How to Manage and Pay Off Debts

Debt is something that no one wants to think about, but unfortunately, for many people, it is not only unavoidable but also inevitable. Poor spending habits coupled with a lack of willpower to avoid making purchases can land people in debt much quicker than they realize.

 

There’s only one thing to do, though, when you find yourself in debt: get out. Because of that, there are a few important tips that everyone needs to know about how to manage and pay off debts easily and efficiently.

 

Avoid It In The First Place!

This may sound simple, but it’s an obvious tip for those who have been in and struggled through debt. While it’s no fun to manage, the easiest way to deal with it is by staying out of debt in the first place. Learn to manage your finances with resources from expert companies.

Avoid buying what you don’t need, be very careful buying on credit, and stay away from purchases involving high interest rates. Debt only comes around if you let it, and if you manage it by staying away, well, you’ve taken care of a huge problem before it even starts

Be Wary of Collection Companies

Know that collection companies often buy your debts off of the company you owe for very, very little money. Because of that, these collection companies are keen to settle your debt very cheaply and for much less that what you initially owed.

Realize that when you are dealing with them, and do not be afraid to offer significantly less than your debt is worth to get the matter settled simply and immediately. You never know; they may just take you up on it!

Know Your Credit Score and Repair

When you work to pay off and manage your debts, make sure that the collection company and the credit bureaus are on the same page, and that your credit score is changed to reflect that you paid off your debts. Get it in writing, and work so that your credit score is reinstated and solid.

Doing this will allow you to apply for future jobs, make future down payments on homes and other investments, and live a much happier financial life.

Managing debt is not easy, and for many people, it is certainly not fun, but once you are in debt there is not much to do but work your way out of it. Manage your debts wisely, take it slowly, and look at all your options before committing to a single path.

Before you know it, you will be on a realistic payment plan, and you will be working your way to a debt free life. Your finances, and your stress levels, will thank you for the hard work!

A Snobbish Collection: November 2012

Welcome to the Snobbish Collection of Novembers most elite articles by my many blogging cohorts.  We accept only the best, and as such you will find the most thought provoking articles available on the web.  Finance, particularly that of the “personal” variety, can be a bit difficult for the average consumer to…well…consume. As such we created this monthly compilation to help educate you, the reader!

No person in their right mind puts an item on layaway, there are simply no benefits to it.  Paying Debt Down understands this concept, and I wish more would as well.  Potentially losing the down payment you place, or paying even the lowest of fees is enough for me to say that you just need to simply save your money into you have enough to go in and purchase the item outright.

The Financial Samurai has realized my dream, and that of many others, of becoming financially independent! Read up on how he feels since he made the leap from working for the man, to working for himself.

I am a bit diversified when it comes to income streams.  I wouldn’t call myself a freelancer exactly, but some of my monthly revenue and expenses are treated as such.  The Money Principle offers us a helpful guide on how to budget when faced with the uncertain financials of a freelancer.

Too often investors take the “set it and forget approach” to investing.  Once the money has been investing in a stock, fund, real estate, etc., they never think to rebalance their portfolio.  Times change, and so does the soundness of certain investments, as well as the amount of risk you should incur as you age.  Financial Ramblings has a nice post reminding us of such.

So Over Debt explains how her credit cards are plotting against her! It seems that credit cards can have a drawback regardless if you carry a balance or not.  Interesting read, and one that reminds me of why I hate credit cards so much.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Tax Return

Tax time is a stressful time of the year, no matter who you are or what you may owe. It is complicated, anxiety-inducing number crunching that everyone except for accountants dreads and tries to put off when it comes time.

 

But you can get great benefits from your tax returns, and if you know what you are doing, can see a great return on your taxes that you can put towards that big purchase you’ve been eyeing. Here are a few tips.

 

Talk To An Accountant

Instead of trying to do your taxes on your own and saving a few bucks this year, talk to an accountant. They can point you in the right direction and maximize your deductions and more, so that when it comes time, they can find a great chunk of money that can come your way in the form of a return.

 

Plus, they know their stuff inside and out, and a good accountant can ensure that you won’t miss anything on your taxes, or be penalized for any misfiling or late filings. In short, an accountant can make your life much easier for just a few hundred dollars in investment.

 

File Early

File early and get it out of the way! Don’t wait until April 15th to file your taxes. Instead, quit dreading the day and get it done early and easily with no problems in January or February.

 

Plus, when you file early and get an accountant, you can be sure they are available for work in January or February. Too many people dump their taxes all on their accountant in April and expect them to be ready then; avoid that trap by getting it out of the way, for both you and their sanity!

 

Look For Deductions Before You File

Check out what you are purchasing, spending money on, and investing in, and find out if there is something you can add to your list that will qualify you for a deduction. If you go through the year with the right mindset on taxes and deductions, it becomes much more obvious come tax time what you are allowed to deduct and what can benefit your overall tax burden.

 

Remember for Next Year

Don’t forget everything you did right this year, just to screw it up again in twelve months! If you like the service you got, use the same accountant next year. As they become more familiar with your situation, they can greatly help you with any finance-related questions that may come up through the year, and can work wonders for you come tax time when it rolls around in a few short months.

 

Saving Money on Clothes

Clothing can eat up a very large chunk of your paycheck, especially if you need specialized clothes for work or need to ‘dress to impress’ every day for work.  If you have kids then all bets are off as they need new clothes seemingly every other week.

If you’re in the position that you need to buy clothes on a regular basis then this article is for you.  It is chock full of great tips and tricks that will help lower your monthly clothing bills and keep some of your hard earned cash where it belongs; in your wallet.

Make a list of all the clothing sizes of all your family members so that, when you’re out shopping, you won’t buy something that will be too big or too small and won’t be used.

Consider making a monthly clothing budget for your clothing. Having a clear amount set will keep you from splurging and will show other family members that you’re serious about your spending.

Shopping at thrift stores, especially if you have little children that won’t make a fuss about having to wear ‘used’ clothes.  The simple fact is, most children’s clothes get tossed before they’re barely even used and are perfectly fine to use (if sometimes a little stained).

Speaking of thrift, Goodwill usually has an amazingly well stocked clothing area where you can find some incredible deals on many items that are practically brand new.

Purchasing clothing out of season is an excellent way to save money on new clothes.  Buying jackets in the spring and summer clothes after summer has ended for example is a great way to get new clothes ate a fraction of their original retail price.

When you’re buying used always make sure that the size, color and style are something that you or the family member you’re buying for are going to like.  If you buy clothes at a great price that are never used you’re still wasting money.

Wherever you like to shop always check out the clearance racks for some extra special deals. Make sure that you check the items your buying thoroughly to make sure that they’re not stained, ripped or otherwise damaged.

Check back soon for part 2 of this 2 part series about saving money on clothes and good luck in your search for good, cheap clothing.

 

How to Lower an Expensive Water Bill

One of the easiest ways to save money in your home is to use less water. Not only will it reduce your water bills every month but it will also help conserve water, something that is becoming ever more important. Reducing your water use will also reduce the amount of electrical energy used by water treatment plants and produce less toxins that are released in the air when water is cleaned.

By taking some of the small steps below every single day you will not only save money but you will save a precious resource that is fast running low all over the country. With that in mind let’s take a look at some tips that will help you do just that.

One of the easiest things you can do to reduce your water bill is to reduce the amount of water that is leaking down the sink all over your house.  Did you know that a typical home loses nearly 300 gallons of water every year just from drips? It’s true, so get those leaky faucets, toilets and taps fixedASAP.

Upgrading your toilets and shower heads will save you a lot of water.  In the shower a new head can save upwards of 2 gallons a minute and a high-efficiency, low-water toilet can greatly reduce the amount of waste water in your bathroom.

Another great idea is to reduce your shower time and take fewer baths. The typical 5 minute shower uses approximately 25 gallons of water compared to a bat that uses 70.  Also, getting wet and then turning off the shower while you wash your body and your hair is an excellent way to cut way down on water use.

Only wash full loads in your washing machine and your dishwasher. This will greatly reduce waste and you’ll use less detergent too.

Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth and you could save 2 gallons of water every single time.

Flush your toilet only when it’s absolutely necessary.The old saying goes, ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’.  Sounds silly, saves money and water.

There you go; plenty of great water saving tips that you can put into effect today and start saving money and water tomorrow.

 

How You Can Save on a Rental Car

The average traveler is under the very false impression that car rental prices and car rental companies are pretty much all the same. With that false pretense they also believe that shopping around is not only unnecessary but also a waste of time.

That couldn’t be further from the truth however as rates can vary greatly from 1 company to the next depending on where you rent and where you’re going. If a rental car looms in your future then read on as we take a look at some excellent tips for saving money on your next rental.

One thing to keep in mind; generally speaking, car rental companies reward people who make it easy for them as far as the renting procedure is concerned and definitely make it hard for people that don’t.

Tip 1- Never agree to let the car rental company fill your tank when you bring it back empty.  They normally charge 20 to 30% higher for the same gas that you could pump in yourself around the corner. Instead always fill it yourself before you drop it back off unless they make an excellent offer to fill it for you for less (which rarely happens).

Tip 2- Always take a look at the ‘fine print’ and look at the additional charges before you make a decision.  A ‘great deal’ can begin to look mighty average once a ton of extra charges and taxes are tacked on.

Tip 3- Don’t rent at the airport.  The ‘airport charges’ that can and usually are tacked on can increase your rental fees by 25% or more!  Better to take a shuttle to the car rental place near the airport as most have them for free.  An extra ride in a fee shuttle bus can save you gig bucks.

Tip 4- Don’t let them hype you into taking extra insurance.  The simple fact is this; your auto insurance will cover you while you rent.  The amount of extra money you will pay for insurance is ridiculous and the odds are super slim that you’ll ever need that extra coverage.

Tip 5- Ask to rent a subcompact car. The chances that they will have one when you arrive to rent (no matter where you rent) are low because nobody likes to rent subcompacts and the rental companies know this. If they don’t have one they’re obliged to give you an upgrade to whatever they have which could mean a 1 or 2 car class upgrade for you for free.

 

Budget Beauty Tips

If you’re really on a tight budget even going to the pharmacy for beauty products might be out of the picture.  If so don’t panic because there are actually quite a few ways to turn normal kitchen leftovers into all the tools you need to look great.  As an extra bonus they’re all natural and biodegradable!

Baking soda, for example, is very versatile and can be used as a facial scrub if you mix a half teaspoon in with your favorite cleanser, a shoe and foot powder that absorbs stinky foot smell and even a toothpaste that you can use every day. (Dip your toothbrush lightly and voila!)

If you’re in need of some hydrotherapy to revitalize you and give you a healthy glow, the next time you take a hot shower turn on the cold for the last 15 to 20 seconds. If you can take it, go back and forth from hot to cold 4 or 5 times for 15 seconds each.  When you get out you’re going to look and feel awesome, but watch out for high water bills and don’t do this every day.

Using witch hazel as a toner or astringentis easy and cheap and there’s no need to dilute it. Better yet, use apple cider vinegar which will make you look great by balancing the ph. of your skin.

This is a big one; use less product that the manufacturer recommends.  Hey, they want to sell you more product when the fact is that you can easily get by with 50% (or more) less shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and so forth than they say you need.

See that!  A bunch of great beauty tips that will stretch your budget while still keeping you gorgeous and ready to take on the world!  Use them and start saving big on beauty today!

 

 

 

How to Raise Kids on a Budget

Let’s face it, raising children is expensive, there’s no 2 ways about it. If there’s one thing that you need to do when you have children is to maintain a budget or else those little brats will eat you out of house and home.

I’m joking of course but maintaining a budget when you have children is important, and that’s no joke.  If you do it right however you will have the money that you need to buy them everything they need without going broke at the same time.  Read along below and I’ll explain how and give you some Tips on raising kids on a budget.

One of the first things that you’re going to need to do is determine as closely as possible exactly what you need for food, clothes and other basic needs, and then stick to a number based on what you can afford and still be able to pay your bills and put aside 10% in your savings. While you’re doing this you can also talk to your children about it and explain why you, and they, need a budget. Don’t make it too technical but be firm.

Once you know that amount it’s time to start cutting back to

When it comes to food, there are a lot of ‘lower-end’ markets where you can get meats and more expensive food items at wholesale prices, and there are of course wholesale clubs. Buy store brand everything in your favorite supermarket.  They’re the cheapest and the products are all very similar in quality.  Trust me, the kids will never know.

For children’s clothing, if you’re really on a budget, there are thrift stores and 2nd hand stores everywhere today.  If you’re on a moderate budget stores like Kohl’s and others normally have the best deals and Wal-Mart is the king of cheap but decent quality children’s clothes.

Use the children’s furniture as long as you can and take good care of it.  If you need something else there are places online like Craigslist where you can find tons of used furniture and other items like bikes, toys, clothing and much more for incredible bargains which makes up for them not being pristine. Yard sales and estate sales are also a great idea when you need stuff for the kids.

Remember that it doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids just because you don’t buy them ‘new’ things.  Used, in most cases, is a very close 2nd and will save you a ton of money.  They kids will get used to it after a while too and the experience may even teach them a valuable life lesson. Good luck.

 

 

Travel Tips on a Budget

Even with the price of gas skyrocketing there are still plenty of bargains to be found when travelling in 2012.  During the last few years many people have learned that using the internet is a great way to find great deals, especially at the last minute.  Here are a bunch of excellent tips you can use to save money on your next trip, whether it’s across town or around the globe.

 

Book a Hotel at the last minute.  Sounds crazy, right?  It isn’t so much anymore however as younger travelers have started treating going on a quick vaca like going to the movies.  Hotels have had to adapt to this and there are now plenty of great, last-minute rates all over.  Check Expedia and Priceline before you go and you’ll be surprised at what you find. (Of course don’t do this on major holidays and peak season.)

 

Go where the money isn’t.  Countries that are in deep financial trouble, like Greece, will have much lower prices as they try to attract tourists and their travel money.  It’s slightly risky but you can find some incredible deals.

 

Travel where they are building lots of new hotels.  More hotels mean more competition for your dollar which equals better rates.  In Berlin, Germany that’s what’s happening right now.

 

Go where the big celebration was.  After Mardi Gras, the World Cup, the Olympics, the Superbowl and other huge festivals and major sporting events the price of everything drops as the city where the event was held goes through withdrawal.  Their loss if definitely your gain.

Take the bus or the train, especially once you’ve arrived at your destination.  In Europe you can travel practically anywhere by train and they’re clean, fast and safe.  If you’re keen to see all the major landmarks of a certain state or country take a bus tour.  Either way will save you a ton over flying.

 

Take a vacation close to home and use the car.  Sure gas prices are crazy but, if your destination is within 6 hours drive, you’ll spend much less than on air travel and have a mode of transportation when you’re at your destination.

 

There you go. Plenty of travel tips for 2012.  Now go out and have some fun!

 

Conflict Mediation is the Answer

It seems that legal disputes are a dime a dozen these days.  There are the typical slip and fall accidents at your local shopping mall, or a celebrity getting into an ill-advised brawl at a nightclub, or perhaps you crashing into another car that was parked at a stop light.  At least one person, if not both people, is at fault for causing the accident, but unfortunately the resolution is never as easy as placing the blame.

Consider that you are driving behind a vehicle that suddenly slams on their breaks to stop at a red light.  This sudden stop then causes you to abruptly run into the back of their car.  Whose fault is the accident?  This answer can actually vary by location.  In my state, if you rear end a car the circumstances don’t matter, you are at fault regardless.  Some other states view this differently, and a number of factors can shift the blame to the other party.  Even though the traffic violation itself is determined by the law, any civil suits often are not.

A civil suit involves two or more parties, where one is suing the other for some form of wrong doing, and in some cases the latter party is countersuing.  It’s often been said that the only winners in a lawsuit are the lawyers.  The more I think of this old adage the more it rings true.  Lawyers can be a costly bunch, and often times the lawsuit doesn’t go as you expected.  You may be the defendant that finds themselves on the wrong side of the judgment, owing both the damages and the legal fees for both parties.  Whereas, you could be the plaintiff and find yourself out the damages altogether because a jury rules against you, or at the very least a 30% reduction in the awarded amount due to legal fees.

Sometimes it’s just best not to gamble with the outcome of a courtroom or jury selection, and to mediate into an agreement.  Companies like Global Mediation (which can be found at http://www.globalmediation.co.uk/) offer unique money saving services that allow two parties that are in disagreement to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.  This takes the guess work, uncertainty, and hassle out of a lawsuit.  They even provide education and training that will allow you to facilitate these disagreements on your own.  The best part is that their services are relevant across all arenas, both personal and business.

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