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Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Credit Card Balance is Zero ? Now What Do I Do?

By William Blake

Once your cards are paid off, it can be tempting to start charging again. But that's the worst possible thing you could do. There is some disagreement as to the best course of action. Here are the things you could do, along with their pros and cons.

*Some financial advisors say that if you keep your credit card but don't use them they can boost your credit scores. That may be the case. But an empty credit card lying around the house may be quite tempting.

This could also backfire if an identity thief gets his hands on your card number, because you might not detect fraud until it's too late if you're not inspecting your bills as closely as you did when you used the cards.

*If you are disciplined you could use the card every now and then to keep it active and boost your credit scores. But the temptation would really be there to keep spending until you reach the limit. Then you are back in debt and that is the last place you want to be.

* Close all accounts except for the one with the lowest interest rate, and use it sparingly. This is a popular option. It allows you to have a card to use in case you really need it and to improve your credit rating, yet you don't have multiple cards tempting you.

Even one credit card can get you in trouble if you are not in control. So avoid increased credit limits that give you that extra rope you need to hang yourself.

*If you don't trust your ability to control your spending it is best to close all your credit card accounts and not have access to credit. This may seem a bit extreme but it is better than going back into debt.

The latter should be a last resort because credit cards are helpful in building good credit. They can help improve your financial situation by helping you obtain low interest rate loans when you need them.

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Making a Budget: The Basic Steps

By William Blake

If you want to start living a more frugal life, you will need to start the process by doing some important planning. The most important part of planning for your finances is making a solid budget. Regardless of how much you make, how you make it, and how much you have now, you can make a budget that will work for you. Consider the following steps that will help you take the first step to a thriftier lifestyle: making a budget.

1. Keep track of your spending. You need to know what your current spending habits are before you can adjust them by means of a budget. Bring a small notepad with you wherever you go and note how much you spend every time you make a purchase. That way you can track your spending.

2. List out your expenses. This will include monthly bills as well as the money spent that has been written down in your notepad. Organize the purchases you have made into categories and then total them up to see how much you have spent.

3. Write down how much money you make and how often you receive it, whether that be on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Then total up how much you earn.

4. Based off of the information you have gathered during the last month, make a budget. Once you have it written out, compare it to your total income and make any necessary adjustments so that your income is more than your budget is, either spending less or making more money.

5. Take some time to think about the budget you have planned. You might find some that some changes need to be made. For instance, if you tend to watch a very small amount of TV each week, you might decide that you don't need to pay for cable each month. If your closet seems overly full, plan to shop less.

6. Once you have cut out all possible expenses, look at your budgeted totals for earnings and spending. If you still wind up spending more than you earn, you might consider getting a better or second job. Your budget will not be able to help you save money if you plan to spend more than you earn.

7. Review your budget. Since our lives are in a constant state of flux, your budget will no doubt need to be adjusted from time to time. As your lifestyle gets progressively more frugal, you may notice more expenses that can be cut.

If you want to live a frugal life then it is important to understand your spending and learn to get it under control. Setting up a budget is a first step towards that prosperous way of life.

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The Debt Collectors

By Darren Cason

Anyone can be anxious when the debt collectors are constantly ringing up and sending threatening letters of demand. But rest assured that there is protection in a number of forms and ways that you can deal with the debt collectors that hassle you.

There is an Act that lays down the guidelines as to what a debt collector can and cannot do when they are trying to collect a debt. It is called the "Fair Debt Collection Practices" Act. This Act states, amongst other aspects, that the debt collectors are not allowed to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.; they cannot garnish wages in those states where it has been made illegal and they must cease the continual phone calls if you ask them to.

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There are several things you can do.

Don't take the call. Use an answering machine to screen calls. For those people who have caller ID or call blocking, you will be able to get rid of the call entirely.

If you do decide to take the call, it is entirely reasonable for you to request that they do not contact you further. If you send the agency a "cease and desist" letter, they are then legally prevented from contacting you. Any legal action can be expensive, so it is wise to try other ways first.

If the debt is in fact yours to pay, if you are able to, you should think about paying it. After all it is your responsibility and should be paid. If you are truly finding it difficult to pay, then perhaps you can negotiate a way of making regular, lower payments until the debt is paid in full.

Make the committment and stick to it and the annoying calls should stop. These debt collectors are real people just doing their job, even if some of them are less than pleasant about it and they will usually not bother you once you have an agreement with them.

Maintain a record of calls that have been made either by you or to you in a diary, together with any arrangements that have been made. Keep a record of when you have asked them to stop calling - this is most important if they have been calling you at your workplace. If it is legal in your state, you may consider taping the phone call, but keep in mind that often means that you have to tell the other person that you are recording them.

There are not many debt collectors that are brave enough (or unwise enough) to say things that may compromise them when they are aware they are being recorded. The record or diary will be helpful if you have negotiated a change in the payment regime.

The majority of debt collectors are able to agree to a lower payment, but because they usually get a commission based on the percentage of their collection, they will push you to pay as close to the whole amount as possible. However, they do understand that if you are able to pay 50% of $500, it is preferable to receiving 100% of nothing at all.

When you make an agreement, the debt collector should also make their own commitment that they will not put any further adverse comments on your credit report or credit rating. Ask them to report any increase on your credit score as well as the payments that you do make as soon as possible so you can adjust the amount owed accordingly.

Be sure that you obtain agreements in writing before you send any substantial amounts of money. A "good faith" payment is fine as it will show that you are sincere in your efforts to clear the debt, but if you send too much at one time, they will be less inclined to adhere to their side of the bargain.

There are three things that you should always retain when you are dealing with debt collection: patience, a realistic outlook and remaining calm when discussing matters financial. If you remember these, you will reduce the stress of the situation.

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Some Information on Picking and Comparing Credit Cards

By Louis Soul

As you probably already know, there are many credit cards out there. The one you choose however should reflect your lifestyle and your ideal spending amounts. If you are looking for the best possible deal and the best company for your credit card, you'll obviously need to look around at what you have to choose from and what works best for you.

With a credit card, you'll also need to think about the payments. You'll need to decide if you want to pay the balance in full each month, or only the required amount. When you select your credit card, you should look at the introductory rates, balance transfer rates, and other offers that may apply to new credit cards and new holders. Some will offer you truly amazing deals, especially if you have good credit.

One concern with choosing your credit card is the minimum payment amount. Most minimum payment balances will start around 3%, although some can be lower while others tend to be quite a bit higher. The interest free period is a concern as well, as you will obviously want to choose the longest period that you can keep the payments down.

You'll also need to think about the type of card that best fits your lifestyle. The credit card field is very competitive, meaning that you always have a lot of offers to choose from. Reward cards and becoming very popular, with more and more coming out all the time. If you look for your reward credit card on the Internet, you'll be able to compare hundreds and hundreds of offers - and decide which one is indeed the best for you.

If the sound of rewards with your credit card purchases sounds enticing, you should look into getting a reward credit card. These cards are great to have, as most include low APR with great reward incentives. They can save you money as well, which is great for those on a budget. With a reward credit card - no matter what you choose you'll come out a winner.

Comparing credit cards

Before you make your decision and choose a credit card, you should always compare what each company or bank has to offer you. If you get an offer in the mail for a credit card, you should go on the Internet and look into it more. You should also make sure that you read the fine print as well, to see if there are any type of hidden fees or other costs associated with that card. Many times, with offers in the mail, credit card companies or banks will try to sneak hidden fees and costs in there.

If you like to travel, you will probably want to choose either Visa or MasterCard, as they are accepted all over the world. American Express is the least accepted of the three, although the company is upgrading their networks every chance they get. Before too long, AMEX will be accepted virtually everywhere. Right now though, AMEX isn't accepted in all areas of the world.

All in all, there are a lot of credit cards to choose from. That final decision though, is entirely up to you. There are a lot of great companies and banks out there, although it's up to you to find the best credit card for your needs. You can choose to go with a company or bank that's local to you, or get online and look for your credit card. The Internet can be a great resource for credit cards, as long as you know what you want. If you know what you want before you go online - you'll save yourself a lot of time and money.

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Making a Budget: The Basic Steps

By William Blake

If you want to start living a more frugal life, you will need to start the process by doing some important planning. The most important part of planning for your finances is making a solid budget. Regardless of how much you make, how you make it, and how much you have now, you can make a budget that will work for you. Consider the following steps that will help you take the first step to a thriftier lifestyle: making a budget.

1. Write down your spending. You can't plan out how you will spend your money until you know how you are spending it at present. Carry around a small notebook for a month and write down every purchase you make. This will help you see how your money is disappearing.

2. List out your expenses. This will include monthly bills as well as the money spent that has been written down in your notepad. Organize the purchases you have made into categories and then total them up to see how much you have spent.

3. Write out all of your income and how it arrives (monthly, weekly, bi-weekly). Total up your income.

4. Write out your budget (based on the last month that you recorded). Compare that budget with your income. If you have more going out than coming in, then it's time to make some changes. You can either cut your expenses or you can make more money.

5. Take some time to think about the budget you have planned. You might find some that some changes need to be made. For instance, if you tend to watch a very small amount of TV each week, you might decide that you don't need to pay for cable each month. If your closet seems overly full, plan to shop less.

6. After you have cut all that you can cut, review your budget balances. If there is still a deficit, it's time to consider a second job (or a job change). The only way to balance a budget (and start saving money) is to bring in more than you spend.

7. Review your budget regularly. Your situation will continue to change and so should your budget. As you learn to live a frugal life, you may well find that items on your budget are no longer important to you and can be removed.

Having a keen understanding of your own spending habits will enable you to live frugally, successfully. Making a budget and sticking to it is an essential first step.

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Bad Credit Signature Loans: Are They a Good Fit For You?

By Mike Erickson

In such a strange financial situation as we face in the US right now, lenders and borrowers are interacting with each other much differently. It used to be unbelievably easy to stroll into any bank for short term loan store and end up with exactly the amount of borrowed money you expected to get. A great personality and a winning smile aren't going to get you approved as it seems they used to.

First of all, lots of lenders are going to want you to provide some kind of credit score or credit history. That may not be something you're in a position to offer them. You'll need to think about other ways you can impress them enough for them to give you the money you want and need.

At the same time, if you have horrible credit, or no credit history at all, there are certain kinds of loans you'll want to investigate. One of them is a bad credit signature loan. Although the terms and interest rates are not going to be ideal with these loans, they may be the path you have to take to accomplish your goal.

It may not seem fair for lenders to to choose whom they will give money to in a seemingly arbitrary way, but all they're trying to do is maximize profits right? If they lend money to anyone and everyone they'll be running in the red and soon be out of business. You wouldn't be any different - if you lent money to a person you'd fully expect to be repaid.

Nobody can run a thriving business under those circumstances, so if they're going to loan you the money they need to have a reasonable hope of seeing those funds come back to them. If you can prove your income - show that you have a steady paycheck which will give you the means to repay the debt - they're going to be happy to let you borrow a chunk of change. Show them you're a person who brings in consistent income, they're going to be a lot less nervous about lending you their money.

So, the question is how big do your paychecks need to be in order to inspire confidence in the money broker? You could say it depends on the size of the loan you're seeking. If you're after $300, they'll probably want you to be earning at least $900 per month. I don't see any reason it would be difficult to verify that level of income, especially if you can bring a few of your previous paychecks to the lender that will be all they need.

Once you've proven your income, the lender will feel much more confident giving you the money. If they still feel uneasy about letting you borrow cash, you may need to provide some kind of collateral. Some of your options for collateral would be expensive jewelry, a car title, or even your big screen television.

This collateral will be the final straw as far as the bank's willingness to write you a check. What else could they ask for other than a verifiable income and item which could be sold as a way of recovering the lost funds if you don't repay your loan. At the end of the day, if you borrow money a few times and repay it in a timely way, your credit will improve.

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Long term fixed rate mortgages are just one fundamental thought

By Rem

For many couples, whether first time buyers or not, the prime thought when looking at a fixed rate mortgage is the monthly payment cost. A large number of people these days have decided to wait and are purchasing homes later but they also wish to settle their mortgage earlier. Although before signing any documentation, there is a great deal to consider.

Over the course of the mortgage, it's essential to remember to make sure the interest rate doesn't change. It is always wise to avoid agreements that appear to too good to be true because they invariably are. The interest rate remains the same for long term fixed rate mortgages over the life of the mortgage. There are no hidden surprises which is great for many people that need a set monthly mortgage payment. Both my wife and I decided to explore fixed rate mortgages when we started looking at homes for sale. Although it was fundamental for us to pay off our loan as soon as we could, we didn't need high, unrealistic monthly payments which we would have a problem sustaining.

Looking at an even longer term mortgage was one option if we could not afford the monthly repayments on a 15 year plan. The problem was that we weren't very happy about having a mortgage still running close to when we both retired and hoped that a fifteen year fixed mortgage rate would still be accessible to us. There was obviously very good grounds to finish paying the mortgage off earlier if at all possible.

There were many things that factored into this; first of all, I learned that my wife was having a baby. Because my wife wanted to be at home for our child, her financial income would be uncertain and unreliable. Alas, a higher monthly payment is the downside of loans on a 15 year fixed mortgage rate plan. It was a case that we plainly didn't wish to get in too deep and cause troubles in the future.

Despite the trepidation of having a longer term loan, the 30 years fixed mortgage rate did reduce the monthly installments considerably. During the year, if we have some spare cash, we can make additional repayments which helps to lower the amount owed. Just by making a handful of additional repayments throughout a one year period you can knock years off of your mortgage period.

This is well worth the effort in the long term but it does require some discipline. Under other conditions, we would have preferred to have taken out a loan with a 15 year fixed mortgage rate but we had to consider our other commitments as well. Despite all our worries, things turned out well for us in the end and we don't regret our decision.

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How To Process Payday Loans In The UK

By Rashel Dan

Payday loans in the UK are much easier to come by than people think. In fact, it is so simple, that if one has access to the internet, the loans can be applied for and approved all in the comfort of ones home.

Today, you can find many companies that offer such service online and offline. Although it may seem like an unconventional way of getting financial help, it is one that many people have found to be quite helpful.

The Need

It's a fact of life. There are sometime when you really need payday loans in the UK to pay off bills that came in too early, or utilities that you need to pay off because you forgot all about them. A payday loan is the solution for problems like these, and as long as you have a stable job with a steady income, chances are that you are eligible to get a payday loan.

What Is It?

What is a payday loan? It is basically a short-term loan that is given to you by a loaning institution such as the bank. You can then use this money to pay off whatever it is that you need to. But you have to pay back the loan in about two weeks and it's easy if you have a steady paycheck because that can automatically pay it off for you with the right arrangements.

Why Use One?

One of the things that make a payday loan in UK more advantageous than any other kind of loan is that you get the money sooner compared to other loans. The transaction is quick and the processing can be confidential.

The next good thing about it is that the amount that you need can be deposited into your account the second that it is approved. The approval is actually instant once a lending institution sees just how qualified you are. Online, the process is even quicker and more convenient because you don't need to line up to apply and you can take your time filling out all the forms and fulfilling all the requirements.

Payday loans are fast becoming popular in an age where nothing seems free. Everything from products to services carries some kind of bill that you need to pay at regular intervals. This is where payday loans can become very useful especially when you are a little short on cash when you need it most. Try a payday loan in the UK today and see what all the fuss is about.

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