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6 Money Stressors to Eliminate From Your Life

Between juggling work, family and other obligations, your days might be hectic and stressful. But if you can eliminate some of the anxieties you face on a daily basis, you’re moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, getting rid of stress is much easier said than done — especially when it comes to financial stress. Of every potential stressor in our lives, money tops the list. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 64 percent of Americans feel money is the biggest cause of stress in their lives.

Unfortunately, we can’t always demand a higher salary at work, and there’s nothing we can do about higher costs-of-living. But if your money worries have increased significantly over the past few months or years, there are ways to reduce your stress level.

Here’s a look at six money stressors to eliminate from your life.

Going Broke for Holidays, Birthdays, Etc.

If you have a huge circle of family and friends, there probably isn’t a month that goes by without getting an invitation to a birthday party, a graduation party, a wedding or a baby shower — plus you’re expected to buy holiday gifts.

Constantly going into your pocket to celebrate other people’s life choices gets expensive. And if you feel pressure to spend money you don’t have, this only adds to your financial worries. There’s nothing wrong with gift-giving, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your bank account.

Get creative with gift-giving and think of ways to say “congratulations” that don’t involve writing a check or using a credit card. Maybe you can make a gift — if you’re talented, of course — or invite the person over for a celebratory dinner.

stressed manYou might also start a gift fund and deposit a little bit from each paycheck so you’ll have money available when it’s time to buy gifts.

Lending Your Hard-Earned Cash

Do friends or family think you’re their personal ATM? If so, it’s time to break the cycle. Understandably, you might feel a sense of obligation to help those who need financial help, but it’s not your job to take care of everyone else, especially if you need your money.

As a rule of thumb, only lend money if you can afford to lose it. You can’t give what you don’t have, and if your friends and family don’t understand your limitations, they’re the ones with the problem, not you.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Most of us set financial goals for ourselves, and we often plan on achieving certain goals by a certain age. But unfortunately, life often gets in the way of our plans. Maybe we didn’t get a promotion, or maybe unexpected curveballs like a job loss sets us back financially.

Everyone faces hardships, but you can actually make your hardships worse if you continually compare yourself to others.

If your friends are buying homes and cars or starting families, yet you can barely afford a one-bedroom apartment, you might put undo pressure on yourself to get ahead and acquire the same lifestyle.

Life isn’t a contest and we hit milestones at different stages. All you can do is your best. And remember, just because someone appears to have it all doesn’t mean they actually do. The ones you envy could be living above their means or have a ton of credit card debt.

Setting Unrealistic Expectations

As a financially savvy person you may set yearly financial goals for yourself. For example:

  • Save $5,000 for retirement
  • Build a three-month emergency fund
  • Pay off credit card debt by the end of the year

All are excellent goals, but your income only goes so far. And if you spread yourself too thin, you won’t have any discretionary income for fun, which increases the risk of frugal burnout. Some people earn enough money and they’re able to save for multiple goals simultaneously.

But if your earnings are modest, it’s important to set realistic money goals or else you’ll give up.

Too Much Debt

Okay, so I realize you can’t eliminate a mountain of debt overnight unless you have a lump sum of cash. However, creating a doable debt eliminate strategy might reduce some of your money stress.

A plan points you in the right direction providing a way out of a situation, and it can motivate you to work harder toward your goals.

Unexpected Expenses

I’m amazed by the number of people who don’t have any type of emergency fund. Financial experts recommend saving at least 3 to 6 months of income. But even if you save a minimum of $500-$1,000, this might be enough to cover unexpected expenses that occur, such as a home repair or a car repair.

You might not realize it now, but a rainy day fund is one of the biggest stress relievers you can give yourself. Knowing you have “just in case” money can alleviate panic when you’re caught off guard with an extra expense.

stress relief gif

This article was a blog contribution from Robert Simmons. He lives in Illinois with his cat and two dogs.
car value

Up Your Car’s Value Before Getting a Title Loan

One of the main reasons title loans are popular is for their reputation of funding loans in a hurry, usually in a day or less. Borrowers who find themselves in a financial pickle can complete the application and pick up their check thanks to a streamlined process.

However, maybe it’s time to look at title loans through a different lens. Maybe your back isn’t against the wall because the roof-is-leaking-I’ve-been-laid-off-the-refrigerator-broke-and-tutition-is-due. Maybe you have a bigger plan and want to maximize the financial opportunity of your auto title loan.

How to Add Value to Your Car

You can add value to your car even if it isn’t an expensive vehicle. We offer a few strategies so you can receive the maximum loan amount while the equity in your car is optimized.

The reason we think you’ll find these tips helpful is that while many assets appreciate in value the older they get, your car is not one of them. It’s estimated that a new car loses as much as 20 percent of their value as soon as they leave the lot.

Do Your Research

It’s always a good idea to “get your ducks in a row.” Use your time wisely and find the best title loan company for your needs. Research the various benefits they offer and which one(s) have the most convenient locations for when it’s time to pick up your check.

Some of the advantages you’ll want to look for include:

  • Easy online application option
  • Accessible, highly trained loan professionals
  • Competitive interest rates – think around 10% as the max
  • Generous loan amounts – find out their top loan
  • They should offer flexible and/or extended payment plans
  • Ask if they require a credit report
  • Most good title loan companies have low documentation needs
  • Ask if their loan service is free
  • More reputable companies don’t require a minimum loan term
  • Find out if they assess a penalty if you repay early

Regardless of the company you choose, remember one thing: Your car is the collateral for your title loan. When a someone borrows against their car and is unable to keep up with payments, the title loan company sells the car – so they want the most value for your vehicle too.

Minimize Depreciation

Letting your car get rusty or “dinged up” is the fastest way to lose equity. Depreciation is the key to lost value in vehicle ownership.

The easiest way to keep the value in your car is to keep it clean. Your car doesn’t have to be a restaurant on wheels – spilled liquids can cause damage and make your interior look unsightly.

Even getting into the habit of removing clutter – from the glove box and side storage units on the doors – will keep your car looking and smelling new. Don’t smoke in your car or let your passengers smoke.

When talking car resale, many professionals say you can get up to $2,000 extra for a properly cleaned car. Certainly that can also be true for getting a higher title loan amount.

car driving

Make sure your car is properly washed and waxed. Don’t use household detergents, as they’re hard on your car’s exterior. Keeping your vehicle waxed protects it from the elements (sun, ice, salt, dirt, etc.,).

Some people think that the clear coat finish is enough protection, but it isn’t. That finish is really just a thin layer that is not durable enough to stand up against the wear.

Treat Scratches and Dents

You should also maintain the exterior by treating minor scratches, dents, and any patches that over time will rust. It doesn’t take much for a little hole in the metal to grow into a gaping, rusty wound.

If you see a little chip in the body paint you can protect it right away with a bit of clear nail polish. That can tide you over until you get to the auto parts store and buy a little can of paint for a better touch up.

Maximize Value

Even if you negotiated a really great deal on your car, you’ll still want to make the most of its overall value and equity. In order to safely maximize the equity in your car, some of these suggestions may require you to visit your mechanic.

And while it may cost you some money upfront, you’re accomplishing two things: making sure your vehicle is in top working order for your needs as well as bolstering the car’s worth.

Consider these tips:

  • Check your engine and all functions
  • Make sure the radio/stereo is working properly
  • Inspect any red warning lights that glow on the dashboard
  • Be efficient with your mileage
  • Make sure interior light is working
  • Replace any burned out taillights, etc.
  • Rub out or buff any scratches in the steel or chrome
  • Replace any cracks or flaws in your rear and side view mirrors

Some experts also recommend you replace old tires. Tires in poor condition not only make your car unsafe, they make the vehicle look old. Another easy fix is floormats – you can pick up a new set of rubber mats at an auto parts store under $40.

An Ounce of Prevention

Small problems can get bigger – and more expensive – if not treated in a timely manner.  Don’t let procrastination devalue your asset: That “small” crack in your windshield can easily expand into a spider web-looking mess if left alone.

Not only will the repair be more expensive, if the crack expands while you’re driving, your visibility is compromised and you could cause an accident.

Even if you have a very long commute, your car is more idle than active. So, where do you park it when it’s not in use? Some geographic areas and climate zones can potentially add more wear to your vehicle.

Where Do You Park Your Car?

Do you park your car under a tree during a storm? Do you try to shelter it from the sun? Sun not only damages your exterior, but your interior surfaces.

Make sure you follow your maintenance schedule and that your mechanic signs the owner’s manual properly – as proof you’re conscientious about taking care of your car.  Also keep any necessary receipts for tune-ups, etc.

Being proactive is a good habit to get into – not just for the benefit of getting your car title loan, but also for the life of your car.

Be Picky

You want the most from your title loan, and that makes sense.  But you also have to see the situation from the role of your title loan lender.  They’re not going to give you an extra $5,000 in your loan amount just because you’re a nice person.

You really have to earn it.  And the best way to do that is let your sparkling, well-running car do your talking for you.

How to Achieve Financial Freedom

If you have ever thought about ways to improve your finances, chances are you’ve pondered one of these topics. This list is a compilation of the best finance questions and answers designed to help cure shattered budgets and bring personal finance freedom and peace to individuals and families alike.

What’s the Fastest Way to Pay off Debt?

According to Nerd Wallet, the average American household has over $15,000 in credit card debt. With so many struggling to stay on top of their monthly payments and make progress towards defeating their debt, it’s not a surprise that methods of debt payoff rank as one of the top finance questions and answers.

There are two popular ways to pay off debt. The first was popularized by Dave Ramsey, the financial guru behind the The Dave Ramsey Show program and accompanying financial education course Financial Peace University.

Ramsey states that in order to successfully conquer debt on your first try, you must embark on the “debt snowball” method. This involves listing your debts separately, in order from smallest to largest.

Pay Towards the Smallest Amount

Pay the minimum on all accounts except for the smallest debt. Pay every extra cent towards the credit line with the smallest total.

This method is supposed to psychologically encourage individuals to keep paying down their debt even when they tire of reserving all their extra cash for their creditors.

The number of debts decrease faster, so by the end, they save the largest debt for last but by that time they are so pumped from knocking out all the other credit cards, they tackle the last one with gusto.

pay off debtWhile this method has worked for many of Dave Ramsey’s followers, some experts criticize the method due to its inattention to interest rates.

If the credit card with the highest balance also had the highest interest rate, the debt snowball method would make the borrower pay much more in interest charges than the alternative method – the “debt avalanche” method.

Debt Avalanche

The debt avalanche method requires the borrower to list their credit cards again, but this time according to interest rate instead of balance. The lower interest rates get the minimum payments, but the highest interest rate debt receives all the extra money available each month.

Once the highest rate debt is paid off, the next highest rate receives the most attention.

In the end, the borrower will pay as little as possible in interest, keeping more of their hard-earned cash for themselves. Either way, the fastest way to pay off debt is to devote as much money from the budget as possible towards the balance each month.

Depending on your attitude towards debt payoff, the debt snowball method might help you overcome motivational hurdles, or the debt avalanche method can help save additional funds in the long run.

Do I Actually Need an Emergency Fund?

While you’re working towards debt payoff, you must single-mindedly focus your extra cash on your goals. If a major expense pops up, it can derail your plans and force you to use credit to solve the issue.

Not only is it discouraging to see the credit balance jump back up, it only adds to the number of months your money goes towards debt payoff rather than towards building wealth.

Emergency funds are vital for everyone, but especially for people who are working towards paying off debt. The minimum balance of your emergency fund should be at least $1,000. This should be enough to pay for a major car repair or a sudden house expense.

Emergency Fund

Sometimes the purpose of an emergency fund can be confusing. For instance, let’s say you forgot to save up to buy holiday gifts for family members. Now it’s midway through December and you plan on dipping into your emergency savings to purchase last-minute presents.

While it might feel like an emergency at the time, gifts are not an urgent expense. Don’t drain your emergency fund simply because you forgot to plan.

This example brings up another important point about emergency funds: they only fulfill their purpose when paired with a reasonable, smart financial plan. You must budget for expenses you KNOW are coming, such as new tires for your car.

Saving Money for Bills

You can’t rely on your emergency fund for that – you have to proactively save for bills you know are on the horizon.

Ideally, your emergency fund should be large enough to cover three to six months of living expenses. This means you and your family will have enough cash to maintain your lifestyle for half a year if you lose your job.

When you calculate living expenses, include rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car payments, groceries, gas, phone and internet service and insurance bills.

For a small family, this total can add up quickly, sometimes to over $15,000. While it might seem unrealistic to be able to save that much, nobody ever said saving for an emergency fund should be fast. It may take you a few years to build up that total, but once you accomplish your goal, think of it as your financial safety net.

Besides saving for retirement, building a well-rounded emergency fund might be the most important financial goal you ever achieve.

Am I Saving Enough for Retirement?

If you are in the majority, you are not saving enough for retirement, according to a Federal Reserve Survey. The average family with adults between the ages of 55 and 64 only has about $104,000 in retirement savings – not enough to provide for a 20-year phase of life post-working.

The fear of running out of money during retirement is real and it’s also a realistic threat, making retirement savings another of the most popular finance questions and answers.

The most important principle of retirement saving is starting early. If you begin saving in your early to mid-20’s, you have a much better chance of living on a high percentage of your current income throughout retirement years.

The rule of thumb for the different age groups is as follows:

  • In your 20s, reserve 10-15% of your income for retirement.
  • In your 30s, reserve 15-25% of your income for retirement.
  • In your 40s, reserve at least 35% of your income for retirement.

Saving for retirement should not be pushed to the back burner. Though your child’s college education is important, it does not overshadow your quality of life after you cease working.

The amount of money you have saved may directly correspond to how long you live – you need more money for better insurance plans and better health care.

Using IRA

At the very least, you should be maxing out your IRA contributions each year. If you start contributing $5,000 per year to a Roth IRA at age 32 (which equals about $416 per month) and it achieves a 5% return, at age 65 the balance will reach over $420,000 at a tax rate of 25%.

Start saving just 7 years earlier, at age 25? The IRA fund will be worth over $630,000. The power of compounding interest can’t be beat.

And if the rates are good to you and you achieve an average 7% return instead, your 40 year savings could result in a fund worth over $1 million, even though you only contributed $200,000 total.

Retiring a millionaire isn’t a bad goal to have, but it starts with steady monthly contributions. Figure it into your budget like any other bill and your 65 year old self will thank you kindly.

How Do I Make More Money?

Many financial problems are solved through an increase in cash flow. First, analyze your standing at your current job. Are you in a position where you can expect upward mobility? If advancement is not possible, consider looking for a position at another company.

Would additional education or certifications in your field improve your chances of climbing the ladder either at your current company or another organization? Look into avenues of widening the scope of your abilities. In some cases, your company may even reimburse you for the portion of the cost of training.

Get a Side Hustle

You also are not limited to one job. You can start a side hustle and bring in serious extra cash on the weekends or in the evenings.

Become a personal trainer. Become an Uber driver. Pet or house sit for vacationers in your neighborhood. Sell your handmade items at flea markets or online. Deliver food for Door Dash. Clean houses. The ideas are endless.

make it rain cash gifRemember, a form of “making more money” is simply spending less too. If you have a large emergency fund, consider increasing the deductible on your car insurance. That way you’ll pay less each month towards your insurance bill but you have the cash on hand to take care of it if something happens.

Think about cutting out cable for a few months…or even a year. If you pay $100 a month for your favorite channels – when you can probably access them online or wait until they come out on Netflix – you could find yourself with an extra $1,200 at the end of the year. It’ll leave you more time for pursuing your money-making hobbies too.

How Can I Improve My Credit Score Fast?

Your credit score doesn’t define you, but it sure can have a serious effect on your life. Sometimes even potential employers run credit checks. Will they like what they see when they view your credit report?

The first step towards improving your credit is paying all your bills on time – ALL of them. Your phone bill and your utilities count, not just your credit cards.

It might help to set up bill due date reminders on your phone or write down notes in your daily planner. You can also schedule automatic payments to come out of your checking account which may be the easiest solution.

Next, pull your credit report for your own review. You’re entitled to three free copies per year and you can access them using AnnualCreditReport.com. If there’s a faulty entry, contest it and see an improvement to your score.

Your Credit Line

In general, you should try to utilize 30% of each credit line or less. If you are maxed out on one or more credit cards, devote your extra cash towards lowering the totals each month until you are at least below this limit.

Sadly, if you have had a bill sent to collections, it will stay on your report for 7 years. Time is the best remedy for bad marks like these.

Time is also good for other parts of your credit report, as the score will rise the longer you keep your lines of credit open for use. Closing a credit card will have an immediate negative impact on your report, so only do that when completely necessary.

Stay steady and up-to-date with your payments and don’t submit too many inquiries at once for new lines of credit, and you’ll see a gradual improvement. There is no true quick-fix solution, but you can begin repairing bad credit immediately.

How Do I Achieve Financial Freedom?

First, decide what financial freedom looks and feels like to you. Do you want no debt whatsoever? Are you content to carry car payments and a mortgage as long as you don’t need credit cards to get by?

Financial freedom is defined differently from person to person, and only you can determine your overall goal. For most, financial freedom includes security. Security includes no credit card debt, a fleshed out emergency fund and an on-track retirement savings plan.

It also helps to have diversified streams of income so you have a source of cash to fall back on if your main job falls through.

Stick to Your Budget to Have Success

To start building your personal version of financial freedom, you first must construct a budget and stick to it. Write down your income and expenses and see where you can make changes to free up more money each month.

Eliminate hurtful, high interest debt and save, save, save your extra money. If you need quick cash to help, you can borrow money against your car.

Review the solutions offered in many of the other popular finance questions and answers in this article, and you can achieve the financial freedom you are after. It will happen one day, one penny and one decision at a time.

getting rich cash

Bad Money Habits That Might Be Keeping You from Getting Rich

Many of us do not make enough money to have our own personal financial adviser. These men and women help individuals with investment opportunities and help to manage their money. Without help from an outside party, we tend to develop bad money habits.

These habits can actually prevent us from getting rich, or at the very least, keep us from building an adequate savings. Here is a list of bad money habits you might be exhibiting, day to day.

In looking at these bad habits, we can really focus on ways to break these habits, and begin the road to a rich future.

Setting and Forgetting

When it comes to your savings rate, you could be losing out. Your savings rate should increase throughout your career. Every time that you get a pay raise, even if it is a small increase, your savings rate should also be raised.

It is also smart to review any retirement accounts you might have, on a yearly basis. Rules and regulations change every year, and you want to make sure you are well balanced.

Spending To Much on Housing

The largest payment you probably pay monthly is your mortgage or rental payment. Budget advisors recommend that you spend 28% or less of your gross income on your housing payment. For those who own a home this includes the principle, interest, taxes, and insurance.

This is why it is important to figure out the best location, before buying or renting. Sometimes a simple change, such as moving from the city to a suburb, can save you a lot of money on the price you are spending monthly for a home or rental. It is not always easy, but can allow you to save big bucks.

house money

For example, moving from a property that costs $1,200 a month to a place that costs $900, will save you $300 monthly. Multiply this number by twelve months in a year, and you have an extra $3,600 a year. This is money that can be put into savings or invested to help you get rich.

Not Taking Full Advantage of Work Tax Benefits

There are companies that offer 401(k)’s, health saving accounts, and commuter funds. These all use pre-tax dollars, which can help reduce your top-line income. You end up in a different tax bracket and pay less in taxes overall.

Sometimes even health insurance can help you to save money. If your place of employment only pays 25% into the cost of health insurance, you are paying 75%. Although it seems like a lot, this might be the cheapest option, especially if you have a family, compared to paying for private health insurance.

The money you pay towards health insurance is taken out before taxes, which can put you in a different tax bracket, allowing you to pay less in taxes.

Being Overly Conservative When It Comes to Investing

You should become conservative with your investments when you are around retirement age. Before that, try not to be too conservative and be sure to play 100% into equities. This allows for larger, long term gain, which is great when trying to get extra money.

investing

Impulse Shopping

A lot of us have fallen victim to impulse shopping. We see something we like and have to buy it right away. Whether it be a small, inexpensive item, or a high end item, wait it out. If you wait a day and sleep on it, chances are you will wake up with a new feeling.

Many impulse purchases are ones that you do not actually need. Even just going to look at new cars because cars are your hobby can lead to an amazing sales person drawing you in to purchase a new vehicle.

They might offer you the best reasons in the world for buying a new vehicle, but don’t let their opinion influence you just yet. Make sure to go home, sit down, and come up with a financial plan as whether this is a worthwhile investment so you don’t go broke. A majority of the time, you will realize that impulse buy is not worth it.

Paying Too Many Bank Fees

Be cautious, careful, and informed when it comes to your bank account. A one-time fee won’t exactly put you in debt, but when fees add up, you lose out on money. Make sure you calculate and are aware of the type of overdraft protection offered at your banking location.

Overdraft fees add up, and are easy to accumulate. If you do not pay attention to items posting in your checking account, you could easily overdraft, and pay extra money for these fees.

Be Careful with Credit Cards

Make sure that when you spend money on a credit card, you try to pay back the full amount. Sometimes this can be hard, especially when personal disasters strike, but paying back the minimum will only cost you more.

When you are only paying the minimum, you end up paying back more in interest over a period of time. This can cost you hundreds of extra dollars, in a years’ time.

Of course many of these tips will not actually make you rich. They are basic, bad money habits and everyone displays one or more of these habits on a daily basis.

In acknowledging these bad habits, and creating solutions for them, even if they might seem to save only a minimal amount of money, understand that you are still saving money overall. Eliminating bad money habits early will prove you with the extra money needed to try and get rich. Or if you need an extra cash boost, you can get a loan against a car to get started.

senior man budgeting fixed income

How to Budget While Living on a Fixed Income for Seniors

Following a budget can be difficult – unplanned expenses crop up: Maybe the weather is hotter/colder than usual; perhaps your car needs new tires. And it’s tough to always tell yourself “no” when it comes to entertainment or an occasional splurge.

But nowhere are these problems more tricky as when you’re living on a fixed income.

Benefit of Fixed Income

The benefit of a fixed income is that you always know what you have. Gone are the days when you’re ill, but have a job that doesn’t offer sick days. You also don’t have income surprises if you fall short of your sales or performance quotas.

But we think we can tackle this conundrum, so you can see – and experience – the upside of budgeting on a fixed income.

Why Do Budgets Fail?

Even when you’re mindful of your finances, you may still find yourself not following your budget. The frustration can also cause you to give up. But it may not be your fault: J.D. Roth at GetRichSlowly suggests that maybe you don’t have the right budget for your situation.

Roth offers a few reasons why budgets fail:

  • The method is too complicated
  • You try to control all your spending
  • Doesn’t reflect your true income
  • Too short term – monthly instead of yearly
  • Inconsistent about tracking spending

All budgets begin with recording your full income and necessary expenses, including housing, utilities, transportation, insurances, taxes, etc. Finally, people are advised to look at their discretionary income and factor that into your cash outflow.

It sounds simple enough – and it can be. Roth cites two examples of more “user-friendly” budgets: The Envelope System and The Balanced Money Formula made popular by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi.

The Envelope System:

This is the method my parents used, even when unemployed, and it worked well for them: Create one envelope for each household expense. Use that money – and only those funds – for its assigned category.

One potential drawback of this system is the temptation of having so much cash around – it might make it too easy to “fudge” categories.

The Balanced Money Formula

The Balanced Money strategy has only three categories: Must-Haves, Savings, and Wants. The Balance is 50 percent, 20 percent, and 30 percent respectively.

Roth advises that one challenging aspect is making sure you get these categories correct with the necessary expenses or target areas they represent.

balancing budgetThere’s another concern about budgets in general, and that is not prioritizing your spending money. I recommend actually planning – through conversation or writing out – what you want to buy and why. Put actual “value” or importance on each book or jacket you purchase.

Then your spending money isn’t just disappearing month after month.

Of course there are many other budget methods you can adopt. And rather than throw in the towel, find the one that works for you.

Solutions to Making Your Budget Work

One key strategy for any kind of budget is to never stop saving money. By making saving a habit – even in small amounts of $10 or $20 dollars, you’re replenishing your emergency fund, savings, or “fun” account.

A low-estimate “emergency fund” is typically in the range of $500. And there’s never a time when you won’t need some extra money for an unplanned expense.

Now, a few solutions to making your fixed income work within your budget:

Grocery Bills

Even though a modest grocery list can add up in cost, it’s also one of the easiest places to save. Using the weekly sale ad for a grocery store will garner at least a few products you want and need.

For real efficiency and savings, try converting to an online shopping grocery service like Peapod. It’s easy and there are more bargains in more categories than your typical grocery store. Yes, there’s a delivery fee, but a) it’s quite low and b) you don’t have to drive.

If you’re not a savvy-couponer, the website LivingRichWithCoupons has many suggestions for beginners. The site is extensive, has many different kinds of coupon offers, and allows users to access printable coupons.

groceries shoppingHowever, a common complaint about “couponing” is that the items you really use may not offer coupons in traditional newspapers or websites. Well, here’s a tip: By using the search engine of your choice, (e.g. Google) enter the name a particular product and the word “coupons.”

A recent search of Annie’s Organic Mac Cheese, Kashi Cereals and Progresso Soup, directed me to the main product sites that offered coupons as well as a few related sites with other offers. Consider it a DIY for getting discounts on the food products you prefer.

A note of caution: The LivingRichWithCoupons site is so extensive that it provides links to other shopping sites that offer questionable promotions (e.g. “Claim your $100 Walgreens Card). By trying to claim this deal, you’re led through all kinds of unrelated sites, such as lower cost banking rates, etc. In the process, they’re collecting a lot of information about you.

Utilities

When weather gets extreme, it’s easy to suffer from sticker shock every time you open your utility bills.  Research “budget plans” that your electricity and gas companies offer and inquire if they have any programs for seniors.

The most common suggestion for keeping your heating costs in check is to use a programmable thermostat.  If you don’t have one, make this a priority.

As for electricity, the simplest step is to unplug all appliances when not in use.

While these two steps are simple, it will also “pay off” emotionally for you to monitor the reduction in your utility expenses.

However, depending on your overall income and the rest of your budget, you may want options for a few more proactive measures:

  • Bundle your cable, internet, and phone services
  • Cut back on phone extras like caller ID
  • Consider dropping your landline telephone
  • Revaluate your cable TV package

While water costs are usually less expensive, if you have a washer and dryer at home, see which items you can clean by using the “express wash” cycle.  Are you an avid gardener?  Invest in a rain barrel.

Transportation

Once you factor in all your necessary expenses, take a close look at what your transportation costs are and compare them with your current needs.  Most likely if you and your spouse were both working you needed two cars.  Now that you’re retired or semi-retired, does that actual need still exists? 

Remember two cars also means two insurance policies, double the number of car washes, oil changes, and basic maintenance tasks.

Of course your particular situation will influence the end decision, but ask yourself:

  • Is having one car possible?
  • Do you have public transportation options?
  • Do you have special services available, such as shuttle bus transportation?
  • Should you downgrade your vehicle?

Remember, the money you receive by either selling a car outright or trading in for a more economical vehicle is more money in your pocket.

Insurances

Health  insurance, life, auto, disability, home or renters insurance – it can be overwhelming.

Doesn’t it seem like as soon as you pay your home insurance, the auto bill arrives in the mail? And trying to successfully reduce your expenses without putting your insurance needs at risk is most likely to be quite labor intensive.

However, with the range of insurance needs we all have, it’s worth it.

Bundling to Save Money

One easy step is the same plan of attack with your utilities: Can you calculate and bundle your policies for more savings?  Also a new provider might be very amenable to passing on savings for a new account of this stature.

Other pockets of savings to look for include auto insurance: Are you driving fewer miles each year, now that you’re not working?  Ask about reduced rates for that.

If you carried a certain kind of policy for disability and are no longer working in that higher-risk field, can you take on a policy that covers your current needs?

You might only benefit from a one-time cost decrease, since insurance premiums tend to stay constant.  However, even with that singular “windfall” you can apply that to your emergency fund, home repairs, or use it toward a vacation.

Wear Your “Senior” Colors Proudly

Americans age 65 and older make up 13 percent of the population. You’re now part of a very powerful demographic with 35 million members. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has 47 million members – they begin their “membership drive” when a person reaches 50 years old.

The clout you carry ranges from everything to elections to economic perks, so whether or not you carry an AARP card, you can still reap the benefits of senior discounts and maximize your leisure time without breaking the bank.

You don’t have to stay home to save a buck, you just need a smarter social life:

Be a Lifelong Learner

Want to learn a new hobby or skill? Check out the course offerings through your local park district, library, community colleges, or high school. Not only do you reap savings on tuition (and for some venues the workshops are free), you can choose to attend classes on site or learn online.

Follow Your Passion

Immerse yourself in the arts and attend concerts, cultural events, and museum openings. Not only do many organizations offer reduced ticket prices, if you volunteer or learn to be a docent, you attend for free.

Make the World a Better Place

Parlay your former “working hours” and volunteer for your favorite political candidate.   Help socialize kittens and puppies at your animal shelter and save a life. Got a “green” streak? Plant trees or get involved with a local gardening society.

Be Appreciated

Some local grocery stores have free delivery for seniors.  Your local library most likely has a delivery service so all the latest best sellers and blockbusters are brought to your door at no cost.

Also take some time and research companies that offer discounts on home and auto repair.

Get Physical

Gone are the days when you had to walk through the mall for exercise. Get fit with a senior membership to a nearby health club and try Tai Chi or yoga.

lets get physical gif

With so many opportunities for affordable services, entertainment, and personal development, you don’t need a 7-figure nest egg to enjoy your golden years.

This article was a blog contribution from Farrah Carpenter. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has four kids and loves to go hiking in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
student loan debt money

How to Pay Off and Conquer Your Student Loan Debt

Do you have debt from student loans? If so, you’re not alone. About 45% of college graduates have student loan debt. With some effort on your part, you can conquer your student loan debt – so you can use that money for other things.

Know What You Owe

Chances are you have more than one loan and they all have different interest rates. It’s boring, but read each loan through. As you go, write down:

  • The balance of each loan
  • Each loan’s interest rate
  • Whether the rate is fixed
  • Federal or private loan
  • If there’s a forgiveness option
  • Where you’ll be sending payments
  • Who you’ll be paying
  • Contact information for each loan
  • Payment dates for each loan
  • When you have to begin paying
  • The minimum payment for each

Conquering Student Loan Debt

Double-check that you haven’t forgotten any loans. This process should give you a clear idea of what you owe, what can be forgiven, who you’re sending payments to and what your minimum payment will be each month when you total them up.

It doesn’t stop there. When you find a job, consider what you can afford to pay each month. If your minimum payment totals up to $250 and you can afford $300, pay the $300. That’s an extra $50 per month over the course of at least 10 years, roughly $6,000, saving you a lot of money interest.

Consolidating Versus Automatic Debit

If you have lots of loans – and again, you probably do – consolidating could be an attractive option. It will let you make one monthly payment instead of several payments. That’s appealing.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

You cannot consolidate private loans under federal loans. Private loans will consolidate your federal loans, but you’ll get hit hard by interest and you’ll lose of the benefits of the federal loans.

What types of benefits? Depends, but they could include loan forgiveness for:

  • Entering law enforcement
  • Teaching science classes
  • Deploying with the military
  • Joining the peace corps
  • Teaching in low-income areas
  • Working as a nurse for two years

However, for some of these situations, your entire loan will not be forgiven, only a percentage will be.

With all of that in mind, most experts recommend NOT consolidating loans unless they’re the same type of loan, like all private loans. Instead, keep track of each individual loan and make payments on it.

Don’t Wait to Start Paying

That grace period is nice and it can be super tempting to use all of it. Don’t. The moment you get a job, begin making payments toward each of the loans.

Consider putting money into a checking account that’s separate from your main checking account and using that to pay off the loans. By putting part of every paycheck in, you’ll be able to pay off those loans without even thinking about it.

It’ll be automatic, which will be easier for you in the long run. Most companies that use automatic payment will allow you to set up your payments so a percentage can go to more than one account.

Make Financial Sacrifices

It can be really easy to stop by McDonalds on the way to work, on the way home, or during lunch.

Don’t do it.

That doesn’t mean don’t go out to eat. It means skip the small purchases that add up when you’re not paying attention. Going to McDonald’s 5 times a week and spending an average of $4 means that in a month you’re spending $80, probably without realizing it.

shopping bagsInstead, plan to go out with friends two times per month and spend $20-$25 each time. You’ll enjoy it more, you’ll spend less and you can put the extra money toward your loans.

If coffee is your go-to, buy a coffee maker and schedule it to brew coffee in the morning so it’s ready to go when you are. Then, allow yourself a visit to your favorite coffee shop once per week.

There are other ways to cut expenses out of your budget, too. For instance:

  • Skip cable or satellite TV and get Hulu and Netflix instead ($8 – $11 for each compared to $55-85/month)
  • Choose the lowest cell phone plan available, with the smallest amount of data (or no data)
  • Get internet service in your home for your computer instead of using it on your cell phone
  • Rent a place with friends after college so you are all paying less on rent, bills and utilities
  • Eat most of your meals in and pack a lunch to bring with you to work most days

Creating a budget will allow you to see where you’re spending more money than you realize and give you an idea of where you could cut back. Then, make sure you’re putting the extra money toward your loans. The best way to do that?

Make a one-time payments (or several extra payments) to the loan with the highest interest rate each month.

Budget Extra Money for Emergencies

This may not seem like it has a place in an article about mastering student loan debt, but it does.

Maintaining an emergency savings account protects you and your budget because when the unexpected happens, like car accidents, hospital visits, becoming unemployed, or home repairs, you have the money to pay for them and you don’t need to worry about how you’re going to pay for or borrow money for your other expenses, like your student loans.

student loan debt pigThe best way to conquer your student loan debt is to pay more than you’re required to pay each and every month. Anything you can do to meet that goal will decrease what you pay in interest and give you excess cash later when you want it to take a vacation, plan your wedding, start a family or buy a car.

When you know what you owe and create a plan to pay it off quickly – taking the unexpected into account – you’ll be well on your way to conquering your student debt.

start business bad credit

Ways to Start a Business with Bad Credit: Get Secured Loans

Secured loans for bad credit are loans which involve some type of collateral as a security for your lender.

Because you can offer something like a car, a house, or a savings account as a security for a secured loan for bad credit, lenders are more likely to give you a better deal on your interest rate, which will mean a lower monthly payment plan to work with – less stress for a new business.

Every business requires input before it can output anything – even your neighborhood house cleaner has to stock up on supplies – which means that if you want to start a new business, you need money first.

Some lenders are willing to dish out business loans with a good enough pitch, but if you have a bad credit history, you’re less likely to receive the kind of money you imagined on a fair payment rate. To get a quality loan with a fair deal to support your business on bad credit, you can use collateral in your favor by opting for a secured loan for bad credit.

Secured Loans for Bad Credit: Choosing Your Item

The whole idea behind secured loans is that the item you use as collateral to support your business has a high enough value to cover your new idea’s jump-start. For example, say you want to open a small shop on a busy corner – with junk food, magazines, alcohol, and small, personal items. Let’s break down what you’ll have to initially account for:

  • Location: a security deposit and monthly rent
  • Interior: shelving units, refrigerators, doors, paint, cash registers, etc.
  • Product: paying for a shipment of products from your provider
  • Registration, Licensing, Permits, Tax ID, Employer Responsibilities: Legal steps may cost $$
  • Employees: calculate how much you can spend weekly/monthly, down to the hour
  • Shop Upkeep: As your business booms, you’re bound to incur regular upkeep costs

These are a simple list of the initial steps that you’ll have to cover to start your business, which can only grow more complicated as you do more and more business.

Legal fines such as property issues, or storage and trash containers can add up over time, but your business will hopefully be able to turn a surplus of cash as it begins making money from your initial investment.

starting a business onlineStarting a new business, even the most simple of operations, costs at the very least $10 – $15,000, by most estimates. To choose an item for a secured loan for bad credit that will afford this much cash at a decent interest rate, you should make sure your item has a market value at least this high.

Secured Loans with Bad Credit

For most people, a working, insured vehicle can afford upwards of thousands of dollars in a secured loan for bad credit. If you have a home worth this kind of money, making good on your mortgage equity can help you afford your new business easily and earn the extra cash to cover your mortgage payments.

For other people, a valuable savings account can help you secure a quality loan with a desirable interest rate and payment plan, but be aware that any item offered as collateral for a secured loan for bad credit can be taken away if you happen to default on your secured loan.

So, short of losing a business, you risk losing the value of your collateral. However, with a stable business plan and a good location, as well as an appropriate loan amount, a secured loan for bad credit can fuel any new business to success.

Securing Your Secured Loan for Bad Credit

Secured loans don’t require lots of time and effort to apply, get approved, and receive your cash, which is part of their overall appeal. But, if you want to secure a secured loan for bad credit that meets your specific needs, you may want to spend some time comparing offers so you can find your best option.

Luckily, there are hundreds of sites out there specifically designed to help you locate a quality loan in your immediate neighborhood based on your piece of collateral. You can price your item, hear different offers, and locate someone with an offer for you in minutes if you search properly.

Talk to a Pro

One such site is located on this domain, Velocity Cash, where you can speak with a financial expert about your potential business plan, various options you can choose from, your piece of collateral, and your ability to make payments on time with your business. You can even set up a flexible payment plan to help you get your business off the ground.

Here’s our application process, which can help you narrow down your best business options for your secured loan for bad credit:

  1. Apply with the form on our home page to get a quote for your item
  2. Call an expert from our team to discuss options for your secured loan
  3. Hear offers from lenders in your area through us, and make an informed choice
  4. Set up your repayment plan using your business plan as a basis
  5. Drive to your lender and drive off with your cash in as soon as 24 hours

Using internet services such as Velocity Cash increases your chances of getting top dollar for your high-value item and securing a payment plan that will be flexible enough to allow you to get started.

This is because financial experts have access to information about lenders all around the United States, and they can reach out into your specific neighborhood to seek your loan for your specific needs.

Then, when you’ve found a loan you like and you’ve used a loan calculator, experts can help you determine the best type of payment plan for you, and help you figure out how to put your money to your best use.

With all around caring and helpful service for potential business owners, Velocity Cash can assist anyone with their loan application process and speed up your cash receipt no matter what your credit score looks like.

Get a Longer Repayment Plan to Ease Your Payments, Transition

As your business gets started, you need to leave yourself some leeway to allow for unexpected costs, and to allow your community to adjust to your business’ new arrival.

It takes time to build a customer-base, but as you do, a secured loan for bad credit can help support your business, and a flexible payment plan that allows for your orientation period will make it easier to fund your transition into a booming part of a vibrant economy.

Repaying the Loan

By seeking a longer repayment plan, you actually give your lender an affirmation of the fact that you intend to be in business for a long time, which means that you intend to do well with your secured loan for bad credit. Increasing your lender’s interest in supporting your loan limits the interest they can charge you for their lending service.

If possible, you should also seek to minimize your payments in your initial months so that you have ample funds available for your initial business period, which is bound to be a rollercoaster of costs and profits, gains and setbacks.

Know The Limits of Your Business Before You Secure a Loan

Of course, if your business doesn’t stand to make back the amount of money that you receive with a secured loan for bad credit in the time that your payment plan lasts, you won’t be able to cover all of your payments in time to complete your loan successfully, which doesn’t bode well for a new business.

In order to avoid this misstep, complete a potential profit estimate and compare it with the amount you need to get your business started, plus interest. If your inventory can’t be liquidated to supply enough cash to complete your loan, you’ll need to find another way to pay it off at the end, which could result in the loss of your piece of collateral.

Another way you can make sure that your secured loan for bad credit will fit with your business plan is to review it with an expert from Velocity Cash and ensure that your business plan will meet your expense plan.

business loanVelocity Cash experts are financial specialists with a history of working with customers to hash out their financial concerns. From a business perspective, this opportunity is priceless, as the cost of hiring an accountant would outweigh your potential gain with your secured start-up loan.

As you work out how to get your business started, you can apply with the form on our home page by submitting your information and a brief explanation of your intent. What you intend to do with your cash makes a huge difference in applying, getting approved, and receiving cash at a good rate. If you can get a lender to believe in you, you can receive reliable investment into your new business.

How to Turn a Secured Loan for Bad Credit into Your Fortune

If you follow the instructions above, then you should be able to secure a secured loan for bad credit without too many obstructions. Speaking with an expert about your needs, and then seeking out your loan will help you more fully understand what your loan can do for you, and how you can sustain your business for years.

However, if you’re looking to fine-tune your business operations, your experts might not have the expertise to assist you. As an alternative, here are some savvy business techniques, to help your new venture blossom into an amazing return for your enjoyment.

    • Choose an inviting design with a modern feel that fits into your neighborhood
    • Connect with your initial customers to develop your business base
    • Pass out discount cards and offer specials to boost your notoriety
    • Have a sign and a few discounts on display by your location for walkers
    • Ask for feedback about your service, learn more about customers’ needs
    • Offer something cheap for fleeting customers and a higher-priced special for regulars
    • Schedule events at your location so your business becomes better-known

As you work through your initial stages of business ownership, you’ll discover some loyal customers who like what you have to offer, and you’ll probably have to deal with some less patient customers who will complain about anything. When working with undesirables, don’t forget to keep it positive.

Don’t be afraid of a polite apology and a decent offer to reconcile what seem like shortcomings in an angry person’s eyes.

With this advice to kick-start your business, and a good monetary base to get your location started, you should be well on your way to turning your new idea into a source of income for you and yours, and a source of pride for your community.

Keeping Goals

Getting fully involved in your business’ economic climate takes time, but with the proper support, your efforts can secure your initial goals.

Don’t forget, to receive a free quote for your idea, and to receive free consultation about your business plan and your potential loan, apply with Velocity Cash today using your information.

Our experts will guide you to a great lender who’s on board with your new business, and you’ll be able to make thousands in a flash. Give us a call to learn more about your secured loan against car for bad credit.

eating money broke

This is Why You’re Broke All the Time

Living paycheck to paycheck? Struggling to pay bills and get food on the table? Don’t have the money to pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs, broken heaters or dentist bills? Do you have mountains of credit card debt? You’re broke.

You’re not alone. And no matter the cause of financial crises in your life, you can overcome it.

Shortly after college, I was broke. I was single and living in a cheap apartment and making do substitute teaching and writing. I didn’t have money for extras, or sometimes gas, and I frequently had to ask my parents for money.

That’s embarrassing. I went to the library for video games and books and free internet, which is also embarrassing.

Eventually, I got more writing jobs and a full-time job at Walmart and was still substitute teaching and I managed to get my finances mostly under control. I worked a lot. It was worth it. I learned a lot. It hurt. I still managed to make more poor decisions, but learned from those, too.

So can you.

But first you need to identify why you’re broke. Or possibly the many reasons you’re broke. Here are six major causes of financial crises and what you can do about them.

#1 You Don’t Have a Financial Plan

If you don’t have a financial plan, you’re screwed.

Without a financial plan, you don’t know where your money’s going, you don’t know how much of it you’re spending, and you’re not spending money the way you think you are.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Bill Gates or making minimum wage at the grocery store. Not having a financial plan is the primary cause of financial crises. Your financial plan needs to address your finances as they are now, but also your future, into retirement.

So what?

To overcome this cause of financial crises, you need to create a financial plan you will follow.

Many financial advisers recommend writing down every cent you spend for the next month, and that’s a good idea, but if you can access your bank account online, start by printing out your last three bank statements. With those in front of you, take a good hard look at where your money is really going.

shopping lady is broke

Ready to be surprised?

My husband and I were. The first time we did this, we had 4-5 charges for $3 or less every week day. He would get thirsty or hungry while he was on his route (he’s a truck driver) and buy soda or water or a sandwich or a slice of pizza.

Since they were all “small” purchases, he didn’t think they were anything to be concerned about. The problem? Altogether, he was spending $250 that was NOT budgeted for.

Once you identify a problem, you can create a solution. Now he gets “road money” and I buy freezer meals, soda and water for him to bring with him to work.

To create your basic budget:

  • Write down fixed expenses: rent/mortgage, electricity, satellite, internet, cell phones, etc.
  • Write down variable expenses: gas and groceries
  • Put money into savings
  • Track where the rest of your money is going
  • Expect to have “surprise” purchases come up

For the first month you should to get an idea of where you’re overspending and underspending. You don’t need to plan out every cent for the rest of your life, but it’s wise to start there. To create your budget, you can use a planner that does most of the work for you, like Mint, or create your own.

#2 You Carry a Balance on Your Credit Cards

Credit card debt is a huge cause of financial crises. Obviously, if you bring home $2,500 each month and you’re spending $2,600, you need to find things to cut back. But credit card debt is a less-obvious way to spend more than you earn, whether you have good or bad credit.

You charge it and pay it back slowly over time. In doing that, you’re paying more than it’s worth for each purchase over the course of several years – several times over.

So what?

If you have credit card debt that you’re adding to and not paying back every month, it’s bad for your credit score and your finances.

Having a credit card you pay off every month or you only use for emergencies can be acceptable. Several people use credit cards for the rewards. But if you’re carrying a balance, it’s bad, the end.

To break the cycle, pay extra on one credit card to pay it off faster. You may have to cut somethings out, like going out to dinner with the girls or buying cool car parts or reduce the data plan for your phone.

Do it. After you have one card paid off, move on to the next one. When you’re debt free, you can decide which extras are most important to you and indulge freely.

#3 You’re Not Saving Money

Saving money is necessary for your future, whether it’s the long-term future that is retirement, the short-term future that is your next emergency or the mid-term future that is next year’s vacation. You need to have a savings accounts and at some point you will probably have several.

If you’re not saving money, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It can become a future cause of financial crises in your life.

Imagine you have everything under control. You’re making good money that covers your bills and gives you plenty of room for extras. And then the car breaks down. You take it into the shop. While it’s in the shop, your basement floods, soaking your office carpet. And your books.

It’s not enough to take out an insurance claim, but it does cost a few hundred dollars to clean up. You get your car back. $632 of ouch.

And then the basement floodsagain because the broken gutter wasn’t replaced correctly. This time it sits half a day. The carpet is ruined, you have dozens of ruined books, your desk is ruined and now there’s mold.

Sounds far-fetched, but that happened to my husband and I in May of 2015 – when our son was a month old.

So what?

We were able to pay for it, but if you don’t have an emergency savings account – or some other savings account – you’d need to put it on credit cards, borrow money from friends or family or take out some other loan.

How can you save money when you’re broke? Thoughtfully, and not all at once. Start by saving a little bit of money every month. Cut back on the number of times you eat out or on a service you never use. Put that money in a savings account.

Gradually save more. Earn extra money (more on that later) and stash it away. Create savings goals, like:

  • Opening a savings account
  • Depositing $5 each week automatically
  • Putting $100 in an account
  • $1,000 in an emergency fund
  • $600 toward next year’s vacation
  • $300 toward car repairs
  • Setting aside a month of income
  • 6 months of income set aside
  • Saving $200 each month

Your goals should fit you, but always make sure you have something to fall back on when you need it. Get started today: even small amounts can add up and can help belay financial crises in your life.

#4 You Need to Earn More Money

Imagine you’ve added up your fixed and variable expenses and you’re having a hard time making those, even though you’ve cut out everything you can: no TV, you have the most basic phone plan and your car is a beater that still gets pretty decent mileage, even if people can hear it coming 10 miles away.

You’re not making enough money.

So what?

It’s time to get cracking. Consider how much more money you need to make every month. Then:

  • Ask for a raise
  • Ask for discounts on services you pay for every month
  • Find a part-time job (or two)
  • Earn money from websites, like survey sites
  • Become a mystery shopper
  • Sell some of your things
  • Monetize your website
  • Get cash assistance from search websites
  • Tutor a student

Want more ideas? Check out The Penny Hoarder. It’s dedicated to helping people earn, save, and grow their money.

#5 You’re Spending Money On Things You Don’t Need

Everyone buys things they don’t need, that’s one of the fun parts about being an adult. It’s also a major cause of financial crises.

Consider this:

My husband smokes cigarettes. He spends around $120 per month on his pack-per-workday habit. I spend money on books. And coffee. Lots of coffee. On average, I spend $80 per month on coffee (some of which I sneak into my grocery budget).

Neither of us needs those things, yet they take up $200 of our budget.

If you track your spending – and what you’re purchasing – you’ll realizing your spending money on things you don’t need, too.

Do you eat most of your meals out? I get it. It’s easier. But it costs more. At a restaurant, what you’re paying for the meal – before taxes and tip – is about a third of what it would cost for you to make it at home. Add on tip and ouch.

Maybe clothes are your thing. Shoes. Guns. Cars. Technology.

Those things aren’t bad, right?

Of course not. But if you already have plenty of clothes or are buying designer labels with money you don’t have, it’s become a cause of financial crises in your life.

So what?

If it’s not a need, you can cut it out of your budget. Look at what you’re spending money on each month. If it’s not a bill, it’s probably a want. If it comes up a lot, that’s why you’re broke.

But don’t stop cold turkey. It’ll just make you less-likely to stick to your budget. Instead, cut back:

  • Buy one Frappuccino each month or each week.
  • Buy a pair of shoes, just not Jimmy Choos.
  • Go out to eat once per month.
  • Allot yourself spending money

Also identify which wants you’re not willing to sacrifice. I’d sacrifice coffee to become a bleary-eyed Zombie to keep my daughter in swim lessons.

She loves them and it allows us to spend one-on-one time together. Plus, swimming is a valuable life skill. (And let’s be honest: she sleeps like a log for about three hours afterward. It’s fantastic.)

#6 You Don’t Have Money You’re Allowed to Spend

When we got married, I discovered that my husband believed that you spend the money you want and then, if you have money left, then you pay your bills. I’m not joking. He really thought that – because that’s how he was raised.

Let’s be really clear: you have to pay your bills first. You also have to feel like you’re not working for nothing.

So what?

This seems like an odd cause of financial crises, but when you don’t have any money to spend on the things you want, it becomes too hard to stick to the budget and you probably won’t see the point and you will start to overspend.

broke lady with money

To balance this, pay yourself (and not just your savings account.) I’m a big fan of spending money. My parents recommended this when we got married.

We each get $20 per week. I buy coffee or a book or go out with my friends without feeling guilty because I know the money is in our budget. (Too much for your budget? My sister and her husband get $10 each per month and it works for them. They’re better with money than we are.)

If you don’t have money for your bills and for spending money, you need to find ways to earn more money or cut back.

A word of warning: a friend and her husband tried calculating spending money and it didn’t work for them. He would spend his money the first day and then keep spending. He spent MORE doing this when he just bought things for himself now and again.

You need to find out what works for you. If this is the case for you, you might try buying one “fun” thing each week for a certain amount or under.

Conclusion

Whether you’re in credit card debt, buying things you don’t need or don’t have a financial plan, you can make changes today. Take the first step toward creating a plan. If you really need fast cash, you can borrow money against your car.

There are many causes of financial crises and when you identify which one (or ones) you’re susceptible to, you can turn it around.Small steps today can yield big results down the road.

This article was a blog contribution from Stacy Robbins. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her husband and two children.
good vs bad credit man

Good Credit vs. Bad Credit

You have to play the game. Your choice of job, home and even future spouse depend upon it. Long before you were born, a system was put in place that governs your chances of “making it” and achieving the lifestyle – and life – you desire.

There is no politely backing out. You can’t throw in the towel, take your ball and go home. Credit rules the roost. What your score says about you defines you in the eyes of a potential boss, car and mortgage lender and maybe even significant other.

Why Your Credit Score is the Secret Spy You Can’t Shake

Splurge at Nordstrom’s (maxing out your store card) and forget to pay your bill? That’ll be on your next credit report. Get excited to join your friends on vacation and apply for five different credit cards to help you get there? That many inquiries in a short amount of time doesn’t bode well for you.

Or maybe, you just remove yourself and pay for everything with cash – car, plane tickets, and holiday presents. Sorry to break it to you, but this will reflect badly on your score as well, in the form of no score.

People with nonexistent credit scores are viewed as aliens from another planet – it’s best not to do business with them. You can’t win, so you must turn to bad credit private lenders when you need cash.

checking credit score online

These days, everyone looks at your credit. Potential employers are known to run soft credit checks on interviewees, believing that if an individual is in a dire financial situation, they might be more likely to steal from the company. Nobody likes a thief.

Even when you decide it’s time to settle down with your long-term partner and tie the knot, your pre-marriage counselor might suggest sharing credit reports to promote transparency, or your future spouse might start asking questions. “Could we buy a house together? What’s your credit like?” In most every state, the responsibility of debts in one spouse’s name aren’t automatically transferred to the other spouse, but in states with a community property law this is the case.

Who Really Benefits from the Credit Score System?

Maybe you’ve lived long enough to start taking the credit system for granted. You just accept it for what it is: some people have good scores, some people have bad scores. Some people have blonde hair, some people have brown hair.

Complacency isn’t a beneficial attitude to have, but it’s understandable. It might seem like no matter what financial decision you make, your credit isn’t ever going to change. It’s not like you can get approved for a loan with a low interest rate to help you out of the rut – that would require good credit, something you don’t have.

And that is the crux of the matter. If you think the credit system is designed to help you, you’re believing a lie. The credit system is a smoke screen. It’s an excuse for lenders to scrape every little ounce of cash out of your pocket. It’s set up to financially benefit them every time.

Just Ask the Experts

While the guru behind the popular personal finance blog Financial Samurai recently published a post outlining why credit isn’t important anymore, his argument actually reinforces the idea of a broken, lender profit-driven system. He states that once you reach a score of 740, it doesn’t matter how much higher it goes, you won’t reap an increase of benefits.

The only way to continue getting lower interest rates and better offers from lenders is to prove how much you have in assets. Once you start showcasing the funds you have available, they start handing out freebies as fast as they can.

The bottom line is, they want your money. They either want you to pay high interest and fees because you have bad credit, or they want you to place all of your financial assets in their control.

Are You Destined to Fail?

The credit-based system is a vicious cycle. Those who would benefit from the low interest rates available to perfect-score applicants never come close to qualifying. Without the urgent money they need, those consumers fall further into the cycle of debt. They don’t have a high enough credit score for a reasonable loan agreement, so they take the 20 percent interest rate.

When they fall behind on payments due to the exorbitant interest charges tacked onto their loan, they’re slapped with even higher late fees and penalties. Even if they come into a sum of money and try to pay off the loan all at once, they’re faced with a disgruntled lender who decides they must pay early loan payoff penalties since their cash cow is leaving the pen.

And that’s the not-so-secret secret: this is what credit companies and banks are hoping for. They want you to develop a bad credit score so they have their reason for extra fees, spiked interest rates, you name it.

Why Are Bad Credit Private Lenders Increasing in Popularity?

Just look at the prevalence of bad credit private lenders to prove the increasing problems with our current credit system. Up until recent years, there’s been a vacuum in the market.

People with really bad credit don’t get approved for personal loans. People with medium-level bad credit get approved, but the interest rates are astronomical. Even if the individual with bad credit decides to just get by without a loan from this high-interest rate traditional lender, their need for cash does not go away. That’s where bad credit private lenders come into play.

These organizations offer reasonable rates to individuals with bad credit based on various pieces of data. They don’t require credit checks to apply, helping people with low confidence feel accepted once again.

The loan they receive might be a personal loan or a car title loan. Either way, the borrower can pay back the debt in small installments that work with their limited budget.

Another positive mark for bad credit private lenders? By giving the individual with lacking credit score a chance, they’re able to possibly earn a few points back by paying off the loan on time. Bad credit private lenders get a high level of business due to the fact that the credit system is not structured for individual success, only lender profit.

What’s Behind the Number?

Whether or not you believe good credit is or isn’t important, the truth is a score does not portray people accurately, in terms of true financial stability. Why? Because remember, credit scores are meant to benefit lenders, not people.

Picture this: person A has two general credit cards, one store card and two personal loans with $10,000 limits. They owe $3,000 on each – $15,000 total. They’ve had these lines of credit for over five years, from college up until now, in their late twenties.

Anytime they see something they like in a store or online, heck even an infomercial, they buy it. Why wait? Life is short.

They make $45,000 a year and pay the minimum on each card, just like they’ve done for the past five years. Their interest rate is less than the average 15 percent at 12 percent. With a minimum payment of 4%, their monthly obligation to each card is $120.

Multiply that by 5? $600 a month goes to credit card companies. If they’re a young, single professional taxed at 25%, almost one fifth of their net take home pay goes towards credit cards every month. It will take them over 8 years to pay off the balances, making payments at the minimum.

What About Another Situation?

Person B has one credit card with a $10,000 limit. They owe $7,500. They opened the credit line three months ago because their car needed a major repair and they didn’t want to go further into debt buying a brand new vehicle.

They have the same annual income, interest rate and they also pay 4% as their minimum payment. The monthly total comes out to $300 – half of what person A pays.

$300 is closer to one tenth of their net monthly pay. So they double up their payment in an effort to pay off the total quickly – after all it’s the only debt they have – and it only takes them 1.7 years.

If you asked anyone on the street which person is more financially stable, most would answer person B. They only just recently applied for credit because they need it. They don’t live in a cycle of debt like person A. However, the credit bureaus would disagree. Person A would most likely have a much higher credit score than Person B. Why?

How Your Credit is Calculated

Here are the specific factors that raise your credit score:

  • A history of on-time payments of at least the minimum.
  • A history, period. Length of time accounts are open matters.
  • Utilizing less than 30% of the credit card maximum.
  • A mix of credit types: personal loan, retail credit, etc.
  • No recent credit inquiries.

According to these standards, person A is the ideal candidate for yet another credit card. They make their minimum payment. They’ve been using their credit cards for years. The balance on each line of credit is less than 30%. They have a wide variety of types of credit.

Person B on the other hand may have more money in savings. They’re not trigger happy with their credit card applications. They want to be debt-free and save for items before they buy rather than the other way around like person A.

It’s sad, but person B probably has a much lower credit score than person A, undeservedly so in terms of smart financial planning, but deservedly so in the eyes of for-profit banks and credit card companies who are making a pretty penny.

If you think these two scenarios are “out there,” think again. The average American household carries over $5,000 in credit card debt per person from month to month, paying an interest rate in the mid to high teens.

couple checking credit

This is why bad credit private lenders are once again proving the system is flawed. They give low interest, flexible loans to individuals like person B and enjoy the on-time responsible payments from those hard workers.

Person A continues to feed the profits of the corporate money-making scheme that is the credit system, and they’re rewarded with the “perfect” credit score. Doesn’t it all seem a little backwards?

The Credit Bureaus Themselves Don’t Care About Your Report – Why Should You?

Just look at the prevalence of mistakes on credit reports if the popularity of bad credit private lenders and the examination of what makes up credit scores can’t convince you the credit system is faulty. Up to 20 percent of all credit reports contain errors. And when the individuals notice the problem and attempt to resolve the issue, usually it’s just next to impossible.

You have to draft a dispute letter then follow up in 30 days to make sure the credit reporting company took action on your request. Sadly, only 69 percent of disputes resolve in the borrower’s favor.

Once again, the opportunity for bad credit private lenders is only growing each day as the consumer credit system fails to care about the accuracy of the one record that could literally determine your financial fate.

Report Accuracy

If a good score is as easy to achieve as some credit companies might like you to think – “just use your calculator and make your payments on time!” – then why are 20 percent of consumers forced to challenge the accuracy of the report? A system that powerful can’t ensure all facts on a credit report are correct? The answer is – they can, they just don’t want to.

It might be frustrating to have to keep up with tracking your credit and simply caring, but here’s the thing: you have to care. This information affects you each and every day.

You want to move into a brand new apartment but the landlord might pull your credit before accepting your application. Want to borrow money against your car? Or apply for a lease on a hybrid vehicle and your credit score is all the difference in the interest rate you drive away with. How can you build up your credit and play the system, albeit reluctantly?

Use Bad Credit Private Lenders to Your Advantage

The truth is, a good credit score doesn’t help you as much as a bad credit score hurts you. Good credit isn’t your ticket to wealth, but bad credit could destine you to a lifetime of rejection. Investigate your many credit-building options today, including the chance for a boost from bad credit private lenders.

installment loan money

Why Installment Loans are Designed for People with Bad Credit

You might ask how installment loans for people with bad credit could possibly be a good option, and with valid reason.

Loans are a little scary. “The Crippling Debt that Time Forgot,” would probably be one of the easiest horror film titles to identify with for millions of the people around us, and yet it’s undeniable that loans have become a necessary part of life for most major life purchases.

A home, a car, a business startup, or an education are all legitimate reasons to need to go into some level of debt, but if you already have bad credit, that prospect can be terrifying.

What Was it Like for Me?

That’s how it was in my family growing up. My parents had already accumulated a great deal of debt from financial difficulties in the past, and had filed for bankruptcy twice, but they still dreamed of owning a home.

How did they manage to achieve their goal? Through making a careful plan to cover all loan expenses every month before actually going into debt to buy a home, they were able to turn their long-term installment loan from something unpleasant to think about into something that was (usually) unworrisome.

With that goal in mind, we should probably talk about why you can actually plan things out to make it so that installment loans for people with bad credit become a part of your reality.

loans installments

While it might seem that exactly the opposite is true, with some specific planning and self-discipline, an installment loan for people with bad credit can actually help you get prepared to handle other, more important loans in the future.

What we’ll investigate today are three primary ways that for people with bad credit, installment loans can actually be a useful credit tool for recovering a good reputation with lenders and banks.

While you’ll always want to be cautious regarding when and why you go into debt, installment loans are a relatively stable way to prepare for the moments when debt is unavoidable, such as purchasing the first family home.

1. You Can Plan Carefully to Make Payments

Installment loans are one of the most common types of loans today, and they’re used for everything I mentioned earlier: Houses, vehicles, businesses, school, and any other large, necessary purchase that it would be impossible to pay for all at once (unless you have $200,000 sitting in a savings account).

That fact is one of the reasons this first step is easy; you’re probably not buying any of these things on the spur of the moment.

Before you buy a house or a car, you’re likely going to plan for how you’re going to get the loan, and you’ll research what features of the car you want to make sure you get the right fit for you or your family.

Adding On

This first step just takes things a little farther. The first way to deal with an installment loan for people with bad credit is to plan for a certain level of monthly payments that you can still see yourself making five years down the road.

Due to this one simple aspect of their nature, installment loans are designed for people with bad credit to be able to recover their credit score gradually by making stable payments over time. This tends to demonstrate to future lenders that you were consistent and trustworthy in dealing with your installment loan; for people with bad credit, this can actually change a lender’s perspective of you.

If you’re looking at your budget before getting an installment loan, check your monthly income, and even if your interest ends up being higher due to smaller payments over a longer period, it may be worth the added total expense just to be sure you can completely make all the payments on time every month.

Don’t Miss a Payment

Missing a payment is likely far worse for your credit history than paying a total of a few hundred dollars more over the course of a few years.

One important thing to consider when making your financial plan is that it might not actually be beneficial for you to try to pay off the loan early. All concerns about early payment penalties aside, it’s just not as useful to you in the long run to try to get the loan paid off sooner than you had originally planned.

If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry. It was surprising to me when I found out, too, but this is one of the reasons that installment loans for people with bad credit can turn into a positive.

One of the reasons why has to do with how your credit score is calculated. Having an active installment loan that is free of delinquency (missed or incomplete payments) is actually a greater positive influence on your credit score than having no loans currently active, often accounting for about 35% of the score.

Paying Off the Loan

That means that being in the process of paying off an installment loan, and doing so successfully, actually makes you more appealing to future lenders than not being in any debt at all.

Essentially, this means that while it’s necessary for you to be in debt, you might as well milk the positive aspect of paying off a loan for all it’s worth. Use every steady monthly payment to improve your score bit by bit rather than cutting off that benefit early, at least if you plan on getting loans for other purchases in the future. This is one key way that installment loans for people with bad credit can be used to your advantage.

The other reason for not paying off a loan early is because, if you’ve planned effectively and you’ve kept your previous level of pay, you already know you can pay off the loan over time. That extra money you wanted to use to pay off the loan early could be more effectively saved in an emergency fund or put toward a future major purchase.

Installment Loan Help

That way, if it does turn out that you need the money to help with your installment loan later on, it’s still there, but if you end up needing it for something else, you haven’t already committed it to the loan.

This is still a part of planning for your improved credit, because while your current loan might already be handled, any extra money you save can go toward your next downpayment.

Let’s recap before moving on. Planning is the first way installment loans for people with bad credit can actually be a positive, and you make it work that way through:

  • Making a specific payment plan to fit your consistent income
  • Being disciplined in sticking to your plan
  • Avoiding the temptation to pay off the loan early
  • Saving extra money in a rainy-day fund for future expenses

2. Multiple Installment Loans Add Diversity to Your Credit Score

The next way that installment loans help people with bad credit is through diversity. As Kevin Haney from savvyoncredit.com said it, “You might feel more confident when loaning money to a friend if you could observe his behavior at work, with family, with friends, and while at church instead of just one venue. The most frequently used algorithms [for calculating your credit score] operate in the same fashion.”

That’s how lenders see it when you have multiple types of installment loans active at the same time. To be honest, it’s not an uncommon situation. Student loans, auto loans, and a mortgage aren’t unlikely bedfellows, so by dealing with these kinds of loans simultaneously, you make your installment loans work to improve your credit score even more.

Multiple Loans

That is, if you manage them well. Multiple loans can be tricky to handle, so you might not want to capitalize on the diversity of your loans if you know your stable sources of income aren’t sure to cover it.

There are still ways to diversify your credit portfolio without taking on numerous large-scale loans all at once, though.

credit

One simple method is to start out with one credit card that you actually end up using more like a debit card. This is where self-discipline comes into play again. You have to force yourself not to use the credit card for more than you have in the bank, and by paying it off completely every month, you’re starting off on the right foot.

First Big Loan

Then comes your first major installment loan. It might be a student loan, or if you’re out of college you might have an auto loan on top of that student loan. If this is stretching you too thin, it’s probably obvious that you can leave buying a house for later.

Diversifying your credit is more of a long-term benefit of installment loans for people with bad credit and good credit alike.

If all you’re working with is a credit card and a car payment, don’t worry about it. The combination of revolving credit (credit with no specific payment plan) on your card, and installment-based payments on your car loan will be a good starting point to make future installment loans a possibility for you.

Once again, let’s review:

  • Try paying off loans of multiple types to increase your credit score
  • Only take on as many loans as your station in life allows
  • Diversifying your credit portfolio is a long-term benefit, not an immediate one

3. Installment Loans Help with Organizing Excess Debt

One reason for your bad credit could be the state of your revolving credit, especially if you have multiple credit cards that are unpaid or maxed out. Installment loans play into this by providing a way to combine the multiple accounts you’re dealing with and form a payment plan for them with a title loan calculator.

This method can be a little tricky, because in order for it to work to improve your credit score, you need to make sure you don’t incur additional charges on your credit cards or other revolving credit that you’ve combined together into the installment plan.

What Happened to My Parents?

You remember when I talked about my parents making a plan to get out of debt and improve their credit to buy a house?

This was what they did. Turning their multiple maxed-out credit cards into one large installment loan made a disorganized mess into one manageable plan that they’re still successfully working on today.