November 19, 2013
Over time credit cards have become one of the most popular finance options. Their flexibility means that they can be used in almost any financial situations; whether you’re looking to spread the repayments of a large purchase, spend money overseas, build your credit history or earn loyalty points or rewards on transactions.
Unfortunately though, when they are not managed properly credit cards can cause real financial problems – and because of their relatively high interest rates; the longer you leave it the worse it gets. Throughout this article we are going to run through a 5 step guide to how you can overcome credit card debt and get your finances back on track:
Step One: Calculate how much you owe
Although it may be tough to face the reality of your problems, this is ultimately the first step to overcoming your debt. So, find your most recent statements and see how much you have outstanding on each card. Until you are debt free it’s definitely a good idea to stay away from spending anymore on your cards.
When noting down all outstanding balances it may also be a good idea to include the interest you’re being charged highlighting any interest free deals or bonuses that you are currently benefiting from.
Step Two: Create/ recreate your budget
There are three possible reasons you got into debt in the first place:
1. You overspent month on month
2. Your budget wasn’t effective
3. You didn’t have a budget
Whatever the root cause of your problems, you need to draw a line underneath it and work on putting things right. The single most effective way of doing this is by creating an effective monthly budget.
To do this you firstly need to note down all sources of income that you’re receiving month-on-month. This will include your mainsalary, any other jobs you may have, anything you may be earning on savings or investments and finally any benefits or tax credits you may earn. Having added all of these together you now need to calculate your level of outgoings.
In order to determine how much you are spending throughout the month you firstly need to gather as many recent bank statements as you can. Arguably the most effective way of listing your outgoings is to split them into compulsory, essential and luxuries. Your compulsory outgoings will be payments that you make each month without fail, so things like: your rent or mortgage, utilities, council tax, loan repayments and insurance costs. Your essentials are things that you couldn’t get by without but often differ in cost each month, such as food, petrol, mobile phone and broadband bills, car maintenance costs, TV licence and parking costs. Finally, you luxuries are things that you don’t necessarily need such as entertainment costs, night outs, dining out, gym memberships, holidays and gifts.
It will be evident by simply looking at your bank statements whether each expense differs on a monthly basis or stays the same. For those expenses that differ, take an average from the past three months and if you’re in any doubt always overcompensate.
Your final step is to calculate your disposable income; this simply involves deducting your total monthly outgoings from your total monthly income.
Step Three: Adjust your budget
Now it’s time to make some adjustments to your budget in order to increase your level of disposable income. There are two ways of doing this; increase your income or decrease your outgoings. Decreasing your level of outgoings will be the simplest way of doing this, and your first stop should always be the luxuries section. By simply reducing the amount you spend on eating out, takeaways and seasonal gifts you could find yourself £100 better off over the course of the month.
Always assess your subscriptions too; do you get the most out of your gym membership? Do you really watch TV enough to warrant having Sky TV? Remember, the more you can save the more you can put towards credit card repayments and subsequently the quicker you can get debt free.
Step Four: Calculate how much you can afford to contribute each month
Now that you know how much money you have left over at the end of each month you can start to calculate how much you can contribute to repayments. Often the most effective way of getting debt free is by snowballing your debts. Snowballing is basically just the process of paying off debt in order of interest rate (from highest to lowest). So while you may only be paying the minimum payment on three of your cards, you are taking large chunks off the balance of your highest interest card.
It may be tough at first, but you need to condition yourself to churn any additional disposable income into your credit card debt. So, if you get a bonus at work or do some overtime then this needs to go towards your credit card repayments. The lower your level of debt gets the easier it will become.
Step 5: Keep your eye on the prize
There are temptations to spend every day you just need to ensure that you keep your eyes firmly on the prize of getting debt free. The rewards of being debt free will feel so much better than the five minutes of joy you get from an impulse buy.
, Credit Card
, Credit Card Debt
, Financial Problem
November 15, 2013
Are you stuck under a pile of credit card bills, student loans or a mortgage? You are not the only one. Across the world, people are struggling to come to terms with and control their debt. The worst part is when all your debt accounts are handed over to a collections agency and they come calling at your door. With all their harassment and insults, they make you feel like it’s the end of the world. Don’t worry and remember that it’s all a part of the game they play to get their job done.
Before all this starts happening, the best thing to do is take a reality check. The moment you realise that your debt situation is out of control, start thinking of ways to control it. There are ways and means on how to negotiate debt settlement.
Deal with the collectors
Face up to these guys and come to a settlement. What are some of the considerations while dealing with the collectors?
- Get the priorities right. When you decide on giving money to your creditors, first make sure that all your basic needs are covered. After keeping aside money for food, lodging, medicines, etc, then you start prioritizing the debt that you need to pay off. Never get intimidated by the collectors.
- Keep records. When it comes to money matters, make sure you have records of every deal and interaction along the way. All the letters, the e-mails, must be saved. Try and avoid voice interactions as much as possible and keep the correspondence written. Whenever any agreement is made, make sure it’s all in black and white and signed by the appropriate authorities.
- Again, don’t be coerced into paying more than what you can realistically afford. Don’t be taken in by the demands of the collectors and always offer to pay less than what you can actually afford. Always appear to be in control of the situation. If you show your vulnerability, they will zone in and try to take advantage of your weakness. This is one of the prime rules in how to negotiate a debt settlement.
Getting the services of a debt settlement company
Do you feel that confronting credit sharks is not in your style? Then you can always hire a company to deal with your creditors and do the negotiations. Again, step very carefully when you are hiring a company. Only hire a company with a good, solid reputation. Always go by referrals and recommendations. Remember that a respectable company wont need to solicit services through telemarketing and email blasts. They will rely on their good reputation through a steady clientele.
One important question to ask yourself before hiring a firm is whether their fees will add to your existing debt or actually sort out your debt problems? Be sure to get a clear picture of what their fees are and how those are being charged. Get it in writing to avoid grey areas.
Be well informed and aware
Make sure you are protected by knowing your rights. The more informed you are, the stronger your position will be. No one will be able to take you for a ride. You can get free data on debt settlement firms and collectors, from bodies like the state attorney general’s office, the FTC and so on. Then you will know what these people are allowed to do and not, with your debts. Get information about the debt settlement firms from your local Better Business Bureau before taking any definitive steps.
Act on time, and your future will be a steady one.
Ashton is a reputed freelance writer on topics like finance, debt and real estate. He has been published in internationally known publications over the past five years, where he has written articles on how to negotiate debt settlement. Ashton loves watching fantasy movies.
, Debt Negotiation
, financial planning
October 25, 2013
Anyone who currently rents a home or flat, or lives with their parents, may need to search for alternative forms of credit if they wish to take out a new loan. Fairly or unfairly, anyone who is unable to display a good credit history to a potential lender will struggle greatly to successfully apply for a loan due to strict lending policies. Fortunately tenant loans and guarantor loans have filled this gap in the market and are ideal for any tenant who has adverse credit, arrears, filed for bankruptcy, County Court Judgements (CCJs), debt issues or anyone who is self employed and has no proof of income.
Many high street lenders simply refuse to issue loans to people with a bad credit rating, regardless of the reason, and therefore turning to specialist loans to help counter this problem is the only realistic option for many people.
What Exactly is a Tenant Loan?
Tenant Loans have been created specifically for council tenants, private tenants, housing association tenants and anyone who still lives with their parents/relatives and hasn’t had a chance to build up a suitable credit history.
Whatever your circumstances as a tenant, even if you have a bad credit history, CCJ’s, defaults or payment arrears, tenant loans may be a viable option for you.
Who are Tenant Loans designed for?
Tenant loans should be viewed as the primary option for any council tenants, housing association tenants, most private renters, and for people living with their parents or relatives. Because this type of loan is unsecured, it guarantees that you will not need to secure your property against the outstanding balance of the loan.
Can Anyone Apply For a Tenant Loan?
In short, anyone who doesn’t own their own property is eligible for a tenant loan.
What Are The Alternative Options?
Similar to a tenant loan, in the fact that they have been designed to offer a way to successfully apply for credit even if you would struggle with a High Street lender, guarantor loans are becoming increasingly popular. Although this type of loan has been in existence for many years, confusion still reigns regarding how they actually work and who they will benefit the most.
Guarantor loans are available to more people than loans offered by some banks and other high street institutions because they utilise the presence of a friend/family member who will act in the role of guarantor for the loan to provide an extra level of security for the lender. For this very reason, guarantor loan lenders are willing to lend to those will a poor credit history due to missed repayments in the past, never having credit before or not having lived in the UK for very long, amongst a wide variety of reasons.
Whilst there are a range of other ‘bad credit loans’ available, nearly all have a very high associated APR and are only available in fairly limited amounts. Payday loans, for example, are designed to be paid back on the borrower’s next pay day. Generally this will leave them short of money for the next month and another loan will be taken out. This can quickly become a vicious cycle which is difficult to extricate themselves from. However, as well as being spread out over a longer period of time, your ability to afford the guarantor loan repayments will be factored into the loan application process, significantly reducing the risk of this happening again.
Author’s Note: Amanda Gillam : I work as a blog writer for a finance company called Solution Loans which specialises in poor credit unsecured loans. I hold a degree in financial management and enjoy writing about a variety of topics including finance, transport, travel, sport and business.
, Interest Rates
September 1, 2013
In the UK the Archbishop of the Church of England has struck out at pay day lenders calling them “morally wrong”. Unfortunately after bashing the pay day loan industry it transpired that the Church had invested over $7 billion of its pension funds in a company which had then supported a pay day lender. Indirectly therefore the Church had invested in a pay day lender! The very industry it regarded as sinful. It seems they were suitably embarrassed.
In response to the Archbishop’s attack the pay day lender in question, Wonga, who is also a pay day loan provider in Canada (see www.Wonga.ca), created and released a very clever, tongue in cheek, advertisement based on the 10 commandments – the Wonga version is the 10 commitments. The aim of the advert is to better educate people when interpreting the Church’s comments about pay day lenders. It sets out the promises the company makes to its borrowers and highlights the fact Wonga is a responsible lender. Probably the Church is a little unhappy that the debate and the new advertising campaign has certainly given the lender even more publicity – the adverts have of course been reported upon by the media thus resulting in free advertising and increased publicity for the company.
Further, far from sounding like the loan shark the Church has tried to portray pay day lenders as, the Wonga advert pretty much agrees with what the Church has had to say on the issue of pay day lending. The lender stated it was transparent about the price of its loans, carried out thorough credit checks and froze interest after two months to protect defaulting customers. It also said that it welcomed competition.
The pay day loan industry in the UK is not regulated like it is in Canada. Many politicians, charities and other organisations are calling for regulation but do not have the solution – the Archbishop is at least trying to push forward an idea. He is proposing that Credit Unions work from church premises to offer similar loans at lower interest rates – his idea is to push pay day lenders out of the market. This certainly sounds like a challenge. For a start he wants to find church members to volunteer as staff at the branches. This may be a big hurdle in terms of attracting customers. The average church goer probably does not reflect the average pay day loan customer. No one wants to be judged when taking out a loan.
A recent study indicated that the average age of a church goer was 61. Anglican leaders have warned that the Church of England will cease to exist in 20 years because elderly worshippers will die. As a result of this the Church presently has an urgent national recruitment drive to attract more members.
Just recently the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham stated that teachers should not illustrate math lessons with examples of “profit and loss”, or encourage children to save in order to buy bikes or toys Instead, lessons should focus on the math involved in giving donations to charity, saving for an overseas project, or even “tithing” – giving 10 per cent of one’s income to the Church.
When the Church is making statements like this you have to wonder whether it is the Credit Union/pay day loan “solution” is one part of its necessary recruitment drive. Pay day loan providers want profit, the Church wants people in seats: both have their own agenda.
Although the Rt Rev Paul Butler might not think it important, educating children about profit and loss and savings is all part of money management. This is vital in today’s society – Surely it is better money management which will reduce the need and desire for pay day loans.
Tags: Cash Flow
, financial planning
, Interest Rates
, payday loan
August 17, 2013
Refinancing is a great option that homeowners have especially when mortgage rates are lower than what they already have in place. Can refinancing a mortgage eliminate debt? The reality is that refinancing a mortgage cannot eliminate debt, although using a refinance to reduce debt can be a very successful financial strategy.
When refinancing, the homeowner is basically turning in the existing mortgage for a new loan. The new loan can have a different rate, a different term and a completely different program. Normally, borrowers will try to obtain a lower mortgage rate and/or a lower term, if possible. In most cases, the standard fixed rate mortgage is chosen even when refinancing from an adjustable rate mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages offers borrowers security by knowing that the same mortgage payment will be in place for the entire term of the loan.
Debt consolidation is often done when refinancing. By doing so, the borrower is combining the balances of other debt, such as credit cards, loans, etc., and adding it to the mortgage balance. While this increases the funds needed for the mortgage, the other debt is paid off at closing. The debt is not eliminated, it is simply moved to another debt vehicle which is the new mortgage.
Moving other debt to a new mortgage can only be done if the borrower has enough equity in the home. The homeowner must also qualify for the refinance according to the lenders guidelines. This type of loan is considered a cash-out refinance and will generally have a higher mortgage rate than a no cash out loan. The new mortgage will include the funds that are necessary to pay off the other debt. The debt amount is then part of the new mortgage and is paid as part of the the monthly mortgage payment for the full term of the loan.
By utilizing a debt consolidation refinance, many homeowners are able to free themselves of the burden of carrying an overabundance of debt that must be paid on a monthly basis. This debt usually carries a higher interest rate which can make multiple monthly payments uncomfortable. Adding these expenses to a refinance often results in a more cost effective budget for a homeowner because the total debt payment is usually reduced. The end result to the homeowners is typically a better monthly cash flow.
In order to reap the benefits of a debt consolidation through refinance, homeowners must make it a goal not to incur additional debt. With less debt, a homeowner’s financial stability will can often remain intact which leads to added security in case a hardship should arise. The savings recognized from a mortgage refinance can be accumulated or used in lieu of credit cards. This is the beginning of the path to financial freedom for many homeowners. However, incurring additional debt expenses after the refinance can lead a homeowner to repeating the process with multiple debt consolidation loans which, in the end, will not be cost effective.
Everyone dreams of the day when there will not longer be a mortgage payment to make. While it may seem so far away, time does move quickly and, with careful planning, it will be a reality faster than you think. Planning a refinance with debt consolidation will also help a homeowner reach their goals of eliminating overwhelming payments on a monthly basis.
Rosemary Rugnetta has been writing since 2010 for FreeRateUpdate.com, a company that matches consumers with banks and lenders offering low mortgage rates. Previous to her writing career, Rosemary spent 13 years working hands-on in the mortgage industry as a mortgage loan analyst, mortgage underwriter, loan processor and property manager.
Tags: Debt Problems
, financial planning
, Interest Rates