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Jan 19

Credit Counseling Explained ImageNot only is credit counseling now a requirement when filing bankruptcy thanks to the new laws set forth in October of 2005, but it is also a good idea for those who find that they are swimming in a river of debt without the proverbial paddle.  When you are in financial danger such as this credit counseling could be a great option and an alternative to filing for bankruptcy. With the many different kinds of credit counseling companies that are available to you, it may be hard to differentiate between the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are things you should be especially aware of and look for in any credit counseling company, there are some that are reputable, experienced, and only want the best for you. However, on the other end of that coin there are those that only exist to make life worse for you.

Credit counseling can help you eliminate the amount of calls you receive from various collection agencies, additionally they are specifically in place for those who have trouble in keeping up with their monthly payments. What a credit counselor will help you do is counsel you in creating a budget that will help you in keeping up with all your bills, household necessities, and living expenses. They will also work with you in arranging a type of payment plan that works well with your income and abilities to pay. It is important to note that in general credit counseling will only work with you on loans and credit cards that are unsecured. If you have trouble with your secured loans (such as your mortgage payments) credit counseling can provide you with advice on how you can deal with this situation.

Credit Counseling companies work closely with lenders that you have and negotiate acceptable payment arrangements for both the lender and the borrower. They will then help you create a budget that will allow you to afford the payments as well as other living expenses. It is important to strictly adhere to this budget in order to bring yourself out of your vast debt and avoid further collections, court proceedings, repossession, or bankruptcy. The budget may result in you giving up luxuries for the time being, however, eating a home instead of at a restaurant or giving up your shopping sprees, could prove to be far more beneficial in the long run than it would be finding yourself in such a financial situation that you cannot bring yourself out of.

Jan 17

Credit Cards and Retirement ImageGoing into retirement is one of the best things in your life. This is the time when you get to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life in peace. However, being able to sustain a lifestyle that is comparable to the one that you had before retirement requires some sound planning.

Another aspect of retirement involves the issue of debt. Being retired also means that you need to be more risk averse. This stems from the fact that you may no longer have the ability to generate income to cover for huge debt or losses. Similarly, high interest credit cards with rolled over balances are often sources of snowballing debt.

With this, you should try to pay off your outstanding credit card debt before you go into retirement. You could try out balance transfers and transfer some of your credit card debt into credit cards that charge lower or 0% APR for an introductory period. This way, you avoid paying for interests while you pay off your credit card balances.

Another method to convert your high interest debt into lower interest debt is through a debt consolidation loan.  This way, all your credit card debt will be paid off by your debt consolidation loan. Ultimately, you will just need to repay the debt consolidation loan without having to worry about multiple credit card repayments.

The two methods shown above will only help you reduce the snowballing effect of your credit card debt. However, you will still have to pay off your debt over a period of time. Therefore, the best approach is not to have credit card debt at all. This can be accomplished easily if you set some ground rules for yourself.

First, limit yourself to just two credit cards for emergency use. Pay off any outstanding credit card debt from the other cards and cut them up. Make it a point to not use more than 40% of your credit limit. Overusing your credit card can result to high interest charges and escalating debt. It’s also wise to pay off entire credit card balances without rolling over any amount to the following month. All these good habits in managing credit card debt will definitely help you with your finances through your retirement age.

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