8 Money Myths

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8 Myths about money that harm our financial lives.

Personal Finance

8 Myths About Money
I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. My family had always worked hard for their money, and as a result, I always equated working hard with making money, with no idea that my beliefs could not have been further from truth. As I educated myself on human behavior and financial strategies, I learned that it’s actually the people who make their money work hard for them, rather than the people who work hard for their money, who end up with more of it. Since creating my millionaire-making program, I’ve learned that I was not alone. There are many people who shared this same myth.

Much like our views about many things — people, relationships, food, and health to name a few — our beliefs came from our parents, our teachers, and other adults in our lives. And it goes back even further, beyond them, back to the circumstances through which they lived, or what they learned from their parents, what their parents learned from their parents, and so on. These beliefs are ingrained, and because they’re usually subconscious, the cycles are continuous — until someone breaks them. You can break the cycle. Beliefs about money are many and varied, but in my research, I’ve discovered that there are a few that predominate.

Money is scarce. Several of us have parents or grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, an era that rooted an entire generation in a scarcity mindset. These people passed onto their children the idea that money was in short supply and that when it did surface, spending had to be limited and saving was imperative. If any of the following ever crossed your mind?A penny saved is a penny earned,?”Don’t dip into savings,?or “We can’t afford it?– then you have this perspective and rainy days loom ominously. Money doesn’t grow on trees. These threats create a fearful relationship with money.

Money is evil, dirty, or bad. Several of us have parents or grandparents who believe that the road to bad places is lined with green. They’ve only ever seen the drawbacks of the rat race, the downside of the money chase, and the audacity and indulgence of those with too much money. Some even believe that wealthy people are bad people. Novels and films often highlight the idea that it’s the crooked ones who make the money. The meek shall inherit the earth. Such prophecies create a hands-off relationship with money.

Money comes monthly. The most common way to make a living is to be employed, either with a company or as a skilled professional, with a weekly wage or an annual salary. Historically, this provided the safe, sure thing required by heads of households. Yet, that level of risk was usually balanced with an equal level of reward — low and low. For most, even those who do very well, working for a company or as a skilled professional is a constrained opportunity. Except for the outrageous exceptions, the average CEO of the average company making six figures a year will still experience only a small increase in salary during his or her lifetime. Slow and steady wins the race. Such fables create a cautious relationship to money.

Money is not for me. Some people feel that they don’t deserve to be wealthy or that there is only so much of the millionaire pie to go around. Creating wealth and financial freedom is available to everyone. It is our right to be wealthy, and my hope is that people take their space and know they deserve it. By making money, you are not taking it from someone else; this isn’t Bonnie and Clyde Go to the Bank. By making money, you create a greater capacity to contribute, and it’s your duty to do this. Better them than me. Such adages create a defeated relationship to money.

Money is a man thing. There was a time that men made and managed the household money. That time was not so long ago, and some of you may have grown up with such conditioning. Though there are gender tendencies, for example, men tend to carry more money in their pocket than women and are more likely to invest than women, the reasons behind this are not genetic; they are realities falsely fabricated from years of conditioning. Women and men need to understand that money knows no gender. One of my programs that really resonates with up and coming wealth builders is “Wealth Diva: A Man Is Not a Plan.?This is a must-do seminar for every man and woman, and the daughters and sons they love. Let him bring home the bacon. Such perceptions create an apathetic relationship to money.

Money is good medicine. For some people, retail therapy goes a long way; there’s no difficulty a new blouse can’t cure. At the moment, we live in a culture of consumerism, and many of us use money to fill the unsatisfying holes in our lives. Some people grew up with a sense of entitlement about money, assuming their parents or a trust fund would always pay for everything, and in the process, they became careless about what they had. This is a vicious and unproductive cycle. The new car gets old, the closet fills up with clothes, and the toys pile up in the playroom. This is notto say there aren’t wonderful things to buy and spend our money on; after all, money should be fun. But as with overeating, too much spending on the wrong things can get any of us feeling sluggish and sad. Shop till you drop. Such bombarding messages create a disrespectful or nonchalant relationship to money.

Money is always a menace. For too many of us, money was always a problem. Bills were a hassle, keeping up with the Joneses was exhausting, entrepreneurs were considered nuts, and one’s station in life was, well, stationary. And getting rich would be worse. Money can be such a burden, not to mention all that paperwork and responsibility. These views of money create a perspective that money is actually a problem, not a solution. It’s hard enough just to survive, let alone thrive. Such pessimism creates a negative relationship to money.

Money talk is taboo. Many of us have been brought up to believe that conversations about money are in bad taste. Money and financial success, and failures, are considered personal subjects that shouldn’t be discussed and certainly shouldn’t be taught. Few of us asked our parents how much money they made, and even now, there are people who don’t know their spouse’s salaries. The results have unintended consequences and have created a world where very few people are having real conversations about money and finances, the very conversations they need to learn and succeed. These things are not discussed in polite society, dear. Such a scolding creates an ignorant relationship to money.

In each of these examples, it’s clear that unless your parents made a conscious choice to think and act differently, they conditioned you to have the same mindset as them. If you make a decision to break this cycle, you will have the opportunity to teach your children to have more productive beliefs about, and a more profitable relationship to,money. As you come to understand the beliefs you hold, you will work to change them. Through the action steps in this process, and with the help of mentors and respected friends, you will change your behavior. By sharing your desire for new beliefs and asking your mentors and respected friends to help you spot the subconscious limitations you may be putting on yourself, you will teach your brain to follow your behavior. Begin now by restating your beliefs. For example, if you’ve discovered that you hold any of the above examples as beliefs, you will

1. Change “money is scarce?to “money is abundant?and support a courageous relationship to money.

2. Change “money is evil, dirty, or bad?to “money is good and acceptable?and create a hands-on relationship to money.

3. Change “money comes monthly?to “money comes from a range of sources?and create an opportunistic relationship to money.

4. Change “money is not for me?to “who better than me for money to come to?and create an empowered relationship to money.

5. Change “money is a man thing?to “I can and will know about and understand money,?and create a thoughtful relationship to money.

6. Change “money is good medicine?to “money is a tool to help make my life better?and create a respectful and concerned relationship to money.

7. Change “money is a menace?to “money is a solution?and create a positive relationship to money.

8. Change “money talk is taboo?to “money talk is vital?and create a knowledgeable relationship to money.

You can see how much better it is to be courageous, hands-on, opportunistic, empowered, thoughtful, respectful and concerned, positive, and knowledgeable than to be fearful, hands-off, cautious, defeated, apathetic, disrespectful and nonchalant, negative, and ignorant. The choice is yours and it looks like you’re well on your way. You’ve already taken a huge step by deciding to actually take the first step. By making the decision to start right now, you have created the opportunity to raise your financial consciousness and change your life.

Copyright ?2006 Loral Langmeier from the book The Millionaire Maker McGraw-Hill; December 2005;$24.95US/$00.00CAN; 0071466150

Loral Langemeier is a master coach, financial strategist, and team-made multimillionaire who reaches thousands of individuals each year. She is the founder of Live Out Loud, a coaching and seminar company that teaches her trademarked program Wealth Cycles.

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Get in Control of Your Credit Card Debt

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Using credit cards can make day to day life more simple, reducing the need to carry cash and making it easy to shop online and by telephone. However, spending with plastic can sometimes be a little too easy, and many people find their balances get out of control.

credit cards,debt,reduce

Few people would deny that using credit cards can make day to day life more simple, reducing the need to carry cash and making it easy to shop online and by telephone.

However, spending with plastic can sometimes be a little too easy, as it doesn’t always feel like you’re actually parting with any cash. This means the temptation is to spend without thinking about the consequences too carefully, until you hear the ominous thud of a huge credit card bill hitting the doormat.

If you’ve been caught out like this, the size of your card debt may seem overwhelming, but don’t panic – there are a few simple steps you can take to start getting your debt back under control.

Try and make a little more than the minimum payments:

The minimum payments required by credit card companies have steadily fallen over the years. Where once it was typical to have to repay a minimum of 5% of your balance every month, it’s now common to only have to pay 2.5% or 3%. With repayments this small in proportion to your debt, a large chunk of each payment gets swallowed up in interest charges. Depending on the APR rate of your card, up to 75% of each payment could be ‘lost’ in this way, meaning that it takes a very long time for your balance to reduce to any great extent.

By trying to repay more than the minimum, even if only by a little, you can speed this process up, and in the long term you’ll end up paying much less in interest charges.

Prioritize your card debts:

If you have more than one card with different rates of interest, it makes sense concentrate on the one with the highest interest charges. This means not just the one with the highest interest rate, but the one which actually charges you most each month, which could have a lower rate but a higher balance.

Check your statements to see which card is costing you most in interest each month, and try to focus on repaying this card first by putting any spare cash you have into extra payments while keeping to the minimums on your other cards.

Change your card:

The credit card market is very competitive, and rates have fallen over the last few years. You may be stuck with an old card charging an old rate that is much higher than newer cards. If you can get a new card with a lower rate and transfer your account balance on to it, you could save a lot in interest charges, helping you to bring down your debt. If you can get a card with an introductory rate on balance transfers then all the better – you’ll get a few months of interest free credit which you can use to really drive down your balance as 100% of each repayment will be helping to clear your debt.

Debt consolidation:

If getting a cheaper card isn’t an option or isn’t something you feel happy about, then maybe a consolidation loan would be worth considering. If you take out a loan and use the money to pay off all your card debts, you could benefit from a lower rate as loans are normally quite a bit cheaper than credit cards.

The downside to these loans is that the repayment period might be quite long, and so even though your monthly repayments will hopefully be lower, you’ll stay in debt for longer and so end up paying more in interest. Done carefully, however, consolidation can be a sound move if there’s little chance of clearing your debt in any other way.

Watch your spending!

All the above strategies for getting your debt under control will only work if you stop getting deeper into debt – and this means stopping spending on your cards. Ideally, you’d cut them up so that you can’t use them again, but this might not be realistic as you may need to keep them as a credit option in an emergency. In any case, cutting your spending to an absolute minimum will keeping your repayments as high as possible is the only sure strategy to clearing your debt in the long term.

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Living Cheap

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Living cheap doesn’t mean living uncomfortably. Here is a real life example of living cheap and living well.

living cheap, cheap, money

Does living cheap mean being miserable, or giving up what you want? Not at all. In my own case, it meant getting the things I really wanted. Spend less on each thing or activity, and you can have more of them, right? The key is to spend less and still get what you need and want. I’ll tell you how I managed it.

Living Cheap – Housing

The first house I owned was a mobile home on a small lot. I paid less than $20,000, and had payments of $257 per month. With taxes, insurance and repairs, it still cost less than rent. With three bedrooms, an expanded living room, and a nice fenced-in yard, it was very comfortable. Eventually I sold it for $45,000.

Two things that I did made it even cheaper. First, I paid down the mortgage as much as I could when I was working. Within five years I owed nothing, and from that point on it cost an average of $300 per month to pay for the utilities, phone, garbage collection, taxes, insurance, and repairs. This is living cheap.

It became even cheaper when I found that I could easily rent the other two bedrooms. I got $65 per week for one, and $75 or more per week for the other, and I included all utilities. I found decent young guys to rent to, and the rents added up to $600 per month, making this more than cheap living, and even better than free housing. I was making $300 per month AND living for free.

Living Cheap – Think And Plan

With lower expenses I could work less, so I could get by without a car. This saved even more money. An occasional bus fare, and the used bicycle I bought didn’t add up to a fourth of what it cost to have a car. I needed to plan my trips around town a little better, but it was worth it.

Until I was almost 40, I never paid more than $40 for a piece of furniture. You have to know what is important to you. I DID pay $220 for a high-tech sleeping bag, because ultralight backpacking was important to me. On the other hand, since I couldn’t tell the difference between a nice, clean used couch for $30 and one that cost $900, I bought the former.

I found that when I worked less, I had time to more carefully consider my options. Time can save a lot of money. I paid half of what others paid for groceries, and when I did get a car, I found a repossessed one worth much more than what I paid. When I went to Ecuador for a month, it cost $1,040, including airfare, hotels, meals, a guided climb up a 21,000-foot mountain – everything. It was possible because I had time to search for the deals.

I never cared much for jobs, and I worked only part-time for years. I played chess, wrote poetry, and read good books. I traveled several times a year. I met the love of my life in South America (happily married for almost 5 years now). This was all possible not because I made a lot of money, but because I spent less than I made, and used the difference for the things that mattered to me.

This article isn’t meant as a how-to guide. I explain how I traveled and bought things so cheaply in many other articles. This is simply to get you thinking about the possibilities, and to point out some principles. What are the principles? Find ways to pay less without getting less. Don’t buy things you don’t need. Spend a less time working and more time thinking. Stay out of debt. Finally, know what is truly important to you, because this is what you can have more of by living cheap.

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Financial Plans: What Are Americans Banking On?

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Americans tend to have an optimistic view of retirement–but a recent poll found many people still have a lot of work ahead of them before they can leave their jobs.

Financial Plans: What Are Americans Banking On?

Americans tend to have an optimistic view of retirement-but a recent poll found many people still have a lot of work ahead of them before they can leave their jobs.

For instance, 47 percent of respondents said their retirement savings will last them 10 to 20 years. Those numbers seem promising until you consider that people should be actually planning for 30 years. Similarly, nearly half of all Generation X respondents said they expect to rely on pensions to help fund retirement. The plan may seem sound, but experts warn that many pension plans in the U.S. are at risk of going belly up. Plus, fewer than a third of all companies now offer pension plans.

The poll was sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in an effort to better understand the American public’s approach to savings and retirement. The group sponsors a Web site called 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy (www.360financialliteracy.org) to help people come to terms with financial issues at different life stages. Here’s a look at some additional polling results:

Paying For Retirement

Younger Americans do not plan to rely as heavily on Social Security for retirement as do older Americans. Close to six in 10 people age 55 and older plan to fund their retirement through Social Security. Only four in 10 (41 percent) of Americans under the age of 55 are counting on Social Security to fund their retirement. Instead of relying on Social Security, those under 55 are more likely to rely on their personal savings and investments.

College Costs

About three in 10 Americans have a child who is planning on going to college in the next five to 10 years. One quarter of these parents plan to pay for their child’s education with personal savings, another quarter intend for their child to earn scholarships to pay for tuition. Surprisingly, only 13 percent of respondents plan to use private student loans and just 12 percent plan to fund their child’s education with financial aid.

Financial Concerns

Rising energy and home-heating costs and uninsured medical expenses rank as the highest financial concerns for Americans (15 percent each). Retirement and the price of gas (13 percent each) follow closely behind. Education costs are also a concern as 9 percent of respondents worried about their child’s college education and 7 percent worried about their own college education.

Forty-one percent of Americans under age 55 say they plan to rely heavily on Social Security for retirement.

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Is It Really Necessary To Create A Family Budget?

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The thought of budgeting may seem simple to do, right? However, if we really get into it and try to balance our income and expenses, we realize that it’s not that easy to do. Still, having a budget or spending plan can help us manage our finances better.

Family Budget, Financial Planning, Budget, Planning For The Future, Emergency Fund, Savings, Investment

The thought of budgeting may seem simple to do, right? However, if we really get into it and try to balance our income and expenses, we realize that it’s not that easy to do. Still, having a budget or spending plan can help us manage our finances better.

Money issues, especially within the family, can be a source of relationship conflicts. Dealing with money problems always gives stress. Thus, it is important that we create a budget for the family. And it should not only be you who are going to do it but all of the members of the family should get involved. Each, even young children, should have a say on the family’s finances.

Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a guide to help you start making your family’s budget.

1. Assess your current financial situation. Before starting to write down a budget plan, try to check first your spending patterns for the past year. You may want to take a look at all your utility and other bills for the past year. You would also need a copy of your salary records and income tax return for the past year. In case you do not have copies of your bills anymore, utility companies and other service companies like credit card can give you a record of your transactions or provide an estimate.

2. Design budget outline. There are sample budget outlines found in the Internet that you can download and make use of. You can also find some in magazines and books. Utilize these things to create an organized and well-written family budget.

3. Write them down. Once you have all past references to your income and wages, as well as a budget design, you can now start writing down your income ?from wages, pensions to tax credits ?for the current month. Then write down your expenses for the month ?utility bills, credit card bills, and other purchases. Receipts and your checkbook may be good references to find the information.

4. Lifestyle check. You need to check your family’s lifestyle and spending patterns. This is where every member of the family should get involved. Think about the important things that each member spends on. Think also of the things that you can probably do without.

5. Plan for next year. Estimate the income and expenses that your family may have for the next year. Your income may remain the same or you can also adjust it if you expect it to change within the year. You also need to take into consideration special occasions where you usually spend on like Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving and other holidays.

6. Know your credit standing. You also need to find out your current credit standing. You may request for you Credit Report from a credit bureau near your area. You can find them listed in the yellow pages.

Writing down a family budget will definitely help you realize how wisely you and your family spend money. If you feel that you are spending too much more than what you are getting, then it’s high time to start fixing your finances and sticking with your family budget.

Saving is also one way to improve your finances. For a family, there should be a substantial amount of savings that you can use in case of emergency. As head of the family, you should impress on your spouse and children the importance of savings. If you can commit your whole family into saving, then most likely, you will not have a problem in sticking with your family budget.

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Financial Planner Basics

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What is financial planning, and why it is crucial for you.

Even if you do not think you are a financial planner, you better start thinking like one fast. In the United States, there is an approximate of 5.6 million people who are either self-made millionaires or financially independent. And what is so hard to believe about that statistic, you ask? This is because that is only about 5% of the American population.

The remaining 95% of the American population (we’re talkin…

financial planner, financial planning

What is financial planning, and why it is crucial for you.

Even if you do not think you are a financial planner, you better start thinking like one fast. In the United States, there is an approximate of 5.6 million people who are either self-made millionaires or financially independent. And what is so hard to believe about that statistic, you ask? This is because that is only about 5% of the American population.

The remaining 95% of the American population (we’re talking about 106.4 million people here!) are not only not rich, but most of them are facing financial disasters, either owing to poor financial planning or foolish spending!. This is why you should start thinking like a financial planner. Financial planning is not so complicated, and it can make a huge difference in your life.

As the saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Much of the same can be said if you do not plan your finances well, it does not matter if you are a high earner, you still need financial planner skills, to keep you form harms way and to ensure that your life will be financially secured.

The fact of the matter is that financial planning Is Not An Option, most of us need to think ahead today, and you should practice your financial planner skills right away to enjoy the money you make today in the future.

The basics of financial planning is to keep all your finance in order, this is very basic advice, alright. However, more often than not, we would rather concentrate on other things in life such as health, studies, work and more.

Think about the things you want to achieve in life, and how you are going to get there, financial planner always set his goals and puts some order in his thought before starting to actually put the wheels in motion. Financial planning can include buying a house, paying for your children education and thinking about a retirement fund.

Financial planning will help you use your current pay check and your saving to start working on a program that will give you peace of mind on the financial level, a financial planner will plan a budget according to every household’s expenditure budgeted and a savings plan drawn up, this will help you spend your money wisely and effectively.

A financial planner will consider having savings invested in an investment vehicle that pays higher returns than the normal bank account, it will add in some muscle to your savings and help you reach your financial goals in a shorter period of time.

By starting your retirement planning now (not later!), you can gauge how much money you will need to maintain your current lifestyle and where this money will come from. Many people, especially those who have just started working, always put their retirement planning on the back burner for reasons such as “I just started work?and “Oh, I am still young?

Many, however, fail to realize that by starting early to save for retirement, you will be able to save and invest more due to the magic of “compounding interest? provided that you invest your savings wisely. Maybe you do not have to wait until the age of 65 to retire. For all you know, by the age of 40, you might have already reached your financial independence and do not have to worry about getting up early to clock in or work until late hours because there are deadlines to meet.

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The Benefits and the Drawbacks of Using a Credit Union for Financial Transactions

Credit unions are formed and run by associations of people that are formed on the basis of a common goal or criteria. These institutions are open only to its members and one can become a member by fulfilling the qualifications needed by the particular credit union and opening an account with them. There are many local credit unions that operate across the country and you can find out the ones in your area that you can qualify for and become a member to enjoy the benefits.

Though there are some advantages of the larger banks that you may find missing, but the advantages that you can have in the long run, especially in money strapped situations, can be immense.  Many people find the friendly atmosphere and the one-to-one relationship really too hard to replace with the business and detached behavior of large banks and financial institutions.

There are, in general several pros and cons of banking with credit unions, and let us take a closer look at some of these.

Credit unions function similar to a bank but are owned by its members and not stakeholders whose primary concern is to earn more and more profits. Banks are generally regulated by the stock market and charge fees on each of the transactions as their aim is to maximize the profit. On the other hand, the aim of a credit union is to maximize the benefits and service level for its members, who are also co-owners of the institutions. Some credit unions also have a voting system for its policies and major decisions.
There are no ATM fees for using the services of a credit union and its overdraft fees are also much lower.  However, the flip side is that there are fewer ATMs and hence you need to keep searching for one or use some other banks ATMs, which will again call for some additional costs. However, there are some credit unions that may even reimburse these charges, which again nullifies the negative effect.
Credit unions charge much lower interest loans for bad credit on its loans than commercial banks and financial institutions. At the same time they offer much higher deposit rates as they solely exist for the benefit of its members and not for maximizing the revenue. Even if they do earn profits, it is distributed amongst its members or reinvested into the institution for improving or modernizing its services. Hence they are most cost effective when you need loans and some of the credit unions interest rates cannot go beyond a certain benchmark level, hence you will be protected against rising debt costs too.
A credit union is a good option when you are in need of funds but do not have very high credit scores which may be of interest to the banks. The credit unions pay more stress on the long term relationship with its members than their credit scores to establish the eligibility. Hence you will be able to get loans at lower rates and may not need to consider higher interest private unsecured personal loans at all.

A disadvantage of the credit union loan is the eligibility criteria that often restrict the membership. Hence you will need to do some ground work in identifying those which would accept you as a member.

Another disadvantage with some credit unions may be that the technology that they use may not be very advanced as they may not have huge funds available to modernize their services very often; hence some people find this, a setback.

However, given their advantages, it may be worthwhile to explore the services of those where you can qualify to be a member, as the services can prove really beneficial at a financial crunch situation.

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Avoid Mismanagement Of The Personal Loan Repayment

In the modern lifestyle, it is very easy to fall into a debt trap, unless one is ultra careful about managing one’s finances. Nowadays it is very easy to get a loan, as long as you meet some very basic qualifying criteria and you hold a steady job. However, if you are not careful and get tempted by these lenders sales agents, it will be much more difficult to get out of this situation that you may ever imagine.

 

With the current economic downturn that has impacted the financial status of countries, businesses and individuals across the globe; the situation has become really grim. Organizations went out of business; People lost their jobs almost overnight, making them unable to discharge their financial liabilities and paying off their unsecured loans. Many are unable to handle the stress of these uncontrolled debts and go into severe depression.

 

However, it’s important to keep your calm and coolly handle the situation to find the right solution. When the debt situation seems just unable to be handled it is important that the alternatives are explored. One of the ways to get out of the situation is to file for bankruptcy. This is done through the designated attorneys who specialize in handling such cases. This involves convincing the debtors that you are no longer in a position to pay off the debt and this is possible with most commercial debts. There are various clauses of the bankruptcy law that applies to various situations and the lawyer will be able to guide you effectively. However, this has some very negative effects on your credit score and it may become very difficult for you to get credit in future.

 

Another option exists in the form of debt consolidation services which are carried with the help of authorized consolidation agencies. Here the agency understand your financial situation and renegotiates the terms of your debts and consolidates them into one single payment every month. The consolidated outflow should be less than the multiple repayments. However, this increases the repayment period by almost 5 to 7 years and you will be under the financial burden for this extended time period. But, the creditors will not be harassing you anymore and your credit score will improve once you discharge your debts. This is an often advised solution by most experts when you need to discharge the debts.

 

During the debt consolidation process you are taken through various sessions on how to manage your personal finances so that you are not facing a similar situation again in the future. The idea is not only to resolve your current financial crisis but also to let you acquire the skills to help you cope with the future financial situations.  It is very important not only to get out of the current debt situation but also to build in financial intelligence to build back your financial credibility and strengthen your financial position. It is important not to get lured by the numerous lenders who are ready to offer you personal loans at very easy processing terms, as though you may be able to get the loan within 24 hours but it may take years to get discharged.

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4 Money-Saving Tips For Every Homeowner

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Losing weight. Finding a new job. Spending more time with the family. A new year means setting new goals. Why not make saving money one of them?

4 Money-Saving Tips For Every Homeowner

Losing weight. Finding a new job. Spending more time with the family. A new year means setting new goals. Why not make saving money one of them?

If you’re a homeowner, there are many ways you can cut costs and still live comfortably. The following tips will help lead you to financial success.

* First, set a budget. Figure out exactly how much you spend on the upkeep of your home. Compare each month’s expenses with the previous month’s to get a better idea of how much to budget for each necessity. Then, see what costs you can cut. Once you set a budget, stick to it.

* Save energy. You might be losing a substantial amount of energy dollars during the winter and summer because of air leaks. By caulking, sealing and weather-stripping all cracks and openings, you can save 10 percent or more on your energy bill.

Also, look into replacing older appliances with newer, more energy-efficient alternatives. Your light bulbs can make a difference, too. Fluorescent bulbs are four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs.

* Refinance. Shop around to see if you can replace your existing home loan with one that has a lower interest rate. You can easily save hundreds of dollars each month by refinancing your home.

* Purchase a home warranty. Most homeowners don’t account for possible repairs in their annual budget. There is a 68 percent likelihood of a home system or appliance failure in a given year. The average replacement cost of one of these systems or appliances is $1,085. A home warranty is your best defense against unexpected and costly repairs to your home’s appliances and mechanical systems.

The American Home Shield Home Warranty, for example, ensures you get the best possible service through the company’s network of pre-screened technicians. The minute something breaks down, you can contact American Home Shield and a local service technician will schedule an appointment that fits your schedule. The warranty covers a multitude of household systems and appliances, regardless of age.

The American Home Shield Home Warranty is a one-year contract that requires no home inspection to enroll. Several affordable plans are available to fit every budget.

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