Identity Theft, Saving, Taxes

How to Use Your Tax Refund to Build Your Emergency Funds

By: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

During tax season, there’s a lot to think about. Do you have the right forms? Where did you put those receipts? Did you do the math right? But there’s one more thing you should be thinking about: how you can use your tax refund to ramp up your emergency funds or reach other savings goals.

In 2019, around 72% of Americans received a refund on their taxes. This extra jolt of cash can be a perfect opportunity to start—or increase—your emergency savings funds.

Why save your tax refund

Your tax refund may be one of the biggest checks you receive all year. If you’re getting a tax refund, consider saving some or all of it. Putting your refund into savings can help you prepare for unforeseen expenses throughout the year, and work toward longer term savings goals such as buying a house or paying for college.

For many people, making ends meet throughout the year is tough, and saving regularly may seem unrealistic. The money you get in your tax refund could help you build or replenish your rainy day fund. Setting aside money for emergencies may help you cover some of the most common unexpected expenses people experience. Without savings, a financial emergency–even minor–could have a lasting impact on your financial well-being.

How to save money fast

Here are four things to do to save your refund as quickly and securely as possible.

1. Plan ahead

It’s likely that you already have plans for what to do with your refund—many people do. But, if you can plan to save part of your refund, even just a small amount, it could help you down the road when an emergency occurs, or you need a little extra cash to meet a financial goal.

Make a plan to save some of your tax refund, and then use this worksheet to help you make the most of your tax refund.

2. File electronically

The fastest way to receive your tax refund is to file your taxes electronically. If you file your tax returns electronically using e-file, you will likely receive your tax refund within 21 days. However, if you file your taxes by mail, it can take about six weeks to receive your tax refund. Filing your taxes electronically will also help protect you from tax fraud since you aren’t sending sensitive information through the mail.

If you need assistance filing your taxes, and meet the qualifications, you can get free tax preparation assistance from IRS-certified volunteers at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or a Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) location. The IRS locator tool will help you find a VITA site near you.

Learn more about filing your tax returns.

3. Use direct deposit

Receiving your tax return as a direct deposit is faster than getting a paper check in the mail, and it ensures that the money is saved safely and automatically.

4. Deposit some, or all, of your refund into your savings account

The IRS allows you to deposit your refund into up to three different accounts. You can automatically deposit portions of your tax refund into checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, mutual funds, or U.S. Savings Bonds. If you are filing electronically you can even purchase a savings bond while you are filing your tax return.

Other special accounts where you can automatically save some or all of your refund include:

Check with the IRS for more information on direct deposit and splitting your refund.

Affordable ways to file your taxes

Before you have your refund, you need to file your taxes. Be mindful that unemployment benefits may be taxable.

See if you qualify for free tax filing

You can receive free tax preparation assistance at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have an income of $56,000 or less
  • You are 60 years old or older
  • You have a disability
  • You speak limited English

If your income is $69,000 or less, you can use most major tax preparation software to file your taxes for free through the IRS Free File Alliance.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families can use the free online tax prep and e-filing program MilTax.

If you don’t qualify for free filing assistance

If your income is more than $69,000, you can still download free tax filing forms from the IRS.

While paying someone to file your taxes for you is convenient, there are plenty of affordable tax preparation software products that can walk you through the process of filing your taxes. Consider using one of these if you are uncomfortable filling out the forms on your own, but don’t want to pay a tax preparer to do it for you.

Protect yourself from tax fraud

Scammers like to take advantage of tax time to go after unsuspecting Americans. Follow these tips to protect yourself from tax fraud.

Be aware of scam phone calls. The IRS will never:

  • Call or email you to ask for personal information.
  • Demand immediate payment without first sending you a bill in the mail and giving you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for taxes, like a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit card information over the phone.
  • Threaten to have you arrested for not paying.

If any of these things happen to you, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at treasury.gov/tigta.

File electronically and request that your refund be deposited directly into your account.

Use ID theft prevention measures. Don’t carry your social security card with you and don’t give it out just because a business or professional asks for it. Also, don’t carry your Medicare card unless you’re going to a doctor for the first time.

Check your credit report. You can review your credit report for free every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com, or by calling 877-322-8228.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft and it involves your income tax return, the IRS has more information and help on suspected fraud.

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Budgeting, Money Management, Saving

Money-Saving Tips for the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Crown Financial Ministries

The Crown team makes it a priority to “practice what we preach”. During this pandemic, as we recommend to cut back your living expenses by 25% for the next 90 days, we’ve made a list for you of the ways we’re doing that ourselves. There are some natural savings that happen when you follow social distancing rules, like spending less on gas, eating out, and entertainment. Below are some additional recommendations from the Crown team for cutting expenses and increasing your savings!

Cut back on any unnecessary or luxury subscriptions

Maybe Spotify free is the way to go for now. Here’s a video with easy ways to do this. Courtney said, “My husband and I both went through the last few statements of our bank accounts looking for subscriptions that we could cancel or downgrade. I didn’t realize I was paying for a few app subscriptions! That has saved us a few extra dollars a month.” Calvin and his wife have cut their gym memberships and are working out at home. They are also saving all discretionary dollars in their budget for a few months.

Negotiate cable and internet rates

You may be able to negotiate a better rate for your cable and/or internet. Businesses are wanting to keep their clients right now, so call to check if there are any special promotions you can take advantage of. “We contacted our internet provider and found that we could save 30% on monthly payment because they could move us to a new promotion package,” Alet said. Another one of our staff members canceled their cable TV altogether. Many streaming services are offering free promotions over the next few months, so be sure to look on Google for coupons before signing up for anything new.

Turn off the lights

Be mindful of your energy usage while you’re home. Do you have a habit of leaving the lights or ceiling fans on? Get up from your home office desk and make sure you’re not paying extra for that electricity!

Defer medical bills

If you need to, call your medical provider and set up a payment or deferment plan. Most will let you do this if you ask and work with them.

Slow down loan payments or stop paying ahead – for now

Several staff members have been paying ahead on their mortgage or student loans. For the next few months, their plan is to pay the required monthly balance as billed and use the extra to increase their savings.

Save on your phone bill

Handre called his mobile provider and moved to a less expensive package saving him each month on his family plan.

Activate the “pantry challenge”

Melinda and her family have challenged themselves to eat out of only their pantry and freezer before going out to eat. Once a week, someone grocery shops for a few fresh essentials for their meals. Other than that, they save money by depleting their stocked food and complying with social distancing rules.

Go meatless

Hannah said her family has moved to 3 meatless dinners a week. It has helped them to mix up their recipes and helped them cut back on their grocery bill!

Save on insurance

One member of the Crown staff said, “I contacted our home insurance company and asked if there were any discounts we could qualify for because of recent improvements we did to our home. A miracle happened – they lowered our yearly insurance amount by $400 and gave me $500 towards this year’s installment because we fixed the roof recently. We had already decided to give to people who were losing their jobs, and now our gifts have been doubled!”

Trusting God’s Promise

We know it’s not fun to take these steps, but we’re trusting in God’s promise that discipline now will pay off later. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) Here are a few other financial steps you can take to find peace and freedom.

Pay off debt

Now is a good time to work on decreasing or eliminating debt. If you need help making a plan, contact our partners Christian Credit Counselors. They’ll help you consolidate your payments so you can be debt-free sooner!

Increase your savings

If you’re not in the habit of saving, now would be a good time to start. To make it easy, check out the Eli Savings App. It automates your savings for you and only saves what you’re able to afford.

Give generously

It may seem uncomfortable right now to think about giving, but it is in these times where we are able to truly show our faith and trust in the Lord. Share the resources you have with your neighbors and friends. Are you able to give more to your church when others might be holding back? Do you know someone furloughed or out of work that can use some help? Find a way to share.

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Kids & Money, Money Management, Saving

Saving as a Family

By: America Saves

In most circumstances, we build our financial foundation from experiences that we go through as children and youth. Sometimes when children hear their parents or other adults in their lives talking about cutting spending or saving money, they assume that the family is going through a rough patch. As appropriate based on children’s ages, family conversations about money goals, including saving and spending plans, reassure children. It is also a great way to introduce (or remind) children about the reasons we save.

Talking about family saving goals helps children understand that putting money aside for the future – whether to be prepared for unexpected expenses, for short-term goals such as summer vacation, or for longer-term goals such as paying for college – is important to you. They will also likely be interested in knowing how they can help. They may even want to set their own savings goals and be motivated to work toward achieving them!

Make Saving a Family Affair

Get your family involved with your saving plan by brainstorming ways to cut expenses in order to free up money to put toward your saving goals. Explore low- and no-cost activities you can do together as a family. Consider selling rarely used books, toys, clothes, and other items in a garage sale or other marketplace.

Here are four easy ways to make saving a priority for everyone under your roof:

1. Have a conversation

Get the whole family together, make some popcorn or hot chocolate and make talking about money fun. Keep it positive by talking about ways the family can work together to lower expenses, increase income and save money.

2. Involve everyone

Take time to explain how things that everyone in your household uses comes with a cost, like the utilities, internet, and cable. Make it an activity for everyone to review your local grocery store circular/app and identify products that you can save on that week.

3. Set a goal

Decide as a family what your financial goals should be. These could be household goals and individual goals. Is it saving for college? Is it saving for a family vacation? A car? Having a financial cushion for unexpected emergencies? Whatever you decide, make a commitment to save. Jumpstart that commitment by taking the America Saves Pledge, and we’ll help keep you on track by sending goal-based emails and texts.

4. Make a plan

Setting a goal is a great start, but how will you reach it without a plan? Making a plan to reach a savings goal requires establishing a plan for how you will spend and save your money. Savers with a plan are twice as likely to accomplish their savings goals. Get some tips and tricks about making a plan with our Save with a Plan Toolkit.

Encouraging Children to Save

Everyone in your household can play a role in the financial success of your home. A lesson all kids can learn early: the pride that comes with saving for something they want! Encouraging your child to sell toys they no longer play with, or even having a bake sale or lemonade stand puts them on the path to smart money habits. Involve children by:

  1. Encouraging them to be aware of their energy and water use by turning off lights and electronics when not needed and by turning off the water when brushing teeth and taking showers.
  2. Thinking about things that the family regularly spends money on and talking about if the family stills want or need the items or if they can select cheaper alternatives or perhaps do without them.
  3. Teaching them to comparison shop and choose generics or use coupons when it makes sense.
  4. Challenging them to suggest ways to enjoy time together as a family for less. Not sure where to start? Check out these suggestions!
  5. Including children in trips to your financial institution (or an ATM) to deposit or transfer money into a saving account make the process real. Consider posting a running total of the dollar amount of deposits and the progress made toward a family saving goal on the refrigerator or bulletin board.

Saving money is a habit that is developed over time. In addition to letting children know that you save, help them begin to develop their own saving habit. Money as You Grow, a framework that links money-related activities to children’s developmental stages, is a great resource for conversation starters and activities for children of all ages at consumerfinance.gov.

America Saves can help you save money so you can feel confident about your finances. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn’t stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal. Think of them as your own personal support system.

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Uncategorized

CFPB: Make a Plan to Save Some of Your Tax Refund

Making a plan to save at tax time

The start of the New Year means its tax season again. As you gather your tax records and prepare to file, why not use this annual responsibility to take another step towards building financial security for yourself or your family? For many Americans, a tax refund is the largest check they will receive all year. Saving all or part of that refund can help you prepare for unforeseen expenses throughout the year or perhaps reach a larger savings goal.

Research has shown that setting aside just $500 can cover a lot of the emergency expenses people often experience. Perhaps, though, you want to catch up on some bills, save for a major purchase, or even treat yourself to something special. Whatever you have in mind, tax time is a great opportunity to put money aside.

Here are some basic steps to take:

  1. Estimate your refund. Think about how much you might get back in a refund, based on what you received last year. Keep in mind, there were several changes to the tax laws in 2018. Find out how these changes could impact your refund this year.
  2. Identify and prioritize your bills. This includes essentials like rent and utilities, as well as bills you would like to pay off or pay down. If you need help, the Bureau has several helpful worksheets to track your spending and get a handle on your debt. Contact your CCC Account Specialist to put your refund toward your Debt Management Program.
  3. Plan for special purchases. Consider if there are any larger purchases you would like to make with part of your refund.
  4. Calculate what remains. Add up your expenses, payments, and purchases to see what you might have left over from your refund.
  5. Make a plan to save. Set a goal to save a portion of what’s left over from your refund. Perhaps it’s $500 or 25% of your refund. Whatever you choose is OK — just make a plan so you have a savings goal. Use our tax time worksheet to help you design your plan.
  6. Finally, decide where you want to put your savings. Do you have a separate account or another way to set money aside? Or perhaps you have a prepaid card with a set-aside feature. If you have an account or a card you want to use for saving, make sure to have both your account and routing numbers available when you file your return. Rather than waiting for a check, the IRS can often directly deposit your refund into this account.

Getting ready to file

Depending on your situation, there may be a number of free or low-cost options for filing your tax return. It’s important to choose a reputable tax preparer that will file an accurate return. Any mistakes could result in additional costs and complications in the future.

You can generally get free tax preparation assistance by IRS-certified volunteers at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or a Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) location if:

  • Your income is $54,000 or less
  • You are 60 years old or older
  • You have a disability or speak limited English

The IRS locator tool will help you find a VITA site near you.

If you are not eligible to file at a VITA site or if there is not a VITA site nearby, there are also other free resources available for filing your tax return. Here are some options:

  • If your income is $64,000 or less, you can use a major tax-preparation software product, offered through the IRS Free File Alliance, to prepare and file your return for free.
  • If your income is more than $64,000, you can still download free tax filing forms through the IRS.
  • If you’re a member of the military or a military dependent, you can get free tax help from the military VITA program. On or off base, VITA programs are easy to find — even overseas.

Other things to consider at tax time

  1. Protect your tax data from being stolen. The IRS provides a number of simple steps you can take to protect your data.
  2. Be aware of tax scams. The IRS provides some helpful information on what to watch out for and how the IRS will communicate with you if they have questions about your return.
  3. Know your rights if you live in an area affected by disaster. In some disaster situations, the IRS provides relief from tax filing requirements. Find out whether you qualify.

Putting it all together

Planning ahead can help you to take advantage of tax time to make the most of your tax refund. Take some simple steps to make a savings plan. If you are eligible, save on filing fees by using one of the free or low-cost filing options. Finally, make sure you protect your tax information so that you can feel confident that your return is filed properly and you get the refund you have earned.

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Budgeting, Credit Counseling, Debt, Finance, Money Management, Taxes, Uncategorized

Tackling the Fear of Filing Taxes

Tackling the Fear of Filing Taxes

The holidays are over, a new year has begun, and now we are rolling into February: a month that brings Valentine’s Day to mind. Some people look forward to receiving candy hearts while others dread spending Valentine’s Day alone. However, getting snubbed by Cupid isn’t the only thing people dread in February. They also are very apprehensive about filing their taxes. How do you get started? How much money will you get back? How much will you owe? It’s enough to cause your stress level to skyrocket. Luckily, there are some things you can do to take the sting out of filing your taxes:

 

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  • File your taxes as soon as you can. The due date for filing this year is April 18th. It is usually April 15th but that falls on a federal holiday and a Friday, thus, the due date is moved to the next normal business day on Monday the 18th which gives you a few extra days to file. Now that January is over, you should have received most of your information, such as your W-2s, in the mail. If you absolutely cannot file by the due date, you may want to go to the IRS website to see if you can file for an extension.[/column]

 

  • Look at all of your preparation options. It’s not a bad idea to research national organizations with locations near you that may offer free tax preparation for individuals with certain income limits. For example, United Way Worldwide has a program available during tax season called  Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) that is sponsored by the IRS. Volunteers (such as retired CPAs) help families with a household income of under $53,000 prepare taxes for free, while another program helps you prepare your own taxes if your income is below $60,000 per year.
  • Research credits and deductions. There are some that could save you money which you may not know existed. For example, if you are eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit you would be able to claim a credit for expenses that you paid for child care so that you could work or look for work.
  • Make a plan for your tax refund or payment by creating/using a budget. Planning can drastically decrease stress and eliminate the temptation of unnecessary spending. If you get a refund, budget your money so you can tithe and achieve the priority of paying down debt. If you do not get a refund and you owe money, it is even more crucial to create a budget plan to pay the IRS. You have payment options. The best option, of course, is to budget and pay before the due date. If you cannot pay by the due date, there are options for payment plans. You may be eligible for an online payment agreement with the IRS. If not, you can still pay in installments by filing for an installment agreement (Form 9465). It is important to note that you must file all tax returns before applying for any payment agreement with the IRS. Also, keep in mind that if you do not pay by the due date you will be subject to penalties and interest. For more information on this and other payment options, visit www.irs.gov or contact the IRS directly.

 

Learning helpful tips like these, researching your options, and making a plan will help reduce the fear of filing your taxes, thus, allowing you to focus more on positivity, tranquility and love, no matter what month of the year it is.

 

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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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

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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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      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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        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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          Christian Credit Counselors, Consumer, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Goals, Holiday Tips, Home, Kids & Money, Money Management, Personal Goals, Uncategorized

          Your Spending Habits and Your Holiday Spirit

          The Average American’s Holiday Spending Habits

          Already thinking about everything you have to do for the holiday season? Does the thought of holiday preparation stress you out? According to the National Retail Federation, it was estimated that the average American spent $77.52 on candy, costumes and decorations for Halloween in 2014. According to a CNBC report, the average American planned to spend $765 on Christmas for the holiday season as well. Is this how much you will spend this year? To avoid answering yes to this question, start planning ways to save money now.

          Holiday Money Saving Tips

          Shop with a Gratitude Attitude

          The first, and possibly greatest, thing that you can do to save money this season is to adjust the way you THINK about the holidays. Rather than getting caught up in the commercials, products, and social pressures, concentrate on the things you already have in your life that you can use or recycle and the people you already have in your life to whom you can show love and appreciation. Concentrate more on the FEELING that you can give someone else rather than the MATERIALS you can give them. For Halloween, get creative and make your own costumes during a Family Craft Night. Change your spending habits by making it about the experience rather than shopping. Can’t afford to make or host a big dinner? Plan a family movie night, rent scary movies, and gorge on popcorn and pizza.

          Make Random Acts of Kindness a Holiday Norm

          Instead of buying gifts, clean the car or house for your spouse, make a collage of old photos for a friend or family member, call a distant friend or relative and leave a Christmas Carol voicemail to spread cheer over the phone, make a list of reasons why you love someone or appreciate someone, write a song or poem for them, and make decorations using household items such as a string of popcorn. Use this new mentality to set the tone for your entire family. For any other holiday necessities, you can financially prepare to save money by creating a budget and setting aside a small amount every week or paycheck. Just remember though, gratitude, love, and the right mentality can save you and your family A ton of money this holiday season, especially if you are all on the same page.

          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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