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.

 

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 Instead of Dipping into Your Savings

    Saving Money for your Savings Account

    When it comes to credit card debt, some experts recommend dipping into your non-retirement savings to pay off your debt. However, people without adequate emergency savings rarely stop the cycle of credit card dependence.

    With a debt consolidation plan, you are more likely to get out of credit card debt for good. A trained credit counselor works to lower your interest rate, giving you a solid debt management plan with a target payoff date so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Tapping cash reserves is often risky because your credit card company could choose to close your account or lower your credit limit. If you are dealing with an unexpected financial emergency, it pays to have at least three to six months of living expenses set aside in a liquid account. Some consumers choose debt consolidation as a way to get rid of debt, but aren’t sure how to handle their savings goals and habits.

    Finances for the Future

    According to a Journal of Family and Economic issues study, people with household debt often feel depressed. By lowering debt and boosting savings, you improve your mood and outlook on life. Debt consolidation helps you get out of debt, which is especially important for people who are single, ages 51 to 64 and without a college degree, the study found.

    Saving More Money

    In addition to saving more money now by lowering your interest rate on credit cards, debt consolidation helps you lay a better financial foundation for the future. After you complete your debt management plan, you can shuffle the money used to pay off credit cards to beef up your emergency fund. It is also a good idea to set at least 10 percent of your income aside for retirement savings.

    With help from a Christian credit counseling agency, you repay your debt to meet obligations and set yourself free from negative guilt and remorse. Many people who complete a debt management plan feel motivated to advance in a career or save more for the future because of the fresh start and feeling of gratification and completion. In some cases, you pay off credit card debt 80 percent faster with debt consolidation compared to other financial strategies.

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      Debt Counseling
      Debt

      Debt Counseling for First-Time Credit Card Holders

      Credit Cards and Financial Predicaments

      If you are a first-time credit card holder, you likely viewed the card as a vehicle for getting you where you needed to go in life. Whether you used your credit card to pay for a new computer, clothes or vacation, the idea of maxing out a credit card scares many new card users. By receiving debt counseling you can prevent a financial predicament as well as solve the problem of runaway debt. A recent article by cnbc.com suggests using the card to build up a good and solid credit card history. By talking to a trained and certified credit counselor, you learn what makes up a good credit report as well as ways to budget and plan for financial emergencies.

      Mounting Debt

      Experts say one of the reasons young credit card holders face a mountain of debt is because they associate a lot of fun and pleasure with credit card use. It is fun to swipe a credit card as opposed to parting with cash. To overcome the challenge, seek debt counseling. Budgeting, saving and planning is often fun when you get creative about your goals. For example, reward yourself with a special reward for staying on budget or meeting savings targets. Plan a major reward for yourself after completing a debt management plan to pay off all your credit card debt.

      Lowering Credit Card Interest Rates

      Many first-time credit card holders feel duped into credit cards with high interest rates. Instead of feeling helpless, rely on a Christian credit counseling agency to negotiate lower interest rates with your creditors. High interest rates of 18 percent or higher are not uncommon, but you can realistically achieve a lower rate by consolidating your debt.

      Monitoring Your Credit Report

      With debt counseling, you also learn how to monitor your credit report. When you become aware of what makes up a good credit score and report, you take the action steps to improve your situation. A good credit score affects your ability to buy a home, take out a car loan as well as get a job in some cases. Misusing credit cards is a common predicament but a credit counselor provides non-judgmental guidance.

       

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        [button shape=”rounded” size=”regular” float=”none” circle=”true” href=”https://christiancreditcounselors.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Budgeting-Handouts.pdf” target=”blank” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Free Work Sheet[/button]

         

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        Debt Counseling
        Credit Counseling, Debt

        Debt Counseling – When Financial Problems Sneak up On You

        Signs of Financial Trouble

        Past due statements, accounts closed without you and payments that reflect the minimum due are of few of the red flags that you need debt counseling. If financial problems are sneaking up on you, the best solution is to confront your reality and take positive steps to remedy the situation. According to a piece by cheatsheet.com, there is nothing to feel ashamed about if you have credit card debt that is higher than you realized.

        Relying on your credit card too often is an innocent habit that turns into a larger problem if left unchecked. Instead of remaining in denial, consider the signs of financial trouble. By enrolling in a debt management plan through a Christian credit counseling agency, you turn a negative into a positive situation. When you are completely debt free, every purchase you make will feel sweeter because you can afford the item.

        Borrowing money from others

        If you borrow money from family and friends, it can either be a positive or negative sign. Some people borrow money or take financial gifts from relatives so they can avoid running up credit cards. If you have to pay back a friend or relative, it can strain the relationship. Also, if you turn to friends or family because you have already maxed out your other sources of loans and credit, it is a major financial mistake.

        Dealing with bill collectors

        Another warning sign you your financial problems are interfering with your life is when you receive calls from bill collectors. With the help of a trained and accredited credit counseling agency, you don’t need to worry about bill collectors. A credit counselor talks to your creditors for you to come up with an agreed upon plan for debt repayment. For you, it’s all about making one monthly payment. For your creditors, it is about making right on money owed to them.

        Credit Cards and Debt

        If you rely on credit cards to pay for the basic necessities such as food and gasoline, it is likely you have too much debt. With debt counseling, you learn how to budget so you spend your paycheck on necessities first. Discretionary purchases include cigarettes, alcohol, entertainment, clothing other than work clothes and luxury items.

        Feeling paycheck dependent

        If you need your paycheck to make your monthly rent or mortgage, it means you don’t have enough in savings to cover one or two months of expenses. With debt counseling, you learn how to save up for emergencies as well as for fun vacations and holidays.

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          [button shape=”rounded” size=”regular” float=”none” circle=”true” href=”https://christiancreditcounselors.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Budgeting-Handouts.pdf” target=”blank” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Free Work Sheet[/button]

           

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          Debt Consolidation
          Debt Consolidation

          Debt Consolidation – Forgiving Yourself of Credit Sins

          Credit Cards and Financial Health

          Misusing credit cards affects your financial health, security and future. You can easily forgive yourself of so-called credit sins by seeking assistance from a Christian credit counseling program. One of the most positive ways to get back on track is with debt consolidation. According to an article by cheatsheet.com, 30 percent of your FICO score relates to how much you owe on credit cards. If your balance gets too high and you can’t pay off the total balance, debt consolidation can help. The key is to stay calm and avoid several credit blunders.

          A Five Step Debt Management Plan

          Creditors and Debt Collectors

          One of the challenges you often have to deal with when you have a high credit card balance is debt collectors and representatives from your credit card companies. By working with a credit counselor, you put the problem in someone’s capable hands. Calls stop after you sign up for a debt management plan because your creditors agree to a specific monthly repayment plan. To get to that positive place, put aside anger.

          Your Personal Finances

          Another credit blunder is refusing to seek personal finance help because of pride. A lot of people seek Christian credit counseling because they don’t want to feel shamed or ridiculed for mistakes. A certified credit counselor with a Christian mindset will give you advice on debt consolidation without judgment.

          Embracing Frugal Finances

          No matter what your situation, you can find new and creative ways to practice frugality. Another credit “sin” is to pay only the minimum balance on a credit card. When you resist the temptation to overspend, you fix the problem instead of exasperating it.

          Credit Cards and Debt Management

          When you agree to a debt management plan to pay off debt, you stop using your old credit cards. It is also important to stop opening up new credit lines. A credit counselor helps you budget, plan and save so you can avoid repeating the same financial mistakes.

          Overcoming Credit Problems with Contentment

          When you find happiness with the things you already own instead of constantly wanting something bigger or better, many of your credit problems disappear. After getting on board with a debt consolidation plan, give yourself some space to feel happy. Instead of soothing your stress and troubles by spending money, find other ways to relax such as a free walk in nature or time with friends and family.

          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 Consolidations
            Debt Consolidation

            Debt Consolidation – Combating Holiday Credit Card Debt

            Setting Financial Goals

            By planning ahead, it’s easy to combat holiday credit card debt that puts you behind with New Year’s resolutions and financial goals. According to an article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the best approach is to plan ahead to avoid holiday binge buying. By talking to a Christian credit counselor, you learn about debt consolidation. Whether you sign up for a debt management plan before or after the holidays, you will have a strategy in place. Experts say paying off credit card debt is an important step to financial freedom and balance. Depending on your personality, financial habits and goals, the payoff date will differ. Thirty-eight percent of households deal with credit card debt, according to statics by Nerdwallet.com.

            Paying off Credit Card Debt

            One decision to make is whether you want to move around your credit card debt or get it paid off. Balance transfers buy you time if you want to take debt from a high interest credit card and move it to a zero percent card. The downside is the introductory interest rate doesn’t last. Most people get stuck paying an extremely high rate. A better option is debt consolidation through a reputable credit counseling agency such as Christian Credit Counselors. Because holiday shopping occurs typically at the end of the year, you will likely run up an old credit card if you transfer the balance.

            Debt Management and Gift Giving

            When you sign up for a debt management plan before the holidays, you stop using your credit cards. Although it is likely too late in the year to save up a holiday gift fund so you can buy gifts with cash, you can save money by making homemade gifts or providing gift certificates for services such as mowing a loved one’s lawn or back rubs. Your loved ones will likely appreciate a crocheted blanket more than a cash gift because it represents time spent and effort.

            Listening to Financial Experts

            If you accumulated a lot of debt throughout the year, it’s good to step back and evaluate where you have been. Before you get carried away with the holidays, talk to debt consolidation experts. In addition to consolidating debt, you find out how to budget, save, plan, improve your credit score and organize financial matters. Instead of leaning on your own understanding of financial matters, take the bold step to ask for help. A trained credit counselor doesn’t leave it to you to contact your creditors. Instead, the experienced credit counselors contact your creditors and work out a plan so you can pay back your debt. The holiday gift for you is a lower interest rate on what you owe as well as the peace of mind and joy of having a payoff date and realistic 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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              At Christian Credit Counselors, we help our clients with debt consolidation so they get out of debt 80 percent faster than other strategies. For more information on how to financially plan ahead for the holidays, please contact us.

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              Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debt

              Debt Consolidation Loans – The Dangers to Consider

              Dangers of Debt Consolidation Loans

              If you’re having difficulty meeting your minimum monthly payments on student loans, credit cards, medical bills or other loans, you can apply to financial institutions for a debt consolidation loan to lower monthly payments and interest rate. The bank pays off all your debt and then you have one monthly payment to the bank for the loan consolidation but this will cause even more debt and the potential of high interest rates. Before applying for a debt consolidation loan, consider contacting a credit counselor to discuss better options for debt consolidation.

              The Expense and Risk of Debt Consolidation Loans

              Whether you apply to a bank or credit union for debt consolidation loans, the financial institution will lower your monthly payments by extending the length of the loan. Although your monthly payments are lower, you will be paying more in interest because of the longer pay-off term.

              If you own your own home, you can consolidate your outstanding debt using the equity in your home. This can be risky if you find you cannot keep up with the repayment terms. When deciding on a debt consolidation loan, keep in mind that using the equity in your home could result in the bank taking your home if you can’t meet the payment schedule.

              Credit Counseling for Debt Consolidation

              Credit counseling is the best option to get your debt under control without risking your home or trying to pay off a debt consolidation loan for the next 20 or 30 years. Christian Credit Counselors can negotiate with all your creditors to lower your interest rates and stop late fees. Once Christian Credit Counselors works on your behalf you will make 1 monthly payment and Christian Credit Counselors will pay each of your creditors, giving you peace of mind. That’s it, it’s as simple as that! Credit counseling is completely confidential so you don’t have to worry about anyone contacting your place of employment, relatives or friends.

               

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                Christian Credit Counselors, Debt

                Debt Consolidation – Knowing The Facts

                Bearing the Burden of Debt

                The burden of debt can weigh heavily on many individuals. While some people misuse credit to get themselves in this type of trouble, others were forced to turn to credit cards and loans to survive. For these individuals, debt consolidation may be the right solution. Determining when to use this process will help you make the correct decision to put your financial future on a positive path.

                High Balance, High Interest

                One of the biggest problems with debt is paying high interest on a balance that never seems to go down. If you are using store credit or other forms of credit that often carry high interest rates, speaking with a certified credit counselor can be the right option. He or she can help you decide if consolidating your debt into one monthly payment with a significantly lower interest rate is the right move for your financial situation.

                Eager to Pay It Off

                If you are only making the minimum payment and feel as if you aren’t getting anywhere on your balance, you’re probably right. Debt consolidation is designed to help you pay off your debts faster with a lower interest rate. When you follow a debt management plan, you will pay your loans off in as little as five years.

                No Collateral

                Collateral can be a major player in the lending game. If you don’t own a home where you can take out a home equity loan to cover your high interest loans or credit cards, you could be paying on them for a long time. Consolidating your debt can help you reduce your payments, even without the help of a home equity loan. Helping you to stop the cycle of debt and get on the road to financial freedom.

                There are many reasons why individuals seek debt consolidation assistance. If one of these situations describes your current finances, it is time to turn to the professionals. Christian Credit Counselors can help you make the best choices and begin to build a solid foundation for your financial future.

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                  Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Money Management, Saving

                  Debt Collectors: Know Your Rights Against Wrong Practices

                  Doomsday Debt Collectors debt1

                  Debt collectors may be within their right to pursue repayment, but you should know how to protect yourself against doomsday debt collectors and their extreme tactics.

                  Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

                  First, you should be aware that there are laws in place that govern the practice of debt collection. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was written for your protection and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, our national consumer protection agency. This Act covers a variety of debts, including personal and household, but not business debt. Examples of covered debts are: home, auto, medical, and credit card debt.

                  The Facts about Debt Collectors

                  • May not use abusive or deceptive tactics
                  • Must send the debtor a validation notice within 5 days of initiating contact
                  • Written validation notice must include: amount owed, the creditor to whom money is owed, and what to do if the debtor says they don’t owe
                  • Must contact during reasonable hours (Ex. not earlier than 8 a.m. or later than 9 p.m.)
                  • May not attempt contact at a person’s work (with a written or oral statement)
                  • May contact third parties for a person’s contact info (often limited to one time)
                  • Must contact your attorney, if you are being legally represented
                  • May not discuss the details of the debt with those outside of the debtor, debtor’s spouse or representing attorney
                  • Must stop contacting the debtor upon receipt of a written notice by debtor indicating the debt is not owed or seeking proof (within 30 days from date of validation notice)
                  • May continue to contact the debtor once proof of debt has been provided

                  Putting a stop to Debt Collection

                  Your first conversation with a collector should be an attempt at resolution. Determine whether you owe the debt. Depending on the outcome of that initial conversation, decide how you will proceed. If you want to stop a collector from contacting you, provide it in writing. Be sure to make a copy of everything you send and mail the document by certified mail with a return receipt. From that point, the debt collector may tell you that there will be no further contact, or they may indicate their next step. If a creditor still wants to collect from you at this point, they may pursue legal action by filing a lawsuit.

                  In the event that you are sued by a debt collector, respond or have your lawyer respond by the date indicated in the lawsuit to stay within your rights.

                  Reporting Debt Collection Misconduct

                  Notify the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of a debt collector who doesn’t operate within the bounds of the law. Additionally, inform your state Attorney General’s Office, and inquire about the state laws that differ from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as well as, your rights.

                  Christian Credit Counselors is a non-profit organization that was created to help individuals and families regain control of their finances through the use of educational tools, credit counseling and other resources. For more resources, visit www.christiancreditcounselors.org.

                  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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                    Car, Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Settlement, Finance, Goals, Personal Goals, Saving

                    High Car Payments Can Drive You Over the Edge

                    car

                    High Car Payments

                    It is an all too common story. Many people struggling with debt can trace the beginning of their debt problems to a new car purchase – a big monthly payment, financed for too long. Some households even have two vehicles with large payments in the $400 to $500 range. With the budget maxed out, you can see how this type of financial burden could lead to a crisis. It’s easy to start falling behind on your budget and ultimately turning to credit cards, cash advances or loans to make up where your cash flow is lacking.

                    Test Drive the Monthly Payment

                    You may think you’re getting a steal of a deal on that new SUV or speedster. After all, the dealer said he’d take $2,000 off the sticker price – how could you pass that one up! You know the saying: Buyer beware. Be aware of what you can afford, and go into the purchase with a plan. Find a comfortable monthly payment that allows room in your budget for maintenance, and possible gas and insurance increases. You want a vehicle that improves your lifestyle, not one that enslaves you to a high monthly expense.

                    Car Payment Facts

                    • Monthly payment

                    Financial experts recommend spending no more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay on a car payment. If your budget is tight, a more conservative figure like 8% would be appropriate. Even though a lender may approve you for more than you have budgeted, you don’t need to spend it. Consider the future effects of your decision and your other lifestyle and financial goals. Balance is key to budgeting.

                    • Term of the loan

                    According to the Federal Reserve, the average auto loan term has been creeping up over the years. In 1998, the typical car loan was a 4-year term, and now, lenders commonly offer 6-year terms. It certainly lowers your monthly payment and may help you reach the 8% you budgeted for. However, it doesn’t come free of charge. Obviously, you’ll pay a lot more than you signed for because of the increase in overall interest. And, if you want or need to sell, chances are you’ll owe more than what the car is worth. It takes longer to build equity with a long-term loan. Consider what you can afford monthly and base a purchase on a four year loan. This doesn’t have to mean less car. Shopping used cars in your price range can offer a fleet of options.

                    • Interest

                    Do some investigating and shop around for the best interest rate before negotiating a purchase with a dealer. Check other dealerships and financial institutions. Dealerships and financial institutions often run promotions, offering incentives like lower interest rates, zero down and cash back. Also, if you can afford to send in payments above your monthly payment, it will pay down your premium faster, save on the overall interest and shorten the life of your loan.

                    • Pleasure

                    Don’t buy a vehicle that you don’t like or are embarrassed to drive. It is important that you are happy with your purchase for more reasons than simply the cost. The best car deal is one that you can afford, meets your lifestyle needs and that you enjoy driving.

                    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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