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Category Archives: Finance

Free Debt Advice

Professional debt solution services can help you in a number of ways to overcome severe financial difficulties. Let us discuss in brief the various steps followed by them while assisting their clients.

  • They engage in a thorough discussion to get a clear understanding of your financial situation. They obtain detailed information regarding the debt amount, names of creditors, your annual income and your basic monthly expenses.
  • They provide you the necessary information on your legal rights and the various options that you can avail in order to deal with the debt situation. They make you aware of the various debt solutions available, and the one that would cater to your requirements. The advice offered by them is based on individual financial circumstances, needs and conveniences.
  • Professional services that are aided towards working for your best interests rather than working towards their profit, would always offer free debt advice. You would be charged only if you wish to proceed further to avail more services from them. It is advisable to avoid any service that charges you for offering debt consultation.
  • Expert services once hired, would be responsible for choosing the right debt solution for you, negotiating with the lenders for your best interests, proceed with legal proceedings if needed and help repay your debt in accordance with your conveniences.

Once you hire a professional to work on behalf of you, they are completely responsible for communicating with the creditors, rid you from their constant harassments, and choose debt solutions that would help you appropriately.

It is however extremely important to find the right service in order to overcome a debt situation efficiently. Any inappropriate advice can make a difficult situation even more unmanageable. There are some common ways that can help you find the right debt advisor during financial crises.

  • Internet browsing can be a significant method of seeking reliable debt advice services. Through web browsing, you can make a list of services that seem to be appropriate for your situation, and proceed to have a thorough discussion with them regarding the detail of their services and charges before hiring them.
  • You can also take help from friends, family and other acquaintances in finding services that are reliable and proficient. Finding any kind of service through referrals can prove to be highly effective and beneficial.
  • Even local phone directories can help with finding the names of reliable debt advice services.

Secure Credit Card Processing

If you want to expand your small business and aspire to become a business giant, it is crucial to find a trustworthy payment gateway for your credit card. If you fail to do online sales management, hit the brake and ask yourself – ‘What’s stopping to do it properly?’ May be you cannot manage your online sales because of the inefficiency of the service provider you have chosen. But, you still have time in your hand and it’s better to change your service provider before any mishap. When your service provider is genuine, it will ensure you secure credit card processing. All you have to do is to ask some simple questions while picking your service provider. Check out the questions you should ask.

What are their fees? The fees of the merchant services for website are inclusive of the application and set up fees, monthly statement fees, interchange fees, and early termination fee. Your service provider should clear all the doubts regarding the fees and check whether they have any hidden cost.

What are their types of accepted payment? If you are an owner of a retail business, you will want to ensure that your chosen payment processor accepts all kinds of cards such as Visa, MasterCard, etc so that none of your customer has to face any problem during the payment.

How long will they take to complete the entire process? Many service providers of online merchant accounts complete their job within a quick turnaround time. Ask them directly how long they will take for your account set up and for the installation of the equipment so that you can chalk out your plans. If you have selected the right service provider, they will assist you with patience in every step.

There are dozens of credit card processing companies, some of which includes major players. However, you have to be very critical while choosing your processor. Look for a company which provides solutions to low-risk and high-risk merchants. Moreover, companies that provides onshore and well as offshore services can be a good option to make a choice.

Online Bill Pay

Generally, it is a payment method that lets an individual carry out payment instructions to creditors electronically through a computer program. This can virtually get rid of errors, making it easier to manage debt. In addition, it is faster than mailing checks.

Online bill payment methods come in two basic categories: those being offered via a bank, and those offered via a service provider- like a credit card or phone company.

In general, online bill pay is designed to be fast and simple to use. Majority of major banking institutions, as well as businesses, provide this service without any charge. Individuals can choose to manually enter their payments every month, or arrange for an automatic withdrawal from their account. Automatic withdrawal allows them to set up their payments before their due date without worrying about giving manual instructions to make a monthly payment. The creditor will transfer funds straight from the bank, and enter these funds into their account with no action needed whatsoever.

Advantages of Choosing Online Bill Pay

The following information will help you consider the different advantages of using online bill pay:

Hassle-free

Individuals can save on time when using the online bill pay platform. Instead of writing out checks, wetting stamps and filing lots of papers, they can set up an online account to get rid of all these steps. It will also be easier and faster to manage their debt.

When they need to go over past bills, they do not have to waste time in looking for them – because all their account information can be seen in one centralized location.

Cost Efficient

They can save on the stamping costs, which can add up. The average household gets 15 bills every month, which could amount to $70 a year in just postage costs.

They can avoid late payment fees that are incurred every time a payment is received after the due date. Missed payments could lead to the following:

  • Increase in interest rates;
  • Late payment charges and over limit fees.

When the payment is past due, their account could possibly go to collection status.

Convenient

What is a more convenient solution to managing debt? Individuals could create their own automatic online bill account, so they can set up recurring payments that are to be regularly withdrawn from their account. This decreases the chance of late /lost payments, saving time in the process.

Investment Strategy

We are becoming a culture of speculators, where hindsight is replacing the reality-based foresight that once was flowing in our now real-time veins. Still, the markets have always been dynamic places where investors can consistently make reasonable returns on their capital. If one complies with the basic principles of the endeavor and doesn’t measure progress too frequently with irrelevant measuring devices, growth in working capital, market value, and spendable income are quite likely to happen… without undue risk taking.

The classic investment strategy is so simple and so trite that most investors dismiss it routinely and move on in their search for the holy investment grail(s): a stock market that only rises and a bond market capable of paying higher interest rates at stable or higher prices. This is mythology, not investing.

Investors who grasp the realities of these wonderful (speculation driven) marketplaces recognize the opportunities and relish them with an understanding that goes beyond the media hype and side show “performance enhancement” barkers. They have no problem with the “uncertainty”; they embrace it.

Simply put, in rising markets:

  • When investment grade equity securities approach the “reasonable” target prices you have set for them, realize your profits, because that’s the “growth” purpose of investing in the stock market.
  • When your income purpose securities rise in market value the equivalent of one-year’s-interest-in-advance, take your profits and reinvest it in similar securities; because compound interest is the safest and most powerful weapon we investors have in our arsenals.

On the flip side, and there has always been a flip side (more commonly dreaded as a “correction”), replenish your equity portfolio with now lower priced investment grade securities. Yes, even some that you may have just sold weeks or even months ago.

And, if the correction is occurring in the income purpose allocation of your portfolio, take advantage of the opportunity by adding to positions, increasing yield and reducing cost basis in one magical transaction.

  • Some of you may not know how to add to those somewhat illiquid bond, mortgage, loan, and preferred stock portfolios quite so easily. It’s time you learned about closed end funds (CEFs), the great “liquidators” of the bond market. Many high quality CEFs have 20 year dividend histories for you to salivate over.

Negotiate Business Debt

Time can be a business’ enemy or friend, depending on how soon the debt is acted upon. Immediately contact creditors and explain the current debt situation. Ignoring lenders will make the situation worse. Tackling a debt problem in the early stages will make the process easier to resolve.

It is in everyone’s best interest to find a solution, so lenders should work with businesses to lower interest rates, increase the credit line, and restructure repayment options. Dealing with multiple creditors or collection agencies can take away from running the business. Reputable debt consultants can negotiate with creditors to settle debts for less than what is owed.

Creditors are terrified of losing the money they loaned out and need to remove the debt from their books. They will respond positively to efforts in starting the negotiation process of debt collection. Debt negotiation means creditors have the chance to recover some or all of its loaned assets.

Be prepared to put down some money. Lenders may want at least half of the loan up front. Creditors may not even negotiate until some money is given over. This is where a consulting company is useful – they could get businesses a lower upfront fee to begin negotiation.

When a payment is made to the creditors with a credit card or bank account, the creditor then has all of the owner’s banking information. If an owner gets sued during the process, the creditor has this information and can get at an owner’s funds easily. Instead of these payment methods, pay debt with a money order so information is secure.

Creditors are willing to settle for less in order to guarantee they get something back. Many business owners should expect to pay less for a lump-sum payment. Owners need to demand the debt be shown as paid in full on the credit report. Fully paid or debt satisfied is the kind of language owners want to see on a report. Debt still active is not want owners want.

Do not back down and accept a repayment deal that is too much for an owner to pay. Do not agree to any debt payment plan that cannot be afforded. Owners need to tell creditors what they are willing to pay. Let them know if they demand more, the owner will be forced into bankruptcy where creditors receive no payment whatsoever.

Find out how far a creditor is willing to go. If they offer three months at no interest, try to get six months. Always aim for a higher deal and understand how much negotiating room there is to work with a personal budget.

A lawyer may have to get involved if there is a substantial amount of debt. Most creditors have agents or customer service reps to handle debt negotiations. A lawyer can also be helpful if negotiations are going nowhere, or if a creditor does not fulfill their end of a settlement. Having a lawyer early on means a written settlement contract and smooth negotiations.

When Hiring Debt Collectors

They free up your resources and time. This is one of the advantages of choosing to use professionals to recover your money. Truth is collecting debts can be time consuming, especially for individuals and small businesses. It is something that would need making lots of calls and arranging meetings to try reach payment agreements. Some may even decide to avoid you at all costs. When you get a third party to do the work on your behalf, you end up freeing time and resources and at the end of the day your chances of recovering are high.

They have tools you may not have to make the process more efficient. It is easy for you to lose touch with your debtors. The professionals have advanced tools you may not have to help them locate and also communicate with the debtors. They can easily be granted access to debtor information from third party sources and use advanced telephone technologies to find them.

They know how to collect where you can’t. The professionals know how to approach the debtors so they hook them and compel them to start repaying what they owe you. Even though delinquent debtors may not be responsive to your efforts, when a third party interjects and remains assertive and consistent it is highly likely that they will feel obligated to do what it right. The professionals have what it takes to deal with even the most stubborn of debtors and will keep insisting until they start giving in.

They could affect client relations. This is especially the case when you choose a collector who does not have good communication skills and does whatever it takes to recover the debts. Considering that some debtors may have genuine financial reasons making it harder for them to repay, they may end up looking for business elsewhere when they are harassed or rudely handled by your representative once they pay up. It is therefore important to choose debt collectors who are professional enough to maintain your client relations even as they try to help you recover what is owed to you.

Unexpected Consequences of Bad Credit

Employment

Like it or not, employers address credit reports of their applicants and employees to make even more informed decisions when hiring or firing. More than 50% of large companies run thorough background checks of their prospective employees. This may sound unfair, and it probably is, but this is something you must remember the next time you swipe that plastic or miss on a payment. Potential employers may rate your responsibility level based on your financial report, so if you aspire for a position in one of the major companies, prepare for that check.

As a result, applicants with poor credit may have to take on jobs that pay $10.000 less than the applicants with better financial score. That is 100.000 in ten years’ time!

Insurance

Customers with a poor score sometimes pay twice as much for a car insurance than the ones with an average score. Why would car insurance companies make it so rough for those who struggle the most? Insurance companies assume if you have been irresponsible with your finances and got yourself into the bad score trouble, you might also be an irresponsible driver. And the same goes to all insurance companies, not just those dealing with cars. They all pull your credit reports, alas.

Rent

Rent is probably one of the worst hidden consequences of having a bad credit. While rentals are probably the only thing that do not get recorded in your financial report your being the most responsible rent payer does not show anywhere in your financial history.

On the other hand, landlords do want to inquire into your credit report. How ironic is that? Landlords want to feel comfortable renting their property to you, so once they see your far from perfect score they can choose to charge you a deposit that is double or triple as high as if you had an average score. This is especially true with rentals in large cities like New York and Los Angeles.

You may want to put yourself in the landlord’s shoes: if the renter has a history of being late or missing on car insurance payments and credit card bills, there is a high probability he may be equally irresponsible with his rent.

Likewise, if you want to buy a home, bad score will get you into a higher mortgage monthly bill.

Monthly Income

You may know that having poor score means you have to pay high interest rates, but you may not know the actual cash behind those scores. You may want to sit down with all you bills, credit cards and calculate how much you are paying in interest rates on each of the items in your debt list. Then, sum that up and take a sober look at the staggering cash amount you pay out every month.

One more item on the cash list is utilities. Folks with a poor score often have to pay significantly larger deposits to get their utilities turned on: water, heat, electricity and so on. Ridiculously, you may even pay more on your cell phone bill because poor score forces you to opt for a prepaid service rather than the regular monthly service.

Common Types of Debt

Business

Substantial business debt can soon build up while attempting to grow your business, expand into new markets, or buy new stock. This is often seen when it is necessary to borrow money to raise the desired capital. From business credit cards and loans, as well as the wide range of overheads involved in running a business, it is very easy to let things get out of control. In times of a difficult economy this can quickly make things a lot worse. Any difficulties with business debt should be tackled as soon as possible. Prioritize the outstanding payments and look at professional financial advice or seeking other consolidation options.

Home loan

Borrowing money to purchase a home is a must for most people. A home loan is likely to be several hundred-thousand dollars. This makes it the biggest financial responsibility and lasts for a good number of years. Plus, there is the need to consider the interest charges that will be applied over the lifetime of the loan.

Financial discipline is essential when taking out a home loan. There are a few steps that help pay down this debt, such as looking for rates elsewhere every so often and making extra payments if possible to speed up the process.

Credit card

Credit cards give instant gratification and make it easy to spend money that you don’t really have. Many people spend without thinking about the long-term consequences. If it isn’t possible to pay back the money spent before the interest charges come into effect, the debt will soon start to rise. While the credit cards are convenient, they can have very high interest rates, with some rates at 20% or more. Also, if this type of debt is spread across several cards, the risk of the debt getting completely out of control is that much more possible.

Debt Reduction

They were so ingrained that debt was something I expected to have and since I expected it, it happened. But eventually, I learned that most debt was not helping me and my family. Debt was keeping us broke and keeping us from enjoying the good things in life. It was also the driving force keeping me in the work force long after I wanted to retire. I was a slave to the creditors because I did not have a good handle on managing money and debt.

Growing up with people who expected to be in debt probably did not help me much, but the only person that I can really blame is me. I was not dumb by any means, just uneducated when it came to managing debt.

After I decided to turn things around, I learned two things that helped keep me motivated. The first thing was if you have money, debt is something you never need. The other thing was that anyone can get out of debt. It takes hard work and common sense, not debt consolidation, debt management companies or bankruptcy.

It just takes commitment, some sacrifice and time. If you are willing, you can become debt free. It won’t happen overnight. But then, your debt was not created overnight either. It took a lot of time and a lot of mistakes along the way.

I mentioned mistakes, because I believe that most hard working people get into debt because of mistakes made in planning or lack of planning for the future. And most hard working people will continue to work even after they should be retired and living the good life just to pay for the debt.

So, how do you get out of debt? That is the real question and there are any number of people who have made a business of answering that question. But the fact is, most people are willing to work hard and try to avoid the quick fix because it is their nature to pay their debts. Another part of the problem is that people have difficulty learning from their mistakes and they are doomed to repeat those mistakes and stay in debt. It is also a lesson that is easily passed on to our children.

The first absolutely necessary thing to becoming debt free is to accept responsibility for your financial situation. No one else caused you to accept credit as a way of life. The second most essential thing you need is a plan and maybe a little bit of guidance. If you are building a house, one of the first things you get is a plan and you might want to understand how the house is supposed to go together. Your financial house is no different. Without a plan, you just make the same mistakes over and over again.

Financial Freedom

The reason for this ridiculous amount of nation-wide debt is simple: we have no idea how to save and are really good at spending. We come by it honestly – I mean, have you heard how much debt that our government is in currently? Something to the tune of nineteen trillion dollars. Based on that statistic, I would say that it is no wonder Americans are having such heavy financial struggles! Perhaps the worst part about this whole collaborative debt-mess is that the majority of Americans not only expect to accrue debt, but they’ve settled with that reality as fact, chosen to accept it as a part of life, and are making no conscious efforts to avoid it!

The good news, however, is that living with financial debt is not a requirement, nor should it be something to settle with. There are several steps that you can take today to begin paying off your debt and walking in financial freedom. Dave Ramsey, American businessman, author, and motivational speaker who specializes in finance, created something called the “debt snowball” to teach Americans how to get rid of their debt entirely. This method has been proven to increase the user’s internal motivation to get out of debt fully.

On first impression, this concept of the “debt snowball” may sound intimidating – after all, you don’t want your debt to snowball out of control… it’s already out of control! This method, contrary to its intimidating title, is built to keep you motivated as you pay off your debt with one simple trick: you must pay off the smallest debt first and work your way up to the largest. More information about this concept can be found on Dave’s website, but to put it simply, the steps to financial freedom are creating and maintaining a strict personal budget, putting money towards paying off those debts every single month, and starting with the smallest one first.