Debt Consolidation

The Facts About Debt

Getting the Most from Credit Card Membership Benefits

Filed under: Budgeting
Tags: , , — Written by: Simos
July 2, 2010
Reward cards: leverage for your planned purchases?

Reward cards: leverage for your planned purchases?
Photo by: Hsi-Pei Liao (Stock Exchange)

Savvy consumers like UWSA readers know that there are certain things you have to know before accepting any credit card offer.

Basic aspects of your credit agreement such as APR, maintenance fees, and overage charges can make a huge impact on future dangers of credit card debt.

A little while ago, we discussed how to use your debit card to help accumulate savings for small purchases and medium-term goals.

This time, we’ll talk about maximizing benefits from your credit lines. (more…)

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Family Finances: Drive Down the Cost of Your Phone!

Filed under: Budgeting, Family Finance
Tags: , , — Written by: Simos
June 18, 2010
Your budget’s best friend ... or worst nightmare?

Your budget’s best friend ... or worst nightmare?
Photo by: Michal Ufniak (Stock Exchange)

Just get a fancy new smartphone? Hidden fees and costs from your phone plan can drive up your credit card balances and bloat your telecom bills beyond your worst nightmares.

But there are ways you can fight back to “trim the fat” and still benefit from the great features of modern phone technology. If you take a few steps to be savvy, you can enjoy your phone and keep your credit card payments low.

Here are a few tips.

(more…)

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Budget Alert! Be Mindful of PayPal Debit and Credit Offers

Filed under: Budgeting
Tags: , — Written by: Simos
June 11, 2010
Money you don’t see can “fly away” before you know it

Money you don’t see can “fly away” before you know it
Photo by: Shaun W. (Stock Exchange)

Many experts contend that, for day to day expenses, cash is preferable to credit if you want to maintain a budget.

The reasons go beyond the obvious: if you regularly use cash instead of credit, you don’t have to worry about interest, fees, debt, or credit card payments, of course.

But there’s a bit more to it than that: handling cash gives us a tangible reminder of our budget and allows us to “see” money going to use.

With the rising number of people using PayPal for small business, bills, and more, it can be easy to lose money if you’re not careful about where it’s going! (more…)

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Receipts and You: The Answers on Saving Your Records for Home and Small Biz

Filed under: Budgeting, Family Finance
Tags: , , , , , — Written by: Simos
May 21, 2010

Photo by: Dani Simmonds (Stock Exchange)

Owners of small and home-based businesses have a lot of issues to keep up with, and one of the ones that’s surrounded by confusion is the issue of keeping old financial records, especially receipts.

Some people swear by keeping each and every receipt.

Others consider the never-ending and always-expanding file of paperwork to be more a burden than a help when dealing with finances.

In this post, we’ll break down the basic facts for keeping your receipts and other major records. (more…)

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Demystifying Finance: What is a 401(k)?

Filed under: Budgeting, Family Finance, Investments, Saving
Tags: , , , — Written by: Simos
May 13, 2010
Retiremnt money

Retirement money
Photo by: Billy Alexander (Stock Exchange)

Every time there’s a dip in the stock market or a big company falls into dire straits, you can hear people fretting about three things: debt, the mortgage, and the value of their 401(k). For many, a 401(k) is a critical part of retirement savings. For others, especially young folk entering the workforce or professionals for whom retirement is a long way away, the 401(k) is something else entirely: a mystery, off in the unforeseeable realm of the future.

But, as with any long-term savings goal, the sooner you start saving for retirement, the sooner you can plan to enjoy it. Since retirement can mean many years of your life – and there’s just no telling what kind of Social Security protections or other government programs will be healthy twenty, thirty, or forty years down the line – it’s important to start thinking about it now. So we begin with an introduction: just what is a 401(k)?

(more…)

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Another Way to Protect Your Budget

Filed under: Budgeting, Debt, Family Finance, Saving
Tags: , , , — Written by: Lyuda
April 1, 2010

Photo By Declan Jewell(flickr)

Here’s another way to protect your budget – take advantage of the free account balance alert feature that many banks now offer. You can request an email you or a text message to your phone letting you know when your account balance falls below a level you specify or when your direct deposit paycheck has posted. They’ll also send reminders of when your bank payments are due, such as credit card debt or other lines of credit.

While there’s no guarantee the alerts will protect you from overdrawing your account or being charged fees you weren’t anticipating, they will let you know where you stand. If you do overdraw or get hit with fees, the alerts will allow you to take immediate steps to get back on track paying your bills if you break your budget.

You can prevent overdrawing your account, which is especially important if you’re still using a debit card. Instruct the bank to remove the ability to overspend from your debit card. Make sure the bank reduces the amount you can overdraw to $0. This is quite an important move for budget protection. It also keeps from getting into debt with the bank by having to worry about having an overdraft line of credit.

Once you’ve run out of funds, banks typically allow you to keep using your debt card as a credit card. Sometimes, they’ll even allow you to withdraw as much as $400 from ATM This allows them to charge you interest on the amount of the overdraft, which can be quite costly.

Probably the best way to limit overdrafts and otherwise spending more than your budget allows by getting rid of the credit and debit card. Just carry the amount of cash you have budgeted.

Similarly, avoid store credit cards. There’s so much advertising and so many incentives for consumers to apply for these cards and keep using them. But these are high interest credit lines that end up offering you no bargains. Not surprisingly, they are a bargain for the credit card company. You shave a few dollars off your purchase, they get hundreds in interest payments. That’s why you need to take only the money you’ve budgeted when you go shopping

These are all great ways to protect your budget and keep it working for you. Remember that it’s an important asset so you need to protect it from the biggest threat is has – your own ability to splurge and take yourself off track. .

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Protecting Your Budget

Filed under: Budgeting, Debt, Family Finance, Saving
Tags: , , , — Written by: Lyuda
March 25, 2010

Photo by: lyudagreen (flickr)

On paper, a budget may not look like much. Just a list of income and expenses. But if you’re doing your job and following that budget, you know what a critical asset it is. Your budget is keeping your finances – and your life – on track. So why not treat your budget like the precious asset it is by protecting it as you do with jewelry, a fine watch or a family heirloom?

Protecting your budget means following it. It means remembering to make payments when they’re due. It means saving and spending and donating according to a carefully crafted plan.

You can protect your budget in several ways. Here are some suggestions for the technically inclined and the not-so-technically inclined.

I use technology myself. I put my family’s budget into my computer’s Calendar. Then I sync it up with my digital organizer, which, in my case, is my cell phone. This way, I get automatic updates right on my cell phone every month when bills are due.

There are several software programs that do this too. You don’t even need a computer because even cheap cell phones usually include calendars which allow you to input recurring events.

On my cell phone, I get 2 notifications, the first one comes two days before a bill is due and the second one comes on the day the bill must be paid. This makes it very hard to forget when expenses need to be paid.

By due date, I mean the date I need to send a payment for it to get there in time. Some payments are mailed and others I handle online through my checking account.

For those who prefer not to deal with gadgets, paper calendars can work just fine. It’s best to put in expenses at least one month in advance and to check the calendar every day. Put it someplace that you’re sure to see it. And don’t forget to schedule the day to input your expenses for the next month or the next several months right in the budget calendar.

You can also use a personal date book. The important thing is whatever helps you to remember when expenses are due with enough time to make sure the funds are available for them.

Have you got a great method for staying on track with your budget? Tell us what’s working for you!

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