Debt, Loans, Money Management, Personal Goals, Student Loans

Student Loans: Preparation and Planning

Applying for Student Loans

News Flash: the most important part of your student loan occurs before you even get the loan.   What you do before taking out the loan can have the greatest impact on your life. It can mean the difference between paying back the loan in full to live a financially free life and being in default with mounting anxiety, stress and depression. This immense impact comes down to three main components:

  1. Your attempt to get as much free financial aid as possible before taking out a loan
  2. Your extent of knowledge and research on student loans
  3. Your creation of a repayment plan before you even apply for the loan

Before you borrow money, research and apply for as much free financial aid as possible. Grants and Scholarships are the main categories of free aid. Scholarships are often based on merit, meaning it depends on your academic worthiness or other accomplishments. Grants are often awarded based on financial need. Visit the financial aid website at your prospective university or college, local institutions (such as your credit union), the Federal Student Aid website at www.studentaid.ed.gov , and contact family, friends, and mentors to learn about other free aid opportunities. It is never too early to start researching. Always be aware and keep your grades up because many scholarships are offered based on GPA and performance throughout high school! Also look into a Work Study program, which allows students to work part-time to earn money for their education expenses.

Researching Student Loans

After this, if you find that you still are in need you can research student loans to cover the rest of your cost of attendance. There are multiple federal loan options including Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. Research the qualifications and decide the best option. For instance, if you can demonstrate enough financial need, you may qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan where the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest. Also before acquiring the loan, study the repayment plans that are available. For more information, take the Student Loan Webinar that will soon be offered by Christian Credit Counselors at www.christiancreditcounselors.org or visit www.studentaid.ed.gov. If you decide on a private loan, research it thoroughly as well because they may have less repayment options and different terms.

Repaying Your Loan

Finally, make sure that YOU have a vision and plan of how you will repay your loan beforehand. Decide on a repayment plan offered by the loan servicer then calculate your monthly payment and the income you will need to start paying now or after the grace period (depending on the loan). Perhaps you need a part-time job on or off campus to help make payments during school. Even if you do not have to make payments until after graduation, a repayment and income plan could help you make decisions about your academic program and career choice.

In short, applying for as much free financial aid as possible, researching loan options, and creating a repayment plan before acquiring a student loan gives you the best chance to repay it in full and live a student loan-free and stress-free life!

 

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    Debt consolidation
    Debt Consolidation

    Debt Consolidation and Your Summer Vacation

    Most people look forward to their summer vacations but few people appreciate the reality that vacations come with baggage in the form of credit card debt. Learning to budget for a vacation is not as easy as it seems when you feel saddled with high credit card balances or double-digit interest rates on cards you can’t manage. With debt consolidation, you can make your financial situation more manageable so there is the wiggle room in your budget to pay cash for a summer or other vacation. According to a recent article by usatoday.com, more than 50 percent of people embarking on a summer vacation do not have enough savings for the trip. A survey by Experian Consumer Services revealed 46 percent of people used a credit card to pay for their vacation. If you plan to go on a vacation or have already returned home to maxed-out credit cards or high balances, consider debt consolidation.

    Finding a balance in your budget

    One way of balancing your budget is to make sure you don’t spend more than you make. In addition to living below your means, you can also balance wants with needs or mandatory bills with discretionary spending. By consolidating debt through a debt management program, you figure out exactly how much you need to pay each month to satisfy your creditors. Your remaining income gets divvied up between housing expenses, food, shelter, utilities and miscellaneous bills. Experts say vacationers tend to use credit cards to pay for airfare, hotels, entertainment and dining. One strategy to afford a vacation without credit cards is to save an extra 10 percent when budgeting for transportation, housing, entertainment and food/eating out. You can use money from your monthly budget to supplement a vacation fund.

    Transferring money into savings

    Another tip to avoid massive credit card debt is to set up an automatic savings plan for a vacation or travel fund. The usatoday.com article recommends an automatic transfer of funds from checking into savings. If you don’t have enough money leftover after paying your debt consolidation plan and other bills, look for ways to cut back on spending. Getting rid of a land line, eating out less often, selling clothes on consignment or getting rid of subscriptions are a few easy ways to save money. One of the great things about debt consolidation is the fact that you can set up automatic monthly payments so it is easier.

    You can save money on vacations by finding people to visit and places to see closer to your home state. Consider staying with friends or family to avoid hotels costs.

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      Christian Credit Counseling
      Christian Credit Counselors

      Credit Counseling Quickens the Payoff Date

      Experts say paying off a credit card balance of just $2,000 takes some people as much time as it takes to raise a child. If you don’t want to spend a lifetime in debt, consider Christian credit counseling to examine positive solutions. According to a recent piece by nypost.com, making minimum payments on your credit card often leads to misery. By consolidating debt through a reputable company such as Christian Credit Counselors, you reduce interest rate, eliminate fees and speed up the payoff process by decades. To pay off debt in less time, adopt some of the strategies that have worked for hundreds of other consumers.

      Getting off a debt treadmill to nowhere

      According to the New York Post, paying just the minimum on a credit card bill is like getting on a treadmill to nowhere. With a $2,000 credit card balance and an 18 percent annual rate, consumers paying the minimum of 2 percent or $10 would not have the debt paid off until three decades later. What’s even more tragic is the fact that the consumer will have paid almost $5,000 in interest charges over the 30 years.

      Improving your credit score

      Even if you don’t plan to ever use credit cards in the future, there are many reasons why it pays to have a good credit score. Your FICO credit score could affect your ability to get a job in certain fields or pass a credit check for renting a home. By receiving Christian credit counseling, you find out the best strategies for boosting your credit score.

      Relying on Financial experts instead of friends

      Some people listen to advice from friends or family members who have never received financial training or education. By talking to certified credit counselors, you have greater confidence in the process. If you keep doing what you are doing, it could take 30 years to get out of debt. A certified credit counselor with Christian Credit Counselors will give you a complimentary debt analysis that you can use to improve your financial situation. As a bonus, you know Christian counselors also provide you with prayer support and other resources.

      At Christian Credit Counselors, we want to introduce you to a debt management plan that cuts your interest rate, reduces your pay off time as well as your monthly payment so you no longer owe anything to your creditors. Let us do the negotiations for you. We have many success stories as well as a history of helping consumers avoid bankruptcy and debt settlement scams that ruin credit. Some people get out of debt 80 percent faster than with other plans.

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        Debt Consolidation
        Debt Consolidation

        Debt Consolidation as a Credit Card Debt Exit Strategy

        Good Debt vs Bad Debt

        When it comes to debt, there is good debt and bad debt because some debt allows you to achieve the goal of owning a vehicle or a car. Credit card debt becomes a problem when you can’t pay off the balance and pay more in interest than you earn from putting your money to work in other places. According to an article by gobankingrates.com, falling into debt is a snap, but getting out of it is a different story. By reaching out for help from a Christian credit counseling organization, you identify an easier credit card debt exit strategy. Many consumers find success with debt consolidation, a strategy that involves a debt management plan. Before you consolidate debt, your credit counselor helps you understand what brought you to the current situation. Understanding how you got into debt and how to break the debt cycle in the future gives you greater financial peace.

        Thriving in a Credit-Driven Society

        Experts with gobankingrates.com point out that we live in a credit-driven society. It is not surprising many people take on more debt than they can handle. Some pitfalls to avoid when obtaining financial assistance in the form of loans or credit cards include underestimating the cost once the interest rate kicks in. Also, you might deal with unexpected situations that cripple your ability to repay credit cards such as a job loss or illness. Other people live with a spouse or child’s financial mistakes.

        Breaking the Debt Cycle

        When you receive credit counseling, you receive help not only with debt consolidation to lower your interest rates, but also insights into what keeps people in debt and why it is so hard to break the debt cycle. One reason it is difficult to get out of debt on your own is because of penalties and interest. Your credit counselor goes to bat on your behalf to reduce the interest. Other challenges include the temptation to spend more because of lifestyle habits as well as a feeling of defeat.

        Changing Your Financial Future

        Experts say a great credit card exit strategy is to consider debt relief options including debt consolidation. Professionals assist you with a debt management program so you only have one monthly debt repayment to make. To avoid a negative debt cycle in the future, you pay bills on time and take on only the debt you can manage on your income.

        At Christian Credit Counselors, we teach our clients how to use credit to help them get ahead and reach their goals instead of letting credit card debt destroy their dreams. With debt consolidation, you can simplify your finances and save money on interest as well as speed up your payoff date.

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          Credit, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Uncategorized

          Credit Conscious Living Webinar

          Credit Conscious: The Ins and Outs of Credit

          Looking to build, maintain, or improve your credit? Christian Credit Counselors, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) with a mission to provide free financial education to individuals and families both locally and nationwide, is now offering a free, online webinar entitled, Credit Conscious: The Ins and Outs of Credit. Christian Credit Counselors is committed not just to helping people get out of debt, but providing them with free resources and education to STAY out of debt and live a life of financial freedom.

          The Credit Conscious webinar will teach you the ins and outs of credit and give you the tools you need to obtain and build, improve, and wisely use credit. You will also learn to research credit reports and scores, as well as your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. Whether you are trying to climb out of mounting debt or you simply want to learn how to view your credit report online, this webinar is a great tool in understanding credit so you can make the best decisions to achieve your financial goals.

          Click on the video below to view the webinar.

          Click here to download the free handout:

          When you are done with the webinar video you can also take a quick survey using the button below:

          If you have questions or would like more information, email education@christiancreditcounselors.org or call 1-800-557-1985 ext. 131.

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            Debt Counseling
            Debt

            Debt Counseling to Stop Using Credit Cards as a Lifeline

            Credit cards are not just a convenience or a backup plan for many members of Generation X and baby boomers. According to a recent study cited by usatoday.com, a lot of people between the ages of 35 and 67 assume they will always have credit card debt. With debt counseling, you learn to stop using credit card as a lifeline. Instead of credit card dependence, you take control by budgeting, planning, saving, setting goals and paying off debt. The study by Allianz Life revealed 48 percent of Gen Xers and baby boomers said they use credit cards for financial survival. By consolidating debt through a reputable Christian credit counseling you receive unbiased support and guidance as well as prayer and resources. The interest you save by following a debt management program could be money you use to save for retirement. If you aren’t sure whether you need debt counseling, consider some of the warning signs you are using credit cards as a lifeline.

            Failing to pay the Balance

            The survey showed 46 percent of Gen Xers only pay part of their credit card balance every month instead of paying it off. Thirty-two percent of baby boomers only pay some of what they owe. The great thing about credit consolidation is you take care of your financial responsibility to various credit card companies. The creditors get on board with your debt management plan.

            Putting off Retirement Savings

            If you are always telling yourself you will save for retirement next month, next year or when you get a tax return or bonus, you are likely living on credit cards. Twenty-three percent of people in their late 30s and 40s said they don’t think they can even start saving for retirement while they feel burdened with credit card debt.

            Feeling stressed out and exhausted

            Although most people feel tired at the end of a productive day, it is not healthy to feel mentally exhausted from financial stress. Forty-one percent of the Gen Xers feel uncomfortable with debt versus only 25 percent of baby boomers. Even if you accept your credit card debt now, you will benefit from debt counseling. Many baby boomers will not enjoy a comfortable retirement due to excessive debt.

            Accepting debt as a fact of life

            Another sign you need debt counseling is when you simply accept debt as a fact of life. Twenty percent of Gen Xers and 14 percent of baby boomers surveyed said they don’t see a way around credit card debt. With debt counseling, you receive the facts, information, support to get your credit score up, save, budget and plan. Your certified credit counselors provide you with a custom debt analysis so you can learn to live within your means.

            At Christian Credit Counselors, we want our clients to enjoy the benefits of financial freedom and peace. Our program helps people with credit card debt by giving them a manageable plan and strategy to get and stay out of debt.

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              Credit Counseling
              Credit Counseling

              Credit Counseling – A To-Do before Marriage

              If you have fallen in love and plan to get married, it’s an exciting time. Many brides and grooms come into a marriage with credit card debt that creates challenges for a new life together. According to an article by time.com, there is hope for people who fall in love with someone who has credit card debt. As a married couple, you can seek credit counseling together to learn about solutions that are part of God’s plan for your life. By signing up for a debt management plan, your future or current spouse consolidates credit card debt into one simply payment. Trained credit counselors with Christian Credit Counselors get on the phone with your creditors to get them on board with a lower interest rate.

              To find out you aren’t financially alone

              When you receive credit counseling, you find out you aren’t alone. As far as credit card debt, the situation is not that uncommon. According to a survey by NerdWallet, 35 percent of couples with combined financing have at least one person in the relationship with credit card debt. Forty-five percent of young people in their 20s and early 30s have revolving credit card debt, which means they don’t pay off the balance every month.

              So you can achieve your financial goals

              Even as a Christian, it is not bad to have financial goals such as owning a home or having money to fund a vacation, wedding or honeymoon. When you receive credit counseling, you learn to budget so you part of your income goes toward short and long-term savings goals. According to time.com, most people enter a marriage with about $4,000 in credit card debt. Some of the negative consequences include having so much debt that they can’t enjoy life or reach goals.

              To minimize marital friction

              Credit counseling lets you get a handle on your finances so debt and personal finances do not create conflicts. One poll by time.com found two in 10 couples argue about money. However, younger respondents accepted debt more than pre-retirees and retirees. Money problems are one of the main reasons cited for divorce.

              At Christian Credit Counselors, we help young and older couples consolidate debt, budget and improve their credit scores. If you are planning to get married or recently tied the knot, consider the value of being open and transparent about money. Open up about your credit card debt with a partner early in the relationship. By paying off your credit card debt with a debt management plan, you give your spouse and new marriage a major blessing.

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                Christian Credit Counselors
                Christian Credit Counselors

                Credit Counseling Helps You Budget

                Budgeting is essential if you want to learn to live below your means. For many people, budgets seem too restrictive. If you try too hard to save, you could end up spending rebelliously or throwing the budget out the window. With Christian credit counseling, you access tools and education to finally get a handle on your budget. According to a piece by time.com, there are five reasons behind a budget that isn’t working. Christian credit counseling will give you the support and knowledge to solve your budget woes.

                Start paying better attention

                The first reason a budget fails is because people tend to ignore a budget. One easy way to become more conscious of your spending patterns is to keep a spending diary. You can use your cellular phone or old-fashioned pen and notebook. Having a budget isn’t the same as following a budget.

                Take a realistic approach

                With Christian credit counseling, the goal is to come up with a realistic budget. Of course, it would be great if you could max out your 401(k) at work and save up $30,000 for a down payment on a home. After you pay off your credit card debt, lofty financial goals become more attainable. By consolidating debt and signing up for a debt management plan, you take a realistic step toward improving your personal finances and being able to live within your means.

                Put money aside for taxes

                Another pitfall to avoid when budgeting is failing to put money aside for income taxes. Check your paycheck to make sure you have the right number of exemptions. People with several dependents often put down a higher number of exemptions so their employer takes less money out of the paycheck. If you feel concerned you could end up owing taxes, reconsider your exemptions number. Put money in a regular savings account to cover a tax bill if necessary.

                Get your budget and goals in alignment

                If your budget doesn’t reflect your goals, you are less likely to follow it. A trained credit counselor with integrity and Christian values can help you figure out your priorities. Many people value paying what they owe. Debt consolidation with a debt management plan is one way to follow through on your obligation while also getting the benefit of a lower interest rate.

                Leave some wiggle room

                Another way to guarantee success with a budget is to leave some wiggle room for discretionary spending. While there are a lot of different formulas for saving and spending, figure out what works best for you. Start by saving 10 percent aside for the future. After allocating money for all of your bills, figure out how much money you have left. If you can’t make it work with your current budget, consider consolidating debt.

                At Christian Credit Counselors, our trained credit counselors don’t judge you for your spending or savings habits. We get our clients motivated to succeed in the future with a solid budget and debt consolidation help.

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                  Credit Counseling
                  Credit Counseling

                  Credit Counseling: Closing the Debt Gender Gap

                  When it comes to credit card debt, the burden is one affecting men and women, but women tend to carry more debt. By receiving credit counseling, members of each gender receive benefits that help them improve personal finances. According to a recent article by usnews.com that cited National Debt Relief survey, only 33 percent of men carry credit card debt versus 66 percent of women. The male and female differences related to money often create friction in a relationship or marriage. With credit counseling, wives and husbands gain insights to help them each contribute more to the financial solutions, goals and shared plans.

                  Paying off debt

                  With a debt consolidation plan, your credit card debt will quickly start to shrink. A National Debt Relief survey found women tend to carry more debt compared to men no matter what their age. Sixty-three percent of young women carried debt compared to 36 percent of young men in the 18 to 24 age category. In the 55 to 64 (baby boomer) category, 66 percent of women versus 33 percent of men had credit card debt. By consolidating debt, you can close the debt gender gap as a woman.

                  Earning more money

                  Some experts point out women earn less money than men. In fact, women now make 81 percent of what men make. With credit counseling, you brainstorm ways to budget and earn more money. For some females, the answer is to start a side gig by monetizing a hobby such as painting or consulting. Experts point out many women also fail to negotiate their starting salaries or ask for pay raises. A credit counselor will give you the confidence boost you need to ask for that raise.

                  Following a budget

                  Whether you are a man or a woman, the key to staying out of credit card debt is to stop spending more than you earn. With credit counseling, you become a master of budgeting and tracking spending. You can include a debt management plan monthly payment into your overall budget. With proper guidance, the monthly payment to repay your creditors will not interfere with day-to-day expenses for food, rent or mortgage and other essentials.

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                    Debt Counseling
                    Debt

                    Debt Counseling – Avoid Frugal Fatigue

                    Getting out of credit card debt often takes major financial sacrifices accomplished by a frugal lifestyle. During the Great Recession, a lot of consumers stopped spending money. But adopting frugal habits for long periods of time results in frustration or what’s often called “frugal fatigue.” According to an article by time.com, frugal fatigue is one of several debt consolidation traps to avoid with proper debt counseling. When you receive debt counseling, you learn to take a more balanced approach to paying off debt. By working with an accredited company such as Christian Credit Counselors, for example, you likely learn how to pay a realistic portion of your income toward a debt repayment plan.

                    Using it Debt Consolidation as a tool

                    When you consolidate debt, don’t think of it as the end of your personal finance journey. Instead, think of it as one step in the process. Debt consolidation is a tool that helps you get out of debt, but it won’t change your spending patterns. With debt counseling, you dig a little deeper into the why behind your credit card debt. You brainstorm solutions for the future, setting goals and planning with emergency savings. To avoid frugal fatigue, make sure to budget for some fun activities as well as the necessities. A trained credit counselor will free up money in your budget by achieving a lower interest rate on the debt you accumulated over time.

                    Avoiding debt settlement

                    In most cases, debt settlement is a scam intended to dupe consumers into spending money without actually getting to the root of the problem. Your credit score will likely be ruined by failing to work with creditors or pay back what you owe. Instead of debt settlement, sign up for a debt management plan through Consumer Credit Counselors. In some cases, you pay off your debt in just three to five years. Some people think debt settlement is the better solution because they don’t pay anything toward debt. In reality, you could end up being sued by your creditors or being forced into bankruptcy.

                    After getting out of debt with your debt management plan, don’t fall into the trap of spending wildly. You can keep your frugal habits such as using discounts and coupons, buying generic brands, watching movies at home and buying less expensive cars. The key is to only splurge on special occasions when you can comfortably afford to treat yourself or your family.

                    At Christian Credit Counselors, we help our clients pinpoint the reasons they got into debt in the first place so they stay with the debt-free lifestyle. Find out how freeing it is to pay off what you owe in terms of credit card debt.

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