Debt Management http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7681/0 en-US How a Single Mother In Debt Over $200K Is Fixing Her Finances http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-single-mother-in-debt-over-200k-is-fixing-her-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-a-single-mother-in-debt-over-200k-is-fixing-her-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_finances_108359432.jpg" alt="Single mother managing her debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For those of us actively trying to improve our financial situation, it's inspiring to read about others who have succeeded. Dilenia Frias is one such example, embarking upon Wise Bread's Total Financial Transformation Plan, and successfully improving her credit score, better managing her debt, and on the road to higher earnings in just a few, short months.</p> <p>When we first met Dilenia in August, she shared her financial concerns with us: Over $200,000 in student loan debt, tens of thousands owed on credit cards, personal loans, and a timeshare, a damaged credit score, and relatively low earnings despite graduating law school. To top it off, Dilenia was recently unemployed for two years, and is a single mother residing in New York City, an area with arguably the highest of cost of living in the country. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>We decided to help Dilenia tackle these challenges one-by-one, by providing methodical advice for stabilizing her debt, raising her credit score, and improving her earnings. Read on to hear Dilenia's story in her own words &mdash; and even better, her remarkable progress in the two months since we first talked.</p> <h2>Credit Cards</h2> <p><em>I have $8,500 in credit card debt, spread over three cards &mdash; American Express, Children's Place, and Discover cards. My cards' interest rates are anywhere from 10.99-24%, and most are maxed out or over their credit limit. </em></p> <h3>Our advice:</h3> <ul> <li>Contact your creditors, explain your situation, and request lower interest rates, if possible. Always pay on time &mdash; even if it's only your minimum payments.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Try to bring your balances under the credit card's limit &mdash; this will have an immediate impact on your credit score. Long-term, your goal should be to keep your balances under 30% of your total available credit. This will significantly boost your credit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>One useful trick for repaying cards is to make two payments per month, instead of just one. For example, if you normally make one monthly payment of $100, try making two payments of $50 each. Since interest is calculated over the entire month, this will reduce your interest owed. Plus, depending on what time of the month your card reports to the credit bureaus, it may also show a lower debt level and boost your score.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't close your credit cards &mdash; even once you pay them off! This reduces the amount of credit you have available, which lowers your credit score.</li> </ul> <h3>Dilenia's credit card situation now</h3> <p><em>My Equifax credit score went up 48 points to 677!</em></p> <p><em>I hadn't used my Children's Place credit card in about a year, and the suggestion was to use the card for at least a small amount, so that my account wouldn't get closed for lack of use, so I spent $125 on gift cards in August. I received my bill later in August and paid it on time. I received an email approximately a week ago that my credit limit was increased from $500 to $750. </em></p> <p><em>I also paid my American Express enough so that my statement only showed a $99 balance when the statement printed (so I was using a little under 20% of my credit limit). My Discover card was also a bit over the limit last month, but I brought the balance back down in time for the September statement closing date. I am still using almost 100% of my credit limit, but at least I am no longer above my credit limit.</em></p> <h2>Personal loan and timeshare</h2> <p><em>My $7,000 personal loan was unfortunately charged off in 2015, when, after leaving my job in February 2015, was only able to make payments until May 2015. I am currently paying $150 per month to the collection agency handling the account. Based on the amount owed, I would need to make payments until April 2021.</em></p> <p><em>A $9,000 loan for a timeshare is also in collections. I am currently trying to negotiate a limited-use timeshare based on the payments I have already made, but was told that I needed to make a final payment to the collection agency before they would release my account to the timeshare company. If I am able to regain the timeshare, I might be able to sublease it.</em></p> <h3>Our advice:</h3> <ul> <li>Aggressively try to regain use of the timeshare on a more limited-use basis. Request that the collections agency annotate your credit report to show that your are making payments on time.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Once you regain limited <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-thousands-by-buying-a-timeshare-on-the-secondary-market?ref=internal" target="_blank">use of the timeshare, sublease it</a> using services such as rentmytimesharenow.com. Apply any extra money toward repaying credit cards more quickly, starting with the highest-interest card first.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Attempt to negotiate lower payments or interest rates directly with the personal loan collections agency. Ensure they've annotated your credit report to reflect that your account is being paid on time per your agreement.</li> </ul> <h3>Dilenia's personal loan and timeshare situation now</h3> <p><em>I recently made a payment to the timeshare company, and I am awaiting documents transferring ownership in my previous timeshare to a new timeshare. When the paperwork is finalized, the collection account currently being reported to my credit reports will be removed. That should also increase my score, and also allow me to sublease the unit.</em></p> <h2>Student loans</h2> <p><em>I have over $200,000 in federal student loans, most of which are being repaid via the Income Based Repayment program (IBR). However, I have over $16,000 in Perkins loans which are currently on deferment; I'll need to start making payments on these, too, by March 2018. Due to my limited income and two dependents, my current monthly payment is $0. </em></p> <h3>Our advice:</h3> <ul> <li>Consolidate <em>all</em> your student loans &mdash; including the Perkins loans, so that they can all be placed on IBR and result in a low payment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Place your IBR account on autopay &mdash; even if your payment is $0, it may result in a slightly lower interest rate.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Contact your law school's employment services office and inquire whether your school offers any debt forgiveness for students in public service or other modestly-paid legal jobs.</li> </ul> <h2>Income, employment, and other credit boosts</h2> <p>In order to be admitted to the Bar, lawyers must pass a Character &amp; Fitness (C&amp;F) evaluation, including a credit check. Unfortunately, given Dilenia's credit issues, being denied entry to the Bar (and a higher income as an attorney) was a real possibility.</p> <p>Thankfully, by bringing all of Dilenia's accounts current and boosting her credit score, C&amp;F should be less of an issue, thus ensuring that Dilenia should be employable as an attorney by late this year. This will likely result in higher income and allow Dilenia to repay debt more aggressively. More importantly, it'll enable her to save &mdash; even a modest amount saved every month toward an emergency fund of three-to-six months' expenses will help ensure she doesn't get into this sort of trouble again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a>)</p> <p>Dilenia's 19-year-old son is also considering seeking employment to help contribute to household expenses, and once Dilenia's timeshare is subleased, the extra income can be applied to debt and emergency fund savings.</p> <p>Dilenia has made great progress, and she can do more still. Dilenia should request higher credit limits on her cards once she's made twelve on-time monthly payments and dropped her balances. Then, once her cards are paid off, she should open new lines of credit &mdash; such as gas cards &mdash; and not use them. This will all result in lower credit utilization ratios &mdash; and higher credit scores.</p> <p>Recently Dilenia joined eMoneyPool, since it reports user accounts to credit bureaus like Experian. eMoneyPool is an online version of a savings club in which members make regular contributions and receive &quot;payouts&quot; of their savings on targeted dates. She joined two $500 money-sharing pools in August, and by early September the account was added to her Experian credit report.</p> <p>Dilenia can also have her rental payments reported to the credit bureaus using services such as RentTrack or RentReporters. Depending on the lender and the type of credit score they use to determine credit worthiness, this could help her with loans or other credit applications down the line.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/janet-alvarez">Janet Alvarez</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-single-mother-in-debt-over-200k-is-fixing-her-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-big-deal-about-banks-refusing-to-lend">What&#039;s the big deal about banks refusing to lend?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-part-i-fast-money-in-the-09">Recession Journal Part I: &#039;Fast&#039; Money in the &#039;09</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/uk-banks-are-blocking-customers-credit-cards-will-the-usa-be-next">UK banks are blocking customers&#039; credit cards. Will the USA be next?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management credit debt extra income rent student loans timeshare total financial transformation Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:02:05 +0000 Janet Alvarez 2037681 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_with_financial_problems.jpg" alt="Man with financial problems" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know you're supposed to have an emergency fund to help pay for big, unexpected expenses such as a leaky roof or a busted transmission. But what if you don't have an emergency fund? Or your emergency fund balance is too low? You may need to rely on a credit card instead.</p> <p>Using credit cards to handle financial emergencies isn't ideal. Credit cards come with high interest rates: If you can't pay back what you've spent on your emergency by the time the bill comes due, your debt will keep growing.</p> <p>But if you have no other option, here are some tips on lessening the pain when using credit cards to handle life's emergencies. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Where to Find Emergency Funds When You Don't Have an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>Pay back that emergency spending ASAP</h2> <p>Using a credit card for financial emergencies isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not paying your credit card balance in full each month, however, can really cost you. And you're more likely to not pay that balance off if you've just charged $1,000 or more to handle an unexpected financial crisis.</p> <p>Blame this on interest. Credit cards come with sky-high interest rates. The average interest rate on credit cards stood at 16.7 percent as of September, according to Bankrate. This means that if you don't pay your balance off in full each month, your credit card debt can grow quickly, especially if that balance is high.</p> <p>Don't think paying your minimum required monthly payment solves the problem, either. If you have $4,000 in credit card debt at an interest rate of 17 percent, it will take you 144 months to pay it off if you only pay the minimum each month. You will pay more than $3,000 in interest during this time. And that's only if you don't add any more money to your card's balance during this period.</p> <p>It's so important to do whatever you can to pay off your credit card debt &mdash; including debt generated because of financial emergencies &mdash; as quickly as you can.</p> <h2>Use the card with the lowest interest rates</h2> <p>If you must charge an emergency on a credit card, use the card with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">lowest interest rate</a>. This is especially important when you are charging a large amount that you know you won't be able to pay off in one payment. The math here is simple: The higher your card's interest rate, the faster your unpaid balance will grow. Always use your lowest-rate card for big emergencies.</p> <h2>Create a repayment plan</h2> <p>If you can't repay your emergency charge in one month, you need to come up with a game plan. Determine how much money you can spare each month to cut down on your credit card debt, and apply those extra dollars to it.</p> <p>Your goal is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off your credit card debt as quickly</a> as possible. Maybe you send an extra $100 each month to your mortgage payment. If you have outstanding credit card debt, shift that $100 to your credit card bill instead. Mortgage debt comes with far lower interest rates than debt associated with credit cards. You should always pay off your debt with the highest interest first; it is costing you more, after all. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>If you have to cut down on other unnecessary expenses &mdash; everything from eating out to going to the movies or taking a weekend road trip &mdash; do it until you eliminate that credit card debt.</p> <h2>Consider a Balance Transfer</h2> <p>If you've created your repayment plan and feel you can realistically adhere to it, you might be able to pay off the debt even faster and save some money by doing a balance transfer. If your credit is good, you can get approved for a card that offers a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% Intro APR on balance transfers</a> for up to 21 months. That gives you a good chunk of time to pay off your emergency expenses without paying interest. However, keep in mind that you'd need a card from a different bank than the one you're trying to transfer a balance from, and interest rates on these cards are typically very high, which means that if you don't pay off that balance during the intro period, you'll get stuck with a high interest rate debt and make you worse off than before. Finally, there is usually a balance transfer fee, though there are some cards that offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">$0 balance transfer fees</a>.</p> <h2>Build an emergency fund</h2> <p>It's time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">build an emergency fund</a> that you can tap to cover unexpected expenses. If you have an emergency fund ready to go, you won't have to worry about putting these expenses on your credit cards again in the future.</p> <p>Building an emergency fund isn't complicated, it just takes discipline. Start small if you must: Put $100 a month into a savings account. If you can put in more, do it. Your goal is to build an emergency fund that can cover six to 12 months' worth of daily living expenses. That way, you'll be covered if your water heater bursts or your refrigerator conks out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Use%2520a%2520Credit%2520Card%2520for%2520an%2520Emergency%2520Without%2520Drowning%2520In%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Use%20a%20Credit%20Card%20for%20an%20Emergency%20Without%20Drowning%20In%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Use%20a%20Credit%20Card%20for%20an%20Emergency%20Without%20Drowning%20In%20Debt.jpg" alt="How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-better-less-debt-or-more-savings">What&#039;s Better: Less Debt or More Savings?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-money-with-your-emergency-fund">How to Earn Money With Your Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans">8 Valuable Rights You Might Lose When You Refinance Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse">Here&#039;s How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management emergency funds financial emergency high interest debt interest rates repayment plans Mon, 09 Oct 2017 09:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 2031626 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Avoid Vacation Debt http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/travel_cost.jpg" alt="Travel cost" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation is meant to be fun and relaxing. With no office to go into and no stove to slave over, you can enjoy some peace and quiet and forget about life for a while. Unfortunately, many Americans return home to a rude awakening in the form of a big, fat vacation bill. Nearly three-quarters of Americans have gone into debt to pay for a vacation, racking up an average balance of $1,108, according to LearnVest's 2017 Money Habits and Confessions Survey.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to avoid vacation debt and the havoc it creates. If you're gearing up for a trip but don't want to return home to a nasty bill, here are some steps you can take in advance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-fool-proof-ways-to-stay-within-your-travel-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Fool-Proof Ways to Stay Within Your Travel Budget</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start a travel savings account</h2> <p>One possible reason Americans wind up with vacation debt could be the fact that more than half of us don't have a travel budget. The LearnVest survey shows that 55 percent of Americans don't factor vacations into their annual spending plans.</p> <p>One of the best ways to ensure you have vacation funds saved in advance of your holiday is to create a targeted savings account just for travel. A travel account allows you to see exactly how much you have to spend on vacation without digging into your regular budget, or worse, going into debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Build Your Best Travel Budget</a>)</p> <h2>2. Carve out some travel savings in your monthly budget</h2> <p>Once you have a travel account, you need to save regularly if you want your funds to grow. Make it easy on yourself by budgeting for travel expenses monthly &mdash; as in, set aside a few hundred dollars (or whatever you can afford) each month as if you were paying a regular bill. By stashing this money in your travel savings account, you help make sure it doesn't get spent elsewhere. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-budget-for-summer-vacation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Budget for Summer Vacation</a>)</p> <h2>3. Find ways to save on travel</h2> <p>Part of our problem with vacation debt could stem from the fact that we're spending too much on travel compared to our incomes. LearnVest's survey showed that the average American spends around 10 percent of their income on vacations &mdash; meaning an individual who earns $50,000 is spending $5,000 a year on holiday travel. Worse, 39 percent of millennials spend 15 percent or more of their annual income on vacations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less With Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>While there's no one-size-fits all way to save on travel, we could all stand to dig a little deeper to find savings. Consider searching for package deals that include both airfare and hotels, for example. Or, vacation closer to home so you can avoid flying altogether. Also check out the many useful <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-vacation-deal-websites?ref=internal" target="_blank">travel deals websites</a> that can help you save money on nearly any trip. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-resources?ref=seealso" target="_blank">40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune</a>)</p> <h2>4. Leverage credit card rewards (but only if you're debt-free)</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">Travel credit cards</a> can serve as a valuable money-saving tool, as long as you don't run a balance on them. If you plan ahead to earn airline miles or hotel points, and pay your bill in full before your due date every month, you can use rewards to supplement your travel budget and save money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-miles-and-points-for-a-big-award-trip?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Miles and Points for a Big Award Trip</a>)</p> <p>For example, if you cash in frequent flyer miles to pay for your airfare, you can focus on saving for your hotels and food separately. Or, consider driving to a hotel you paid for with points. In that case, you would only be on the hook for travel expenses, activities, and food.</p> <p>Of course, travel rewards are not a good option for people struggling with debt. The key to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips?ref=internal" target="_blank">using credit card rewards for travel</a> is to never carry a balance. Instead, consider your cards as a thoughtful extension of a planned out monthly budget.</p> <h2>5. Cut your expenses, or try a &quot;spending freeze&quot;</h2> <p>The LearnVest survey found that the most common ways Americans save money for travel are avoiding restaurants, shopping less often, and spending less on entertainment. This is all good news, as &quot;extra&quot; spending categories like dining out and entertainment are often the easiest to cut. But, that doesn't mean you can't look for more ways to save money over time.</p> <p>As you save up for a vacation, you can even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=internal" target="_blank">try a spending &quot;freeze&quot;</a> &mdash; an exercise in which you only spend money on absolute essentials for several weeks or months. If you can avoid extra spending for short bursts of time, you can reach your vacation budget goal much quicker.</p> <h2>6. Pick up a side gig</h2> <p>Not everyone has enough wiggle room in their budget to cut out enough to pay for a vacation. Maybe you live in a high-cost area, or perhaps your monthly expenses are unusually high due to debt, child support, or other factors. Either way, it's hard to save for vacation when you're barely making ends meet.</p> <p>If you're struggling to come up with the cash to travel, consider picking up a side hustle or part-time job that leads to additional income. Since the extra cash you earn is in addition to the money you earn at your job, you should theoretically be able to save it for anything you want. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash" target="_blank">14 Best Side Jobs for Fast Cash</a>)</p> <p>Your side hustle can be anything, although you'll probably earn more if you align it with your career or some skill you already have. If not, you can always try something like baby-sitting, dog-sitting, or housesitting. Mow lawns, drive for Uber, or tutor kids online. Start hustling, and by the time your next vacation rolls around, you'll be ready.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520to%2520Avoid%2520Vacation%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=6%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Vacation%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Vacation%20Debt.jpg" alt="6 Ways to Avoid Vacation Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards">6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-fall-getaways-you-can-start-packing-for-now">10 Frugal Fall Getaways You Can Start Packing For Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier">How Living on a Tight Budget Makes You Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Travel budgeting expenses saving money side gigs Spending Money vacation debt Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Holly Johnson 2027163 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You're Retiring With Debt http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-retiring-with-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-youre-retiring-with-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/old_couple_having_problems_with_their_home_finances.jpg" alt="Old couple having problems with their home finances" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For a growing number of older Americans, the golden years have been tarnished by debt. If you're retired or will be soon, and too much debt is weighing you down, here are three common sources of senior debt, along with some suggestions for breaking free.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage debt</h2> <p>One of the tenets of wise money management is to be mortgage-free by the time you retire, ridding yourself of what is likely your biggest expense as you enter what may be a lower- and fixed-income season of life. However, for a growing number of older people, that is not the case.</p> <p>According to the Federal Reserve, about 42 percent of households where the head of household is 65 to 74 years old had mortgage debt (a mortgage or home equity loan) in 2013 &mdash; up from 32 percent in 2004 and just 19 percent in 1992. Many such borrowers refinanced their mortgages in order to take advantage of low interest rates, but in doing so, reset the 15- or 30-year mortgage clock.</p> <p>What to do? If your overall housing costs, including taxes and insurance, take up more than 25 percent of your monthly gross income, consider downsizing. Reducing or eliminating your mortgage and lowering what you pay for property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, and maintenance could do wonders for your financial peace of mind. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire</a>)</p> <h2>2. Student loan debt</h2> <p>Much has been made of how indebted today's college graduates are. What's less well known is that the fastest-growing segment of the population with education debt is the 60-plus crowd. Most such borrowers took out loans for their kids or grandkids via Parent PLUS loans, or they co-signed on a student loan and now find themselves responsible for the payments.</p> <p>According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of people age 60 or older with student loans quadrupled between 2005 and 2015 to 2.8 million.</p> <p>What to do? Look into loan consolidation or rehabilitation (if you're behind on the payments). Both are preferable to default, in which case the government could reduce your Social Security benefits in order to collect.</p> <h2>3. Credit card debt</h2> <p>The overuse of plastic isn't just something that plagues the young. According to the National Council on Aging, in 2012, nearly one-third of households headed by someone age 60 or older carried a credit card balance. Are these older households simply living beyond their means? Some probably are, but an AARP survey found that over half the older households with credit card debt put their medical care on plastic.</p> <p>What to do? If your credit card debt is unmanageable, consider contacting a local affiliate of the <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/" target="_blank">National Foundation for Credit Counseling</a>. They may be able to negotiate lower interest rates. In addition, if you haven't done so already, don't put medical bills on your credit card. Instead, see if you can work out a payment plan directly with the medical provider, which may offer more favorable terms. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Other ways to ditch your debt</h2> <p>No matter how old you are, an important key to getting out of debt is margin &mdash; creating a gap between your income and expenses so you've got the money to make extra payments on your debts. There are only two sides to the margin equation: income and expenses.</p> <h3>Increase income by picking up a part-time job</h3> <p>By definition, retirement means not working anymore, so the idea of going back to work may not fill your heart with joy. However, even a temporary part-time job can make a big difference in how quickly you get out of debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-retirement-jobs?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Great Retirement Jobs</a>)</p> <p>Start thinking of where you could work. How about consulting with your former employer, hanging out a shingle as a sole proprietor, or simply picking up some hours at a local retailer?</p> <p>Keep in mind that if you started claiming Social Security benefits before your normal retirement age, earning too much from a part-time job may reduce those benefits. Learn more on the <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/rtea.html" target="_blank">Social Security Administration's website</a>.</p> <h3>Decrease expenses by taking your kids off the payroll</h3> <p>It's common for parents to help their adult children with everything from health insurance premiums to cellphone bills. According to a Merrill Lynch study, nearly 70 percent of people age 55 or older with adult children are doing so.</p> <p>Wouldn't it be easier for you to cut them off if you realized that doing so would not only benefit you, but it would benefit them as well? That's one of the key messages in the classic book, <em>The Millionaire Next Door</em>. Authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko found that adults who receive &quot;financial outpatient care&quot; from their parents tend to become dependent on such help and end up saving and investing less than those who do not receive money from their parents. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-ruining-your-retirement-by-spoiling-your-kids?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Are You Ruining Your Retirement by Spoiling Your Kids?</a>)</p> <h2>There's plenty of time to retire debt</h2> <p>It may be discouraging to find yourself buried in bills at a time of life when you had hoped to slow down and enjoy the fruit of all your years of labor. However, increases in longevity mean you probably still have plenty of time to reap those rewards. What'll make all the difference is how quickly you implement the ideas mentioned above.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-to-do-if-youre-retiring-with-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520to%2520Do%2520If%2520You%2527re%2520Retiring%2520With%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=What%20to%20Do%20If%20You're%20Retiring%20With%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20to%20Do%20If%20You%27re%20Retiring%20With%20Debt.jpg" alt="What To Do If You're Retiring With Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-retiring-with-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-of-the-fastest-ways-to-go-broke-in-retirement">4 of the Fastest Ways to Go Broke in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-red-flags-that-your-retirement-plan-may-be-off-track">4 Red Flags That Your Retirement Plan May Be Off Track</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Why Retiring With Debt Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-your-debt-after-you-die">What Happens to Your Debt After You Die?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-couple-paid-off-147k-of-debt-even-while-unemployed">How One Couple Paid Off $147k of Debt (Even While Unemployed)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Retirement adult children co-signed credit card debt expenses giving money increasing income kids mortgages student loans Tue, 19 Sep 2017 08:00:07 +0000 Matt Bell 2021474 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Retiring With Debt Isn't the End of the World http://www.wisebread.com/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/calculating_our_day_to_day_living_cost.jpg" alt="Calculating our day-to-day living cost" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a perfect world, you'll retire with no debt at all. But that might not be realistic. Most U.S. adults carry at least <em>some </em>debt with them into retirement. A majority even die owing money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind?</a>)</p> <p>The good news is while retiring with debt might not be uncommon today, it's also not a financial disaster. It mostly depends on the type of debt you bring with you into retirement.</p> <h2>The numbers</h2> <p>In a 2016 study, credit bureau Experian found that 73 percent of consumers died with debt. And these consumers didn't die with just a little debt: Experian reported that these individuals had an average debt of $61,554 when they died. Without counting mortgage debt, that figure fell to a still high $12,875.</p> <p>As you near retirement, you might worry that you'll be saddled with too much debt after you leave the workforce. It's important to realize, though, that there are different types of debt, some better than others. Your monthly income in retirement matters, too: If you can easily cover your debts, and still cover your other expenses, your debt won't be as much of a financial burden.</p> <h2>Start with a budget</h2> <p>You won't know how bad your retirement debt might be until you first draft a household budget for your after-work years. This budget should include all of the money you expect to flow into your hands after you retire, including Social Security payments, pensions, and the income you'll be drawing each month from your retirement savings vehicles.</p> <p>You should then list your monthly expenses, both fixed and estimated. This should include your housing costs, food, utilities, entertainment expenses, medical costs, and, of course, the money you'll have to spend each month to pay off your debts.</p> <p>Once you have your expenses and your income listed, compare the figures. Will you have enough money to cover everything each month? Or will you be short?</p> <p>If you have enough, that's good, though you'll still want to reduce your debt as much as you can before you leave the workforce. The less debt you enter your retirement years with, the better.</p> <p>If you'll be short, it's time to make changes. Figure out ways to reduce your expenses, such as trading in a costly car or maybe selling your expensive home and making the move to a less costly condo or smaller residence. You might also have to scale back your plans for retirement; instead of traveling the world, you might have to be content with catching up on your golf game in your own community.</p> <h2>Good vs. bad debt</h2> <p>Once you've determined your budget, it's time to look at your debt.</p> <p>You might think that all debt is the same. That's not true. Some debt is considered &quot;good debt,&quot; while <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youve-crossed-from-healthy-debt-to-problem-debt" target="_blank">other debt is considered bad</a>.</p> <p>Good debt is debt you owe for something that can grow in value and provide you with financial benefits in the future. A mortgage is the most common form of good debt. If you're fortunate, the house that your mortgage is financing will grow in value while you own it. When you sell it, you might make a profit. Mortgage debt has the added benefit of coming with low interest rates and some tax benefits.</p> <p>The most common form of bad debt is credit card debt. This debt grows over time and doesn't provide you with any possible financial benefits. It also often comes with sky-high interest rates. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>If you're nearing retirement and you have both mortgage and credit card debt, it makes financial sense to spend any extra dollars you have to reduce your credit card debt. Your mortgage debt, as long as you can afford the monthly payment in retirement, should not be a priority.</p> <h2>Attack your bad debt</h2> <p>If you want to eliminate your credit card debt &mdash; or at least a chunk of it &mdash; before retirement, you'll have to send extra money each month to your credit card providers.</p> <p>Generally, financial experts recommend two main approaches here. You can follow the debt snowball strategy, in which you pay extra each month on the credit card that has the lowest balance. Once you pay off that card, you pay more each month on the card with the next lowest amount of debt, working your way through all your cards.</p> <p>You can also go with the debt avalanche approach. This method works the same way, only you pay extra on your card with the highest interest rate first instead of the lowest balance. This method will save you the most money because you'll be eliminating your highest-interest debt first. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Snowballs or Avalanches: Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?</a>)</p> <p>Again, to free up enough money to pay down your debts &mdash; no matter which debts you choose to tackle &mdash; you might have to make lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on your meals out or your entertainment and travel expenses.</p> <p>You'll have to determine how much of a financial burden your debt will be after you retire. The debt you bring into retirement might not scuttle your after-work plans. But if it might, that's why a bit of sacrifice now can really pay off later. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhy-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhy%2520Retiring%2520With%2520Debt%2520Isnt%2520the%2520End%2520of%2520the%2520World.jpg&amp;description=Why%20Retiring%20With%20Debt%20Isnt%20the%20End%20of%20the%20World"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Why%20Retiring%20With%20Debt%20Isnt%20the%20End%20of%20the%20World.jpg" alt="Why Retiring With Debt Isn't the End of the World" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-retiring-with-debt">What to Do If You&#039;re Retiring With Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-people-without-debt-do">10 Things People Without Debt Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-red-flags-that-your-retirement-plan-may-be-off-track">4 Red Flags That Your Retirement Plan May Be Off Track</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-you-should-budget-your-social-security-checks">Here&#039;s How You Should Budget Your Social Security Checks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Retirement bills budgeting expenses income mortgages owing money social security Wed, 30 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 2011955 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/worried_young_woman_counting_bills.jpg" alt="Worried young woman counting bills" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Facing debt can be stressful and overwhelming. But it's important to remember that no matter how much you might feel that you're in over your head, debt is a hole you can climb out of. You can absolutely do this. Here are the first steps you need to take.</p> <h2>1. Figure out how much you owe</h2> <p>The first step can be the most painful. It's time to get an overview of your debt, which means you need to add up everything you owe and take a good look at your total. That, my friends, can be a difficult moment. But that difficult moment will also provide you with the clarity you need to start taking back power over your financial future.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Gather your financial statements or log in to the online portal for each account you owe on: your credit cards, mortgage, student loan, car loan, lines of credit, home equity loan, etc. Create a simple spreadsheet with four columns: one to identify each debt (&quot;Student Loan&quot;), one for the amount owed, one for the minimum monthly payment, and one for the interest rate. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report" target="_blank">Pull your credit report</a> to search for outstanding debts, and compare the information against what you have in your own records.<strong> </strong></p> <h2>2. Sort and prioritize the debt list</h2> <p>Now it's time to start sorting out your spreadsheet entries so you can come up with the best possible plan to get out of debt.</p> <p>You might think that the most important debt to pay off is the biggest one; however, it's often a good idea to identify the debt with the highest interest rate and knock that out first. This is known as the avalanche method of debt repayment. Higher interest rates lead to faster debt accumulation and result in you paying a higher amount over the course of your debt repayment. The faster you can get rid of high-interest debts, the better.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Sort your spreadsheet by the fourth column, the one for the interest rate. You might see anything from a 4 percent interest rate (for example, on a student loan) to a whopping 22 percent interest rate on, say, a credit card. You may owe more principal on your student loan, but relatively speaking, you're wasting more in interest every month on that credit card. The credit card is therefore the higher priority for complete repayment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Add up your minimum payments</h2> <p>You don't get to stop making payments on the lower-interest debts, even though they're not the highest priority. Instead, you need to continue making the minimum monthly payments on all lower-interest debts while making bigger payments on your debt with the highest interest rate. Once you knock one high-interest debt out completely, you prioritize the debt with the next-highest interest rate and continue paying minimums on everything else.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Add up the monthly minimum payments for <em>all</em> the debts on your list, including the highest-interest debt. This is the total, bare minimum debt repayment amount that needs to fit into your current budget. This can be a nerve wracking step, especially if you don't have enough income to comfortably afford that total monthly minimum amount. You may need to take steps to cut expenses elsewhere, or bring in sources of additional income.<strong> </strong></p> <h2>4. Determine your needed overage payment</h2> <p>Now it's time to calculate the payment you need to get that highest-interest debt paid off as quickly as possible. If you keep making only the minimum payment on it, you'll keep accumulating interest charges and it will take much longer to pay it off. Instead, think of a target timeline (maybe six months or a year) for paying off the highest-interest debt, and calculate an ideal amount you can pay above the minimum payment to achieve that goal.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Use an online <a href="https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card" target="_blank">credit card payoff calculator</a>. Enter the information for your highest-interest debt: total amount owed, interest rate, and the minimum payment. You'll see how long it will take to pay off the debt if you only make the minimum payments. Now, instead of minimum payments, enter how many months you'd like to have it paid off in. The result will show you the monthly amount you need to pay in order to clear the debt within your target timeline.</p> <h2>5. Give yourself the best possible conditions</h2> <p>You have the essential numbers that you need. They may be painful, but knowledge is power. The next step is to find ways to reduce the financial impact that these debts have while you repay them. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money" target="_blank">Debt consolidation</a> may be the best way to do this; however, you may also be able to lower your interest rates and negotiate better payment plans on individual debts, as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways to Negotiate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>This takes some time, depending on the number of debts you have. Call each creditor and ask how you can reduce your interest rate. You may be able to refinance a home mortgage or car loan for a lower rate, for example. If you have a good repayment history, ask credit card companies to consider your reliable record and give you a better interest rate. If you're able to take out a low-interest loan, such as a line of credit or home equity loan with your bank, you may be able to use it to pay off your high-interest debt and consolidate at least some of your debts into a single, lower-interest loan.</p> <h2>6. Protect your credit and your finances</h2> <p>If you're late on a payment, being proactive can save you from accumulating fees and damaging your credit score. For example, if you call the credit card company and explain that you can't make the full minimum payment on time, they may work with you to split the payment in half for the month so you can avoid late fees. Many times, a phone call and a courteous conversation can reduce or remove a fee, extend a deadline, or result in a more manageable payment plan.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Set up alerts or schedule automatic minimum monthly payments so you don't miss due dates. If you know you won't have the money on time for a particular payment, call in advance to negotiate an extended deadline or set up a split payment plan. Additionally, you may want to keep an eye on changes in your credit report.</p> <h2>7. Protect your financial future</h2> <p>As difficult as it seems to save money when you're trying to pay down debt, it's so important. You need an emergency fund for those unpredictable expenses that will happen. Building an emergency fund will keep you from having to add to your debt when the car breaks down or you don't get that bonus you were counting on. In other words, it's the essential tool that keeps you climbing out of that debt pit, even when life happens. Without it, one setback can set off a downward spiral deeper into debt. You don't want that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>If your budget is absolutely maxed out, you can pick up a side hustle or employ another short-term strategy &mdash; such as selling off a few high-value items, or taking on seasonal work &mdash; to quickly build up an emergency fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Easy%2520First%2520Steps%2520to%2520Paying%2520Off%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=7%20Easy%20First%20Steps%20to%20Paying%20Off%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Easy%20First%20Steps%20to%20Paying%20Off%20Debt.jpg" alt="7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-being-debt-free-can-cost-you">7 Ways Being Debt Free Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-debt-reduction-roadblocks-and-how-to-beat-them">6 Common Debt Reduction Roadblocks — And How to Beat Them</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management avalanche method budgeting credit report credit score emergency funds interest rates minimum payments negotiating principal repayment Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:00:05 +0000 Annie Mueller 2001479 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income http://www.wisebread.com/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516427450.jpg" alt="Woman paying off debt on variable income" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Paying off debt can be a challenge even if you have a steady paycheck. When your income is variable, it's even harder. These strategies can help you take care of your financial obligations even when your salary isn't stable.</p> <h2>1. Set a budget from your baseline</h2> <p>Take a look at your earning potential and set a baseline. Base it on what you can expect to earn even in a worst-case scenario month. For example, if you're in sales and you earn a base salary plus commission, your baseline is your base salary. If you're a freelancer with several contracted clients and fluctuating income from other projects, your baseline is what you earn from the ongoing contracts.</p> <p>From your baseline, build a budget that covers the minimum payments you need to make every month. If more money comes in, you can split it among savings and paying down debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-smart-way-to-budget-on-a-freelance-income?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Smart Way to Budget on a Freelance Income</a>)</p> <h2>2. Reduce your expenses and bills</h2> <p>Be very detailed in your baseline budget. Your recurring bills are the starting point; your actual spending is just as important. You need to know, for example, if you spend $100 on books every month, or if your grocery bill is $200 more than you think it is. Once you're aware of all your bills and expenses, look for ways to reduce them. You don't need to reduce them all; keep the expenses that give you the greatest payback in satisfaction and minimize the costs that don't add much to your quality of life.</p> <p>If you're paying off more than one debt, debt consolidation might be key to reducing multiple high-interest payments into one monthly payment. Explore your options to determine if you can lower your debt interest and payments and close that gap.</p> <h2>3. Build up your gap savings</h2> <p>When you have a high-earnings month, send a percentage into a savings account and let it accumulate over time. When needed, you can use it to fill in the gap when your baseline earnings aren't quite enough.</p> <h2>4. Pick up a side hustle</h2> <p>Another strategy for closing the baseline gap is to pick up a steady side job. There are many kinds of side hustles and part-time jobs you can consider; it's most helpful, in this case, if you find one that will give you a predictable amount of earnings every month. That way, you can add it to your baseline so that there's no longer a gap between what you'll make and what you need to make.</p> <p>When you get that big commission or finally get paid for the last project, it's tempting to splurge and enjoy the high times. A little splurging is good for morale, but the key to surviving and thriving on a variable income is making the most of the big paydays.</p> <h2>5. Follow a savings plan</h2> <p>You may not be able to add to your savings during the lean times. But when your earnings spike, save a good percentage of it. Put a plan in place before you get the big payday. You might decide, for example, that anything over your baseline gets divided into three categories: 30 percent for savings, 30 percent for debt payments, and 30 percent for expenses that have been on hold. That leaves you 10 percent for splurge money.</p> <h2>6. Follow a debt reduction plan</h2> <p>If you use the plan above, or one similar to it, you'll know that a set percentage of your earnings over baseline go to reducing your debt. It's good practice to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, otherwise known as the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">avalanche method</a>. You can also negotiate with creditors if you have a good chunk of the debt ready to pay. Some creditors will reduce your total amount owed if you're able to pay off most of it in cash, right away.</p> <h2>7. Maximize your savings</h2> <p>Finally, don't let a variable income keep you from being smart about how you save. While it feels good to have cash at the ready, it's a smarter long-term strategy to put your savings into high-earning investments. Build up a decent <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">emergency fund</a> so you can handle a crisis and close that baseline gap as needed. Put any savings beyond the emergency fund into longer term investments with a higher yield, so you make the most out of your income, variable or not.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Strategies%2520for%2520Paying%2520Off%2520Debt%2520When%2520Living%2520on%2520a%2520Variable%2520Income.jpg&amp;description=7%20Strategies%20for%20Paying%20Off%20Debt%20When%20Living%20on%20a%20Variable%20Income"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Strategies%20for%20Paying%20Off%20Debt%20When%20Living%20on%20a%20Variable%20Income_0.jpg" alt="7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-consistently-without-a-steady-paycheck">How to Budget Consistently Without a Steady Paycheck</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt">6 Ways to Avoid Vacation Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tips-for-improving-or-starting-a-budget">8 Tips for Improving or Starting a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-close-your-business">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Close Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency">8 Signs You Aren&#039;t Prepared for an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management Entrepreneurship debt payments emergency fund financial planning freelance saving money self employed side gigs variable income Wed, 02 Aug 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Annie Mueller 1990975 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debts http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/casual_man_paying_bills_at_home_with_laptop.jpg" alt="Casual man paying bills at home with laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You might think that all your debts are equal. In your mind, there might not be any difference between your auto loan, student loan, and credit card bills.</p> <p>But there is one major difference: Some of your debts are unsecured, and some are secured. It's important to know the difference if you run into a financial crisis and you don't have enough money to pay all your bills on time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Pay These Bills First When Money Is Tight</a>)</p> <p>If you stop paying secured debt, you might lose your home, car, or other assets. If you stop paying unsecured debt, your credit score will take a major hit, but you won't lose your shelter or your car.</p> <h2>Secured vs. unsecured debt</h2> <p>Secured debt is tied to an asset. Think of mortgages and auto loans.</p> <p>In a mortgage, the money you borrow is connected to your home, which your lenders consider collateral. If you stop making your payments, your lender can start foreclosure proceedings to take possession of your home.</p> <p>In an auto loan, your car serves as collateral. If you stop making payments on this debt, your lender can take possession of your car.</p> <p>The collateral on secured debts is a way for lenders to protect themselves when passing out large loans. Borrowers aren't as likely to stop making payments if they know doing so could cost them an asset. And if borrowers do stop making payments, lenders can recover some of their losses by taking possession of the collateral and selling it.</p> <p>Unsecured debt does not have any collateral behind it and is not tied to any asset. The most common kind of unsecured debt is credit card debt. Student loan debt and medical bills are also examples of unsecured debt.</p> <p>If you fall behind on unsecured debt, your lenders generally have no collateral to take over.</p> <h2>The consequences</h2> <p>This doesn't mean that falling behind on your unsecured debt payments comes without consequence. First, your credit score will take a hit. If you make a credit card payment or payment on another unsecured debt more than 30 days past due, your payment will be considered officially late. You can expect your credit score to fall by 100 points or more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <p>This is a big deal: Lenders rely on your credit score to determine if you qualify for loans and at what interest rate. If your score is too low, you'll struggle to earn approval for loans. And if you do get that approval, the higher interest rates will make borrowing money more expensive.</p> <p>Lenders can also take steps to force you to start paying what you owe on unsecured debts. They can hire a debt collector. They can also sue you to garnish your wages or put a lien on your assets to get you to pay.</p> <h2>Which should you pay first?</h2> <p>If you are hit with a financial crisis, and you can't pay all your bills on time for the month, it usually makes sense to pay your secured debts first. You don't want to take the chance of losing your home, car, or other assets.</p> <p>Secured debts tend to be larger, too. For most people, the mortgage payment is the biggest bill they pay each month. It can be more difficult to catch up on missed payments if you fall behind on these larger bills.</p> <p>The most common type of unsecured debt, credit cards, also come with more flexibility. You only have to pay the minimum required monthly payment on your credit card debt to avoid being hit with a late fee. You might pay off your secured debts first and then have enough money to pay at least the minimum on your credit cards.</p> <p>Interest rates might play a role, too. Unsecured debt generally comes with higher interest rates. If you fall behind on these payments, the amount you owe can build quickly because of these higher rates. Skipping two or three credit card payments can quickly boost your overall debt on your cards.</p> <p>Ideally, you'd never have to prioritize unsecured or secured debts, but would rather pay all your bills on time each month. But if you must make the difficult decision of which bills to pay and which to wait on, knowing the difference between secured and unsecured debt can help you make that call.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhy-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhy%2520You%2520Need%2520to%2520Know%2520the%2520Difference%2520Between%2520Secured%2520and%2520Unsecured%2520Debts.jpg&amp;description=Why%20You%20Need%20to%20Know%20the%20Difference%20Between%20Secured%20and%20Unsecured%20Debts"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Why%20You%20Need%20to%20Know%20the%20Difference%20Between%20Secured%20and%20Unsecured%20Debts.jpg" alt="Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debts" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-monthly-bills-that-vary-based-on-your-credit-behavior">5 Monthly Bills That Vary Based on Your Credit Behavior</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind">Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management assets auto loans bills Cars credit score late payments mortgages secured debt unsecured debt Wed, 26 Jul 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Dan Rafter 1988258 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial_problems.jpg" alt="Financial problems" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The commercials, usually played on AM radio or late-night TV, promise an easy solution to your debt woes: Debt settlement companies say they can eliminate your debts in as little as two months or reduce the amount you owe by 65 percent, 75 percent, or 85 percent.</p> <p>That sounds pretty great. But debt settlement isn't quite as simple as those commercials promise.</p> <p>Working with debt settlement companies &mdash; firms that negotiate lower debt amounts with your creditors &mdash; comes with serious financial repercussions. And plenty can go wrong. Before you sign up for debt settlement, make sure you explore your other options.</p> <h2>A dangerous gamble</h2> <p>The biggest problem with debt settlement is that it's a gamble. You're gambling that the process will work and that your debts will either be eliminated or lowered. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this will actually happen.</p> <p>And because of how debt settlement companies operate, you can cause severe damage to your credit while taking this bet. Say you are struggling to afford your monthly credit card payments and a host of large medical bills. You call a company specializing in debt settlement. That company will then tell you to stop making your payments to this creditor.</p> <p>That sounds like terrible advice (because it is). The debt settlement company's goal here is to convince your creditors that there is no way you can afford to pay off your debt in full. But it often takes months for the settlement company to convince your creditors to lower your debt. Defaulting for that long ruins your credit.</p> <p>At the same time, the debt settlement company will ask you to make regular payments to it, which the company will deposit in a savings account. During the time that you're not making payments to your creditors but you are making them to the debt settlement service, the company will negotiate with your creditors, hoping to reduce the amount you owe to each of them.</p> <p>Once your creditors and your debt settlement company reach an agreement, the company will use the funds you've deposited to pay off the remainder of your debt, taking a cut as its own fee.</p> <h2>It doesn't always work</h2> <p>Unfortunately, debt settlement doesn't always work. A report by the Association of Debt Settlement Companies made to the Federal Trade Commission in 2007 reported that on average, only 45 percent to 50 percent of consumers complete a debt settlement program once they've started it. Many customers take actions that will hurt their credit scores only to gain no financial relief by doing so.</p> <p>In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported even lower rates, saying that less than 10 percent of consumers successfully complete a debt settlement program.</p> <h2>You could be charged high monthly fees</h2> <p>The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says that many debt settlement companies charge monthly fees for their services that can run as high as $89 a month. That's a lot of money for a service that might not reduce your debt significantly anyway.</p> <h2>You'll pay a lot even if your debts are reduced</h2> <p>Debt settlement companies typically charge their clients in one of two ways: They'll either charge a percentage of your total debt for their fee, or a percentage of the final debt amount that they negotiate.</p> <p>Say you owe $70,000. If the company charges you 20 percent of your total debt, you'll pay $14,000 for their services. Maybe the debt settlement company reduces that $70,000 debt to $35,000. If the company charges, say, 20 percent of your final negotiated debt, you'd pay $7,000.</p> <p>Obviously, it's better to work with a company that charges you a percentage of your settled debt. But even then, you'll be paying plenty for debt settlement.</p> <h2>Your credit score might crash</h2> <p>Debt settlement can devastate your credit score. Any time you pay a credit card bill more than 30 days late, for example, your credit score will fall by 100 points or more. If you deliberately do this while working with a debt settlement company, you will see your score plummet.</p> <p>Your credit report will also list any debts that were settled. This is considered a negative on your report because your creditors were forced to accept less than what they were owed. This, understandably, might make creditors less excited to work with you in the future.</p> <p>Often, debt settlement companies negotiate a debt that has already been charged off, meaning that the original creditor has given up on collecting it and has sold the debt to another creditor that then tries to get at least some money from you. Such debt will be listed as charged off on your report. This negative mark will remain on your credit report for seven years, and won't disappear just because you eventually settled the debt.</p> <h2>Alternatives</h2> <p>Fortunately, there are alternatives to debt settlement.</p> <ul> <li> <p>If you have a high enough credit score, you can apply for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards" target="_blank">balance transfer credit card</a>. Many of these cards have low or no interest for periods of at least a year &mdash; often longer. You will have to pay a balance transfer fee (usually 3 percent of your balance) and be very careful about finishing paying your balance before the introductory period ends and a new, much higher rate kicks in. But for some people, this option works. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-hidden-dangers-of-credit-card-balance-transfers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Hidden Dangers of Balance Transfers</a>)</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>You can also check with your bank or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt" target="_blank">peer-to-peer lenders</a> to get a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-personal-loans-may-be-better-than-credit-cards" target="_blank">debt consolidation loan</a> at a lower interest rate than you're paying now. But with these types of loans you'll also need a good credit score.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>If you don't have good credit, consider contacting your creditors directly to work out a repayment plan that fits your budget. Creditors are under no obligation to work with you, but many will as a way to eventually get the money that you owe them.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can also work with a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency to craft a debt management plan (DMP). The counseling agency will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf, typically resulting in a 20 percent lower interest rate and a 50 percent lower monthly payment.</p> <p>You will usually have to close all of your credit card accounts while you're under the DMP, but the upside is that you will only have one payment to make and that's to the credit counseling agency. Closing your accounts will cause a temporary dip in your credit score, but a DMP is much less harmful overall to your credit than debt resettlement. You can find nonprofit credit counselors in your area through one of two associations: the <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/locator/" target="_blank">National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)</a> or the <a href="http://fcaa.org/" target="_blank">Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA)</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p>As a last resort, you may consider bankruptcy. This is sometimes less damaging to your credit report than a debt settlement, though certain types of bankruptcy stay on your credit report for longer. Be sure you thoroughly assess the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-bankruptcy-is-the-right-move" target="_blank">pros and cons of bankruptcy</a> before taking this step.</p> </li> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHeres%2520How%2520Debt%2520Settlement%2520Can%2520Make%2520Your%2520Debt%2520Worse.jpg&amp;description=Heres%20How%20Debt%20Settlement%20Can%20Make%20Your%20Debt%20Worse"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Heres%20How%20Debt%20Settlement%20Can%20Make%20Your%20Debt%20Worse.jpg" alt="Here's How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse" width="250" height="374" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-before-taking-out-a-personal-loan">10 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Out a Personal Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts">Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Debt Management bad advice credit score Creditors debt settlement fees hidden dangers repayment plans Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1985925 at http://www.wisebread.com The New Grad's Guide to Debt Management http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-grads-guide-to-debt-management <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-new-grads-guide-to-debt-management" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/graduating_student_worrying_about_career_path_and_financial_future.jpg" alt="Graduating Student Worrying About Career Path and Financial Future" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to Student Loan Hero, the average 2016 graduate left college with $37,172 in student loan debt. The class of 2017 will graduate owing roughly the same amount, if not more.</p> <p>For many young adults, a student loan is the only option for obtaining a degree. The problem, however, is that it takes years to pay off these balances. Some graduates also have difficulty juggling student debt with their other expenses.</p> <p>Luckily, student loan debt doesn't have to cripple a new grad's finances. Here are a few strategies to help graduates manage their debt and stay on track.</p> <h2>1. Get organized and prepared for that first bill</h2> <p>Student loan repayment typically begins six to nine months after graduating college. You'll likely receive information regarding your first payment in advance. If you haven't received this information yet, it doesn't hurt to contact your student loan lender to ask about your due date and minimum payment. Having this information early helps you prepare your budget ahead of time.</p> <p>To stay organized and avoid late payments, set up automatic reminders a few days before your student loan payments are due. If you have multiple lenders, look into consolidating all your loans into a single loan. This way, you don't have to juggle multiple payments and due dates. If consolidation isn't an option, contact your lenders to see if you're allowed to change your due dates. It might be easier to manage student debt when due dates are within a few days of each other. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-s-the-difference-between-student-loan-refinancing-and-consolidation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What's the Difference Between Student Loan Refinancing and Consolidation?</a>)</p> <h2>2. Sign up for autopay to stay on schedule</h2> <p>Signing up for autopay is one way to avoid missing a due date on your student loans, which can trigger a late fee or a negative mark on your credit report. With autopay, your student loan lender automatically drafts monthly payments from your checking or savings account on a specific day of the month. As a bonus, your lender may reduce your interest rate when you agree to automated payments. This results in paying less interest over the life of the loan.</p> <p>Of course, the key to making this a successful solution is ensuring that there's always enough money in your checking account to cover the deductions &mdash; something you'll really need to stay on top of.</p> <h2>3. Request forbearance if you need more time</h2> <p>If you're scheduled to begin repaying your student loan, but you don't have enough income, don't ignore the bills. Student loan lenders &mdash; especially federal lenders &mdash; are flexible and offer assistance to students requiring financial help.</p> <p>One provision is forbearance, which allows you to temporarily suspend student loan payments for a certain number of months. For example, request a one-month forbearance if you have a temporary hardship, or request a one-year forbearance if you experience longer financial troubles. Keep in mind that interest continues to accrue with forbearance, which can put you deeper in the hole. Only use this option as a last resort.</p> <p>Deferment, on the other hand, is an income-based hardship provision. This option works the same as forbearance in that it suspends monthly payments without penalty. With a deferment, however, the federal government pays the interest that accrues during this period. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-deferring-student-loans?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Things You Need to Know About Deferring Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2>4. Deduct student loan interest</h2> <p>Student loan interest is a deductible expense, so remember to include this item when filing your income taxes. This is critical in cutting your tax liability, especially when you're already on a tight budget. Since it's an &quot;above-the-line deduction,&quot; you don't have to itemize your tax return to take advantage of this write-off. You're allowed to write off up to $2,500 of student loan interest paid annually. This will reduce how much you owe in federal and state taxes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a>)</p> <h2>5. Hold off on other types of financing</h2> <p>After finishing college, you're likely ready to get your &quot;adult&quot; life started. This might include buying a new car and furnishing an apartment. But since you're fresh out of school with student loan debt, try to hold off on other types of financing &mdash; at least for now.</p> <p>The more debt you acquire, the harder it might be to juggle student loan and other credit payments. If you can avoid a car loan and unnecessary credit card debt, the money you would have spent on these expenses can go toward paying down student loan debt.</p> <h2>6. Live at home</h2> <p>The financial decisions you make as a young adult can affect your life later on. Although your friends might move into their own apartments, buy new cars, and spend most of their money on fun stuff, consider the benefits of living at home after graduation. By doing so, there's an opportunity to put a major dent in your debt. I did it for two years immediately following college, and I wasn't even a little bit embarrassed about it; I've paid off two student loans as a result.</p> <p>Whether you have credit card debt or student loan debt, minimizing your expenses now and prioritizing debt elimination sets the foundation for a strong financial future. Not only should you pay off debt, you should use this time to build a solid emergency fund. It'll be easier to save money and get ahead financially when you commit to living as cheaply as possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-loans?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-new-grads-guide-to-debt-management&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520New%2520Grad%2527s%2520Guide%2520to%2520Debt%2520Management_0.jpg&amp;description=The%20New%20Grad's%20Guide%20to%20Debt%20Management"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20New%20Grad%27s%20Guide%20to%20Debt%20Management_0.jpg" alt="The New Grad's Guide to Debt Management" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-grads-guide-to-debt-management">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-deferring-student-loans">4 Things You Need to Know About Deferring Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/student-loan-debt-in-collections-try-these-5-steps">Student Loan Debt in Collections? Try These 5 Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big">4 Times Student Loan Refinancing Can Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-student-loan-forbearance-anyway">What Is Student Loan Forbearance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Education & Training college grads deductions forbearance interest new graduates student loans taxes Wed, 14 Jun 2017 08:31:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 1963760 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Foolish Ways to Pay Down Debt http://www.wisebread.com/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/reduce_debt_concept.jpg" alt="Reduce debt concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Living paycheck to paycheck is even more challenging with loads of high-interest debt. At the end of the month, you've worked hard and barely made a dent in the principal you owe.</p> <p>Sound familiar? If so, it's time to develop a repayment strategy that avoids common gimmicks and shortsighted solutions that only dig a deeper hole. Here are six terrible ways to get out of debt.</p> <h2>1. Depleting your retirement account</h2> <p>Taking a loan against your 401(k) account is a trifecta of bad ideas. First, your employer may not allow you to make new contributions until the loan is repaid in full. Second, because of those loan payments, you'll take home less money &mdash; a situation that can turn household budgets upside down and may tempt you to revert to bad credit habits. Third, if you leave your job, the outstanding loan amount must be repaid immediately. Not able to swing it? Then you'll get hit with early withdrawal fees and be responsible for income tax on the balance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-traps-to-avoid-with-your-401k?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Traps to Avoid With Your 401(k)</a>)</p> <h2>2. Consolidating debt with a high-interest loan</h2> <p>Whack-a-Mole is a classic arcade game, not a debt repayment strategy. Consolidating debt into a single loan <em>only </em>works if the interest rate is low (that is, significantly lower than your average credit card rate). Proceed with caution. Understand the terms of any loan that's offered and don't be seduced by low monthly payment amounts that actually keep you paying for a longer period of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Borrowing against your home</h2> <p>What's worse than being in debt? Being homeless and in debt. If your current debt is unsecured (that is, not tied to any property as collateral), why secure it by folding it into your mortgage? If you don't pay back an unsecured debt, you'll end up with a bad credit score. But &mdash; and this is a <em>big but </em>&mdash; if you don't repay a home-equity loan, you'll end up with a bad credit score and a foreclosure.</p> <h2>4. Draining your emergency fund</h2> <p>An emergency fund serves a singular purpose: It's a safety net that helps people cope with a job loss or unexpected expense without resorting to high-interest credit cards. Tapping your emergency fund to pay off unsecured debt today jeopardizes your financial security and can leave you exposed to even higher debt levels tomorrow. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>5. Working with a debt settlement company</h2> <p>Sure, convincing your creditors to accept a lump-sum payment of less than what's owed sounds fantastic. But debtors beware: Sometimes <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-debt-settlement-can-leave-you-deeper-in-debt-even-with-trustworthy-companies?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt settlement can make things worse</a>. As part of the lengthy and fee-riddled settlement process, you must stop paying your debts &mdash; an act that triggers collection calls, late fees, and negative credit reporting. And even if all your creditors agree to the settlement terms (there are no guarantees), it'll take years to rebuild your credit score.</p> <p>To better understand your debt, connect with a <em>nonprofit </em>credit counseling service instead. (The FTC has some tips on <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor" target="_blank">finding and choosing a reputable credit counseling service</a>.) These agencies help consumers review their budgets and design a repayment plan that's realistic and effective. They may negotiate with creditors on your behalf to lower penalties and interest charges, but they won't go to the drastic and credit-damaging lengths that many debt settlement companies do.</p> <h2>6. Borrowing from family or friends</h2> <p>While borrowing from those closest to you may seem like a reasonable way to avoid predatory debt-settlement services and high-interest loans, it's a quick way to shorten your Christmas list permanently. One missed payment or one obvious personal splurge builds ill will that's difficult to overcome. Unless you're absolutely certain you can pay back the money without a single hiccup, avoid mixing finances with family and friends.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Foolish%2520Ways%2520to%2520Pay%2520Down%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=6%20Foolish%20Ways%20to%20Pay%20Down%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Foolish%20Ways%20to%20Pay%20Down%20Debt.jpg" alt="6 Foolish Ways to Pay Down Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foolish-ways-to-pay-down-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-retiring-with-debt">What to Do If You&#039;re Retiring With Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind">Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management 401(k) loan borrowing money debt settlements emergency fund high interest debt home equity loan money mistakes mortgages repayment Tue, 13 Jun 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Kentin Waits 1961854 at http://www.wisebread.com What's Better: Less Debt or More Savings? http://www.wisebread.com/whats-better-less-debt-or-more-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/whats-better-less-debt-or-more-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit_card_money_138077193.jpg" alt="Wondering if less debt or more savings is better" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Money advice can be confusing. Financial planners say that you should pay off high-interest debt &mdash; especially credit card debt &mdash; as quickly as possible. They also say that you should build an emergency fund you can use for repairs to a busted transmission or a leaking water heater. But what if you have just enough money in your emergency fund to pay off all your credit cards? Doesn't your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt" target="_blank">high-interest credit card debt</a> qualify as an emergency?</p> <p>You might be surprised to hear that no, you should not spend your whole emergency fund on credit card debt. The better approach is to use <em>some</em> of your savings to pay off a chunk of your debt, while still keeping a reserve stashed away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>An emergency fund can help you avoid debt</h2> <p>Emptying all of your savings to pay off your credit card debt might feel good. But having an emergency fund is key to avoiding more high-interest debt in the future.</p> <p>Financial pros recommend that you build an emergency fund large enough to cover three to six months' worth of daily living expenses, but that's just the bare minimum. An emergency fund that can cover a year of daily living expenses is better.</p> <p>You might not realize just how badly you need this cash reserve until an expensive emergency pops up. Say your roof suddenly needs replacing, or your water heater calls it quits. Without any savings, you'll probably turn to credit cards to pay your contractors. Now, you'll have to pay interest on the repair.</p> <p>Or, what if you unexpectedly lose your job? Most people don't find new employment overnight. A job hunt can take months, and your emergency fund can help pay for your daily living expenses in the meantime. Without an emergency fund, a job loss could have you trying to use credit cards to pay for everything from groceries to filling your car's gas tank. And that could lead to a mountain of future debt.</p> <h2>The better approach to paying down high-interest debt</h2> <p>You <em>can </em>use your savings to help pay down credit card debt. The key is to use only some of the money, never depleting or critically draining the fund.</p> <p>Say you have $15,000 saved in an emergency fund, and $12,000 of credit card debt. Maybe you could withdraw $6,000 from your savings to cut your credit card debt in half. That will still leave you with $9,000 in savings that you can use to handle any financial emergencies that come your way.</p> <p>After you tackle that large chunk, you can work aggressively to pay off the remainder of your credit card debt on your own. There are several approaches to paying down this debt, two of the most common being the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you" target="_blank">debt avalanche and debt snowball</a> methods.</p> <p>In the avalanche method, you first pay as much as you can each month on your credit card with the highest interest rate, making the minimum payments on your other cards. Once you pay off the card with the highest rate, you begin making larger payments on the card with the next highest rate, and so on until you've paid off all your cards.</p> <p>You can also try the debt snowball method, where you instead focus on first paying off your credit card with the smallest balance, making minimum payments each month on your other cards. Once you pay off your smallest debt, you move on to the card with the next smallest balance and so on, again until you've again paid off all your cards. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball" target="_blank">6 Secrets to Mastering the Debt Snowball</a>)</p> <p>The avalanche method is the cheapest because you tackle highest-interest debt first. The snowball method, though, comes with a psychological boost: There's a good feeling involved with paying off a debt in full, even if it is a small one. For some people that provides critical motivation for sticking with a debt repayment plan.</p> <p>If you find yourself struggling to handle a large debt repayment effort, you can also try the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-of-debt-faster-with-the-debt-snowflake" target="_blank">debt snowflake method</a>. In this approach, you find any minuscule way to shave money off your everyday expenses. You then use those savings to make frequent payments on your credit card debt. It may seem like you aren't doing much, but every payment, no matter how small, makes a difference. You can use this method in conjunction with the snowball or avalanche, too.</p> <p>Choose the approach that works best for you. And remember, as tempting as it might be, don't completely drain your savings. You never know when life will throw a financial emergency at you.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhats-better-less-debt-or-more-savings&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2527s%2520Better-%2520Less%2520Debt%2520or%2520More%2520Savings-.jpg&amp;description=What's%20Better%3A%20Less%20Debt%20or%20More%20Savings%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%27s%20Better-%20Less%20Debt%20or%20More%20Savings-.jpg" alt="What's Better: Less Debt or More Savings?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-better-less-debt-or-more-savings">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-prevent-a-debt-spiral">5 Ways to Prevent a Debt Spiral</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-americans-are-getting-better-at-managing-their-money">3 Ways Americans Are Getting Better at Managing Their Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management avalanche method cash reserves credit card debt emergency funds high interest debt saving money snowball method snowflake method Mon, 22 May 2017 08:00:15 +0000 Dan Rafter 1950127 at http://www.wisebread.com We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt? http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-514332608.jpg" alt="Couple wondering if they should save for retirement or pay off debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? If you're carrying a card balance, you may be wrestling with whether to put all your resources into attacking the debt, or start building your retirement nest egg while you slowly pay off debt.</p> <p>Which one will give you a better net worth? There's no simple answer. For some people the situation may warrant clearing credit card debt first; for others, it's better to start investing right away. To figure out which scenario is better in a given situation, we'll need to do some math. Don't worry, we'll show you how to do it in a few easy steps.</p> <h2>Step 1: Gather important numbers about your debt and your retirement plan</h2> <p>First, look through your credit card statements and accompanying information to pull up the following numbers:</p> <ul> <li>Credit card debt. You'll find this on the front of your credit card statement.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit card interest rate, or APR (Annual Percentage Rate). You'll find this further down on your statement, in a section labeled &quot;Interest Charged&quot; or something similar.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment. You'll find this in your card's terms and conditions, under a discussion about how minimum payments are calculated. It will probably be a percentage, but there may also be a flat sum.</li> </ul> <p>Next, consider any retirement plan you are enrolled in or have available. What is the average annual return? You can identify past returns by reviewing your retirement account statements. For example, your 401(k) plan account may list your annual return. Note that past returns don't guarantee or predict future returns, but we'll use the average annual return as a proxy for future returns in this case, knowing that if our portfolio takes a long-term downward turn, our calculations will change.</p> <p>Finally, how much extra do you have in your monthly budget that you could put toward credit card payments, retirement investments, or both?</p> <p>Follow along as we consider a hypothetical debt situation and retirement opportunity. Let's say there's $500 in our monthly budget, which equals $6,000 annually ($500 x 12 months = $6,000) to put toward debt or retirement.</p> <p>Currently, the balance on our credit card is $5,000. Our APR is 22%. Our minimum monthly payment is 3% of our outstanding balance or $25, whichever is greater.</p> <p>Our employer offers a 401(k) plan. For the sake of keeping this illustration simple, we'll say our employer doesn't match employee contributions and we choose to make taxable contributions with a Roth designated account within the 401(k).</p> <p>In reality, you might choose instead to make tax-deductible contributions to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-an-ira-to-build-wealth?ref=internal" target="_blank">traditional retirement account</a>. With a Roth 401(k) there are no immediate tax benefits, which makes our calculations simpler and therefore better suited for this purpose.</p> <p>We'll say the default investment in our 401(k) is a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-best-investments-for-lazy-investors?ref=internal" target="_blank">target-date mutual fund</a> with an average annual return of 6.3% since its inception. We know that future performance is unpredictable. But to run the numbers for the retirement vs. debt decision, we'll apply an annual return of 6% to our retirement account.</p> <p>We'll look at the retirement account and credit card balance after five years to compare the two choices: 1) making minimum payments on our card balance so we can start investing right away, or 2) putting all our extra money toward our credit card debt before we consider retirement investing.</p> <p>In both scenarios, we'll assume that we won't make additional charges on our credit card. In addition, we'll contribute to our retirement account when we have money available to invest.</p> <h2>Step 2: Calculate net worth if you prioritize retirement savings over paying off credit card debt quickly</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll see what happens if we only make minimum payments on our credit card so that we can get started investing for retirement right away. Your credit card statement should state very clearly how long it will take to pay off your balance if you make minimum payments.</p> <p>You can also find an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card" target="_blank">online calculator</a> to help you with these calculations. Here's the information we'll enter for our example (you can put in your own numbers from your real-life situation):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 3%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $25<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>Results indicate that we'll carry this debt for more than 17 years (205 months) and pay more than $7,000 in interest during this time. Click the button that says &quot;Detailed Results&quot; to see a breakdown of the payments. Make sure that under the Assumptions tab, you've asked for a monthly table display.</p> <p>In the first month, our payment is $150 and this amount slowly diminishes until we're paying the minimum amount of $25 for the last several years.</p> <p>Since we're making minimum payments on the credit card, we'll be able to put $350 of our total available $500 toward retirement in the first month ($500 - $150 = $350). The second month and subsequent months, we'll be able to increase the amount we invest, as our credit card balance dwindles. Every month we also earn some interest (6%/12 months), so our retirement account balance grows in that way, too.</p> <p>After five years (60 months), our credit card balance will be trimmed to less than $2,500.</p> <p>At the end of five years, our retirement account grows to just over $27,300. Considering our debt and retirement balances, our net worth is $24,800 ($27,300 in assets and $2,500 in liabilities). Note that investment returns are not guaranteed; the 6% rate is for illustration purposes only.</p> <p>You can&nbsp;<a href="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/Rains_We Do The Math Spreadsheet - Sheet1.pdf" target="_blank">download the spreadsheet</a> with these calculations.</p> <h2>Step 3: Calculate net worth if you pay off credit card debt completely before investing for retirement</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll apply all of our extra income to credit card debt first. When the debt is paid in full, we'll begin to contribute to the retirement account.</p> <p>We enter this information to learn how quickly we'll pay off the debt with $500 per month (again, enter your own information to get personalized results):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 0%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $500<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>To keep the credit card payment at $500 per month (and pay off credit card debt first), we'll enter the minimum payment percentage as 0% and the minimum payment amount as $0 &mdash; even though the actual terms of the credit card agreement will most likely specify a percentage of 2% or more and a minimum payment of $10 or more. When we view the results, we find that the payoff happens in 12 months. We'll make 11 payments of $500 and one payment of $74.</p> <p>After we finish paying off the credit card debt, we can begin investing. We'll invest $426 in the twelfth month ($500&ndash;$74) and $500 in subsequent months. Consider using a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calculator.net/future-value-calculator.html" target="_blank">Future Value calculator</a>, to determine how much your retirement account will be worth at the end of five years.</p> <p>Here's the information we entered into the Future Value calculator:</p> <ul> <li>Number of periods: 48. (We'll invest for four years, or 48 months.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start amount: $426. (We'll start with the first month's contribution as the balance in our account.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Interest rate: 0.5% (6% annual rate divided by 12 months).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Periodic deposit: $500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Deposit made at the beginning or end of the period: End.</li> </ul> <p>If we earn 6% annually on our investments, our retirement account grows to $27,590 in five years. In addition, our credit card debt is paid off. Our net worth is $27,590 &mdash; that's $2,790 <em>more </em>than if we had prioritized retirement savings first and stuck with only paying the minimum on our credit card debt each month.</p> <h2>What else to consider</h2> <p>These calculations are a starting place. Your situation may be similar to this scenario, but it might not be. For instance, if your APR is considerably lower and your retirement returns higher than in the scenarios above, you may very well find that you're better off investing in the market while reducing your credit card debt slowly. Changes in one or several of these factors could alter results:</p> <ul> <li>Larger or smaller credit card balances;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Higher or lower credit card APRs;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Better or worse investment performance;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Availability of a company match on your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Administrative fees associated with your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Choosing to invest in a traditional 401(k).</li> </ul> <p>If you opt for a traditional 401(k), your contributions come out of your pretax income, thereby reducing your taxable income, which could result in a lower tax liability and a higher tax refund. A tax refund could be applied to your credit card balance, allowing you to more easily pay off debt while also saving for retirement.</p> <p>To calculate the immediate tax benefit of saving within a traditional 401(k) account, multiply the contribution amount by your marginal tax rate. In addition, you could be eligible for a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-savings-contributions-savers-credit" target="_blank">saver's credit</a>, which further increases the benefit of retirement savings.</p> <h2>How to get started with either scenario</h2> <p>Whatever path you choose, you may need help taking first steps. Consider these ways to get started:</p> <h3>Debt payoff</h3> <ul> <li>Consider transferring or consolidating your balances on a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% balance transfer card</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Consider a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=internal" target="_blank">no-spend week or month</a> in which you don't spend on anything except essentials.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Apply cash gifts from family to credit card balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work a part-time job to pay down balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find ways to spend less on everyday expenditures and apply savings to debt payoff.</li> </ul> <h3>Retirement saving</h3> <ul> <li>Consider enrolling in your employer's retirement plan, if offered. You may have the opportunity to contribute to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/403b-vs-401k-how-are-they-different?ref=internal" target="_blank">401(k) or 403(b) account</a>, for example.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-retirement-account-whats-available-and-what-s-best-for-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">IRA</a> with a brokerage account or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-trust-your-money-with-these-4-popular-financial-robo-advisers?ref=internal" target="_blank">robo-adviser</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sep-ira-is-how-the-self-employed-do-retirement-like-a-boss?ref=internal" target="_blank">SEP-IRA</a> if you have self-employment income.</li> </ul> <p>When considering your choices, keep in mind that credit card interest rates are relatively fixed, whereas investment returns tend to be much more variable. The main instances in which credit card rates fluctuate these days are when the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, or when you make late payments and are charged a penalty interest rate.</p> <p>The point is, if your card's APR is 22%, you could be certain to save at least 22% of your balance by paying off credit card interest early. In contrast, the precise benefit of early investing is less certain.</p> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? Doing the math can help you make a decision.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwe-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWe%2520Do%2520the%2520Math-%2520Save%2520for%2520Retirement%2520or%2520Pay%2520Off%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Debt-.jpg&amp;description=We%20Do%20the%20Math%3A%20Save%20for%20Retirement%20or%20Pay%20Off%20Credit%20Card%20Debt%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/We%20Do%20the%20Math-%20Save%20for%20Retirement%20or%20Pay%20Off%20Credit%20Card%20Debt-.jpg" alt="We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Why Retiring With Debt Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Retirement 401(k) APR bills calculating comparisons interest rates nest egg Paying Off Debt Thu, 18 May 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Julie Rains 1949201 at http://www.wisebread.com Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind? http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-523154492_1.jpg" alt="Woman learning who pays when a loved one leaves behind debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Losing a loved one &mdash; a parent, spouse, or sibling &mdash; is difficult enough. But what if your loved one left mortgage, auto loan, or credit card debt behind? Will you now be responsible for paying those bills?</p> <p>In most cases, no. Creditors can't force you to cover the unpaid debts of loved ones who have died. But the money that your loved ones owed might cut into or even eliminate any inheritance that was meant for you or other survivors.</p> <h2>What usually happens</h2> <p>When people die, the money they owe creditors &mdash; everyone from their mortgage lender, to their auto loan providers, to their credit card companies &mdash; is collected from their estate. The estate in this case is defined as the money and assets owned solely by the deceased.</p> <p>This might mean that the house your parents owned has to be sold to pay off any mortgage debt they owed. Their car might have to be sold to pay off credit card or other debts.</p> <p>Whatever is left after these debts are paid off remains in the estate of the deceased. If your parents wanted to leave money behind for their children and grandchildren, the amount they wanted to bestow will be reduced by however much they owed creditors at the time of their death.</p> <h2>It can get more complicated</h2> <p>Of course, that's the most basic course of action. In reality, money matters can get more complicated after the death of a loved one.</p> <p>This is especially true when you lose a spouse. In most states, you won't be responsible for any debt that your spouse left behind when he or she died, as long as the debt was accrued in your spouse's name alone. If both you and your spouse share a credit card or a mortgage, then you will be responsible for making payments on that debt after your spouse dies.</p> <p>If you live in what is known as a community property state, you will be responsible for even more debt. In such states, the debts of deceased people are passed onto surviving spouses, even if the debt is not in the survivor's name. If your spouse took out a loan to buy a motorcycle and didn't finish paying it off before dying, you'd be responsible for paying off that loan.</p> <p>There are only 10 states that have community property laws: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you live in any other state, you are not responsible for debt run up in your spouse's name alone.</p> <p>Co-signing presents another complication. If you co-signed on a loan with anyone, you will have to pay off the debt left behind when they die. Say your sibling dies, but before that tragedy, you co-signed their auto loan. You will now be responsible for paying off that loan.</p> <h2>Mortgage debt</h2> <p>Different types of debt come with different issues. Mortgage debt left behind can be one of the most complicated.</p> <p>Surviving children or siblings aren't personally responsible for the mortgage debt left behind by their loved ones. But it still needs to be paid off. Otherwise, the bank will sell the home to pay off the unpaid mortgage debt.</p> <p>This can be problematic if parents wanted to leave their home to their kids. If your parents leave their home to you, and they still owed money on their mortgage at the time of their death, you can take possession of the home. But you must make the monthly mortgage payments. If you don't want or can't afford to do this, you'll have to sell the home.</p> <p>If your spouse dies and you still owe on your mortgage loan, you'll have to continue making monthly payments if the loan was in both your name and your spouse's. If it wasn't, you'll have to take over the payments if you want to keep the house.</p> <h2>Credit card debt</h2> <p>Credit card debt is never passed on to surviving family members whose names are not on the credit card account. When your loved ones die, this debt will be paid off from their estate. If there is not enough money in the estate, the credit card company is out of luck.</p> <p>Some debt collectors might try to convince you that you are responsible for the credit card debt of a deceased loved one. Don't fall for this. If your name is not on the account, you are under no legal responsibility to pay off this debt.</p> <p>That goes for authorized users, too. Authorized users are never liable for the debt charged to a card, even if they made those charges before the person's death. Do not continue making charges on the account, though, or you could be held liable.</p> <p>Finally, if you shared a joint credit card account, the debt on that card becomes your responsibility. You must continue making payments on it.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwho-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind&amp;media=Who%20Pays%20When%20Loved%20Ones%20Leave%20Debt%20Behind&amp;description=Who%20Pays%20When%20Loved%20Ones%20Leave%20Debt%20Behind%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Who%20Pays%20When%20Loved%20Ones%20Leave%20Debt%20Behind.jpg" alt="Who Pays When Loved Ones Leave Debt Behind?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-pays-when-loved-ones-leave-debt-behind">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts">Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-your-debt-after-you-die">What Happens to Your Debt After You Die?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-monthly-bills-that-vary-based-on-your-credit-behavior">5 Monthly Bills That Vary Based on Your Credit Behavior</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fair-way-to-split-up-your-familys-estate">The Fair Way to Split Up Your Family&#039;s Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-financial-moves-to-make-when-a-loved-one-dies">12 Financial Moves to Make When a Loved One Dies</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management auto loans cosign death inheritance leaving debt behind loves ones mortgages settling estates Thu, 18 May 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Dan Rafter 1947500 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make If Your Net Worth Is Negative http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-if-your-net-worth-is-negative <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-to-make-if-your-net-worth-is-negative" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-546177782.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves when her net worth is negative" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the most illustrative financial figures to know is your total net worth. This is the value of all of your cash and assets, minus your debts. For many people, that figure is below zero.</p> <p>Building a high net worth should be the ultimate goal of anyone seeking financial freedom. If your net worth is less than zero, consider making these moves ASAP. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-increase-your-net-worth-this-year?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth This Year</a>)</p> <h2>1. Reduce your spending</h2> <p>One of the most direct ways to end up with a negative net worth is to spend more than you earn. Cutting unnecessary expenditures is the first step in having a net positive income each month. This can mean some tough choices, like eliminating cable, eating out, and your annual vacation. It may also require more extreme measures, like getting by without a car.</p> <p>You can help yourself by tracking your spending meticulously in a budget so you know where money is going each month. Even if you think you are already living frugally, there's a chance you can find savings just by taking a closer look.</p> <h2>2. Pay off your high-interest debt</h2> <p>If your net worth is negative, it may be partially due to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">high interest credit card debt</a> and other loans. Interest can quickly pile up and eventually overwhelm your earnings, putting you in negative net worth territory. Tackling debt starting with the highest interest rate first is called the avalanche method, and this can save you a lot of money on interest payments in the long run. Sometimes, even paying off just one credit card can make a huge difference in your financial situation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Bring in more income</h2> <p>If you're crumbling under a mountain of debt and you don't have enough income to pay off the debt, you must find a way to bring in more money. Start by searching for higher paying jobs or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-should-demand-a-raise?ref=internal" target="_blank">asking for a raise</a> from your current employer. Consider starting a side hustle, small business, or taking an additional part-time job. It may also be worth exploring income-producing investments, such as dividend stocks or peer-to-peer lending. If you have a maniacal focus on earning more money, you will help yourself move from negative to positive in the net worth department.</p> <h2>4. Invest</h2> <p>Arguably the most important way to build net worth is through investing. If you are able to put even a small amount of your earnings into stocks or index funds that grow, you'll give your financial picture a boost over time. Obviously, investing in the stock market carries risks. But U.S. stocks have consistently risen in value over time, with long-term growth eventually surpassing losses during market crashes. The more you can invest, the better off you'll be, especially if you stay in the market for many years. You won't get rich overnight, but your overall net worth will eventually rise.</p> <h2>5. Set a financial goal</h2> <p>If you had enough money, what would you ultimately want to do with it? Would you want to buy a home? Start a family? Build a hefty retirement account? To increase your net worth, it helps to have a goal to motivate you to save. Ideally, your financial goal should be geared toward building a high net worth, not a one-time purchase like a car. Whether it's a down payment for a home, a comfortable retirement, or saving for college, your dreams can help keep you accountable.</p> <h2>6. Refinance your mortgage</h2> <p>Homeownership can be a great way to build net worth, but it can also be a drain on your finances if you have the wrong kind of mortgage. If your loan term is very long, or if you have a high-interest or interest-only loan, you may not be paying much toward the principal of the loan (or building any equity) for a while. And that could be a serious problem if you're having trouble making payments.</p> <p>If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to consider refinancing to a shorter term or lower interest rate. There's no sin in borrowing to buy a home, but ideally, homeowners should seek a fixed-rate mortgage with a relatively short loan term: 30 years is standard, but a 15-year mortgage offers you the ability to build equity &mdash; and thus your net worth &mdash; at a faster pace. Just be sure you can comfortably make the monthly payments.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-money-moves-to-make-if-your-net-worth-is-negative&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Money%2520Moves%2520to%2520Make%2520If%2520Your%2520Net%2520Worth%2520Is%2520Negative.jpg&amp;description=6%20Money%20Moves%20to%20Make%20If%20Your%20Net%20Worth%20Is%20Negative"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Money%20Moves%20to%20Make%20If%20Your%20Net%20Worth%20Is%20Negative.jpg" alt="6 Money Moves to Make If Your Net Worth Is Negative" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-if-your-net-worth-is-negative">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts">Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-meditation-can-make-you-a-money-master">6 Ways Meditation Can Make You a Money Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-retire">12 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Retire</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management assets goals investing mortgages net worth refinancing saving spending stocks Wed, 10 May 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Tim Lemke 1941242 at http://www.wisebread.com