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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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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    [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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    Uncategorized

    Financial Responsibilities of Fathers

    What role do you play in your household? What are your responsibilities? For more than seventy million fathers in the United States countless responsibilities are assumed, especially when it comes to the well-being of their family. Even though many households today consist of two-income families, a lot of the financial, physical, and spiritual stress can fall on the man of the house. After all, who taught you how to ride your first bike? Who was there to make it all better when you fell and scraped your knee? Who took you to the daddy-daughter dance at your school or church? Who taught you how to throw a baseball? Who tucks the kids in bed and kisses you good night? Not only can fathers and husbands be looked to for being strong role models that provide the significant mental and emotional pillars of love, guidance, security, support, and wisdom but they also take on vast financial responsibilities as well.

    Today, it’s estimated that Americans spend over one billion dollars each year on gifts for Father’s day to show their appreciation for taking on these responsibilities and providing for their family… but what does a FATHER spend on HIS family for the other 364.5 days of the year? According to the newly released estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it will cost a middle-income couple $245,340 to raise one child born in 2013 to the age of eighteen and this doesn’t even include the cost of college! Of course, this amount can vary widely depending on location, income, and number of children in the household. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at JUST A FEW things that a father may be financially responsible for providing to his family:

    • Basic Needs- food, water, clothing, housing
    • Health care- insurance for family/dependents
    • Child care and Education- day care, tuition, educational materials, transportation
    • Future Security- college tuition, retirement, will or testament to family, life insurance
    • Miscellaneous- transportation, lessons, leagues/teams, concerts, vacations, trips, toys, candy, ice cream, gifts, video games, technology, etc.

    You must admit, these are FAIRLY important aspects in life (food, housing, AND CANDY) and this list only scratches the surface of responsibilities that a father may undertake as an important contributor or head of the household! Father’s Day is a time to say thank you to fathers who accept all of these duties and more. So how can we repay them? Remember, saying “thank you” is free of charge but is a simple phrase that can be worth more than you know! How will you celebrate Father’s Day?

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

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      Resources: www.history.com, www.money.cnn.com

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      Debt Consolidation
      Debt Consolidation

      Debt Consolidation – Understanding how it Works

      A number of people have been able to get their lives back on track thanks to debt consolidation. You may have seen commercials or have read articles about the amazing benefits of debt consolidation, but you do not know exactly how it is possible to provide that much relief. It is possible, and if you are struggling with a large burden of debt, you should look into debt consolidation for yourself. It really does work! Let’s take a look at what exactly occurs during the debt consolidation process.

      A Debt Analysis Meeting

      Meet with a skilled credit counselor. But beware! You should not have to pay for a consultation or offer any personal information before you go in for a consultation. If you come across something like this, go elsewhere you are about to walk into a scam.

      A real, considerate credit counselor will meet with you for free with no obligations for future services or payments, and they will discuss with you in-depth your specific debt situation and the viable solutions that are available to you.

      Debt and Budget Planning

      Poor planning is what got you into a heap of debt to begin with. A credit counselor will work with you to hash out an acceptable financial plan moving forward. You’ll be able to determine exactly what benefits you will be getting out of a debt consolidation program and be able to ask all of the questions you want before you join the program.

      Time to Get Out of Debt!

      Once in the program, skilled credit counselors will work tirelessly to lower your interest rates and consolidate your payments into one monthly payment. You’ll no longer have to deal with those pesky creditors again!

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

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

        Making Money Matters Manageable in Your Marriage

        Mutual Money Management moneymarriage

        Is it love or money that makes the world go round? It’s both…Make money work for your marriage, not against it.  You need tips on strengthening your marriage through mutual management of your money.  This can be done and can even be fun!  Keep reading to find out how.

        Financial Honesty

        Have open, honest and non-confrontational discussions about your finances.  Set aside a regular time to talk about where you are, where you want to be and how you will get there…together.

        Budgeting and Strategic Spending

        Make budgeting a positive and fun project, rather than a chore.  Don’t view a budget as a way to plan spending out of your life.  News Flash: While you are alive, you will never stop spending money.  And, the ultimate goal is not to spend less, but to spend strategically and find ways to increase your income to continue to meet your financial goals.  Plan in the things you want and enjoy and work together to achieve them.

        Money Habits

        Be aware of your spouses habits and tendencies when it comes to finances.  Don’t eye one another to find fault, but look for opportunities to step in and offer encouragement or a listening ear.  Fear can lead people to hold onto finances tightly, or spend impulsively.  Find ways to help build faith and trust into each other, and encouraging one another daily.

        Reward Sacrifice

        Regardless of the roles you’ve decided upon in the area of finance, you are both working towards your mutual goals.  Look for opportunities to reward your spouse for their hard work.  Have they been making personal sacrifices to stay within the budget?  Acknowledge that in a way that will tell him or her: Thank you. I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m glad we are on the same team.

        Learn from Financial Freedom

        Get around other couples who are walking in financial freedom and learn from them.  Look for couples who are seasoned and successful in the area of mutual finance, and allow them to mentor you as a couple. They have been where you are and have insight into your success.

        The Three L’s

        Love much. Live well. Laugh often.  Always remember the love you have for your spouse.  Keep that as a forethought, prizing it more highly than anything money can buy.

        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, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Settlement, Finance, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving

          Money, Love, and Marriage

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          Marriage and Money

          Roses are red; violets are blue. No matter the cost, I’ll stand by you…

          Have you had the talk yet?…You know, the one about money, spending habits, future goals, budgeting…?

          If you haven’t, it should be a top priority for your relationship.  If you have, have it again.  Discussing finances should be a regular and healthy part of your lifestyle together.  Being on the same page in this area will protect your marriage (or future marriage) against the most common relational enemy.  You’ve heard the statistics.  Money and finances are the number one reason couples argue and ultimately divorce. Don’t let your marriage become a number.

          Make Finances a Joint Venture

          Regardless of you or your spouses accounting or investment skill set, planning out your financial future and implementing those strategies should be a mutual effort.  Coming together to decide matters in the area of finance will allow you both to be on the same page number…of the same book.  Couples drift away from each other day by day when they are not planning their future together.

          Relationships and matters of finance should not be left to one person alone, even if he or she is “better at it.”  This disconnects one partner from a key area and anytime one of the partners is left out of a major area of the relationship, it will lead to the two of them planning and living, by default, two separate lives.  We, as humans, are meant to be in relationship with each other, and drifters will eventually wash up on someone else’s shore.  So, make it a priority to come together and stay together in the area of financial planning.

          Tip for Financial Success

          Use this time of planning as an opportunity to build closeness into your relationship.

          Respect and Love

          The two greatest relational needs. Anytime you are communicating with your spouse, you are communicating either respect and love or their opposites.  Since the topic of finance can stir one or both of you up, be especially careful to communicate this respect, love and trust through words, tone and body language.

          Listen and Speak Lovingly

          Listen for his or her dreams, desires, goals, reasons.  Your partner has spending habits, as we all do.  Find out the why behind the what.  This will help you to understand your partner better and offer support when needed.

          Be a voice of encouragement. Speak highly of and to your spouse.  Build him or her up with your words. Remind your better-half how capable, intelligent and valued he or she is.  You have the power to build up or to tear down, and it starts with a simple comment.

          Give Financial Grace

          If this is a new process for your relationship, a new way of doing things financially.  Give yourselves grace to get through the transition. Old habits may die hard, but building new and healthy patterns into your relationship is definitely worth the initial investment!

          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, Credit Counseling, Finance

            Christian Credit Counselors – Your Partner in Financial Advising

            Kingdom Financial Advisors

            As a Kingdom Advisor, you know the value of the individual and the financial potential each person has to live prosperous and free. You see the impact each client can have, not only on their own life and family, but widespread, from community to culture. Casting vision and capturing hearts, financial advising plays a unique role in one’s life. The relationship between you and your client is one built upon and secured by the foundation of trust.

            Clients seek financial advice at varied stages of life. There are those with a strong financial footing, those just beginning to build and those struggling to keep the lights on. Each stage of the financial journey requires advice tailored to suit the individualized needs of the client. As a financial advisor by trade, your skill set and expertise allow you to quickly recognize the needs of your clients and offer them the best personal guidance, designed to position them to prosper and achieve their financial dreams, and beyond.

            “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” – Ephesians 3:20

            Financial Biblical Principals

            Christian Credit Counselors (CCC), an accredited nonprofit agency, exists to serve individuals and families from Biblical principles of finance with the purpose of restoring financial peace, prosperity and freedom. Credit counseling and debt management are one aspect of financial advising, and Christian Credit Counselors serves as your powerful partner in releasing people from the burden and bondage of debt.

            “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” – Isaiah 61:1

            Financial Counseling and Encouragement

            At Christian Credit Counselors, clients receive counsel and encouragement to steward their finances well, pay back what is owed and use wisdom and good judgement in future borrowing. CCC offers a Debt Management Program designed to help clients systematically pay off unsecured debts in only three to five years and build a future of financial stewardship and generosity. Throughout the program, clients are provided free counsel and advice in the areas of credit and credit reports, budgeting, housing, collections and general financial education. Charitable giving and generosity is also an important aspect represented and modeled by Christian Credit Counseling through donations to local organizations like Catherine’s Children Home and Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and through the CCC Food Pantry.

            Christian Credit Counselors is here to help and looks forward to partnering with you so that your clients can reach their God-given potential, experiencing life and finance as He intended!

            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 Counseling, Debt, Finance, Goals, Money Management, Personal Goals

              Your Financial Future

              Your Financial Future

              Are you worried about where you stand financially or wonder about your financial future? Credit counseling can give you peace of mind.

              We all know that debt is a slippery slope for consumers. Knowing where you stand is the first step to walking forward in financial success. While internet research can provide a wealth of information about finances, credit counseling services take an individualized approach and paint a picture of where you are and where you’re headed. More than that, they will lay out the steps to get you there!

              Credit Counseling Service Benefits

              Credit counseling services offer experienced credit counselors who work with you to evaluate where you stand, where you’re going, and what to expect along the way. By carefully examining your monthly money trail, you’ll be able to put together a practical budget catered to your lifestyle. Not only will consumer credit counseling benefit you now, you’ll learn tips to help you succeed financially throughout your life!

              Your Debt Problems

              If you’ve already slipped into debt, you may feel absolutely helpless. Not knowing where to turn only adds to the problem. Well, now you have a solution! Credit counselors are an excellent source of advice and will guide you to available resources for situations just like yours.

              Debt management services help you get out of debt. And, being debt free will change your life! Watch your credit score increase and the collection calls cease. Save money on credit card interest and avoid the credit damaging option of bankruptcy.

              Step One to Financial Freedom

              This small first step leads to BIG changes – so start by enrolling in a debt management program! You’ll be learning and growing in a safe, accepting and helpful environment. Debt management counselors work hard to see you get back on the right financial track!

              So whether you’re interested in better financial management or you’d like to end the collection calls once and for all, take the first step to a more secure financial future – contact a credit counseling service today!

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

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                Budgeting, Money Management

                Money Saving – Top Ten Tips

                Setting a Spending Plan

                At the beginning of each year, many Americans include “get out of debt” on their list of New Year’s resolutions and then seem to live under the illusion that they will be able to wish this into reality since a spending plan is never created or written down. The most important part of taking control of your finances is starting somewhere and starting now.

                The only way you will get out of debt is if you stop unneeded spending and start allocating the money you are saving toward your debts.

                Money Saving Tips

                  1. Stop eating out –  Even if you only eat out once a week, if you spend $25 each time you eat out, you’d be saving $100 per month—so there you go, that’s already $100 you are saving.
                  2. Stop spending at Starbucks –  Let’s low ball this and say you spend $3 each weekday on coffee, meaning you spend $60 per month. Now you’re at $160 saved.
                  3. Use coupons wherever you go – Coupons.com has a plethora of coupons that you can print out. No one wants to be dubbed coupon-crazed, but one or two dollars here and there will definitely add up. Just make sure you aren’t buying something just because you have a coupon for it (and you don’t need it).
                  4. Cut out luxuries – If you’re serious about getting out of debt, you can find alternatives to these luxuries.
                    • Ladies— getting your hair done; either go natural or do it yourself. Color out of a box will save you at the very least $50. This also goes for getting your nails done.
                    • This one is for guys and girls—cancel your gym membership and go hiking instead. You’ll save $20-$30 per month and you’ll get some fresh air in the meantime.
                    • If you can think of some other luxuries you can live without, like massages or having a monthly cleaner for your house, you’ll notice that you’ll save at least $100 on those alone.
                    • Now for something a little harder to cope with for some—cable. Cancel cable and watch shows for free online at hulu.com. Most shows are available online and you can watch them at anytime. This will save you at least $30 per month.
                  5. Downsize your living space. You won’t have to stay in this situation forever, but this could be an easy way to save a few hundred dollars a month.
                  6. Downsize your car. Sell your car and buy a less expensive car if you would be able to make a significant amount on the sale. If your family has two cars, try downsizing to one and sell the other. It may not be very convenient, but if you are serious about getting out of debt as soon as possible, these are some options that could help you right now
                  7. Sell some of your items on Amazon or eBay.
                  8. Work overtime or ask for a raise (only if you deserve it). This also means it’s important to make yourself an asset at your company–do your job.
                  9. Take side-jobs if you can. Learn a new skill or use a skill you already have to make some extra cash outside of your current job.
                  10. Rent out an extra room in your house if you have one. Advertise this availability amongst your friends and family and post it at church. You’ll need to choose a renter wisely since they will be living under your roof.

                Have more tips to add? Share them in the comments below!

                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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                  Gas

                  Money Saving Tips at the Pump

                  Average National Gas Prices

                  The national average for a gallon of gasoline has hit $3.76 and is increasing daily. On top of that, gas has topped $4 per gallon in Alaska, California and Hawaii, with several other states close behind. Unless you are planning to switch to a bicycle anytime soon, the following 6 ways to save of gas will help you keep a little more cash in your pocket when you go to the pump.

                  1.  Warehouse clubs & grocery stores. Membership-based stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club have discounted gas available to their members. These places tend to consistently be the cheapest gas around. The only drawback is that you need to be a member to save–each membership ranges between $35 and $55 per year.

                  If you don’t want to buy a membership, you can always purchase gas at a grocery store that offers a discount, like Vons. Vons Club cardholders automatically received 3 cents off gas and can earn 10 cents off depending on the amount of reward points they accumulate.

                  2.  Use cash. Remembering to get cash out at the ATM may not be the most convenient option, but you will find many gas stations will offer a few extra cents off per gallon if you pay with cash. In addition, there are gas stations, such as ARCO, that charge $0.35 per transaction for using a debit card (they don’t even accept credit cards).

                  3.  Shop smarter. Using apps like Gas Buddy will help you save time and money. The user-updated app uses your phone’s GPS to give itemize a list of gas stations around you by distance and price. You then have the option to get directions to the gas station you choose. So whether you want to find the cheapest gas in your area or you’re running out of gas (we do not recommend this), this app will get you where you need to go.

                  4.  Fill up mid-week. Fill up your tank on Wednesdays and fill up all the way. Gas prices increase on Thursday mornings to prepare for weekend traveling and it’s important to fill up all the way since a break in price increases doesn’t appear to be in the forecast anytime soon.

                  5.  Avoiding idling. Aside from warming up or cooling down your car, avoid keeping your car on at a standstill. If you are going to be waiting for someone in your car for more than one minute, it is better to cut the engine than keep it on. It wastes more fuel to leave your car on than it does to start the engine again. This also goes for drive-through’s; it’s faster to park and go inside.

                  6.  Use a rewards card. If you qualify for a credit card that offers gas rewards, now is the time to take advantage of the offer. You can receive an average of 2-3 percent cash back on these types of cards. The important thing to remember is to pay your balance in full EVERY month. This way, you won’t be charged any interest and it won’t be tempting to carry a balance each month, which would cause you to easily slip into debt. If you don’t think you will have the discipline to pay the full balance, don’t sign up for a rewards card. It isn’t worth the risk.

                  Have more tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!

                  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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