Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How to Fix Bad Credit?

Wondering how to fix my credit myself? Or how to fix bad credit? There’s no doubt that living in the modern world requires credit. Yes, you can live without a credit card and survive on cash or cashback debit cards.

I know because I did it for over two years as I paid off credit card debt. But what I really wanted to do was improve my credit score immediately.

However, when you are ready to buy a house, you’ll need to get your credit straightened out. In this post I’ll discuss getting a credit repair service as well as what steps you need to take if you decide you want to fix your credit score yourself. You might even be able to fix your credit in just 6 months.

These steps are so easy. Perfect guide for do it yourself credit repair.

Related articles from our approved partners:

How Can I Fix Bad Credit Myself? – 6 MonthCredit Repair Guide

First, watch this video from my friend Dominique over at Your Finances Simplified. He’s going to tell you exactly how to fix your credit.

Watched the video? Good.
Feeling overwhelmed at the next steps?
Yep. I understand.
Let’s take this step by step.

Take a deep breath. People think that having bad credit is the worse thing that can happen. But just calm down. You are taking the first steps which puts you on the right track.

Remember, it’s just money.

No one is going to die. Take control and get back in the driver’s seat!

Fix 1: Check Bad Credit

The first thing you’ll need is your creditor information. Get the most recent credit card statements, loan balances, and installment loan reports along with addresses and phone numbers. I recommend printing everything old-school style. It’s going to come in handy later.

Fix 2: Get a Free Credit Report

Then, take a second to get your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Each year you are able to pull your credit report for free from the three providers Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Optional: Get Your Free Credit Score

You can check an approximation of your credit score for free at Credit Sesame one of our approved partners, but if you are trying to fix your credit, you probably already know your credit score looks a little like this….

bad credit personified

But that’s ok. We’re going to put you on the good foot.

Fix 3: Review your credit report for errors (highlight each error).

You’re getting ready to take charge and stop being a victim. Most people don’t even realize what they could get removed from their credit just because of errors.

What should you look for?

Wait a minute. So, you’re telling me you didn’t watch the video above?

Scroll back up for me right quick and you’ll find out exactly what you should look for.

Or keep reading…

Dispute incorrect names, addresses, SSN, and date of birth via the certified mail.

You will need supporting documentation and letters. You will have to write a dispute letter and include the specifics of the inaccuracies. You want to dispute inaccurate, erroneous, outdated, misleading, and unverifiable information in your credit reports.

Tired of being harassed by your creditors? Maybe you’d prefer that someone else handle all of this for you?

In that case, you might was to work with a credit repair company to improve your credit.


Are you ready to…

  • Remove bankruptcies to rebuild credit?
  • Permanently delete foreclosures and repossessions?
  • Erase debts that were in collection?
  • Completely get credit cards under control?
  • Get approved for loans?
  • Get the best financing on cars and homes?

In that case, check out our partner Lexington Law for more details on how they can help you clean up your credit report.

Finally, fixing your credit permanently also means creating good habits and getting out of debt.

How getting out of debt is like the MTV show, I Used to Be Fat.

I used to watch this TV show on MTV called I Used to Be Fat. The show documents young adults, usually high school seniors and high school graduates who want to lose weight before they start college. Each episode features a different teen. I absolutely LOVE this show. I like seeing the determination and perseverance of these kids, they are really focused on their goals. Most of them thought about quitting along the way but each one makes it to the end and they usually reach their goal.

I was thinking the other day about how the TV show is very similar to a battle with debt. When you’re in debt, it can feel like you’re carrying around a second person, experiencing frugal fatigue, or that you have a spare tire of bills around your waist. I know because I’m working on getting out of debt myself. I realized that there are 3 major points we can learn from the MTV show I Used to Be Fat when trying to take control of our debt.
debt

Improve Your Credit Step 1 – Give Yourself a Deadline

Before the teens even begin a weight loss program, their coach/personal trainer gives them a large tear off number calendar to place on their wall. It has the total number of days until their program completion date, and every day they rip off the next number.

It is a good idea, when you are paying off debt, to set a deadline for your debt-free date, like 6 months. Setting a deadline is a way of making your goal specific. Every time you look at that calendar or see that date it will push your brain consciously and subconsciously to make it to your ultimate goal, to reduce spending and get out of debt.

Improve Your Credit Step 2 – Check in Regularly with a Coach

Every week, the kids had a weigh in. Their personal trainer was making sure that they were on track with how much weight they were supposed to be losing at each stage in the process. Sometimes they were attempting to lose one pound a day! I never thought that was possible or healthy, but most of the teens actually accomplished it under the supervision of their coach.

If you really want to prioritize your goal of becoming debt free then you really have to give yourself check points. You can enlist the help of a friend or even a debt counselor to help you along the way. Having a good support system can make all the difference.

Improve Your Credit Step 3 – Get Rid of Old Habits and Create New Ones

When one of the teens was at a restaurant with her friends, she ordered a lean meal instead of the greasy french fries that her friends had. The personal trainer also taught her how to cook healthier meals so that she would be able to maintain her new lifestyle change.

Becoming debt-free is not a one-time goal. It has to be a lifestyle change. When I decided to start getting out of debt, I had to first evaluate why I was in debt in the first place. I had to eliminate my habit of impulse spending and replace that habit with a good habit. Now I impulse buy stocks and my portfolio loves it! It’s not easy to change a habit that took years to cultivate, but with a good support system, it is entirely possible.

Are you ready to make a change?

Some of you may be thinking, I’m still young, so why should I care about my credit score? Lots of people have debt and less than stellar credit, but they’re still enjoying a cushy lifestyle. As long as I’m able to buy the things that I want, why should I be concerned? The answer is simple. Life is easier when you have good credit.

Take a look at it this way. Landlords, employers, and lenders need to determine whether they can trust you, and they look at your credit score as an indicator of your financial reputation. You may not think credit affects you greatly, but it does. When you ruin your financial reputation (a.k.a. credit score), it will take you a long time to restore it.

Poor credit affects your ability to rent, buy a car, get a home loan, and even open up accounts. Creditors don’t want to work with people with bad credit because the risk of not getting paid is very high. How can they trust that you will pay them back if you haven’t even paid others? If you’ve already tarnished your credit, here are some tips to help you fix your credit score and reestablish your life.

Improve Your Credit Step 4 – Make Your Payments on Time

This may sound trivial, but we all know that money can be tight, and skipping payments on one bill can help pay for other expenses. But, timely payments are the biggest factor affecting your credit score. Keep a budget, and make sure you have sufficient funds to make your credit card and loan payments on time.

Improve Your Credit Step 5 – Consider Getting a Secured Credit Card

Obviously, it will be very hard to get a regular credit card if you have bad credit. If you don’t qualify for a credit card, you can get a secured card instead. This is when the bank gives you a credit line equal to the deposit you make. If used wisely, a secured card can help nurse your poor credit to better health.

Improve Your Credit Step 4 – Add an Installment Loan

You can improve your score quickly if you show that you can be responsible for both major kinds of credit: revolving (credit cards) and installment (mortgages, auto, student loans, etc.). If you don’t have an installment loan and feel you are ready to handle one, consider adding a small personal loan. Stay away from expensive finance companies and “teaser” deals, and use a company that reports the loan to all three credit bureaus.

Improve Your Credit Step 5 – Avoid the Minimum Payment Trap

Credit cards come with high interest rates. We all know how our $2,000 computer ended up costing $8,168 because we only made the minimum payments at 20% on our credit card. Ouch, that hurts! Keep constant payments on your credit card (and don’t run them up again) and your balances will drop.

Improve Your Credit Step 6 – Use Your Credit Cards Lightly and Check Your Limits

Even if you pay your bills on time and in full each month, having big balances can hurt your score. Try to limit charges to 30% or less of your card’s limit. Lenders typically like to see a big gap between how much you’re charging and your available credit limit.

Improve Your Credit Step 7 – Keep Old Credit Cards

Don’t close out old credit cards. The longer your credit history, the better. Leave the accounts open but once you pay them off, stop using them. Closed accounts tend to bring down your score.

Improve Your Credit Step 8 – Suspend Credit Inquiries

The more credit inquiries you have, the more your credit score drops. Fix your credit and wait a while before allowing your credit to be pulled again.

Improve Your Credit Step 9 – Get a Goodwill Adjustment

If you have been responsible about paying your credit cards on time, the lender may agree to erase a late payment from your credit history. For more troubled accounts, communicate with your lender about possible options to erase previous delinquencies. If the lender agrees, it will improve your overall record.

Improve Your Credit Step 10 – Check Your Credit Report for Errors

You can check your credit report without negative scoring (once per year, for free) with the three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure to look for any mistakes that could be hurting your score. If you see something wrong, make the effort to have it corrected.

Improve Your Credit Step 11 – Seek Professional Help

If you are overwhelmed with debt and don’t feel you can handle the problem on your own, consider working with a professional debt relief agent. They can help you explore your options and give you guidance on this post

It’s very easy to ruin your credit, but it takes time to build it back up. No matter how bad your credit is, you can take steps to make it better.

Sometimes we mishandle our budget, and we spend more than we should. (You know that you shouldn’t have bought that expensive flat screen TV). And, sometimes we end up in tough financial situations because of things beyond our control. Whether you have experienced job loss, illness, or another type of financial disruption, it’s important to know that you can turn things around.

It may not be easy, but step by step, you will be able to fix your financial situation. Just don’t delay facing the issue. The longer you wait, the harder it is for you to recover.

Categories
Earn Extra Income

How To Start a Blog and Make Your First $100

Want to start a blog? So did I when I graduated college.

When I first started this blog more than 5 years ago, I had no idea that it would grow into what it is now.

Because of the work that I put into this blog, I was able to use the extra side-hustle income to pay of over $32,000 of credit card debt. (You can read my story here.) Then each month my income continued to grow.

First I consistently made $500 a month.

Then, I saw my first $1,000 month and again and again I reached an extra thousand dollars per month.

After that, I looked for ways to increase my income and hit my goal at the time which was to earn $5,000 per month. That would allow me to leave my full time job and work for myself.

That happened after the 4-year mark.

All of that came from the blog and what I learned from it.

I’m going to teach you exactly how to do what I did on this blog. The first step is to create your own blog.

You have to own a home on the web.

Then you can earn in a few ways.

Are you starting a blog for your business website? Do you want to start a blog to start your business? Resources that I use and recommend.

Earn Extra Income The Slow Way

The slow way includes passive income from ads that you place on your site, affiliate income from recommending products and services to your readers, and being a brand ambassador.

Earn Extra Income The Faster Way

The medium speed way includes semi-passive income from promoting like crazy, getting featured in the news, contributing guest posts, getting on podcasts, and working with large brands.

Earn Extra Income The Fastest Way

The fastest way to earn money online is to create a one-page website that describes what you do, then you find your first client. Then you find your next client. And you keep at it.

But each of these ways requires that you own a home on the web.

I made my first $29 online using the slow way, then I ramped up to my first $1,000 online using the medium way.

Finally, I learned the fast way and made five figures offering my skills as a consultant.

I can teach you how to earn using each method. But first you have to have a home on the web. Then I’m going to teach you how to make your first $100.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Choose a Domain Name and Host

The name of your website is the address that your fans will type to get to your site. And your hosting company holds the files that get displayed on your page.

Think of your web address as a home and the host as the land it sits on.

My first domain name was a mess. It was FSYAonline. FSYA stands for Financial Success for Young Adults. A mouthful.

Finally I learned that I needed to choose a domain name that is short, easy to remember, and makes it easy to understand the topic.

When you see Young Finances, you know that we’re talking about money for young people.

How young?

My audience ranges from late college to mid career professionals in their mid-30’s.

So keep that in mind when you’re choosing a domain name.

The Technology You Need to Start a Blog

Once you choose a domain name, you’re going to need a host. Fortunately, you can get your domain and host in one step.

There are many web hosts out there but I’m going to share with you the one that I use.

Hostgator is my recommended option because you can get up and running with WordPress very quickly.

(And if you get started with Hostgator through my partner link, you can get hosting for one penny for the first month!)

Watch this video to get started.

Hostgator has amazing support and they’ve hosted all of my domains since I started. And I haven’t had any issues.

Step 2: Install WordPress and Choose a Theme

If you watched the video above, then you know how to install WordPress already. WordPress is a content management system that makes it easy to create your own website.

And if you download and install Visual Composer, you can also edit your site in a drag and drop fashion.

When you are dreaming up your website, you might feel overwhelmed as if you have to start from scratch.

But there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Begin by choosing a template that you like and then customize.

One of my favorite sites to find theme templates is ThemeForest. This site has WordPress templates that you can upload and easily edit.

A well designed theme is going to cost you between $50 – $80. Then, if you would like to have it customized, you might find someone that can do it for less than $200 if you search for a freelancer on Upwork.com.

Theme Examples:

Once you load these themes into WordPress, you’ll probably need to make some changes.

Each of the themes that I’ve listed above comes with Visual Composer which is a drag and drop editor for WordPress.

(Some people prefer Squarespace because of the drag and drop features. Visual Composer allows you to do the same with WordPress.)

I use the Genesis Framework and a Genesis theme to customize the look of my WordPress site.

The final step is one of the most important steps.

Even if you stopped updating your blog (like I did at at the end of 2015) you could still make money if you have this one tool.

Step 3: Choose an Email Service Provider

That is an email service provider. When someone comes to your site they might look around, then leave.

However, if you capture their email address, you can remind them to come back to your site over and over again.

This is the most important final step of setting up a website. I started out using MailChimp to send emails because it was free. But we’ve already established that free does not work when you are looking to make money from a blog.

I highly recommend ConvertKit as the service to send out your blog emails. Building an email list is the best way to make money with your blog. Let me say that again because I want to make sure you understand this one point.

Building an email list is THE best way to make money with your blog.

I mentioned that there are things I would change if I could go back and the number one thing I would do would be to focus more on my email list than how much content I put out. Cultivating a trusting relationship with your audience should be top of mind.

You can sign up for Convertkit here.

(If you use my partner link I’ll send you my Convertkit training and show you exactly how I make money using email. Just email me a screenshot of your confirmed signup.)

Now you’re probably thinking ok, what’s next?

I could throw everything that I know at you all at once about how to earn passive income with affiliate marketing…

…how to run Facebook ads to make $35 from 50 cents

…how to package your skills into a service and make 5 figures or more

but if I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that you have to have a clear and defined plan.

I’m going to give you that exact plan.

Register below and get on the wait list for my full blog to business course. Join the wait list here. I’ll also send you my three part series showing how I grew my income from the first $29 to $5,000 per month.

Originally posted 2016-08-04 08:00:29.

Categories
Investing

How You Can Build Wealth (Use This Millionaire Strategy)

If you want to build wealth it’s going to require time and knowledge. There is no get rich quick method. There are a few ways to begin building wealth. Building wealth involves a unique combination of passive income and active income.

Want passive income? Register now to get on the waitlist for my next LIVE passive income class

The Difference Between Passive Income and Active Income

Can You Build Wealth Using Active Income?

Active Income is income you earn based on your own personal efforts to make money by exchanging hours for dollars.

It is the income that comes in when you are actively earning it, but ceases to exist when you stop your earning activity.

That means, if you work you get paid. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

It’s a simple concept.

So simple that the majority of humans follow it and exchange their hours for dollars.

For example, you could stand around for 4 hours, pass out samples, and make $200. Or, you could work as a cashier for 4 hours and make $40.

Your choice. Both provide active income.

Earn More | Passive Income

The Problem with Active Income a.k.a. The Rat Race

I first read about the rat race in Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

In the book Kiyosaki describes the cycle of working for money that leads to nowhere, kind of like a rat running on his spin wheel inside his cage.

Working for money and exchanging hours for dollars is the hardest way to make it out of the rat race, and often it’s near impossible.

Disagree?

How’s it working for you?

This is because once you are in the rat race you spin your wheels to try to maintain or advance your lifestyle and you often create more debt to do so.

Those in the rat race may not know how to get out because they do not know how to use assets and instead they keep creating liabilities.

If you have not read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert KiyosakiI recommend it as a must read just to understand the basics of how you must think to build wealth.

See all of my recommended books for personal financial success here.

How to Escape the Rat Race of Chasing Active Income

Most people are not ready to stop working for money, me included.

In the meantime, you can begin building cash for your portfolio. In one of my favorite money books The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, one of the characters, Bansir, seeks help from Arkad, who is the richest man in Babylon.

Arkad advises the man to pay himself first.

Each time he makes income, he should set aside 10% of that income.

That way, when an opportunity to invest comes his way, he will be ready.

Bansir follows Arkad’s advice and was able to invest in a business venture that provided him with passive income.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to grow a profitable portfolio without income. Setting aside 10% of every dollar you earn will allow you to grow your investments consistently.

Can You Build Wealth Using Passive Income?

Passive Income is income that not based solely on your ongoing efforts.

It may be a recurring income stream from a one time job, like royalties for a singer, or recurring income from a business that you own.

You might write a book and earn a commission each time someone buys that book.

When you can stop trading hours for dollars and receive dollars even without giving up hours, you will have passive income.

Top 3 Ways to Generate Passive Income

1) Passive Income by Growing a Blog

Believe it or not, growing a blog is a way to generate passive income. This is one of my favorite ways because I created this stream of income right after college.
In order to do be a successful affiliate income generating blogger, you have to create content that converts readers into buyers. Or, you must simply put content in front of a buyer.

(First you must start a blog on WordPress. Here’s a tutorial I created that will take you through step-by-step.)

That content would contain an affiliate link. Affiliate income is one of my sources of passive income. (And I’m going to show you exactly how I do it. More details at the bottom of this post.)

To get approved for affiliate relationships, you have to make sure your site is properly set up. And in order to maximize your affiliate income, you have to approach sales in a certain way. It’s not complicated, but it does require some education. The learning curve is steep.

2) Passive Income by Using Dividends

Dividends can help you to make passive income. Some companies issue their stock with a dividend attached.

If you own the stock, they will pay you directly in cash, or additional shares, from the earnings that they make for that quarter or year.

If you have the right stocks you can also benefit from price appreciation.

Ready to start investing? Take this quiz and find your investing compatibility match.

The stock price and your overall portfolio will increase when the company does well. And even if the stock price declines, you will still receive the dividend as long as the company does not cancel it.

Some investors will not purchase a stock if it does not come with a dividend attached.

3) Passive Income from Teaching

When I say teaching, I don’t mean standing in front of a class. That would be considered active income. Instead, you should figure out what you’re good at then create a course on that topic. You can then sell that course over and over again. And each time you make a sale, you earn income.
When you are actively marketing your course it’s not considered passive income. But if you sell your course through a platform where a buyer can browse and find your class, then it’s considered passive income.

Most investors use a combination of passive income sources to diversify their risk.

It is highly risky to depend on the cash flow from a course, dividend paying stock, or blog only.

Building Wealth

So there you have it.

Passive Income and Active Income.

The two main ways to build wealth mean you’ll either be using active income or growing passive income.

Those who use active income to build wealth will find that there are simply not enough hours in a day to trade for the wealth that they want.

They will continue to spin their wheels in the rat race until they give up in frustration.

The smart investors that learn to use passive income to build wealth will see their net worth grow with less and less work on their part.

Building a profitable portfolio with passive income investments is the key to building wealth. That might be an income producing blog, a course that you’ve created, or a portfolio filled with dividend stocks.

That is why I recommend starting with your personal goals. What do you want your finances to look like?

In order to become a financial success, you have to invest in yourself and be willing to learn.

Now it’s your turn to choose.

Will you build wealth using passive income strategies?

Or will you stick with a job that requires active hours for you to earn?

If you’re determined to earn more money via passive income, then you’re in the right place. I’m going to show you exactly how to do it.

Register now to get on the waitlist for my next LIVE passive income class

Originally posted 2016-06-06 10:00:14.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How I Paid off $22,000 of Credit Card Debt

This was originally posted on September 22, 2014.

It’s done! After 6 years of growing a debt monster, and 3 years of attacking it with payments, I can finally say that I have paid off all of my credit card debt.

Whew!

When I made that first swipe I don’t think I knew how much it would affect my life. Living with credit card debt that I could not afford cost me a lot of stress, worry, and unnecessary cash. Yes, it was expensive to be in debt. At one point I had a 24% interest rate on a credit card with a large balance.

I knew that I wanted to not only get rid of the debt, but set myself up for success in the future. I’ve seen friends eliminate debt and fall into the same habits and patterns that caused the debt in the first place. I knew that if I learned how to use credit wisely that it could become a friend and not a foe.

So with that in mind, here’s what I did to tackle $22,000 of credit card debt.

Amazing story! I need to start tackling my debt. This was a good step by step guide.

Setting the Debt Deadline

Firstly, I set a date. I decided that I wanted to pay everything off within three years. That made it easy to figure out how much I wanted to pay towards my debt with each check. I chose to go with a consumer credit counseling service. They negotiated lower interest rates with my creditors so I could pay the balances down immediately instead of wasting money on interest.

However, that meant that I had to close all of my credit cards and not open a new line of credit. Closing credit cards with a large balance can hurt your credit score.

My credit score was already shot so that really did not matter to me. Getting rid of debt mattered more.

But be honest with yourself. By cheating and using your cards while paying them off you are only hurting yourself.

Creating the Cash Budget

Secondly, I committed to using all cash. I knew that I was addicted to using credit and there was no point in trying to get out of debt while I was still using it. I had already gotten rid of all of my credit cards and I created a budget that would allow me to use only cash.

I maxed out my budget categories in saving and left myself with enough cash to cover my essential expenses. That includes housing, food, and clothing.

After shopping for 6 years straight, I’m pretty sure I had all the clothing that I needed.

I also left myself a small cushion of about 50 dollars per paycheck. This money was not for anything specific and it gave me a feeling of space.

Woosah…

Speaking of shopping, I knew that I had to mentally change the way that I handled money, credit, and debt.

Needs vs Wants

During the first few months, I started to teach myself how to distinguish needs versus wants. I prevented myself from impulse shopping with a simple rule. If I wanted to purchase something that was not on my shopping list or was not a part of my intended trip, then I was not allowed to buy it.

Plain and simple.

I defined a need as something that would help me either budget better, save or invest better, or something that I would use each day for a purpose.

Toothbrush? ok.

Fancy 70 dollar electrical toothbrush? Not ok.

By curbing my impulse shopping and learning to use money for needs instead of just wants, I created better balance in my spending.

Building an Emergency Cushion

Finally, I was honest with myself. I didn’t try to live super frugal or put all of my extra cash towards my debt. I knew that if I simply stuck with my plan, I would have everything paid off on the date that I self-imposed.

I didn’t stress myself.

I still traveled, dined out with friends and put money towards investing and saving.

Yes. I still invested.

This was very important for me. As a person with a financial background, I understand the importance of compounding interest. I used time to my advantage.

Looking back at the returns of the last 3 years, it was the best decision I could have made.

I know you can do it too! I think you find yourself lacking in motivation because you are allowing the debt to take over your fun. Don’t restrict yourself to the point where you hate budgeting.

Start with a small ‘fun budget’ and allow it to grow as you pay down debt.

Are you in the process of paying down debt? What tips would you share with others?

Choosing a Debt Management Plan to Help

Here’s how I used a debt management plan to conquer my debt.
How I Dumped Debt with a Debt Management Plan | Young Finances
One of the most important tools in my pay off debt plan was a service that helped me create a three year plan to pay off the debt.

I found the consumer credit counseling service through a friend of mine. She had used the service to pay off her debt and she also improved her credit score in the process.  I decided to check them out and I set up an in person meeting to discuss my debt and plan goals with a counselor.

The counselor also helped me create a budget and managed the details every step of the way.

The service I used subsequently merged into ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions and I completed my debt management plan with them. Here’s how I paid off $22,000 of credit card debt in three years and how you can do it too using a debt management plan.

 

1) Gather all of your records

The first step in starting a debt management plan involves gathering all of your records. You will need your latest credit card statements, which should include the address to send payments. You will also need to make sure that you include all of your creditors in your debt management plan. I was able to exclude my car loan, but all of my other creditors were included. I had to track down a few statements since some of my credit cards had fallen into collections. Once I had everything, I was ready to start my debt management program.

2) Talk to your creditors and your counselor

If you are getting debt collection calls, don’t be afraid to answer them. I simply answered each call and let the creditor know that I was working with a credit counseling service. I also made it a point to contact my counselor about any changes to payment addresses, or other changes. She kept up with everything and that made things really easy on me.

However, they did all of the negotiations for me, getting fee concessions, and negotiating most of my interest rates down to zero.

3) Create your budget

As you are paying off your debt, you may feel tempted to overspend or stop your payments to spend the money elsewhere.

Don’t do it!

Trust me, the three years will fly by quickly and you will be so happy to be debt free afterwards. Instead, create a budget along with your counselor to help you stay on track. I used the budget that they provided to help me get started and then as I learned what works best for me, I created my own budget with room for investing in my employer sponsored 401k plan. Doing this allowed me to take advantage of free employer match money and invest in the markets.

The process of paying off debt can be very difficult but with the help of a credit counseling service like ClearPoint, it can be much easier.

How about you? Have you used a debt management plan to pay off debt?

 

This is my personal experience with ClearPoint. ClearPoint is a trusted partner. Please see our disclaimer regarding trusted partners.

Originally posted 2016-06-06 08:00:55.

Categories
Earn Extra Income

SwagBucks Review: Earn Money Surfing the Web

Have you ever wondered how you can get something for doing nothing? It’s not too good to be true. Since I’m living on a limited budget so I can reach my financial goals quickly, I’m always looking for unique ways to save money and make extra money too.

Introducing Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an internet search engine alternative, like Google or Bing. But when you use Swagbucks for your internet searches, you can earn points. After you accumulate enough points, you can then redeem them for prizes. They have gift cards to thousands of different retailers, and they have the option of paying in cold hard cash via your PayPal account.

SwagBucks Review: Earn Money Surfing the Web | Young Finances

By using Swagbucks as your primary search engine, you can amass of rewards points and redeem for a gift card to Amazon or Starbucks. These gift cards will allow you to buy things off of your wish list, or things to use as gifts for friends and family members. If you use the gift cards to buy things you would’ve purchased anyhow, or redeem your points for PayPal cash, you’ve just saved yourself some money in your regular monthly budget.

Swagbucks Isn’t a Scam

When people first hear of things like this, they immediately think is Swagbucks a scam? Luckily, Swagbucks isn’t a scam. But you should also be aware that it’s not a way to get rich quickly either. It does take time to build up enough reward points to get good prizes. Here are a few great things about Swagbucks:

  • It’s free to join
  • The company has been around for years, since at least 2005.
  • I have received rewards from them several times, and lots of my friends have too.




How to Use Swagbucks

If you don’t do a lot of internet searching, don’t worry. There are lots of different ways you can use Swagbucks to get rewards. Here are just a few.

  • Internet Searching: As I said before, you can use Swagbucks’ search engine just like you’d use Google or Bing. Each time you search using Swagbucks you have the opportunity to earn points, but you won’t necessarily earn points every single time you search for something.
  • Shopping via their website: Just like ShopatHome.com or FatWallet.com, you can use Swagbucks’ website as your shopping portal to earn rewards points based on how much you are spending. Just be careful to not get too carried away with online shopping and buying things you don’t actually need or you won’t truly be “saving” any money.
  • Printing Grocery Coupons: Swagbucks’ website has a giant coupon database full of grocery coupons you can print out at home and use on your next grocery store trip. This one is a 2-fer as you’ll save money by using the coupons and earn Swagbucks for printing them.
  • Taking Surveys: Taking surveys is one the easiest ways to earn points quickly. Most surveys are worth a few hundred Swagbucks each! If you have time to take just a couple of short surveys each day, you’ll quickly be able to redeem your points for a gift card or PayPal payment.
  • Watching Video Advertisements: You can earn up to 150 Swagbucks each day by watching short videos and advertisements. Most of the videos are about the same length as a TV commercial and you earn about 3 points per video. Sometimes I even turn on the video and let it keep playing, as it will automatically keep going to the next video, while I work on housework.
  • Playing Games: If you have time on your hands and want to play some games, you should do so through Swagbucks so you can earn points while you play. Personally, I don’t use this option much as I just don’t have the time to play games.

Swagbucks is easy to use and everyone can benefit from it, no matter if you have a large budget or not. It’s a great way to earn points for something you’d be doing anyway and then you can redeem the points to help your budget or to “treat yourself” to something special now and then.

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Originally posted 2016-06-03 10:00:16.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

Combined Finances: To Merge, or Not to Merge?

This post was created in partnership with Credit Sesame.

Whether you have married, moved in with a partner, or are considering the next step in a relationship, one common question couples ask themselves is whether to open up a joint bank account.

A joint account is beneficial if you wish to share expenses like the monthly bills, but a large percentage of couples choose not to go that route. Many couples also find that keeping a separate account along with a joint account helps them keep finances straight. Before taking the plunge on a joint account, consider the good, the bad, and how to make the final decision.

Joint account overview

A joint bank account is a financial account that gives two or more people access to the same funds. These partners can make deposits, withdraw funds, and write checks. Examples of common joint bank account owners are married couples, partners living together and housemates that share bills.

The good

Joint accounts offer several advantages:

Long-term saving is easier. If you and your partner have a long-term purchase in your sights, a joint account is a great way to save for it. You can both deposit funds, and you can both see progress.

Budgeting is simpler. When all of your payments come from account, it’s easier to track money that you spend. Two incomes might also make overdrafts less likely to occur.

Spending patterns are clear. Each person with access to the account can see where the money goes. Some people like the accountability a joint account provides. Knowing that their partner can see the transactions makes them less likely to make unnecessary purchases.

More comfort in finances. If one person prefers not to take the financial reins, the other can lead.

The savvier person can teach. Even though the person with more financial comfort is leading, a joint account can be an ongoing learning opportunity for the partner who is less hands-on with money. Learning and growing together allows a deeper connection in the relationship.

The bad

Opening a bank account with a partner carries some disadvantages, too:

Vulnerabilities are inherent. A joint account allows an irresponsible person to cause credit and financial damage for his or her partner.

Transparency may breed conflict. One partner may become critical of the spending patterns of the other.

Privacy is limited. Your partner knows all of the purchases you make and vice-versa.

Financial management may fall to one partner. The partner holding the reins may resent that the other person doesn’t manage the account. Even the simplest of accounts require review and balancing.

Miscommunications can occur. Overdrawing the account due to miscommunication is possible. On a joint account, each partner must know how much money is in the account and what expenses the money is headed for.

The demise of the relationship can lead to financial confusion. If the relationship ends, there might be issues dividing the funds, or one person may deplete the funds without the other’s permission.

Financial entanglement can lead to financial liability. If one partner has a large debt – a tax lien or child support arrears, for example – the funds may be at risk for seizure.

Learn more: Tax Best Practices for 2016

How to decide

You and your partner must consider all of the advantages and disadvantages and come to an agreement on whether or not it is the best decision for your situation. You have options

You can open a joint account that for day-to-day expenses and keep your own separate savings accounts. This could help you avoid conflict.

A joint savings account is an ideal option if you and your partner want to save for a large purchase together like a vehicle or home. With your own individual separate checking accounts, you can still pay the routine expenses at whatever ratio you’ve agreed upon.

You can skip the joint accounts all together and only share expenses. This is for couples or partners who prefer total financial independence. Each person maintains total control over his or her money.

Your final option is keeping all of your finances divided. You and your partner can take turns paying bills and buying dinner. Having separate accounts doesn’t mean you have to keep all assets separate, but you could do that as well.

Before deciding to merge finances, complete transparency is key. Share your credit history, debt picture and financial goals with one another. You can start the conversation with a free credit report from Credit Sesame and analyze them together.

This goes without saying, but before you open a joint account, be sure you absolutely trust your partner.

 

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Originally posted 2016-04-13 10:00:49.