Discover Debt Freedom!

Get Out of Debt and into Wealth

Archive for November, 2009

Need To Find A Good Credit Repair Company?

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 30th, 2009 | Filed under: credit score

Due to the fact that credit is very important today, many individuals are wondering how to find a good credit repair company.  Finding a good credit repair company is not hard, regardless of how bad your credit score may be.  There are businesses that average individuals with bad credit can consult with to repair bad credit quickly and knowing where to look for these companies and how to take advantage of what is offered is one thing that every individual should know.

Different Types Of Credit Repair Companies

Finding a good credit repair company does not have to be difficult.  There are many businesses that specialize in credit repair that you can use and where you turn depends on what required you to seek the company out in the first place.  The most popular businesses used for credit repair are traditional companies affiliated with government programs that offer credit repair plans and financial counseling. 

After you consult with the company, the representative will submit your information to the creditors and the creditors determine whether you are eligible for any actions that could reduce your debt and help you repair your credit quickly.  Using these types of credit repair companies works well for people that have a lot of creditors and not a lot of time to negotiate with each of them. 

Another option  is to respond to one of the credit repair advertisements that frequently show up in the mail.  These advertisements will often have a website or phone number listed within the information that can be used to contact the company to learn about your options for repairing bad credit.  Individuals are required to give their information to the customer service representative or type their information into an online form and access to the program can typically be granted or denied within a few minutes. 

There are a couple of drawbacks to taking this approach to finding a credit repair company.  One drawback is that even though you are granted instant access, it will still take a few days to submit all of your information and have someone from the credit repair company contact you about your situation.  There is also an increased risk of becoming the victim of a scam when you use this method of finding a credit repair because there are a number of criminals that will prey on desperate people that are looking for a way to repair their credit score.  By conducting a careful review of the company before allowing them to take your personal and financial information, you will reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a scam.

Successful Debt Reduction In Several Simple Steps

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 29th, 2009 | Filed under: debt relief

Credit card and personal debt is at an all time high in many areas of the nation and more and more people are discovering that they are facing financial devastation if they do not begin to reduce their debt levels.  Although beginning the process of debt reduction can be difficult, it is the only way for a person to get their finances back in order and stop paying the exorbitant interest rates charged for many financial products.  Here are several steps that can help you get started on the path of debt reduction and eventually to financial freedom.

Step 1 – Believe That You Can Become Debt Free

The reason that many debt reduction efforts fail is because the person does not truly believe that they will be able to get out of debt or because the person does not see results as fast as they believe they should.  It is very important to think positive about your debt reduction efforts and to stick to your debt reduction plan, because if you quit you will find yourself sinking even deeper into debt and find yourself in a worse position than when you began.

Step 2 – Dramatically Reduce Your Spending

You will never reduce your debt if you continue to spend the same amount of money as you have been spending in the past.  The first thing you should do is identify areas where spending can be cut significantly to provide more money for paying down debts.  Many people have multiple areas of their lives were they can trim spending or downgrade to save more money and often do not realize they are spending as much money on these items as they are until they sit down and try to find areas where they can trim spending.

Step 3 – Put Away The Credit Cards

Credit cards are like kryptonite for a person that is trying to pay down their debts.  It is important to understand that every purchase made on a credit card will cost more than a purchase paid for in cash because you are paying with borrowed money and are paying finance charges and interest charges on every dollar borrowed.  If you need to pay for anything during the debt reduction process, you need to pay for it in cash and if you cannot pay cash for it, then you probably do not need to buy it until the debt reduction process is over.

Step 4 – Start Saving

Once you have paid down your debt to a more reasonable level, you should begin to split any additional money that you have between saving for emergencies and paying down the rest of your debt.  By building up your savings, you will ensure that you will have a monetary cushion in the event that a financial emergency occurs and you will be able to handle the costs of the emergency without having to resort to using the credit cards that you have just paid down and end up paying interest on the new balance on the credit card.  Having savings in a bank account for when you need additional money will help you remain debt free.

Holiday Scams To Watch Out For This Year

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 28th, 2009 | Filed under: scams

Every holiday season, scammers come out of the woodwork by the hundreds, armed with schemes to separate the unwary from their hard earned money.  These scammers know that in the rush of the holiday season, people are hurried and may not protect their personal information as well as they should.  Here are some of the most common scams found during the holidays.

Charity Scams
Scammers know that many people full of holiday cheer are more likely to give to charitable organizations in the hopes of spreading that cheer to the less fortunate among us.  These scammers send letters and emails to large numbers of people asking for donations for the holiday season when in reality they are just interested in lining their pockets and stealing your credit card information.  Be wary of any charitable organization soliciting donations that you have not heard of or cannot find a reasonable amount of information about on the internet.

Contact Scams
With this scam, the scammers send an email or social networking notification that an old friend or distant relative is interested in reconnecting with you.  Once the link in the email or on the social networking account is clicked, the person’s computer can be infected with any of a number of malware applications, including keystroke loggers to steal your passwords and credit card information.  At this time of year, it is better to be safe than sorry and be very cautious about clicking on links from people that you do not know or do not remember.

Luxury Goods Scams
During the holiday season, many websites spring up offering great deals on luxury merchandise, specifically clothing, jewelry, perfumes, and handbags.  Scammers use these websites to steal credit card numbers, to accept payment for merchandise that will never be delivered, or to sell inferior knockoffs that are worth much less than the website is selling them for.  A good rule of thumb to follow is if a deal seems too good to be true, it is more than likely that the deal is a ruse for a fraudulent activity.

Festive Item Scams
Another scam that is making the rounds this holiday season is the festive item scam.  With this scam, the scammers set up websites offering holiday ringtones, festive screensavers, or downloadable holiday songs and lyrics.  When a consumer clicks on or attempts to purchase one of these festive items, their computer can be affected with malware and viruses that lock up the computer and steal the person’s information.

Tips For Choosing The Best Business For Debt Consolidation

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 26th, 2009 | Filed under: consolidation

For the individuals that are interested in completing a debt consolidation program to get rid of consumer debt, finding the right business for debt consolidation can be a difficult task.  By learning some methods for choosing the right business for debt consolidation, an individual will be less likely to be the victim of scam artists or phony businesses offering a bogus debt elimination program.  The choice of which business to choose for debt consolidation will depend on several different factors and by taking these requirements into consideration before choosing a business will help the individual make the correct decision on which business fits their financial needs the best.

A Good Business Reputation

One thing that anyone looking for a debt consolidation program needs to be aware of is that there are a significant number of companies out there that are trying to scam unwary individuals that are desperate for debt relief.  Because entering into an agreement with a business that handles debt consolidation is not something that many individuals have experience with, some of these individuals may not recognize the dangers and will trust the business to the point that they will sign paperwork without reading it completely. 

Applying to the wrong business for a debt consolidation program can cause the loss of a significant amount of money, as fees and the accumulation of additional debt occurs when the business cannot reduce or eliminate consumer debt.  Some individuals may even find that they have locked themselves into an agreement that it is impossible for them to get out of without taking significant legal action through the court system.  It is very important to find a business that has a good reputation for helping the individuals that seek their assistance.

Reviews And Recommendations

There are a number of different websites on the internet that allows consumers to post ratings, comments, and reviews about different companies in a number of different industries, including the debt consolidation industry.  By reviewing the information that has been submitted to these websites, there is a good chance that you will be able to avoid fraudulent companies that have had a number of problems with the services that they have provided in the past.

It is important that you take the time to find the best business to help with debt consolidation.  If the individuals representing the business are not willing to listen to your questions or they treat you like you are insignificant, then the business is not the best business for you to be dealing with.  Remember, you are the customer and the business should be working to help you, so you have the right to ask questions and help make decisions about the best way for you to get out of debt.

Save Hundreds Of Dollars With These Simple Fixes

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 25th, 2009 | Filed under: saving

There are a number of good methods available for saving money, but sometimes the most obvious methods of saving are overlooked.  There are many areas in your everyday life where spending can be trimmed simply by modifying your routine.  Here are some simple tips for everyday saving that anyone can follow.

Buy Generics And Store Brands
Purchasing generics and store brands instead of name brand items can save you money in every category, from food to prescriptions to clothing.  In many cases, the generic or store brand item is of comparable quality to the name brand item and is made of the same ingredients if not the same formula.  Most people cannot tell the difference between brand name and store brand items if the labels are removed and making this change can save you as much as 33% off of your grocery bill.

Reduce Gas Consumption
Although the price of gasoline has retreated from its recent highs, money spent on gas is still a large part of many families’ budgets.  There are many ways to reduce the amount of gas you use each week.  Walking or riding a bicycle to go short distances will not only improve your health, it will keep more of your money in your pocket.  Arranging your errands so that you can do them on the way home from work instead of making an additional trip will also save money.

Spend Sparingly On Entertainment
One of the biggest money wasters for many people’s budgets is entertainment purchases.  Saving money on entertainment purchases does not mean cutting down on your entertainment, it means be smarter with your entertainment dollars.  For example, instead of spending $100 on a ticket to see a nationally known comedian perform for two hours, spend $20 at the local comedy club to see up and coming comedians perform for two hours.  You’ll get the same amount of laughs for one-fifth of the price.

Reduce Spending For Convenience
Our culture has made spending money for convenience a national pastime and many people are unaware of the large amount of money they could save by taking the time to do things themselves.  Purchasing a cup of coffee at a coffee shop can cost $2 per cup or more while making coffee purchased from the grocery store at home would cost the person about $0.20 per cup.  For the average coffee drinker, making coffee at home could save them $500 or more each year.

The Pros And Cons Of Automatic Bill Payment

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 21st, 2009 | Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the newest features offered by banking institutions today is automatic bill payment.  This feature allows the account holder to schedule automatic, repeat payments for their monthly bills so that they will not have to remember to make these payments when the bills are due.  The account holder can sign up as many or as few recurring payments as they wish and can cancel the automatic payments at any time.

The Pros

The biggest benefit and selling point of automatic bill payment is that the feature is exceedingly convenient.  The person can schedule their payments to occur on the actual due date of the bill or schedule the payments to occur the day after their paycheck has been deposited into their account.  Submitting the information needed for the payment to be made only takes a few minutes and the person will not need to view the information again unless any changes need to be made.

Another benefit of automatic bill payment is that the payment will never be late as long as the due date remains the same.  Many companies have started tacking on hefty late fees to overdue accounts and are reporting delinquent payments in levels higher than ever before.  When the payments are scheduled and paid electronically, the risk of incurring a late charge for an overdue payment is greatly reduced.

The Cons

People that regularly use automatic bill payment are at a greater risk of overdrawing their accounts and racking up a great deal of overdraft charges in a short amount of time.  Any disruption in the average amount of money in the bank account, such as an inaccurate paycheck amount or an unexpectedly large withdrawal from the account, can cause a payment to be made while there is not enough money in the account, resulting in an overdraft before you know it.

If the due date of your bills can change from month to month, then this could cause another issue with automatic bill payment.  If a bill is typically due on the 14th day of the month and you have the payment scheduled for the 13th day of the month, you don’t have anything to worry about, but if the due date of the payment jumps to the 12th day of the month, you risk having a payment paid late. 

Taking into consideration both the pros and the cons of automatic bill payment will help you make an informed decision on whether automatic bill payment is the right choice for you.

Simple Saving Methods For Everyday Life

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 19th, 2009 | Filed under: saving

One of the main reasons that so many people are deeply in debt today is because they spent more money than reasonable on things that they really didn’t need and couldn’t really afford.  People who relied on the rising equity of their homes to finance their lifestyles replaced expensive cell phones annually by placing the latest model on their credit cards.  Now that credit lines have been cut and the flow of home equity loans has dried up, these people are finding themselves coping with high credit card bills and fewer options for obtaining the money that they need to pay off their balances.

One of the most effective ways to obtain additional money to pay off credit card balances is to cut spending in other areas of your life and apply the money saved to paying down the balance.  Here are some of the simplest saving methods to implement:

Choosing Cost Over Convenience
Paying more for convenience has become a way of life for many people today and reversing this habit is one of the easiest ways to save money.  Instead of paying for a specialty flavored coffee each morning, the person can make their own flavored coffee at home and save more than $700 per year.  Purchasing your daily snacks at the grocery store and bringing them with you to work saves as much as 50% of the cost of purchasing the same items from a vending machine.  Trimming these convenience costs can save you a significant amount of money each year.

Review And Eliminate
Because people are creatures of habit, it is very easy for a person to fall into a routine of paying for things that they do not need, such as a gym membership when they rarely go to the gym or ATM charges because a rival bank’s ATM is on the way home.  By taking stock of your daily purchases and determining which ones can be cut to trim expenses, you may find that hundreds of dollars can be saved each year.

Focus On Needs, Not Wants
Before purchasing anything, the question of whether the item is actually needed should be asked.  By focusing on the items that you really need and postponing the purchase of the items that you want, you save more of your income and will be able to pay off your debts much more quickly.  By implementing these simple saving methods, you dramatically increase your chances of eliminating your debt completely.

Do You Have These Financial Bad Habits?

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 17th, 2009 | Filed under: mindset

Many people have bad financial habits that they are not even aware of.  These bad habits can severely affect your financial standing and extracting yourself from the damage that these habits can cause may be more difficult than you think.  If you have any of the following bad financial habits, to save your financial future you should take steps to correct these habits now.

Opening Multiple Credit Card Accounts
Because many stores now offer their own credit cards that can be used specifically in their store and offer a discount for the usage of that credit card, many people fall into the trap of accepting every credit card that is offered to them.  This can cause a multitude of problems including missing payment dates, incurring overdraft and late payment fees, and spending more than you realize.  Multiple credit card accounts will also reduce your credit score, both as part of the formula for calculating credit worthiness and by negative information about late payments being submitted to the credit reporting bureaus.

Neglecting To Check Your Credit Report
Experts have estimated that as many as one-quarter of the credit reports held on individuals today contain inaccuracies that could negatively effect the person’s credit score.  These mistakes are more easily corrected when they are caught quickly and often, the only way to find these mistakes is to obtain a copy of your credit report and review it carefully for any inaccurate information.  The credit reporting bureaus are required by law to investigate any claims of inaccurate information on a credit report so don’t make the mistake of assuming that there is nothing you can do about mistakes on your credit report.

Not Creating And Following A Budget
Many of the people that get into unfortunate financial situations often do so because they are unaware of how much money is flowing into and out of their bank account on a monthly basis.  If you do not keep careful track of your finances, it is very easy for the situation to get out of hand without you realizing it.  Map out your expenses for the month and document every cent that you are paying out so that you can identify any areas where spending could be cut to save money and make sure that you are not spending more than you make.

Credit Repair Information For Low Credit Score Consumers

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 14th, 2009 | Filed under: credit score

Many individuals are looking for a credit repair method to decrease the debt load that they are carrying, especially when the person is battling a low credit score as well.  When looking for repair methods, there are several things that the person must keep in mind in order to get the best price and the quickest approval for the method that they desire.  The method used will be based mainly on an individual’s credit history, payment history, and the amount of debt that the individual is carrying.  When using these factors to determine whether the person should be using a credit repair method, a low credit score can result in the person receiving a much higher price for credit repair assistance or being rejected by the company outright. 

Review Your Options

When looking for a credit repair method, there are several things to keep in mind.  The first thing that should be taken into consideration is that the first methods that the person may find may not be the best one for the person’s situation.  In many cases, a person that has a low credit score is so desperate for a solution that they will use the first method that they see regardless of the terms and choose whatever method that looks like it may work.  It is best to review several different methods to find out which ones will offer the best results. 

Be Wary Of Deals

It is always great to find repair methods with low prices and little effort involved, but the person must be careful to make sure that the low price is not just a hook to get the person to accept the method.  In some cases, the price will change after a brief introductory period, after which the price will rise dramatically higher for the services to continue.  This higher price put the person deeper into debt by a significant amount and may even make the method unaffordable for someone that has a low credit score or financial situation, making the situation worse. 

When dealing with companies that offer credit repair methods, it is best to be sure that the person is dealing with a company that is reputable.  There are many scam artists and shady lenders out there just waiting for the unwary, which includes many people with a low credit score.  For instance, some companies that offer repair methods insert a great deal of hidden fees into the price of the program.  These fees can total hundreds of dollars and is solely for the privilege of using the methods offered by the company.  Individuals that submit their information to these companies can find themselves even deeper in debt because of the numerous fees that have been charged before the individual ever receives any assistance with their problem.  Be sure to read the terms and conditions for the company carefully before giving them any personal or financial information about you to avoid becoming the victim of a scam or unscrupulous business practices.

Thinking About Layaway For The Holiday?

Written by Toi Williams on Nov 13th, 2009 | Filed under: mindset, saving

One staple of the holiday season that had all but disappeared in recent years is the layaway option that was available at many retail stores.  The availability of easy credit and credit cards for everyone had reduced the demand for layaway services and most retailers had closed their layaway departments, but with the economic situation facing the country today, many consumers are putting away their credit cards and opting for a low cost layaway program instead.

Many people are now choosing layaway programs instead of placing the items on a credit card as a way of avoiding incurring holiday debt.  Consumers can choose the items that they want for their family weeks in advance of the holidays, have the retailer store away the items in their layaway warehouse, and make payments on the purchase price of the items until the items are paid off, typically in the last few weeks of December. 

Things To Keep In Mind

If you are interested in using layaway for your holiday shopping this season, there are some things that you will need to keep in mind.  The first thing to keep in mind is that there are a limited number of stores that currently have layaway options available so choose your items early before the rush begins and you have to wait in long lines to get your layaway order processed.

Another thing to remember is that you will be paying for all of the items that you place in layaway, so be selective and choose only the items that you truly want.  If you are on the fence about a particular piece when you are choosing your layaway items, place the item back on the shelf.  If you decide that you still want the item at a later date you can always go back to the store and purchase it, which will be much easier than attempting to take the item out of layaway once it has been processed in.

There are upfront costs associated with most layaway programs.  When the items are placed into layaway, there is often a 10% to 20% down payment required and a small service fee is added by the company for storage and retrieval.  In many cases, the down payment and service fees are non-refundable although some companies will allow the money to be refunded to a gift card that can be used at the retailer on a later date.

It is important to read all of the terms and conditions associated with the layaway program before choosing to submit items and pay the down payment.  Some programs require the payments to be made in certain intervals and some others have a specific date by which the items must be paid for and picked up.  Layaway programs can be a great way to monitor your holiday spending and resist creating more debt, but you should know exactly what is required by the program to prevent a holiday nightmare.