Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Finance, Loans, Money Management, Mortgage, Student Loans

Protect Yourself Financially from the Impact of COVID-19

By: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Steps to take if you have trouble paying your bills or meeting other financial obligations

If you have trouble paying your bills/loans or paying on time, there may be a number of options to help, especially if you reach out early to your lenders or creditors.

Contact your lenders, loan servicers, and other creditors

If you’re not able to pay your bills on time check their websites, to see if they have information that can help you.

The CFPB and other financial regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with their customers to meet their community needs.

If you can’t make a payment now, need more time, or want to discuss payment options, contact your lenders and servicers to let them know about your situation. Being behind on your payments can have a lasting impact on your credit.

Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overdrafts, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.

When contacting your lenders, be prepared to explain:

  • Your financial and employment situation
  • How much you can afford to pay
  • When you’re likely to be able to restart regular payments
  • Be prepared to discuss your income, expenses, and assets

Work with housing and credit counselors to understand your options

These trained professionals provide advice for little or no cost, and they will work with you to discuss your situation, evaluate options, and even help you negotiate with your lenders and servicers.

Warning: If you’re considering working with a debt settlement company to address your debts, be skeptical of any company that promises to do it for an upfront fee.

Trouble paying your mortgage?

If you can’t pay your mortgage, or can only pay a portion, contact your mortgage servicer.

It may take a while to get a loan servicer on the phone. Loan servicers are experiencing a high call volume and may also be impacted by the pandemic.

Visit our blog on mortgage relief options for in-depth content to help you understand your forbearance options and avoid foreclosure in light of the coronavirus and the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

If you are renting from an owner who has a federally backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions. Read more in our renter section of the mortgage relief blog.

Trouble paying your student loans?

If you have student loans, you have options.

If your loan is held by the federal government, your loan payments are postponed with no interest until September 30, 2020.

For other kinds of student loans (such as a federal student loan held by a commercial lender or the institution you attend, or a private student loan held by a bank, credit union, school, or other private entity) contact your student loan servicer to find out more about your options.

Read our FAQs to learn more about what you can do.

Trouble paying your credit cards?

If you’re unable to pay your credit cards, talk with your credit card company and let them know that you cannot make a payment. You may get relief.

You may also want to work with a credit counselor. Reputable credit counseling organizations are generally non-profit organizations that can advise you on your money and debts, and help you with a budget. Some may also help you negotiate with creditors. There are specific questions to ask to help you find a credit counseling organization to work with.

Trouble paying your auto loan?

Your lender may have options that will help. Our tips include changing the date of your payment, requesting a payment plan, and asking for a payment extension

How to work with your bank or credit union

With many of us staying home to help flatten the coronavirus curve, online banking allows you to handle your finances from the comfort of home. Here are some tips for people who are new to online or mobile banking.

Generally, all bank deposits up to $250,000 are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Deposits at all federal credit unions, and the vast majority of state-chartered credit unions, are also insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).

How to work with debt collectors

If you currently have a debt in collections, you can work with collectors to identify a realistic repayment plan.

The Bureau offers a number of resources for contacting and negotiating with debt collection companies, especially as we deal with the impact of the coronavirus.

What to do if you lose your income

State and local governments vary in the programs and offerings to help those financially impacted by the coronavirus.

You can look to your state’s unemployment policies to identify current options for benefits. The recently passed CARES Act allows states to extend benefits to self-employed and gig workers, and to provide an extra $600 per week as well as an additional 13 weeks of benefits. Your state’s public health office may also have information.

Older adults may be impacted by the coronavirus and quarantine procedures in different ways than the general public. There may be government benefits available to older adults who need financial help. Visit benefitscheckup.org for more information and to see if you qualify for any state or local assistance.

Be aware of potential scam attempts

Scammers look for opportunities to take advantage of the vulnerable, especially during times of emergencies or natural disasters. Be cautious of emails, texts, or social media posts that may be selling fake products or information about emerging coronavirus cases.

Click here for more information on scams specific to the coronavirus.

The Federal Trade Commission has tips to protect yourself from possible coronavirus-related scams. The FTC and the Food and Drug Administration have also cautioned consumers to be on the look-out for sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent coronavirus.

Learn more about how to prevent, recognize, and report fraud and scams.

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Debt Counseling
Budgeting, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debt, Finance, Holiday Tips

Debt Counseling and Holiday Credit Card Debt

Debt Counseling and Christmas

Most people love spending money on their family and friends, wrapping presents with shiny bows and watching their expressions as they open gifts. However, Christmas is a bittersweet holiday for people with excessive credit card debt. By seeking debt counseling before or after the holidays, you take control of your holiday credit card debt.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, many shoppers experience the shopping hangover after major shopping days such as Black Friday. Even if you shop on major sale days, you don’t get ahead by using credit cards if you can’t pay them back. Revolving credit card debt is at the highest level it has been in several years, according to the Federal Reserve. Debt counseling gives you an edge so you start the New Year on the right path.

Credit Card Debt Repayment

If you can only afford to pay the suggested amount due or minimum due, you will benefit from debt consolidation. By receiving debt counseling, you find out how to budget to pay back all of your credit debt as well as monthly bills and expenses. With a debt repayment plan, you figure out how to get out of credit card debt for good.

By consolidating debt you pay off credit card debt and satisfy your creditors. If you take a different approach such as using a balance transfer credit card, you could end up running up even more credit card debt. Debt counseling helps many consumers overcome the temptation to keep putting items on credit instead of setting the credit cards aside.

Credit Counseling and your Finances

If you just want a short-term fix, pay your minimum balance or transfer credit card balances to a new credit card. However, experts say most credit cards charge a 3 percent transfer fee. Also, paying the minimum amount doesn’t lower your interest rate. A credit counselor helps you actually lower the interest you pay on your credit card debt so you pay it all off in less time. A long-term fix is about examining your spending habits, learning how to boost a credit score and budgeting. Many consumers fall into traps. You can change your spending and savings habits with a few simple personal finance tricks.

Although the holidays are all about giving, it is a good time to treat yourself to debt counseling. With a proper budget, you can buy loved ones holiday gifts and avoid lingering debt.

 

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    Uncategorized

    Financial Planning – A Fresh Start for the New Year

    Finances and the New Year

    With the New Year approaching, it is the perfect time to evaluate your current financial situation, set new financial goals, and establish budgeting strategies. Whether your credit is in great shape or you are struggling to maintain or improve your credit, it is important to pull your credit reports at least annually and review them for errors.

    Click below for instructions on how to pull your credit for free from www.annualcreditreport.com

    [button shape=”rounded” size=”regular” float=”none” circle=”true” href=”https://christiancreditcounselors.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Pulling-your-Annual-Credit-Report.pdf” target=”blank” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Free Credit Report Instructions[/button]
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    In addition to reviewing your credit, review your assets and take the time to think about your short, mid, and long term financial goals. The only way to make those goals a reality is to setup a plan to save money every month.

    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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      Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Finance, Holiday Tips, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving

      Credit Card – Avoiding the Debt Trap this Holiday Season

      Gift Giving on Credit

      Staying out of debt can be almost as difficult as paying it off especially when our emotions take over. After all, buying gifts for our loved ones during the holiday season is a very emotional purchase.

      Preparing for gifting should begin way before the holiday season. In a survey conducted by The American Research Group, Inc., 2014 Christmas gift spending was up 8% over 2013 with an average of $861 spent per adult consumer. So what is the most efficient and painless way to save money for the holidays each year?

      Budgeting for Gift Giving

      Creating a management budget at the beginning of each year will ensure you achieve your financial goals, establish a savings, and have funds set aside for gifts and holidays throughout the year. First, calculate how much money you spend on the holidays annually and divide that by 12 months. This is how much money you will need to set aside in your monthly budget for holiday spending. There are many spending trackers and saving tools out there but sometimes its easiest to just create an envelope labeled holidays and put cash in it each month. This might seem like a tedious task, however when the time comes to buy gifts and holiday items throughout the year it will be nice to already have the cash available and not have to worry about denting 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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        Christian Credit Counselors
        Christian Credit Counselors

        Simple Fixes for Runaway Credit Card Debt

        Despite the best of intentions, it is easy to fall quickly into credit card debt. When you struggle to pay just the minimum payment on your credit card bills, take logical steps to untangle the mess with Christian credit counseling. According to an article by businessinsider.com, the average American family has about $15,000 worth of credit card debt. Ignoring credit card debt results in more credit card debt. By facing debt with helpful Christian credit counselors, you can master your personal finances. Experts say there are several clues that let you know your debt is out of control. Debt counselors will help you with simple fixes.

        Getting out of Debt Denial

        Dodging bill collectors is one sign you are in denial about your credit card debt. With Christian credit counseling, you face your issues whether you have a spending problem, a job layoff or medical issues that are beyond your control. A credit counselor encourages you to list your debt and set priorities. By signing up for a debt management plan, you get out of debt faster.

        Setting a Payoff deadline

        By enrolling in a debt management plan at a Christian credit counseling agency, you find out precisely when you will pay off your credit card debt. According to businessinsider.com, a lack of clarity with regard to debt payoff creates stress. If you try to pay off debt on your own, your payoff date could be 20 years away. However, people are often surprised to learn they can pay off debt 80 percent faster with the right debt management plan.

        Paying off instead of Transferring

        Another common mistake consumers make is to transfer their debt from one card to another. Balance transfers don’t work for most people because the zero percent introductory APR doesn’t last. You will likely feel tempted to run up your debt on the old card after transferring previous debt.

        Other personal finance mistakes include sacrificing your savings plans in order to pay off debt. When you get a tax return, windfall or other monetary gift, put it aside in a savings account. You will prevent runaway debt because you have cash to pay for financial emergencies. Meanwhile, you can continue to pay off old credit card debt by making one monthly payment to creditors. Debt consolidation often alleviates the anxious feelings related to runaway debt.

        At Christian Credit Counselors, we strive to help our clients by giving them positive solutions for their runaway credit card debt. Talk to us about strategies for paying off debt and improving your credit score.

        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 for Millennials Who Want a Fresh Start

          When you are dealing with massive credit card debt in your 20s or early 30s, it is difficult to get a mortgage loan or a car loan. In some cases, lenders demand you pay a higher interest rate because of poor credit and too much consumer debt. By engaging in credit counseling, you take control of your financial future before it’s too late. According to a recent article by wgem.com, half of Millennials in their 20s decided to get a credit card after hearing a promotion or seeing an advertisement. The average debt for Millennials is $45,000, which is the amount some of their grandparents paid for a home. By consolidating debt, you pay off credit card debt and enjoy the hidden benefits.

          Qualifying to Buy a Home

          Some young people don’t realize their credit card debt prevents them from qualifying for a home in their desired price range. By receiving credit counseling, you learn the tricks and tips for improving your debt-to-income ratio. When you have less debt and higher income, you position yourself to afford a higher mortgage amount.

          Improving your Credit Score

          Certified and trained credit counselors also fill you in on the secrets for improving your credit score. Most colleges don’t offer personal finance classes. However, your personal credit counselor will answer questions about the pros and cons of carrying credit cards and strategies for boosting a credit score or avoiding bad marks on your credit history.

          Enjoying a Debt-Free Life

          One incredible strategy is the debt-free approach. While it is not for everyone, you can decide to live without credit cards or loans. Learning to use a budget, paying off credit card debt and saving or investing are just a few things you can do. People who enroll in a debt management plan satisfy the debt obligations they have to various credit card companies. A reputable Christian credit counseling agency will work with you so you pay a lower interest rate. Knowing your exact timeline for paying off all credit card debt gives you a sense of liberation and freedom.

          Other hidden benefits of the debt free life when you are young include more money to invest for retirement and money for your child’s college. When you no longer have a monthly debt management plan payment to make, you are able to allocate money for a 401(k) plan or Roth IRA. When you start saving young, you give your money time to multiply and grow. People who start saving young don’t have to save as much to retire with greater wealth compared to the late savers.

          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 Card Debt vs Credit Counseling

            Before opening up a new line of credit or applying for an additional credit card, weigh the risks. Many consumers do not realize they inadvertently hurt their credit scores by making financial missteps. According to a recent piece by CNBC.com, it is a risky time to carry new credit card debt due to the potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. By receiving credit counseling, you figure out an intelligent method for cutting debt and staying out of debt. A trained and certified Christian credit counselor fills you in on the bigger picture as it relates to credit scores, a workable budget and savings goals.

            Paying more in interest

            If you don’t resolve your credit card debt, you could end up paying more in the form of interest payments to your creditors. People who consolidate debt with a debt management plan enjoy a lower interest rate. According to CNBC, the Federal Reserve data shows consumers’ credit card debt now totals about $900 billion. The number is about 3 percent higher compared to last year.

            Feeling the squeeze to pay the minimum

            Most people realize they will not get out of debt for a long time unless they pay more than the minimum on their credit cards. If you take out more credit card debt or fail to come up with a plan to reduce debt, you could feel financial pressure just to pay the minimum balance. A new survey by Prosper showed only 37 percent of people pay their credit card balance each month while 15 percent pay the minimum due.

            Rolling over credit card debt

            When you get credit counseling, you don’t just learn how to live below your means. You also come up with a debt management plan so you know your credit card debt will be gone within a certain number of months or years. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling found most consumers roll over $2,500 in credit card debt every month. If the Fed does follow through with the promise to raise interest rates soon, the debt on $2,500 becomes more expensive in terms of interest owed.

            Other risks associated with taking out too many credit cards include dealing with late payments or credit card delinquencies. Also, you could end up with no money leftover every month to save for retirement or other financial goals. You can avoid bankruptcy and debt settlement scams by talking to the trustworthy credit counselors with Christian Credit Counselors. We look forward to providing credit counseling so you can build wealth and live a life with financial peace. For more information on credit counseling, please contact us.

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              Christian Credit Counselors

              Credit Card Debt and the Need for Credit Counseling

              America Paying Down Debt

              Credit card debt and other money problems aren’t always signs of over-indulgence. In some cases, it is simply a sign that the American economy’s in trouble. The good news is the latest credit card debt study shows Americans paid down more than $34 billion owed to credit card companies. The amount they paid back is 7% more than in the past two years. While some consumers had the help of a Christian credit counseling agency, other consumers struggle with debt they can’t seem to conquer.

              According to a Media General news report, many people desire to pay off debt but end up with higher credit card balances. In fact, the CardHub study showed the average household credit card debt balance is more than $7,100, which is the highest level in six years. If you feel tempted to increase your credit card limit, yet can barely make the minimum payments on your different credit cards, consider Christian credit counseling.

              Lower your interest rate

              One of the reasons you need Christian credit counseling is if you have high interest rates on your credit cards. If you are not sure whether your credit card interest rates are high, you can talk to a trained credit counselor with a reputable organization such as Consumer Credit Counselors. In most cases, a debt management program creates a new agreement between you and your different creditors. Instead of paying the old interest rate in the double digits, you’ll be pleased with a lower rate.

              Eliminate late fees

              Late fees and additional charges happen to even the most conscientious person. Most people have busy lives that often get in the way of managing personal finances. The good thing about enrolling in a debt management plan is the fact that you can also enroll in automatic monthly payment so you never miss a payment. As far as old late fees, your credit counselor will work with your creditors to eliminate those.

              Improve your credit score

              After paying off your debt through a debt consolidation program, you’ll notice your credit score start to improve. When you take the budgeting and personal finance advice of your credit counselor or “finance coach,” you’ll also make the right moves to boost your score. Having a higher credit score means you’ll receive a lower interest rate on everything from a car loan to a mortgage in the future. With a bankruptcy, most consumers sacrifice their credit score for up to a decade.

              Whether you have been dealing with the constant harassment of debt collectors or simply want to make a positive change on your own, consider Christian credit counseling services. At Christian Credit Counselors, we help our clients set financial goals, come up with a workable budget and consolidate debt. We don’t judge or criticize. Instead of running up more credit card debt, be part of the statistics for Americans living a debt-free life.

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                Credit Cards

                Credit Card Promotions and the Untold Truth

                Understanding Promotional Credit Cards

                These days, just about every store has credit card advertising … some kind of low interest promotion. How often have you seen sales advertising “0% financing for 18 months” or “Pay no interest until next year”? These deals are hard to pass up, but they can end up costing you if you aren’t careful.

                Understanding the terms of the promotion can help keep you stay out of trouble. In most cases, if you don’t pay off the balance within the promotional term you will be back-charged interest from the day of your purchase. You could end up paying thousands more and see your monthly payments spike in the long run.

                 

                Speaking of payments, if you are on a promotional plan and miss or are late on a single payment you may lose the reduced APR. Your purchase would then start being charged the account’s regular APR, which is usually over 20%.

                So how do you take advantage of the perks of a promotion without falling victim to the back-charged interest and high monthly payments?

                When deciding to make a purchase using “special financing”, check to make sure you can afford the monthly payment required to pay the purchase off before the plan expiration. This means you will need to pay more than the minimum monthly payment listed on your credit card statement. To find out how much you will need to pay on that credit card monthly divide the total purchase (balance) by the number of months included in the promotion. For example, a purchase of $2000 with a 0% interest promotion for 18 months will require a monthly payment of approximately $112.

                 

                If you or someone you know is having trouble making payments, have them call the creditor. They want to keep you as a customer and may be able to offer you different payment options.

                If you feel like you are in over your head, call one of our certified credit counselors for a free debt analysis. We have relationships will all the major creditors and can help educate you about credit and debt.

                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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