Activities

Saving Money with Daylight Savings Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

    Full Name (required)

    Email (required)

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

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


    ​Read More
    Budgeting, Holiday Tips, Saving

    Your Mardi Gras Budget

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

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

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

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

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

    ​Read More
    Taxes

    The Social Security Tax Break and its Advantages

    The Social Security Tax Break Facts

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

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

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

    Paying Bills

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

    Increase Your Savings

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

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

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

      Full Name (required)

      Email (required)

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

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


      ​Read More
      Credit Cards, Debit & Your Credit Score, Identity Theft

      Identity Theft Victims Must Do List

      A Must Do List for Identity Theft Victims

      If you’re a victim of identity theft, it’s essential to take certain steps as soon as possible, to start repairing the damage. At the same time, begin to keep a record of all conversations and copies of all correspondences. There are six things you should do right away:

      Fraud Alert

      Placing a fraud alert on your credit reports will prevent a thief from opening any additional accounts in your name. Although there are three credit reporting agencies, you only need to call one of them:

      Equifax 1-800-525-6285
      Experian 1-888-397-3742
      TransUnion 1-800-680-7289

      Review Your Credit Reports

      Request them from all three agencies and review them very carefully. Look for accounts you didn’t open, debt that isn’t yours, and inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted. Verify everything and begin the process of removing any fraudulent or inaccurate information.

      Close Tempered Accounts

      Call immediately and follow up with letters, including copies of your supporting documents. Also, send the letters by certified mail so you know they received it. Keep records of everything.

      Fraudulent Charges

      Dispute fraudulent charges on your credit card accounts or debit cards. Call the company to find out what their process is and where to send correspondence. Don’t send it to the billing address. Once it’s resolved, get it in writing.

      Federal Trade Commission

      File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Go online at ftc.gov or call their hotline at 1-877-438-4338. The information will be used to help law enforcement officials track the criminals and stop them.

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

        Full Name (required)

        Email (required)

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

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


        ​Read More
        Credit Cards, Debit & Your Credit Score, Money Management

        Repairing your Credit – Five Trouble-free Guidelines

        Repairing Your Credit

        Repairing your credit is something we all have to do from time to time. It may appear like a hard task to do, but the fact is that it can be fairly easy when you follow these five simple guidelines to repairing your credit and getting back on track for a future with easy credit options.

        Pay your bills on time.

        A full 35 percent of your credit score is made up of your payment history, meaning it matters more than anything else. Hence, it is incredibly important that you pay back your bills on time and do not let them get late, or go to collections. One late bill can send your credit score spiraling down. This is why it is so important that if you are repairing your credit, to pay your bills. Even if it means minimum payments, you should pay your bills as soon as you can without letting them be late.

        Pay and Transfer

        Pay off your high interest credit cards and transfer balances to your low interest credit cards. Interest can sink you when you are trying to pay your credit cards, so transfer your high interest balances to low interest cards to save money. As well, if you have more than three credit cards, close out the high interest cards to get yourself down to two or three credit cards, no more.

        Credit Report

        Get a copy of your credit report. Understanding your credit report is key to fixing your credit. It will show you what to fix and what to not worry about. On top of that, it will help you see if you have any problems with errors on your credit report, something that affects 75 percent of all credit reports. Repairing a credit report error can drastically fix your credit, so make sure you get your credit report.

        Don’t spend.

        The smaller amount you spend on credit, the less you have to pay back and the easier it will be to start cutting down on your debt. You should try and limit all your everyday expenditured and create a budget so you can observe yourself and see accurately how much you need to allocate each month to pay off your debts in a year or so.

        Financial Accountability

        Talk to someone about your debt. A credit counseling company will take all your debts and put them into one loan that is easier for you to pay back. A credit counseling company will help you learn more about your credit and how to fix it. You won’t be so worried because you will have these companies on your side, helping you fix your credit. Just be careful of debt consolidation and debt counseling companies that are not legit and only want your money. Do your homework.

        These five tips can help you repair your credit and get yourself out of a debt spiral. Use these tips and before you know it, your credit will be back up above 650, and you will be living a much easier life again.

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

          Full Name (required)

          Email (required)

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

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


          ​Read More
          Uncategorized

          Debts Solutions Tips

          Your Credit Score

          How well do you know your credit score? Do you even know your credit score? Have you hit the limit on your credit cards and started missing payments? If your response was yes to one or more of these questions you can end up having bad credit.

          Clearing Your Debt

          The very first step you can take for clearing your debt is by taking the help of a credit counselor, as it is one of the most common for clearing your debts. The credit counselor will suggest you an appropriate idea on how to manage your debts and credit, after investigating your financial state of affairs. He provides you suggestions such as a personalized relief plan, provides you with proper budgeting plans, as well as instructs you on proper use of your money.

          You can also adopt one of the successful ways for clearing your debts. Through a credit counseling service, you can go for a debt management program if you are not getting an appropriate solution for clearing your debts. You can reduce your interest rates on your debt by adopting a debt management plan, as here the counselor on your behalf negotiates with your creditor on interest rates. You are required to pay the monthly payment for clearing your debts, once you opt for a debt management plan the credit counselor decides upon your monthly payment thus making your task quite simple.

          So now you can distribute your payment among the creditors by paying the approved monthly amount to the agency. So by adopting a debt management plan for clearing your debt you can invite many benefits like, the interest rates monthly will get reduced, extra charges and late fees are not there, and no more distressing calls from the creditors. Therefore, overall it is the best and suitable plan for clearing your debts.

          Debt Options

          You can also go for debt consolidation which is like debt management. Then it is debt consolidation loan. In a debt consolidation loan, you can clear all your debts by taking a loan from the lender or financial institutions.

          Debt settlement is another solution for clearing your debts. If you are not able make your monthly payments towards clearing your debts, then you can go for a debt settlement plan. Even here the debt settlement company starts negotiating with your creditors to reduce the debt amount. A debt settlement plan helps you in clearing your debt faster and that too is an easier way. It saves you from further legal actions and lawsuits.

          The last option that you can use for clearing your debt is declare bankruptcy. You can select this option only when you are facing severe debt problems. In this you need to file your bankruptcy by taking the help of an attorney. By opting for bankruptcy it becomes difficult for you to qualify for future loans as it ruins your credit history.

          You can also try clearing your debts on your own by opting for a self repayment plan.

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

            Full Name (required)

            Email (required)

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

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


             

             

            ​Read More
            Budgeting

            Debt and the Help You Need

            Dealing with Debt Reality

            Are you struggling with your bills? Everyone has problems paying bills from time to time. And most everyone will be late paying a bill at least once in their lives. When this happens it is not always the end of the world. However, for some people being late is an every month occurrence due to their finances. And regardless of whether it is because they simply do not have the extra income anymore or because they have over extended themselves, they will find that a good consumer credit counseling service can help them get their lives back on track.

            Are you a newly single parent or young adult out on your own for the first time and having trouble juggling your debt? You will find that while unsecured debt is quite easy to obtain, it can be a lot harder to pay back. From credit card debt to old medical bills, these are the ones that make your finances scream. But do not let them get you down as there is help out there for you. When you go and get consumer credit counseling you will learn that not only can they help you create a great budget and plan for your finances, but they can also help you get all your debt consolidated into one easy to pay bill. In fact, while most people think of these counseling companies as a way to fix their problem, they forget that they are also there to teach you how to not get into trouble in the first place.

            Consumer Credit Counseling

            A really good consumer credit counseling service will make sure that you know how to budget your finances in the future so that you do not get in debt again. This is the number one way to stay out of debt. If you have a fixed budget and financial plan that you always adhere to then you should not have to worry about many of the unsecured debts. But as mentioned above, these counseling services are also there to help get you out of your current debt.

            The way that these companies are able to help besides setting up a budget is they are able to work with your lenders to come to certain agreements. For some this may mean a consolidation of your bills with one lower monthly payment and most often even a much lower interest rate. Or it may just mean that they work with the lender to lower your interest rates and your principal balance. It really is that simple when you find the right consumer credit counseling to help you out.

            Getting Debt Help

            In the end what it is important to remember is that you are not alone and that there is no shame in getting help. All too often people that have been on their own paying bills for years will either feel that such services are for younger people or that it is just too embarrassing to ask for help. Don’t fall into this line of thinking when it comes to your financial future. Get your consumer credit report today and get back to life.

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

              Full Name (required)

              Email (required)

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

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



              ​Read More
              Identity Theft

              Identity Theft and How It Works

              Identifying Identity Thieves

              According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft ranks number one on the list of top complaints, with credit card fraud being the most prevalent type. Criminals usually commit identity theft to get money, goods, or services, as well as to obtain documents such as false drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, social security numbers, or visas. It can be devastating for consumers because of the long-term damage it causes. Knowing how the thieves get your information will help you protect yourself.

              Identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information, including:

              · Looking in Dumpsters.

              They rummage through trash looking for bills or other papers with your personal information on it.

              · Skimming.

              They get credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.

              · Phishing.

              They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages online to get you to reveal your personal information.

              · Changing Your Address.

              They divert your billing statements to another location by filling out a “change of address” form.

              · “Old-Fashioned” Stealing.

              They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access to this information.

              Common Types of Identity Theft

              · Credit card fraud 25%
              · Phone or Utilities fraud 16%
              · Bank fraud 16%
              · Employment-related fraud 14%
              · Government Documents or Benefits fraud 10%
              · Loan fraud 5%
              · Other 25%

              Security experts predict that these crimes will only increase as electronic transactions become more and more common.

              For more information, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft .

              If you find you are struggling with credit card debt, please contact a credit counseling company today.

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

                Full Name (required)

                Email (required)

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

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


                ​Read More
                Budgeting

                Finances and Your Options

                Payday Loan Facts

                You have probably seen the ads on the radio, television and the internet. You may have even received ads in the mail. They refer to payday loans, which can come at a high price.

                If you are not sure that you are ready to take a payday loan, there are other options for you to think about in regards to handling your finances. Payday loans are great given specific circumstances, but taking them out frivolously can be dangerous. If you are having problems with your finances in general, a payday loan will not help you there.

                Check cashers, finance companies, and others are making small, short-term, high-rate loans that go by a variety of names: payday loan, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans or deferred deposit check loans.

                Typically this loan involves a borrower writing a personal, post-dated, check to the lender for the amount he/she wishes to borrow. The company gives the borrower the money minus the fee.

                Fees that are charged for payday loans are usually a percentage of the face value of the check or a fee per amount borrowed, for instance for every $50 or $100 loaned. If you happen to extend or rollover the loan, you will pay extra fees for each extension.

                Under the Truth in Lending Act, the cost of payday loans – like other types of credit – must be disclosed. Among other information, you must receive, in writing, the finance charge (a dollar amount) and the annual percentage rate or APR (the cost of credit on a yearly basis).

                These loans are great for specific circumstances. This would include emergency bills that are otherwise going to be charged late fees or to prevent certain services from being turned off.

                Perhaps you are going to be charged huge late fees to a creditor if you don’t make your next payment. But this next payment falls in-between your paychecks. If this is your situation, then it is wise to know that you can pay the loan back when you get your next payday.

                Otherwise, if you are too broke to pay your bills, then you need more financial help that a payday loan can give you. Auto repairs are another situation when a payday loan can help. But unlike traditional lenders, payday lenders don’t need to know why you are borrowing the money.

                Alternatives to Payday loan

                There are other options. Consider the possibilities before choosing a payday loan:

                When you need credit, shop carefully. Compare offers. Look for the credit offer with the lowest APR – consider a small loan from your credit union or small loan company, an advance on pay from your employer, or a loan from family or friends.

                A cash advance on a credit card also may be a possibility, but it may have a higher interest rate than your other sources of funds: find out the terms before you decide. Also, a local community-based organization may make small business loans to individuals.

                Compare the APR and the finance charge (which includes loan fees, interest and other types of credit costs) of credit offers to get the lowest cost.

                Ask your creditors for more time to pay your bills. Find out what they will charge for that service – as a late charge, an additional finance charge, or a higher interest rate.

                Setting a Budget

                Make a realistic budget, and figure your monthly and daily expenditures. Avoid unnecessary purchases – even small daily items. Their costs add up.

                Also, build some savings – even small deposits can help – to avoid borrowing for emergencies, unexpected expenses or other items. For example, by putting the amount of the fee that would be paid on a typical $300 payday loan in a savings account for six months, you would have extra dollars available. This can give you a buffer against financial emergencies.

                Find out if you have, or can get, overdraft protection on your checking account. If you are regularly using most or all of the funds in your account and if you make a mistake in your checking (or savings) account ledger or records, overdraft protection can help protect you from further credit problems. Find out the terms of overdraft protection.

                If you need help working out a debt repayment plan with creditors or developing a budget, contact your local consumer credit counseling service. There are non-profit groups in every state that offer credit guidance to consumers.

                These services are available at little or no cost. Also, check with your employer, credit union or housing authority for no- or low-cost credit counseling programs.

                If you decide you must use a payday loan, borrow only as much as you can afford to pay with your next paycheck and still have enough to make it to the next payday.

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

                  Full Name (required)

                  Email (required)

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

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


                  ​Read More
                  Credit Counseling

                  Finances and Your Financial Future

                  Online Credit Counseling

                  Living in the US may be an absolute dream come true, but it doesn’t mean that its residents are protected from financial hardships. If you’re a consumer, it doesn’t matter where you live – slipping into debt is much easier than many think. If you’re worried about where you stand, need some help getting prearranged, or are worried about the future – enrolling in free credit counseling can help give you the piece of mind you need. Sure, you can spend hours researching tips and tricks online about how to better manage your finances, but none of this advice is catered to your specific situation.

                  Outcome of Credit Counseling

                  When taking part in credit counseling services, experienced credit counselors will work with you to decide where you stand, where you’re going, and what to expect. By carefully examining where your money goes each month, you’ll be able to put together a practical budget for your lifestyle. Not only will free consumer credit counseling benefit you now, you’ll get helpful advice that you can put into practice right through your entire life.

                  If you’ve already slipped into debt, you may feel absolutely helpless. Even though you may not know where to turn next, there are resources available to people that can help them understand where they stand and give them practical advice about where to go next.

                  Debt Management

                  Debt management services can not only help you get out of debt but your life will change in many different ways. You’ll better your credit score, end the collection calls, save money on credit card interest, and most importantly – avoid bankruptcy.

                  Although the changes you’ll experience are huge, taking the first step isn’t. Enrolling in a debt management program doesn’t put you in a judgmental environment like many debt-stricken consumers fear. Instead, you’ll be working and learning in a safe and accepting environment. Debt management counselors want nothing more than to see you back on the right financial track.

                  So whether you’re interested in just better managing your finances or you’d like to end the collection calls once and for all, take the first step to a more secure financial future. Paying off the bills takes money, but the piece of mind you’ll receive after doing so is absolutely priceless.

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

                    Full Name (required)

                    Email (required)

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

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


                    ​Read More