil down to loss of work and/or uncontrolled expenditures. Until the bursting of the housing bubble brought a dose of reality, for decades we have as a nation tended to go on spending binges as if we were multi-millionaires, despite actually having only middle-class or even poverty level incomes.

A solution that is becoming more common today is financial coaching. If making ends meet is a frequent challenge for you, there is good news: quality money management help can be obtained for free. In her 6/23/2010 article, "Find a Personal Money Coach, Free," MSN Money writer Donna Freedman tells us in detail the advantages money coaches have over financial counselors or consultants for folks over their heads in debt, real life examples of persons who have gotten their financial houses in order through help from financial coaching, differences between categories of monetary assistance, how to gracefully turn down people who keep asking for money when one's own budget is not in great shape, tips on overcoming compulsive spending habits, and specific information on how to find one's own money coach, with links to helpful agencies that provide these valuable services for free.

Do not worry about any negative implications of wanting a personal money coach. It is of course not necessary to tell one's social network unless one chooses to do so. Further, there is nothing wrong with getting helpful back-up that can aid one in turning things around. In any case, one certainly does not have to be a deadbeat to benefit from money coaching. People have gotten useful information and support, for example, on how to set aside a little more for charitable giving, for voluntarily downsizing, simplifying, and living on less, for improving credit scores so they can buy houses despite the current low lending environment, and for setting up trusts for disabled dependents.

Money coaching (as opposed to financial counseling), Freedman explains, is client-centered and empowering, looks at the circumstances that got one into difficulty or that limited one's ability to save or invest as desired, and provides a blend of "guidance, encouragement, and support." It is not a panacea. There may still be difficult choices ahead or alterations in behavior that are required. Yet free money coaching is a useful new tool available to us. It may be just what we need to help us fill in and cover over the holes in our finances that many of us have dug ourselves into.


Larry is not a professional. Don't take him seriously!

Actually, the investment article provided here is for general information only and should not be considered as professional advice, a solicitation to buy or sell any security, or the Word of God. Investors are encouraged to do their own research while considering their personal goals and circumstances, or consult their own professional financial advisors, before making investment decisions. Neither Larry nor LARVALBUG will be liable for any losses sustained by any visitor to this site.

(Disclosure statement: Larry and Val have holdings in some of the suggested assets but do not "make a market" in any of them and do not derive any direct benefit from recommending them, except perhaps for a bit of smug self-satisfaction.)

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