Should I Consolidate Loans Or Not?

Should I Consolidate Loans Or Not?

consolidate loans or notManaging debt is not an idle practice. It takes diligence and attention. Sometimes it can be helpful to change strategies or at least look into your options, like consolidation. If you are asking yourself if you should consolidate loans or not, consider the following information to help your decision.

Reasons to Consolidate Loans or Not

First, make sure you are completely aware of all your debts, assets and current household budget. All these personal finance items are important as you consider consolidation.

A consolidation loan allows consumers to take out a new loan to pay off multiple creditors. Next, the borrower repays the new loan. The up-side of consolidation is that you will only have to remember one due date to one creditor rather than keeping track of multiple debts.

Loans for debt consolidation work for some people. The key to knowing whether a consolidation loan will benefit you is whether you’re able to secure an interest rate lower than you currently hold. Otherwise, you will not save any money.

Additionally, it’s important to address the factors that got you into debt in the first place. Because consolidation will enable you to repay your accounts, you will suddenly have a number of credit cards with a zero balance. The temptation for some to continue to spend with newly available credit can be overwhelming. Work through your financial strengths and weaknesses to understand if you are vulnerable in this scenario.

What About Student Education Loans?

Should student loan borrowers consolidate or not? This very much depends on the type of loan and the interest rate. Federal loans can be consolidated. Most private loans can as well. However, consolidating private student loans depends heavily on your credit. Poor credit history and score leads to a very high consolidation loan interest rate. Federal consolidation loans are typically fair. However, consolidation means you lose some of the other repayment perks.

Watch this video to learn more.

Finally, consolidating loans can work well for some but not for others. Have an accurate evaluation of your finances, debts and goals before signing on the dotted line.

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Tuesday Tip – 5 Ways to Minimize Moving Expenses

Tuesday Tip – 5 Ways to Minimize Moving Expenses

moving expensesMoving can be a very stressful life event. Adjusting to an unfamiliar place is tough, and moving expenses can add to the stress and your consumer debt. Luckily, we have some tips to help keep those costs down! 

5 Tips to Minimize Moving Expenses

The costs associated with moving can add up fast, but moving on a tight budget isn’t impossible. I recently moved to Massachusetts from Albuquerque, New Mexico where I was living with my family. Here are some tips that I used to keep my expenses down when I moved out.

  1. Start saving money.

    Once you know for sure you will be moving, start saving up for moving expenses right away. I was able to do this by putting aside money from a side-hustle I had for several months. I knew my moving expenses would include big purchases like furniture, in addition to a deposit for an apartment. By saving the income I had from my side-hustle specifically for these expenses, I knew I would be able to afford everything I needed when the time came to move.

  2. Change your address on the U.S. Postal Service website and opt-in for coupons.

    You will want your mail forwarded to you at your new address, which you can do on the U.S. Postal Service website. You can opt-in to get coupons sent to your email for stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, Crate & Barrel, and other useful stores for people that are about to move. I saved quite a bit of money at Bed, Bath, & Beyond with a coupon for 20% off the entire purchase!

  3. Take advantage of airlines that allow for free checked bags.

    Because I was moving out of my parents’ house in New Mexico into a new apartment in Massachusetts, I was not taking any furniture with me. I did not have to worry about costs associated with shipping furniture. However, I was bringing everything else, such as clothing, books, and sentimental items. Southwest was the airline I chose, not only because it was one of the cheapest options, but because they allow for 2 free checked bags. I took advantage of this and used the largest bags the airline allowed to fit all my things. (Extra tip: Roll your clothes, don’t fold!)

  4. Determine if a car will be necessary for your new area.

    In New Mexico, I needed a car to get to and from work and around Albuquerque. There was no bus or train that I could take to work. When I moved to the Boston area, I applied to jobs that were close to where I live and accessible by public transport, so I did not need to drive every day. These alternatives have been much cheaper than having a car. The parking fee at my apartment is on the pricey side, and all the expenses that go along with having a car were just not worth it for me when there was reliable public transport available.

  5. Find out what furniture stores are within your budget in your area.

    If you need to buy new furniture, compare the prices between different furniture stores online before you even set foot in a physical store. It’s better to know ahead of time what stores have within your budget rather than wasting time looking out of your price range (and possibly getting pressured into buying something by salespeople!). If there are any holidays coming up, check to see if there are any special sales. I moved here around President’s Day, so I saw plenty of ads for President’s Day sales.

Moving across the country can be stressful, but if you save money in advance and keep your expenses as low as possible, you’ll have fewer things to worry about!

To learn more about budgeting and tracking expenses, check out some of our budgeting resources!

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Teaching Your Kids To Use Credit & Debit Responsibly

Teaching Your Kids To Use Credit & Debit Responsibly

Teaching Your Kids To Use Credit & Debit ResponsiblyBringing a child into the world comes with a ton of responsibility. Other than providing for them, feeding them and keeping them away from trouble you also have the responsibility of teaching your kids to use credit & debit responsibly. Eventually, in life, debt relief becomes a major part to deal with. Therefore preparing your children to deal with it early is important. 

Teaching Your Kids To Use Credit & Debit Responsibly

The school system often lacks an emphasis on financial education and personal financial management. However, you are a living breathing example of everything for your child. Therefore taking on the responsibility of teaching your kids to use credit & debit responsibly is all a part of the job!  The sooner you get your kids involved in financial management practices the better they would be prepared in their adult life to handle the many consumer debts.

Teaching your kids to use credit & debit responsibly many need various tactics and efforts. There is some great material that ACCC offers to help educate your kids about managing debt and other basics of financial management. You can break this down to understanding:

Core Concepts – Depending on your children’s ages you can see what and how you should teach the core concepts of personal finances to your children. For example, the important thing to teach the younger kids is that money is an asset. It is something you need to earn and not something that just pops out of an ATM machine. In order to teach them this, you can help them set up a bank account for saving, and make them work for their money. Give them a chore chart and an allowance for successfully completing their jobs.

Teaching the Value of the Dollar – Part of financial education for kids is helping them understand the value of a dollar. The best way to do this is for them to earn their own money and learn money management skills through practice. Some parents choose to do this through allowance, while other parents choose to have their children earn money outside of the house. You can also do a combination of both.

Whatever they end up earning, consider helping them divide it into threes – one part for saving, one part for spending, and one part for a charity of their choice. This shows kids the valuable skill of saving and the importance of charity.

Focus on the basics – Budgeting, needs vs wants, saving, financial planning are some of the basics that you should work on from a younger age. Once these foundation concepts are instilled in them you are in a good place. Use practical examples to teach the basics of credit and debt.

For more information on how to teach your kids to use credit & debit responsibly check out ACCC’s learning material here.

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15 Eco-Friendly Ways To Save Money For Earth Day

15 Eco-Friendly Ways To Save Money For Earth Day

ways to save money earth dayEarth Day is around the corner. Here at The Talking Cents Blog, we have been thinking through ways to save money around this holiday. Here is a list of 15 eco-friendly ways to save money.

List of Eco-friendly Ways to Save Money

As we came up with our Earth Day list, it dawned on us that all these savings tips can be used all year round. Awesome, right?! Take a look through this list of eco-friendly savings tips to see which ones you can incorporate into your life.

15 Eco-Friendly Ways to Save

Invest in reusable water bottles.

Buy in bulk for less packaging and a cheaper price.

Use alternative transportation- walk, bike, buses, etc.

Carpool to work and save on gas and car maintenance.

Reduce energy consumption all around. Turn of lights, use less air conditioning…

Switch to reusable batteries for all your electronics.

LED lights use waaaay less energy.

Grow your own garden to reduce the carbon footprint of store bought produce.

Buy used clothing rather than everything new.

Ditch Saran wrap for reusable options.

Glass or metal Tupperware are great alternatives to plastic.

Install a rain barrel for gardening and landscaping needs- free water!

Dry your clothes outside on a clothes line.

Buy refillable cleaning bottles.

Use bar soap instead of plastic pump bottles. They are clean, use less plastic and lasts longer.

Bring your own bags to shop for groceries or anything else you need to carry out.

 

This eco-friendly list is full of easy suggestions. Most take little to no investment to get started. Plus, they have big pay outs for your wallet and the planet. You could use the savings to pay off consumer debt.

Typically, the hard part is switching habits and behaviors. While we know something is better for us, it’s hard to change our routine. Just like your financial choices, it’s important to remember the bigger picture. Additionally, you can get an accountability partner or have a friend participate along side you. That way you can encourage each other.

Making good choices for the Earth and your wallet is a win-win-win (Michael Scott throwback)!

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Debt Relief Consolidation And Eliminating Debt

Debt Relief Consolidation And Eliminating Debt

debt relief consolidationLiving with a large amount of credit card debt or personal loans can be incredibly stressful. From trying to keep up with payments to never knowing when you’ll have financial stability, too much debt can make life miserable. Fortunately, debt relief consolidation services offer a solution for getting out of debt.

Debt Relief Consolidation And Eliminating Debt

In debt relief consolidation, you work with a debt management company to combine all the money you owe into a single lump sum. This allows you to make one payment per month instead of many payments to multiple creditors. A debt management company may also be able to work with creditors to reduce the amount you owe or the interest rates on loans and credit cards.

The debt relief consolidation plans at ACCC are designed to address the needs of your specific financial situation. Here’s how it works:

  • First, we’ll perform a detailed evaluation of your finances, including your debts, expenses, and income.
  • Then we’ll help you create a workable budget to pay off your debts, usually within five years.
  • Next, in the debt relief consolidation phase, we’ll pool all of your debts, consolidating credit cards, personal loans, and other unsecured debts. You can make one payment to us each month.  ACCC will disburse payments to creditors on your behalf.
  • We’ll also communicate with your creditors and work for a possible reduction in interest rates on your loans and credit cards, elimination of late fees and over-limit charges, and a reduction in the amount of time it will take to pay off your debts.

Additionally, ACCC offers a broad range of educational resources on our website and through newsletters and self-directed studies. You can learn more about credit card debt consolidation loans, creating budgets, credit scores and more.

If you are looking to eliminate debt speak with a certified counselor at ACCC today. CAll 800-769-3571. 

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Living With One Income to Reach Your Financial Goals

Living With One Income to Reach Your Financial Goals

living on one incomeWondering why people choose to live on a single income? Sometimes it’s all about saving for a big financial goal; other times it’s simply wanting to live with less. Learn how you can live on one income to meet your financial goals.

Creating a One Income Financial Game Plan

Living on a single income is not easy. However, it can be an incredible and effective way to reach your goals! Here are a few financial goals or reasons people might choose or need to live on less:

  • Bankruptcy and credit card debt
  • Saving for a down payment
  • Pay off a car loan
  • Learn to live with less
  • Save for travelling
  • Stay-at-home parent
  • Build up retirement savings
  • Saving up college funds for the kids
  • Starting a small business (bringing in no initial income)
  • Illness or death
  • Student loan debt relief

Starting Steps for Living With One Income

Now that we have a few reasons, let’s take a look at the starting steps behind this process. Everyone’s journey will look differently. Consider these steps as you examine your individual financial needs.

  1. Create a current household budget with both incomes.
  2. Identify categories that you know can be reduced.
  3. Next, create a working budget with just one income.

If you are voluntarily using just one person’s income and can’t make ends meet, use some of the other person’s income. Remember, the more you can save the better and faster you will reach your goals, like credit card payoff. However, it’s okay to not sacrifice everything.

If you aren’t doing this voluntarily, then there are some hard questions to face. Here are some things to consider to free up as much money or time as possible.

  • Can you reduce your mortgage or rent by downsizing?
  • Trade in or sell your vehicle?
  • Ask for a promotion at work if one is deserved.
  • Would you qualify for any assistance programs?
  • Can you work a part-time job or side gig and still accomplish your goals of staying at home most of the time?
  • Are there any insurance plans you can reduce?
  • Have you eliminated all luxury items- including cable and Internet at home?
  • Is it better to wait a few months before diving into this new arrangement?

As you consider living on one income, think through how long you intend to make the switch. What’s your comfort level and what’s best for your family? It’s great to accomplish big goals, but don’t go too fast and burn out.

If you want more information about managing your finances, call ACCC today at 800-769-3571 and speak with a certified credit counselor. 

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Tuesday Tip – 5 Steps to Gain Financial Literacy

Tuesday Tip – 5 Steps to Gain Financial Literacy

gain financial literacyApril is National Financial Literacy Month! While personal finance is a topic that every American needs to understand, it’s also something that is never formally taught. Unfortunately, this leaves many people vulnerable and unequipped to properly manage their finances. In an effort to help, we’ve put together 5 steps to gain financial literacy.

5 Steps to Gain Financial Literacy

  1. Learn how to budget. Learning how to budget is the cornerstone of responsible financial planning. Creating and maintaining a budget shows precisely how much money you have and where it’s spent. A budget will help you find ways to save money and plan for the future.
  2. Understand credit. Learn the most important concepts of credit, including why credit is necessary, the information used to calculate a credit score, and how to improve a credit score. It’s also crucial to understand the best strategies for paying down credit card debt.
  3. Create a checking/savings account. Creating a checking and savings account is one of the first actions you can take to keep your money safe and make paying bills easier and more convenient.
  4. Understand debt/loans. There are some student loan repayment options to help you pay off student loans promptly that will also work with your budget. You can change your repayment plans at any time. You can do so even if you’ve been assigned a specific plan when you first began repaying the student loan.
  5. Understand the danger of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or other identifying information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. The best way to help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft is to safeguard your personal information.

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Canceling Credit Cards – Good or Bad?

Canceling Credit Cards – Good or Bad?

canceling credit cardsMissed payments and maxed out cards are all signs of being irresponsible with how you use credit. These scenarios make credit card payoff much harder. How would you go about dealing with it? Would you work towards debt relief? Or would you consider canceling credit cards? Learn more about canceling credit cards and dealing with debt.

Canceling Credit Cards – Good or Bad?

Here are some things you need to consider before canceling credit cards.

Where does your credit score stand? 

Before you go canceling credit cards, it is important to know where you stand in terms of your credit score. If you have a strong score, cancelling might be a good place to start. However, if you are working towards rebuilding your credit, then closing your cards is not your best bet.

What are your credit limits?

The length of your credit history is also crucial to consider. If you are just beginning to build your history do not go about canceling credit cards just yet. The length of your history is also a factor for how much credit limit you have.

How do you utilize your credit?

One major factor considered in credit scores is your credit utilization ratio. This is how much credit you use over your total available credit. If you have a high utilization ratio, then you have some work to do in controlling your consumer debt. If you do go ahead with canceling credit cards, your utilization ratio will go up further damaging your score. However, if you cannot stop using the card, consider closing it. Your score should climb back up as you rebuild your credit.

If you are having trouble managing or consolidating debts, speak with a certified counselor at ACCC today. Call 800-769-3571.

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Teach Your Children To Save Day

Teach Your Children To Save Day

Teaching Your Kids To Use Credit & Debit ResponsiblyToday is a special day for financial literacy- Teach Your Children to Save Day. This day is part of a free national program for grades k-8. Therefore, learn more about this day and how you can become involved.

Information on Teach Your Children to Save Day

Firstly, Teach Children to Save (TCTS) is a free national program sponsored by the ABA Foundation for banker volunteers. Volunteers use promotional materials, student activities, communication tools and presentation lessons to teach a variety of topics. Financial topics include: Banking Careers, Decision Making, Interest, Money Recognition and Savings. Plus, there are consumer resources for parents to use!

While this program is primarily geared towards banker volunteers, ACCC has resources for parents and students to develop their financial literacy. It is so important that they learn about finances at a young age. Kids are better prepared to make sound financial decisions early education. In conclusion, take time throughout the year to learn about managing money and achieving your goals.

How ACCC Can Help You Teach Your Children to Save

We are excited that there is a national focus on financial literacy for children through Teach Your Children to Save Day. Financial literacy should start early and often. Using the ACCC’s Youth & Money resources, you can educate your child about money and how it fits into our everyday lives. Additionally, you can use your own life experiences as examples and lessons. These lessons will help determine the kind of financial manager that your child will become as a teenager and adult.

As kids, we made up a game about money and called it “Store.” Each kid would develop a business, and the others would patronize it. We had play money and even some checks. In this game, we were able to be creative entrepreneurs, learning where money came from, where it goes and everything in between. “Store” provided a positive environment to experience financial choices.

So this summer, encourage or facilitate games around personal finance. Concepts that seem second nature to you will be fresh to your children. A positive and engaging experience will help them later in life when preparing real budgets, managing real debt and real money.

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Choose ACCC To Help Get Out Of Debt

Choose ACCC To Help Get Out Of Debt

help get out of debtIf you need help getting out of debt, American Consumer Credit Counseling may be able to help. ACCC offers debt management services that can help you find your way out of debt. When you choose ACCC, a certified counselor shows you how to pay off debtsreduce credit card debt and live life debt-free. 

What Does ACCC Offer to Help Get Out of Debt?

  • First, an evaluation of your finances is completed. A certified counselor gets a comprehensive picture of your financial situation. This includes your debt, expenses and income.
  • Planning and budgeting. We’ll work with you to create a budget that you can live with. Additionally, the budget will allow you to pay off your debt – within five years in most cases.
  • Next is debt relief consolidation. We’ll consolidate the money you owe so you can make a single payment each month to ACCC. Then, we’ll make payments to all of your creditors on your behalf. This enables you to stay current with your payments more easily. The stress of having to make separate payments to your creditors is reduced.
  • Communication with creditors is key. We’ll work with your creditors for a possible reduction in your interest rates, late fees, over-limit charges and the time it will take to pay off your loan.
  • Finally, financial education. You’ll have access to a wide variety of educational resources for help getting out of debt. These include newsletters, articles, and tools on our website that can help you manage credit card debt, budget your finances more effectively, learn about how to stay out of debt, and get answers to questions like “How can I improve my credit score?” and “What is debt consolidation?”

Why Choose ACCC?

When you come to ACCC, you’ll benefit from the many advantages of our debt management program, including:

  • Saving money by reducing interest rates and late fees.
  • Paying off your debt faster – usually within five years.
  • Reducing the stress of owing money – we handle all payments to and communication with your creditors.
  • Working with certified professionals – our staff is experts at finding solutions for people who need help getting out of debt.

Call 800-769-3571 today to speak with a certified counselor at ACCC!

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