Commentary: Keys to money mastery, Part 3

Commentary: Keys to money mastery, Part 3
April 19
10:17 2018

By Algennon Cash

National Financial Literacy Month is recognized in April and I’ve been educating readers on what they can do to manage their money and build wealth.  In my third installment, I want to highlight the ways excessive debt can destroy your financial health, not to mention provide strategies to pay off burdensome obligations.

Effectively controlling your financial resources can give you a strong sense of power, confidence, and self-esteem – but mismanagement on the other hand can quickly place you in financial ruin.  Too much debt can weaken you by reducing options, which can zap your ability to make important choices with your money.

If you want to build an emergency fund, then you must save.  If you want to pay for college, then you must save.  If you want to enjoy retirement, then you must save.  If you want to buy a house, then you must save.  If you want to quit your job and start a business, then you must save.  When you owe money to credit card companies, banks, furniture stores, clothing retailers, and close friends – then it becomes impossible to make the choice to save.

The long held idea that you must build credit is simply a myth and widely overblown.  More people need to spend less than what they earn and master how to live off cash.  If you’re unable to buy a new TV with the money left over after you pay monthly bills; then resist the urge to make the purchase using credit.

My grandfather had a unique philosophy – if he did not have the money to buy something, then he could not afford it.  I still recall asking for help to finance my first car, but he refused and instructed me to purchase a car with cash.  Eventually my mother agreed to co-sign for a new Ford Aspire – of course it was repossessed within a year.

Irresponsible financial decisions often cost you more than just money, but it can also lead to missed opportunities, troubled relationships, and declining physical health.  So if you’ve built up a mass amount of debt over the years, then you’re financially out of shape and I have zero doubt that it weighs you down. 

But guess what?  You do not have to continue to live that way, you can change your situation, and if you will start today making new choices, then your outcomes will immediately alter.

So if your past choices have left you a mountain of debt, here are some tips to regain control:

1. Create a budget – never forget to plan for success, don’t fail to plan.  Financial goals require a clear roadmap, so writing out a budget can keep you on track.  Read my previous article for some helpful ideas.

2. Stop your credit card spending – the fastest way to get trapped in a hole is to keep digging.  Use your newly drafted budget to direct all your spending and refrain from impulse shopping.  I use a simple catchphrase to keep me focused – “Cash is King” 🙂

3. Pay off the smallest debt first – ignore the interest rates and focus on generating a debt snowball.  In other words, pay off the smallest debt, and then move to the next, you will experience a growing sense of energy as you keep moving forward.

4. Put any extra cash toward debt – if you received a bonus from your company; then allocate that money toward paying off your debt.  Cash gifts from your birthday, holidays, or even the lottery should all be directed to reducing your debt.  I’m a huge believer in selling unwanted “stuff” to generate extra cash!

5. Change your daily habits – focus on counting pennies every day because they rapidly add up to dollars.  Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week?  Do you really need Starbucks every morning?  Is it time to cut the cable cord?  Ask yourself daily; what can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much?

6. Reward yourself – life changes are completed incrementally and they require energy, determination, and persistence.  Therefore, every time you reach a milestone in your debt payoff plan, don’t forget to reward yourself. 

The only way to achieve total success is to keep at it, and to do that, you must stay motivated.

Your financial health must be a top priority, so I’m praying for you to discover how to live a more prosperous life.  Hopefully my tips will open the doors to you mastering money.  Contact me directly with any questions, comments, and ideas.  Good luck!

Algenon Cash is a nationally recognized speaker and the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm. Reach him at


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