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Top 5 Debt Consolidation Loan Companies The specifics of your debt consolidation loan will depend on your creditworthiness at the time of your application. With that said, the following companies offer some of the best…
The post Debt Consolidation Loans for Bad Credit – Our Top 5 Picks appeared first on Crediful.
Everyone wants to have more money, less debt, and greater financial freedom, but very few will attain it. Simply telling yourself that youâll earn more cash and clear more debts isnât enough to realize those goals, but writing those tasks down, setting realistic targets, and steadily working towards them can significantly increase your chances.Â
Nothing is guaranteed, but someone with clearly defined financial goals has more chances of attaining financial freedom than someone without.
Types of Personal Financial Goals
Financial goals come in many forms, but they all revolve around money and acquiring as much of it as possible. Some of the most common short and long-term goals include:
Establish a Budget
The first step to fixing your finances is to create a budget. Itâs a short-term goal and itâs also one of the simplest, but that doesnât make it any less important. Many Americans underestimate how much they spend and overestimate how much they earn, making a budget essential for adding a little clarity.
Clear Credit Card Debt
Americans have an average of $38,000 worth of debt excluding mortgages. A small percentage of this is allocated to credit card debt, but it often carries the highest interest rate and has the worst terms. Clearing this debt is an honorable and sensible goal for anyone with mounting debts.
Save Money for a Big Purchase
The average American family under the age of 35 has between $2,500 and $4,000 in savings. Thatâs barely enough to cover a used car, let alone a mortgage down payment or college education, which is what most families are saving towards.
Save for Retirement
This is the ultimate long-term financial goal. Saving for your retirement will give you something to look forward to and make life easier as you enter your old age. Many retired Americans regret not saving more money, with some experts recommending that you have at least $1 million tucked away to cover you for an average of 18 years.
Thatâs a lot of money, but it comes from a lifetime of saving and means you can enjoy plenty of cruises and vacations when you call time on your career.
Fix your Credit Score
Next to your Social Security Number, your credit score is one of the most important numbers you have and one you need to pay close attention to. Build a good score and a world of opportunities will open for you, making it easier to get low-interest loans and secure high credit limits.
Create an Emergency Fund
You can never underestimate the benefits of an emergency fund. Itâs essentially a savings account without an end goal and itâs used to cover you in the event that youâre hit with an unexpected bill or expense. It will also help if you lose your job or become ill.
Improve your Financial Situation
This incorporates many of the goals discussed above, one can be both a short-term financial goal and a long-term one. The most common goal is simply to have more money for an easier life or an early retirement, but there are also those who save so they can move abroad, start a dream business or simply become a millionaire.
These goals are a little harder to achieve than simply clearing debt or have some extra money in your pocket, but theyâre not unreasonable. If you have a detailed plan and work hard to realize it, thereâs no reason why those lofty long-term financial goals canât be realized.
Why Should You Set Personal Financial Goals?
Goals give you direction and purpose. They provide a detailed outline of what you need to do, what you have achieved thus far, and what remains. This adds a sense of accountability that simply wouldnât exist without those goals.
If you simply tell yourself that youâre going to do something, youâre more prone to procrastinating and moving the goalposts whenever it suits you. If you write all your goals down and separate them into clear and manageable chunks, thereâs no room for denial or deviation.
Think of it as a visit to the grocery store. If you have a list, you buy what you need, donât forget anything, and are more inclined to focus on the purchases that are within budget and will actually be eaten and enjoyed. If you visit without a list, youâll end up with a bunch of unnecessary foods you bought just because they were on offer and will forget all the things you went there to buy.
Our minds need direction, purpose. When the road is long, itâs easier to traverse if there are milestones, checkpoints, and clearly defined borders; without all that, itâs just a chaotic mess and youâll never make it to the end.
Short vs Long-Term Goals
A short-term goal spans days, weeks or months; a long-term goal stretches things out over several years and even a decade. Itâs important to have both, but short-term goals should have priority as long-term ones can get lost and forgotten about.
As an example, letâs suppose that your goal is to save a lot of money for your retirement. A long-term goal would be as simple as:
- Save $500,000 before retirement
This doesnât really help. However, if you break it down into multiple short-term goals you can focus on each of these in turn, ticking them off as you go and motivating you to keep going. As an example:
Increase Debt-to-Income Ratio
- Cancel unused subscriptions
- Sell unwanted items
- Ask for a pay rise
- Get a part-time job
- Clear credit card 1
- Clear credit card 2
- Repay student loans
- Repay personal loan
- Open a savings account
- Save $500 a month
- Make a sound investment
You can break these debts down even further and focus on making extra cash every single day. If thatâs what gets you up in the morning and pushes you towards your long-term goal, thatâs what you need to do.
How to Track Your Progress
As the saying goes, there is an app for everything and where financial goals are concerned there are actually multiple tools and apps to help you out:
- Mint: Track activity in real-time after connecting bank accounts and credit cards. Monitor spending, create budgets, and learn how to manage your money. Mint is one of the highest-rated budgeting and financial management apps on the market and is well-deserving of the praise it has received over the years.
- Wally: A great little budgeting tool that can keep track of your savings goals and tell you when certain bills are due. Itâs free and if your goal is to save and cover your debts, it does everything you need.
- Every Dollar: A simple but useful app designed to help you escape debt and manage your finances more effectively. It literally lets you see where âevery dollarâ is being spent.
- Clarity Money: A useful app to help you manage your subscriptions. The average consumer has dozens of subscriptions and itâs easy to lose track, but Clarity Money keeps everything in one place.
- Spendee: Manage family finances with this shared budgeting app. Itâs ideal if youâre saving along with a partner or want to keep track of what everyone in your household is spending.
How to Meet Your Financial Goals
Whateverâs on your to-do list, just set a goal and start working towards it. Take a look at these tips to help you:
Debt is crippling and the less you repay, the more damaging it becomes. Credit card debt, student loans, medical debt; it creeps into your life, it grows, and it never seems to go away. Before you focus on your savings and build towards a brighter future, you need to focus on clearing those debts.
Debt relief methods can help you with this, including consolidation, debt management, and debt settlement. In the first instance, however, you should try debt payoff strategies like Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche, both of which rely on you generating extra money to meet more than your minimum.
Every time you meet the minimum payment on your debt, youâre paying a lot of interest and a little principal. The interest compounds, the debt grows, and if you keep sticking with just the minimum payments it will take forever to repay. When you repay more than the minimum, however, youâll clear more of the principal, reducing the compounding interest, amount, and term.
It doesnât matter how substantial your net worth is, how much money you have in the bank and what sort of long-term financial goals you have, it always helps to have an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is a sum of money put aside for a rainy day. Unlike a savings account, which might be used for retirement, a vacation or college tuition, an emergency fund has no predetermined purpose and is designed just to sit, grow, and wait for a rainy day.
An emergency fund can help you if you lose your job or have a medical crisis. We live in times of uncertainty and exist under one of the costliest healthcare systems in the world. A short stay in a hospital can bankrupt you if youâre not insured and even if you are, there are still costs to consider.
Budget to save and invest but keep some money aside to build an emergency fund and make sure youâre prepared.
Successful savings goals are built on careful planning and sacrifices. If you want a new home, you need to say no to luxury purchases, eating out, vacations, and other expenditures.Â
The average American family wastes about $1,500 a year on uneaten groceries, $3,000 on restaurants and takeout, up to $500 on gambling, and thousands more on vacations, smoking, unused subscriptions, and more.
You donât need to eliminate these expenditures entirely, just look for cheaper and more sustainable alternatives. Save on wasted groceries and dining out by going for a picnic; swap an expensive vacation abroad for a family fun staycation.Â
Once you eliminate these expenses, you can start saving towards whatever goal you have, be it a retirement fund, a car or the down payment on a house.
Achieving a Huge Net Worth
Itâs okay to scoff at this one as it does seem a little far-fetched. However, itâs a dream that countless Americans have and one that is very attainable. Of course, itâs easier if you have a talent or youâre young enough to develop one, but providing you have a good work ethic, donât spend your days procrastinating, and have the right mindset, you can build a sizeable net worth.Â
Itâs about making smart financial decisions, acquiring lots of knowledge, adopting careful investment strategies, and working endlessly. Here are some tips to help you accomplish this lofty goal:
Donât Spend Frivolously
The world of the rich and famous is awash with stories of people who adopt unbelievably frugal lifestyles despite having millions or billions in the bank. There are stories of Warren Buffet going to great lengths to use coupons to buy fast food, even though heâs one of the richest men in the world.
This kind of frugality is a little extreme, but it comes from the right place. Rappers, rock stars and sports stars like to throw money around when they have it, but theyâre the ones declaring bankruptcy and being arrested for tax debts when their careers enter a slump. Thatâs not a sustainable lifestyle for anyone, even the super-rich.
Learn how to manage money properly and accumulate as much as you can. Donât scoff at the end of saving a few dollars just because you have a few hundred; donât throw away a few hundred just because you have a few thousand.Â
Adopting this frugality will hasten your journey to becoming a millionaire. It will also allow you to manage your money effectively when you eventually make it, preventing you from being one of many sob stories of people who came into lots of money and then blew it.
Treat Life Like a Business
To become rich and successful in a way that doesnât rely on good fortune, you need to treat your life like a business. A business, for instance, is very wary of accumulating expenses and will instead try to invest additional cash into assets. These assets increase the value of the business, whereas expenses reduce it.
As an example, letâs assume that youâre 18 and have a talent for writing. A good investment would be an education in literature or creative writing, a laptop, a writing course, even a home office. An expense, however, would be a holiday, a flashy watch or lots of designer clothes. None of these things will grow your wealth and most will hinder it.
Take a look at our guide on good debt vs bad debt to learn more.
Read, Learn, Fail
Read as many books as you can on your chosen subject and on similar subjects. Youâll learn about the world, the English language, and more. All these will help to improve your reasoning, logic, and knowledge, which will help with your goals.
Learn New Skills
Knowledge doesnât just come from books and it shouldnât be limited to specific subjects. If you want to be rich and successful, you need to devote every minute of your spare time to working, learning, and acquiring new skills.Â
Learn a language, adopt a craft, research into a niche subjectâall these things can broaden your horizons and increase your earning potential.
Find a Specialty and Stick with It
While itâs good to read many different subjects and learn many different things, when it comes to actually making money, you need to stick with a single subject. The world is filled with wannabee millionaires who spend their days writing music, books, and screenplays, and their nights trying to juggle freelance careers and businesses.
Specialize in one thing, be the best you can be, and once you have the money and the success you can start venturing into other areas.
Stop Making Excuses
Generally, people who dream of becoming rich and successful will fall into one of two categories. In the first, there are those who spend their days dreaming, partying, and procrastinating. They assume that being rich is simply a case of having a great idea and then waiting for the riches to descend. In the other group, youâll find people who work every minute of the day and are always willing to take risks and make sacrifices.
If you want to accomplish great things, you need to work for it. Donât assume that all the rich and successful people you see on social media have it easy. If theyâre not working every minute of every day, thereâs a good chance they worked that much to get where they are.
Set Financial Goals for Yourself is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Dealing with a bill collector is never fun and it can be particularly stressful when youâre sitting on a mountain of debt. Sometimes debt collectors fail to follow the rules outlined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If thatâs the issue youâre facing, it might be a good idea to file a complaint. But if youâre personally making any of these mistakes, your debt problem could go from bad to worse.
Check out our credit card calculator.
1. Ignoring Debt Collectors
Screening calls and avoiding bill collectors wonât help you get your debt under control. Debts generally have a statute of limitations that varies depending on the state you live in. Once it expires, the collector might not be able to sue you anymore. But you could still be responsible for paying back what you owe in addition to any interest that has accumulated.
In addition to the potential legal consequences of unpaid bills, letting old debt pile up can destroy your credit score. Unpaid debts can remain on a credit report for as many as seven years. So if your debt collector is getting on your last nerves, it might be best to stop hiding and face him head on.
2. Saying Too Much Over the Phone
If you decide to stop dodging your bill collectors, itâs important to avoid sharing certain details over the phone. You never want to say that youâll pay a specific amount of money by a deadline or give someone access to your bank accounts. Anything you say can be used against you and agreeing to make a payment can actually extend a statute of limitations that has already run out.
A debt collectorâs No. 1 goal is to collect their missing funds. They canât curse at you or make empty threats, but they can say other things to try and scare you into paying up. Staying calm, keeping the call short and keeping your comments to a minimum are the best ways to deal with persistent bill collectors.
Related Article: Dealing With Debt Collectors? Know Your Rights
3. Failing to Verify That the Debt Is Yours
When youâre talking to a bill collector, itâs also wise to avoid accepting their claims without making sure theyâre legitimate. Debt collection scams are common. So before you send over a single dime, youâll need to confirm that the debt belongs to you and not someone else.
Reviewing your credit report is a great place to start. If you havenât received any written documentation from the collection agency, itâs a good idea to request that they mail you a letter stating that you owe them a specific amount of money.
If you need to dispute an error you found on your credit report, you have 30 days from the date that you received formal documentation from the collection agency to notify them (in writing) that a mistake was made. Youâll also need to reach out to each of the credit reporting agencies to get the error removed. Theyâll expect you to mail them paperwork as proof of your claim.
4. Failing to Negotiate the Payments
No matter how big your debts, thereâs usually room for negotiation when it comes to making payments. If the payment plan your bill collector offers doesnât work for you, itâs okay to throw out a number youâre more comfortable with.
Sometimes, itâs possible to get away with paying less than what you owe. Instead of agreeing to pay back everything, you can suggest that youâre willing to pay back a percentage of the debt and see what happens. A non-profit credit counselor can help you come up with a debt management plan if you need assistance. Whatever you agree to, keep in mind that the deal needs to be put in writing.
Related Article: All About the Statute of Limitations on Debt
5. Failing to Keep Proper Documentation
Whenever you communicate with a bill collector, itâs a good idea to take notes. Jotting down details about when you spoke with a collector and what you discussed can help you if youâre forced to appear in court or report a collector who has broken the law. Collecting written notices from bill collectors and saving them in a folder can also help your case.
Dealing with bill collectors can be a real pain. By knowing how to interact with them, youâll be in the best position to get rid of your unpaid loans and credit card debt (that is, if you actually owe anything) on your own terms.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/Steve Debenport, Â©iStock.com/RapidEye, Â©iStock.com/JJRD
The post The Worst Ways to Deal With a Bill Collector appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
One of the harsh truths of secured loans is that your asset can be repossessed if you fail to make the payments. In the words of the FTC, âyour consumer rights may be limitedâ if you miss your monthly payments, and when that happens, both your financial situation and your bank balance will take a hit.
On this guide, weâll look at what can happen when you fall behind on your car payments, and how much damage it can do to your credit score.
What is a Car Repossession?
An auto loan is a loan acquired for the sole purpose of purchasing a car. The lender covers the cost of the car, you get the vehicle you want, and in return you pay a fixed monthly sum until the loan balance is repaid.
If you fail to make to make a payment or youâre late, the lender may assume possession of your car and sell it to offset the losses. At the same time, they will report your missed and late payments to the main credit bureaus, and your credit score will take a hit. Whatâs more, if the sale is not enough to cover the remainder of the debt, you may be asked to pay the residual balance.
The same process applies to a title loan, whereby your car is used as collateral for a loan but isnât actually the purpose of the loan.
To avoid repossession, you need to make your car payments on time every month. If you are late or make a partial payment, you may incur penalties and itâs possible that your credit score will suffer as well. If you continue to delay payment, the lender will seek to cover their costs as quickly and painlessly as possible.
How a Repossession Can Impact Your Credit Score
Car repossession can impact your credit history and credit score in several ways. Firstly, all missed and late car payments will be reported to the credit bureaus and will remain on your account for up to 7 years. They can also reduce your credit score.Â
Secondly, if your car is repossessed on top of late payments, you could lose up to 100 points from your credit score, significantly reducing your chances of being accepted for a credit card, loan or mortgage in the future.Â
And thatâs not the end of it. If you have had your car for less than a couple of years, thereâs a good chance the sale price will be much less than the loan balance. Car repossession doesnât wipe the slate clean and could still leave you with a sizable issue. If you have a $10,000 balance and the car is sold for $5,000, you will owe $5,000 on the loan and the lender may also hit you with towing charges.
Donât assume that the car is worth more than the value of the loan and that everything will be okay. The lender isnât selling it direct; they wonât get the best price. Repossessed vehicles are sold cheaply, often for much less than their value, and in most cases, a balance remains.Â
Lenders may be lenient with this balance as itâs not secured, so their options are limited. However, they can also file a judgment or sell it to a collection agency, at which point your problems increase and your credit score drops even further.
How Does a Repo Take Place?
If you have a substantial credit card debt and miss a payment, your creditor will typically take it easy on you. They canât legally report the missed payment until at least 30-days have passed and most creditors wonât sell the account to a collection agency until it is at least 180-days overdue.
This leads many borrowers into a false sense of security, believing that an auto loan lender will be just as forgiving. But this is simply not true. Some lenders will repo your car just 90-days after your last payment, others will do it after 60 days. They donât make as many allowances because they donât need toâthey can simply seize your asset, get most of the money back, and then chase the rest as needed.
Most repossessions happen quickly and with little warning. The lender will contact you beforehand and request that you pay what you owe, but the actual repo process doesnât work quite like what you may have seen on TV.Â
Theyâre not allowed to break down your door or threaten you; theyâre not allowed to use force. And, most of the time, they donât need to. If they see your car, they will load it onto their truck and disappear. Theyâre so used to this process that they can typically do it in less than 60-seconds.
It doesnât matter whether youâre at home or at workâyou just lost your ride.
What Can You Do Before a Repo Hits Your Credit Score?
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the repo process and escape the damage. You just need to act quickly and donât bury your head in the sand, as many borrowers do.
Request a Deferment
An auto loan lender wonât waste as much time as a creditor, simply because they donât need to. However, they still understand that they wonât get top dollar for the car and are generally happy to make a few allowances if it means you have more chance of meeting your payments.
If you sense that your financial situation is on the decline, contact your lender and request a deferment. This should be done as soon as possible, preferably before you miss a payment.
A deferment buys you a little extra time, allowing you to take the next month or two off and adding these payments onto the end of the term. The FTC recommends that you get any agreement in writing, just in case they renege on their promise.
One of the best ways to avoid car repossession, is to refinance your loan and secure more favorable terms. The balance may increase, and youâll likely find yourself paying more interest over the long-term, but in the short-term, youâll have smaller monthly payments to contend with and this makes the loan more manageable.
You will need a good credit score for this to work (although there are some bad credit lenders) but it will allow you to tweak the terms in your favor and potentially improve your credit situation.
Sell the Car Yourself
Desperate times call for desperate measures; if youâre on the brink of facing repossession, you should consider selling the car yourself. Youâll likely get more than your lender would and you can use this to clear the balance.Â
Before you sell, calculate how much is left and make sure the sale will cover it. If not, you will need to find the additional funds yourself, preferably without acquiring additional debt. Ask friends or family members if they can help you out.
How Long a Repo Can Affect Your Credit Score
The damage caused by a repossession can remain on your credit score for 7 years, causing some financial difficulty. However, the damage will lessen over time and within three or four years it will be negligible at best.
Derogatory marks cease to have an impact on your credit score a long time before it disappears off your credit report, and itâs the same for late payments and repossessions.
Still, that doesnât mean you should take things lightly. The lender can make life very difficult for you if you donât meet your payments every month and donât work with them to find a solution.
What About Voluntary Repossession?
If youâre missing payments because youâve lost your job or suffered a major change in your financial circumstances, it may be time to consider voluntary repossession, in which case there are no missed payments and you donât need to worry about repo men knocking on your door or coming to your workplace.
With voluntary repossession, the borrower contacts the lender, informs them they can no longer afford the payments, and arranges a time and a place to return the car. However, while this is a better option, it can do similar damage to the borrowerâs credit score as a voluntary repossession, like a traditional repossession, is still a defaulted loan.
Missed payments aside, the only difference concerns how the repossession shows on the borrowerâs credit report. Voluntary repossession will look better to a creditor who manually scans the report, but the majority of lenders run automatic checks and wonât notice a difference.
Summary: Act Quickly
If you have student loan, credit card, and other unsecured debt, a repo could reduce your chances of a successful debt payoff and potentially prevent you from getting a mortgage. But itâs not the end of the world. You can get a deferment, refinance or reinstate the loan, and even if the worst does happen, it may only take a year or so to get back on track after you fix your financial woes.
Repossession Credit Scores: What You Need to Know is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Nobody is perfect when it comes to their finances â even millionaires slip up sometimes.
So when you start to think youâre worse off than your parents, or your nephew, or your friends, remember that allÂ 20-somethings have made mistakes that can cost them big time.
But if youâre guilty of making some of these blunders, donât fret. You can still redeem yourself! Here are some of the worst blunders you can make, and tips to help dig you out of the hole.
Blunder No. 1: Not Getting Free Gift Cards When You Shop
What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.
But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.
And itâs perfect for those of us who donât want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers â and you can use it with any grocery receipt.
When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points when you scan your first receipt. Then start snapping photos of your recent receipts to see how many points you can earn without a single trip to the store!
Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?
Blunder No. 2: Not Earning Anything On Your Savings
Youâve probably heard the best way to grow your money is to stick it in a savings account and leave it there for, well, ever. Thatâs bad advice.
But maybe youâre just looking for a place to safely stash it away â but still earn money. Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account wonât do you much better. (Ahem, 0.05% is nothing these days.)
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 20 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for âthis is totally safe.â
Blunder No. 3: Paying Too Much Interest To Credit Card Companies
If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear youâre never going to escapeâ¦
And the truth is, your credit card company doesnât really care. Itâs just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? Youâll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), youâll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but donât worry â they wonât spam you with phone calls.
Blunder No. 4: Paying Too Much For Car Insurance
Whenâs the last time you checked car insurance prices?
You should shop your options every six months or so â it could save you some serious money. Letâs be real, though. Itâs probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesnât have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and itâll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $540 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
Blunder No. 5: Thinking You Donât Have Enough Money To Invest
Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and youâll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common â they own another company.
But if you work for a living and donât happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.
But with an app called Stash, it doesnât have to be. It lets you be a part of something thatâs normally exclusive to the richest of the rich â on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.
Thatâs right â you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1
It takes two minutes to sign up, and itâs totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) â thatâs industry talk for, âYour moneyâs safe.â2
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*
Blunder No. 6: Assuming Life Insurance Is Expensive And Time Consuming
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after youâre gone? How theyâll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Nowâs a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a term life insurance policy.
Youâre probably thinking: I donât have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes â and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.
Rates start at just $16 a month. The peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
If youâre under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.Â
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.Â
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Most Americans haveÂ credit card debtÂ and will die withÂ credit card debt. It’s one of the most accessible types of credit there is, becoming available as soon as you’re financially independent. It’s also one of the most damaging, as tooÂ muchÂ credit card debtÂ could hurt yourÂ credit report, reduce yourÂ credit score, and cost you thousands of dollars in interest payments.
But how much debt is too much? What is the averageÂ total debtÂ for American consumers and households and when do you know if you have crossed a line?
HowÂ MuchÂ Credit Card DebtÂ is too Much?
TheÂ averageÂ credit card debtÂ in the United States is around $5,000 to $6,000 per consumer. However, this doesn’t paint a complete picture as these figures don’t differentiate rolling balances. In other words, even if you repay your balance in full every month, that balance will still be recorded as debt until it is repaid.
For many consumers, $6,000 is not “too much”. It’s a manageable sum that they can afford to clear. However, if you’re out of work, relying on government handouts and have no money to your name, that $6,000 can seem like an unscalable mountain. And that’s an important point to note, because everything is relative.
To the average American, unsecured debt of $50,000 is catastrophic. It’s the sort of debt that will cause you to lose sleep, stress every minute of the day, and panic every time your lender sends you a letter. To a multi-millionaire homeowner who runs several successful businesses, it’s nothing, an insignificant debt they could repay in full without a second thought.
One man’s pocket change is another man’s fortune, so we can’t place an actual figure on what constitutes “too much debt”. However, this is something that credit reporting agencies, creditors, and lenders already take into consideration and to get around this issue, they use something known as aÂ debt-to-income ratio.
YourÂ Debt-to-Income RatioÂ (DTI)
YourÂ DTIÂ can tell you whether you haveÂ too much debt, and this is true forÂ credit card debtÂ and all other forms of debt (student loans,Â car loans,Â personal loans, and even mortgages).Â
DTI is not used to calculate yourÂ credit scoreÂ and won’t appear on yourÂ credit report, but it is used by mortgage lenders and other big lenders to determine your creditworthiness and if you don’t past the test then you won’t get the money.
To calculate yourÂ DTI, simply calculate theÂ amount of debtÂ payments that you have and compare this to yourÂ grossÂ monthly income. For instance, let’s imagine that you make $400 inÂ credit card paymentsÂ and $600 inÂ autoÂ loanÂ payments, creating aÂ total debtÂ payment of $1,000. YourÂ grossÂ monthly incomeÂ is $4,000 and you don’t have any investments.
In this scenario, yourÂ DTIÂ would be 25%. as yourÂ monthly debt paymentsÂ ($1,000) are 25% of yourÂ monthly income. If you have a $1,000Â mortgage paymentÂ to make every month, your obligations increase and yourÂ DTIÂ hits 50%, which is when you should start being concerned.
Many lenders will not accept you if you have aÂ DTIÂ greater than 50%, because they are not convinced you will make your payments. $2,000 may seem like a lot of money to have leftover at the end of the month, but not when you factor tax, insurance, food, bills, and everyday expenses into the equation.
If yourÂ DTIÂ is below 50%, you may be safe, but it all depends on those additional expenses.
How to Tell If You’ve Borrowed Too Much
YourÂ debt-to-income ratioÂ is a good starting point to determine if you have borrowed too much, and if it’s higher than 50%, there’s a good chance you have borrowed more than you should or, at the very least, you are teetering on the edge. However, even if yourÂ DTIÂ is above 30%, which many consider the ideal limit, you may have tooÂ muchÂ credit card debt.
In such cases, you need to look for the followingÂ warning signs:
You Can’t Pay More Than the Minimum
Minimum paymentsÂ cover a substantial amount of interest and only a small amount of the actual principal. If you’re only paying the minimum, you’re barely scratching the surface and it could take years to repay the debt. If you genuinely don’t have the extra funds to pay more money, then you definitely have aÂ debt problem.
YourÂ Credit Card BalanceÂ Keeps Growing
The only thing worse than not being able to pay more than the balance is being forced to keep using that card, in which case the balance will keep growing and theÂ interest chargesÂ will keep accumulating. This is a dire situation to be in and means you have far tooÂ muchÂ credit card debt.
Your Debt is Increasing as YourÂ Take-Home PayÂ is Reducing
If yourÂ credit card billÂ seems to be going in the opposite direction as your paycheck, you could have a serious problem on your hands. You may be forced to takeÂ payday loans; in which case you’ll be stuck repaying these on top of your mountingÂ credit card interest,Â reaching a point when your debt eventually exceeds your disposable income.
You Don’t Have Savings or anÂ Emergency Fund
A savings account orÂ emergency fundÂ is your safety net. If you reach a point where you feel like you can no longer meet theÂ monthly payments, you can tap into these accounts and use the funds to bail you out. If you don’t have that option, things are looking decidedly bleaker for you.
Dangers of Having TooÂ MuchÂ Credit Card Debt
The biggest issue with excessiveÂ credit card debtÂ is that it has a habit of sticking around for years. Many debtors only make theÂ minimumÂ monthly payment, either because they can’t look at the bigger picture or simply can’t afford to pay more.Â
When this happens, a $1,000 debt could cost them over $2,000 to repay, which means they’ll have less money to their name. What’s more, thatÂ credit card debtÂ could impact theirÂ credit score, thus reducing their chances of getting low-interest credit and of acquiring mortgages andÂ auto loans.
It’s a cycle. You use a credit card to make big purchases and are hit with a high-interest rate. That interest takes your disposable income away, thus making it more likely you will need to use the card again for other big purchases.Â
All the while, yourÂ credit utilization ratioÂ (calculated by comparingÂ available creditÂ toÂ total debtÂ and used to calculate 30% of yourÂ credit score) is plummeting and your hopes of getting aÂ lowerÂ interest rateÂ diminish.
What to do if you Have tooÂ MuchÂ Credit Card Debt?
If you find yourself ticking off the boxes above and you have a sinking feeling as you realize that everything we’re describing perfectly represents your situation, then fear not, as there are a multitude of ways you can dig yourself out of this hole:
Credit counselorsÂ can help to find flaws in your budget and your planning and provide some much-needed insight into your situation. They areÂ personal financeÂ experts and have dealt with countlessÂ consumer debtÂ issues over the years, so donât assume they can only tell you what you already know and always look toÂ credit counselingÂ as a first step.
Credit card companiesÂ charge a higherÂ annual percentage rateÂ to consumers with poorÂ credit scoresÂ as they are more likely to default, which means they need those extra funds to balance their accounts. Another way they do this is to charge penalty fees, penalty rates, andÂ cash advanceÂ fees, the latter of which can be very damaging to an individual struggling withÂ credit card debt.
Cash advanceÂ fees are charged every time you withdraw money from an ATM, and the rate is often fixed at 3% with a minimum charge of $10. This means that if you withdraw as little as $20, it’ll cost you $10 in charges, as well as additional interest fees.
If theÂ cash flowÂ isn’t there, this can seem like a good option, but it will only make your situation worse and should be avoided at all costs.
UseÂ Debt Relief
Debt management, debt settlement, andÂ debt consolidationÂ can all help you to escape debt, creating aÂ repayment planÂ and clearing everything fromÂ credit card debtÂ toÂ student loanÂ debtÂ in one fell swoop. You don’t even need an excellentÂ credit scoreÂ to do this, as many debt management andÂ debt consolidationÂ companies are aimed towards bad credit borrowers.
AÂ balance transferÂ credit cardÂ moves all of your currentÂ credit card balancesÂ onto a new card, one with aÂ large credit limitÂ and a 0% introductory APR that allows you to swerveÂ interest chargesÂ for the first 6, 12, 15 or 18 months. It’s one of the best options available, assuming you have aÂ credit scoreÂ high enough to get the limit you need.
Monitor Your Situation
Whatever method you choose, it’s important to keep a close eye on your finances to ensure this never happens again. You should never be hit with an unexpected car paymentÂ orÂ mortgage payment, because you know those payments arrive every single month; you should never be surprised that you have interest to pay or that yourÂ credit scoreÂ has taken a hit because of a new account or application.Â
If you paid attention to your financial situation, you wouldn’t be surprised, you would understand where every penny goes, and as a result, you will be better equipped to deal with issues in the future.
How Much Credit Card Debt is too Much? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.