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Are your finances really stressed out? Take this test


Four questions for your Personal Finance Stress Test
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Ask yourself:

Ignoring your mortgage for the moment, does more than 10 percent of your monthly take home pay go to debt payments – credit cards, home equity loans, student loans?

Now add you mortgage payment to that debt payment. Is the total more than 36 percent of your take-home pay?

If you lost your job, how many months would you be able to live off your savings?

If your pay is cut by 10 percent or if you were forced to go on unpaid leave for a short time, would you still be able to cover your monthly bills?

Tomorrow: I'll answer the questions.

Tell me how you do on this test.

And send me your suggestions for other questions. I'm writing a column about everyone doing a stress test on their own finances Should be interesting.

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Comments

1.0%
2. 19%
3. 1 year
4. yes


1. Does that mean minimum payments or actual payments? If minimum payments only, then = 14.5%

2. 35.5%

3. 2 months maybe

4. yes, but define 'short' - again 2-3 months is about all I could handle right now.

Most of my debt came from a property investment that didn't go well. That and student loans. I don't have a car payment either, so I am very focused on paying down debt, and should have all credit card debt paid in 2 years by following a strict budget to maximize the amount I can pay on credit cards. Strict doesn't mean NO VACTIONS either.


Ignoring your mortgage for the moment, does more than 10 percent of your monthly take home pay go to debt payments – credit cards, home equity loans, student loans?

Yes, but I put EVERYTHING on my credit card. 5% back on gas, 1% on everything else, and I pay it off each month, so no interest payments.

Now add you mortgage payment to that debt payment. Is the total more than 36 percent of your take-home pay?

No mortgage payment. I paid off the 15 year mortgage last year. But adding credit card payments to property taxes and insurance and the IRS, it gets to over 70% of our income.

If you lost your job, how many months would you be able to live off your savings?

18 months, based on current spending levels, 24 months if we went cheap.

If your pay is cut by 10 percent or if you were forced to go on unpaid leave for a short time, would you still be able to cover your monthly bills?

Yes, as long as the cut was under 30%, we would be fine.


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About the author
You've got the job of managing your money. No one in school taught you how. But you and I, we can teach each other, how to handle it, how to save for retirement, how to make money last, how to educate the kids, how to make a budget work. The conversations I have with my readers are fun. Money's important, but discussing it does not have to be boring.

Harriet Johnson Brackey Harriet Johnson Brackey, the personal finance columnist for the Sun Sentinel, is an award-winning business reporter. Her columns for 2008 were named "The Best in the Business," a national award chosen by her colleagues at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Brackey has worked at Business Week magazine and at USA TODAY, where she was a founder and part of the original staff of the Money section at the country's first national newspaper. After nearly 11 years there - spent covering the 1980s bull market, the insider trading scandals, the 1987 crash - Brackey left Washington, D.C., and came to The Miami Herald. She spent the next decade writing a column about personal finance that chronicled the stock market's Internet boom and bust, as well as the popular Money Makeover features.

Brackey also has done commentaries for Marketplace Money, which airs on National Public Radio and The Nightly Business Report which is broadcast on more than 250 PBS television stations nationwide. She also has been a radio guest on WLRN’s Miami Herald News.
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