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Simple Tricks For Cutting Costs And Fattening Up Your Piggy Bank

woman with a full grocery shopping bagWe’ve always find it ironic that when the government reports that the cost of living or Consumer Price Index has increased only +0.4% (Feb 2015) that this does not include the cost of gas or food. And while the cost of gas has dropped recently, the cost of food continues to increase every month. If yours is a typical family you’ve probably also seen increases in the cost of your cable or satellite service and your utilities. It’s tough these days to just stay even let alone save money. Fortunately there are some simple tricks that you could use to cut your everyday costs and fatten up your piggy bank.

Let’s work on that grocery bill

If you grow pale and faint when you see the total amount you’ve just spent on a week’s groceries, take heart. There are some simple things you could do to cut down the cost of your groceries. It begins with making a grocery list. The simple fact is that you should never go to the grocery store without a list. This accomplishes two things. First, it ensures that you’ll get everything you need, which will cut down on those trips you have to make to get the stuff you forgot. Second, having a grocery list will keep you from spending money on all those tempting things you see at those aisle-and displays.

Next, become an avid coupon clipper. You’ll find them in your newspaper – probably on Wednesday — as this is normally food day. If you don’t get a newspaper go online and sign up for your favorite supermarket’s newsletter. There are also tons of websites that offer coupons, many of which are printable. Some of the best include, and, of course, Always look for stores that offer double coupons on the stuff you need and for coupons that align with sales that are going on at your supermarket. And, finally, try to buy as many store brand items as you can, as this should save you up to 25% vs. brand name items.

Small changes can mean a lot

As an example of this the stuff that you drink can really add up. If you’re using bottled water, stop it. Those bottles are not only costing you money but they’re not good for the environment. Buy one of those bottles that filters water and then just fill it up with tap water. Believe it or not this can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Also, stop buying those lattes and brew your coffee at home. This alone could save you more than $700 a year. If you eat out a lot you can save big money by not doing it. Half of the average American’s budget goes to eating meals out of the home. If that’s typical of you just think how much you could do in cutting costs simply by eating at home instead of going to restaurants or getting takeout.

money and measuring tape

Slash your cable bill

Did you know that the average American spends $86 a month on cable or $1032 a year? If you have a digital TV you could buy an antenna for $30 or less which would get you all your local channels free. If your TV is analog all you would need to do is buy a cheap converter. We have a small antenna next to one of our digital TVs and we get more than 30 local channels. Not all of these are ones you would watch on a regular basis but we were surprised at what’s available and you might be, too.

If you do decide to ditch cable or satellite TV you could get movies through a subscription service such as Netflix or at one of those kiosks at your supermarket. You say you just can’t give up cable entirely? Then call your cable company and see if you couldn’t negotiate a better deal. Most of these companies will offer you a nice discount if you bundle, which means getting television, Internet and phone service all together. Or go online and check to see what packages your cable provider has available, as you might be able to save money by downgrading to fewer channels.

You can also save money by changing your movie going habits. Matinees and early shows always cost less than if you were to go to the same film at night. And the same holds true of restaurant meals. When there’s a hot new restaurant in town that you would like to sample, have lunch there instead of dinner.

Chop down that energy bill

If you’re like the average family you spend $1900 a year on energy. You could knock that down a few dollars simply by shutting off the lights in rooms you’re not using. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat you should certainly get one. It shouldn’t cost you more than $60 and will pay for itself in just a few months by automatically turning down the temperature during those times of the day that you’re not there. You might also do a home energy audit. The Environmental Protection Agency has a free calculator that would help you see where you could achieve some savings. It’s available at

For that matter, this short video show how you could actually cut your electric bill in half and just think how much that could save you …

Do you commute to work?

Another great way to save money if you commute to work is by getting into or forming a carpool or by taking public transportation. This would not only cut your gas costs but also the wear and tear on your car.

The big stuff

There are some changes you could make that would result in some really big savings. If you have a mortgage, think about refinancing your home. Last week we heard that one of our local mortgage brokers was offering fixed rate mortgages at less than 4%. If you have a mortgage at 5% or higher and you were to refinance you could put a couple hundred dollars a month in your pocket. If you rent try negotiating with your landlord for a cheaper rent when you next sign a lease or offer to sign a longer one in return for a discount.

Get creative

If you stop to think about it there are probably dozens of other ways you could cut your spending. Just get creative. And be sure to get your entire family involved. We know of families that have a meeting once a month where everyone contributes their ideas for saving money with a prize to the person that comes up with the best suggestion. Be sure to make a budget so that you can keep track of your spending, as you might be amazed at how little changes along the way have helped fatten up your piggy bank. And when it gets right down to it, what’s better than a fat, happy piggy bank?

Tips For Managing Too Much Debt

frustrated woman with a paper and calculatorConsumers today regardless of their social status are being stretched like never before. Consider the fact that the average American household owes more than $16,000 just in credit card debt – meaning that this doesn’t include debts such as their mortgages, auto loans and student loan debts. You must have an inkling that you have too much debt or you wouldn’t be reading this article. But if you’re not sure, here are a few signs that you’re in over your head.

• Your creditors have been calling you
• You’ve left this month’s bills piled up in a corner because you’re afraid to open them
• You’ve been turned down for a consolidation loan
• You’ve tried to borrow money from family members
• You’re taking cash advances on your credit cards to pay other bills
• You’re finding it difficult to make just the minimum payments on your debts
• You’re constantly juggling bills trying to keep all of your creditors happy

Step #1: Determining where you stand financially

There’s not much you can do about getting your debts under control until you figure out where you stand financially. This means you need to determine how much you actually spent in the past month relative to what you earned. If it turns out – as it is almost certain to – that you spent more than you earned this means you’re basically trying to finance a lifestyle you can’t afford.

The first thing you should do is order copies of your credit reports from the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and Transunion. These reports will give you an excellent idea of how you’ve been managing your money, how much you owe, whether you’re over your credit limits, whether any of your debts have been sent to collection and so on. Next, get your FICO score. If you’re not familiar with this score it’s a three-digit number that ranges from 300 to 850. You can get your score on the website, from any of the three credit reporting bureaus or from websites such as This will give you a picture of how your creditors view you and why you may be having a problem getting new credit.

Step #2: Make a budget

We can guess with almost 100% certainty that you don’t have a budget because if you did you probably wouldn’t be struggling with your debts. The reason you need a budget is because it’s the only way you can allocate your spending in such a way that you will have the money to meet your debt obligations. To make a budget you must track your spending for at least 30 days. This means writing down everything you spent money on right down to the pack of gum you bought yesterday. Next, you’ll need to organize your spending into categories such as food, entertainment, clothing, eating out, insurance and so forth. When you finish this exercise go through it carefully looking for places where you could cut costs. Most people find that the areas where it’s easiest to reduce spending are groceries, clothing and entertainment. So you might take a hard look at these categories first. The objective here is to find ways to cut your spending to the point where you can get your debts caught up to date.

Step #3: Contact your creditors

Just making a budget – and of course sticking to it – could be enough to help you get out of debt. However, if you’re really seriously in debt there are some other things you must be prepared to do. For example, you could contact your creditors and try cut deals. Trust us, they’re just as anxious as you are to get your debts straightened out. You could ask them to lower your monthly payments on either a temporary or permanent basis. You could ask to make interest-only payments for some period of time or have your interest rates reduced.

Step #4: Get your debts under control

One solution to managing your debts is to get a debt consolidation loan – assuming you could get one. If your credit isn’t totally trashed you might be able to get an unsecured loan where all you would be required to do is sign for it. Conversely, if you have poor credit you would probably be asked to put up some asset as collateral to secure the loan. In most cases that asset will be your house in the form of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. If you are able to get either one of these types of loans you could then use the money to pay off your creditors. It’s almost certain that you would have a lower monthly payment and you would have only the one payment instead of the multiple payments you’re currently making.

A second option is to get help from a credit-counseling agency. If you have a lot of debt and are struggling with it the assistance and advice you would get from a credit-counseling agency could be a godsend. It could help you set up a household budget, evaluate your current budget (if appropriate), negotiate lower payments with your creditors and teach you better money management skills.

The third or what some people refer to as the nuclear option is to file for bankruptcy. If you owe way too much given your income this could actually be your only option. And this will be especially true if you think that one of your creditors is about to seize an asset you don’t want to lose. Bankruptcy would definitely damage your credit score severely and would stay in your credit reports for 10 years. If you’re in such bad shape financially that you think bankruptcy is your only option, the damage it would do to your credit might not be that big a deal.

man shouting at phoneStep #5: Learn how to deal with debt collectors

It’s likely that you’re being hassled by debt collectors and as you well know that’s no fun at all. If you didn’t know this debt collectors are usually compensated on a commission basis. This gives them a big financial incentive to collect from you – regardless of what’s required. But if you’re being threatened or abused by a debt collector it’s important to know you have rights. You probably don’t know about the Fair Debt Collection Practices act (FDCPA) but it gives you certain rights if a collector is harassing you. As an example of this, you can ask him for written proof that you actually owe the debt that he’s trying to collect. The law obligates him to comply with this request. If you don’t think you owe the debt or if you believe that the amount is not correct, you can dispute it. You must put your dispute in writing and send it to the debt collector’s agency within 30 days of when you were first contacted. You also have the right to send the debt collector a cease and desist letter telling him to not contact you again about that particular debt. Be sure to send the letter certified and return receipt requested. When the collector receives your letter he can communicate with you again only for two reasons – to let you know that he won’t be calling you again or to inform you of some specific action he’s about to take to collect the money such as suing you.

Step #6: Give special attention to your most serious debts

Not all debts are created equal. Some deserve special attention because the consequences of falling way behind on them are very serious. Depending on the type of debt, you could lose an important asset, be evicted or see your income tax refunds taken. In a worst-case scenario you could even end up serving jail time. So what are the serious debts?

• Your mortgage
• Car loans
• Rent or utility bills
• Court-ordered child support obligations
• Federal student loans
• Federal income taxes

If you have debts that fall into one or more of these categories you need to focus your attention on getting them caught up. We’ve already discussed one way to do this, which is a debt consolidation loan. Unfortunately, none of these debts can be “settled.” This means that if you can’t get a debt consolidation loan the bad news is that you will either have to find a way to catch up on your payments or file for bankruptcy.

Best Strategies When Dealing With A Big Debt Amount

big debt pushed by a manDealing with a big debt is not something new. In fact, a lot of consumers are probably suffering for it. What is even more troubling is the fact that these people who are burdened with a lot of debts do not see anything wrong with it. Some consumers willingly borrow money to buy a new car even if they still owe hundreds of thousands on their mortgage loan. That is just how the consumerist society in the US works today. It does not matter if we do not have the cash on hand to buy things to improve our standard of living. We have credit anyway. We can always take on more debt just to finance the affluent lifestyle that society thinks we should brag about.

According to, the average debt of an American household is at approximately $200,000. This is a combination of mortgage, credit card and student loan debts. That is definitely, a huge amount of debt for one household to carry. Imagine how long it will take for you to finish paying off that big debt? You will probably be about to retire and you still have yet to reach the maturity date of all your debts.

Probably what is worse that having all these debts per household is the fact that it has become the norm in American consumers. Big debt is a terrible thing for a family to share and for your children to grow up in. But since a lot of people have it, this terrible thing becomes something that is acceptable. Instead of working hard to get rid of it, we accept our fate and just live day by day with huge credit balances over our heads.

There are three important strategies that you need to work on separately to deal with your big debt.

  1. Pay off your existing debts aggressively.
  2. Know how to avoid incurring huge debts.
  3. Manage your budget carefully.

How to pay off your huge debts aggressively

Regardless of how much you owe or the reasons behind your loan accounts, you need to start paying off your debts more aggressively. Fortunately for you, there are several ways for you to do just that. Here are a couple of them.

  • Do not run from the problem. Looking at a big debt is scary. It shows you the reality of how much you have failed when it comes to managing your finances. However, we all know that ignoring the balance that you owe will never solve anything. It will never give you the peace of mind that you deserve. So the first thing that you need to do before you can aggressively tackle your debts is to face it and look at how much you really owe.
  • Pinpoint the cause of the problem. The next thing that you need to do, after facing your debts, is to find out what caused you to be in debt in the first place. Was it living beyond your means? Or was it because you did not have an emergency fund? Sometimes, a big debt is not caused by being irresponsible with money. There are times when you are in debt because you were simply not prepared for an emergency. One serious illness can put your stable finances over the edge and into a huge debt. Knowing the cause of your debts will allow you to bring about the change that will turn your financial life around.
  • Choose a debt relief plan. There are so many debt solutions out there. If you know your debt situation and your capabilities to pay off your credit, it should be easy for you to choose a solution to your money problems. You have debt consolidation loans, debt management, credit counseling, debt settlement and even bankruptcy. The important thing is you should choose a plan that you will follow. That way, you will have more focus and direction as you pay off your big debt accounts.
  • Set up automatic payments. This is one way for you to make sure that your payments will always be met. Aside from setting aside a specific amount for debt payments on your budget, you may want to set up an automatic transfer with your lenders. Sometimes, they offer interest rate discounts if this will be your chosen mode of payment.

Tips to stay out of too much debt

As you work on aggressively paying off your debts, you need to simultaneously work harder to stay out of debt. Here are some tips that you may want to look into.

  • Stop incurring high interest debts. This is actually referring to credit card debt. This is the easiest debt to fall into and the hardest to get out of. If you still have big debts to pay off, it is better to stop adding to your balance – at least until you have lowered your overall debt amount. Fixed rate credit cards, according to, is currently at 13.02%. That is the average. Some banks have as high as 20% on their credit card interest rates. Think about how much money you are wasting by paying these huge interest rates.
  • Monitor your accounts. It is important that you always look at your accounts. This is does not only mean your budget. You need to constantly check your automatic payments to ensure that it is meeting the contribution requirements. You should also check your credit report. Sometimes, people suffer from a big debt burden – not because they spent on credit, but because they had been victims of identity theft. You need to be vigilant about this and guard your credit report. If a transaction comes up that you did not take part in, report it immediately.
  • Setup spending rules and punish yourself if you disobey anything. Lastly, you may want to set some rules that will keep you from spending beyond your means. Be strict about what is a necessity and what is a luxury. Once you have set the rules, you may want to note the punishment that you will impose on yourself for disobeying any of them. That should discourage you from going against your rules.
  • Build up your reserve fund. According to, this fund will help you meet unexpected costs. Sometimes, these unforeseen expenses are the ones that can really drag your finances down. So just set aside even a s small amount of money and consistently put that in your reserve fund.

Manage your budget better

The last thing that you need to do in order to deal with your big debt once and for all is to manage your budget better. You may want to try to simplify your financial life so you can be a better money manager. Here are a few tips to help you do this.

  • Use technology to your advantage. There are so many personal finance tools on the Internet. You may want to utilize one of two of them to make budget monitoring easier to do. With all the capabilities of your smartphone, you can easily look at how your money is doing.
  • Keep your budget updated. Our expenses vary over time. This is a fact. As we get older, our priorities change and that includes where our money is spent too. You need to constantly check you budget to see if it is still aligned with your current financial goals.
  • Budget for the fun things. People make the mistake of leaving entertainment expenses out of the budget. This is wrong. We need to budget for these costs because we need to have fun every now and then. If you limit yourself, there might come a time when you become so frustrated that you throw caution out the window and splurge your money. You do not want that to happen.

While the big debt that you have is daunting, following all of the tips in this article should be able to help you pay them all off. It is admittedly not an easy task but if you exert some self control and have the right habits, then you can rise up from your difficult financial situation.

Can’t Make Your Mortgage Payments? Our Government Wants Help

man balancing a checkbookhouse is more than just wood, nails, shingles and siding. It’s your home. You’ve spent years furnishing and decorating it. It might be where your children live or where they grew up. It’s the place you come back to after a hard day’s work. It’s your refuge from the world. But you’ve been unable to make your mortgage payments for many months. Your mortgage company has been calling you weekly – to the point where you’re at your wit’s end. This might be because you lost your job or had some other financial disaster. But that doesn’t matter. The point is you’re about to lose your home.

Take heart

You may be able to avoid this because our government wants to help people like you that are in danger of losing their homes. The program is called Making Homeownership Affordable. All it takes to get started is to call 888-995-HOPE (4673). Do this and you’ll be connected with a housing specialist from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency that will talk with you about your specific situation. He or she will be able to offer you a variety of services such as identifying those mortgage assistance programs that might be suitable given your situation. Your counselor will also explain the documents you’ll need and in certain circumstances may even submit those documents to your mortgage holder for you. You will be given help in creating a budget that would allow you to cover your mortgage payments and other expenses. And you will be provided with information regarding local resources that could be of help.

The documentation you will need

If you want to get help through the Making Homeownership Affordable program, you’ll need to have the following documents available:

• Your monthly mortgage statement
• The last two years of your tax returns
• If applicable, information about a second mortgage or any other encumbrances on your home
• If you are self employed your most recent quarterly or year-to-date P& L statement
• The two most recent pay stubs for all members of your household that contribute toward your mortgage payment
• Documentation of any income that you receive from other sources such as Social Security, child support, alimony, etc.
• Your two most recent bank statements
• A utility bill showing your name and property address
• An unemployment insurance letter (if applicable)
• The minimum monthly payments and account balances for all of your credit cards
• Information regarding any other assets and your savings
• A letter describing what happened that caused your income to be reduced or that you lost your job or that your expenses were increased due to illness, divorce etc. (optional)

What you’re housing expert will do

If you choose to work with a HUD-approved housing counselor you can expect that person to work as your advocate and advisor. He or she will need as much information about your situation as possible to help decide which MHA option would be best for you. When working as your advocate your counselor will need the documentation described above to champion your cause. This will not only be documented information about your current mortgage loan but also your overall financial situation and your prospective income in the future. The more of this documentation you can provide, the easier it will be for your counselor to find the best solution given your situation.

Programs that could help you reduce your monthly payments

There are a number of government-sponsored programs available to help people like you. Some of these are designed to help you reduce your monthly payments. This includes HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) and the Principle Reduction Alternative (PRA). HAMP could be helpful if you’re not unemployed but are struggling to meet your mortgage payments. If you’re underwater, that is your home is currently worth a lot less than what you owe on it, you could be eligible for PRA. There is also the Second Lien Modification Program This is designed to help people whose first mortgage had been permanently modified under HAMP but have a second mortgage on the same property. If your mortgage loan is insured or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, it’s possible you could be eligible for the FHA Home Affordable Modification program (FHA-HAMP).

Programs designed to reduce your interest rate

Many people have a problem making their monthly payments because they’re trapped into a mortgage with a very high interest rate. If you fall into this category, there are two programs that could lower that interest rate. The first of these is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which is designed for people who are not behind on their mortgage payments but have been unable to refinance their mortgages through traditional means. The second is the FHA Refinance for Borrowers with Negative Equity (FHA Short Refinance). It is for those who are not behind on their mortgage payments but are underwater and their mortgage loans are not guaranteed or insured by the FHA.

If you’re unemployed

If you’ve been unable to make your mortgage payments because you’re unemployed there is the Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP). This would depend on your situation but it’s possible that your mortgage payments could be reduced to 31% of your income or even suspended altogether for a year or more.

Finally, there is the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) that has more than $7.6 billion to help borrowers in states that were hardest hit by the recent economic crisis.

It will take time and effort

If you believe that Making Homeownership Affordable could help you, do understand the program will take some time and effort. The more prepared you are, the more positive an outcome you can expect. A good start is to spend some time on the website to learn about your options, your eligibility and what you’ll need to do to apply for assistance. Review the various programs available and the features they offer so that you can choose the one you think will best fit your situation.

Your mortgage company wants you to stay in your house

Believe it or not, your mortgage loan servicer wants to keep you in your house. One of the efforts you will need to make is showing it that you are committed to helping with your modification. Of course, if your loan servicer agrees to modify your loan, it will get lower returns on its investment but this will be far less than what a foreclosure would cost. This means your mortgage company’s biggest concern is whether or not you would be able to comfortably make the payments under your new modified terms. You will need to submit an Initial Package of documents and the more information you can offer assuring your loan servicer that you will be able to make the new, modified payments the easier it will be for it evaluate your modification application.

House with cash on the roofYou could save your home

As you have read, our government does want to help you stay in your home and it is possible – regardless of how severe your situation might be. The important thing is to get started. Make that phone call to 888-995-HOPE (4673) today and talk with an HUD-approved housing counselor.

How To Get A Debt Consolidation Loan From A Bunch Of Complete Strangers

Surviving Debt Despite UnemploymentSo there you are buried under a pile of credit card debts. The credit card companies have been calling you regularly and you’re even receiving nasty calls from a debt collector. You wish you could get a personal loan from your bank but your credit is so bad there’s just no way it’s going to lend you any more money You’ve heard there’s such a thing as a home equity loan but you don’t own a home. Or maybe you own a home but you don’t have much equity in it. You’ve actually thought of going to “Uncle” Vito for a loan but you don’t know an Uncle Vito. You’re certainly not going to ask any member of your family for money, as that would be just too embarrassing.

Why consolidate debts?

The reasons why debt consolidation makes sense are pretty simple. Your debts would be easier to manage because instead of having to remember and pay multiple creditors every month you’d only have one payment to make. Second, the payments on a debt consolidation loan should be much lower than the sum of the payments you are currently making. Third, a debt consolidation loan will have a longer term or more years to repay the money. Fourth, if you could get an unsecured loan you would not be risking any asset such as your house. And last but not least this would get all those creditors and that debt collector off your back.

How to get a debt consolidation loan from a complete stranger

Believe it or not you could actually get a debt consolidation loan from a complete stranger. And no, that doesn’t mean walking up to someone on the street with your hand out asking for money. It’s a new way to borrow money called peer-to-peer lending or social lending and it’s already helped thousands of people. The simple explanation of it is that you put in a request for a loan on one of the peer-to-peer lending sites and then sit back to see if anyone or any group of people will fund it. One way to think of it is that there’s a door under which you slip your loan application. If it’s funded, the money then magically comes out from under the door. You have no idea who funded your loan nor do the people that funded it know who you are. The computer does everything so you never have to face someone and ask for money only to get turned down. The worst-case scenario is that your loan isn’t funded but on many of these sites you have the option of polishing up your application and trying again.

The application or profile

Some peer-to-peer sites call your loan request an application while others call it a profile. In either case you will be required to provide information about your employment, your earnings, how much money you need and what you will do with the money. In addition, you will be required to provide some personal information such as your Social Security number.

The site will verify the information you provided. If everything checks out, you’ll then be required to provide information about your bank accounts. The reason for this is that so if your loan is funded, the money can be electronically transferred to your account and the money payments required to repay the loan can be taken out as automatic withdrawals.

Cross your fingers

Once the information you provided has been verified your loan will be listed – probably for 14 days. Potential lenders will review your information and decide whether or not to invest in you. If your loan is funded it’s likely that the money will come from multiple lenders. For example, on one of these sites many of the lenders are allowed to invest only five dollars in any one loan. This means that if you were requesting $1000 it would take 200 lenders to fund the loan. While you might think that this would be impossible it actually happens every day.

The advantages of a peer-to-peer loan

One of the biggest pros of a peer-to-peer loan is that it’s possible to get one for just about any reason you can think of – in addition to debt consolidation. Many people have gotten these loans to pay for a vacation, a wedding, a boat, to repay a student loan or even to start a business. Most peer-to-peer sites offer loans from $1000-$35,000. So if you need just $500 to satisfy an angry creditor then peer-to-peer lending probably isn’t for you.

The bigger the risk the higher the interest ratepercentage

A second advantage of one of these loans is that you might be able to get one even if you have bad credit. This is due to the fact that there are hundreds of investors on one of these sites and some of them that might be willing to gamble on you. In return they will probably require an interest rate of 19%, 20% or even more – to make up for the risk they’re taking.


A third advantage of a peer-to-peer loan is anonymity. The lenders will never know who you are. If you’ve been struggling with debt and have been turned down by your bank or credit union you know that this can be a bit embarrassing. If you apply for a peer-to-peer loan and it’s not funded it wouldn’t be as bad as being told “no” by your personal banker.

Less paperwork

Another good thing about peer-to-peer loans is that you’re not required to fill out and submit a whole stack of forms as would be required by a bank or credit union. The application process is pretty simple and it’s all done online. You may also find out whether or not you get your loan much quicker than is typical with a traditional lender. Once your application has been approved and your loan request listed you’ll have your answer within 14 days and probably quicker.

The major peer-to-peer sites

These sites have become “hot” recently and a number of companies have jumped into the business. However, as of this writing there are only three that are really significant. They are Lending Club, Prosper and Loanio. Of these three, Prosper is the oldest while Lending Club is the largest. In fact, it’s currently not accepting new lenders because it’s going through an IPO (initial public offering). Loanio is the up and comer because it has features designed specifically for people with bad credit. As an example of this, it’s the only one of the three sites that allows co-signers.

Choose one and get started

If you think a peer-to-peer lending site could help you get the debt consolidation loan you need, choose one and get started. As you have read, the application process is fairly simple and if you have less-than-great credit you might stand a better chance of getting a loan on one of the sites than from a conventional lender. Plus, there’s just something kind of cool about getting a loan this way – from a complete bunch of strangers.

Struggling With Student Loan Debt? Maybe You Should Move To New York

frustrated woman with credit card debtDoesn’t the term “loan forgiveness” have a nice ring to it? If you’re struggling under a huge pile of student loan debts than having them forgiven could be almost as good as having your sins forgiven. You have all that debt behind you and the rest of your life ahead of you. You could stop trying to live from paycheck to paycheck and actually start putting money aside for a new car, a wedding or even a house.

The lifelong effects of student debt

While you might think that getting those student loans repaid would be the end of things you’d be wrong. Student debts can have consequences that can drastically effect the rest of your life. For example, one recent study found that being in debt can cause you to choose a substantially higher-salary job and reduce the probability that you will choose a lower-paid “public interest” job. Why is this? It’s because if you have high student debts it’s most likely you’ll choose to work for a corporation in the private sector where you can earn high wages. If you have practically no student loans, you might be more willing to take a job involving public service such teaching or working for a nonprofit. Instead of being forced to put on a suit and tie and go to work every day, you might choose to move to one of the Third World countries and help fight hunger.

The same study found that high student debt can have a significantly negative effect on small business formation, which is sort of academic speak for people’s interest in becoming entrepreneurs. When you think about it, this just makes sense. If you go to work for a corporation you should have enough money to handle that student debt burden. But if you go out on your own, your income will be more volatile – at least to begin with. This can be harder to manage when you have student loans, which in turn can impact your credit rating.

Another consequence of student loan debt is that the average length that people are paying off these loans is up 80%. While it used to be the average length of repayment was 7.4 years it is now 13.4 years. If everything else is equal, a big increase in how long you will be repaying your student loans means that you’ll have to dedicate a bigger portion of your lifetime income to this. In turn, this can have a serious consequence on your ability to build wealth or just save for retirement.

Finally, another study found that every additional $10,000 in student loans decreases the probability of getting marriage by at least seven percentage points. Just think about this for a minute. If you added on $30,000 in student loans the odds of you getting married would drop by more than 20% or one in five.

So how does the state of New York come into the picture?

The state of New York is now offering some loan forgiveness programs on its own – separate from the ones offered by our federal government. If you are an attorney or an indigent legal services lawyer move to New York. You could earn an award designed to retain you if your are an experienced district attorney, an assistant district attorney or provide legal services to the indigent.

Licensed social workers can also earn an award if they have a minimum of one year of employment in a critical area of human services. Are you a nurse and could you teach? The state of New York has a nursing faculty loan forgiveness program the purpose of which is to attract more nursing faculty members and adjunct clinical faculty teachers in nursing.

What do you think about becoming a farmer? The New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program is meant to inspire college students to become farmers in the state of New York. It provides awards for loan forgiveness to anyone who obtains an undergraduate degree from a New York state university or college and agrees to farm in the state of New York for five years on a full-time basis.

If you’re not an attorney, a social worker, a nurse and have no interest in farming

In this case, you would be better off staying where you are and trying for federal student loan forgiveness. This comes in three flavors.

Public service loan forgiveness

First, there is Public Service Loan forgiveness. To qualify for this program you would need to have certain types of student loans and make 120 qualified, on-time payments on those loans while working in a public service job. This could be working for a federal, state or local government entity or agency or for a nonprofit certified as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS. Those 120 on-time payments mean, of course, 10 years but at the end of that all your remaining balances would be forgiven.

Teacher Loan ForgivenessTeacher

Second, if you’re qualified to teach certain subjects, you could get as much as $17,500 of your student loan debts forgiven. You would need to teach for five complete and consecutive academic years in a certain elementary or secondary school or in an educational service agency that serves low-income families. What this translates into is that if you currently owe $30,000 in student loan debts this could reduce your burden to $12,500, which should be much easier to handle.

Perkins Loan cancellation

Since Perkins loans come from the school you attended you will need to contact it to apply for this type of cancellation. In general, you can usually have a percentage of your loan cancelled for each year that you work in one of these jobs.

  • Member of the US armed services serving in an area of hostilities
  • Medical technician or nurse
  • Teacher
  • Volunteer in the Peace Corps or ACTION program (including Vista)
  • Head Start employee
  • Corrections or law enforcement officer
  • Family services or child worker
  • Professional supplier of early intervention services

Programs that could assist you

If you don’t qualify for one of these three programs, don’t give up. There are some federal programs that could assist you in repaying your debts in return for a service commitment. This includes the US Office of Personnel Management Student Loan Repayment Program, the National Health Service Corp. Loan Repayment Program and the Armed Forces Student Loan Repayment Program. Each of these programs offers different rewards. For example, the US Office of Personnel Management Student Loan Repayment Program offers up to $10,000 a year for loan repayment to a maximum of $60,000. The National Health Service Corp. Loan Repayment Program offers an initial reward of $30,000 or $50,000 and the Armed Forces Student Loan Repayment Program could mean up to $65,000 of your eligible loans would be repaid – depending on your branch of service.

Income-based repayment

You say you wouldn’t qualify for any of these programs? There is a class of federal loan repayment programs called Income-driven Repayment that could help ease your burden. Here’s a brief video, courtesy of National Debt Relief, that explains what it’s all about.

Good News For First-time Home Buyers

If you have that American dream of owning your own home or if you’re just tired of paying rent, there’s good news. Buying a home may not now cost you as much as it used to.

It’s all about FHA mortgage insuranceHouse and calculator and credit score

FHA mortgage insurance is to protect the government if you were to default on your loan. It’s about to be reduced from 1.35% of a loan’s value to 0.85%. What this translates into is if you were to purchase a home for $100,000, your FHA mortgage insurance would have cost you roughly $1350 while it will now cost you $850. However, on the average a first time homebuyer will save about $900 a year on his or her mortgage payments.

Shut out of home ownership

The FHA decided to make this change based on the fact that many families that are credit worthy and want to buy a home are shut out of home ownership because of today’s tight lending market. In making the announcement of this change, the White House said it estimates these new, lower premiums will allow as many as 250,000 new buyers to buy a home.

The department of unanticipated consequences

This could actually fall under the department of unanticipated consequences. As a result of the financial meltdown and the foreclosure crisis that followed it, the FHA increased its mortgage insurance premiums to shore up its finances. The unanticipated consequence of this is that it froze many potential buyers out of the market. However, the jobs picture is getting better, foreclosures have fallen to their lowest levels since the year 2006 and home values are on the rise. As a result, the FHA announced last March that it would not need another bailout given these improving financial conditions. The White House said that even after premiums are lowered, the reserves in its fund are projected to increase by $7 billion to $10 billion annually.

The people that need FHA loans

Why are FHA loans important? There are many people that can qualify for conventional mortgages or mortgages backed by what’s called magic (MGIC) money. However, low-income people and those that are high-risk borrowers due to the recent financial crisis find that FHA loans are an important lifeline. This is also due to the fact that private lenders have tightened their lending standards. So for many borrowers FHA-backed loans with their small down-payment requirements and easier credit score hurdles are the only ones available.

More good news

If you are a first-time or low-income homebuyer there’s even more good news. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently announced that they want to open up lending to more of these people. As a result they will begin backing mortgages requiring a down payment of as little as 3% of the home’s price. This represents a reduction of 2% from the 5% down that Freddy and Fannie are already requiring. Going back to the example of a $100,000 home, this means a qualified borrower would be required to put down only $3000 instead of $5000.

Strict criteria

However, to qualify for one of these 3% down loans you will have to meet some strict requirements. You will need to have a credit score of at least 620 and be able to provide complete documentation of your assets, income and job status. The agencies will also require you to take homeownership counseling – as another way to reduce their risk.

Fixed rate loans

These loans will be fixed rate for both programs and will be available to both first-time homebuyers and those that are seeking to refinance. Fannie Mae began offering 3% down loans effective December 13 while Freddie Mac will begin offering them as of March 23.

Young Couple Looking at BlueprintsWho will benefit?

This is aimed at expanding mortgage access to first-time home buyers that are typically younger people that have not yet had the time required to save a big lump sum for a down payment on their mortgages. As you can see, this is not exactly a radical departure from what FHA is doing now but should definitely help some people. Fannie’s and Freddie’s 3% loans should even have some advantages over the 3.5% down loans offered by the FHA. As an example of this, if you were to get an FHA loan you would have to pay for private mortgage insurance premiums for the entire term of your mortgage, which is typically 30 years. This would add an additional 1.35 points to your monthly payment. What this amounts to is that a loan with a 4% rate would become a 5.35% mortgage. That’s about another $80 a month extra for every hundred thousand dollars borrowed or $960 a year.

You could even cancel the mortgage insurance

If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, you can actually cancel your private mortgage insurance premiums once your mortgage balance drops below 80% of your home’s value. This can be either because you’ve made enough payments or because your home’s value has increased. As an example of this, if home prices increase 5% a year for three or four years, you should be able to cancel your insurance, which would save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Good news for those that are underwater

There’s also some good news for homeowners that owe more than their homes are worth. You might be able to use the government’s HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) program to refinance your mortgage and get your monthly payments lowered considerably. To be eligible for this program you must have a mortgage owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mae or Freddie Mac and it must have been sold to one of these entities on or before May 31, 2009. There are some other eligibility requirements that you would need to meet and you can learn about them by clicking on this link. But if you do qualify it’s likely you could see your monthly mortgage payments reduced by as much as $500. Plus, if there is absolutely no way you can continue homeownership, HARP offers a way to get out from under your mortgage and without having to go through foreclosure. Here, courtesy of National Debt Relief is a short video with more information about this program.

Debt Relief Options For Different Financial Situations

Debt Relief Options For Different Financial SituationsThere are many debt relief options to help you get out of your current financial crisis. Of course, it all begins with you understanding what got you in this situation in the first place. This will help keep you out of debt and also allow you to achieve debt freedom a lot faster.

Once you have identified that, you may want to take a look at your finances and the type of debts that you owe. There is no shortage of debt solutions. However, you need to know the right program that will suit your problems best. There is no one formula and to maximize your limited resources, you need to base your debt relief program on how much you can afford to pay your debts.

There is a specific solution depending on your financial situation. Each of our status is unique but we usually fall under one of three categories when it comes to our debts.

Before you find the category and debt solution that suits you best, take a look at your budget first. Identify your income and expenses (excluding debts) and get the difference. Whatever is left will be the disposable income that you can allot for your debt payments.

Debt relief options for people with money for minimum payments

The first financial situation is having enough disposable income to cover your minimum payments. The extreme scenario is having a little deficit on your monthly bills – but nothing significant. If this is your financial standing, you can afford to use a debt consolidation loan to solve your problems. The benefits of this includes the following:

  • Lower monthly payment

  • Possible lower interest rate

  • Longer payment period

  • Single monthly payment

  • Does not affect your credit score.

What you have to know, which is important too, is that this option will not reduce your principal balance. The lower monthly payment is possible because your current balance is stretched over a longer term. The lower interest rate is also responsible for this. But in terms of reducing what you owe, there will be none of that. You will still end up paying for everything that you owe. This means a steady and stable income is needed. You should also boost your savings so that you can meet your debt payments without a problem. This program takes 5 years or more to complete so you need to be sure that your income can keep up with such a long payment period.

There are two popular ways to consolidate your debts.

Debt consolidation loans. This option involves getting a low interest loan that you will get to help you pay for your multiple debts. Once the loan is approved, you can simply go to your creditors, pay them all completely and just concentrate on the single payment that is required from this one loan. To maximize this option, you need to make sure you will get a low interest – which means you either have a good credit score or a collateral.

Debt management. In case you do not have the ideal credit score or collateral, you can use debt management instead of getting a loan. This option allows you to work with a credit counselor who will help you come up with a debt management plan that will contain your proposed lower payment terms. The counselor will present this to the creditor. When approved, you will send a single monthly payment to the counselor who will take charge of distributing the funds to your different creditors.

With the latter, you need to be careful about your choice of company. Make sure you brush up on your knowledge of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to help you identify the legitimate companies from the not.

Best debt solution when you cannot make your minimum payments anymore

In case your financial situation cannot afford to meet your minimum payments, you obviously need a more drastic debt reduction plan. This is when debt settlement becomes the better option for debt relief. The whole idea of this program is to convince your creditor that you are in a financial crisis. You want them to allow you to pay only a portion of your debts and have the rest forgiven. This program will give you the following benefits:

  • Eliminate collection calls (if you work with a debt negotiator).

  • Reduce your current balance significantly.

  • Get you out of debt in 2-4 years.

  • Possible elimination of interest rate and other charges.

The catch here is that you need to default on your payments in order to convince your creditors that you are in a financial crisis. This would mean you have deal with a damaged credit score temporarily. Instead of paying your creditors, you will send your money in a secured account and grow it there until you and the creditor comes into an agreement.

While you can do this on your own, you will get a lot of benefits by getting a professional to work with you. The debt negotiator will bring their expertise into the whole process. You will also be left in peace because part of their service includes taking over communication calls. Just make sure that they are certified by authority training organizations like the IAPDA or International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.

Credit relief for people in severe financial conditions

In case your conditions are quite severe, your last resort option is to file for bankruptcy. This means your income is barely enough to pay for your basic necessities or you have very little income coming in (or none at all). Most financial advisers will tell you to exhaust other options first before opting for this one. This will have severe effects on your credit score and that will make it even more difficult to recover after getting debt freedom. Having bankruptcy on your credit report will make it hard for you to get financial assistance for a home or a business that you want to put up.

When you file your petition, the court will assign the type of bankruptcy that you qualify for. This involves the means test. If your income is lower than the state average, you can qualify for Chapter 7 wherein your assets will be liquidated and anything that does not get paid will be discharged. If your income is above the average, you qualify for Chapter 13. This means you will be subjected to a repayment plan. This type of bankruptcy is not so different from debt settlement.

The US Courts website hold a lot of information about bankruptcy that will help you understand the whole process. It is best to gather information first so you know your options very well. That will help you make smart choices about your debt solution.

Consult with a debt relief expert to discuss all your options

National Debt Relief, a BBB accredited business, has debt relief experts standing by during extended business hours to explain all your debt relief options and find a plan that is right for you and your specific financial situation. You get a free debt analysis with no obligation and no judgment. Click here to speak with a debt relief expert or call 888-703-4948 today.

50 Side Hustles Or Simple Things You Could Do On The Side To Pay Off Your Debts

If you’re awash in a sea of debt you must be pretty uncomfortable. The worst thing about debts is they just never go away. You could ignore a debt for six months and you might stop hearing from that particular lender but trust us. It will sell your debt to a third-party so it won’t have gone away. It will only have moved. And it will probably have moved to a debt collector. If you don’t already have debt collectors harassing you then get busy before the harassment starts. Debt collectors are like the cockroaches of life. They won’t stop making your life miserable until you settle the debt. If that particular debt collector gives up on you, which is seriously unlikely, that debt still won’t disappear. The collector will simply sell it to yet another collection agency and so on and so on.

The good news is that if you seriously want to get out of debt it’s not all that difficult. There is a bunch of “side hustles” or simple ways to make money on the side. Pick one or several of the 50 we’re about to share with you and you could be debt-free in practically no time at all.

Happy BusinessmanBe your own boss

You really don’t even have to work for someone, as there are there are easy businesses to start that you could run in your spare time. Some of these could even be fun as well as moneymakers.

#1: Get crafty

Craftsmen were dealt an awful blow by today’s mass production technology. But they’ve been coming back these days in a big way. Many people have become sick and tired of assembly-line stuff made in China. Thanks to the website you could set up shop and sell whatever it is that appeals to you and that your tools and skills can handle. We’ve seen people making simple things such as shaving brushes, lamps, personalized notebook covers and hundreds of other items – and making good money.

#2. Got a degree in English?

There’s a big market out there for people who can be proofreaders and editors. This is a great how to make money on the side because the only tool that’s required is your brain. You might be able to start working for friends or former classmates. But as you build your “creeds” you should be able to branch out and find work in Craigslist postings and independent/indie author’s forums.

#3. Personal chef or meal delivery

Got a knack for cooking? There was a time when only the rich could afford a personal chef but now more and more middle class people are jumping on the bandwagon. You could go into the home and make meals for them several times a week or prepare the meals in your house and then deliver them. One note of caution. If you want to fix meals in your own home and then deliver them, be aware that there may be laws that requirimg you to make the food in a kitchen that’s commercially-certified. And it can be costly to get that certification. You might be able to work around this if your city has a commercial kitchen where you could rent time.

#4. Pick up dog poop

This might sound like a nasty side hustle but it’s one of the easiest business to start. For that matter, some people actually do this full time. All dogs have to poop and there are people who don’t want to have to go over their yards every week looking for their dog’s droppings. Get as few as 10 customers a week at $30 a week and there’s a cool $300.

#5. Troubleshoot computersManager working diligently on the computer

If you’re one of those kind of, well, geeks that are not afraid to tear apart a computer to replace a motherboard or install a hard drive, this could be a way to pick up some real cash. Most people don’t know much about their computers except how to turn them on. Become a repair service for those people and you could earn $50 or more an hour by teaching them how to use their computers and then fixing them when they freeze up.

#6. Create blogs and websites

There’s hardly a business today that doesn’t need a website and maybe even a blog. Pick a couple dozen local businesses, go check out their websites and you’ll probably find most are dull, boring and static. You could not only help businesses by upgrading their sites but then charge extra to make those sites rank higher in the search engines to get the businesses new customers.

#7. Be a pet taxi service

There are many families these days where both the husband and wife work and maybe very long hours. They simply don’t have enough time to taxi their dogs or cats to the veterinarian or to get it groomed or get a medical check-up. You could be a pet taxi, pick up the animals and transport them to their appointments.

#8. Clean windows

Another way to be your own boss is to get a squeegee, some cleaning product and wash windows. This is another area where many people simply don’t want to have to face the task and are more than eager to let someone take it over for them.

car wash cartoon#9. Detail automobiles

Some people and I’m certainly not one of them prefer to detail their own cars. But there are plenty of people who will gladly pay you to take this task off their hands and make their vehicles shine like new.

#10. Create a blog

I’ll be honest and tell you it’s not easy to earn money with a blog but it is possible – if you don’t mind investing a lot of your time and sweat. But pick the right niche, generate a lot of good content, get a bunch of readers and you could make excellent money selling them products.

#11. Make music

Are you good on the keyboards or string instruments? A good side hustle would be performing at small business events and weddings. See, all that practice really didn’t go to waste.

#12. Teach music

You don’t have to be a performer to make money with music. You could become a music teacher. You could either give lessons in your home or go to people’s’ homes.

#13. Create family histories

There are numerous people who would love to know their family’s history but have neither the time nor the skills to do the work required. People sometimes even have software to do this but are still confused and don’t know how to use it. Your how to make money on the side could be to help them create their family trees.

#14. Sell you own t-shirts/posters/mugs

It seems like it was just a few minutes ago that to make your own T-shirts meant screen-printing them yourself. However, the cost to get started in this business is now practically zero what with all those sites that will print on demand and then ship your t-shirts or whatever for you. You could create designs and put them on everything from shirts to coffee mugs. These companies do everything for you including even the shipping. Of course, it’s up to you to do the graphic design. Be prepared for the fact that the printer will take a big cut leaving you with a much smaller net profit. But it’s a great way to get started in a new area to determine if there are people who would pay for your creations.

#15. Refurbish stuff

Do you like to refurbish your furniture? Then why not charge people to do theirs? You could even specialize in refurbishing certain items like furniture, clocks, phonographs or old-time radios.

#16. Make “artisan” jerky

Yes, you read that right. You could become a jerky maker. When women think of easiest business to start they almost inevitably think cupcakes. But we guys have jerky. There are a lot of independent makers of jerky and jerky artisans that have emerged in the past few years as an alternative to that low-quality, mass-produced jerky you find in grocery stores.

#17. Teachteacher a school

What could you teach? The list is almost endless. You could teach a foreign language, origami, drawing, or basic computer skills. All you would need is a place to hold your classes and some willing learners. If you have the right skills or expertise you could give a class through CE (continuing education) sites, libraries and rec centers. There is also the new site where it’s possible to host classes for students interested in your subject.

#18. Be a tutor

If you’re really proficient in math, language arts or the SAT test you could become a tutor as there is never a shortage of people willing to pay for this service. Finding these clients is fairly easy. Just call a few of your local public schools as many of them keep lists of available tutors to give the parents that need one for their children.

#19. Be a jack of-all-trades handyman

Do you live in an apartment complex Then you know there‘s that one guy that repairs all those small things that can go wrong. But people in homes have to call someone different to fix every different thing from the furnace to the dishwasher. One of the great side business ideas is to become a Jack-of-all trades handyman. You could actually try asking for a retainer where people pay you a fee monthly so they could call you whenever they needed you and for whatever reason just like in an apartment complex.

#20. Personal shopper

There are so many choices available today for just about every single item that finding the right one can be time-consuming and frustrating. Where could I find a sweater like this one? What’s the best computer for my needs? What’s the best-priced ticket for my flight later this month? Let your clients tell you what they need. You would then go to work sorting through all the available options and then present them the three best choices or, depending on their level of trust, make the purchase for them.

#21. Be a travel agent

Professional travel agents have sort of gone the way of the dodo bird leaving a wide-open niche for helping people find the best travel deals. You could even specialize by setting yourself up as that person who finds and books the best vacation packages.

cartoon cute girl shoot photo with camera#22. Shoot photographs

If you have a good DSLR, the requisite skills and experience you could set yourself up documenting people’s weddings, family moments and birthdays. You could also license the rights to your photos for commercial use as well as many other things. It’s easy to do this through Flickr.

#23. Become that dirty jobs guy

There’s just a ton of unpleasant stuff that people either don’t want to do or can’t do. If you’re not afraid to clean the cobwebs and old junk out of a basement or clean a shower that’s gotten so aeful looking that the owner is embarrassed to contact a maid service you could charge good money for this. Spend a few minutes thinking about all the gross things you could do. You’ll probably come up with a fairly lengthy list. Put up a listing on Craigslist and you might actually find yourself overwhelmed with work.

#24. Write content

Content has become the battle cry of almost all bloggers and website hosts as content is what attracts and keeps readers. You may not make a lot per 500-word article but if you can crank out a dozen or so a day it could be good money. Plus, traditional magazines also still pay top dollar for great stuff.

#25. Videography/video editorVideographer

Many people no longer want just photographs of their weddings. They want them professionally videotaped and edited. With more and more video being watched online the market for good videographers and editors is only going to keep going up. If you can make and edit short films, you could sell your service to people to “shoot” their wedding. Local businesses can also be clients. You might sell them on the idea of a brief video for or that the business could put on its webpage.

#26. Computer programmer

Practically everybody has that great, brilliant idea for a smart phone app that will make them a gazillion dollars. Fortunately for you very few of them have the skills necessary to create the app and reliable computer programmers are hard to find..

#27. Personal trainer/fitness expert

You would need to be certified to do this but once you get your creds you could help people with their workouts at their favorite health club. Or you could start what’s called a boot camp. There are people who need specialized workout programs to help them train for an event such as a triathlon. There are also people looking for good exercise without going to a gym. It seems to us that there is a really good market for people offering what you would call “off the wall” kinds of fitness programs.

mower#28. Landscaper and lawn care

One of the small business ideas for men is where you could make good money with just a mower, a pickup truck and an edging tool. Plus you could do it evenings and weekends. Our lawn care guy charges $30 a week. Get 10 customers and that’s $1200 a month.

#29. Do other people’s taxes

This is an easiest business to start because again all you need is your brain and the computer you already own. We know of people who do this for their friends and relatives and charge a just small percentage of their returns. If you were to charge $60 and do this for four people a week during tax season that would be $960 in a month. You could actually use TurboTax to do the work for you. This is just a perfect side hustle.

#30. Drop shipping on the Internet

Drop shipping is where you create a storefront on the Internet and sell products but then let the manufacturer or wholesaler fulfill the sale for you. This means you actually never touch the inventory. You won’t make as much money as if you were selling your own product because the wholesaler or manufacturer will take its cut. But the work is almost effortless and once you get rolling, it requires practically no more work on your part.

#31. Teach on Udemy

You could make an online course in just a few hours and then sell it on Udemy. We know of one guy who earned more than $10,000 in just a few months from an online course that took him less than seven hours to create

#32. Airbnb

Could you rent out your home while you’re away? This can be a great moneymaker. Alternately, if you have two bedrooms and your rent is $1000 a month you could rent out one of them at $70 a night. This could generate a profit of $1100 a month.

#33. Sell your services on Fiverr

If you can do something fast, whether it’s create a logo, make a jingle or do fan pages you could make good money selling your services on Fiverr. Of course, as you probably know you only make five dollars per “gig” but we’ve seen people making more than that by offering logical add-on services for another $20 or $30.Cooking girl holding cake

#34. Be a baker

Do you have a knack for baking cakes, cupcakes and the like? You could dominate your workplace. We know of one woman who loves to cook and started offering to make salads for her coworkers. She ended up turning this into almost a full-time business.

#35. Start a painting service

You might look down at painting services but the good ones charge $50-$70 a room. If you live in a college town you could paint student-housing complexes. Three rooms at $75 each means $225. Multiply that by 500 apartments and that’s a cool $112,500.

#36. Write and fine-tune cover letters and create resumes

Given the way hiring works these days people absolutely need great cover letters and resumes. But this is beyond the abilities of many people. Smart people will pay good money for great resumes and cover letters. You could charge more if you have to start from scratch but you could also make money just doing critical revisions.

#37. Be a mover

No, this isn’t like being a mover and shaker. If you live in a town where people seem to move around a lot, you could create a moving service with the help of one or two of your buddies. College towns are great for this because they generally have people moving around every several months.

#38. Pick up other people’s trash

People end up with a ton of junk in their homes because they don’t want to have to move it. Charge people to take the junk out of their homes and off their hands. If you don’t think this would be a good side hustle look at the money being earned by 1-800-got-junk.

#39. Be a tour guide

Do you come from another country or are you intimately familiar with a foreign country? You could start a small tour guide company for people who want to visit that country. We have one friend from Sweden who earns tons of money every summer tour guiding Americans through his nation.

cartoon bartender pouring cocktail#40. Tend bar

This is one where you probably would have to be certified and certification programs can cost $500 and up. However, some bars will actually teach you on the spot if they’re really desperate for help. The hourly pay here tends to be on the low side but where you really make the money is in tips. In addition, you get to meet a lot of people along the way, including people of the opposite sex (grin).

#41. Bike messenger

Do you own a bike and a backpack? That’s all you need to be a bike messenger. You would help companies (especially advertising and legal) that do business with each other and need to send original documents back and forth. Believe it or not even in this day and age of FedEx and UPS there is still the need for someone that can get an original document from a company to a customer in less than an hour.

#42. Plan events

Just because a person or a company wants to put on an event doesn’t mean they will know how to do it. There are banquets, anniversaries, baby showers, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries where people need help planning, coordinating and executing. If you enjoy doing this, there’ll always be events and you will always have business.

#43. Stage fundraisersbreast cancer design

Do you know of a nonprofit that wouldn’t like some extra money? We’ve personally never run into one. There are numerous websites that help nonprofits raise money online and then take a percentage of it. You could do the same if you can get to the right people in a room or put together a campaign or event that would help a nonprofit you believe in raise more money to do more good work.

#44. Do gardening

This is different than doing lawn work because you would actually be planting and caring for flowers and bushes. This is also a great repeat side hustle because once you create that garden and those flowerbeds you’ll have an ongoing job maintaining them.

#45. Assemble IKEA furniture

Can you read diagrams and are good with your hands? People buy furniture from IKEA, bring it home, open the carton and 100 pieces fall out. If you like building stuff you could put an ad on Craigslist offering to help people assemble IKEA stuff and other “shipped flat” items. All you really need is a wrench and a screwdriver.

#46. Life coaching

Are you that guy or gal your friends are constantly coming to for advice. Why not charge – other people – for the service. The reason why your friends and relatives come to you is because you’re a great listener and you appear to have everything together. People value this and will value you and your advice as a result of it.

#47. House sitting

People who are away from their homes for long periods of time often don’t like the idea of them sitting unoccupied. They might even have pets that need to be cared for while they are gone. Or they might live in a neighborhood that isn’t quite the safest. Whatever the reason might be, housesitting can be a great side hCleaning womanustle – especially if you’re a real homebody.

#48. Start a housekeeping service

While there are professional housekeeping services they can be pricey and pretty stringent about what they’re willing to do. You might be able to build a good side hustle business offering to do customized housecleaning where you do everything your customer requests and not just whatever can be done in four hours.

#49. Massage therapy

While you would need to be certified to do this it could be a great side job especially if you’re good with your hands. There are a lot of stressed-out people today and this stress tends to manifest itself in their backs, shoulders and other parts of their bodies. You could make a good deal of extra money by helping them work out those knots.

#50. Hairstyling

Did you grow up doing your sister’ hair? Did you develop a sort of a passion for it? Some people do and some people don’t. However, there is a ton of money in women’s hair care and design. Do a few friends a week and you could see your bank account fatten up considerably.

Everything You Need To Know To Deal With Nasty Debt Collectors

stressed old manWhat’s worse then being seriously in debt?

It’s being seriously in debt and having to deal with debt collectors.

The problem is that these people usually work on a commission basis and have a quota. If they want to get paid and keep their jobs they must collect money from you –by hook or by crook, which is an old English phrase that means by any means necessary. And trust us. Debt collectors will use any means necessary up to and including threatening to go to your employer or your relatives, to take you to court, to have you arrested or to sue you.

“I’m mad as hell”

If you’re one of the millions of Americans being harassed by debt collectors you may have reached the point where you’re like the character Howard Beale in the movie Network and are saying to yourself, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Well, you’re right. You don’t have to take being pressured by debt collectors anymore. You have rights and when you know what they are you can either stop any more phone calls or at least negotiate favorable settlements of your debts.

The first thing to do

First of all, a debt collector has to be able to prove the debt is actually yours. We live in a nation of more than 330 million people, many of whom have the save names and have done business with the same companies. Last I looked there were at least 30 other people just on Facebook with the same name as mine and isn’t John Smith, Bob Jones or Tom Brown.

So the next (or first) time a debt collector calls, make him prove the debt he’s trying to collect is yours. You can ask him for the name and address of the original creditor and the exact amount you owe. If the collector is unable to provide this information, he has five days to send you a written notice with the information you’ve requested. You could also dispute the debt by writing a letter to the collection agency asking that it verify the debt. This could mean requesting a copy of the statement showing your balance, a copy of the original credit agreement or any other information you deem pertinent. Once the collection agency receives your letter it has 30 days to respond during which time it is not allowed to contact you.

If the debt is really yours

If the debt collector is able to prove the debt is yours, you have a couple of choices. First, you could try to settle it for less than you owe. One thing the debt collection agency doesn’t want you to know is what it paid for the debt. In most cases the original creditor (think bank or credit card issuer) bundled up a bunch of debts it had written off and sold them to the collection agency for pennies on the dollar. If your original debt was for $500, the collection agency mighjt have paid five dollars or even less for it. This means there is room to negotiate. You could offer to settle the debt for, say, $50. The collector can then either accept your offer or make a counter offer. In either event the odds are that you’ll be able to settle the debt for much less than its face amount.

Make the collector stop calling youDebt collector hollering into mic

A second alternative is to make the collector stop calling you and then just wait to see what happens. Yes, you read that right. You can make the collector stop calling you. In fact, all you need to do is write and send his agency a cease and desist letter. You can find samples of this letter by clicking on this link. Be sure to send the letter certified and return receipt requested so that you can prove the collection agency actually received it.

If the collection agency does indicate that it received your letter (which it may not do) it can contact you just one more time to either acknowledge it won’t be contacting you again or to inform you what legal action it will take next such as suing you.

If you’re lucky

Once the collection agency has stopped contacting you, start holding your breath to see what it does next. If you’re lucky it will simply go away and you won’t hear from it again. If it’s a big debt you may not be so fortunate. The agency might sue you or sell your debt to yet another collection agency, which would then start harassing you.

Get an attorney

A third alternative is to hire an attorney to represent you. Of coarse, you wouldn’t want to do this unless it was a very large debt as you will have to pay the attorney somewhere between $100 and $500 an hour for his or her services. But once the debt collector knows you are being represented by an attorney, he will generally stop calling you and will contact your attorney instead. This means the debt collector must know your attorney’s name and contact information. If you do have an attorney and receive a call from a debt collector make sure you tell him that that you are being represented by an attorney and that he should start contacting him or her and not you.

Understand your rights

Assuming a worst-case scenario – that the collection agency continues to harass you over the debt – it’s important to know what it can’t do. This is covered in a law passed by Congress several years ago called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It sets out what a debt collector can and can’t do. The most important things it can’t do are …

  • Call you prior to 8:00 AM or beyond 9:00 PM unless you give the collector permission to do so
  • Contact your employer unless your debt is past-due child support
  • Call you where you work if he knows your employer doesn’t want you to be contacted there
  • Send you a postcard or envelope that clearly indicates it had been sent by a debt collector
  • Call your neighbors, friends or relatives about the debt in order to embarrass you into paying it
  • Use an envelope or post card that makes it appear that it came from a court or government agency
  • Call you frequently during a relatively short amount of time as this constitutes harassment and harassment is illegal under the FDCPA.
  • Force you to accept collect calls from the agency
  • Swear or insult you when you’re talking or threaten to ruin your reputation or have you jailed
  • Try to collect more than your debt unless the contract it has with the creditor allows this

What to do if the debt collector violates the FDCPA

If the debt collector does any of the things listed above, you could file a complaint with the Consumer Finances Protection Bureau either online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372). You can report any problems you’re having with a debt collector to your state’s attorney general. You might also be able to sue the debt collector in your state’s or federal court. If you are successful you could win up to $1000, which is not a huge amount but you would also win a lot of self-satisfaction in having beaten the collection agency.

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