Tips To Manage Money With Your Spouse

Tips To Manage Money With Your Spouse

mange money with your spouseManaging finances as an individual are challenging. Marriage only multiplies the depth of the challenge that is money management. If you and your spouse are in line with how, when, and where you are spending your money, it can be easier to manage money with your spouse. However, if one of you have different financial behaviors, then the situation is more complicated. So, we thought knowing some tips to manage money with your spouse is crucial if debt relief is your priority.

Tips To Manage Money With Your Spouse

Many couples, especially newlyweds or those newly co-habitating, struggle with making financial decisions and merging financial behaviors, the combining of bank accounts, or keeping finances separate. For these reasons, it is important to go over what accounts you have and how much debt you carry, and be clear on how you expect money to be handled.

To avoid disagreements and long-term disasters, here are four tips to manage money with your spouse.

Be a Team 

Arguments can arise from one spouse spending what the other considers to be too much money. Create a financial budget and plan together. Do the bills together, and review your net worth together. Make sure your spouse is involved and has a say in the financial decision-making process.

Hold Weekly Budget Review Meetings 

Both parties being involved in financial decision making is one of the most important tips to manage money with your spouse. If not, it’s very difficult for the other spouse to know the current financial state of the household. Lack of communication can make it harder to be in line with your credit card payoff plans. That’s why weekly (or bi-weekly) review meetings can really help open the lines of communication and set expectations!

Establish an Emergency Fund

The most important thing you can do to keep your finances under control and work towards getting out of debt fast is to establish an emergency fund. When planning your budget, allocate a portion for emergencies, savings, and retirement. Nothing causes stress more than running out of money before all the bills are paid.

Evaluate your Financial Goals

So you are done creating and reviewing your budget for a period of time and establishing your emergency fund. It’s now important to discuss both of your financial goals. These can include things such as starting a family, buying a new car, saving for a home or traveling. Defining your mutual goals with your partner will reiterate the importance of staying accountable.

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4 DIY Home Decor Projects from Pinterest

4 DIY Home Decor Projects from Pinterest

Lately, I’ve been stuck inside from the snow and have been pacing around my house. This leads me to think about all the many, many projects and improvements that I would like to make. However, we are saving and paying off debt. With little money in the budget for decor, I need some inspiration to avoid overspending. Take a look at these 4 DIY home decor projects from Pinterest.

Pinterest Finds: 4 DIY Home Decor Projects

DIY projects can be a huge money saver! Additionally, you can save time if you are following someone else’s directions. This makes Pinterest the perfect place for inspiration.

When the budget and your financial goals make you feel restricted, it’s time to be creative. Having an outlet to release some “spending steam” can help you avoid overspending and making financial missteps.

DIY projects can keep money in your bank account by keeping you on a plan and out of the stores on the hunt for new. Take a look at some of these project ideas.

4 DIY Home Decor Projects

IKEA Spice Rack Ideas

Realivin gives us a ton of ideas to transform practically any space with an IKEA spice rack. While you may need to purchase a few of the spice racks, they are extremely affordable. Hang them as is or use some paint you already have at home. This projects offers organization, style and simplicity.

33 Dollar Store DIY Home Decor Projects

DIY home decor projects

Home BNC offers a crazy cool list of Dollar Store projects that anyone can do! These easy and stylish DIY projects won’t cost much. Check the list out to see what might work for your home.

Refresh Your Home on a Budget

DIY home decor pinterest pinsWe put together some great tips on changing up your home or apartment! They are simple, free or very cheap. Using some of these home refreshers, you could change the way most of your place looks in a day!

Thrift Store Furniture Makeovers

DIY thrift store furniture makeovers

The Budget Decorator compiled a wonderful list of furniture makeovers. These DIY furniture projects range in size and ability. There’s something for everyone though. Check it out to get a little inspiration.

Now that you have a few DIY home decor projects, check your budget and get started!

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What Is Consumer Credit Counseling?

What Is Consumer Credit Counseling?

what is consumer credit counselingIndividuals facing financial difficulties experience very different circumstances. Depending on your situation, you may want to seek credit counseling advice. However, it is important that you determine the best way to approach your situation. If you find yourself deeply in debt, a credit counseling service can assist you in making a plan and finding the resources to get control of your finances. 

Choosing a Reputable Credit Counseling Service

There are some key indicators of a reputable credit counseling service to look for before signing up:

  • Fee: A reputable agency will only charge you a reasonable fee. Ideally, this is under $50 per month for a debt management plan. However, this can vary by state.
  • Profit focus: The credit counseling service provider should be non-profit.
  • The length of service: An agency that’s been in business at least 7-10 years will have better expertise.
  • Accreditation: The counselors at the credit counseling agency should be certified by an independent organization. A reputable credit counseling agency will have accreditation by the International Standards Organization (ISO) or by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
  • Trade Association: The agency should be a member of one of the trade associations: either Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
  • Better Business Bureau Rating: Consumers should consider checking with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints made against the agency.
  • Authorization: It is best that the agency you are considering is licensed and bonded to do business in your state.
  • Flexibility: Not every consumer is able to afford a credit counseling service. Therefore, the agency’s willingness to waive the fees if the need arises is important.
  • The length of counseling sessions: A comprehensive credit counseling service needs to spend enough time with their client. The service will ideally include both a consultation and a budgeting session. The certified counselors will need to spend at least an hour of their time with you to understand your situation.

Things to Remember

Financial education is a key component of a good credit counseling service. This can help you learn how to manage your finances. They should also provide you free ongoing education while on the debt management program. If an agency is not willing to answer your questions or you feel that the answers are not satisfactory, call someone else. You want to choose an agency that is reputable and willing to help you.

If you are seeking for an accredited credit counseling service, call American Consumer Credit Counseling today at 800-769-3571. 

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ACCC Housing Services

ACCC Housing Services

housing servicesAmerican Consumer Credit Counseling is a national nonprofit credit counseling agency. But, we do offer other services that may benefit you! From bankruptcy to student loans to housing services, ACCC aims to help consumers in various areas of their financial lives. If you are unfamiliar with ACCC’s housing services, look no further! We break them down below. 

ACCC Housing Services

Pre-Purchase Housing Services

As an approved HUD housing counseling agency, ACCC provides pre-purchase housing counseling sessions and workshops to consumers. ACCC provides consumers access to information, resources, and tools that help them achieve their housing goals.

Pre-purchase counseling addresses issues that may prevent or delay affordable home ownership. The session includes an in-depth review of a consumer’s financial profile, including income, expenses, debt, and credit. The session will also include how to save for a down payment and how to review and manage credit reports that could impact your mortgage loan. The counselor will also review the requirements for home buying programs, pros, and cons of various types of loans, and predatory lending.

Homebuyer Education & Certification

Another one of ACCC’s housing services is to educate prospective homebuyers. To do so, ACCC has partnered with MassHousing and Framework to offer outstanding online homebuyer education courses. Each course is user-friendly and provides homebuyer education necessary for certification. Both courses are self-paced and can be done at your leisure. Buying a home is a big deal, whether you’re doing it for the first time or getting back into the ever-changing market. Self-educate for smart homeownership.

Reverse Mortgage Counseling

A reverse mortgage can help provide a tax-free cash flow to eligible homeowners 62 years of age or older. It is a unique loan used to convert a percentage of home equity into available cash. Reverse mortgages can provide seniors with financial independence and the ability to remain in their own home. Reverse mortgage funds are commonly used for one or more of the following:

  • To supplement a portion of daily living costs
  • Pay off high debts in order to reduce unaffordable monthly living costs so affordable again
  • Pay for home care costs or home repairs
  • To keep funds available for emergencies
  • For access to credit when other forms of credit are unavailable

Besides the age and residency qualification, borrowers go through a financial assessment with their lender, and they must acquire the FHA required HECM counseling certificate. ACCC is a Massachusetts and HUD-approved provider of the counseling and certificate.

Foreclosure Prevention

Foreclosure prevention is another area that ACCC’s housing services provide. There are times when a financial hardship, an unexpected life occurrence, or even the wrong kind of loan makes it difficult for you to make your monthly mortgage payment on time. You may find yourself in default of your loan if monthly payments are delinquent more than a couple of months, resulting in the lender filing for foreclosure in order to auction off the house for repayment of the debt. If you have fallen behind on your mortgage or rent payments, or you anticipate not being able to make consistent mortgage payments, we can help. If possible, we want to help you avoid foreclosure altogether. Our certified housing counselors will address your present financial situation and provide you with expert suggestions and will review various options with you.

Our counselors will educate you on:

  • Consequences of foreclosure
  • Possible repayment plans
  • Forbearance agreement
  • Loan modifications
  • Refinancing options
  • The possible sale of your home
  • Pre-foreclosure sales
  • Deed in lieu of foreclosure

For additional information on ACCC’s housing services, visit our Housing page or call our certified housing counselors at 800-826-7180.

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Do You Really Need That Many TV Channels?

Do You Really Need That Many TV Channels?

do you really need that many tv channelsIt happens all the time. You enter a deal with your local cable provider and lock in a price for one or two years. It’s usually a pretty good deal for a while. Maybe you get some free movie channels thrown in. Then, down the line, the day comes and your bill makes a sudden jump. Your promotional period has ended. You’re now on the hook for the same service at a higher price and adding to all of the consumer debt. So, it is probably time to reevaluate your needs to see if you really need that many TV channels. 

Still, Need That Many TV Channels?

It’s tough to turn down the good deals when they are available. But you probably weren’t looking for all of those channels and features that you got. You’ve got more important uses for your money, like paying off debt. Now that the price has increased, the best thing to do is evaluate your actual needs and see if you really need that many TV channels. This way you can keep the costs low and make the getting out of debt process a little easier.

  • Call your service provider to make changes to your service. Tell them that you need to spend less and want to drop some features to lower the costs. This will probably involve removing premium channels like HBO, Showtime, etc. or possibly slower internet speed.
  • They will likely make you a new offer to help you keep most of the services at a lower price, which you can accept if you wish. This is often another temporary price reduction, which will need to be addressed again in the future.
  • Tip: Have specific goals/pricing in mind and ask for that. You won’t get what you don’t ask for.
  • I recommend being polite to the representative with whom you speak. They are not making the decisions for the company, just doing their job. If you are not getting the assistance or the changes that you’re seeking, then simply ask to speak to a manager. Moving up the chain of command usually gets you better results.
  • If they can’t offer you a deal that you can live with, then you can always cancel your service altogether and switch providers. Once you mention this to the representative, there is a good chance they will sweeten their offer even further. They want to keep you as a customer. However, don’t mention canceling just as a bluff. You must be prepared to actually walk away.

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SMART Goals Review for Success

SMART Goals Review for Success

a SMART goals review Remember SMART goals? Those fancier goals that we always talk about? There are plenty of reasons that we recommend them. SMART goals help get things done with a purpose. So let’s do a SMART goals review to help move your financial goals forward.

SMART Goals Review & Financial Planning

Here is a quick SMART goals review!

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Specific: I will pay off $5,000 in unsecured consumer debt.
  • Measurable: I will apply at least $100 each month to that debt.
  • Achievable: I can achieve this if I cut back on my cable, mobile phone service, and other discretionary spending.
  • Relevant/Realistic: I need to reduce my debt to apply more money to savings and future goals.
  • Timely: I will pay off this debt in 30 months.

You can break down your goals even further by categorizing them as either short-term, mid-term, or long-term. Having an accurate estimate of time is essential to successfully completing a goal. It can be motivating to know that you will pay off the debt quickly or to work harder.

  • Short-term Goal: Less than 1 year
  • Mid-term Goal: 2-5 years
  • Long-term Goal: More than 5  years

So why are SMART goals important to financial planning? Basically, you have to be the boss of your money- don’t let your money boss you around. Telling your money what to do is critical to achieving your financial goals.

If you want to retire early, you need your money to work quickly and probably be invested in the stock market as soon and as often as possible. If you need to save money for a down payment, then you have to know how much money you will need and by when. Want to eliminate all your debt? You need a plan to beat the interest!

There are plenty of goals that deserve planning and attention. Put your best foot forward by making them SMART goals. Use this SMART goals review any time you need a refresher.

 

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Weatherization Projects That Save Money

Weatherization Projects That Save Money

weatherization projectsWe’re in the thick of winter! Colder weather can bring in high utility bills derailing the budget, and making credit card debt relief even more difficult. Therefore, the timing is more than appropriate to share some weatherization projects you might want to consider. Weatherization projects that add energy savings and warmth to your home can help you save some extra cash this season.

Weatherization Projects – Interior Fixes

Clean or Replace the Air Filter in Your Furnace

Save money by changing the air filter in your furnace. Proper filter maintenance can lead to better performance, efficiency and years that your furnace will be up and running. Stay on top of your filters for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.

Examine Exposed Ducts

Don’t let your money fly through the air! Ducts in the attic, basement and crawl spaces can leak significant amounts of air. This can cause your utility bills to rise and create uneven temperatures throughout the home. Use sealant or metallic tape to plug up any leaks in the ducts and save money.

Flush the Hot Water Heater Tank

Flushing the hot water tank will provide some TLC to keep your system running efficiently, saving you money and headaches. No one likes a cold shower! Be sure to also check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.

Insulate Pipes

Save money and inconvenience by weatherizing your home’s exposed pipes. Insulating pipes from freezing and potentially bursting is a great preventative measure. Insulated pipes will deliver hotter water and help converse water, saving you money all over the place.

Check for Drafts Around Windows and Doors.

Don’t let your heat switch places with a cold draft. Make sure seams are all sealed up and weather stripping is in place. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping. Similarly, inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps and repair if needed. This should be quick to diagnose and easy to finish with just a few tools and materials.

Weatherization Projects – Exterior Fixes

Shut off Exterior Faucets

Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads. This simple step can prevent pipes from bursting which can be a very costly and inconvenient repair. This weatherization task will save you money and is free to complete.

Trim Overgrown Branches

Get overgrown branches away from the house and electrical wires to prevent potential property damage. You may need to hire a professional tree service company, however, you will still be rewarded in savings by taking preventative weatherization measures.

Check Drainage

Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary. Foundation or structural repairs can be extremely costly, leading to a variety of other problems. Keep your basement dry and foundation looking good.

Check the Gutters & Downspouts

Re-secure gutters or downspouts if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snow melt. This is another smart weatherization chore that saves money and increases safety.

Repair Peeling Paint

Peeling paint is more than just an eyesore. The paint acts as a moisture barrier for your home. When it’s compromised, damage can ensue. Keep your home sealed to avoid future expenses.

A home is a costly investment. Taking the right precautions and completing weatherization projects every winter can lead to dollars saved rather than money spent on repairs.

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Tuesday Tip – Debt & Valentine’s Day

Tuesday Tip – Debt & Valentine’s Day

debt & Valentine's DayTo some, debt & Valentine’s Day go hand in hand. But there’s no reason a holiday should put you in consumer debt! We want to help you have a special day with your significant other that won’t wrack up costs. Here are some ideas.

Debt & Valentine’s Day

Whether it’s your first or 50th Valentine’s Day with your partner, you still want it to be special. We get it! There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day and stay within your spending restrictions. To avoid overspending this year, use these tips:

  1. Establish your spending limit. Whether that’s $50 or $500 (please don’t spend $500!), set your maximum amount and set it aside.
  2. Choose activities that fit within that limit. You have $50 for dinner? Great! You should probably avoid a fancy restaurant in the city, but there are tons of great options within your price range. Check on Valentine’s dinner specials for a great deal.
  3. Make arrangements ASAP. If you haven’t already, solidify your plans. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that you will fall within your price range.
  4. Skip the gift. Rather than splurging on candy, flowers or a new watch, do an activity together instead! Make some memories.
  5. Don’t go overboard. This happens a lot. We want to spoil those we love and many of us think that spending money equals affection. It doesn’t! Really hold yourself accountable and remind yourself that your partner is with you because they care about you and not for what you can buy them.

We have to break the idea that debt & Valentine’s Day are mutually exclusive! Let’s make a deal to agree that our financial health is more important than one night of the year. Deal? Deal.

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Co-Signing a Loan: What to Know

Co-Signing a Loan: What to Know

co-signing a loanSo, let’s say you’re doing pretty well managing your money. Your credit score is good, you’ve been able to pay your bills on time and in full each month, and are feeling financially successful. Hooray! Financial stability is something we all want to hold on to. And we want to assist others in achieving financial freedom, too. Co-signing a loan is a prime example of offering your help to a loved one. But how will co-signing a loan impact your finances? Here’s what to know before co-signing a loan!

What to Know Before Co-Signing A Loan

Have you ever been asked to co-sign a loan? Let’s say your child, sibling, grandchild, niece or nephew asks you to co-sign a loan. You want to help, but do you know all of the potential financial implications to managing debt? What does co-signing a loan mean and what are your responsibilities as a co-signer? Let’s see.

Why Would Someone Need A Co-Signer?

There are a number of reasons why someone would need a co-signer. One common instance is someone without an established credit history who is trying to build credit but does not qualify for a loan on their own. The co-signer acts as reassurance to the lender that their loan will be repaid, with you as the back-up. Someone with a poor credit rating may also have trouble qualifying for a loan without a co-signer. Basically, the lender may not want to take a risk on extending money to that borrower who doesn’t have a good track record. So, the solution is bring along a third party that is proven to be financially responsible.

How Co-Signing a Loan Will Impact You Financially

  • It will impact your credit score. Co-signing a loan means that another debt is added to your name and the same rules apply as with any other loan. New credit is flagged on your credit report and your payment history with this loan will be monitored. Make sure you understand the factors that impact your credit score and how co-signing can impact you.
  • You are equally responsible for the debt. Believe it or not, when you co-sign a loan, you are not just offering your good credit score in name only! Once you sign on the dotted line, you will be equally responsible for this loan for the duration of its repayment.
  • You are obligated to repay the loan. If, for some reason, the primary debtor (your child, niece, nephew, etc.) fails to uphold their end of the bargain, the burden will fall to you. This puts your credit at risk. Make sure that you have the means to take on this extra payment if they are unable to pay.

Is Co-Signing a Loan A Good Idea?

That depends on your financial situation. Are you financially secure and able to take on extra payments if you become saddled with the debt? Will this new loan put you in too much debt? Does the person asking fully understand their responsibility, and do you two have a plan to make sure the debt is repaid on time each month? Do they understand the implications on both their and your credit? These are all important questions to consider! Finally, consider your relationship with this person. Money can cause a lot of tension in a relationship- be sure you can handle it before co-signing.

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Do You Know Your Student Loan Options?

Do You Know Your Student Loan Options?

student loan optionsAre you struggling to repay student loans, are delinquent on your student loans, or have already defaulted on your student loans? Do you know your student loan options? You may be able to get temporary or permanent relief from making student loan payments. This is just one option. Learn more about student loan repayment to keep your debt under control.

Do You Know Your Student Loan Options?

One common mistake that struggling student loan borrowers make is to postpone payment on their student loan when better options may be available. Deferment and forbearance are temporary fixes (1-3 years) and do not address underlying financial issues which may require budget counseling.

When you postpone your student loans, you are most likely responsible for paying the interest. This will increase the amount you owe. Therefore, you should ask yourself if you will be able to make a higher payment in the future? Will you have your credit card debt under control? Will you have a substantial growth in your income by then?

Your Student Loan Options

Most borrowers have a few options for repayment.

  • Eliminating the loan altogether through loan cancellation
  • Considering other, more affordable payment plans or loan consolidation. Monthly payments on some income-driven plans can be as low as $0.
  • Postponing payments through deferment or forbearance programs to avoid delinquency/default

What If You Are Delinquent or Default on Your Loans?

If you have are delinquent or in default on your loans (1-270 days behind on loan payments), you must take action to avoid default! When you default on your student loans, you will suffer negative consequences. For example:

  • Your credit will be damaged.
  • Your loan balance will increase dramatically as collection fees of up to 18-25% of loan balance are added.
  • The IRS can intercept any income tax refund you may be entitled to until your student loans are paid in full.
  • The government can take (“garnish”) a limited portion of your paycheck.
  • The government can take some federal benefit payments (including Social security retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits) as reimbursement for student loans.
  • Private lenders and the government can sue you to collect defaulted student loans. Unlike other debts, there is no time limit on suing to collect student loans — you can be sued indefinitely.

Don’t get discouraged if you are in default! Our counselors can help you explore your options for getting out of default including loan repayment (payment can be as low as $0), loan rehabilitation, and loan consolidation.

If you have questions about student loan debt consolidation speak with a certified counselor at ACCC today. Call 800-769-3571.

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