Credit Counseling

Credit Cards and Five Post Credit Counseling Habits

If you have a lot of credit card debt, you are likely successful as a person, but not be successful in the way you handle your credit cards. With some good credit counseling, anyone can change for the better. According to a recent article by USA Today, wealthy people handle their credit cards differently compared to people with debt or a lower net worth. By talking to a trained credit counselor, you can learn how to budget, save and plan as well as pay off credit card debt that prevents you from becoming rich. It’s interesting to see how the wealthy approach credit cards. Adopting better financial habits can improve your financial station in life, especially after you rid yourself of debt with a Debt Management Plan.

Using fewer credit cards

After consolidating your debt and becoming debt free, commit to carrying fewer credit cards. While paying off your debt, you should practice credit card abstinence. Having a credit card doesn’t spell financial doom. Experts say rich people don’t take out dozens of credit cards. In fact, author Tom Corley found only 8 percent of wealthy people use more than one credit card.

Paying the balance in full

Another habit wealthy people have is to pay off their balance in full every month. Ninety-percent of poor people keep a credit card balance, but just 5 percent of rich people fail to pay off their balance in full each month. By paying your entire balance, you improve you credit score.

Getting the bills paid on time

Part of credit counseling is learning how to budget so you aren’t short the money you need to pay certain bills when they become due. Corley discovered 67 percent of people with low incomes had late payments within the last year. Amazingly, the rich people surveyed didn’t have any late bills in the last 12 months. Paying your bills on time takes money as well as discipline and organizational abilities. At Christian Credit Counselors, we don’t judge or criticize. Instead, we show you helpful financial strategies that work.

Collecting rewards and points

Rich people don’t let their reward points go to waste. Eighty-one percent of the wealthy people surveyed have reward dollars or points versus nine percent of the poor people who had points. USA Today recommends people don’t just buy things to acquire points.

Knowing your credit score

It’s important to know your credit score, but it’s more important to know what you can do to improve it. Perhaps it comes naturally for wealthier people. The survey found 77 percent of rich people know their credit score versus 5 percent of the poor.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we can help you learn what you can do to increase your credit score and consolidate your debt. Our qualified team of credit counselors provides debt counseling.

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.

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    Debt

    Debt Counseling to Survive a Future Economic Recession

    Some adults who went through the Great Recession lost their jobs and homes, while others went deep into credit card debt. Because the economy tends to go in cycles, it’s likely the U.S. will endure another recession. By receiving debt counseling and getting out of debt while the economy is booming, you can better survive a job loss. According to recent article by The Motley Fool, the consumer debt belonging to an average American is on the climb again. The article cited the Federal Reserve’s data which revealed outstanding revolving credit debt now total about $882 billion, which is up from about $853 one year ago. Experts say people are using more of their disposable income pay for credit card and other consumer debt compared to last year. To free up some of your disposal income, talk to trained credit counselors with Christian Credit Counselors.

    Treating your money with respect

    When you treat your money with respect, you don’t waste it on high-interest credit cards. Instead of giving money to credit card companies, you strive to spend your money on your family, church and community. By consolidating your debt with a Debt Management Plan, you end up paying less of your hard-earned money toward interest and more toward the principal. In fact, even the term “disposable income” is misleading because your extra money isn’t something to waste or throw away.

    Getting the help you need

    Admitting you can benefit from debt counseling isn’t a sign of weakness as much as it’s a sign of wisdom. Some of the most successful people admit they don’t know it all, but surround themselves with people who are experts in various fields. Certified debt counselors can educate you about budgeting, improving your credit score and setting financial goals. To prepare for a future recession, you should save up at least 6 months worth of living expenses in an emergency savings account. Experts that worry about a prolonged recession recommend saving up even more.

    Dealing with tight lending

    One of the common side effects of a recession is tighter lending policies by banks. By getting out of debt and improving your credit score now, you’ll be more likely to get the financing you need for a home or car in the future. If interest rates go up, you don’t want to owe money on a high-interest rate credit card or other unsecured loans or debt. By entering into a Debt Management Plan, you won’t worry about fluctuating interest rates because you are on a reliable and predictable debt repayment plan.

    No one wants to lose their job or business or experience a pay cut. However, many people dealt with financial challenges during the Great Recession. Be proactive by getting debt counseling while you have a job or the ability to repay your debt. At Christian Credit Counselors, our qualified team provides debt counseling with a non-judgmental approach. We have been known to help our clients get out of debt 80 percent faster than other methods.

    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.

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      Debt Counseling
      Debt

      Debt Counseling: Slow but Effective Debt Repayment

      Debt counseling covers a multitude of different areas.  The most important things in your debt repayment process are paying down the big debts:  car loans, and credit cards, and mortgages…but have you thought about how a few little things can make a big difference in your debt repayment process?

      Track your Spending

      If you’re in the habit of just keeping track of how much you have left in your account in your head or only writing down amounts, not where you’ve spent the money, take one week and write down where you are actually spending your money.  For example:  if you’re stopping for coffee every morning on your way to work, you may not realize how much that’s adding up.  It’s just a three or four dollar purchase, right?  Until you realize that $4 a day, five days a week is $20 a week…which is around $80 a month.  That’s enough to make a pretty substantial dent in your budget.

      Are you in the habit of a regular weekly date night?  How much are you spending on that date?  What may seem insignificant for one evening suddenly starts to add up over the course of the month.  It’s not about the single expense (though those can add up, too).  It’s about the regular expense that multiplies over time.

      Avoid Restaurant Food

      Still tracking your spending?  How much are you spending on restaurant food, whether it’s for a quick lunch to get you out of the office or a way to avoid having to cook dinner?  There are plenty of easy meals that can be prepared ahead of time, whether you’re pulling a casserole out of the fridge for dinner, coming home to a slow cooker meal that’s ready to eat, or throwing together leftovers or a wrap and salad for your lunch.  It takes a little bit more effort, but once you’re in a routine, you’ll be surprised by how much you’re saving–and how much you can put toward paying off those debts.

      Cut the cable bill.

      How much time do you really spend watching cable, anyway?  You could well be paying $100 or more per month for something that you never actually use.  If the tv is mostly on for background noise or all you’re watching is reruns, it might make more sense to invest in a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime, which allow you to choose what you want to watch (commercial free!), when you want to watch it, and charge a much lower fee than your favorite service.  Worried about missing your favorite show?  Take another look at it.  How often are you actually watching a brand new episode as it airs?  If it’s just a show or two, it might be more practical to purchase that single episode through a streaming service the next day (Amazon usually has episodes shortly after they air).

      Ditch the bad Habits

      Smoking and drinking are both very expensive habits that can be a serious drain on your budget–but everyone knows about those.  What about your junk food habit?  Your habit of driving around aimlessly and wasting gas when you don’t want to go home?  Your tendency to spend way too much time on your cell phone, even when you’ve run out of data for the month?  All of those things add up, too, some in ways that you won’t even notice taking slices out of your budget because they’re part of your “regular” bills.  Cut them out, and you might be surprised by how much breathing room it gives you.

      All of these are little things that can make a big difference.  If you’re looking for a way to get out of debt, the little things won’t do it overnight–but they will start to chip away at it a little bit at a time.

      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.

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        Debt Consolidation
        Debt Consolidation

        Understanding Debt Consolidation Benefits

        Christian Credit Counselors helps our clients get out of debt through a program of credit counseling and debt consolidation. It is easy to think that you got into debt yourself and can get out of debt just as easily, but sky-high interest rates and late fees contribute to growing debt. Here’s how credit counseling and debt consolidation can help you get and stay out of debt.

        Credit Counseling

        Credit counseling includes evaluating your income and assets, debts and current monthly budget. Our counselors suggest changes to your budget and may recommend a debt management program to help reduce debt faster. Recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Counselors help you understand how you got into debt and how to manage your budget and spending habits.

        Debt Consolidation with a Debt Management Program

        Our credit counselors start a debt management program by negotiating with your creditors to lower interest rates and reduce or waive late fees on each debt.

        Credit counselors next develop a debt repayment plan that consolidates payments for each debt into a single payment made to Christian Credit Counselors on a scheduled basis. Our company pays each creditor as agreed in your written debt management plan.

        When a debt pays off, the amount previously paid on that debt posts against the next debt. This “snowball” repayment method pays off debt faster. The debt management program continues until no debts included in your debt management program remain.

        Debt consolidation through our debt management program reduces finance charges and usually lowers minimum payment amounts. Converting multiple payments to one payment reduces the risk of skipped or overlooked payments.

        Our credit counselors contact your creditors once you’re enrolled in our debt management program. Clients typically receive few or no calls from creditors after we activate a debt management program. Don’t try to deal with unmanageable debt alone. Get out of debt with our credit counseling,debt management and debt consolidation services.

        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.

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          Credit Counseling
          Credit Counseling

          Credit Counseling When Your Creditors Won’t Work with You

          If you have tried to lower your interest rate or receive forgiveness for late fees but ran into a brick wall with your creditors, it’s time to turn to Christian Credit Counselors. According to an article by Nerd Wallet, credit counselors often succeed where individuals fail. The key is to look for certified credit counselors with experience helping clients through debt consolidation. Having that third-party advocate to argue your case can bring greater legitimacy to your quest to resolve debt repayment problems. Receiving credit counseling isn’t about admitting defeat, but about taking control of your personal finances so you can conquer debt.

          Relying On A Team

          At Christian Credit Counselors, our team of certified credit counselors contacts your creditors on your behalf to reduce the amount you owe and work out a new payment plan. According to Nerd Wallet, some people feel confused about what exactly a credit counselor does. With credit counseling, you learn how to budget, improve your credit score and avoid pitfalls related to collections accounts and credit card debts that are past due. Because the team at Christian Credit Counselors already has established relationships with hundreds of creditors, they often get better results compared to people who go it alone.

          Working On Your Credit Score

          Even though you plan to stay out of credit card debt, there are times when taking out a loan at a low-interest rate helps you meet other goals such as home ownership. Another misconception people have is that meeting with a credit counselor will negatively affect their credit score. According to Nerd Wallet, receiving credit counseling does not affect your credit score. People who enroll in a Debt Management Plan and close some of their credit card accounts will see a temporary change, but the long-term benefits outweigh the rest, the Nerd Wallet article points out.

          Finding A Reputable Credit Counselors

          The search for a good credit counselor is simple. Avoid debt settlement companies and bankruptcy plans that could ruin your credit over a long period of time. Choose a trained and certified credit counselor. Nerd Wallet suggests talking to a credit counseling company and making sure the counselors listen to your situation and craft a specific budget and plan for you.

          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.

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            Debt Consolidation
            Debt Consolidation

            Debt Consolidation Can Fix Your Net Worth

            If you have a low net worth, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. But steadily building up your net worth is a prudent and wise way to prepare for retirement and provide for loved ones after you are gone. Many people in debt don’t realize they can immediately begin to fix their net worth problem through debt consolidation. By paying on a Debt Management Plan, the negative side of your net worth equation shrinks so you have more money to save on the positive side. According to a recent piece by The Motley Fool, a lot of people don’t realize what their net worth number is. By receiving credit counseling, you will learn not only how to budget but how to figure out where you stand in terms of household net worth. Simply put, your net worth is all of your assets or money minus your liabilities or debt. As you pay off debt and save more, your total net worth increases.

            Calculating your worth

            Financial experts say your self-worth does not equal your net worth, but it’s important to take your financial “temperature.” When you have a lot of credit-card debt, medical debt and unsecured loans, it’s difficult to get ahead. To figure out your net worth, a trained and credit counselor will have you calculate your total debt. If you owe money on a mortgage, you would put the amount still owed on the liability side while the current value of the home on the asset side. Unless you are underwater on your mortgage, your home will be an asset instead of a liability.

            Knowing how you compare

            According to The Motley Fool, it’s helpful to know how you compare to other people your age. If you are curious, the Census Bureau reports that people under the age of 35 with a net worth of $6,682 are in the 50 percentile while a net worth of $33,477 would put you in the 70 percentile, meaning you have more money or assets than 70 percent of people your age. If you are between 35 and 44, having a net worth of $35,000 puts you in the 50th percentile and a net worth of $128,430 puts you in the 70th percentile.

            Eliminating the bad debt

            The reason some people consider a home mortgage “good debt” is because it’s an investment that has the potential for positive equity that increases your net worth. However, credit-card debt is rarely considered a good debt. With a Debt Management Plan, you can make one monthly payment to satisfy your creditors. Of course, it starts by talking to a trained credit counselor. The team at Christian Credit Counselors has experience negotiating with more than 400 creditors to lower your interest rate and fees with debt consolidation.

            At Christian Credit Counselors, our certified credit counselors don’t judge you or your situation. We have a proven track record of success in helping our clients get out of debt and stay out of debt due to education.

            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.

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              Credit Counseling
              Credit Counseling

              Credit Counseling – Cutting Debt and Building Wealth

              Some people pay down their credit cards only to go out and charge purchases again. Whether you aren’t ashamed to admit you overspend or feel guilty about debt you acquired due to unfortunate circumstances outside of your control, there are solutions with credit counseling. According to an article by Credit.com, you can retrain your brain to cut debt and build wealth. By meeting with a trained and accredited credit counselor, you will learn insights into your financial behaviors.

              Avoid mental accounting

              One of the bad financial habits people in debt often have is the tendency to think they have more money than they really do. It’s easier to spend with a credit card as opposed to cash. When you run out of cash, you know you can’t spend anymore. With a credit card, your limit is your credit limit. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford to pay back their debt. With credit counseling, you learn to create a budget that will hold you accountable. The numbers have to add up on paper before you can freely spend money. With a Debt Management Plan, you know exactly how much you need to allocate to pay back all your creditors each month. The next time you get a tax refund or small inheritance, you’ll use the money for financial goals instead of spending it all.

              Getting the help you need

              Some people hate to admit they need help. But some of the most successful people in the world admit they aren’t the smartest, but they enlist the help of people who are smarter than they are. According to Credit.com, people with decision paralysis or those who fail to take action often end up in even more debt. One big step you can take to solve your financial dilemma is to meet with a credit counselor to talk about debt consolidation. You don’t have to have any financial expertise or negotiation skills because the team at Christian Credit Counselors gets you a lower interest rate on your debt.

              Making small changes

              Another financial insight you will receive through credit counseling is the fact that small changes make major differences. It works the other way as well. If you make small charges on your credit cards, it snowballs into a more debt than you can handle. The challenge is to confront your debt. While paying off your credit card debt, medical bills and other unsecured debt through your Debt Management Plan, take small actions to build wealth. Start putting even $10 a paycheck into a Roth IRA. Let your company take even 3 or 4 percent of your paycheck for a 401(k) plan. Also, start cutting expenses a little at a time.

              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.

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                Debt Counseling
                Debt Consolidation

                Debt Counseling to Prepare you for a Cash Windfall

                If you are like most people, you expect to have a good time spending your tax return money. Your parents or friends who are savers may advise you to use the tax return money to save for retirement or pay off debt. Even if you feel overwhelmed with debt and dealing with debt collectors, you shouldn’t spend all of your extra money to pay off credit card debt. With debt counseling, you could find ways to fulfill your obligations to creditors while also protecting your family in case of financial emergencies. Debt counseling can give you the tools you need to know how to handle cash windfalls in the future such as an inheritance or refund. According to a story by Credit.com, a cash windfall can disappear quickly if you don’t handle it well.

                Take a moment to think

                Before spending a windfall such as a tax refund check, pause and think about your financial situation. A trained credit counselor can help you set up a budget so you know how much money you have coming in and how much is going out each month. You can identify the best place to put your tax refund money whether it’s in a retirement savings account or emergency savings account. You may have an immediate need to pay your rent or mortgage. You can learn to differentiate between things that are urgent and important and things that are important to you, but not very urgent.

                Tackle the debt

                According to Credit.com, it’s a good idea to tackle your high-interest rate credit cards. Instead of using all of your tax refund to pay off a single creditor, consider enrolling in a Debt Management Plan. By consolidating your debt, you will only have one monthly debt payment to make. The real advantage of debt consolidation is the fact that experienced credit counselors will negotiate the interest rate on your various credit cards. With a lower rate, you’ll owe less money to your creditors.

                Plan for the future

                Once you have a solid budget that includes your monthly debt repayment, you can look for any ways to cut spending so you can also save for retirement and other financial goals. You can tweak bills that seem like fixed expenses such as the utility and water bills by encouraging everyone in the family to turn off the lights, conserve water and adjust the temperature in the home. If you can reduce your cable or phone bill by $50 a month, that’s $50 to put into a Roth IRA or emergency savings fund.

                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.

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                  Christian Credit Counselors, Credit Score, Debt

                  Five Tips to Avoid Damaging Your Credit Score

                  Your credit score not only determines your interest rates, but it could also determine your eligibility for that new job you have applied for. Like it or not, your credit score is an important number. Some of the most common questions our clients ask us are, how can they improve, build, and maintain their credit scores?

                  Tips to Raise Your Credit Score

                  • Pay your accounts on time. When you pay your bills 30 days late it could result in a negative credit reporting and could effective your score.
                  • Borrow no more than you can comfortably pay back. Avoid maxing out your credit cards. Limit your utilization to no more than 30% of your available credit. Practice good spending habits by charging something simple like your gas and then paying off the whole balance at the end of the month. This will help you to develop good spending habits while building your credit.
                  • Be cautious about co-signing or guaranteeing loans for others. By co-signing or guaranteeing a loan you are a joint account holder and equally responsible for funds owed. Your credit report will also be equally affected by negative reportings.
                  • Do not apply for credit you do not need. We know that store retail accounts are tempting with their promotional offers, but when you read the fine print they often have high interest rates. If you choose to do one of those 0% deals for a year, make sure you can pay it off in the time allotted because after the expiration date the interest rate will shoot upwards of 20% which will end up being very costly.
                  • Pull and review your credit report annually and dispute inaccurate information. You can pull your credit report from each bureau once per year for free at: annualcreditreport.com. By reviewing your credit report annually, you can catch any inaccurate reporting or suspected identity theft.

                  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.

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                    Budgeting, Economy, Uncategorized

                    Are Tax Return Advances a Good Thing

                    Unfortunately, this year tax returns may be delayed due to budget cuts and overloaded workers who won’t be able to process refunds as quickly as they have in previous years. According to the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, some refund checks could be delayed a week or more especially for those who filed paper versus those who filed electronically.

                    This may drive people to look for private alternatives like refund anticipation checks through their tax preparation company. Before jumping onto this train it’s important to know the facts so you can make an informed financial decision. Instant cash comes with a hefty price.

                    This year H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and many more tax preparation services are offering an advance on your tax refund. What your grandparents used to say is true, nothing in life is free, and you could be spending more than 20% of your refund to receive your cash early.

                    If you are still considering these services, we urge you to ask the following questions and obtain the facts in writing:

                    • What is the interest rate?
                    • What fees are you being charged?
                    • What happens if your tax refund is less than what you thought it would be?
                    • Are you paying a higher tax preparation rate because you are having them take it out of your refund?
                    • What are the bank and processing fees?

                    The best thing you can do is find a way to live within your means and wait for your refund to be mailed or electronically deposited into your bank account from the IRS. Here are some ways to help keep your refund wait time to a minimum.

                    Electronic Filing

                    Forget the paper return that has to be sent via the U.S. postal service and file electronically from your computer. When you do this you will receive your money almost as fast as you would with a refund anticipation loan, without the fees. Those filing paper returns can expect to wait up to eight weeks for their tax refund whereas those who file electronically will receive their checks in half time.

                    Direct Deposit Deposit

                    This year the IRS has projected that they will issue 9 out of 10 tax refunds within 21 days of filing. For 2015, the fastest way to receive your refund is to file electronically and choose direct deposit. If you do choose to file your return using good old-fashioned paper you will still save time if you have your refund deposited directly into your bank account.

                    Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are informed. Be sure to check out the 2015 tax refund schedule below.

                     

                    2015 Tax Refund Schedule:

                    IRS Return Processed Direct Deposit Sent Before Paper Check Mailed
                    Jan. 21-Jan. 27 Feb. 3 Feb. 4
                    Jan. 28-Feb. 3 Feb. 10 Feb. 11
                    Feb. 4-Feb. 10 Feb. 17 Feb. 18
                    Feb. 11-Feb. 17 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
                    Feb. 18-Feb. 24 March 3 March 4
                    Feb. 25-March 3 March 10 March 11
                    March 4-March 10 March 17 March 18
                    March 11-March 17 March 24 March 25
                    March 18-March 24 March 31 April 1
                    March 25-March 31 April 7 April 8
                    April 1-April 7 April 15 April 16
                    April 8-April 15 April 22 April 23
                    April 16-April 22 April 30 May 1

                    Source: IRS, author estimates.

                    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.

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