Friday, January 17, 2014

Reasons Why You Need To Avoid Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy, although it is a legal and effective way to get out of debt, should always be your last option. It will leave your finances with so much credit damage that it is sometimes not worth it - especially when you have another option that can help with your credit situation.

There are many reasons why you need to avoid bankruptcy even if you have the debt relief qualifications to file a petition. Here are some of them.

  • It can ruin your credit score. First and probably the most important reasons to stay out of this debt solution is the fact that it can lower your credit score by an average of 200 points. It will be really bad for the next couple of months. While you can improve your credit ranking slowly but surely, the taint of bankruptcy will stay with you for the next 7 to 10 years. That can keep you from some important financial opportunities in the future.
  • It will be difficult to get credit approval. When you file for bankruptcy, lenders will stay away from you - at least for the next two years. If you need to get a personal loan to help with an emergency situation, you will find a hard time to find someone to lend you money. Bankruptcy tells them that you are not responsible with your money. Even if you filed because of a sickness or something that was beyond your control, financial irresponsibility will be the first thing they will associate with this credit record.
  • It will be in the public records. The thing about bankruptcy is it will be placed in the public records. Anyone can learn about this embarrassing financial situation in your life. This is one debt solution that will be very difficult to keep from the people around you.
  • It can cost you every asset that you have acquired. If you file for bankruptcy and you are qualified for Chapter 7, your assets will be liquidated. That means, they will be taken from you, sold and the proceeds with go to your creditors. While you will not pay them anything because what is not paid with your assets will be discharged, you will have nothing left to your name.
  • It can still make you go through a repayment plan. Another reason why you want to avoid bankruptcy is because if you end up with a Chapter 13 filing, you will still go through a repayment plan. You will be left with a ruined credit score, have a hard time getting financial aid and will have it displayed in public records, and still pay your creditors a portion of your debt.

If you want to avoid bankruptcy, you have the option to go for debt settlement - especially when you think that you will be qualified to file for Chapter 13. Settling your debt will result in debt reduction - at least, if you do it correctly. Find out about your options before you finalize your decision to declare yourself bankrupt. You might find it to be more fulfilling to get out of debt without ruining your credit too much.

Friday, January 10, 2014

How To Choose Between The Snowball Method And The Avalanche Method

There are many options to get out of debt. You have debt consolidation loans, debt management, credit counseling and debt settlement. When things are really very bleak, you also have the option to file for bankruptcy.

But these options will either damage your credit score and/or require you to hire a debt professional. If you want to keep yourself from both of these, you should try opting for either the snowball or the avalanche method.

These two generally have the same process. Both of them will require the consumer to list their debts according to priority. This ranking will allow the consumer to focus on one debt (the priority) while taking care of the minimum payment for the rest. The idea is to get your debt payment fund (the highest that you can allocate without compromising your basic needs) and distribute it in your list based on the minimum requirement of each account. Once you have done that, the extra amount that is left in your fund will be put into your priority debt. That will help you pay off that first debt a lot faster while keeping the other creditors generally happy. When that first debt is done, you will get the amount initially allocated to the first debt and put it towards the second debt on your list. It will be a lot bigger since you combined the first and second debt payments. It should complete the second debt payments a lot faster. When this is is completed, you will proceed to the third - and so on and so forth. You will repeat the process until all the debts are paid off.

The difference between the snowball and avalanche is what will be the priority. In the snowball method, the priority will be the credit account with the lowest balance. For the avalanche method, the priority will be the debt with the highest interest rate.

So how will you choose between the two to maximize the efficiency of the debt solution?

It all depends on your personality. If you think that you need the emotional motivation of an early success, you should go for the snowball method. By prioritizing the lowest balance account, you will pay that off a lot faster.

But if you are the type who is more concerned about the money that you will save, you may want to go for the avalanche method. Paying off the high interest debt first will help lower the money that will be wasted on the interest amount. It could take you longer to get that first debt payment completion but it should be worth it.

These are the major issues that you have to consider when choosing between the two. It is important that you commit to the debt payment plan that you have chosen to ensure your road towards debt freedom.

And once you have achieved debt freedom, make sure that you will stay out of debt. Practice the right financial management skills that will keep you from incurring unnecessary debts in the future.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Reasons Why Saving After Debt Relief Is Still Important

Isn’t it a good feeling to give your last payment to your creditor? Now you are finally debt free. Does that mean you can stop restricting yourself? Maybe. It really depends on the status of your finances after the last debt payment had been made.

After your debt relief program, it is very tempting to go out and celebrate. You want to reward yourself by buying the things that you deprived yourself while allotting your money for your credit obligations. While you deserve to celebrate, you need to remember that you cannot go back to your old excessive life. Obviously, there was something wrong with that lifestyle - that is why you had so much debt to your name.

So what should you do after your debt relief program? Easy, you continue with your budget and you should seriously look into saving your money. Instead of splurging and cutting yourself some slack, you have to wise up and put a significant amount of your money into your savings. If that means continuing to live frugally, then that is what you have to live with - at least for a little while longer.

Your savings will help you achieve financial security. You want to make sure that your future will never have to deal with unnecessary debt again. You want to be able to enjoy your life in the future - especially after retirement. If that means you have to skip the romantic dinner in a fancy restaurant for one that you can do at home, then that is what you should do. If that means brown bagging your dinner leftovers to work the next day, then by all means, do that to save more money.

Debt freedom is great but you have to know that the real peace of mind comes with financial security. It is a much better life to lead. Knowing that any financial crisis can occur and you will still be okay is enough to give you a stress free life.

Not only that, saving will help you reach a lot of financial goals. For instance, if you plan on buying a home, you can save up for the down payment so you do not have to apply for a big mortgage. A smaller mortgage means you can pay off the debt faster and you don’t have to worry about too much interest amount.

Another financial goal that you can finance through your savings is your retirement plan. You want to start saving up for your twilight years so you can live comfortably and lead a lifestyle that you have chosen for yourself. Make sure that you think about how much you need to retire and start putting aside money for it. The earlier you start, the better it will be for you.

Other financial goals include your child’s college fund or the capital for the business that you have always wanted to have. A lot financial dreams can be achieved if you only have the finances to fund them. Well now that you are debt free, you can start working on your other life goals.

Friday, December 27, 2013

About Debt Relief Goals And How To Effectively Achieve Them

Debt relief goals are a great way to jump start your journey towards debt freedom. This is not the easiest endeavor that you will go through. However, you have to understand that the sacrifices are usually necessary to reach your target. By defining the goals in your debt relief efforts, you are able to motivate yourself as you try to reach your financial destination.

Just like a racer is urged to reach the finish line, you also need to see your goals. But here’s the thing - some people over think their debt relief goals to the point that it becomes too difficult to accomplish. While we want to reach our dreams, it is also important that you know your capabilities. We want to fly but our bodies are not built for flight. That is why we came up with airplanes to help make it possible.

Given that, you need to make your debt relief goals realistic so that you can effectively achieve them. But the question is, how can you make it happen?

First of all, you want to look at your financial capabilities first. Even if you plan on using the help of a professional or you will work on your own, there are debt relief qualifications that you have to satisfy. Check your debt list and your income. Compare them so you can determine if you will need to simply restructure your debt payments and implement some strict spending discipline. Or maybe you are in a deeper financial crisis that you need debt reduction. The information that you will get from this will help set the bar to make your debt relief goals a realistic one.

The next step is asking yourself what are you willing to give to achieve debt freedom. You need to be very honest about yourself when answering this question. Ask yourself how you will limit your spending or how much of your time you are willing to sacrifice to earn more money. Obviously, you need to grow your disposable income. Your debt is evidence that your expenses are more than your income. You need to rectify this by either decreasing your expenses or increasing your income. In most cases, the latter is more difficult but more rewarding because there is no limit to what you can add to your income. Cutting back is easier but you are limited by the amount that you can stop spending.

These two, your financial capabilities and your personality are the important considerations in setting your debt relief goals. Only then can you really set a goal that you know you can attain. You may think that you are capable of making a huge sacrifice on your budget - only to falter in the end because your life became too miserable.

You need to keep yourself happy and motivated even as you get out of debt. Do not completely eliminate the things that you know will make you very happy. If that morning latte really gets you started every day, then just limit it to every other day and brown bag your lunch to work. That should compensate for the expense and still keep you on track in your debt relief goal.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lessons From The Detroit Bankruptcy

A couple of weeks ago, the federal bankruptcy court approved the petition of the city of Detroit to declare themselves bankrupt. This means the city’s debts will be discharged - municipal bonds, pension debts, healthcare benefit debts, and other credit obligations to financial institutions. They are asked to submit a restructuring plan on March of 2014 that will indicate the city assets (e.g. art collections) that they can sell off. The profit will be distributed towards their creditors and whatever cannot be paid will be discharged.

The reason why Detroit had to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy is because of their dwindling revenues from taxes. The local government had to rely on credit to pay for running their city and providing the benefits that they needed to satisfy. It was really a disaster waiting to happen and we can learn a lot from their mistakes.
Here are some of the lessons that we can get off of them.

  • Take action now. In our own personal finances, we always try to make light of many things to keep ourselves from feeling too depressed about our mistakes. While this is okay for motivation’s sake, it can sometimes be dangerous. If you can act on the problem now, then make the necessary sacrifices to avoid further destruction of your finances. Stop deluding yourself that your debts will go away if you ignore them. If you need to earn more, there are legitimate work at home jobs that can help you grow your money for debt payments. It is better to sacrifice your time now if it means you can save yourself from bankruptcy later on.
  • When all else fails, it is okay to opt for bankruptcy. In case things have gotten out of hand and you have no choice but to declare yourself bankrupt, then just dive into it. If you think that no second job or negotiation efforts will save you from your creditors, then just file for bankruptcy. Prolonging the situation after exhausting all the other options and still be in a financial rut will only make things worse. The interest, charges and other fees will only add up to grow your debt even more.
  • Let go of the disappointment. Bankruptcy, although it paints you as a financial failure, should be taken as a positive light. Do not wallow in self pity and just be as optimistic as the mayor of Detroit. He encouraged his city to just move forward and concentrate on fixing their city.

As Detroit is trying to get back up to rebuild their city, so you need to start looking at how they will do it to find motivation to get yourself back up as well. This whole event makes you realize that financial difficulties can target anyone. You need to stop deluding yourself into thinking that you are immune to it. Even if you are earning a lot right now, that is not an excuse to be reckless with your money. Be wise with your financial choices to keep yourself out of financial difficulties.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Things To Check Before Using Debt Consolidation Loans

Although there is no program that you have to enroll into, there are debt consolidation loan qualifications that you need to check before opting for this debt solution. These are all necessary to ensure that you will successfully get debt freedom. A lot of people end up being in a worse situation than before simply because they plunged into this solution without checking if they really qualify or not.

To help ensure that this is the right option for you to solve your problems, here is a checklist of what you have to look into.
  • Will you qualify for a loan amount that can pay off all your multiple debts? At the very least, it should cover most of them. One of the benefits of this debt solution is simplifying your payment scheme so you will not forget any of your debt contributions. If you still have multiple payments after debt consolidation loan, it defeats one of the purposes of this program.
  • Is the interest rate lower than your current average? Most of the time, you use this debt relief option to get rid of high interest credit card debt. However, if you will only qualify for a debt consolidation loan rate that is higher than your current average, then you will not be getting much relief from this. You need to either have a good credit score or a collateral to get a good interest rate on your loan. Otherwise, it may be best to opt for another debt solution.
  • Can it lower your monthly payments? Another benefit of getting a loan to pay off your multiple debts is to lower the contributions that you allot for your credit obligations. The reason for this is not debt reduction but because you distributed your balance over a longer payment period. Make sure that you will have lower payments so your budget can have more breathing space for other expenses or your savings. Otherwise, rethink this option.
  • Do you have a stable income to pay for your loan contributions for the next 3-5 years? Debt consolidation loan usually takes 3-5 years to complete If you cannot afford to pay all the debt at this time because your job was not secure in the first place, you could get into trouble.
  • Can you control yourself to keep from spending your credit cards now that the loan has paid it off? One of the pitfalls of this debt relief program is it can tempt you to use your credit card again. Since you have used the loan amount to pay their balances, you are now left with tempting credit cards. Remember that you did not really pay off your debts. You just transferred it to another lender. Keep your cards or if your credit score can take a hit at the moment, have some of them closed off. This will keep you from using them and accumulating more debt.

When all of these checks out, then you can definitely use debt consolidation loan to get out of your credit problem.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Is A Debt Negotiator Really Necessary?

It seems that when you are in debt, there is more than one decision that you have to make. You have to choose the debt relief program that you will use to get out of debt. You have to choose the expenses that you need to cut back on to afford your debt payments. And you also have to choose if you want to use a professional to help with your debt negotiations.

All of these decisions should not be done lightly because it could really help speed up the process of your debt freedom. But with the part about hiring a professional, you may have to think about that even further.
Some people will think that paying a professional to do something that you can accomplish is a waste of money. Considering the fact that you need to pool in your limited resources to afford all your payments, you cannot afford to spend on something convenient like a debt negotiator. After all, you have some negotiation skills right?
While that is true, hiring a professional does have its merits. It is just like sending your gown to the dry cleaners. You know how to wash your clothes. But there are garments that needs special skill to ensure that it will not be ruined.

The same is true for your debts. Sometimes, you need a professional simply because they know more about negotiating your debts. Of course, you are the best judge because you know your capabilities. But still, here are some of the specific reasons why you may need a debt negotiator.

  • They know who they are negotiating with. Being in the industry professionally, the chances of them having dealt with your creditor is quite high. Their existing working relationship could really help you tip the odds in your favor. Not only that, any agreement that you make with the creditors would be familiar to them. They can warn you of certain clauses that you need to be aware of before signing anything.
  • They are trained to be negotiators. Not only will you benefit from their experience, you will also get a lot out of their expertise. After all, this is what they trained for. They know when a proposal should be held back or put out on the table.
  • They are not emotionally attached to the results of the negotiation. Being directly involved, getting a no from your creditors could discourage you to the point of giving up. Well here is where your negotiator friend can help. They will continue to negotiate even if they get a no. They will not be rattled and will insist on pushing on your behalf.

A professional debt negotiator could get you better chances to get a favorable agreement with the creditor and that should make the service fee worthwhile. And being knowledgeable of personal finances and debt, most of them give out relevant tips to make sure that you will not land in debt again. They will help you get out of debt and will give you the tips that will help you stay out of it.