Debt Consolidation

The Facts About Debt

Basic Credit Hygiene: Exploring Your Credit Report

Filed under: Debt
Tags: , — Written by: Simos
July 30, 2010
Is your credit report everywhere you want to be?

Is your credit report everywhere you want to be?
Photo by: Philippe Ramakers (Stock Exchange)

These days, as more and more people have found themselves dealing with creditors on unfavorable terms and fighting to pay household bills with mounting credit card balances, consumers are inundated with calls to keep an eye on their credit report.

Receiving a credit report from each of the three reporting agencies once a year is free, and it’s also a key step in detecting fraud and preventing identity theft.

Today, UWSA discusses the credit report: how to obtain it, how to read it, and how it relates to the credit score. (more…)

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UWSA College Finance Series: What to Do After College? Three Ideas

Filed under: Debt
Tags: , — Written by: Simos
July 23, 2010
Ready to leave home after graduation? Not so fast!

Ready to leave home after graduation? Not so fast!
Photo by: Robert Linder (Stock Exchange)

Inthe last few posts on UWSA, we’ve been talking about student debt. More than any other financial challenge, even high credit card balances, student loans and debt impact the lives of millions of young people on the long term. With tuition rising each year, and the job market unsteady, some experts are recommending systematic change to help students who are dealing with creditors and trying to establish themselves financially. Should college students consider staying at home a year after graduation? (more…)

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UWSA College Finance Series: Post-College Debt Management

Filed under: Debt
Tags: — Written by: Simos
July 16, 2010
Is he thinking ahead to years of debt?

Is he thinking ahead to years of debt?
Photo by: Harrison Keely (Stock Exchange)

Last time on UWSA we described the basic categories of college financial aid and how each one relates to a student’s financial future.

Now, we’ll zoom ahead a few years to discuss what happens after graduation, when both federal and private student loans fall due.

In today’s job market, a salary that can pay substantial student debts along with living costs within a short time of graduation simply isn’t guaranteed.

Knowing the ins and outs of repayment in advance can make debt management much easier. (more…)

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UWSA College Finance Series: All About Aid

Filed under: Debt
Tags: — Written by: Simos
July 9, 2010
Are you getting “hung out to dry” on student loans?

Are you getting “hung out to dry” on student loans?
Photo by: mmagallan (Stock Exchange)

One of the central facts of financial life for millions of young Americans is student debt.

Indebtedness related to tuition at university is one of the major sources of long-term debt burden in the United States, ranking alongside costly medical bills as a potential source of monetary heartache for years to come; even high credit card balances don’t pose the same systemic risk.

For many students whose families lack financial resources to pay full cost of attendance, loans covering some expenses are nearly inevitable. But, with forethought and diligence, long-term debts can be minimized.

This is the beginning of an ongoing series intended to shine a light on college finance. We’ll give you the facts you need to make sure you won’t be dealing with abusive creditors the day after graduation. (more…)

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Spotting Debt Settlement Scams

Filed under: Debt
Tags: , — Written by: Simos
May 28, 2010
Don’t get “trapped” by offers that are too good to be true

Don’t get “trapped” by offers that are too good to be true
Photo by: John Gardiner (Stock Exchange)

Debt settlement and debt consolidation are becoming popular options for hard-working people who are suffering from a debt burden they cannot shoulder.

Debt settlement involves negotiating with creditors for favorable terms in a good faith effort to pay down debts, leading (ideally) to reduced payment and principal amounts.

Unfortunately, hundreds or even thousands of scammers have hung a shingle claiming “debt settlement” services on the internet. These unscrupulous types not only give legitimate financial professionals a bad name, but provide none of the benefits they promise, leaving customers worse off than when they started.

In this post, we’ll provide some tools for spotting debt settlement scams. (more…)

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Night of the Living Debt: Eliminating “Zombie Debt” From Your Credit Score

Filed under: Debt, Family Finance
Tags: — Written by: Simos
May 7, 2010
Don't let your expired debts "rise from the grave!"

Don't let your expired debts "rise from the grave!"
Photo by: dhollister (Flickr)

In a previous post, we focused on debt collectors and unfair collection practices.

Today, we’ll discuss “zombie debt”: debt that continues to linger “in collection” long after it is paid.

This is a recent phenomenon, owing to the huge proliferation of third-party debt collectors and debt buyers touched on earlier.

Because of low levels of communication between these middlemen, not to mention the possibility of unscrupulous practices, different companies may attempt to collect on the same debt multiple times as it passes from hand to hand.

Zombie debt can be the result of honest error, but requires even more vigilance and persistence to solve than other forms of debt collection abuse. (more…)

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Tools and Tips to Stop Abusive Debt Collectors

Filed under: Debt, Family Finance
Tags: , , , — Written by: Simos
April 30, 2010
Bill collector acting like a pirate? The law's on your side

Bill collector acting like a pirate? The law's on your side
Photo by: Bill Davenpot (Stock Exchange)

Every day, thousands of Americans get calls from debt collectors.

If you’re in the middle of settlement, debt consolidation, or even in the early stages of seeking debt relief, you don’t deserve unwanted and harassing calls; and you don’t have to let them disrupt your life.

Today, we’ll discuss facts and resources to help you use existing consumer credit protection laws to your advantage and cut through the climate of fear that a small minority of abusive debt collectors create for hard-working people. (more…)

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Keep Your Kids Out of Debt: Four Credit Facts to Share With Teens and Young Adults

Filed under: Children, Debt, Family Finance
Tags: , , , — Written by: Simos
April 2, 2010
Wallet

Photo by: Sanja Gjenero (Stock Exchange)

In today’s tight consumer credit market, it’s harder than ever for someone starting out on the road to financial responsibility to establish strong credit; and even with new legislation intended to protect credit-holders, the stakes may very well be higher now than they were twenty, ten, or even five years ago. A few key credit facts can go a long way toward helping teens and young adults establish a positive credit history that works in their favor when it’s time to start making big decisions.

Here are some useful credit tips to help the youngster in your life avoid debt as an adult. (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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Does Debt Stacking Really Work?

Filed under: Banks, Debt, Debt Consolidation
Tags: , , , , — Written by: Lyuda
March 29, 2010

Too Much Credit
Photo by: Andres Rueda (flickr)

Looking through some of our older articles on UWSA I found some on the subject of Debt Stacking. A few people have asked me whether this is a good idea, and whether it does what it says for people. I’ve never used debt stacking myself, though it is really just a high tech way to follow through on making sure you’re not paying a bunch of extra fees and interest to maintain multiple credit lines. That is a pretty common sense part of maintaining your credit rating. Here’s a little on making debt stacking work, and seeing if it’s right for you.

Firstly a little on what debt stacking is. The basic concept is that once you pay off a debt with a monthly payment you continue to apply the money previously allocated to the monthly payment to the payments for other debts. If you’re trying to get out of debt it’s pretty obvious that is a good idea. What is not obvious is which debts to apply the freed up money to.

Mathematically if you want to get out of debt faster there is a relationship between both the amount of a monthly payment, the balance, and the interest rate. No I don’t know the formula off the top of my head, but there are a lot of computer programs that do, and will allow you to input basic information about your debts and spit out the order in which to pay them off or ’stack’ them.

Tip number one would be not paying a lot for a program; if the goal is spending less repaying your debt and getting out of debt faster burning a bunch of money on a program doesn’t make sense. There are free tools out there to figure this information out, and sometimes professionals will offer that information free of charge or at a reduced fee as well.

One thing debt stacking does do is to avoid what is called ‘the shotgun approach’ to repaying debt. This is where one month you put a little extra on one bill, and next month you do another. Using that approach is a great way to maximize how long you stay in debt.

Tip number two, which is true of any debt repayment strategy, is stick to the plan. The benefits of debt stacking can be great, and include very reduced interest on one’s debts. These benefits drop fast though for every month you don’t make the payments in the manner suggested. If you cannot do this by yourself debt consolidation with a credit councilor or debt consolidation service might make more sense.

Debt stacking can be really helpful in repaying debt, and save you a ton of money. It is also usually free and because generally you are not modifying your repayment plan significantly it can help build your credit rating as well. The key is keeping to the plan, and knowing your limits. As always though the plan only works if it works for your.

Too Much Credit Photo by: Andres Rueda (flickr)

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