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14 Signs That You’re Headed For Big Trouble With Debt

woman looking at billsUnless you’re one of that well-to-do one percent, chances are that you’ve gotten off track with your finances at least once in the past 5 to 10 years. You have good intentions to not let this happen again so it’s important that you can recognize the signs that you may be headed for a personal financial disaster. That way you could get back on track before it’s too late.

Here are 14 signs that you may be headed for trouble

1. Not paying your bills on time. One of the first signs that you may be headed for trouble is if you are unable to pay your bills on time. There are several reasons why this is important, not the least of which is the damage it does to your credit score. That little three-digit number rules your credit life in an inverse ratio. In other words, the lower your score the higher the interest rates you will be charged. For that matter, if your credit score falls below 580 you could even be forced to pay more for your auto insurance, your rent and even your utilities.

2. Struggling to just make the minimum payments. The minimum payments on your credit cards are just that – the minimum that you can pay to keep from being charged late fees. If you’re having a problem making just the minimum payments this is a sign that you are headed towards serious financial problems. Plus, it will take you much longer to get out of debt. As an example of this if you owed just $5000 at 19% interest and made only a minimum payment of $125 every month, it would take you roughly 273 months (nearly 23 years) to pay back the $5000 and would cost you $6,923.14 in interest.

3. Using credit cards to make payments. If you’re doing this, it’s the ultimate borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Don’t fool yourself. When you do this you’re just piling debt on top of debt. The one exception to this is if you were to transfer all of your balances to a 0% interest balance transfer card. This would give you a sort of timeout period of anywhere from 6 to 18 months. During this introductory period of time all of your monthly payments would go towards reducing your balance instead of paying interest. If you could heavy up on those payments you could actually be debt-free before your introductory period expired.

4.Taking cash advances. If you’re taking cash advances on a credit card this is not only a sign you’re having a serious problem with your finances but is probably costing you big money. This is because almost all credit card companies charge you a much higher interest rate on cash advances than on purchases. Next time you get a statement from one of your credit card providers check the interest you’re paying on purchases versus cash advances. The odds are that cash advances will have an interest rate that’s at least 10% higher than on purchases.

5. Being refused for credit. When you apply for any type of credit, the first thing the lender will do is check your credit score to see how much of a risk you represent. If you have a low credit score and a credit report filled with late or missed payments this tells the lender that you are a very poor risk When you’re turned down for credit it’s because the lender believes that you won’t be able to pay back the money. This is a very serious red flag.

6. Earning less than you spend. Have you ever sat down to compare your spending with your earnings? If you’re piling up debt it’s because you’re spending more than you earn. You can double-check this by calculating your debt-to earnings-ratio. The way you do this is by dividing your fixed monthly debts by your earnings. If you find you have a percentage of 40% or higher, you’re headed towards a financial cliff.

7. Reaching or going beyond your credit card limits. Thirty percent of your credit score is computed by taking the amount you owe and dividing it by your total credit limits. When you reach the limit on a credit card or exceed it, you may be denied more credit or other lines of credit. As an example of this if you had total credit card limits of $5000 and had charged up $2500 on them you would have a debt-to-credit ratio of 50%, which would be much too high. This, too, would have a very negative effect on your credit score.

8. Taking money out of your savings or retirement. When you take money out of your retirement account you lose the returns you would have earned had you left the money alone. And when you take money out of savings, you will have less available should you run into a financial emergency. Most financial counselors believe you should have the equivalent of at least three months of living expenses in a savings account to protect yourself against emergencies. When you drain down your savings account this puts you at risk for running into an emergency where your only option would be to add more debt onto your credit cards.

9. Continually paying late fees. If you find that you’re always paying late fees you are either not doing a good job of managing your money or you’re just lazy. When you’re late on just one payment your credit score could be reduced by as many as 50 points. This could drop you from having “good” credit to “bad” or even “poor” credit and prevent you from getting any new credit.

10. Juggling bills. This tactic may help you in the short run but not over time. When you start shuffling bills so that you can at least make the minimum payments on the “hottest” ones, all you’re doing is putting off the inevitable. This, too, will damage your credit score and end up costing you money.A pile of bills, checkbook, pen and calculator on the table to create budget

11. Counting on a windfall. Are you putting bills aside waiting for a big Christmas check from Aunt Jane, a bonus or a commission? This is like one of those storm-warning flags that alert sailors to bad weather. It’s a distress signal that financial problems lay ahead and that you’re about to run into a storm of debt.

12. Doing the old credit card hocus-pocus. These are the words often spoken by a magician when bringing about some sort of magic change. But there’s no magic change you can make with credit cards if you’re continually making late payments or worse yet, skipping some. The only “magic” that can help keep you from falling further into debt is to pay off your balances.

13. Fighting over finances. Couples that are not struggling with debt rarely have arguments over money. If you and your spouse or partner is constantly arguing over money, it’s because you’re having financial problems. A better solution than fighting over finances is to sit down, have a calm discussion about the problem and then make a plan for getting them under control.

14. Paying overdraft fees. You could be on the brink of financial disaster if you’re constantly paying fees for overdrawing your checking account. Whether you want to face it or not, this means that you just don’t have enough money to support your current lifestyle. You will rarely find pages will get you

If you see some of these warning signs

If you see only one of these warning signs, you’re probably not headed for a financial disaster in the next few months. However, if you see three or more of these danger signs it’s time to buckle down, get to work and make a plan for getting your finances under control – before you start hearing from debt collectors. Trust us when we tell you that debt collectors are in general not very nice people and if you fall into their clutches, they can make your life miserable.

How To Be A High Volume Credit Card User Yet Stay Out Of Debt

Credit cards superimposed ove moneyDo you put $10,000 or more on your credit cards each month? In theory, it should be really easy to manage that debt. All you have to do is pay off your entire balances on their due dates. I mean, what else do you need to know?

Unfortunately, the answer is that there is a lot more to know. Many people are simply not able to follow this system. In fact, Americans carry an average credit card balance of about $5000. It’s just not a good idea to carry a balance like this because your interest fees can quickly escalate the amount you owe. In addition, the monthly payments you would make on past spending may inhibit your ability to pay for your current expenses and save for the future. Fortunately, many high-volume credit card users have discovered how they can charge and pay off huge sums on their credit cards and always come out ahead. Here’s what they’re doing right.

1. Use software

Savvy credit card holders use technology to see where their money goes. If you don’t know exactly where it’s going and what it takes to run your household it becomes very easy to run up debt. There are numerous apps and software available to track your cash and credit flow to make sure you never overspend. Step number one towards financial well being is to know that you can pay off your credit card debt based on your regular usage and without it affecting your checking account balance or other areas of your financial life. If you want to be a successful high-volume credit card user, go online, check out personal-finance programs and find one you think will work best for you. We like Mint.com and You Need A Budget (YNAB) but some people prefer Quicken.

2. Earn when you charge

Ultra-sophisticated credit card users make money instead of paying interest by using credit cards rewards programs. The best of these offer straight up cash back. As an example of these, Target cards offer 5% cash back on purchases and an American Express card from Fidelity has a 2% cash back rewards program. The Fidelity card could be a good choice because for every $5000 you spend, Fidelity will deposit $75 into your investment account (if you have a Fidelity account). Many cards such as the Chase Freedom Card offer choices – you can either get rewards points or cash back. This card, like many others, also offers the opportunity to earn more cash back via quarterly promotions. For example, you might be able to earn double points by using the card at restaurants during a three-month period. If you play your cards right, you could maybe spend $20,000, get as much as $1000 back and then avoid any interest charges by moving your entire debt to one of those 0% interest balance transfer cards.

If you’d like to know more about the differences between cash back, points and airlines miles, here’s a brief video that answers this question.

 3. Be prepared for the inevitable

Expensive emergencies such as a broken-down car or an aging pet that requires surgery is what trips up most cardholders. These emergencies tend to feel like surprises because they exist outside ordinary spending. If you run into one of these and don’t have the cash in hand, it will have to go on a credit card –unless you’ve taken an extra step so that you are prepared for financial emergencies. What that extra step amounts to is setting aside money to pay for those inevitable emergencies. One good way to do this is to have a separate savings account with automatic deposits from your paychecks. While many financial experts say that you should have the equivalent of six months of living expenses put aside to cover emergencies, a more affordable alternative might be three months worth.

4. Have ongoing conversations about credit

Sitting down with your spouse or partner to discuss your credit situation is certainly not much fun and can lead to arguments. But savvy credit card users communicate with their partners or spouses continually to make sure they have his or her willing cooperation and participation. Don’t wait for problems to start but make credit discussions an everyday conversation, particularly if you and your spouse or partner have conjoined accounts. If you maintain a regular dialogue, you can avoid those “oops” of credit card life. For example, suppose you need a new $500 computer. That should be a joint decision as to whether you spend the money now and incur $500 in debt or save for several months so you can pay cash. The important thing is for the two of you to be able to agree as to how you are going to handle purchases such as this.

5. Commit to zero

A survey done recently revealed that 20% of Americans feel that it’s not only inevitable to carry over credit card debt but a responsible way to manage personal finances. If this is how you feel about credit, it’s time to change your viewpoint. The high-volume credit card users say that debt is not a fact of life and that the amiunt of your income is irrelevant. Pledge to borrow only what you know you’ll be able to pay back immediately and then follow through on it, no matter how painful it might be when the time comes to write a check. It really doesn’t matter how much you put on that credit card so long as you can pay it off in full and on time. If you buy only things that you know you can pay for at the end of the month, it tends to keep spending in check. This is made easy by the credit card companies that have their high interest rates and penalties. In fact, they make it seem absolutely foolish to not pay your bill in full or, worse yet, to miss a payment.

6. Pay early and oftenCheck

The vast majority of credit cards give you about a 30-day window to send in your payment. If you pay the entire balance owed you avoid any interest charges. Your statement(s) will have a due date and you need to make sure you know what it is. Savvy credit card holders actually pay as they go instead of waiting until the date their payments are due. For example, you could pay off your credit card balance every Friday and then start the next week fresh. In many cases if you pay often and in small portions, you’ll find this is easier than having to face one huge payment. Alternately, you could pay off your balance every paycheck, which is probably twice a month.

7. Lose the plastic

Most high-volume credit card users have streamlined their accounts to just a few cards. Multiple cards can lead to confusion. The more cards you have, the more likely it is that you will get into trouble. It’s probably better to have two or three accounts with large limits than a whole bunch of cards with smaller limits.

8. Respect your limits

It’s not important that your credit card issuer will let you charge up to $20,000. And what your friends are using their credit cards for is none of your business. The important thing is for you to know how much money you have and to not worry about what other people think. The people who most often get into trouble are those who buy things they can’t afford due to peer pressure. This means the critical number is not your credit limit but the amount you can afford to repay. The best solution is to focus on your budget and live below your means. Just about anybody can alter their lifestyle to do this and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do this as well.

Emergency Credit Cards? 6 Reasons Why It Is A Bad Idea

road signsNobody knows what the future brings and it is for that reason why we have to be very careful about preparing for it. Some people may think that you are being paranoid when in truth, you are just being cautious. It is also being practical because there are many disadvantages of being unprepared for an emergency. When we say unprepared, we are mostly talking about not being ready financially.

In most cases, an unexpected event comes with a financial need. Whether it is an accident, an illness or any other requirement in your personal or work life, it usually requires you to pay a certain amount to get over it. If you are not prepared, the chances of you being in debt is very high. Instead of solving the problem entirely, you have just immersed yourself into another financial emergency.

This is where most people turn to emergency credit cards. Their inability to pay for emergencies in cash made it alright for them to use credit cards. While it may seem logical to do so, you have to understand that it will actually do you more harm than good.

6 ways that using a credit card for emergencies is a bad financial choice

In an article written by Dave Ramsey in his website, daveramsey.com, he revealed an important truth about credit cards. He said that cash is better to use because you have an emotional attachment to it. That mean you will be more cautious in using it. When you use credit card, Dave Ramsey said that you are more likely to spend more because you do not feel the parting with your money. In fact, his article cited a McDonalds study that revealed how consumers usually spend 47% more when they use credit cards.

Even if you are using emergency credit cards, it will still work the same way. You will still experience a detachment when you pay for that emergency expense. But beyond that, here are 6 reasons why it is a really bad idea to use credit cards for emergencies.

  • A credit card is a loan. Do not think that just because your credit card is under your name, you are using your money. That is what makes people overspend through their credit. You have to understand that this is not an extension of your wallet. Every payment that uses your credit card is actually using the money of the creditor. You are just borrowing money. That means when the whole crisis or emergency situation is over, you have yet to deal with the payments of your credit card bills.

  • You can put yourself under so much debt. As mentioned in the Dave Ramsey article, credit will make you spend more. If you cannot pay for  your dues immediately, your credit card balance will incur finance charges. That will make your debt grow until you have paid it off completely.

  • You will not feel the need to look for alternatives to finance your situation. Since the credit card will make you feel like you have sufficient funds, you will not feel the need to look for alternatives to lower the cost you need to pay for. You have to understand that looking for better options should be a priority – regardless of how you intend on paying off the unexpected expense. You will not feel the need to approach charitable organization or similar companies that have programs to help you out.

  • Even emergency credit cards can be closed due to inactivity. You may be wondering why this is an issue. An emergency cannot be predicted. That means you can go for a long time not having an emergency. If that happens, you can have your credit card closed due to inactivity. These cards are usually automatically cancelled when there is no activity within 6 months. If you are not aware of this and something does happen, you may find yourself really unable to pay for that financial need – both card and cash.

  • Emergencies can strike one after the other and that can lead in accumulated debt. The opposite of the previous reason is you can have one emergency after the other. If that happens, the debt on your card can continue to accumulate even before you have the chance to pay for the previous debt. Do not let that happen by relying entirely on emergency credit cards. Your credit score may be seriously affected by this.

  • Your budget will be ruined. An emergency can ruin your budget because you have to input your credit cards payments into it. Depending on how much you credited to your card, you can spend months or even years paying off this expense. That will limit your budget even further.

The thing about paying off credit card debt is you will be wasting a portion of your money on interest rates. Credit.com revealed in an article about medical bill nightmares that the credit extended for medical emergencies usually start out with a low interest. The example was 9.9%. But that will rise after the introductory rate to as high as 24%. Imagine the money that you will be wasting if you use your card for emergencies. And we all know that most of the expensive unexpected expenses are our medical treatments.

The better alternative to using a credit card for the unexpected

Obviously, the better alternative to emergency credit cards is growing your reserve fund. You want to be prepared to pay for these unexpected expenses in cash. But unfortunately, only 38% of Americans have an emergency fund. That is according to the data compiled by Statisticbrain.com. That means 62% of Americans do not have savings to deal with emergency situations. They are more than likely to depend on credit cards to help them survive a crisis.

If you are part of the statistic that does not have a cash emergency fund, you need to work hard to build up one. There are many benefits to relying on a cash emergency fund and here are some of them.

  • After the financial crisis, you do not have to worry about any additional payment and you can move on immediately.

  • You will not waste money on the interest rate.

  • You will be living a stress free life because you know that you are prepared for any emergency.

  • When tragedy strikes, you can concentrate on how you can solve it because you have the funds to back up any plan or solution that you can come up with.

Given all of these points, you know that you have to start computing your emergency fund target so you can work on your financial security. Growing your reserve fund to replace your dependency on emergency credit cards is simple but it requires some form of sacrifice from you. Naturally, you have to ensure that there is something left over from your income so you can put it aside in your savings account. You can work longer hours to earn more or you can cut back on some of your usual expenses. Either way will help you grow your emergency fund the fastest.

When is it okay to pay for emergency situations with credit cards

While we strongly advise you to build up your rainy day fund, we are not saying that you completely shun emergency credit cards. If you can only be a smart credit card user, you can really make this work for you.

What we are proposing is for you to have both – emergency cash and credit cards. But instead of prioritizing the use of your card, you turn to your cash first. If the need is great and you require additional funds, you can look at your card already for help. Here are important reminders before you use your emergency credit cards.

  • It has to be used for a real emergency only. That dress that you need to buy for a friend’s wedding is not an emergency. These include the car breaking down, an illness that has to be spent on or the pipes breaking.

  • You have to completely pay it off in the shortest amount of time. That way, you minimize the money you waste on interest.

  • Look for other options before using it. As mentioned, there are other ways for you to finance an emergency – you just have to look really hard for these options.

Be wise with your credit card spending so that you will have less to worry about in your llife. Here is a video from National Debt Relief to give tips on how you can get credit card debt help in case you have accumulated this debt already.

Tips To Help Increase Your Credit Score Without Using A Credit Card

woman looking at documentsA lot of people are asking: will opening more credit cards improve my credit score? This is actually a good question. Some people are convinced that this is the only way that you can start building up your credit score.

Here’s the thing. Your credit score is dependent on your credit report. This report holds details about any debt that you have. So if you have not taken any debt yet, then what information can you place on your report? And here’s where it gets more complicated: you need a credit score to be able to take on any debt. Given all of these requirements, how can you hope to build up your credit score?

This is where credit cards are “supposedly” there to help out. However, this is something that people are hesitating. After all, credit card debt put a lot of people under some serious financial trouble. A lot of our youth witnessed how it made the life of their parents and grandparents difficult. They do not want to follow the same footsteps.

Different ways to build your credit ranking without needing a card

Well if you do not want to follow their credit card mistakes, then you don’t have to. You are probably thinking about the next question by now: how will you build up your credit score if you cannot get any type of debt?

Here’s an important truth that you need to know: there are options to get a loan without the need for a credit score. It is limited, but there are other options. Let us list them down for you.

  • Get a federal student loan. If you are young and you are still in school, you may want to start working on your credit score by taking on a student loan. The approval of this loan does not really depend on your credit score. These do not require a credit check. Of course, for it to help you improve your credit standing means you have to know how to deal with student loan debt. That basically means knowing how to pay it back properly. Try not to be late, pay as much as you can – these are the usual tips that you will get so your student loan can help you build up a high score.

  • Try to apply for an installment loan. Sometimes, retailers will allow you to purchase a product and pay for it in installment. The great thing about this option is you are expected to pay for it over a long period of time. That will help you build up your credit score without making the payment too much of a burden. The important thing that creditors and lenders are looking for in your score is how well you can be trusted to pay back what they will allow you to borrow. That is the core purpose of this financial measurement. If you do good in this loan, then you can expect to have a good credit score.

  • Loan money from a credit union. First and foremost, this will require you to be a member. Look for a credit union that you can qualify to join and open an account with them. They operate in the same way as a bank – but instead of being governed by a board of directors, it is managed by the members themselves (more specifically appointed members). When you are finally a member, you can opt to get a small loan to help you work on your credit report. Based on the September 2013 data released by the Credit Union National Association through their site CUNA.org, credit unions have loaned an amount worth $642 billion. They have an asset worth $1.06 trillion. This proves that they are capable of loaning you money. If they decline because you do not have any background on debt, you can opt to get a secured loan. That means your loan is backed by the money in your account. They should be able to give you approval then.

  • Look into peer to peer loans. These are companies that operate online and connect you to private individuals who are willing to lend you money. No bank or financial institution is involved here. Also known as social lending, this is a great option for you to get the loan that will help you build up your score. Since it operated online, the overhead costs will not be as high for the companies managing them. That means they are not compelled to get a high interest rate from you. Although they look into your credit score, it will not cost you a very high score.

  • Request existing companies to file on your credit report. If you have rent, utilities and even phone bills that are recurring every month, you can ask them to file a credit report on your behalf. They are allowed to do so but it will be more of a favor for you than out of obligation. That should help boost your credit score. At least, it will if you had never been late on your payments.

These are some of the options that you have. There are other choices but we do not really recommend them – or we haven’t heard about them yet.

If you really want to use a card to improve your credit report…

In case some of these are not appealing to you, that is alright. You can still use credit cards to help you arrive at the high credit score that you are aiming for. Just make sure you will not commit the biggest credit mistake that you can ever make – and that is to bury yourself in credit card debt.

Just remember that the actual credit card ownership is not how you will get a good score. It is your attitude towards it. You have to know how you will use these cards so you can be viewed as a creditworthy consumer. Here are some tips that we have for you to help ensure that being a cardholder will really benefit your credit report.

Pay your dues on time. The most important thing that you can do to help your credit score go up is to avoid late payments. According to the information provided in MyFICO.com, late payments can affect your score based on how recent, severe or frequent you do them. Basically, they are saying that a recent late payment can put more damage in your score than a frequent late payments in the past. So try not to be late if you really want to boost your score.

Budget every credit card use. To help you avoid late payments, one tip that we have for you is to include your credit card use in your budget plan. That means allocating an amount that you can afford. You have to plan how much you can charge on your card to avoid overusing it. Also, it will help you put aside the money that will allow you to pay for your full balance at the end of every month.

Know how to use your card properly. Lastly, you have to educate yourself on how you can use your credit card properly. That means you have to understand what the interest is and how it can affect the finance charges on your balance. You have to know how the finance charge, late payment fees and other charges can grow your debt significantly. Also, you have to understand how the grace period can keep you from credit card debt.

Understand that credit cards are quite harmless if you know how to use it properly. You can own it, use to have a high credit score and still end up with zero balance every month. It is not about the debt itself that will build up your credit score. It is how you pay for it.

How To Be A Smart Credit Card User

woman breaking a credit cardThere was a time when credit cards were treated with respect. For example, my parents had just one credit card and used it very carefully. They made only a few charges each month and were almost religious about paying off their balances on time every time.

Today, we tend to be more nonchalant about our use of credit cards. They’ve become so commonplace that many of us take them way too much for granted. As a result many Americans are having a problem with debt – due to those little pieces of plastic.

Protecting yourself from overspending

Fortunately, there are things we can do to protect ourselves from credit card abuse. It begins with making some rules about the way your use your credit cards to avoid that sinking feeling of loss when your credit card statements arrive and you see how your balances have swollen to the point where you begin to feel things have become hopeless.

10 tips for avoiding credit card  problems

Here are 10 tips that for smart credit card use than can help prevent this from happening.

1. Pay more than the minimum. If you pay only the minimum amounts due on your credit cards each month, you’re basically sentencing yourself to credit card hell. In fact, if you do this you might literally never get out of debt. One example of this is if you owed $10,000 and made just a minimum payment of $30 or $40 every month, it could take you as long as 18 years to become debt free. On the other hand, if you were to make more than the minimum required payment, you’d be out of debt in no time. As an example of how this works watch the following video to learn how one family paid off  $12,712.65 in credit card debt in just a year.

2. Pay off your cards. This may seem obvious but the best way to stay out of trouble with credit card debt is to pay off your cards. If you have a card with small balance, pay it off first, then go to work on your other cards. If you concentrate on knocking off your debts one at a time, you might be surprised at how quickly things get better.

3. Be smart about how you charge. Make sure you never run up a card to its limit. When you use a card sensibly, it will have a very positive effect on your credit. Conversely, if you run up your balance to the max, this will have a negative effect. The reason for this is that when a financial institution checks your credit one of the most important things it will look for is how much credit you have available vs. the amount you’ve used. This is called your debt-to-credit ratio and the lower it is, the better. So if you must have a balance on one of your cards, make sure you keep it low.

4. Don’t take cash advances. Cash advances come with much higher interest rates than when you use a credit card to make purchases. If you have an emergency and no other choice, it might be acceptable to take a cash advance but otherwise, stay away from them – especially those “checks” you probably get periodically from one or more of your credit card companies.

5. Always pay on time. No matter what else is going on in your life financially be sure to pay your credit card bills on time. Most financial experts say that just one late payment can drop your credit score by as many as 50 points. This could easily move you from having “good” credit to “poor” or even “bad” credit, which could cost your money because of the higher interest rates you will be charged.

6. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Go online periodically and check to see what other cards might be available with lower interest rates than the ones(s) you have now. If you find one with a better interest rate, call your current credit card provider and ask it to match that better rate. Smart consumers do this almost every month. And if your current credit card issuer won’t match the other card, transfer your balance to it.

7. Keep an eye on your account. If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the news recently you know that there was a credit card breech that affected more than 90 million Target customers. Now, more than ever, you need to keep an eye on what’s happening with your cards. Go online and check your balances regularly – at least once a week – to make sure all the purchases you see are yours If you spot any fraudulent activity, contact the credit card company immediately and alert them as to the problem.

8. Be careful about transferring your credit card information. Don’t send your credit card information via the Internet unless you’re positive the site is secure. There are phishers out there just waiting to steal your information. Never transfer a credit card number, your social security number or other important financial information to a site unless you’re positive it’s secure and trustworthy

9. Keep your credit card accounts open. When you pay off a credit card, don’t make the mistake of closing the account. This will lower your credit score because one of the five components used to calculate your score is “length of credit history.” If you were to close out an account you’ve had for a long time this would definitely ding your credit score. Plus, it would affect the total amount of credit you have available, which in turn would damage your debt-to-credit ratio.

10. Get your credit reports on a regular basis. There was a report issued by the Federal Trade Commission last year that one in five Americans have errors in their credit reports and that 5% have errors so serious, it could be damaging their credit scores. You can get your credit reports free once a year, either from the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, TansUnion and Equifax – or on the site www.annualcreditreport.com. The best way to get your reports is one at a time at three-month intervals. That way you would be able to monitor your reports yourself and avoid the expense of paying some company to do it.

What to look forSample credit report and key

When you review your reports, look for negative items such as late payments, defaults, accounts that have gone to collection and missed payments as these are what would damage your credit score the most. If you do find one or more of these items, make sure they aren’t errors. If you do find a mistake, you need to immediately write the credit bureaus and dispute it. You will need to have documentation supporting your claim. But if you do this the credit bureau is required by law to contact the financial institution that provided the information and ask that it be validated. If the institution that provided the information can’t validate it or fails to respond within 30 days, the credit-reporting bureau must, by law, delete the information from your credit file. As you might imagine, this could give your credit score a nice and immediate boost – maybe by as many as 50 or 100 points.

In summary

The net-net of credit card usage is actually pretty simple. Just use your credit cards wisely and with common sense. Don’t run up huge balances you can’t pay off at the end of the month, never take cash advances and keep an eye on your accounts. Do this and you will be able to take advantage of the convenience of having a credit card without the danger of a person or an originator of the will and of falling into credit card debt hell.

How To Pay Down Those Holiday Debts

Woman depressed over billsIf you’re like us you probably over did it a bit – or even more than a bit – on your holiday gift giving. We try to budget carefully but always forget that tip we need to give to our newspaper delivery guy, that cousin in Toledo that deserves a present or the cost of that holiday dinner at our favorite upscale restaurant we always treat ourselves to. Plus, we always manage to spend more on some of our family members than we had anticipated.

If you did something like this and those (ouch!) credit card bills have you worried, what could you do to pay off those holiday debts quickly? Here are some suggestions you might find helpful.

Write out a list

Sit down and make a list of all those holiday-related expenditures you paid for with a credit card. If you see you won’t be able to pay them all off at once, divide the list by credit cards and then prioritize them by their interest rates. If you pay off the cards with the highest interest rates first, you will save money on interest charges over the next few months. And you should find it easier to create a realistic pay-off plan when you know your total holiday debt load.

Use your annual or holiday bonus

If you received a nice check as an annual or holiday bonus, you might want to use it for a luxurious vacation or some other fancy purchase but resist the temptation. Put the money instead towards paying off your holiday debts – to improve your financial situation. Trust us. You’ll feel much better when you’ve paid off those credit card debts than if you’d spent a week at the beach – where the memories you made soon fade.

Stop using your credit cards

Stop using your credit cards while you’re tying to pay down your holiday debts. Take a break from using them until you get your finances under control even if those cards have points or great cash back rewards. The best way to stop using credit cards is to leave them at home when you go shopping – so you won’t be tempted to use them. If you have a problem doing this, you might give them to a friend or relative for safekeeping.

Sell unwanted items or gifts

Did you find yourself opening gifts from cousin Hank or great aunt Babs and thinking, “Wow! What am I ever going to do with this?” If you got gifts you don’t want make a list of them along with any items you have lying around the house you don’t need or use. Put the items on eBay or Craigslist and sell them. Be sure to do some research before listing them to make sure you price them fairly and realistically. Take some good quality photos and write strong, attention-getting headlines so you can sell those items as fast as possible. Heck, you might raise enough money in just a few days to pay off all your holiday debts.


man holding multiple credit cards

Sell gift cards you can’t use

There are online marketplaces such as Alula and Cardcash.com where you can sell unwanted gift cards. Alula has kiosks where you could turn in those cards and immediately get a voucher you could redeem right in that store. Plastic Jungle used to buy gift cards but now offers three non-cash options. You could use it to turn your gift cards into Best Buy rewards points, exchange them for a CVS gift card or swap them for United Airlines miles. If you choose to sell your gift cards, be sure to read the fine print so you will understand how much money you will actually get back after any transaction and selling fees. How much can you expect to make selling a gift card? You’ll probably get anywhere from 65% to 85% of the card’s value.

Transfer your balances

Could you qualify for one of those 0% interest balance transfer cards? If so, you might transfer all your credit card balances to it and enjoy from six to 18 months’ interest free. This means all your payments would go towards reducing your balance instead of being gobbled up by interest charges. If you heavy up on your payments during that interest-free period, you could have your entire balance paid off before it expires. Be aware that some cards charge a balance transfer fee. Check this out before you sign up for that new card to avoid an unpleasant surprise.

Make your payments weekly

Don’t wait until you get your monthly credit card statement and then make just the minimum payment. Make your payoff plan a top priority by doing weekly payments. This will both reduce your interest expenses and help you get back onto a solid financial footing, as it should strengthen your commitment to become debt free. However, don’t start doing this until you’ve contacted the credit card company (companies) to make sure it will accept weekly payments.

Adjust your spending habits for three or more months

You will probably need to make some changes in your budget and scale back your spending for a few months so you’ll have more cash available to pay off those holiday debts. For example, you might cancel your health club membership or some other subscriptions you no longer need. You could tighten up on your grocery budget by using coupons or by buying items in bulk. You might be able to cut your cable bill by downgrading the number of channels you receive or maybe you could drop cable and stream your entertainment from Hulu, Netflix or some similar source. Whatever you decide to do be sure to keep track of how much money you’re saving. Add up that amount at the end of the month and then calculate how much it reduced your debt load as this can help keep you staying with your plan.

Use these tips to help pay off even more holiday debtSmiling woman hugging sack of groceries

If you’re really interested in paying off those holiday debts, here are some suggestions you might find helpful.

  • Focus on buying items at the grocery store that are on sale or are generic brands. These usually have the same quality as brand name items but can cost 40% to 50% less.
  • Buy and sell clothes at a consignment store. You will not only make money this way, you can often find very high quality clothing for pennies on the dollar.
  • Skip soft drinks when you’re eating out and stick with water. Also, skip dessert. Getting coffee, soft drinks or a dessert will increase the cost of that meal by 20% to 30%.
  • Trade services with friends. For example, you might be able to trade out handyman services for haircutting, photography for babysitting or pet sitting for housekeeping.
  • Give baked goods, service IOUs or other homemade gifts in place of expensive presents.
  • Boxed cereals can be very expensive. Switch to eggs, oatmeal or fruit for a better and more nutritional bang.
  • Call your utility companies and switch to a budget plan so that your expenses will be more consistent and predictable each month.
  • Don’t host or attend any in-home parties where you would be pressured to purchase things.
  • Brew your coffee at home instead of buying it at one of those drive-through stores or at work.
  • When you cook dinner, make extra servings on purpose so that you will have leftovers for lunch or for dinner the next day.
  • Pack your lunch. You don’t have to do this several times a week but if you do it regularly, it will definitely save you money.
  • Check out books and videos from your local library. You may not find the most recent movies but you should be able to find classic movies including those wonderful children’s’ films.

Do You Need To Kick The Credit Habit?

woman thinkingAre you a credit junkie? Millions of Americans are. As an example of this in 2011 the average American household had credit card debt of $15,279. The median household secured debt was $91,000 and US families had an average mortgage debt of $149,456. Plus, in March 2012 the percent of households that had credit card balances was 39%. This means that nearly 40% of credit card holders were unable to pay their balances when due. Even more alarming there were 1.18 million non-business bankruptcies just in the year 2012.

You maybe a credit junkie if …

Do you have more than two or three credit cards and can pay only the minimum or less on them? Then you might be a credit junkie. You might also be a credit junkie if you have to juggle other bills in order to pay the minimums on your credit cards or if you charge items that you used to pay cash for such as food, gas, lunches, etc. You might be a credit junkie if you constantly incur late or over-the-limit fees on your credit cards and if you take out cash advances to pay other expenses or bills. Have you taken out one or more debt consolidation loans to pay off your credit card balances but then began charging on the credit cards again? Or have you used your bank’s overdraft protection when you’ve written checks that you can’t cover? Then you might definitely be a credit junkie.

Do you also make these mistakes?

If you’re a credit card junkie you might be compounding the problem by making these common mistakes.

First, do you not read your credit cards’ terms and conditions? In one recent survey 40% of the respondents said that they did not understand the terms, conditions and rewards programs of their credit cards. If you fail to understand your cards’ terms and conditions you’re bound to run into trouble – if not now then very soon.

Second, do you clearly understand your finance charges? In one survey JD Power found that a full 73% of those who responded did not comprehend the interest rates they were being charged. At the minimum you must at least know the rate you’re paying and the penalty rate if you don’t pay. Failing to understand this is a sure path to creating more debt.

Third, is misunderstanding the terms of an introductory offer. While it might be a good idea to shift your high-interest credit card balances to a 0% interest balance transfer card, it’s a mistake to not read the fine print. You will be charged interest once your introductory period expires and it could be as high as 18% or even 20%.

Fourth, do you get credit cards for the wrong reasons? Are you tempted to get a card because of its rewards program instead of choosing one that has a low interest rate? It’s important to understand that the credit card companies are not your best friends. Their objective is to extract as much money from you as possible. This puts the burden on you to not let that happen. And the best way to do this is by comparison shopping for your cards to make sure you will be getting the best interest rates.

How much debt is too much debt?hands chained while holding coins

Do you honestly know if you’re carrying too much debt? There is an easy way to find out. First add up all of your fixed monthly debts including all those credit card payments. Next, add up all of your monthly income. If you get money as gifts or receive bonuses or commissions, total them up, divide by 12 and add that number to your normal monthly income. Finally, divide your monthly income into your monthly debts. This is your debt-to-earnings ratio. For example, let’s suppose that your total monthly income is $5000 and your total monthly debts are $2500. You would have a debt-to-earnings ratio of 50%, which would be much too high. Most experts say your ratio should be no more than 30% and, of course, the lower the better.

How to break the credit habit

If you have now learned that you’re a credit junkie, you need to get to work and break that habit. First and foremost you need to stop using credit cards and begin paying cash for everything. One easy way to stop using your credit cards is to shred all of them but one and then lock it away or give it to a relative to hold. Or you could do as one woman did and freeze it in a container of water. Do this and you would have it available in the event of an emergency but it would not be so easy to access that you would be tempted to use it for some impulse purchase.

Another trick for breaking the credit card habit is to reward yourself for not using them. You could build a new habit via positive reinforcement. Every week that you don’t use a credit card you might reward yourself with some small indulgence like a latte at your favorite coffee shop or a visit to your neighborhood ice cream store. Just make sure you keep those indulgences cheap.

How about using old-fashioned self-control? You should be able to apply the same self-control you use to get to work on time every day to stop using credit cards.

Finally, you might try a little shock therapy by figuring out how much interest you’re paying a year. As an example of this, if you have a balance of $1000 on a credit card at 14%, it would take you 4 ½ years to pay it off, assuming your payments were $25 a month. At the end of those 4 ½ years you’ll have paid $347.55 in interest. Just ask yourself if there aren’t better ways you could use that $347.

Review your credit reportsCredit Report

If you truly want to kick the credit habit you need to get and review all of your credit reports to see exactly where you stand. You can get them free once a year either from the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – or on the site www.annualcreditreport.com. Once you get your reports you need to review them carefully to make sure they don’t contain any errors that could be damaging your credit. This can also help you understand why you’re having a problem with debt.

Don’t try to borrow your way out of debt

You can get your debts under control and ultimately paid off. The trick is to not borrow any more money because as the old proverb goes, you can’t borrow your way out of debt.

While you could be tempted to take out a debt consolidation loan and get all of those other creditors out of your life, it’s not a real solution. All you’re really doing is stretching out that debt over a longer period of time. For example, if you were to get a secured loan such as a homeowner equity line of credit or home equity loan, you’d probably be paying on it for anywhere from 10 to 30 years. You might be able to pay off an unsecured loan quicker than this but you’d likely end up with a higher monthly payment than the sum of the payments you’re currently making.

Another not so good option for getting your credit card debts under control would be to transfer all your credit card balances to a 0% interest balance transfer card. This could work but only if you are able to pay off your balance before the end of the introductory period. If not, you would still be in debt and probably at a very high interest rate.

Two healthier options

Two other ways to get debt under control are debt settlement and to snowball your debts. Both of these represent better options because neither requires you to borrow more money.

If you’re not familiar with debt settlement this is where you hire a company such as National Debt Relief to settle your debts for you and for much less than you actually owe. When you owe less you should be able to get out of debt much quicker and with a lower monthly payment. Snowballing your debts means ordering them from the one with the lowest balance down to the one with the highest. You focus all of your energy on paying off the debt with the lowest balance while continuing to make the minimum payments on your other debts. Once you get that first debt paid off you would have more money available to pay off the one with the second lowest balance and should be able to do it fairly quickly. You would then go to work on the debt with the third lowest balance and so on until you became debt-free.

If you’d like more information on using the debt snowball to pay off debt, watch this video.

How Three Federal Acts Help Protect You Finically

Federal EagleDid you know that banks, credit card companies and debt collectors have something in common? It’s that they are all regulated by the federal government. Some of these regulations have to do with your rights as a consumer. You need to understand these rights so that you can avoid being scammed or become the victim of greedy credit card companies.

It’s in the CARD(s)

The first federal law you should know about is the CARD (Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure) Act that was signed into law in May of 2009. The reason it was passed is because many credit card companies were engaged in activities that weren’t illegal but were definitely on the shady side. In fact, it was quite common for credit card issuers to raise their customers’ interest rates on their existing balances and often with little or no advance notice. You could have a credit card with a perfectly reasonable interest rate of 10% only to open your statement one month and find it had been hiked to 19%. If you were carrying a balance of, say, $10,000 that increase would cost you $156 more to pay of your debt in 12 months and $516 more to pay it off in 24 months.

High late fees

Another way the credit card companies were abusing cardholders was with very high fees for late payments and what are called “overlimit” fees or fees charged if you exceeded your credit card’s limit. For example, if you had a card with a $3000 limit and your balance grew to $3300, you could be slapped with a very high fee.

Confusing information

Prior to the CARD Act, some credit card companies had TOCs (terms and conditions) that were written in such a way that some consumers either could not understand them or actually misunderstood them. As a result many people signed up for credit cards and were then shocked when their statements began arriving complete with fees, charges and interest rates they hadn’t expected.

What CARD did

The CARD act was responsible for four important changes that helped consumers considerably.

First, it dramatically reduced the practice of increasing the interest rates of existing cardholders. Second, it substantially reduced the size of late fees being charged them. And, third, CARD forced the credit card issuers to rewrite their TOCs so their costs would be easier to understand – though some confusion still remains in this area.

Provisions about interest rates

The CARD Act also contains two provisions designed to reduce credit card interest rates. They are:

1. Credit card companies are generally barred from increasing the interest rate on existing balances unless and until you’ve missed two consecutive payments.

2. They are generally permitted to increase your interest rate on new purchases but must give you an advance notice of 45 days during which time you are allowed to cancel your account with no penalty.

What’s happened with late fees?

The CARD Act also protects you from unfair or excessive late charges. It does this two ways. First, your credit card bill must be due the same day each month and if your payment is received by 5:00 PM that day, it must be treated as timely. In other words, you are to be given at least 21 days to pay your bill before you can be charged a late fee. Second, any late fee you’re charged must be “reasonable,” which is usually defined as $25 the first time you’re late and $35 the second time you’re late within the following six months.

Its effect on overlimit fees

The CARD Act has also had a dramatic effect on overlimit fees as they have all but disappeared. This is because the credit card companies can no longer charge an overlimit fee unless you expressly opt in and permit the card issuer to process overlimit transactions. Plus, the credit card companies cannot charge more than one overlimit fee on any one billing statement. To put this another way, if you were to go overlimit three times in one billing period, you could be charged only for the first one.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Actcollector holding a past due document

The second act you should be familiar with is the FDCPA or Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that was passed by Congress in 2011. This is a particularly important act if you’re being harassed by a debt collection agency as it spells out what debt collectors can and cannot do and how you can stop any harassment.

For example, the FDCPA bans collectors from:

  • Contacting you before 8:00AM and after 9:00PM local time
  • Contacting you at your place of employment after the collector has been told that this is prohibited or unacceptable
  • Threatening arrest or some legal action that is either not permitted or not actually contemplated
  • Causing your phone to ring or engaging you in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with the intent to abuse you
  • Communicating with third parties to reveal or discuss your debts – other than your spouse or attorney
  • Failing to cease communicating with you after you had requested this
  • Misrepresenting your debt or using deceit to collect the debt such as the debt collector representing himself as an attorney or law enforcement officer
  • Publishing your name on a “bad debt list”
  • Seeking an unjustified amount of money, which would include demanding any amount of money not permitted under the applicable contract or as under applicable law
  • Reporting false information to the credit reporting bureaus or threatening to do this
  • Contact by media that would embarrass you such as mailing you a postcard or using an envelope that includes the debt collection agency’s name.

What else you should know about the FDCPA

There are other things that debt collectors cannot do. If you’re having a problem with one, you should go to the Wikipedia page on the FDCPA to learn all of your rights.

Stopping harassment

As you can see, debt collectors are prohibited from harassing you. Unfortunately, there are those who will hassle and threaten you regardless of the FDCPA. In this case, there are other things you can do. You could send a “cease and desist” letter to the debt collection agency notifying it to stop contacting you. If you go to this site, you will find a sample cease and desist letter you could send the collection agency. Most experts say that you should send it registered and return receipt requested so that you can prove you sent it and that the collection agency received it.

Once the collection agency receives your cease and desist letter it is allowed to contact you only once more – to either tell you that it won’t contact you again or to advise you as to what step it will take next such as filing suit.

If this doesn’t work

There are definitely some really bad apples in the debt collection business and no cease and desist letter will stop them from continuing to harass you. But there are things you can do beyond just sending a letter. For example, you could report the collection agency to your state’s attorney general’s office. You could also hire an attorney and file suit against the agency. If you are successful, you could collect up to $1000 in statutory damages, plus your attorneys’ fees and reimbursement for any other expenses you incurred as a result of the collection agency’s behavior. If you would like more information about suing a debt collection agency, go to this website.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act

The third of the three federal acts you should be familiar with is the Fair Credit Reporting Act
(FCRA). Among other things, it regulates how your credit information can be treated and requires the three credit bureaus to provide you with free copy of your report once a year. The FCRA also regulates how long negative information can stay in your credit report – typically seven years from the date of your delinquency with the exception of a bankruptcy that will stay in your reports for 10 years and tax liens that will remain there for seven years from the time you paid them.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly the FCRA provides a means for you to get erroneous information deleted from your credit reports. The short version of how this works is that if you find an item on one of your credit reports that you believe is an error, you can write the appropriate credit reporting bureau and dispute it. When you do this, the credit bureau must have the institution that provided the information verify it or it must remove the item from your report.

An Action Plan For Getting Out Of Debt

woman drowning in debtBeing in debt can feel a whole lot like being in jail as it can have an effect on almost every aspect of your life. You could wake up dreading every day or wishing that you had not committed the crime of creating so much debt. This can be bad if you’re single and even worse if you have a growing family. So what can you do to dig yourself out of that pit of debt? Here is an action plan that could help.

Shred those credit cards

If you’re over your head in debt, the first thing that you need to do is stop using those credit cards. In fact, you should shred all of them but one and you might freeze it in a tub of ice. It would then be available to cover a financial emergency but not so easy to access that you would be tempted to use it for some impulse purchase.

Do a personal financial inventory

If you can learn why it is that you got into debt, this can help you find the right ways to get out. Sit down and determine what you owe and how much you’re spending. This should help you determine where you could trim your spending in some areas to get the money that you need to repay your debts.

Talk with a financial counselor

If you meet with a financial counselor, he or she will assess your situation and give you advice that would help you get out of debt. He or she would even help you develop a budget if necessary so that you would have extra money to pay down your debts.

Call your creditors

If you believe you will have to skip some payments, call your creditors. Ask for more time. If you make that call before missing any payments, your lenders are likely to be willing to work with you.

Pay off the high interest debt first

If you have multiple credit cards, you need to work on paying off the one that has the highest interest rate first. Make a goal to pay a specific amount towards that credit card debt each month, while still making the minimum payments on your other cards or loans. When you get that high-interest debt paid off, you will then have extra money you can apply to the debt with the next highest interest rate. In time, you should be able to pay off all your debts and save a lot of money in interest charges.

Send in your payments early

Make sure you pay your credit card statements a few days before their due dates. In fact if possible, mail your payment at least a week before your bill is due. This is very important. Credit card companies generally post payments to your accounts by a certain time of day or on your due date. If your payment is not posted by then, they will charge a late fee. This means it’s important that you mail your credit card payments early so they will be posted on time. If you make a payment over the Internet or by phone, be sure to ask when it will be posted to your account. Late payments will not only cost you money, they will hurt your credit score. In fact, some experts believe that a late payment will lower your credit score by as many as 60 points.

Go to a consumer credit counseling agencycouple talking to a counselor

There is probably one of these agencies near where you live. If not, it’s easy to find one on the Internet. Just make sure that it’s a legitimate non-profit and that its fees are reasonable. When you go to one of these agencies or companies you will be assigned a counselor who will help you develop a budget and, if appropriate, a debt management plan. He or she will also work with your lenders to get any fees waived and your interest rates reduced. In most cases if you stick to your debt management plan, you should be debt-free in four or five years. Many credit unions, colleges and universities also offer these services so be sure to check this out.

How can you choose a good credit counseling service. This video offers a 7-step program that could help.

Avoid credit repair scams

It is just not possible to get out of debt quickly or repair a bad credit report. Be sure to avoid any debt settlement companies that require upfront fees or “voluntary contributions.” Be especially wary about any of those companies that say they can make your debts go away. Also make sure to stay away from any company that tells you to stop communicating with your creditors or that requires credit card information or other personal information before sending you information.

Think about bankruptcy only as a last resort

There are people who believe that when their debts become too difficult to manage that bankruptcy is their only option. However, there are actually several others. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, talk with a financial counselor or explore other options such as a debt consolidation loan or debt settlement. Bankruptcy should be absolutely your last resort as it will have long-term consequences and may not even provide you with 100% debt relief. For example, a chapter 7 bankruptcy won’t get rid of child support, alimony, student loan debts or debts obtained through fraud. It can also not do anything about secured debts – or debts where you were required to provide collateral – including mortgages and auto loans.

College Finances: Where To Get Money When You Need It

frustrated womanThere are a couple of debt problems that you will face in college but that does not mean you should let yourself be a part of the statistics. Students usually end up with two type of debts: student loans and credit cards. The first is used mostly for school related expenses while the other is for the daily expenses that the student will encounter. The former is necessary but the latter is usually curbed by students to keep debt levels low.

But no matter how much you plan or prepare for it, you will always find something that will deviate from your budget. These unexpected expenses are usually the reason why some students are forced to use their credit cards. The “emergency” expenses can sometimes pile up to become a significant debt that can spiral out of control. Students must take extra care when it comes to their college finances because it will set the pace for their financial life in the coming years.

Smart ways to earn money in college

Since the unexpected expenses cannot be avoided, you need to be prepared for it. While calling mom or dad will get you out of a tight spot, the fact that they are far away will mean you will not be able to get help immediately. Most will quickly resort to credit cards to pay for purchases.

However, if you want to keep your credit spending low, there are smart ways for you to boost your college finances so you can save the cash for these emergency needs. When it comes to earning more, we obviously mean getting a job.

There are various benefits to earn while in college and you will not only get more money to spend, you will also learn various habits that will prove to be useful when you  graduate. The job experience will be noticed by your future employers and carrying that responsibility will bring you bigger opportunities. College students and even new graduates can look for jobs through websites like CollegeRecruiter.com or CoolWorks.com. Try to browse for job openings that are not particular about work history and can partial to your flexible work schedule.

Here are other suggestions that will help you earn more for your college finances.

  • Join behavioral study projects and similar surveys/experiments. There are professors and students on campus who are probably looking for groups that they can study and you can volunteer if you qualify. This usually varies between schools and projects but you can earn a decent amount for these one time projects. Look at the community boards in your campus for these opportunities.

  • Focus groups. Corporations and even local businesses sometimes need the opinion of focus groups and you can see if you can join these. All you have to do is to get in touch with companies and register to be a part of their focus group. You get to try their new products or provide your honest opinion about certain campaigns that they want to release.

  • Use your skills. If you have a particular skill like playing a musical instrument or being academically advanced, you can use this to tutor others.

  • Sell your possessions. Even someone as young as students sometimes accumulate a lot of junk. If you have things that you are not using, sell them off. Or you can trade. That will lower the need for you  to spend.

These are only some of the things that you can do to help raise the funds for your emergency stash of cash.

Sources of money that you should never rely on while in school

While there are options that we highly recommend, there are also those that we strongly advise against. If you need fast cash, never opt for any of these options because you will only make things worse.

  • Payday loans. If you are using payday loans to just get by, then you are putting yourself through a debt cycle that you will find difficult to get out of. The high interest rates of these short term loans will never bring you any good. It will only bury you in debt and the high interest will be robbing a huge amount of money from your college finances.

  • Cash advance. Getting a cash advance on your credit card is also a bad idea because of the high interest rate that you will have to pay off. If regular purchases have a high rate, credit card cash advances will have higher rates than that.

  • Get rich quick programs. There are so many of this online and you have to be very careful about it when you come across these. If they are too good to be true, then they probably are. Be cautious of these and do not, under any circumstances, give out vital information about yourself. If you really want to get rich, you have to work hard for it.

  • Gambling. Surprisingly, some students resort to this when they are in need of big money. This is never a good idea and you will just lose the little amount of cash that you have. You may win a couple of times but it is usually not worth what you will end up losing in the long run.

You have to realize that the quick cash are usually the ones that are most destructive. You do not want to make your college finances rely on these unreliable sources of income.

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