Debt Counseling
Credit Counseling, Debt

Debt Counseling to Control Spending and Get out of Debt

In order to get out of credit card debt for good, it is important to manage money and control spending. According to an article by timesunion.com, Americans racked up more than $50 billion in credit card debt just in the last quarter of 2015. For people who are still behind on paying off holiday debt or who want to start spending for the next season, debt counseling is a sensible answer. With the help of a credit counselor trained and certified in helping consumers overcome personal finance challenges, you take back control. Getting out of credit card debt is simple with the right tools. A debt management plan is one easy way to consolidate debt. Experts offer other suggestions and practical measures to overcome a debt problem as default rates rise and it becomes more difficult to obtain credit.

Sticking to a budget

One positive measure you can take as part of debt counseling is to stick to a budget. A credit counselor encourages you to take a hard look at your spending. Rank your expenses with a debt management payment at the top of the priority list so you get out of debt for good. In addition to paying off debt, contributing to a savings or retirement account is also important. To control spending, try using a spending diary to record all purchases.

Setting up a safety net

Most people have smoke detectors in their homes and air bags in their vehicles. Having a financial safety net is another measure to protect your family. If you aren’t sure how much money to put in an emergency fund, bring it up during a debt counseling session. Based on your income and credit card debt, you can figure out what you can comfortably afford to put aside. Saving money gradually will prevent any shortfall when paying bills.

Boosting your credit

While participating in a debt management plan, you improve your credit score over time. Your credit score won’t recover overnight. At the same time, creditors like to see you paid off credit card debt. A credit counselor motivates you to pay off debt without taking out any new credit cards. You can control spending by taking away the temptation to rely on credit cards. Try using cash only as you are paying off credit card debt.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we provide debt counseling to consumers with credit card debt they want to manage as well as pay off. Talk to us about how we can lower interest rates and set up automated monthly payments on a debt management plan. For more information on debt counseling, please contact us.

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Credit Counseling
Credit Counseling

How Credit Counseling Helps Married Couples Manage Finances

When you get married, you merge your finances as well as your heart. Many couples struggle to hit their stride when it comes to money. You might have different backgrounds, different salaries, and different ideas about spending. Fortunately, credit counseling from Christian Credit Counselors can put you on the right path.

Getting Real About Money

Money is often a taboo topic, but it’s important to speak freely about finances when you’re married. You should have a solid idea of your income and expenses, and create a budget that works for your family. If you’ve built up some debt, make paying that debt down a priority. It’s hard to manage this when one person’s spending is out of control.

A Neutral Opinion

Couples frequently fight over money. Once you’ve covered essential expenses, it’s sometimes hard to determine how to spend — or save — the extra money in the budget. Having an experienced counselor take a look at your financial plan can prevent arguments.

Building Financial Literacy

Many people graduate high school or college without having basic financial knowledge. You need to know how to balance your income and expenses. You need to know how to build up your credit score. You need to know how interest rates affect how much you spend. Credit counselors help you learn all about your money and guide you toward making smart decisions.

A Solid Future

Credit counseling helps you plan for your future. A bad credit score makes it difficult to buy your first home. Excessive debt means you’re never able to take a vacation. A lack of retirement savings means you won’t be able to enjoy your golden years. When you work with a counselor, you’re able to build a better future.

You don’t have to deal with your finances on your own. Christian Credit Counselors has experienced counselors to offer help where you need it. Contact us to set up an appointment.

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Debt Counseling
Credit Counseling, Debt

Rewards of Debt Counseling When Your Debt Spirals Out of Control

A new study by CardHub shows credit card levels are spiraling out of control and reaching unsustainable levels. Whether you are good at math or not, there are many benefits to debt counseling. With the help of a Christian credit counselor, you get the help you need to overcome your financial challenges. Making positive choices often leads to positive outcomes. According to an article by seekingalpha.com, some consumers forgot the lessons of the Great Recession. Oddly, some experts suggest the problem is people are too optimistic. Although it is not good to worry, it is important to have greater awareness of your household debt.

It makes you more aware

Debt counseling makes you more aware of your financial situation. By talking to a credit counselor, you get the motivation you need to face your fears. A good plan is to write down all of the credit debt you have as well as regular bills such as car payments or rent payments.

It gives you hope

Debt counseling gives you hope because you learn about debt consolidation. With a debt management plan, there is often hope to pay off all of your credit card debt. A credit counselor with training will consult with your debtors to lower your interest rate. You also get an end date in terms of when you can pay your credit card debt in full. With automatic payments, you don’t have to worry about missing your debt management plan payment.

It improves your credit over time

When you improve your credit score, you open up the door to new possibilities such as an approval for a car loan at a lower interest rate or a mortgage. While your credit score won’t go up over night, a higher FICO score is something many people enjoy after receiving debt counseling.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we provide debt counseling to consumers who are ready to make a positive change in their lives. For more information about budgeting and how to pay off credit card debt that has spiraled out of control, please contact us.

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Uncategorized

10 best and worst Mother’s Day gifts

Moms are kind of like superheroes. They perform physical acts no ordinary human could, take care of everybody’s needs before they’re needed, and function on minimal sleep and gratitude.

Chances are mom also keeps up with the family calendar, making sure all necessary accouterments are in hand for each holiday well in advance — every holiday, but her own. Mother’s Day is less than a week away, so how about taking a page straight from mom’s book surprising her with a thoughtful gift that’s better than what she might expect?

If She Enjoys Flowers…

Don’t: It might be tempting to pick up one of those colorful bouquets at the front of Target on the big day, but: 1) She’ll know that’s exactly what you did. 2) Everybody else will have the same idea, so pickings will be slim.

Do: How about getting her a gift that will bloom all year? (It will literally be the gift that keeps on giving.) Opt for a potted plant or terrarium instead of snipped blooms.

If She Loves Photos…

Don’t: “Mom loves to display pictures. I should get her a digital picture frame.” No. Stop. We’ve been over this; nobody really wants one of those, and even if they do, they realize the error of their ways soon after getting one.

Do: Instead of cramming hundreds of mediocre photos onto a tiny screen, focus on one outstanding picture. Pick (or take) a high-quality snap and spring for a nice, large print with a tasteful frame.

If She Likes Sentimental Jewelry…

Don’t: Whether you’re shopping department stores or jewelry specialists, chances are you’ve seen a lot of generic “mom” pendants; they’re cute when they come from kids, but they become less adorable if you’re a fully-grown adult.

Do: How about proving you put in a little effort by ordering a custom piece from Etsy instead? While it’s true that those merchants may start with store-bought components, you’ll be able to select birthstones and have names and dates engraved, resulting in a one-of-a-kind treasure. At this late hour, though, be sure to check into shipping deadlines by messaging the sellers.

If She Likes Fancy Jewelry…

Don’t: The lure of diamonds and other precious gemstones is strong, especially when you’re shopping for the woman who brought you into the world. But they can also bust your budget pretty quickly.

Do: Instead, you might want to consider pearls. They still have cache — think Audrey Hepburn and royal ladies throughout history — but they can be had at exceedingly small prices. For example, we saw a necklace and earring set for just $12 in March (while this gift set currently checks in at $28).

If She Keeps an Impeccable House…

Don’t: A fancy vacuum may seem like a good idea if mom is always cleaning the house. But the message it actually sends is that you think of her as your personal housekeeper, and you’re just giving her a better tool to do her assigned job.

Do: How about giving her some time off (and acknowledging that you do recognize how much work she puts in to maintaining order) by gifting her with a visit from a cleaning service? Check daily deal sites for any local offers that might knock the cost down a bit.

If She Loves Designer Goods…

Don’t: It’s not worth blowing your savings on a high-end designer item you can’t afford.

Do: While this is one area where a knockoff probably won’t do the job, that still doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. Check designer outlets for deals on name brands like Kate Spade and Tory Burch, when similar-but-not-identical just won’t work.

If She Needs a Tablet…

Don’t: The iPad mini may be the first thing that comes to mind, but wait — you can get far more value for your buck!

Do: A Kindle Fire HDX 7″ tablet is definitely more cost effective; it currently sells for $199, whereas the iPad mini will cost you a least $200 for a refurb. Even if you throw in a year of Prime membership with the Kindle — which you should, because it adds features like streaming video (including HBO exclusives), video downloads, and the ability to borrow books — you’re spending less overall and getting more, a skill mom would be proud of.

If Her Closet Is Her Castle…

Don’t: Buying clothes as a gift is a notoriously tricky task. Pick up something that’s too small, and mom will think you think she’s fat. Too big, and pretty much the same thing will happen. And even if you do choose the right size, you may fall into the trap of projecting your style onto mom, and she’ll still either have to return the item or banish it to the back of the closet or the giveaway pile.

Do: Play it safe and get her a gift card to a store she frequents, so she can shop for something she likes, and try it on before she buys.

If She Enjoys Being Pampered…

Don’t: Items like foot spas and massage gadgets may seem like presents that will help mom relax and rejuvenate, but in reality those things will probably get used once or twice, then sentenced to life in the garage, because they take up time and space that mom just can’t spare most days.

Do: A better idea is to strongly encourage a real getaway to relax, by purchasing her an affordable vacation, be it actual travel (there are always mind-bogglingly cheap cruises) or just a discounted night in a luxury hotel 5 miles from home.

If She Appreciates a Nice Meal…

Don’t: There’s nothing wrong with treating mom to dinner, but since this is a special occasion, you should avoid ho-hum options that she might go to on any given day.

Do: If you can’t afford to take her somewhere nicer than the norm, trade spending money for spending time by preparing a meal yourself. Mom probably does this daily, so she’ll appreciate the effort you put in. Just make sure you pay attention to the details so the result turns out to be really special.

Will any of these gifts repay mom for all that she’s done for you? Of course not! But they will show her that you care about her, and that she has raised you to be a self-reliant and considerate person. Which is, for a mom, one of the greatest gifts you could ask for.

 

By: http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2014/0507/Mother-s-Day-gifts-10-best-worst-ideas

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Activities, Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, College Debt, Community, Consumer, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Economy, Finance, Goals, Holiday Tips, Money Management, National Debt, Personal Goals, Saving, Student Loans, Taxes

Managing Your Student Loans Wisely: A Great and Unique Gift for Mother’s Day

By: Brittany Frost

What greater gift is there than the joy of seeing your child become financially responsible and independent throughout and after their college years? If you are looking for a unique and great gift to give your mother on May 8th for Mother’s Day this year, consider the gift of managing your student loans wisely. Instead of spending money on the gift, you’ll be saving it. Managing your student loans during and after college can help you avoid extra costs and interest as well as reduce your overall debt. Saving money and achieving your financial goals is not only a great gift to the mothers who are able to contribute to their child’s education, but also for the mothers who so desperately want to help but don’t have the means to do so. Here are a few tips to manage your student loans wisely this Mother’s Day:

 

• Before you even take out a student loan, apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible. This alone can save you (and your mom) a lot of money. Visit your school’s website or www.studentaid.ed.gov to view federal grants and scholarships.

• If you still need a loan, research loan types and repayment plans to make an informed decision. In general, federal student loans can have more repayment options and lower interest rates than private student loans. For more information on federal student loans and repayment plans as well as budgeting resources and calculators, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.

• Budget and plan ahead. For more help budgeting for your student loans, contact Christian Credit Counselors at www.christiancreditcounselors.org.

• Use other free resources. According to the recent article Baylor University Partners with iGrad to Implement Online Financial Literacy Education Initiative by Jo-Carolyn Goode, Baylor will team up with iGrad, a financial literacy leader, to offer interactive workshops about budgets, scholarships, student loans, applying for jobs to help students pay for school, and a seminar for seniors to discuss loan payment options after graduation through iGrad’s financial literacy platform. For more information, visit www.igrad.com.

• When repaying your loan, consider an automatic payment deduction to save money on your payment. Also, put as much money as you can toward your payments. Each extra dollar paid toward your student loan payment each month can help overall.

• Since it is tax season, remember that student loan interest is tax-deductible and there are credits and deductions for parents and students. According to the College Board in Danielle Douglas-Gabriel’s article in the Washington Post entitled Paying for college? Have student loans? Here’s what you need to know before filing your taxes, the average family saved about $1,460 in education credits and deductions in 2013. To research various options of increasing your savings through tax credits and deductions such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Student Loan Interest Deduction, refer to www.irs.gov. See how much you can save!

By using these tips and managing your student loans responsibly, you will not only save money but you will provide valuable peace of mind for you and your mother. That’s something that you won’t be able to buy at the Hallmark store!

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