1(877) 610-6990

Get A Free Savings Estimate

Latest Blog Posts

Our debt relief providers offer a simple 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

We're so confident that we can help you achieve your goal of becoming debt-free in a reasonable time, that if you are ever unsatisfied with our recommended credit card consolidation loan programs you can cancel at anytime without any penalties or fees.

counselorDo you think credit counseling is the key to get yourself out of debt?

There are a lot of things that you can do to help your quest of becoming debt free. All of them will require you to change your ways as your debts evidently show that you are doing something wrong in your finances. It is important for you to determine the best debt solution that will get you out of debt because there is no one formula to debt freedom. You have to make sure that your financial situation is appropriate for that specific debt relief program. Some people have gotten deeper into debt because they chose the wrong solution for their credit problems. Try not to make the same mistake so you can reach your dream of becoming free from debt.

When it comes to credit counseling, it is an effective way for you to get out of that debt pit that you are in. But you have to make sure that your debt and finances  have the right qualifications to help you solve your credit troubles. According to USA.gov a credit counseling agency will help you negotiate with your creditors so you will be allowed to make lower payments. Then, they will help you send those payments over to the creditors based on the money that you will send them.

But beyond that definition, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions to determine if this is the right debt relief path that you should follow. There are two sets of questions that needs to be asked. One is to yourself while the other set of queries should be answered by the credit counselor.

3 questions to ask yourself before finding a credit counseling agency

Let us begin with the questions that you need to be asking yourself. There are many credit counseling benefits – that is true. But only if you have the right debt types or financial capabilities to complete your payment program.

Given that, what questions should you be asking yourself before you finally opt for credit counseling?

Is it possible for you to do this on your own?

In all honesty, this debt solution is something that the average consumer can do. It is still a difficult task to accomplish, but it is not rocket science. The trick is to have the negotiation skills that will make the creditor agree to change your payment terms. You are not negotiating for a debt reduction – which in essence is actually harder. You are only asking for your payment terms to be revised so you can afford your monthly payments. In most cases, what happens is you propose a longer payment period so you can stretch your contributions thin. That should make the monthly debt payment burden more bearable.

For some people, they may have the negotiation skills but if they do not have the time or the discipline to accomplish this, then hiring a credit counselor is usually the best option for them. Ask yourself if you can negotiate and commit to the payment program that you and the creditor will agree with. That is how you can decide if you can do this on your own.

Is this your best option?

The next question to ask is if this is your best option. Remember that you have other options before you like debt consolidation loan, balance transfer, debt settlement and bankruptcy. You need to determine if this is the best option by looking at your capabilities to pay off your debt. Unlike debt relief options like debt settlement or bankruptcy, there is no debt reduction in this debt solution. You will end up paying for everything that you owe. It is possible for the credit counselor to help you negotiate a lower interest rate – but that is never a guarantee. So make sure that you are capable of paying off your whole debt – even if it is for a longer payment term.

How will your credit score be affected?

You need to ask yourself – how will this debt solution affect my credit score. The good news is, credit counseling hardly has any effect on your score. That is because you will still pay your debts in full in the long run. And since you will be negotiating the payment terms, the creditor will not report you for late payments or default even if you pay lower than what you used to. At least, as long as the amount you are paying is according to what you agreed on in the debt management plan. Some creditors will report that you are currently going through a credit counseling program. That could affect any new credit that you are applying for. But if you finish the program without any problems, then it might not affect your score at all.

5 questions to ask the credit counselor

If the answers to the questions above are in favor of you using credit counseling, then you can go ahead and look for the credit counseling agency that you will use. These questions will help you stay away from debt relief scams, that unfortunately, are still out there waiting for desperate consumers who are burdened with debt.

Here are the 5 questions you need to ask the credit counseling agency that you will get in touch with.

Can you get the information for free?

If it is your best debt solution, then you need to ask if you can get the information for free from the credit counseling agency. According to the Federal Trade Commission website, FTC.gov, a reputable and legitimate credit counseling agency should have no problems sending you information about the company and their services for free. You do not have to provide any information before this is given. If they insist, then you may want to reconsider if this agency is sincerely after your debt freedom or are they only concerned about profiting from your credit problems.

Can you afford to pay according to the debt management plan?

The debt management plan contains your proposed payment terms – usually a lower monthly contribution that is distributed over a longer period. While you will be involved in creating this, it is still bound for the approval of the creditor. But even if that is true, make sure that you do not agree on a plan that you cannot afford. If you end up being unable to pay your debts, you might have the whole agreement terminated, and you do not want that to happen.

What is their procedure in paying off creditors?

In this debt relief program, the credit counselor will be responsible for sending your payments to your creditors. Make sure that their payment methods will not jeopardize the billing cycle of your credit accounts. The debt management plan that you will create should consider the actual schedules of your debts – unless this is part of what the credit counselor will negotiate with the creditors. It is possible to move your payment date after all – you just have to ask the creditor. Just like with the payments, if you miss the schedule that you agreed with the creditor, it will affect the debt management plan.

What fees do you have to pay?

In most cases, you should only pay a maximum of $50 a month for the service that you will get from the credit counselor. Some charge a certain percentage – just make sure that it is no more than 20% of the monthly payment that you are making. Otherwise, you should go and look for another agency to work with.

Who maintain full control over the account?

Even if the credit counselor is the one sending your money towards the creditors, you need to clarify that you will maintain full control of your account. After all, it is still your money. You should be free to get money from it if you want to. Of course, you have to consider the effects that it will have on your debt management plan.

In case you want a list of trusted credit counseling agencies, you may want to look at the accredited list in Justice.gov. This can be a great way to start your search for a legitimate company to work with.

couple discussing over documentsPaying off debt is a must for anyone who wants to improve their lives. Until you free yourself from overwhelming amounts of debt, you will always be held back by the money that you are wasting – paying for your credit obligations and the interest rates associated with it. Debt has a devastating effect to your future so you may want to consider tackling this financial problem before you make any other plans.

According to the latest household debt and credit development report published on NewYorkFed.org, the consumer debt increased by $129 billion in the first quarter of 2014. By the end of March 2014, the debt is now at $11.65 trillion. The biggest part of this debt still comes from mortgages at $8.17 trillion – which increased by $116 billion from the last quarter of 2013. There was also a considerable net increase in the mortgage balance of $233 billion. Next to this, student loans increased by $31 billion. Now, it has a total amount of $1.11 trillion. On a positive note, credit card debt and auto loans decreased to $2.9 trillion and $85 billion respectively. Not only that, the delinquency rate improved during the first quarter of this year. This shows that consumers may be borrowing a lot of money but they are also paying their dues on time.

However, you cannot erase the threat that comes with having a lot of debts. The total amount of credit is still rising. Even if consumers are paying on time, the fact that the balance is increasing and not decreasing puts us in a dangerous position. Soon, the balance might overtake us and make us unable to pay off our debts.

4 non-financial improvements after you get rid of your debt

Of course, we all know that paying off debt is not as easy as it sounds. But it is a necessary thing to do. According to an article from Bankrate.com debt does not only ruin your credit score and finances, it also affects your psyche negatively. It casts a shadow over a lot of areas in your life – your ambitions, confidence and even your relationships. The article even goes on to say that debt can suck out the happiness that you usually get from spending. At least, this is probably true if you are buying stuff using credit.

If you decide to pay your credit balance down, you will get a lot of benefits in your life. The great thing about it is, the benefits go beyond your finances.

In case you want some motivation to paying off debt, you should consider these 4 non-financial benefits to a debt-free life.

  • No stress. At least, you will not have a stressful relationship with your money. Debt brings forth all types of stress in your life that could lead to more serious health problems. If you do not have debt, you do not have to worry about payments that include high interest rates. People who do not have debts are considerably looking a lot better than when they have debts. By reducing the stress in your life, you can lead a healthy lifestyle that will lead you to financial success. That is because you are lowering your chances of getting illnesses that will require you to spend high health care expenses.
  • Secure family ties. Another benefit that you will get from paying off debt is family security. Believe it or not, a lot of marriages failed because of financial issues. After the Great Recession, it was obvious that the main financial issue of families involved debts. By eliminating the stress that debt brings into the household you are actually removing the same stress that could drive you all apart. You do not have to succumb to the blame game. Not only that, you can build your financial cushion so that your family will not have to suffer in case an emergency happens.
  • Better future. Once you have finished paying off debt balances, you will now be in a better position to build up your wealth. You can start saving more or investing so you can finally pursue your dreams. Debt holds you back because it gets you to waste money on interest. Now, you can grab opportunities that will allow you to improve your financial resources so your family can benefit from it in the future.
  • Allows you to be generous. Lastly, being free from debt allows you to become generous in your own way. Now that you do not have to allocate money to pay off debts, you can use some of that freed money to donate to those who are less fortunate than you. That alone will give you so much happiness and fulfillment that cannot be felt with the presence of debt.

An article published on Learnvest.com tells a story of this young woman who freed herself from $30,000 worth of debts. These were mostly credit card debts. When she was forced to face the truth about her financial problems, she decided that paying off debt should be her priority. She changed a lot about her life and habits. After being debt free, she realized she changed so much that she was not totally honest about what she really needed. She can now say no to a lot of her usual expenses and she did not feel deprived at all. She learned that delayed gratification is actually more rewarding in the end. Now that she got rid of her debts, she started saving and has quite an amount in her account. It made her feel good about herself and her future.

You see, the non-financial benefits of paying off debt is actually a lot more satisfying in the end. The lesson you will learn will not only make you wiser, it will also help you avoid a lot of the mistakes that you did in the past.

How debt elimination can help you grow your wealth

But even if the non-financial benefits are better, that does not mean you can underestimate the financial benefits of living a debt free life. To add to your motivation to pay off your credit obligations, here are a couple of things that you will enjoy financially if yo get out of debt.

  • You get to save more. The interest rate of debt is much higher than your savings. So if your extra money goes to paying off debt, then you know that you are actually saving a lot more than you think.
  • You are able to invest. One of the two factors that will help you accumulate financial wealth fast is investing. We have discussed previously that investing is one way for you to use the extra money that is freed by your debt payments. This is one of the direct ways that you can grow your money so it can start earning for you.
  • You are free to pursue opportunities. Not only can you invest, you now have the resources to pursue opportunities. For instance, you can now afford to travel – as long as you budget it properly. That is one way to help you relax and really enjoy your money.
  • You can now choose to use your money wisely. Lastly, after paying off debt, your money is not longer obligated to be sent to your creditors and lenders. You can choose where you want to use it without feeling guilty. You can not act on your fantasies and make your dreams into a reality.

college expenses chartCollege education should not be a problem for most people. However, thanks to the high college expenses, a lot of kids are doubting if they can really afford a higher education. An article published on NPR.org mentioned how President Obama believes that young people want to go to college but the costs are holding them back. The President made this statement during his speech at the Coral Reef Senior High School.

The truth is, some student get really supportive parents who took the initiative to save early for their child’s education. These are the lucky kids who do not have to worry too much about the cost of college. But not all students are lucky. Some parents just do not have the financial resources to save for college. It was not like they do not want to help. It is just that their income is not enough to accommodate extra savings for their children’s savings.

So what can both student and parents do to help their kids go afford the high college expenses even without savings?

What to discuss to your child about college costs

Well first things first, parents should sit down and discuss financial matters with their kids. But what exactly should you be discussing with your kid?

Where to go to school.

Begin by discussing where the student wants to go to. This can be your starting point. What do they want to take up and what school is the best for them to get the education they need. You can get information on that school so you will know the college expenses that you need to prepare for. If the school is expensive, you need to talk to your child about other options. You have Ivy League schools that are the top priority but a lot of state colleges give great education too. Even community colleges can be an option for students who do not have much money to pay for higher education. You need to discuss these options with your child. You can even get your education online if you want to.

What can you afford to pay.

You need to be realistic about where they can get their education. While student loans may be an option for them to afford any educational institution, it is just not practical. If you have another option, then that is what you should teach your child to pursue. According to an article published on NYTimes.com, the average tuition fee of private colleges is at $12,460 for 2013. For in state students in a public colleges, the rate is at $3,120. Going to Ivy League schools can be a dream but it is not always the best option. Besides, not everyone who graduated from these schools got a great life ahead. If you cannot help your child to pay for college, be honest about it. Some parents sacrifice their retirement just so their kids can go to school. While that is admirable, it is not the only way you can help your child get an education. You can both find a way to get your kid through college without compromising both of your futures.

What the kid should shoulder in terms of costs.

Lastly, you may want to discuss how your child can help pay for their own education. Even if you can share in paying for the college expenses of your child, you still have to discuss how they can help boost their finances. Check the options that they have in terms of jobs. They can get a part time job in retail or in restaurants. Some students get jobs in the universities and colleges that they go to. It helps lower their tuition fees. Discuss how much money they should target to earn.

Once you have discussed all three of these, that is the only time that you can determine if there is a need for your child to borrow student loans. Some people feel that it makes college education worthless but that really depends on the borrower. You can have your child borrow money – as long as they know how to manage it well. It is your responsibility to instill in them the right habits and behaviors that will get them through college without compromising their future.

Important habits to help your child manage college finances

The habits that you will be teaching your child for their college expenses is something that they will carry with them until they get older. So it is a great idea to help them become better financial managers at an early age. You need to encourage them to handle their money wisely regardless if you are supporting them financially or not. That way, they will feel responsible about every expense that they will make.

Here are a couple of habits that you should encourage your child to have.

  • Budgeting. First of all, you need to teach them how to budget. They should learn how to create a budget plan and how to revise that as their college expenses change every now and then. If they suddenly have bigger expenses for the coming month because of school expenses, then they should learn how to adjust their budget plan to ensure that their money can cover all the important expenses.
  • Smart Spending. Another habit that you should teach them is about smart spending. Even if they suddenly get a bigger pay in their part time job, they should not be too quick to increase their expenses. Instead, they should try to allocate that towards any student loans that they have taken. Or it can go to their savings.
  • Savings. Speaking of savings, you should teach your child how to save up for an emergency. Although you can send them money, there may come a time when that money will not reach them in time. They should have their own stack of funds that they can immediately access when they need to. That should help tide them over until your financial support can reach them. Make sure you teach them how to save up for the expenses for the next term. Anything can happen so they should learn how to prepare for any event that can face.
  • Earning Money. Lastly, you need to discuss with them how to earn money while in school. According to an article on TulsaCC.edu about the Federal Work Study, it is revealed that students usually only need 20 hours per week to be academically successful in school. We have 168 hours a week. That gives them 148 hours for other activities. Assuming that the student needs to sleep at least 9 hours a day, that is 63 hours less to 85 hours. For eating, chores, and other activities for their well being let us give 6 hours a day for that – which leaves a free time of 43 hours. Even if the student allots 20 hours for entertainment and relaxation, there is still 23 hours left. What better way to use that than to work. There is an option for Federal Work Study that can help students earn extra money to help get themselves through college.

Regardless if you can support your child’s college expenses or not, you may want to discuss all these options to them. At the very least, you can offer them your guidance. In the end, that may even be more valuable than any financial support that you can send them.

increase savingsIncreasing your savings is not the easiest task in the world. You will find that spending is easier than reaching your saving goals. This is probably why a lot of people are having a tough time boosting their funds in the bank.

But despite the difficulty, there are instances in our lives that we are required to save. For instance, if you wish to buy a home you need to save up for a down payment. According to an article published on MoneyTalksNews.com, approximately 1 out of 8 Americans are expected to have a six figure income in order to qualify for a home loan. At least, this is true based on the median price of homes for sale in the country. Obviously, this puts a lot of Americans at a disadvantage. In most cases, the median income in states is lower than the minimum income requirement for median priced houses.

However, the article explained that in order to make the minimum income requirement lower, homebuyers should do one thing – pay a bigger down payment. The bigger the down payment that you will provide, the lower home loan you have to borrow. That means the minimum income that you need to have can be lower too.

Unless you are waiting for some inheritance or big bonus, the only way for you to get this money is to save up for it. Since this down payment is a somewhat huge amount, you need to put some effort into increasing your savings. Otherwise, it will take you forever to finish completing your saving goals.

3 reminders when you feel discouraged about your savings

Having a saving goal is one thing. Reaching it is another. You may want to keep yourself from feeling discouraged because it will make you lose the motivation to increase your savings.

According to Statista.com, the personal savings rate of Americans, as of June 2014, is only at 5.4%. And in 2013, the American households who were able to save s only 53% of the population. Although the country is exhibiting signs of economic recovery, we all need to save to make our personal financial future more secure. In case something happens, you will not be as financially distressed as you will be if you do not have any savings at all.

But of course, you need to address the problem of a possible discouragement in the midst of your saving goal. Increasing your savings mean you have to make some sacrifices in your life. After all, increasing your extra money for savings would mean cutting back on expenses or spending more time at work. These sacrifices can affect your motivation to meet your saving target. If things get too tough, you might find yourself giving up altogether. And we all know giving up on your savings is not an option. Otherwise, you can say goodbye to that new home or embrace a lifelong servitude to debt.

In case you are in the midst of a saving goal and you feel discouragement creeping up on you, here are a couple of things that you may want to tell yourself.

Saving takes time.

First of all, saving really takes time. This is why consumers are always advised to start saving now. Regardless if you can only save a small amount, it does not matter. The important thing is to start on the habit of saving because that will accumulate into a big amount in the future. And when you look at your savings and you see only a small amount there, do not feel discouraged too. If you are only putting in a small amount, increasing your savings will naturally be slow going too.

Saving requires effort.

Another reminder that you need to tell yourself is that saving really requires effort. Even if you are earning a big amount, you will need to change something about your life if saving does not come naturally for you. It will either be your spending or your work effort. That is a given. You need to exert some time to boost your savings. It will not just happen unless you plan and execute it. The compulsion to spend is just too great that you will find yourself battling with yourself time and again. You have to get used to it until such time that you develop the right amount of self control.

Saving has future rewards.

Lastly, you have to focus on the fact that your savings have future rewards. You will not feel it now but you will reap it in the future. It may be that new home, a car, or your early retirement. These will only be felt in the future so you need to develop some patience. The earliest reward that you will probably feel is the satisfaction and security – knowing that everyday or every deposit that you make towards your savings will bring you one step closer to your goal.

Focus on these three reminders whenever you feel like giving up on your saving goal. These should give you the motivation to continue increasing your savings.

Tips to boost your savings

In case you want to speed up your savings so you can reach your goal faster, there are a couple of things that you need to do. After all, seeing how fast your savings are growing will give you that motivation to keep on putting money into your account. This motivation, once you have secured it in your mind will keep discouragement at bay and will not hinder you from your financial targets.

An article published on AllThingsFrugal.com mentioned that one of the reasons why some people fail at saving is because they feel they do not have enough. In truth, you will never feel like you have enough to save unless you decide on a specific amount to put aside. This is the most common excuse to not save. But just as we mentioned previously, a small amount is enough – as long as you are saving.

Here are a couple of tips to help you increase your savings.

  • Set a saving goal. When you are trying to improve something in your life, make sure that you set specific goals. A vague goal will not encourage you to complete it. But if you have a specific timeline and an amount on your list, your chances of reaching your goal will be more likely to happen.
  • Cut back on your expenses. If you want a fast option to increasing your savings, you may want to lower  your monthly expenses and put away the freed amount in your account. Technically, this is money that you already have. It is usually easier to pull back than to push forward anyway. So if the need to save more is immediate, this is an option that you may want to prioritize.
  • Earn more money. While the previous is the faster option to boost your savings, it is also limited. That is why you need to follow it up with earning more money – especially when the amount you need is significant.
  • Treat your savings like a bill. Lastly, you may want to treat your savings like a bill so you will never miss out on a contribution. A lot of people spend their money first and whatever is left will be put into their savings. In most cases, nothing is left at the end of the month. But if you treat your savings like a bill, you should be able to reach your saving goal soon enough.

Follow these tips and you will realize how increasing your savings is not really that complicate. As long as you are committed to the task at hand, it should all fall into place and you will soon have the amount that you need.

stack of coinsWhen your finances are tight, you have two options before you. You either cut costs or increase your income. In most cases, people opt for the former because it is the fastest thing to do. You simply choose not to pay for something that you usually do when there is an immediate financial need. However, increasing your income is usually preferable because it keeps you and your family from feeling the burden of the financial difficulty. Of course, only the person who is trying to earn more will notice the change. The good thing about it also is that after the crisis has passed, you will benefit from the additional income that you have set up already.

But we all know that increasing your income is easier said than done. After all, the unemployment rate, although it has improved after the Great Recession, is still not enough to sustain what the middle and lower class really needs.

Lately, the issue about income inequality have come into the spotlight once more. Apparently, the gap between the rich and the poor is steadily increasing over the years. According to EPI.org, in 1979, 53.9% of the income increase in the US was taken home by the top 1% earners in the country. Over the period between 1979 and 2007, the income growth of the top 1% is 200.5%. For the remaining 99%, it was only a pitiful 18.9% growth.

Given these figures, you will know that even if you work hard on your job, statistics show that you will only get so much out of the overall income increase that the country is getting. But then again, maybe increasing your income is not really the solution.

What if you are told that obsessing about earning more will cost you more in the long run?

Why are Americans obsessed about earning more

First of all, let us identify why Americans are obsessed about increasing their monthly cash inflow. There are a couple of reasons why we are constantly after a higher take home pay.

It in our culture.

Americans love everything in excess. We are not really sure how all of this began. A lot of people say it was after the war when people started buying bigger homes and borrowing money to pay for that. Some believe it was after the credit industry loosened their approval restrictions. But regardless of how it started, you cannot erase the fact that if given a choice, we would prefer to live in bigger homes, drive expensive cars, own countless clothes and shoes, and have all the latest gadgets that we can get our hands on. Of course, all of these require money and that is one of the factors that influences our pursuit of a higher income. Not because we feel that our work deserves it. But more because we want to own more and better things as we age. Bob Sullivan, in his website BobSullivan.net actually calls us “the land of the Restless.” He explained how Americans are continually restless and that even though we earn more, we are never really satisfied. After an increase in income, we usually end up still falling short financially. That indicates a problem with the way we use our money, not the amount that is actually coming in.

We have accumulated a lot of debt.

Another reason why we are compelled to earn more is because of debt. Thanks to the consumerist society that we grew up in, we believed that owning more means we get to appear more affluent. Unfortunately, we were not taught to save up for it first. We used credit left and right just to satisfy the need to own more. That resulted in a lot of debt. Since we have to worry about debt payment on top of our monthly expenses, our income ended up being insufficient. It means increasing your income is now a must. Of course, you have the option to lower your monthly debt payments through debt relief. However, that will make the payment period stretch out longer – unless you have opted for debt reduction. But in most cases, the income increase is the solution to pay off your debts a lot faster.

Our future goals require money.

On a more positive note, people want to earn more because they have dreams for the future. You strive on increasing your income because you want to retire early and comfortably. You want a higher pay because you want to send your kids to a good school. You work two jobs because you want to save up for a new home. These are great motivations to increase your earnings but make sure that your target is realistic. Do not go over the top because you might end up exhausting yourself.

How working harder actually costs more money

Let’s be honest, we all want to earn more money. This is especially true for those who come from low income household. However, the issue here is this: what are you giving up to get that income increase?

Here are a couple of things that you are giving up when you choose to earn more.

  • Time. In most cases, increasing your income means you have to allot more time working. That means you are sacrificing the personal time that you should be spending with your loved ones. Even those who are single are sacrificing the time that should have been spent on their personal well being. You may want to think about the quality time that you are losing with your spouse, kids and friends.
  • Chores. This is connected with the time that you are losing out to work. Since you are working more, you have less time to cook, clean the house, etc. That means more money is spent on take out food, and probably hiring someone to help around the house. It could also mean doing the laundry twice because you are too tired to finish a week’s load of dirty clothes.
  • Health. Another thing that you may want to look into is your health. According to an article published on PRB.org, after the Great Recession, people got back to work but it was usually to a job that pays lower wages. That means if you want to increase your income, you may have to work longer or get two jobs. Working longer hours because you are bent on increasing your income means your physical and mental condition is more stressed. That could take its toll on your body and increase the risk of you getting an illness. We all know how costly it is to get health care nowadays so make sure your need to increase your salary is worth it.

In the end, you have to weigh what working more will really cost you. Your health, relationships and personal well-being may not be measurable but they are all equally important in your life. Make sure that you are not abusing what your body can handle.

If increasing your income can be done without you having to work longer hours, that is the ideal situation. Setting up a passive income business is a great place to start. Think about your options before plunging into the task of earning more. You can even capitalize on a hobby so you can increase your income while enjoying what you are actually doing.