Debt Consolidation Programs: A Look at the Benefits

Debt consolidation programs provide a number of benefits for those struggling to pay off their lenders. By working with creditors to consolidate an individual’s debt into one easy bill, these programs can be of invaluable service to those in need. If you have unsecured debt that is spiraling out of control, here are some of the reasons you may want to get in touch with a reputable debt consolidator.

Reduce Your Rates

Interest rates are one of the primary culprits when it comes to unmanageable debt. If you are struggling to make much more than your minimum payments each month, interest rates are the reason it may take a long time to pay those bills down. Debt consolidation programs can help you negotiate with your creditors and restructure your payments in a way that brings down your interest rates and helps you put more of your money towards the balance.

Reduce Monthly Payments

Take the average person with a spouse, two kids, and a full-time job. This person has neither the time nor the energy to juggle five or six bills before they even get to the big ones like the car or mortgage payment. Debt consolidation programs can help you eliminate multiple bills by consolidating your obligations into a single monthly bill. Not only does this reduce the amount of money you’re obliged to pay, but it can take a lot of the stress out of managing your family finances.

Reduce Late Fees

Late fees and penalties can conspire to make paying down a loan nearly impossible. This problem is only compounded when you’re trying to juggle multiple bills and keep track of several due dates. By letting a debt consolidator guide you through lender negotiations, you may be able to get those late fees reduced or even, in some cases, eliminated altogether.

Avoid Bad Solutions

As you may already know, debt consolidation programs from a company like CreditGuard of America are not the only solution on the market being offered to those in financial peril. While every solution has its place, some are better than others. So-called consolidation loans can leave you in worse shape than you started. The same can be said for a second mortgage, which could put your house in jeopardy if your circumstances don’t improve. Bankruptcy should be avoided unless it is a last resort. By taking advantage of a good debt consolidator, you can avoid these bad solutions and the drawbacks that accompany them.

Alabama Debt Consolidation: What to Do When Bills Take Over Your Life

auburn university in alabama

Debt consolidation programs can help you deal with unsecured debt legally so that you can start improving your financial health. Professional nonprofit credit counseling provides useful tips for managing your money, and trained counselors can negotiate with your creditors and reduce the interest rates that you pay. Credit card debt carries high interest, and most of your monthly payments go to pay interest, which keeps your balances high.

When to Seek Debt Relief

You should investigate debt consolidation any time you have more debt than you can comfortably pay. Credit counseling programs usually deal with unsecured debt, but counselors will include payday loans, credit card debt, hospital bills, utility bills and other unsecured loans when creating custom debt management plans for consumers. If you face the following situations, then you might benefit from consumer credit counseling and debt consolidation:

  • You need to take out cash-advance loans to tide you over until payday.
  • You routinely use your credit cards to pay bills.
  • You never have enough cash to get through the month.
  • You often pay bills late because you need to wait on your next check.
  • You write postdated checks to cover expenses or write checks for amounts you hope to cover before the checks are cashed.

Advantages of Debt Consolidation

An Alabama debt consolidation service at http://www.creditguard.org/states/Alabama/ looks at your underlying financial health and designs repayment plans based on your income, debts and resources instead of what your creditors want you to pay. Truthfully, lenders want you to stay in debt and continue to pay interest, and you need to take strong measures to get out from under oppressive bills. Benefits of debt consolidating programs include the following features:

  1. Fixed Interest Rates

Credit loans can have variable interest rates that make budgeting and planning a nightmare. Understanding your exact obligations makes it easier to plan your monthly spending.

  1. Reduce or Eliminate Penalties

When you need debt consolidation help, you probably have missed a few payments or paid some bills late, which makes your situation even worse because lenders tack on penalties and fees. Credit counselors often persuade creditors to drop these fees.

  1. One Monthly Payment Covers All Unsecured Debts

Your affordable monthly payment pays each of your creditors based on a percentage formula. Lower interest rates mean that more of your payment goes toward reducing your balances. 

  1. Improve Your Credit Standing

Debt consolidation never reduces your legitimate loan balances, but sticking to your agreement satisfies your creditors and protects your credit rating. Creditors stop making annoying collection calls.

Take Back Your Debt-Free Life

You might have difficulty remembering how simple life was when you didn’t have any debts. Debt consolidation can help you retire your debts within short periods so that you have more monthly income to save for retirement and put aside money for an emergency fund. Experts recommend that you keep a financial cushion of two to six months of your pay to help you deal with emergency situations. Once you have some security, you can begin to save for ambitious family goals such as starting a business, buying a home, taking a vacation or paying for your children’s college educations.

Four Steps to Get Out of Debt

If you’re like most Americans, you have a few thousand dollars in unsecured and credit card debt that you carry around each month. Statistics indicate that of Americans who have unsecured debt, the average amount of that debt is about $16,000. If you’re carrying debt, you probably dream of a way to pay it in full – preferably a way to pay it off a lot faster than you ever thought you could. Believe it or not, there are ways to do just that. Here are four powerful tips to get you started.

  1. Focus on one debt first. Throw any spare cash you have at one debt to see some meaningful progress on that account. To get the most financial benefit, choose the account that has the highest interest rate first. To see progress more quickly, choose the account with the lowest balance.
  2. Double up. If you can only make monthly payments, try to make a double payment or another partial payment on at least one account each month. Even small amounts can help chip away at your balance over time.
  3. Take a part-time job. Both of the previous methods require you to pay the minimum required on all your accounts, so unless you have any spare money available – and many people don’t – to increase payments or pay extra, you may need to find a side job to help jumpstart your debt repayment plan.
  4. Register for debt consolidation help. Especially when debts are very big, the first three options can still mean you’ll be paying your debts back for years. To see real progress, you need to reduce the amount you’re paying, and debt consolidation can help you do just that. Debt counseling experts are skilled at working with creditors to slash interest rates and get rid of fees that add up when payments are late or accounts are overdrawn. When monthly payments are reduced, it can be a lot easier to make some real progress in paying back debts. Debt consolidation counseling does not involve taking out additional loans. Programs that advocate taking out additional loans to pay back existing debts are often a quick way to get into even more debt, and they also can involve exorbitant fees themselves, so avoid debt loans at all costs.

Carrying debt can lower your credit score, making it difficult to get a home or car loan, insurance or even a job. Miss a payment and your interest rate may soar. Go over your limit or make a late payment and the fees and penalties can be hefty. What’s more, many studies have shown that carrying debt can cause stress levels to rise significantly, and that can have a direct effect on your health. Credit management and debt consolidation are simple ways to get your debt under control and get it paid back quickly. Today, there are lots of options to improve your financial savvy and reduce debt, so take some time right now to make paying your debt a priority.

What to Tell Your Kids About Credit

Establishing healthy money habits is a process that should be taught early in order to be most effective. But, it can be difficult to know what to teach children, especially when they’re very young. Most money experts advise that children be given some spending money or a regular allowance to help them learn how to budget and plan for wise spending and saving. But, as children get older, it’s also important to teach them about healthy financial habits that can keep them out of debt once they’re old enough to have their own credit cards and other loans. Unfortunately, those are lessons that many parents haven’t had themselves. So, how can you make sure the lessons you teach your children will help them develop strong credit management skills? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure your kids understand that credit cards aren’t truly cash, but they are loans that must be paid back. Credit cards should be used only when you’re able to pay them back in full by the time the next bill arrives.
  2. If you can’t pay back your credit cards by the time the bill arrives, your purchases will end up costing more – sometimes much more. If you make only the minimum payments on the money you owe, that $30 video game you charge now could end up costing you $60 or more if you don’t pay it back right away.
  3. Credit cards are helpful for establishing a good credit history – as long as you use them wisely. Your credit history lets lenders know how good you are at paying back your debts on time. A good credit history is important for later life when you may need to borrow money to buy a car or a house. Without a good credit history, you may not be able to buy those things, or they may end up costing much more money over time. If your credit history is damaged by bad credit habits, it can take years to improve it.
  4. Credit cards have other benefits over cash for some situations. For instance, if you lose your credit card or the card is stolen, your credit card company can keep the person who stole it from accessing your money.
  5. Not all credit card debt is bad. Many people could not own a home or a car without a loan. The key is to pay your debts on time, all the time, and that starts by building a good budget and saving money regularly so you can pay cash as often as possible.

Finally, set a good example and practice what you preach. If you’re carrying a lot of debt and you long for the day when you’re debt free, enroll in a credit counseling and debt consolidation program and get the help you need to reduce interest rates and establish a payment plan that is affordable and easy to follow. Credit counseling and debt consolidation programs provide powerful tools and guidance to help you get your financial life in order. It doesn’t take a big commitment of time, but the effort you put in can yield huge benefits in a relatively short period.

In Debt? It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment

adjust your attitude to get out of debt

Every day, American consumers are inundated by advertisements telling us how we should live and what we should buy to be happy. Those are messages that begin as soon as we’re able to watch television or go online. After a lifetime of that kind of indoctrination, it’s no wonder we end up with a feeling of entitlement and an unrealistic need for things. Left unchecked, those feelings can have a substantial and startling effect on our finances as we turn to credit, installment loans and other personal types of loans to buy more and more things.
When we can’t afford to buy what we want or when we eventually find ourselves facing a mountain of unpaid debt, we say things like, “That’s just for rich people,” “I’ll never be able to get out of debt,” or “I don’t make a lot of money, so some amount of debt is necessary for my life.” Or, we can fool ourselves by saying things like, “I’ll start paying off my debts when I get my tax refund,” or “Things will be better once I get a raise.”

Simply put, it’s easier to put something off than to face it head on and aggressively. But, the fact is, we can – and should – work hard to change those attitudes, tuning out advertisers’ messages, turning away from the negative scripts that rule our lives, and instead embracing a more positive approach that can enable us to pay off debts and even save for our futures. Changing behavior – especially entrenched behavior – isn’t easy, but here are a few simple steps to get you started:

  1. Redefine “enough.” Learn to tune out ads that tell you to buy more stuff and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Your life and your financial goals are a lot different than anyone else’s, so put your own real needs first and commit to your end goal of being debt free and financially solvent, which is more valuable than any “thing” you could buy.
  2. Make a budget. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s a powerful tool in knowing how much you’re spending and how much you need to cut back in order to live within your means. It also identifies areas where you’re spending too much.
  3. Commit to cash. Credit is OK when you’re debt free and using it wisely, but if you already have debt, sticking to cash for purchases is a great way to rein in spending and keep yourself from going deeper into debt.
  4. Tackle debt. Look for a debt consolidation program to slash high interest rates and put your debt repayment plan on the fast track. These programs can get you organized about your repayment plan by rolling all of your debt payments into one monthly payment.
  5. Start saving. Commit to setting aside even a little each month to afford unexpected or emergency expenses not addressed in your budget. This is a great way to avoid turning to credit in a pinch.
  6. Educate yourself. Enroll in a credit counseling program to learn good habits to help you set a realistic budget, save money and avoid debt. Many debt consolidation plans include them.

Altering your mindset takes dedication, but living debt free and building a strong financial future is worth the effort. Make the commitment today to do just one thing – just one – to turn your financial life around and see how good it feels to take back control of your money and your life.

Simple Substitutions Help Eliminate Your Debt

use subtitutes to get out of debtSimple substitutions are a great way to eliminate old habits and establish new and better ones. In diet and nutrition, men and women are advised to substitute water for sugar-laden sodas, to use herb mixtures to replace salt and even to substitute applesauce for fats when baking cakes and muffins.

But, diet isn’t the only place where substitutes can work wonders. Substitutions can also help you save money; money which you can then use to pay off debt or grow your savings. The best part: None of these suggestions require a major negative change in your lifestyle; in fact, in many cases, you’ll find your life is improved and enriched.

Have a look at this list, and see if you can think of other ideas that will help you live a better, more financially sound life:

  • Instead of buying a new wardrobe each season, invest in one or two low-cost accessories that can breathe new life into old clothes. Consider classic and time-tested styles or ride the trends and add an item that reflects current style changes. You can also update your wardrobe by visiting consignment and thrift stores; for best results, look for stores located in more affluent areas or those affiliated with hospitals or private schools where you’re more likely to find a selection of designer clothes at rock-bottom prices. Your experience can vary a lot from store to store, so visit several to find the ones you like. Other alternatives: Search eBay and yard sales for like-new items. Again, affluent neighborhoods are your best bet.
  • Instead of going out to eat, surf the Web to find an interesting recipe to try. Even if it requires ingredients you don’t have on hand, it’ll still be cheaper than going to a restaurant, and you’ll pick up new cooking skills along the way. Packing lunch for work is also a big money-saver; avoid boredom and the temptation to go out by incorporating foods with different textures and colors and adding some treats.
  • Instead of buying a costly ticket to a concert or other event, subscribe to a movie-streaming service or get out of the house and look for a local event that’s free or low-cost – and maybe even supports a local group. Or, look for places to volunteer for an hour or two and network with caring people in your area.
  • Instead of paying for a gym membership, walk or ride your bike to run errands locally. Join a biking or walking group to expand your circle of friends and contacts and build a network of people who can support you in your goals.
  • Instead of resigning yourself to high interest rates and late fees, sign up for a debt consolidation program to learn how to pay off debt in a fraction of the time and save money while doing it. Double-charge your efforts by signing up for a debt consolidation program that also offers credit counseling and money management tools, so you can learn good financial habits at the same time as you’re paying off your debt.

Changing just a few choices can have a major impact on your finances. It all begins with a commitment to trying something new, and considering where your old money habits have gotten you, that’s probably not a bad idea.

The Growth of Non Profit Credit Counseling

the growth of non-profit credit counselingWith many people today struggling with debt, credit counseling has become a booming industry. Credit counselors promise to help better understand credit scores and reduce debt fast and easy, but there are many types of credit counselors and finding the right one can be difficult. Non profit credit counseling is often the best option for those who are struggling with debt because going with a non profit company ensures that the borrower doesn’t have to pay any unnecessary fees.

Non profit credit counseling companies are not attempting to make money. This means they only charge as much as necessary to keep the company in business and that they have no interest in charging the borrowers extra fees or tacking on unnecessary services and charges. This is extremely important for those who are already financially struggling and trying to regain a firm financial footing because for these people every dollar may count. Those who choose a for profit credit counseling agency may find themselves spending money on the credit counseling service that they could instead have been spending on paying down their debt.

Non profit credit companies also follow rigorous standards and procedures because many of them operate with government grants and loans or specific tax regulations. This means that the non profit companies need to be completely legitimate and needs to retain complex levels of financial data. By contrast, for profit credit counseling companies can sometimes take advantage of their customers or be inefficient from a cost perspective.

There are many non profit credit counseling agencies available online, and many of them are available for free consultation at any time either via the phone or the internet. Not only will many non profit agencies advise the borrower on their current debt problems, but they can also discuss the borrower’s future credit history and how they can best recover in the future, as well as look over their budget and identify problem areas. Credit counseling companies can also educate the borrower on how credit works and the many factors that affect it.

Credit Counseling Services for Financial Infidelity

Each year, many couples divorce and split over finances.  Some couples struggle with excessive debt and have a hard time agreeing on major financial decisions.  Another factor that causes marital discord and relationship problems is financial infidelity.  Financial infidelity is becoming a major problem for many couples.

What Is Financial Infidelity?

Financial infidelity can involve taking out a credit card secretly.  It can mean making purchases and going to great lengths to conceal those purchases from the other party.  It can also involve one party accumulating massive amounts of debts without sharing that information with others.  These secretive behaviors can really tear couples apart.  Many are unable to resolve these issues without some form of professional counseling.

How Common Is Financial Infidelity? 

Half of all married adults have admitted to keeping financial secrets from their spouses in a Self.com survey.  In that same survey, 56 percent of women and 37 percent of men reported lying about money in a poll.  In that same poll, 32 percent of women reported hiding purchases from their mates while only 17 percent of men report doing the same. When men and women were asked how important it is to be open about finances, over half of the respondents stated that it is just as important as being faithful to a partner.

How Can Credit Counseling Services Help a Couple Work through Debt Problems?

Credit counseling services from Credit Guard can help a couple get their finances back on track.  Couples concerned about building a solid future together can consider extensive counseling.  Some couples can look into credit counseling to resolve debt problems that may result from issues like financial infidelity, student loans or medical expenses. The counseling can be just what the couple needs to structure and resolve their debts.  Many couples have successfully paid off thousands of dollars in debt through credit counseling services and debt consolidation programs.

Many couples actually end up splitting up over debt and finances.  A credit counselor can help the couple develop a solid budget, savings plan and debt strategy to help the two get back on the same page.  Any couple that wants to get their finances in order may find that working together with an unbiased personal finance counselor can make a world of difference.

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