Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Debt Reduction Options When In A Financial Crisis

Even if you are in a financial crisis, that does not mean your debt obligations will cease. Regardless of your situation with your money, your debt responsibility remains the same. You still have to pay it off and the problem of making all your payments fit within your income is all yours.

However, that does not mean you cannot get any help. What you need is to reduce debt payments and there are two debt relief programs that can provide you with that. Definitely, creditors will be fighting you for this reduction but if you implement the right program, you have a chance to make it happen.

The first option that you have is the one that is most associated with debt reduction. We are talking about debt settlement. This program involves a negotiation process that will aim to convince your creditors that you are in a financial crisis. You will prove to them that you can no longer afford to pay what you originally owe. But instead of not paying a cent, you will acquire a lumpsum amount of money that you will offer to your creditors as a settlement fund. This amount can be something that you will save on the side or get from your savings. Some people get it from their retirement fund but that is not really advisable. You will offer to pay pennies for every dollar that you owe. The creditors will haggle with you of course, but make sure that you will not agree to an amount that is beyond what you can afford. When you get to an agreement, make sure that you get a signed document from the creditor that paying the agreed amount will forgive the rest of the debt that you owe. Basically, that means the amount that your settlement fund cannot cover will be marked as forgiven and the whole debt will be considered completely settled.

The other debt reduction option that you have is bankruptcy. There are two ways that you will qualify to file for bankruptcy: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. You have to go through a means test to determine which Chapter you will file. This means test will basically compare your salary with the average median salary range in the State where you filed.

If you are lower than the average, you can qualify for Chapter 7. In this type of bankruptcy, the courts will get the eligible assets that you have and liquidate them. The money generated will go to your creditors to settle what you owe. Anything that is not covered will be considered discharged - and you will no longer owe anything on these credit accounts.

If your income is higher than the average, then you have to file a Chapter 13 petition. This is when the bankruptcy court will impose that you go through a repayment plan. This is something that you have to pay off in a couple of years. This usually helps pay off a portion of what you owe. Anything that is not covered here will be discharged by the courts.

Both debt settlement and bankruptcy may be appealing because of the debt reduction but you have to know that they can ruin your credit score. But if you really cannot afford your usual debt payments anymore, then you need to let go of your credit score and just deal with the debt problem the best way you can.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Use Debt Management To Be A Smart Spender

Debt management is a great way to consolidate credit card debt. However, did you know that it will do more than just consolidate your multiple credit obligations? It can also help you become a smart spender. It all has something to do with the process and details of the whole program.

This debt solution begins with a credit counseling session wherein a certified credit counselor will review and analyze your debt and financial situation. This information will allow them to give you professional and effective advice about the best course for your debt situation. Whether that is debt management or something else, a sincere credit counselor will give you their honest opinion.

When you qualify for debt management, you will be creating a debt management plan or DMP with the credit counselor. This is basically a payment plan that doubles as a proposal and agreement with your creditor. Will hold your proposed lower monthly payment plan and when approved and accepted by the creditor, you need to follow it to the letter. Failure to meet the payment details on this DMP can cost you the whole agreement and bring you back to your old payment scheme.

But how will it make you a smart spender?

First of all, the credit counseling session will include personal finance lessons. You will be taught budgeting, saving and proper financial management skills. Budgeting is something that will help you make smart choices about your expenses because it will tell you just how much you can really afford to spend. Combined with your debt management plan, you can determine how much is left after your basic needs and debt payments are met. Whatever money remains is what you can use for your other expenses. You can make a smart decision as to how you can stretch that money to meet your needs. You can choose which expenses to prioritize and you can be smart about it. By thinking about your expenses you are beginning to practice the skills that will help you become a smart spender.

Another reason why debt management will help you become a smart spender is because your creditors will freeze any account that you will enroll in the program. At least, this is true for your credit card accounts. You will not be able to use it until after you have completed the DMP. This act will force you to use cash for your purchases.

When we buy in cash, it usually becomes more difficult to push through with the transaction. If you have a $100 in your wallet, you will not spend all of it. You want to make sure that you have a couple of dollars left there. The $100 credit in your card will not get the same treatment. Also, since parting with cash is more painful for spenders, you will end up thinking harder about every purchase. In essence, that will make you a smarter spender. When you do it a couple of times, you will get used to the habit of thinking before spending.

These are the two main reasons why using debt management will not only free you from debt, but also teach you the skills that will help you stay away from debt again.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Can You Teach Your Kids About Credit Cards?

There is no such thing as a financial lesson that is taught too early. Pre-schoolers can be taught saving and even elementary kids can already learn about budgeting. When they get their allowance, you can give it on a weekly basis so that they will learn how to stretch that to last until Friday. That is a great way to teach them the fundamentals of budgeting. Bottom line is, you want to teach your child the right habits that will make them great managers of their own money as early as possible.

But what about credit card lessons? More specifically, you want to teach them about the devastating effects of credit card debt. This is probably a more difficult lesson to teach because the issues are a little bit more complex but you can start to give them the idea about the use of credit cards.

The best way to begin your lesson is through example. More than what you will say, children will get more out of what they will see you do than what you will tell them. So if you want to give them the best lesson about the proper use of credit cards, you may want to ensure that you are on your best behavior whenever they see you use your card.

The first question that you might be asking right now is when should you start the lesson? Well only a parent can really determine that but as soon as you think your child is able to understand your budget plan, they should be able to comprehend the basic issues about credit cards.

To start your lesson, ask you child what they think credit cards are. Ask them to give you an honest answer about these cards. Whatever their answer is, do not laugh at them - no matter how ridiculous it may be. Just listen patiently and tell them if they got any ideas right and if they got some of it wrong. Give them the following concepts about credit cards.

  • A credit card is not the extension of your wallet. Having it does not mean you have more cash.
  • When you use your credit card, you are not using your money, you are using the money of the creditor. That makes it a debt that you have to pay back.
  • Any balance on the credit card that you will not pay immediately at the end of the billing statement’s due date, will have an additional finance charge.
  • Explain that a finance charge is based on the balance of your card and the high interest rate of the card. This can get to be more complicated so save the computations for a more older child. You can use allegories when explaining to younger kids. For instance, when you borrow 4 apples from a friend and you were not able to return it the next day, you have to give back 5 apples instead of just 4.

Feel free to educate your child as soon as you can. The earlier they understand, the better they can apply and implement the financial habits in their lives. Also, it doesn’t even have to be a one time lesson. It can progress as you start to show them how you are properly using your card.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Do You Want Debt Freedom For Christmas?

Given the current debt situation in the country, it is certain that a lot of consumers are wishing for debt freedom. As they prepare for the holidays, they are surely trying to think of ways to learn how to pay off debt. That way, they can sincerely enjoy the holidays without worrying about money for once.

While this is true for almost all household, you don’t have to ruin your holidays just because you have some debts to your name. What you have to do is to come up with a resolution that you will follow so you can deal with your debt problem once and for all.
Do not be discouraged but at this point, the debt problem will be tough to eliminate by Christmas. So instead of obsessing over that, why not create a solid plan to get out of debt and concentrate on it? Analyze your financial situation, look over your debt relief options and choose the program that you will use to get out of debt. When you have that plan in place, make a commitment to follow it and then you can put this aside so you an start enjoying the holidays.
Instead of trying to eliminate the debt, why not aim to acquire zero debt this season? It may be tough because the gift-giving season encourages us to spend left and right. But with proper planning and the right amount of skill and research, it can be done.

Let us start with the gifts. How can you not be in debt with such a long list of people you want to give gifts to? It will require some effort but you can opt to create your presents from scratch. If you know how to bake, then whip up a batch of cookies, put them in plastic containers, wrap it in decorative ribbon and then you have a gift for family and friends. If you are good with arts and crafts, you can create small toys or even simple Christmas cards to send to family and friends living far away. You can even get your kids to help out. That should be a fun activity for the whole family.

In terms of the food that you will eat, you should plan your meals carefully. If you are hosting a party and you plan to invite other people, ask them to bring food to add to the table. If it is only for the family, make sure that you have plans for the leftovers. It is important to keep the food waste down so you will not waste any money.

It helps to create a budget plan that you can follow so that you will not spend beyond your capabilities. The idea is to monitor where you money will go to so you can keep a tight lid on your expenses. Even if debt is still a part of your life, you don’t have to let it ruin your Christmas.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How To Be Prepared When There Is A Financial Crisis Ahead

A financial crisis can be a scary prospect. While you do not want to keep your mind on negative thoughts, you have to prepare for this. It is just like you have to prepare for growing old or your have to get a health insurance to prepare for any unexpected sickness. If you know that it has the capacity to ruin your life, that is enough reason for you to take the time to think about it. You have to map out a plan that you must do in case it happens.

Recently, we watched as the House and Senate haggled with the budget and the debt ceiling. We also watched in anticipated breath as the government shut down for a couple of weeks. If that dragged out, we could have been subjected to another financial crisis.

Thankfully, it did not but just so we can discuss this, what can you do in case a financial crisis is looming ahead?

First of all, you want to take a look at the current status of your finances. You must make sure that you have enough to last you a couple of months. If not, you need to start working hard to improve your emergency fund. And if you have some debts to your name, you have to enrol in a debt relief program to get rid of that - as fast as you can. It is hard to have debt while you are in a financial crisis.

While you are at it, you have to stop acquiring new debt - at least until you are sure that the crisis will not happen or has passed. Keep your credit cards and override any temptation to use them. With a crisis looming, you want to get rid of your debt - not add to it. That means, any expensive purchase that you may be planning should be put on hold. If you were planning to buy a car or a home, postpone that and keep the money for now.

You also have to bring out your frugal budget and start implementing a frugal lifestyle. At least if you need to pay debts or increase your emergency fund, you need to cut back on your usual spending to meet the needs of any of the two. But if your debts are manageable and you have adequate emergency funds, you can continue living as before - but keep a close eye on the news. You want to be updated to see how the current events are evolving.

It could help your case if you started to look for other sources of income. That will help secure your finances.

Of course, all of these may be unnecessary. You could be exaggerating. But in the end, being paranoid will serve you best in case something bad does happen. It is not like you are doing something drastic. You just have to make sure that you are prepared in case things turn for the worse. Like they said, better safe than sorry.