How to Negotiate with Credit Card Companies to Reduce Your Debt

With consumers facing tough times in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, it’s a good opportunity to discuss the possibility of getting your credit card debt sorted. Most people assume credit card companies care only about the profits they make. Interestingly, this is not the case. More and more people are taking the opportunity to negotiate with their card issuers, in order to reduce monthly repayments, or the interest rate applicable to outstanding balances. Let’s take a look at a few ways in which you can cut costs by talking with your bank.

First – own up to your debt

Stop ignoring it, and start acknowledging that you got in a bit over your head. If you can’t bring yourself to uncover your financial situation, you have very little hope of successfully convincing others (the financial institutions) to help you. Ring your credit card company, ask them to explain and quantify the outstanding balance on your card, and record this for later use. Open all the envelopes you stashed away because you were too frightened to view your “ending balances”. Get these documents sorted and in order, and then congratulate yourself on completing the first step.

Second – do a mini-budget for yourself

Work out the total amount you have owing on all your credit cards, the aggregate minimum monthly payments that you are obliged to make, and the total amount of cash you have coming in each month. This will put you one step ahead of the credit card companies and will give you a slight edge over the following negotiations. When you have calculated these key amounts – it’s time to get the phone ready.

Third – dial the number of each credit card issuer

When you get an answer – don’t be afraid to ask for either a male or female representative, depending on which you feel more comfortable with. Admit it – we all have a preference, so don’t hold back. Now comes the most important part of the process – honesty. Take the time to explain exactly what your financial situation is, how much you have owning on this and other credit cards, and how much you think you can afford to pay each month. You will probably be surprised at how well the company reacts. Customer service representatives are not only trained in fixing account problems, but also in finding solutions to payment issues and plans.

With any luck, you and the company will have agreed on a beneficial solution by the end of the call. If not, wait a few days and give it another try! Different representatives will, of course, recommend different things. The reason they are so helpful? At the end of the day, if you go bankrupt – they will receive none of the money you have outstanding. Therefore, it is in the card issuers’ best interests to go out of their way – whether it be by cutting interest rates or slashing the required monthly payment, in order to keep you afloat.

As a final note

It is important not to abuse this kind of spirit shown by the banks. If you go on to break the arrangement by failing to pay or settle your account as agreed, you may find that the company develops little sympathy for you in the future. Whatever you do, take an honest and open approach to your financial matter, and with any luck, you will be back on track in no time.

Easy Personal Finance Tips

When you’re trying to save for the future and still manage to eat, it can be tough to find that right balance. We all need to plan ahead, and having a savings account really is essential. This can be a cushion or that “rainy day” money that you need, and it is never too late to start putting away money towards your retirement. However, a lot of us can get bogged down when it comes to handling our own finances and it is all too easy to be like the grasshopper in Aesop’s Fables and put it off until tomorrow.

You can’t put off saving for your future until tomorrow, because there is a good chance you’ll keep putting it off until you wake up one day and it’s too late. However, there are a few easy tips that you can use to start saving for your future today. It may be a little tough at times, but like anything, practice makes perfect. The more you practice saving, the easier it gets. Eventually, managing your money will come naturally.

Let’s start off with setting a budget and finding which expenses are not necessary. Add up everything you spend over the course of a month. Put all of your necessary expenses, such as groceries, rent, utilities and phone into one column. Now, put everything else in the other. You may be surprised at just how much you are spending every single month. If you have credit cards, it’s very easy to spend more than you’re making. This sets you up to enter a bad debt spiral that will eventually get out of control.

Now, let’s take a look at everything in the second column. Add up how much you spend on things such as partying or shopping. These are items that should be the first to go. Sure, you don’t want to become a recluse, but when you get tempted to go out and spend a bunch of money ask yourself – will I still be able to wear this shirt when I’m broke at 65? Do I want to work until I’m 80 simply because I want to go have a few drinks?

It’s a bit extreme, but these little spending habits can end up giving you that result. Find ways to do things a lot more cheaply and you’ll end up saving a few hundred dollars every month. Put that money into an interest-bearing savings account and we guarantee, by the end of the year, you’ll be amazed at how much money you were able to put aside. Next, you’ll need to focus on ways to create more money than just your standard income. 80% of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This means that one lost job can result in becoming homeless. To break that cycle, you need to create multiple streams of income so that you’re not relying on that one source of income to meet your needs. This is the key to planning for your future.

Does Your Education Really Make a Difference For Your Financial Future?

One of the age-old questions that many people have is whether having a good education will predispose you towards being wealthy. While there are many schools of thought on this, the general consensus is that it is easier to make more money when you have a special degree, but it’s not impossible to make money if you don’t. There is a lot of gray area in there, so let’s take a closer look at what your education can mean for your financial future.

We’ve all heard the stories of the janitors who died with a million dollars in their savings accounts, and there are plenty of real people out there that manage their finances well, regardless of how much education they have achieved. However, the majority of these people fully understand the value of a dollar, how to save and how to create multiple streams of income. If you’ve got all the right ingredients you will be able to find success, even if it does not come easily.

While it is completely possible to become inordinately wealthy without a degree, it will take more work. If you’ve got a great idea and a plan for implementation, it won’t matter how much schooling you’ve had. However, if you’re going to rely on a low-income job to make you wealthy through the years, the odds are stacked against you. This is where education comes into play.

The more you’ve learned, the more you’ll earn is generally quite true. The starting salaries for college graduates are higher than the salaries for those without a formal degree. Whether this is fair or not is open to debate, but it is generally the case. So, does this mean that you have to accept this and stick with a lower pay scale? Absolutely not!

Everyone can gain more than just a higher salary by returning to school. Whether it is a training program to open up your own business, or you are going to a formal school for a degree program, getting additional education can greatly impact your chances of making more money. For those looking to end their reliance on their paycheck, a training program for a real estate license, or another skill can allow them more opportunities for making money, even with part-time work.

If you are in a position right now where you cannot afford extra training, there are several options that are available. One such option is the Sallie Mae Training Loan, which is available for those that are looking at training classes that cost more than $1000. They offer 100% financing for these loans, allowing you to leverage that debt into something that will definitely pay off in the future. Education is always important, and it comes in many different flavors. Whether you are taking a few courses here or there to stay on top of your industry, or you want to earn more money at your current job, getting additional training is always beneficial for your bottom line.

Budgeting Tips for Food Bills: Four Ways to Stay Within the Grocery Budget

Food bills can be reduced by using a written budget to determine how much will be spent on food for the month. Continuously being over budget, may point to the fact that the actual amount of food eaten is underestimated. Here are three tips to help lower food bills.

Grocery Receipt

Spend some time and review all of the grocery receipts from the past month. Include receipts for snacks and lunches. The current written budget may have an unrealistic amount set aside for food. If you eat out often, due to their being undesirable groceries at home consider increasing the amount of the grocery budget. Add the total of the grocery receipts, and write that number down. If convenience foods will prevent eating out at restaurants, add them to the grocery list. This is the dollar amount the monthly food budget should be. Set aside some money if the budget allows for eating out.

Cash Envelope

Use the cash envelope system to control impulse spending. Visit the ATM machine and withdraw enough cash for the grocery and immediate meal needs. While shopping in the grocery store it will be harder to face potential embarrassment at the checkout counter, by going over budget. Many people blindly go through the store adding items to their cart, without keeping a running tally.

Restaurant Gift Certificates

Purchase local gift certificates to restaurants. These establishments offer a substantial discount on meals redeemed during lunch, weeknights, and early evenings. Dine in resturants with restaurant gift certificates instead of eating fast food, or in more expensive restaurants. Keep at least one gift certificate in the glove compartment or wallet for easy access during the dinner hours.

In the event the grocery budget is not high enough, find other areas in the household budget to take away from. There may be some bills that can be reduced. Think of large expenses that are paid each month. Lowering large bills can help to free up immediate income. Examples of items to try to lower are insurance payments, unnecessary monthly subscriptions, and high-interest loans.

Think about the number of credit card payments or installment loans that are paid out each month. Eliminating one or more of these debts will free up money to add to the food budget. Write down the amount that is paid out each month on outstanding debts. If there is absolutely no area of the budget that can be skimmed to use for food, take steps to create more income. This could be from using coupons, shopping weekly sales, or picking up additional work. Use these tips to increase the food budget