Credit Counseling
Credit Counseling

Credit Counseling: A Strategic Guide for Paying Off Debt

If you are thinking about receiving credit counseling to deal with a debt burden that’s too heavy for you to carry, consider working with trained counselors who know how to help you change. According to an article by forbes.com, there are steps you can take so you aren’t enslaved to debt. When you deal with a reputable Christian credit counseling agency, you know any actions you take aligned with your core values and beliefs. For many Christians, it is important to pay what they owe. Debt consolidation lets you pay what you owe so you don’t have past obligations holding you back from your future. The U.S. Federal Reserve reports that most Americans carry about $15,000 worth of credit card debt. Living paycheck-to-paycheck has a negative impact on your psychological well-being, career, physical health and relationships. It is exhausting to owe money you can pay back to creditors. However, you can follow a step-by-step plan to a debt-free life.

Face the Financial Facts

One way to motivate yourself and make a change is by facing the facts and dealing with your financial reality. If you don’t choose 100 percent transparency with a spouse or relative, get real with yourself. You will likely feel comfortable laying out all of your debt as you engage in credit counseling with a trained and non-judgmental counselor.

List all of your Bills

In addition to facing the facts of how much money you owe in terms of credit card debt, you also need to know about your monthly financial obligations. List all of the fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, phone, cable and insurance. Make a list of all your flexible living expenses including food. As part of credit counseling, you use the information to formulate a realistic budget and debt management plan.

Lower your Interest Rate

When you sign up for a debt management plan, you end up with allies who go to bat to lower your interest rates on credit cards. The reason debt consolidation works so well for thousands of people is because you can pay off your credit card debt a lot faster with a lower interest rate.

Choose a Payment Method

You can choose different methods for paying off debt. The advantage of debt consolidation is you benefit from the psychological and emotional satisfaction of getting out of debt 80 percent faster than other methods. Also, you feel good knowing your fulfilled your promise to pay back what you owed. If you declared personal bankruptcy or chose debt settlement methods instead of credit counseling, you would likely feel like a failure or person lacking integrity.

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

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    Christian Credit Counselors
    Christian Credit Counselors

    Debt Free Living

    One of the most important steps in Christian Credit Counseling is developing a plan for getting and staying out of debt. Obviously, your current income isn’t enough to support your lifestyle. You’ve borrowed money to make up the difference, but paying it back has become a big problem. The first step to getting out of debt is cutting your current expenses and making paying creditors a priority. Once you’re used to living on a more restricted budget, you might be surprised by how many things you can live without.

    Step One: Look for Expensive “Extras”

    There are plenty of bills that many people take for granted that might not be absolutely necessary. For example, do you have an expensive cable bill each month? How often are you really using your cable package? If the bulk of your television watching is mindless, “I don’t really care what’s on, but I want to watch something,” you can get Netflix or Amazon Prime for a much lower monthly cost than paying for cable every month. What about your cell phone bill? Do you and your kids really need those expensive smart phones with all the bells and whistles? Consider reducing your data package to a minimum amount and only using your apps or browsing the internet when you’re connected to WiFi. You’ll be surprised by how many locations make it available to their customers! Then, there’s your gym membership. If you don’t go to the gym several times a week, you’re probably better off working out at home. Look to see when your contract is up or if you can reduce to a lower-cost membership.

    Step Two: Reduce Your Bills

    Look for ways to conserve water and electricity in your home. Try contacting your utility companies and asking them about ways to reduce your bill. Some places will be willing to offer you a better plan, especially if you have multiple providers in your area.

    Next, take a hard look at your food budget. Food is definitely a necessity, not a luxury, but you may be surprised by some ways that you’re spending far more than necessary on food. Eating out is the obvious example: if you eat out two or three times a week, you’re draining your food budget fast. The biggest food budget buster, however, might already be in your fridge: waste. Take a hard look at what is actually being consumed in your home. Are you throwing out more fruit than your kids actually eat? Do you have great plans for all those fresh vegetables, but find yourself tossing them out at the end of the month uneaten? Cutting back your food budget in this area is simple: don’t buy what your family won’t actually consume. Set your hopes for healthier eating aside and focus on a more realistic view of your family’s consumption.

    Step Three: “Need” vs “Want”

    Your daughter grew three inches over the summer. She needs new clothes for school. She wants all the name brand clothes that the kids at school are currently wearing. Your son needs a new pair of shoes because his are tattered. He wants the expensive ones with all the bells and whistles. It’s easy to identify the difference in your kids, but it might be harder to identify it in yourself. You need new work clothes, but that doesn’t mean that you have to shop at the most expensive store in town. Checking out sales and discount stores might take a little longer, but it will be a lot easier on your wallet in the long run. You need to take care of expensive car repairs in order to keep your vehicle running, but you might be able to wait on some cosmetic issues or some concerns that don’t actually affect the vehicle’s ability to get you from one place to another. Make it a habit to avoid giving in to wants until you have taken the time to save up for them and carefully consider what you really need out of your purchase. In the end, your choice might surprise you.

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

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      Debt Consolidation
      Debt Consolidation

      Debt Consolidation: How Much Do You Really Owe?

      Don’t get Buried in Borrowing

      When you’re in the habit of borrowing money to pay for regular expenses, it becomes easy to justify pulling out your credit card. “It’s just a hundred dollars. I can have that paid off in no time.” “Oh, but I really want to have this now, even though payday is still a week away.” “Well, I’ll just pay the minimum amount this month. I’ll take care of more next month.”

      The Average American Debt

      Do these statements sound familiar? Debt adds up in small amounts over time. Most people don’t routinely charge purchases worth several thousand dollars to their credit cards, and yet among debt-carrying American households, credit card debt is estimated to be an average of $15,000.

      This means that many Americans are carrying a greater debt than they realize or intended. It adds up in small amounts and continues to be paid out in small amounts. There’s a thousand dollars owed on this store credit card. The card you use for groceries when you run a little bit short, or gas at the end of the month, has a few thousand on it, since you’ve gotten behind on payments. The card that you only use for “emergencies” has a thousand or two on it from the last car repair. You’re paying on all of these cards each month, but they’re spread out across the month so that you aren’t forced to look at the true amount of the debt.

      The number might surprise you. Not only that, looking at that number all at once forces you to acknowledge how long it will really take you to pay off your current debt. If you assume an average household income of around $50,000 per year to go with your $15,000 of debt, it would take almost a third of your income for a year to pay off your debt. When you factor in your other bills–a car loan, for example, or the mortgage on your home–debt may be taking up more of your income than you can afford to lose.

      Debt Consolidation

      In many cases, debt consolidation is a wake-up call. It helps you to see what you really owe and make more responsible choices in the future. You don’t want your debt to outweigh your income, and transitioning to a simpler lifestyle is well worth the effort to help you get out of debt and stay that way.

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

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        Debt Counseling
        Debt

        Debt Counseling, Credit Card Debt, and Retirement

        Some seniors use credit cards as a way to fund their travels in retirement, while others use them just to get their basics needs met. By receiving debt counseling you can prevent the senior credit card trap in the future. Young people who talk to trained credit counselors often learn the basic personal finance rules that help them save for retirement. According to a recent article by thestreet.com, many members of Generation X and the baby boomer generation worry about a cloudy financial future due to credit card debt. Even if you are under the age of 40, you can adopt better savings habits now as well as eliminate debt with a debt consolidation approach.

        Changing your view of Money

        Experts say one reason credit card debt will darken retirement for many senior is the fact that people no longer view debt as “abnormal.” By accepting massive credit card debt as perfectly normal, you reduce the odds of living a debt-free life. Successful savers pay off their credit card balance each month while simultaneously putting money aside for the future. They don’t pay interest because they have money in savings to pay any unexpected charges. A certified credit counselor helps you crunch the numbers so you can also build up a financial cushion.

        Feeling embarrassed about Debt

        When you receive Christian credit counseling, no one will shame you for your financial situation. In fact, most people open to debt counseling experience a total release of embarrassment and shame attached to failure because they are making a bold move toward success. Experts say the stigma of being in debt no longer exists with half of the people older than age 40 saying credit cards are survival tools.

        Escaping the Downward Spiral

        When you have a lot of credit card debt, it quickly impacts your future. Someone who has $20,000 saved up for retirement can’t get ahead when they can’t pay off high interest rate credit cards. Instead of giving up, the positive solution is to consolidate debt at a lower interest rate. By the time you enter retirement, you could have zero credit card debt and tens of thousands saved in a 401(k) or Roth IRA.

        If you are afraid of credit card debt in retirement, consider debt counseling. A debt management plan lets you avoid bankruptcy. Some seniors fall prey to predatory debt settlement scams and programs that promise you will be debt free tomorrow. With some hard word, education, budgeting, planning, saving and paying on a debt management plan, you can enjoy a brighter retirement. By the time you retire, your personal finances will be a blessing instead of a curse.

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

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          Debt Consolidation
          Debt Consolidation

          Debt Consolidation and Credit Card Debt Responsibility

          Financial experts say some Americans are becoming more responsible with credit card debt. One of the secrets of taking responsibility for your consumer debt without going broke is to consolidate credit card debt at a lower interest rate. With the help of trained professionals at a Christian credit counseling organization, you can fulfill your obligations to creditors while enjoying your life with debt consolidation. According to a recent article by npr.org, the Great Recession changed some consumers’ financial habits.

          Stop the credit card carry over

          The National Federation for Credit Counseling reports that one-third of households move credit card debt from one month to the next. To get going with debt consolidation, you sign up for a debt management plan through a reputable credit counseling agency. Because you pay your monthly debt management plan payment, there is no credit card debt carried over from month to month.

          Streamline your Finances

          While engaged in debt consolidation, you will likely cease to use credit cards. If you have never managed finances without credit cards, the practice will strengthen your resolve to stay out of debt and find other positive ways to finance your lifestyle. Some ideas include saving up money in an emergency account, contribution to a Roth IRA and selling items you don’t need when you need cash. When you complete a debt management plan, consider owning fewer than three credit cards. Pay off your balance each month while continuing good savings and budgeting habits.

          Spending less, but living more

          When you feel spiritually and emotionally enriched, you are less likely to seek material possessions to fill a void in your life. In the fall, many families spend money on back-to-school shopping. A survey by Deloitte discovered consumers plan to cut back on back-to-school spending. Even though a debt consolidation plan often frees up more money in your budget, you will feel happy without overspending. Budgeting and prioritizing helps you separate the back-to-school shopping necessities or needs versus the wants.

          Other ways to become more responsible with your finances is by dividing your money up between different goals. Some people put 10 percent aside for charity. Other people make sure they save at least 10 to 30 percent for retirement or the future. You have complete power over how you spend and save. By paying your debt back and avoiding bankruptcy and debt settlement scams, you protect your family and financial future.

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

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            Debt Counseling
            Debt

            Debt Counseling Boosts Financial Literacy

            Even if you are no longer in school, you can still learn helpful financial lessons and improve your “grade” in personal finance through debt counseling. According to a recent article by nerdwallet.com, 2 out of 5 Americans say they would earn a C, D or F if someone graded them on their personal finance knowledge. The article cited a survey on financial literacy. If you have more credit card debt than you can comfortably manage or are barely able to make the minimum payment on credit cards, consider lessons many people learn from their credit card debt. A certified and trained credit counselor will work with you one-on-one to educate, inform, guide and teach you about budgeting and boosting your credit score.

            Understanding future consequences

            Some people fail to realize the debt they take out at an earlier stage of life can easily affect their opportunities later in life. If you ruin your credit score by declaring personal bankruptcy when you are in your late 20s, you will likely have a difficult time buying a home in your early 30s. Having too much credit card debt often affects the debt-to-income ratio used when qualifying for a home. Credit card debt also affects your ability to afford rent, a car and miscellaneous expenses. By receiving debt counseling, you lay the foundation for a better financial future.

            Setting priorities and goals

            Another benefit of debt counseling is receiving clarity about your priorities and goals. According to the nerdwallet.com article, it is important to understand how buying low priority items you don’t value often prevents you from affording purchases that hold more importance or meaning. In other words, it is not smart to use credit cards to fill up your home with a lot of stuff you don’t even value.

            Achieving a life, not a lifestyle

            If you used credit cards to achieve a certain lifestyle, you could be missing out stability and security in life. It is not smart to use credit cards to impress other people only to sacrifice your own financial security as credit card debt spins out of control. With credit counseling, you learn how to manage your life instead of faking a lifestyle. Many people decide to consolidate debt so they pay off their debt in a set number of months. When reaching out for debt counseling, ask about how a debt management plan makes it easy for you to fulfill your financial responsibilities.

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

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              Christian Credit Counseling
              Christian Credit Counselors

              Christian Credit Counseling and Your Money

              Some people have a negative attitude about money even though managing personal finances benefits family and the overall society. According to a recent piece by time.com, there are 10 characteristics of people with zero debt. When you get Christian credit counseling, you might not adopt all 10 habits immediately, but you begin a transformation that results in a debt-free life. By consolidating credit debt and enrolling in a debt management plan with the help of a trained Christian credit counselor, you people more like those people who seem to have complete control of their finances. The article by time.com points out it is never too late to achieve financial freedom, which is the goal of the accredited counselors at Christian Credit Counseling. While there is no one trait that makes a person financially successful, there are several characteristics of debt-free people worth adopting.

              Becoming more detail-oriented

              One positive characteristic of people with a positive relationship with money is attention to detail. With Christian credit counseling, you pay attention to every penny that you spend. You know exactly how much you’ll owe each month for a debt management plan payment to creditors and how much you’ll have to spend on different bills and priorities.

              Earning dividends instead of owing

              People who owe a lot of money in credit card debt sacrifice future earnings. When you consolidate debt as part of credit counseling, you lower the amount of money you owe in interest. With the money you save, you can invest so that you earn dividends, profits or interest for a wealthier future.

              Making practical decisions

              Experts say people who are prudent with money are pragmatic. They avoid brand names to save money. They aren’t interested in impressing others.

              Other important debt-free habits include living within your means or becoming more self-reliant and believing in personal responsibility. When you enroll in a debt management plan, you take responsibility for your credit card debt. Through Christian credit counseling, you pay back your creditors as part of the debt management plan. Although the pursuit of material possessions is not inherently evil, debt-free people tend to live simple lives that don’t require material excess for happiness.

              At Christian Credit Counselors, we don’t judge our clients. Rather, we provide a safe and positive place to receive debt counseling and other education and services. We help people get out of debt quickly and with no stress. For more information about Christian credit counseling and how it can change you life, please contact us.

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

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                Credit Counseling
                Credit Counseling

                Credit Counseling, City Living, and Debt

                Whether you live in a city where people have the most credit card debt or are struggling with personal debt in a city where people live below their means, you can benefit from credit counseling. A recent report by The Washington Post named the cities where people carry the most credit card debt. If you live in a city where the cost of living is high, you could consider moving to a less expensive city. However, if you want to stay put, there are other ways to get the help you need without relocating.

                Managing your debt

                According to washingtonpost.com, most credit counselors say your monthly credit card bills should make up 15 to 20 percent of your income or less. If you owe more than 20 percent of your income just to pay the minimum balance on credit card bills, consider credit counseling. A certified and trained credit counselor will help you enroll in a debt management program so you consolidate debt and lower your monthly payment to something more manageable. On top of that, you end up paying less in interest payments when a credit counselor talks to your creditors about lowering the interest rate.

                Living below your means

                Again, if you can’t live below your means in a more expensive city, consider moving a half hour to an hour out of the city and commuting. If you can telecommute, it could add up to significant savings. According to the report by creditcards.com cited by The Washington Post, people in Washington, D.C. had the highest credit card balance of about $5,000. However, the study also took into account how much money people make in various cities. For someone living in San Antonio, it could take 16 months to pay off a credit card balance assuming a 13 percent interest rate and monthly payments equivalent to 15 percent of your salary. Other cities named as having people with high credit card debt included Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, San Bernadino, Portland, Los Angeles, Tampa, Phoenix, San Diego, Houston, Sacramento, Pittsburg, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston and San Francisco.

                Learning to budget

                By receiving credit counseling, you don’t just get started with a debt management plan. You also take the time to budget. Most people have thought about budgeting, but rarely take the time to organize all of their bills, prioritize, plan and crunch the numbers for an actual budget that is realistic. A credit counselor works with you on your budget so you have someone to bounce off ideas and concerns.

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

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                  Christian Credit Counseling
                  Christian Credit Counselors

                  Credit Counseling, Paying Off Debt, and Building Wealth

                  Reducing Debt and Building Wealth

                  One of the most common financial conundrums people have is whether to pay off debt or save for retirement and other goals. With Christian credit counseling, you learn how you can pay off your credit card debt while also building wealth. Paying off debt is a top priority for people who want to have financial freedom and reduce stress. With the help of a certified and trained credit counselor, you learn about a debt management plan which lets you dig out of debt 80 percent faster than a lot of other methods. Simply put, a debt management plan is an agreement between you and your creditors that involves a fixed monthly payment to satisfy the credit card debt you accumulated to that point. With Christian credit counseling, you have trustworthy counselors who go to the negotiation table on your behalf to secure you lower interest rates as well as forgiveness for late payments. By receiving credit counseling, you also figure out how to prioritize.

                  Paying your creditors

                  Although some people say to “pay yourself first,” the best strategy for getting out of credit card debt is to pay your debt management plan monthly bill before allocating money for savings goals and paying for other necessities and bills. The idea of paying yourself first is that you will put money aside for savings before tackling debt or daily living expenses. In most cases, you can afford to put a percentage of your income into an emergency account. However, that percentage is ideally flexible until you complete your debt management plan. Once you are out of credit card debt, you will likely contribute significantly more to a retirement and other savings accounts. If your goal is to get out of debt, make paying off creditors your top priority.

                  Maxing out tax-deferred accounts

                  To get the most for your efforts, make every effort to maximize a tax-deferred or tax-free retirement account. If you receive matching funds from your employer for a 401(k) or other company-sponsored retirement account, take advantage of the free money. You can build wealth more rapidly by knowing how to get the most money back on your tax returns in the form of tax credits and tax deductions.

                  Setting up a budget

                  With Christian credit counseling, you can enjoy working with trained counselors who don’t judge you, but support you on your journey. It is exciting to finally have that spiritual revelation that God wants you to manage your money properly and will support you in building wealth to care for yourself and your family. As part of your budget, you will create a small nest egg for temporary hardships while simultaneously paying off credit card debt through a debt management plan. Even if you can’t fully fund all tax-deferred retirement plans while paying off debt, you can make it a future goal for your budget.

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

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                    Debt Counseling
                    Debt

                    Debt Counseling – Five Tips for a Fresh Perspective

                    When you feel hopeless about your credit card debt, it is common to have an outer environment that reflects your inner turmoil. By getting a fresh perspective with debt counseling, you overcome the signs of financial neglect such as unopened bills, disorganized purses stuffed with crumbled up receipts and tags left on clothing or other impulse purchases. A certified and trained credit counselor gives you that support and upbeat guidance you need to get a better attitude to face that bank account balance, credit card bills and tax returned that you did not yet file. To get back in the driver’s seat with your financial life, take a few concrete steps toward a better future. If you don’t know where to begin, start with a free consultation with a certified and trained credit counselor.

                    Completing a Financial task

                    One way to get a fresh perspective on your financial situation is to complete a financial task from start to finish. As part of debt counseling, you will learn to create a budget. Take the time to complete the task by gathering together all of your fixed and flexible expenses as well as discretionary spending desires.

                    Reviewing your Taxes

                    If you have already filed your taxes on time, review the situation. If you didn’t file on time, make that a financial priority. While you won’t pay back taxes through a debt consolidation program, you do need to know how any IRS payments will fit into your overall budget. Until you do your taxes or review your current year’s tax situation, you won’t know how much to put aside for the IRS.

                    Organizing and Cleaning

                    Even though it does not seem that sanitizing a kitchen or bathroom relates to personal finances, it is just one way to help clear your environment so you lose that feeling of hopelessness. Having an uncluttered home or apartment helps you find missing papers or bills. Once you locate some of your bills, get all your account numbers gathered together for your debt counseling session.

                    Setting your priorities

                    You could get a fresh new perspective on debt by setting priorities. Once you focus your attention on your high priorities, you feel gratified by the progress. It is easier to save up for a home, for example, if you stop wasting money on low priority issues such as movies out on Saturday.

                    Getting out of denial

                    Some people deal with debt by simply denying they have a problem. Unfortunately, those people also end up feeling stressed. By facing your debt with debt counseling, you gain peace of mind as well as practical and concrete strategies for improving your financial situation.

                    A debt management program can solve many of your problems by giving you a lower interest rate and allowing you to repay your debt up to 80 percent faster than other methods. You will gain that fresh perspective with one consolidated monthly payment.

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

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