Debt Consolidation

The Facts About Debt

A Primer on Interpreting Credit Risk Reason Codes

Filed under: Family Finance
Tags: , , , — Written by: Simos
August 13, 2010
Let’s break the credit risk code!

Let’s break the credit risk code!
Photo by: jaylopez (Stock Exchange)

Earlier on UWSA we discussed your credit score and how to interpret it. Now, we introduce a new tool for raising your scores: your Credit Risk Reason Codes.

These codes are part of your credit report, and a few of the most pertinent ones may also be provided if you are rejected for a new credit line. Since descriptions are vague – numbers are sometimes all that’s included – many consumers do not realize these Risk Reason Codes can be extremely useful in diagnosing credit.

In the long run, tailoring your debt management strategy to take your personal “risk factors” into account can lead to lower credit card balances and a much easier time dealing with creditors of all kinds. (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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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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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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Don’t Understand the Tax Code? You’re Not Alone

Filed under: Family Finance
Tags: , , — Written by: Simos
April 16, 2010
Feeling a little tax pressure? You're not alone.

Feeling a little tax pressure? You're not alone.
Photo by: Davide Guglielmo (Stock Exchange)

It’s April 16th and taxpayers around the U.S. are breathing a collective sigh of relief as Tax Day has come and gone for another year — at least, that’s the reaction among those not scrambling to file extensions and deal with last minute IRS complications. If you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. One of the best reasons to seek help from an independent financial advisor is that although 90% of Americans file taxes, it can be argued that no one really understands the tax code. (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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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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