Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, College Debt, Consumer, Coupons, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Finance, Freebie, Holiday Tips, Kids & Money, Money Management

10 Back-To-School Shopping Tips that Save Money

To your kids, shopping for new clothes, gear, and school supplies may be the only good thing about going back to school, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune every year. Here are 10 great ideas for how to get everything they need and save a few bucks doing it.

Hold off buying trendier gear

Kids may love a certain lunch box or pencil case they find in July, but once they start school and see that their friends are all using another kind, they’ll beg you to upgrade them, and that only results in wasted cash.

Shop end-of-summer sales

You know as well as we do that kids wear short sleeve polo shirts all year long, so hit the big summer sales and snap up discounted duds that can be worn well into fall.

Stick to the list

The teacher’s supply list at the start of a new school year is daunting enough so don’t waste time and money on unlisted items. Extra supplies, while they may be cute, will probably never get used and just leave your pockets empty.

Head to the supermarket for basic supplies

Check weekly circulars for great deals on pens and loose-leaf paper, and get your weekly grocery shopping done at the same time. Bonus: buying everything in one place will save time and gas money!

Let the kids raid your cabinets

The kids can select home-office supplies and then personalize them in unique ways. For example, decorate inexpensive plain, white binders with digital photos by creating a collage and inserting the page into the plastic outer cover.

Host a back-to-school swap

Round up a couple of other moms with kids the same gender as yours but different ages, and host an annual clothes swap. Trade toys and books, too! You’ll save a bundle.

Plan lunch

When you’re in charge of what your child eats, you’ll save yourself money. Check the weekly circulars at your local supermarkets for sales. If turkey isn’t on sale one week and ham is, go for the ham!

Buy bright

Lost school supplies may be a given, but gear that’s hard to miss can stave off the inevitable. Pack all their pencils, erasers, and other goodies into a bright backpack or pencil pouch to keep them from disappearing.

Shop the big three

Old Navy, Gap Kids, and The Children’s Place rotate merchandise often. Ask when they do their markdowns so you can grab the deals. Also, if you see an item you bought in the past 14 days on sale later, you can get the difference refunded, you don’t need the clothing, just the receipt.

Browse craigslist.org

Yes, you can find top-quality stuff on the cheap, but you can be a seller, too. Why not get some cash for that barely worn, now outgrown brand-name outfit? Just enter your location and click on “Baby and Kids.”

By: Parenting.com

​Read More
Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, College Debt, Consumer, Coupons, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Goals, House, Kids & Money, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving, Student Loans, Uncategorized

Use the Start of the School Year to Set the Stage for Your Child’s Financial Success

By: Brittany Frost

Where did the summer go? As the school year rapidly approaches, children are preparing for the academic and social journey of the next grade level while parents are bracing their financial situation for the costs of continuing education. Parents can take this golden opportunity to go above and beyond just shopping for school supplies at Wal-Mart and, instead, show their children how to budget, save, and spend their money in order to teach them how to financially prepare for school (which will undoubtedly come in handy for college).

Alarmingly, a study released in July by the FINRA Foundation estimated that almost two-thirds of Americans couldn’t pass a basic financial literacy test, including calculating interest payments correctly (See Ref. 1). When you pair that with the fact that public, in-state college tuition, room, and board has risen 1300% since 1971 (See Ref. 2) and a recent survey showing that 75% of U.S. workers have student loan debt so high that they contribute less to their retirement (See Ref. 3), it is easy to see why parents must take every opportunity to educate themselves and their children so they do not end up in pools of unmanageable student loan debt. It is never too early to avoid the debt cycle and teach your children to financially prepare for school. Think about it: Did you or do you still struggle with enormous student loan debt? Did you avoid college altogether because you couldn’t afford it? Or did you have the financial means or knowledge to keep your student loan debt to a minimum? Either way, think of your financial mistakes, trials, and triumphs and use the start of this school year to teach your children everything you’ve learned about financially preparing for school. Use your experiences along with the following resources and ideas as motivation to set the stage for your child’s financial success or, perhaps, to change your own path.

So how can you do this? Include your child in the financial process of preparing for school. Sit down and discuss with them. Educate them on the difference between a “want” and “need” so they can decide what they need for school. Ask for their opinion and listen. Use free online budgeting tools available on www.christiancreditcounselors.com to set a budget together. Discuss and research ways to stick to that budget by using free resources such as Passionate Penny Pincher’s Free Back-to-School Cheat Sheet for a complete list of back-to-school deals. Record and track your spending. Make back-to-school shopping a learning experience through mathematical games. In “7 Smart Ways to Save on Back-to-School Clothing,” Deacon Hayes also suggests tips like assessing your child’s current school inventory, visiting thrift stores first, and adding in a fun but frugal activity such as stopping for an inexpensive lunch or treat to make back-to-school shopping a happy experience (See Ref. 4). Above all, just enjoy spending time and working toward your financial goals together as a family. By doing this, you will not just be buying more pencils and notebooks, but you will be setting the stage for the financial success of your children AND yourself. Here’s to a successful school year!

References

1.       Farber, Madeline. Fortune. Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Pass a Basic Test of Financial Literacy. 12 Jul. 2016. http://fortune.com/2016/07/12/financial-literacy/

2.       Jacoby, Jeff. The Boston Globe. Making college ‘free’ will only make it worse. 13 Jul. 2016. 18-20. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ncher.us/resource/collection/6E4F0103-05C8-4F48-844E-BEEAC285C10B/db0714_2016.pdf

3.       O’Connell, Brian. The Street. 75% of U.S. Workers Say High Student Loan Debt is Crippling Their Retirement. 12 Jul. 2016. https://www.thestreet.com/story/13627148/2/75-of-u-s-workers-say-high-student-loan-debt-is-crippling-their-retirement-savings.html

4.       Hayes, Deacon. U.S. News Money. 7 Smart Ways to Save on Back-to-School Clothing. 15 Jul. 2016. http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-07-15/7-smart-ways-to-save-on-back-to-school-clothing

​Read More
Credit Counseling
Credit Counseling

Opt for Credit Counseling Before Your Debt Gets Out of Hand

It is easy for debt to become overwhelming, especially when you do not have a concrete plan for eliminating it over a set period of time. Many individuals will let things fester for a while, thinking that they will eventually start making more payments when they become more dedicated or get a raise. If you do not feel completely confident with your plan to get rid of debt, you should get credit counseling.

Let Professionals Guide You

While you may have your own expertise, you can get guidance from a professional who knows their finances. Instead of struggling to come up with your own financial plan, you can follow a path that is guaranteed to leave you in a positive financial position after everything is said and done.

Tackle the Issue Early On

If you do not manage to catch your looming financial issues early on, you may end up digging yourself a huge financial hole, in which climbing out becomes even more challenging. By catching it early on, you will not only take a huge step by asking for help, but you will set yourself up for a bright financial future.

Live Positively

Problematic finances can easily keep someone from feeling happy on a daily basis. It is a problem that does not just go away, so it requires direct action to start making progress. Getting credit counseling is the first step towards making a change that will help you live your life positively.

The longer you remain in debt, the more money that you pay towards interest charges. These charges can prevent you from making any progress on your debt, even when you are making consistent payments.

Asking for help can set you on the right financial path, so please contact us today.

CCCc2abutton

​Read More
Debt Counseling
Credit Counseling, Debt

Debt Counseling When You Aren’t Sure if It Is Ever OK to Pile up Debt

New Federal Reserve Data shows Americans owe the most revolving consumer debt since 2009. With so many people acquiring more credit card debt, you might wonder if it’s ever OK to pile up credit card debt. With debt counseling, you get the answers to enigmatic personal finance questions. According to a recent article by Bloomberg.com, a lot of cardholders carry debt from one month to the next. With a high interest rate, consumers often pay a large portion of their monthly budget to debt. While a high credit limit doesn’t obligate you to spend more, some people can’t resist using all available credit. Typically, credit card debt is negative. However, when you use credit cards responsibility, they can often serve purposes. Debt counseling helps you figure out not only how to get out of debt but how to improve your credit score so you can borrow in the future.

Using credit for job hunting

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found credit cards assist job seekers striving to turn their lives around for the better. If you faced unemployment in the past, you most likely needed help paying for work clothing, tools or gas to get to interviews. The study found a higher credit limit gave job seekers time to find a better job. By receiving debt counseling, you learn how to save for emergencies or job losses so you remain prepared for unpredictable situations.

Tapping credit instead of retirement

Another time when it pays to use credit cards is when you feel tempted to use our retirement funds. If you have to pay a 10 percent penalty to the IRS as well as pay taxes on an early distribution from a retirement plan, you lose money that could have grown for your future. Debt counseling gives you a chance to reflect on the best ways to handle financial tight spots. Also, you will likely decide to consolidate credit card debt so you pay off what you owe in less time and at a reduced interest rate.

While there are a few situations when it pays to have credit cards, generally it’s best to keep a zero balance on any cards you already carry. Avoid using credit cards unless you know you will have the money to pay them off. Also, answer honestly when applying for credit cards.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we help consumers get out of credit card debt in less time. For more tips on using credit cards responsibility and advice on getting out of debt, please contact us.

CCCc2abutton

​Read More
Debt Consolidation
Debt, Debt Consolidation

Hidden Perks of Debt Consolidation When You Have High Balances

People who keep high credit card balances often face challenges buying a home or simply living a stress-free life. According to a recent article by marketwatch.com, paying off your credit cards helps borrowers get into a new home in some cases. Fannie Mae plans to reward people seeking home loans when they pay off credit card debt. By consolidating debt with a debt management plan, you put yourself in a better position to buy a home as well as enjoy other hidden perks. Debt consolidation relieves stress for consumers as well as gives them hope and a positive direction.

Avoiding bankruptcy

Debt consolidation allows you to completely avoid bankruptcy. Declaring bankruptcy often destroys your credit for 7 to 10 years. Many consumers can’t get car loans, home loans or other credit for years after going through bankruptcy. When you sign up for debt consolidation with a Christian credit counseling company, you enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you paid your debtors instead of walking away from the obligations.

Relieving stress

In order to afford to pay off debt, you often make sacrifices or cut spending. Whether you change your spending habits or go out and earn more money, it’s often stressful. Once they get going with the snowball method of debt repayment through a credit counseling company, many people feel peaceful. A debt management plan that employs the snowball method pay off the card with smallest balance before moving to cards with larger balances. As you get closer to your target date for completing a debt management plan, your stress loan feels lighter.

Boosting your credit score

Debt consolidation is about putting all your credit card debt together for one monthly payment. A side effect is that your credit score eventually goes up. It will not happen right away, but one of the hidden benefits of debt consolidation is an improved credit score. Your credit score is a factor that influences what kind of financial interest rates you achieve. When you sign up for debt consolidation, you also receive overall credit counseling. Your credit card will likely go up when you learn the secrets for budgeting, financial planning and strategies for saving for the future.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we work hard to help consumers avoid bankruptcy. For help with debt consolidation and credit counseling, please contact us.

CCCc2abutton

​Read More
Christian Credit Counselors
Christian Credit Counselors

Christian Credit Counseling to Understand the Why Behind Debt

Understanding why you struggle to pay down credit card balances is an important step on the path to financial health. With Christian credit counseling, you figure out what stands in your way. In some cases, you simply aren’t aware of how bad the situation has become. Some people live beyond their means because of emotional reasons. By following a few credit counseling tips, you can overcome financial challenges. According to an article by greenpath.com, the average interest rate on credit cards is above 13 percent. Of course, many consumers have interest rates that are much higher. By signing up for a debt management plan, you enjoy a negotiated interest rate that is significantly lower than what you currently owe. Before getting started with debt consolidation through an established Christian credit counseling company, consider why you carry credit card month to month without paying it down.

You haven’t stopped using the cards

One reason you are still in credit card debt is because you have not stopped using the credit cards you currently keep. When participating in a debt management plan, you typically put your credit cards aside while you work on making monthly debt repayments.

You aren’t tracking your expenses

Another reason consumers end up with too much debt is because they spend without thinking. Tracking your expenses forces you to think about the money you have and spend. Experts advise consumers to keep receipts.

You aren’t cutting discretionary spending

Discretionary expenses are the expenses you can simply do without. Whether it is cable television, gourmet coffee, vacations or eating out, discretionary purchases often result in excessive credit card debt.

You stick to one job

Instead of working only one job, consider different ways to boost your income. Some people prefer to focus on passive income streams as a way to supplement their income. Passive income is money you make for work or decisions you made in the past. For example, investing in a rental home or buying stocks that pay dividends often create passive income.

Other tips include letting a Christian credit counseling company talk to your creditors. Once you develop a plan and set goals, reward yourself for progress. At Christian Credit Counselors, we help people get out of credit card debt with a debt consolidation program. For more information about our successful strategies that put you on a positive path to a debt-free life, please contact us.

CCCc2abutton

​Read More
Debt Consolidation
Debt Consolidation

Why Debt Consolidation Even When You Have a Good Job

Just because you have a great career you love doesn’t mean you don’t need credit counseling. Oftentimes successful people opt for debt consolidation as a way to improve their personal financial situation and eliminate credit card debt. According to a recent piece by fool.com, recent data by ValuePenguin shows middle-aged Americans have the highest credit card balances compared to any other age category. Many middle-aged people ages 45 to 54 have stable careers and own homes yet they feel overwhelmed by credit card debt. The data by ValuePenguin indicated the average middle-aged borrower owes about $9,000 in credit card debt. “Generation X” debt is about $3,000 more compared to members of the millennial generation. In addition to consolidating debt with a debt management plan, consider other ways to solve the challenge.

When earning more means spending more

People who earn more money also tend to spend more. While it’s difficult to change your lifestyle, consider going back to the budget you had when you were just starting out. Swap out expensive gourmet products for generic brands.

When children monopolize your bank account

Another challenge for middle-aged consumers is the cost of raising children. Teenagers and young adult children are particularly expensive. Experts say college costs for children often eat up your income when you hit your 40s and 50s. Instead of spending all your money on home repairs, college costs and clothing, set aside money for a debt management plan. When you pay off the debt management plan, you no longer have the “bad debt” from credit cards. You can take the money you spent on paying credit cards to save for retirement and other savings goals.

Experts suggest identifying all of your credit card bills and paying them off. Debt consolidation is an easy and convenient way to reduce debt in less time. In fact, some people who rely on Christian credit counseling embrace a completely debt-free life. It is important to eliminate bad debt before you become cash-strapped on a fixed income in your 60s and 70s. While self-control is one factor for getting out of debt, another factor is to have a reasonable strategy.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we help consumers by giving them a realistic timeline for paying off all their credit cards. We also work for you to reduce your interest rate on the credit cards paid through a debt management plan. For more information on debt consolidation, please contact us.

CCCc2abutton

​Read More
Credit Counseling
Credit Counseling

5 Credit Counseling Questions You Feel Too Timid to Ask

If you feel awkward about asking about credit card debt and a poor credit score, you aren’t alone. Often, people feel timid or embarrassed to talk about money. When you receive credit counseling, you gain knowledge that will help you improve your personal finances. Trained Christian credit counselors are not judgmental about your financial background. According to a recent article by wisebread.com, there are five debt counseling questions many consumers feel too embarrassed to ask. It’s not always smart to ask family and friends, not just because you don’t want them to know about your financial problems. Your family and friends often have good intentions, but share misinformation instead of helpful and accurate tips for overcoming debt.

Should I declare bankruptcy?

If you have too much credit card debt to handle, you have likely considered bankruptcy. In most cases, you don’t need to take that route. A more positive option is to consolidate debt with a debt management plan that lets you pay back your debtors but at a lower interest rate. A debt management plan gets creditors off your back, which makes bankruptcy unnecessary.

What are alternatives to debt settlement?

Debt settlement is a bad word in the world of personal finances. In many cases, debt settlement programs are scams. While bankruptcy is an alternative to debt settlement, it’s a poor one. With bankruptcy, people often elect to file either Chapter 13 or Chapter 7. With Chapter 13, you still pay back debt but it’s “reorganized.” With Chapter 7, you often lose your car and any possessions of value. Of course, with a debt management plan, you avoid all the downsides of bankruptcy and debt settlement scams.

How do I deal with credit card debt?

If you wonder how to deal with crippling credit card debt, you likely have high interest credit cards with a high balance. Experts suggest consolidating debt instead of trying to transfer to a credit card with a lower rate. When you make a balance transfer, you often run up the original credit card debt instead of leaving it at a zero or low balance.

How can I boost my credit score?

To boost your credit score, get out of credit card debt and pay your bills on time every month. Avoid taking out a loan on a car that you can’t afford. Many consumers think they have an affordable car payment, but sign up for bi-weekly payments or payments every other week. Consider whether a particular payment fits into your monthly budget or whether you are overextending yourself.

Is there such a thing as good debt?

After you sign up for a debt management plan, you have more hope. Some people wonder whether there is good debt and bad debt. Bad debt is any debt at a high interest rate. If you make a 5 percent on your money by investing it, but pay 20 percent in interest on a credit card, you don’t make financial progress. As far as good debt, most people agree a home mortgage and student loan debt is healthy.

At Christian Credit Counselors, we answer tough questions for our clients. For more information on credit counseling, please contact us.

CCCc2abutton

​Read More