Charity, Community

Give Back to your Community

Make Tomorrow a Good Day

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day, and I must admit, I love pulling pranks on people, but instead spend your time and energy into making a difference in your community. Instead of plotting pranks, invest your time into thinking about how you can give back and help people in need. This is NOT an April Fool’s joke. You will be helping out your community, while feeding your soul. It feels good, trust me.

One of the easiest things you can do is donate to a charity. There are many local charities that would appreciate your support. Sometimes people feel like since they can’t donate a lot, that a few dollars won’t help, but it definitely will! A little goes a long way, but if you can’t afford to donate here are other ways you can give back.

Volunteer!

Lend a helping hand by using sites such as volunteermatch.org to find volunteer opportunities that suit your interests/skills. This is an easy way to filter and find the types of causes that you are passionate about helping.

Donate!

From clothing to books, you can donate anything that you no longer use. Drop off your items at a local Goodwill or Salvation Army location. Donate your old books and magazines to schools, shelters, or your local library.

Give!

You can give canned goods you already have in your pantry to local food banks. Since the economic downturn, people aren’t donating as much, so give what you can to help feed the hungry. Visit feedingamerica.org to find your local food bank. See how we are helping feed America!

What are you currently doing to give back to your community?

Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

    Full Name (required)

    Email (required)

    Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

    Type the code below in the text box. (required)
    captcha


     

    ​Read More
    Christian Credit Counselors, College Debt, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt

    Credit Card Debt and Five Habits You Need to Break

    Breaking Credit Card Debt

    Being in debt is no fun, but having fun costs money and that is what got you in debt in the first place. Credit card debt can creep up on you if you aren’t keeping track of your spending habits. Here are 5 things that are keeping you in debt that you might not even be aware of.

    Bargain Shopping

    We all love a great deal, and you may think that because something is on sale, that you are doing yourself a favor by making that purchase. But, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need this item. If you do, then if it is on sale you are saving money in the long-run. If you are buying it just because of the discount, then you are spending money that you shouldn’t be which of course isn’t helping you.

    Your Friends

    This becomes a problem if you are always going out to dinner/movies/bar etc. and spending money with your friends. Of course I am not saying don’t hang out with your friends, but find other ways to socialize that don’t cost money. Host a game night or go on a hike. I understand that this is unrealistic every time you get together, but try to incorporate free activities into your social circle when you can.

    Credit Card Rewards

    Many credit cards that are out there now offer various rewards on your purchases. While these rewards can really benefit you, be careful to make sure you can make your payments at the end of the month. Just because you are racking up airline miles by that outrageous charge on your card, doesn’t mean it is worth it if you can’t pay off your balance.

    Tax Refund

    If you are fortunate enough to get a tax refund this year, then lucky you! But just because you are getting a lump sum of money, doesn’t mean you need to go and spend frivolously. I know it may seem like you deserve to treat yourself, and that this is “extra” money, but be smart about it and use the refund to pay off some of your debt.

    Gift Buying

    Just because your friend spent an excessive amount on you for your birthday, doesn’t mean you need to do the same. If you are trying to stick to a budget, remember it is the thought that counts when it comes to gifts. If he/she is a true friend they will understand your financial situation and won’t resent you for not over indulging for their birthday.

    Can you think of any other things that are keeping you in debt?

     

    Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

      Full Name (required)

      Email (required)

      Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

      Type the code below in the text box. (required)
      captcha


       

      ​Read More
      Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Finance

      Your Finances and Financial Spring Cleaning

      Financial Spring Cleaning

      With winter gone, and spring in full bloom spring cleaning is on probably on your mind. This is what you’ve been waiting for all winter, to clean your entire house from top to bottom. Wait, you don’t do annual spring cleaning? It’s okay, I don’t either, but the idea of going through your finances at least once a year seems a lot more beneficial then scrubbing the toilet.

      Know Your Financial Goals

      This may seem like a no brainer, but most people don’t have a defined plan concerning their financial future. Figure out exactly where you are now, and where you want to be in the next year, 5 years, 10 year, etc. Having a written document you are able to look at every so often will keep you on track toward securing your financial future.

      Get Rid of Unnecessary Documents

      While it is good that you are keeping a hold of valuable documents, some that have been in your pile for years may not be needed anymore. Visit bankrate.com to see what records you should have on hand and for how long.

      Review your Credit Report and Score

      The three credit agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion offer you one free credit report annually. This is something you should take full advantage of. For more information about credit reports and your score, check out our last blog!

      Analyze your Insurance Coverage

      To make sure you are getting the best plan at the best price, shop around and compare rates. Companies are competing for your business, so you may be able to get a better deal somewhere else. Visit sites such as insurance.com and insure.com to help you in your research.

      De-clutter your Home

      Go through your closet, old boxes, basement, attic, etc. and get rid of unnecessary items that are sitting there collecting dust. You can opt to make a little money by trying to sell some of your goods, or you can always donate/recycle them. Either way, after de-cluttering your home, you will be inclined to improve other areas of your life, such as your finances!

      Happy Financial Spring Cleaning!

       

      Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

        Full Name (required)

        Email (required)

        Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

        Type the code below in the text box. (required)
        captcha


         

        ​Read More
        Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling

        Credit Education Month and Tools You Need

        Credit Education Month

        We all have credit cards, but who really pays attention to see if they are helping or hurting us. This month is Credit Education Month, which should give you an incentive to learn a little more about your credit. I know it can be confusing at times, and not all that interesting, but it is important to know and understand for your financial well-being.

        Your Credit Score

        The first thing I would advise is for you to find out your credit score if you don’t already know what it is. You are able to get one free each year from the 3 consumer credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Take advantage of this! Once you receive the reports, go through each carefully to make sure there are no discrepancies. If there are, you will need to contact the credit reporting company to get it corrected.

        Once you know your credit score, you need to determine if it is good or not. Your credit score can range from 300-850, an the higher your score is the better. Go to MyFico for information on what is in your score and how you can improve it.

        Tracking Your Credit Report

        There are many tools available for you to track your credit report. Most offer a free 30 day trial, but if you opt for that, make sure you cancel before the 30 days so you don’t get charged for the next month. The monthly fee usually isn’t too outrageous, so if you do want to track your score, you can do so without paying much.

         

        Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

          Full Name (required)

          Email (required)

          Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

          Type the code below in the text box. (required)
          captcha


           

          ​Read More
          Holiday Tips, Money Management, Saving

          Budgeting for a Festive St. Patrick’s Day

          Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

          Another holiday means more temptation to go out and spend money to celebrate. Whether you are Irish or not, people like to take the opportunity today to wear green, eat some corned beef, and wash it down with an Irish brew. There are many other ways to celebrate today as well. Here are some budgeting ideas for you to save some green this St. Patrick’s Day.

          1. Check out a local parade and get into the Irish spirit. This is great for the whole family and will most likely be free of charge.
          2. If you want to decorate a little bit around the house, don’t go to expensive craft stores. Opt to go to the Dollar Store to find great St. Patty’s decorations, and save some green.
          3. If you wish to celebrate by eating some traditional Irish food, instead of going out to a restaurant, find an easy recipe online and try to make it yourself. Visit Allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com and filter the search to meet your needs. If you are planning on making tonight a date night, cook the meal together and have fun with it!
          4. Rent a movie inspired by the Irish. 411mania.com offers a list of the top 10 movies to watch on St. Patrick’s Day. Make an Irish coffee and bundle up on the couch for a relaxing evening.
          5. If you do not want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, that is okay! Today is the start of the NCAA’s March Madness. So kick back and watch some basketball. You can still enjoy an Irish brew if you like, I won’t tell.

          I hope you all have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Most importantly, even if you are feeling the luck of the Irish, be safe.

          Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

            Full Name (required)

            Email (required)

            Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

            Type the code below in the text box. (required)
            captcha


            ​Read More
            Activities

            Saving Money with Daylight Savings Time

            I know I am not the only one feeling more tired today than usual. Every spring, we lose an hour during daylight savings time when we “spring” forward our clocks in order to have longer days of light. This spring jet lag can take a few days to get use to, but once our bodies and minds have adjusted, we should use the extra light to accomplish tasks after work that we couldn’t before. Here are some great ways you can start saving money with that extra daylight.

            Yard work time! Extra light means you can now get some yard work done after you get off work. This may not be something you want to do during the week, but just think, if you do it during your work week, you will have more free time on the weekend.

            Take the kids to the park. It is recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, so why not spend it with your children. If you maintain an active lifestyle, your children will want to mirror your behavior. That is one habit you do want to pass down to your kids.

            Take your dog on a walk. Depending on where you live, some pets do not get the luxury to run around a yard all day while their owner is away at work. If your pet is cooped up inside all day, when you get home they are bursting with energy, so why not treat them to a nice walk outside. Not only will it calm them down, but it will give you a little time to reflect on the day and wind down.

            Exercise Outdoors. Gym memberships can sometimes cost a fortune, and if you are unable to afford it, you need to find additional options to work out. Now is the perfect time to utilize the extra sunlight we have. Go running on the beach, go on a hike, play an outdoor sport, you have so many options to keep yourself in shape. Make it a priority!

            These are just a few ways to spend your extra hour(s) of sunlight. There are many other fun, yet productive, ways to enjoy this time. What are you planning to do with the extra light in your day?

             

             

            Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

              Full Name (required)

              Email (required)

              Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

              Type the code below in the text box. (required)
              captcha


              ​Read More
              Budgeting, Holiday Tips, Saving

              Your Mardi Gras Budget

              With tomorrow being Fat Tuesday, I thought it would be beneficial for you to know how to celebrate Mardi Gras on a budget. Check your local newspapers for free events and parades that are in your area. If you plan to celebrate at home with family and friends, here are a few tips to having a fun night on a budget.

              If you are having a party at your house, don’t feel like you have to provide all of the food and beverages. Make it a pot-luck, and have everyone contribute. It will be less stressful for you, and you will save time and money. Don’t feel weird about asking people to help out, most of the time people want to bring something to a party anyways, so it is a win-win!

              Don’t fret on having tons of decorations. Places like Party City have inexpensive decorations, but don’t go crazy and think because it’s cheap, you can buy more. Make sure you go in knowing how much you want to spend, so you don’t go over budget. Get some colorful beads, masks, and Mardi Gras color streamers and balloons and you will be good to go.

              If costumes are going to be a part of your event, don’t go spending an outrageous amount of money on an outfit you probably won’t wear again. Go to a thrift store to find funky colorful clothes at great prices. Just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend on creating a Mardi Gras themed costume, doesn’t mean you can’t find great items to wear for your party.

              If you are not celebrating Mardi Gras, then you are saving the most by not spending any money on another “holiday.” But if you do want to celebrate, I hope these few suggestions will help you to have a memorable celebration, without breaking the bank.

              ​Read More
              Taxes

              The Social Security Tax Break and its Advantages

              The Social Security Tax Break Facts

              In December President Obama signed a Social Security tax break into law. This was good news, because it reduced the amount of Social Security tax taken out of workers’ pay, meaning an increase in a worker’s take-home pay. This doesn’t apply to everyone, and is only for one year, but by dropping the Social Security tax rate to 4.2% instead of the original 6.2% people below the pay cap, $106, 800, can see some extra money coming in.

              For more information about tax breaks read Carla Fried’s article here.

              By now, workers’ who are affected by this should have seen the adjustment in their pay. For example, for every $1,000 you earn in pay, instead of taking out $62 (6.2%), only $42 (4.2%) will be taken out. This tax break was meant to increase consumer spending but if you do notice this change, put the extra money to good use.

              Paying Bills

              First and foremost, use it to help pay off credit card debt or your current bills. Everyone is suffering from the economy, and with this little help from the tax break, people should use this extra money to their advantage. Pay off bills in full if you can, don’t settle for the minimum. Or if you are in debt, put as much money as you can toward that so you can pay it off sooner.

              Increase Your Savings

              Another way to utilize your additional income is to save it. When people receive a bonus or gift of cash, they usually spend it because they figure it is money they wouldn’t usually have. So don’t think of this tax break as a bonus or gift. Think of it as a start to a new savings account, or add it to your current savings account. Save it, and pretend like you never saw it. Don’t be tempted to spend, because you never know when you will need it for a rainy day.

              These are the two most important ways to help in securing your financial future. I hope you take them into consideration and put that extra money to good use.

              Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

                Full Name (required)

                Email (required)

                Are you a current client of Christian Credit Counselors? (required)

                Type the code below in the text box. (required)
                captcha


                ​Read More