5 ways to get debt relief from credit cards

5 Ways to Get Debt Relief from Credit Cards

Credit card debt is a problem for many Americans. For many people keeping up with monthly credit card payments is increasingly difficult. Causes vary. An illness, job loss, low income, or poor spending habits may be at the root. Spending more than you earn is very easy to do, especially with the convenience of a credit card.

If you cannot make your monthly credit card payments, act immediately! It’s easy to get caught up in increasing debt. You may not be able to break free without the help of a debt relief professional.

What types of debt relief help are available? We’ll discuss some options that may help you pay off debt. Hopefully, you can use these options to pay off your debt and start enjoying a debt free life.

What is Debt Relief?

Debt relief wipes out some, or all, of your existing debt. You may be able to negotiate, or settle, your loan amount with the creditor. You may be able to lower the interest rate or even eliminate your entire debt.

Your situation is unique, and no one method fits everyone. Explore your options carefully and pick the one that makes the most sense for your situation.

Get a Free Consultation and find out how our Debt Settlement Program can start helping you live a debt free life today!

What Are My Debt Relief Options?

  1. Make Your Monthly Payments – Use our Credit Card Interest Rate Calculator to see exactly how much you’ll be paying on interest and principal.
  2. Debt Settlement – negotiate a lower balance on your debt amount
  3. Debt Consolidation – taking out a loan to pay off other debts
  4. Debt Management – working with a credit counseling agency
  5. Bankruptcy – a legal remedy to settling out of debt. Make sure to consult a lawyer in your area for more information

The last four options come with credit consequences on your Fico score. However, not paying your debt on time may also result in negative credit consequences. The biggest benefit of paying off your debt is that you will be able to rebuild your credit later. You can improve your credit score with effort and learn better money management skills.   

There are several types of debt that can not be eliminated or settled. These include child support, student loans, and other secure loans.

What Do Debt Relief Companies Do?

Debt relief companies negotiate on your behalf with your creditors to help settle your debts. The debt specialists have worked with thousands of creditors. They know which creditors are willing to work out solutions and which are completely unwilling to settle.

Debt specialists know state and federal laws that govern lawsuits, collections, and statutes of limitation. Your debt specialist will guide you through each step of the process. The credit repair program takes two to four years and you’ll be in contact with your debt specialist at least once a month.

Once your debt is relieved, a reputable credit repair company will help you repair your credit rating. A good credit score makes it easier to buy a car, get a mortgage or even get better rates on credit cards and loans.

Steps Debt Relief Companies Take

  1. Your debt specialist will access your free annual credit report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You are entitled to one report each year, but they can be confusing. A debt specialist will guide you through the report.
  2. A debt specialist will go through your budget with you to see how much you can afford to pay each month
  3. Your debt specialist will work with your creditors to help settle your debts. They may be able to lower interest rates, settle on a lower amount, or even get the entire debt erased.

Who’s the Best Debt Relief Company For Me?

Pacific Debt has an excellent track record with credit repair. In business since 2002, they are in downtown San Diego. Pacific Debt has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and is a BBB Accredited Business. They have settled over $200 million dollars in consumer debt. BestCompany.com ranks them as one of the best debt settlement companies.

Pacific Debt offers a free consultation. Their debt specialists will perform an in-depth analysis of your debt and advise you on your options. They ensure that you understand all options and all the program details. Depending on your financial situation, Pacific Debt works with you to have you debt free in one to two years. The company does not make money unless your debt relief program works for you. You have nothing to lose and every to gain by contacting Pacific Debt for your free consultation.

Read real reviews from people who have used Pacific Debt to settle their credit.

A Certified Debt Counselor can help you from Drowning in Debt!

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How to stop drowning in credit card debt

How To Stop Drowning in Debt – A DIY Guide

Learn How To Stop Drowning in Debt Yourself

People fall into debt each day – it might just be a national epidemic. The problem with being in debt is that once you’re in, you’re in! It’s very difficult to get out of debt because it can be a financial trap.

If you can’t keep up with your credit card payments, or miss a payment, your credit will take a nose dive right into the toilet.

Cash is king, but good credit is just as important! Most people do not have cash reserves for a big purchase and must depend on credit. This is where good credit can be a godsend. Let’s discuss the necessary steps to take to keep you from drowning in debt.

Figure Out Your Debt Situation

Your first step in getting out of debt is to identify all your debt.

  • Get a copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com or creditreport.com. This gives you a list of all your creditors
  • Figure out the current debt amount, interest rate, monthly payment, due date and any other important information
  • Record all this so it is very clearly laid out

Once you have all the information you can make an informed decision. It might be depressing but it is important to know.

Most experts encourage you to pay off the highest interest debt first. Others suggest paying off the smallest debts first. Sometimes paying off the smallest debt makes you feel like you are making progress. It depends on your unique financial situation.

You may be able to refinance or renegotiate terms, interest rates, and other debts. Many people are drowning in student loan debt. Student loans are difficult to renegotiate, but refinancing can be done.

If you need help learning what your interest charge on purchases will be, try our finance charge calculator.

Start a budget

Next, find out where all your money is going. Write everything down. Include where your cash is going, where you use your credit card, and what you can eliminate.

This is the basis of your budget. Budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore, but it is the only way you are going to get out of debt.

Your budget should include necessary and discretionary expenses. Your budget should consider the following, although you may not have expenses in every category. Don’t forget annual expenses like car registration.

  • Housing
    • Mortgage/Rent
    • Property Taxes
    • Household Repairs
    • HOA Dues
  • Utilities
    • Electricity
    • Water
    • Heating
    • Garbage
    • Phones
    • Cable
    • Internet
  • Groceries
    • Food
    • Alcohol
    • Toiletries
    • Cleaning Supplies
  • Personal Expenses
    • Gym Memberships
    • Hair Cuts/Salon Services
    • Cosmetics
    • Babysitter/Child care
    • Child Support
    • Alimony
    • Subscriptions
  • Transportation
    • Fuel
    • Tires
    • Oil Changes
    • Maintenance
    • Parking Fees
    • Repairs
    • DMV Fees
    • Vehicle Replacement
  • Healthcare
    • Primary Care
    • Dental Care
    • Specialty Care
    • Medications
    • Medical Devices
  • Clothing
  • Gifts
  • Emergency Money
  • Entertainment Money
  • Household Supplies
  • Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Homeowner’s Insurance/Renter’s Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Disability Insurance
    • Identity Theft Protection
    • Longterm Care Insurance

Figure out how much you spend in each category. Be honest. If you eat out every day, include that! Now you have a good picture of where your money is going and how much/where you are spending it.

Your next step is to decide necessary and discretionary expenditures. You may have to give up eating out, drop a gym membership, or stop buying coffee for a while. It won’t be forever.

See if there are places you can cut down your necessary expenses. Could you get a less expensive car, move to a new place, or save money on other expenses?

Do What You Can Yourself

  1. Consider refinancing debt
  2. Call credit card companies, etc. and renegotiate your interest rates
  3. Drop or decrease expenses
  4. Consider consolidating debt through a home equity loan
  5. Use cash to avoid the temptation to whip out a credit card
  6. Wait 24 hours before purchasing a non-essential item
  7. Add another/better job if possible

Get Professional Help Paying Off Debt

A debt elimination agency may be able to help you set a budget, renegotiate interest rates, and teach you how to manage money more effectively.

Ask about

  • Services offered – look for a range of services
  • Free educational information
  • Developing a plan for the future
  • Fees/Contributions – get them in writing
  • Contracts or Agreements
  • State Licensing
  • Counselor qualifications and how they are paid (commission, etc)
  • Security of personal data

Getting into debt is easy. Paying off debt is what takes work and effort. Following these suggestions can definitely help you to stop drowning in debt.

A Certified Debt Counselor can help you from Drowning in Debt!

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Different Types of Credit Cards

What Types of Credit Cards Should I Have?

Different Credit Card Types For Different Reasons

There are many different types of credit cards available today but which credit card is perfect for you? Though the first official credit card is nearly 70 years old, the idea of buying items for immediate consumption and paying for them later has been around since 1865.

However, it’s only been in the last few decades that companies have expanded the types of cards they issue. There’s an ideal fit for everyone, depending on your goals, financial situation, and credit history.

In this article, we’ll provide a brief description of all your choices and help you narrow down the selection to one that’s right for you.

Why Should I Have a Credit Card?

Admittedly, a credit card can be dangerous. There’s something about the idea of not having to immediately pay for something that can make money seem almost unreal. The average US household owes more than $16,000 in credit card debt, further demonstrating the appeal (and potential danger) of “buy now, pay later.”

However, credit cards can also be incredibly helpful for the following situations:

  1. Emergencies: If your car breaks down, and you’re nowhere near payday, paying on credit may be your best choice. This is especially true if your paycheck has already been spent on other expenses. Having a credit card allows you to pay back the purchase over time and on your own schedule.
  2. Convenience: Remembering to have cash on hand can be a headache. Being able to pay for something, regardless of how much money you have in your wallet is a first world convenience.
  3. Rewards: Some cards, which we’ll discuss in a moment, come with rewards. If you’re saving up for a vacation or need to earn airline miles for a trip, a credit card can help get you there faster.
  4. Build a credit history: If you plan on buying a house, car or taking out a business loan, credit cards help you build a solid financial history. Many lenders won’t allow you to borrow unless you can show that you’ve handled credit responsibly. Click here for tips on buying a home with bad credit.

What Are The Different Types of Credit Cards?

Annual Membership: These cards come with a yearly membership fee. Typically, the fee comes in exchange for higher rewards. American Express was the first company to charge a membership fee, and most of their cards also require full payment of each month’s balance.

Other companies, such as Capital One, have recently followed suit with cards that charge an annual membership, though these cards don’t always come with rewards. Instead, it’s more like an insurance deposit for those with spotted credit history.

Rewards Cards:

As the credit card business became both more competitive and lucrative, more companies duplicated the American Express model of offering rewards for using their cards. However, many waived a membership fee.

Now, you’ll see rewards credit cards offering cash back on purchases ranging from one to two percent on airline miles, hotel stays, gift cards, merchandise, and more.

Airline Specific Credit Cards:

In an effort to diversify revenue streams, airline companies have begun issuing credit cards. Some can be used anywhere as a regular credit card, while others are only for use with the airline. Using these cards allow you to earn airline miles that you can use on future flights. For universally accepted cards, you’ll often get bonus points when you sign up or make purchases from the airline or at the airport.

Low Interest Credit Cards:

Some cards offer very low or zero interest for an introductory period. This is helpful if you need to make a large purchase and plan on paying it off before the regular interest rate kicks in. These cards are often reserved only for those with top-tier credit.

Gas Cards:

Gas stations have been issuing credit cards for decades to encourage brand loyalty. Some can only be used at gas stations, while others are universally accepted. Most will give a cashback reward for general purchases (usually one percent) and pay you back five percent for purchases made at the gas station.

Retail Cards:

Many department stores and retail stores have their own credit cards that they issue to loyal customers. This allows retailers to recoup some of the credit card transaction fees while also using consumer behavior for market research.

These cards are worth it if you get a discount on an initial purchase and cash back for repeat purchases. Otherwise, it’s just another hunk of plastic to keep track of and an additional bill to remember to pay on time.

Business Credit Cards:

A business card is similar to a personal card, but with some additional perks. There may be lower fees, better rewards, and higher credit limits. In addition, you can often add multiple members and allocate different credit limits for the users. For example, if you run a business and have employees who travel, you can issue cards to employees and allow the ones who travel the most frequently to have higher credit limits than those who don’t.

These cards also offer helpful reports based on business and personal expenses, which helps keep your finances organized if you mix business with pleasure.

Student Credit Cards:

College campuses are notorious for signing students up for credit cards and offering them free gifts like toasters in the process. A student card often comes with higher fees and lower limits, but if you’re a young adult with limited credit history, this is an ideal way to start small with charges and prove that you’re responsible.

Secured Credit Cards:

If you’re in the process of repairing bad credit and trying to rebuild, you may not be able to get approved for a regular line of credit. In cases like these, you may need to get a secured card. This requires you submit collateral that’s valued at an amount equal to or greater than the amount of credit you’ll be able to use.

There may even be fees involved. It’s definitely not ideal, but if you’re recovering from a financial crisis and need to rebuild, it might be your only option.

Pre-Paid Credit Cards:

These cards aren’t actually credit cards, but they serve a similar function in allowing people with poor credit histories to use something that resembles a credit card. Instead of submitting collateral, you pay funds in advance and “load” the card with funds. Then, you can use it as a credit card.

Often there are fees involved to reload and apply, so double check and compare the options before making a decision to use one particular credit company.

Which Types Of Credit Cards Should I Have?

Your lifestyle will determine the best credit card for you. Think realistically about what you plan on using credit cards for, your credit score, and what you hope to gain from a credit card.

For example, if you have average credit and you’d like to plan a vacation, you should try a general rewards card or an airline card.

If you’ll be paying your balance in full each month and want the highest rewards, you might want a premium membership card like American Express.

For people trying to rebuild their credit, you’ll have to shop around. Be prepared for rejection, but don’t settle for anything that’s unfair. A secured card or a card with a membership fee may be your best bet.

There are countless scenarios, so again, think about your goals and choose from there.

Is There A Perfect Credit Card for Me?

While there’s no one perfect card, we do highly recommend rewards credit cards that offer cash back and other bonuses. Most major banks issue them, and the interest rates are relatively consistent, depending on your credit history. We suggest choosing one that has the highest daily rewards percentage but also has quarterly events that can double, triple or quintuple your rewards.

For example, a credit card may give five times points at all grocery stories for an entire quarter. Often, it caps at a modest amount, but you’ll still be getting significantly more rewards than you would without the event.

The Final Credit Card Conclusion

Credit cards are convenient, easy to use, and new technology is making them more secure than ever. Most companies are eager for your business, even if your credit is less than perfect, so before committing to a card, shop around for the best rates and highest rewards.

If you’d like to find out exactly how much money you’ll be spending on principal and interest, check out our Credit Card Interest Rate Calculator.

Certified Debt Counselor can help you get rid of debt and stay out!

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How to spot financial scammers

How to Spot Financial Scammers

Perhaps the more difficult part about making money, is actually keeping it. We have expenses, debts, and everyday necessities that need to be fulfilled before putting our money safely into our bank accounts. Sadly, we’re also losing money to sheer gullibility.

Anthony R. Pratkanis points out that “every year, Americans lose over $40 billion in telemarketing, investment, and charity fraud.” Why do we fall so easily to financial fraud? Why are we so gullible? Debt is a burden that most of America is trying to overcome. It is also a burden we would do anything to shake — this means we are willing to fall for financial fraud because we want to believe there is a quick way, an easy way, and a shortcut to breaking free of debt.

According to Comet, 80.9% of baby boomers, 79.9% of generation x, and 81.5% of millennials are in debt today. That’s a huge portion of our economy that is just trying to keep its head above water. Put in this perspective, it’s easy to see that you aren’t alone. Unfortunately, this rising percentage of debtors has awoken a different kind of corruption beyond simple debt — financial scammers are targeting those in need of debt relief.

So how do you spot the scammers? How do you shake the financial sharks?

Grow Confident, Gain Knowledge

We succumb to scammers because we want the easy, quick way out — that is our first financial mistake. We must learn to become confident and independent.

The first step is to improve your own financial decision-making ability. Though you’re currently in debt, that does not mean you can’t grow, learn, and adapt. You should be aggressively attempting to learn everything you can about finances — you must believe that you can dig and claw your way out of this financial predicament.

A key component to gaining confidence is to prepare correctly. As Dante put it, “The arrow seen before cometh less rudely.” So put the time in to prepare for your upcoming challenges. For example, if you have struggled with filing taxes, prepare your documents beforehand and stay organized so that, when the time comes, you will be able to get a bigger tax refund in less time and with less stress.

If you have made financial mistakes in the past (as we all have), it’s time to get over the guilt. What did you do wrong? How do you get past it? What decisions should you make in the future to avoid similar mistakes? It is absolutely vital that you ask yourself these questions before achieving financial freedom.

Though sometimes we must lean on the advice of financial experts, your confidence can only quicken the speed at which you approach financial stability. Whether you are currently employing a debt relief service or are thinking about it in the future, you should be strengthening your personal financial responsibility.

Scamming Scare Tactics

I have received several calls and messages over the past few weeks that start out with phrases like “this is your final notice before we terminate” and then end with something like “lower your credit card rates.” Though not exactly a scam, the company that keeps calling me

Scammers will often use extreme language to evoke feelings of urgency. Words like “terminate,” “final notice,” and “warning” are meant to alert you to a fake-serious situation.

First of all, I do not currently own a credit card, so it was pretty easy to spot the scare tactics. However, even though I did not yet know what the phone call was about, I could not help but feel my heart flutter just a bit. Fear is the most common friend of financial scammers.

Nobody wants to lose thousands of dollars, so scammers will usually promise to instantly end some looming threat of debt. Quick debt relief is a goal that hasn’t quite been achieved yet. Most debt relief companies can square issues away between 24-48 months. Even for financial experts, debt relief is a process. Don’t be fooled by those who promise to wipe away a debt in just a day.

The Most Common Scams

While many scammers use scare tactics, there are many others that will play on all of your emotions to get your money. Don’t fall prey to the most common scams that promise wealth, safety, or security in exchange for personal or financial information.

According to ConsumerFinance.gov, some scammers will pose as members of the “nonexistent ‘Consumer Protection Bureau.” Government officials at the CFPB continue, adamantly stating “This is not us. We are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. Some scammers may claim to be with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection. Others may claim to work for the CFPB or FTC, but neither of these agencies calls consumers to alert them of winning a lottery or sweepstakes. ”

The CFPB also warns that scammers will often claim that they are from the IRS and that you owe debt. Such scammers threaten lawsuit or arrest if customers refuse to pay. It is important to note that debt collectors cannot use unfair or abusive collection tactics — such threats would be considered illegal collection tactics. To avoid tax identity theft, try staying ahead of your taxes, carefully inspect your credit reports, and be ready to freeze your credit if you suspect identity theft.

Read Up on Financial Services

Never accept a financial service without first looking at customer reviews. If you are considering working with financial experts to relieve your debt and lift your burdens, be sure that the company has the requisite accreditations (like the AFCC and the IAPDA for debt relief companies).

Customer reviews should act as a supplement to all of your research into each individual company. If you find that the vast majority of customer reviews oppose what the company or service claims, then you should move on. On the other hand, if you find a debt relief service whose customers support the company’s claims, you know when you’ve found a reliable and trustworthy company.

No matter your financial situation, you are always in danger of financial scams. Always be skeptical of those who threaten and ask for personal and financial information. Do not be intimidated by cheap scare tactics or promises of quick wealth. Your confidence and ability to spot a scammer will protect you on your personal path to financial wellness.

How to buy a house with bad credit

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit in 2018

How to buy a house with bad credit is one question we hear from our readers often. You may have been told that buying a house with bad credit is a virtual impossibility; or if you somehow manage to get a mortgage, you’ll be hit with a cripplingly high-interest rate. While it is unquestionably tough to purchase a property with poor credit, neither of the two statements above are correct. There is a program that can help you when you are looking at buying a house with bad credit and it provides you with a reasonable loan rate.

Mortgages usually have out-of-reach requirements for those battling poor credit. Borrowing for a house is the biggest expenditure most people ever face and lenders will get personal to deduce your creditworthiness. You’ll need to show information about your student loans, auto loans, credit card balances, outstanding medical bills, and all other financial obligations.

Lenders use this information (along with your pay stubs) to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. If this ratio is too high, you’ll be denied. Most lenders want this ratio below 36%, meaning your monthly debt payments must not absorb more than 36% of your salary.

Talk to one of our debt specialists for FREE. They can help answer any questions you may have when looking to buy a house with bad credit.

What is Classified as a ‘Bad’ Credit Score?

Every credit reporting agency calculates a Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score based on your credit information. This score can range from 300 to 850. A score of below 580 places you in the bad credit range.

Your credit score is based on the following information:

    • Payment History
    • Debt-to-Credit Utilization Ratio
    • Credit History Length
    • New Credit
    • Types of Credit

While there are ways to boost your credit score, they take time which isn’t helpful if you’re buying a home with bad credit in the near future. Fortunately, it could be possible to benefit from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan; a low-interest mortgage offered to applicants with bad credit scores.

Am I Eligible for an FHA Loan?

Just to be clear, the loan is ‘backed’ by the FHA but you still need to deal with lenders. The FHA loan is theoretically available to applicants with a credit score of 500-580. However, prospective lenders can still turn you down and up until 2017, it was difficult to get a loan with a credit score of under 620. As of December 2017, 23.6% of applicants with a credit score of 600-649 were approved for an FHA loan; only 5.25% of applicants were approved with a credit score of 550-599.

The FHA loan program was implemented in 1934 and has helped over 40 million Americans to achieve their dream of homeownership. It recently announced that it would be sweetening the deal for lenders and the new changes could help 100,000 extra families own a home each year. Here are the organization’s credit score minimums; please take note of them if you are intent on finding out how to buy a house with bad credit:

FHA Loan Requirements

    • A score of 300-499: Not eligible for an FHA loan.
    • A score of 500-579: Eligible with 10% down payment.
    • A score of 580+: Eligible with 3.5% down payment.

Unfortunately, there are no programs for people with credit scores below 500. Indeed, mortgage experts suggest that there is little possibility of a loan with a score of under 530.

As you can see, you need your credit score to be above 580 if you wish to benefit from the 3.5% down payment option. For the sake of calculation, it means you can buy a $300,000 house with a $10,500 down payment. If your score is between 500 and 579 however and you are approved, you require a 10% down payment which is a substantial sum of $30,000.

Bump Up Your Down Payment On a House

While this is admittedly a difficult undertaking, it is one of the best ways to buy a home with bad credit. Some lenders will approve you for a home loan even if you have poor credit, so long as you make a significant down payment. As you’ll need 20% of the home’s purchase price just to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), most lenders will expect applicants with bad credit to put down 30% of the property’s price. Using our hypothetical $300,000 example, you’ll have to save $90,000!

What a Bad Credit Score Does to Mortgage Rates

A 100-point drop in your credit score could add 0.25% or even 0.5% to your rate while a person with a good credit score can expect a rate of at least 1% lower than someone with a poor or bad credit score. If you receive a 30-year fixed rate loan of $300,000 at 4%, your monthly payments are around $1,300. At a rate of 5%, those payments increase to over $1,500. Over the course of your mortgage, that 1% difference equates to over $40k extra in interest! We encourage our clients and readers to visit our Credit Card Interest Calculator to get a better idea of how much you’ll be paying on interest and principal.

You Can Buy a House with Bad Credit, But Try & Give it a Boost First

While it is untrue to suggest that bad credit will prevent you from becoming a homeowner, it will make things harder. If you are unable to get the FHA loan, you’ll have to save up a large down payment and lenders will issue a higher interest rate because they see you as a greater risk. Check your credit report for errors, pay high-balance and high-interest credit cards first, and try to make all loan payments on time. Also, don’t forget to check out our finance charge calculator to see exactly how much you’ll be paying on interest and principal.

Find out how a Certified Debt Counselor can personalize a Debt Relief Program for you today!

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Financial Anxiety

Financial Anxiety and How to Battle It

Financial Anxiety

Current internet articles, posts, and headlines are filled with descriptions of the financial issues troubling many Americans. Layoffs, tax debt, and bankruptcies can add to the financial stress, and according to the American Psychological Association (APA), it’s taking a huge toll on our health.

While the country continues to recover from the recession, many of us still feel the weight of crushing debt. Unfortunately, prolonged financial stress can negatively affect our physical, mental, and emotional health. The good news is that help is available. Options like relief from tax burdens, debt management programs, and budgeting strategies can provide hope for anyone feeling the pressure of financial stress.

Managing that stress and finding support are essential to a journey towards financial wellness. Here are some tips for battling financial anxiety:

Know Yourself

No matter what you are going through, there is one person that you can always count on — yourself. Money problems aren’t necessarily your fault. However, your attitude will be one of the greatest determining factors for success. When you are surrounded by debt, with no end in sight, you can do two things: you can worry and stress about your problems, or you can embrace the experience as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Think about your financial problems as financial bloggers think about their money problems. They look at their finances as a resource for learning; once they learn what they need to thrive, they turn around and teach others. This learn-then-teach attitude is a healthy way to approach debt and desperation. Your debt is both an obstacle to overcome and an opportunity to become financially savvy.

Look for Support

Dealing with financial issues is stressful. However, perhaps the most difficult part is accepting help (either financial or emotional) from those around you. The APA lists social support as one of the most useful tools in the journey to battle financial anxiety. The APA recommends the following strategies to grow your support network:

  • Cast a wide net. Nurture relationships with all types of people, e.g., co-workers, friends, family, religious leaders.
  • Be proactive. Be confident enough to approach others about your struggles.
  • Take advantage of technology. Use apps, blogs, and other resources available to reach others. Find the best budgeting apps to increase your savings and create a plan to escape your debt.
  • Follow your interests. Use your hobbies to connect with others.
  • Seek out peer support. Blogs are a great way to connect with people in the same situation.

Help Others

Teaching others what you learn can be an important step on your path to financial peace. Consider sharing tips, strategies, and experiences through a blog. You will discover two things when you seek to help others learn how to establish financial goals: support can be found by supporting others, and the fastest way to learn is to teach. And who knows? You may even find another career path offering online financial advice.

Aggressively Seek Financial Freedom

The options for escaping debt are as numerous as the avenues for falling into debt. You should be seeking any and all viable options for relieving your financial burdens. Debt management and debt consolidation are feasible options for those with considerable debt. Budgeting, investing, job-seeking, raise- or bonus-seeking, and side hustles are all good ways to save.

Your journey to financial wellness will likely start out slowly. Yet, if you use the right money-saving methods, then before you know it, you’ll be racing down the road to a brighter financial future.

Pay Off Debt Before Buying a House

Should I Pay Off Debt Before Buying a House?

Should I Pay Off Debt Before Buying a House?

I never truly understood the saying “more money, more problems” until I actually started making more money. I’m not rich by any means, but every time I get a raise, a bonus, or a promotion, I go out and spend more money, which leads to more debt and more problems. Most of us want to end our cycle of spending and become financially free. Unfortunately, increased spending with increasing earnings is just the start of our debt woes; it gets even more complicated when you start thinking about bigger, more necessary purchases.

If you’re anything like me, the more money you’ve made, the more you’ve thought about that one massive investment we all aspire to — a home of your own. A house is a more worthwhile purchase than most things, but the prospect can leave us wondering how to prioritize our debts. Obviously, the fewer debts you have, the easier it will be to qualify for a mortgage loan, right? Not necessarily. Before picking out your dream home or starter home, you need to figure out which debts to eliminate and which to work on in the long run — a task which can be frustratingly complex.

Paying Off Debt Before Getting a Mortgage

So, here’s the big question: should you pay off debt before buying a house? The short answer is yes, by all means, you should pay off debt before buying a house. But, you absolutely must do it strategically. And you probably shouldn’t close all credit card accounts, or you could ruin your chances of even qualifying for a mortgage. If you have no debts (credit card accounts or otherwise), you could ruin your Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI), which is what banks look at to determine your borrowing capacity.

Banks use your DTI in order to score your ability to handle a mortgage loan. DTI is calculated by dividing your total minimum debt by your gross monthly income. If you have two minimum monthly payments of $500 each and a monthly income of $3000, your DTI is 33 percent (1000 divided by 3000), which is a pretty good DTI.

According to Investopedia, “a low debt-to-income ratio demonstrates a good balance between debt and income. In general, the lower the percentage, the better the chance you will be able to get the loan or line of credit you want.” With DTIs, the lower the better. But, if you’re looking for a DTI ratio to shoot for, try to stay under 40 percent, with a max DTI being 43 percent.

Becoming Debt-Free While House Hunting

You probably already noticed that becoming completely debt-free might not be as simple as it sounds, especially when house hunting; you almost need to approach the matter sideways. Instead of just paying off all of your debts blindly, you should pay attention to what your debts do to your home-buying chances. Most people would pay off high-interest debts first, in order to save more money. However, one of the best things you can do to qualify for a great mortgage loan is to make big payments on big debts — which leads to a better mortgage.

You’d think it would be safest to pay off your high-interest debts first, but that doesn’t really help your chances with the bank. In reality, paying off debts with large payments does signal to the bank that you might be prepared for the responsibility of mortgage payments.

For example, if you have a $10,000 (15 percent interest) credit card bill and about $10,000 dollars to pay bills, paying a big chunk of your $15,000 (0 percent interest) debt will actually help you more than paying off your entire credit card bill.

So you can go ahead and pay off those high-interest debts if you want, but the banks aren’t highly interested in them. What’s really impressive to banks and mortgage companies is if you can pay off debts with big payments (regardless of interest). According to Fox Business, “banks and mortgage companies do factor in what you are obligated to pay each month as a benchmark for determining your credit capacity.”

When you think about approaching paying debts vs. buying a home, remember these two important facts: first, your credit score will affect your interest rate. Second, your income (minus your payments on current debts) will signal to banks how much money you can borrow. It might be a bit complicated at first, but if you stick with it, do enough research, and ask for advice from friends, you’ll be much more equipped to handle life’s financial challenges and enjoy its rewards.

 

Get Budget Help With Budget Apps

What Are The Best Budgeting Apps of 2018?

The Best Budgeting Apps of 2018

Most people believe in the power of budgeting; some people think it’s just an excuse to avoid the real solution. Richard Quinn, a retired VP of Compensation and Benefits with over 50 years of experience in managing pension and 401k plans for a fortune 200 company, offers some profound advice about budgeting. One particular thing he mentioned about budgeting apps will strike a chord with most budgeting experts. According to Quinn, “Nobody needs an app. They don’t even need a budget. They need to do a few simple things: Take their net pay and save 10% or more, throw away all credit cards, buy what you can afford only and spend all you want after fixed expenses. No budget needed.” What Quinn suggests may shock some at first, but it makes sense. Essentially what he is asking is for you to be smart with your money. Stop spending it first and start saving it first.

Yet, there remains a virtue in budgeting apps that might be overlooked in Quinn’s suggestion. What a budgeting app does is it disciplines and trains you to be the type of spender that Quinn envisions. If you have already achieved a high level of self control, you don’t need an app; in that case, as Quinn says, you don’t even need a budget. For the rest of us—those who are still learning to spend wisely and save regularly—we need a bit of help. Here are the best budgeting apps for those who need extra help in 2018.

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Budgeting apps come in all shapes in sizes. The best one will mostly depend on your personal taste, but for Larry Ludwig, Founder of Investor Junkie, “YNAB is the clear winner.” Ludwig explains that YNAB is his favorite for its simplicity and lack of confusing “bells and whistles” and notes that “for a first time budgeter, it’s important not to intimidate them with a complicated user experience.” The app’s website explains its method in three simple steps: “Get some dollars, prioritize those dollars, and follow the plan.” Those who are in debt are often swamped by numbers and projections of how much they need to spend or save. YNAB is a simple solution to get you back on track or stay on track.

Honeyfi

One of the coolest new budgeting apps is called Honeyfi, made for not only helping one person manage finances, but helps two at the same time. Most married couples have a hard time negotiating spending limits, individual allowances, and other finance rules. In the words of Sam Schultz, Co-Founder of Honeyfi, the free app seeks to solve that problem by helping “couples save more money, pay down more debt, and make better decisions.” Featured in HuffPost, MSN, and Entrepreneur, Schultz explains that the app does “spark a lot of communication IRL” and that it also allows “users to decide how much to share with their partner for each account (balances and/or transactions).” If you’re a couple looking to manage not one, but two different budgets, Honeyfi is a great option.

Mint

According to Brian Bartold, a licensed insurance professional with VFG Associates in Livonia, MI, the best overall budgeting app is Mint. This app lets you link “everything to the app including your credit cards, bank accounts and any brokerage or IRA accounts you have.” Though it might not have the speciality in helping couples like Honeyfi, Mint allows for more in-depth budgeting. Bartold also explains that Mint “also works with TurboTax and QuickBooks, two very popular programs for managing your taxes and bills.”

Even though Mint isn’t quite as cut and dry as other apps, it does simplify more complicated budgeting issues, like losing a job or going through a divorce, in a very helpful way. This simplification is possible because the app puts all financial processes in one place. Bartold explains this, saying “you may work with an insurance agent, stock broker, someone in your 401(k) department, all while doing stuff you are doing on your own. All those things are not being managed in one specific area. Using an app that combines everything you’re doing can make planning and budgeting simpler.” Mint is a great option for those with more money to budget and more financial issues to maneuver.

PocketGuard

The best part of the PocketGuard app is that it lets users link directly to their bank accounts so that all transactions and balances are current. As opposed to many other budgeting apps, PocketGuard is more focused on spending projections than it is past history. Because of this, the app can let you know how much pocket change you have to spend on any given day or even month. The app is a great alternative to Mint or YNAB if those apps aren’t to your liking.

As Richard Quinn pointed out, the best budgeting system available is your own persistence and determination. The purpose of a budgeting app should be to make your savings methods become habitual. Whether it’s Mint, PocketGuard, Honeyfi, YNAB, or some other budgeting app, make sure you are learning self-sufficiency and responsible spending. The most efficient budgeting tool should be your habits.

 

How Katherine in Michigan Retired Debt Free

Name: Katherine

Age: 62

Location: Michigan

 

When did you enroll in our debt settlement program and how much debt were you facing?

I had about 23,0000.00 worth of debt with 2 credit cards.

Why did you choose Pacific Debt over the options and companies you researched?

When I was looking for a company, basically, I went thru and saw Pacific Debt, I called and was put in touch with Josh Hallas.  In just speaking to him and his reassurances, I knew this was the company I was supposed to deal with.  Josh explained the company and just what we would have to do and he sent me the paperwork, and that was that.

Tell us about your journey through the Pacific Debt program? Are there any special team members you would like to recognize?

I have had Josh Hallas primarily throughout my whole journey.  There was another gentleman that I was dealing with, but then I was transferred back to Josh.  The last person I dealt with was Bethany R.  She was very helpful, but I was always transferred back to Josh.

How does it feel to be debt free? What are your financial goals moving forward?

It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and now I can retire knowing that I don’t have any financial debt hanging over my head.  That was and still is my primary goal.  Without the help of Josh and the other folks that had my case, this probably wouldn’t have been possible  – for me to retire without any debt.  I want to thank all the people at PDI who were there for me when i needed that little push to get myself out of a sticky situation.  I would recommend PDI to anyone who was in the situation.

We know we are not perfect. What suggestions or advice would you offer to help us improve our program? All advice is welcome.

I can’t think of anything that you would need to change, all of your people are very kind, courteous and helpful.  I thank them all from the bottom of my heart!!

Meet Christopher – Now Debt Free Thanks to Pacific Debt

Name: Christopher

Age: 35

Location: California

 

When did you enroll in our debt settlement program and how much debt were you facing? How did carrying all of that debt make you feel?

We enrolled March 2016 in Pacific Debt’s program, with $23,176 in debt. Carrying that much debt made it almost impossible to make ends meet. We could make only minimum payments, and would immediately be checking balances and available credit to see which card we could use next. Purchases were for necessities, not fun or frivolous items. We lived credit card limit to credit card limit.

 

Christoper, Debt Free, Pacific Debt

Tell us about your journey through the Pacific Debt program? Are there any special team members you would like to recognize?

Our journey through Pacific Debt’s program was worry free and easy. We were contacted immediately whenever something was needed, and we were informed of every step taken along the way. Brian LoBianco was amazing to work with! He took care of our account and our debts in the fastest way possible, never neglecting quality service, and ended up getting us great settlement agreements with our creditors. He was professional at all times, and we could tell that he cared about us and the assistance he provided.

 

How does it feel to be debt free? What are your financial goals moving forward?

It feels amazing to be debt free! One thing this program allowed us to do is learn how to live without using credit. By not being able to use our cards, and by lightening the load that we carried, we were able to manage our budget in a credit free way, realizing what we really needed, and what we could do without. Our financial goals are to continue to live completely free of revolving debt, not having to worry about paying high interest for what easily could have been the rest of our lives doing what we were doing before.

 

We know we are not perfect. What suggestions or advice would you offer to help us improve our program? All advice is welcome.

I honestly was completely satisfied. I will say, the first 6 months to 1 year of creditor/collector phone calls was nerve racking. Understanding that things had to get worse before they could get better was key, though it was still a time that worried us. Pacific Debt made sure we understood the process, and what to do with those calls and contacts, and that made all the difference. We knew Pacific Debt was in our corner the whole time.

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