Articles by Tammi

What Type of Debt Relief Options Are You Interested In?

Exciting news – We just added a new polling feature to the Freedom Debt Relief blog! Our team is looking forward to hearing your opinions about debt, credit, budgeting, and more. Start with your first one below, and make sure to check back early and often for new polls.

Wishing you all a great rest of the week!
The Freedom Family

online poll by Opinion Stage

Before Taking Out a Debt Consolidation Loan

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Thinking about taking out  a debt consolidation loan? Some people with debt problems may consider this option. However, as a consumer, you need to be clear about what debt consolidation really means and know that you are essentially moving debt around. It’s not actually helping you reduce the total amount that you owe. This can be tricky because it makes you feel like you are making progress towards resolving debt, but unless you’re careful, you could be digging a deeper hole for yourself.

Debt consolidation may seem like an appealing choice at first, because you may be able to get a lower interest rate on some of your debt. However, just because you make a lower monthly payment does not mean that you’re paying less. In fact, it could mean that your term just got extended. One thing’s for sure – the longer you stay in debt, the more you will pay to your lender.

As many people know, debt is often the result of overspending and undersaving. And no matter which way you slice it, this needs to change or else you’ll only be addressing a symptom and not the core problem. If you don’t acknowledge the reason why you got into debt in the first place and change your spending habits, the cycle will likely repeat itself.

So, before jumping into debt consolidation, make sure to evaluate your financial behaviors first. Then, do the math on your current unsecured debt. Figure out how long it will take you to pay it off, and compare that number to the length of the consolidation loan you are looking to take out. Even at a lower interest rate, the debt consolidation loan may end up costing you more money in the long run.

Getting out of debt takes hard work, and debt consolidation is definitely not an easy way out. It doesn’t change the habits that got you into debt in the first place. If you are looking for debt relief, there are various options available to you. However, no matter which option you choose, make sure you budget carefully and commit to doing whatever it takes to get financially  healthy.

Trust us –  getting out of debt may be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make for yourself. If you need help getting started, give us a call at 1(800) 544-7211 and get a customized solution that’s tailored to your needs.

This February…

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Hope you all are having a great week! February is half-way through, and we’re glad to see you put financial health as a priority. When it boils down, one of the best ways to show love is to take care of your finances. You will improve your life as well as the lives of those you care about.

You’ve already taken the first step towards resolving debt, and we commend you for your commitment to achieving a better financial future. It’s always important to do your research first. That way, you can make an informed decision and find the solution that works best for you. Take a look around the site and see your debt relief options today.

If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know. We have a team of caring professionals who are happy to help address your concerns. Now is the time to get started, and the burdens of unsecured debt could be a thing of the past. We know it’s possible for you to achieve your financial goals. All you need are the proper tools and support.

Connect with us, and let’s begin this journey together!

All the best,
The Freedom Family

Things You Do To Save Money That End Up Costing You

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When I was younger, my parents tried to teach me the value of the dollar and the importance of saving. They would say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees. You have to work hard and earn every penny. If you save today, you’ll be able to put aside enough money to buy something you really want.” So that’s exactly what I did.

Now as an adult, one of my greatest sources of pride is being smart with my money. I budget wisely and am diligent about monitoring my accounts, but up until recently, I didn’t realize there were still ways I was wasting money. I’ve discovered some of the things people do to save money that end up costing them more in the long run. Unfortunately, I’ve been guilty of most of them!

Not having health insurance
If you’re relatively healthy and don’t visit the doctor often, you may think you don’t need health insurance. However, if an accident were to ever occur or you became sick, having health insurance may save you from financial disaster. In my opinion, it’s better to have that peace of mind.

Doing your own taxes
Some people do their own taxes because they think it’s cheaper than hiring a professional. However, if you don’t do it correctly, you could end up owing more than you expect. I’m not saying that you can’t do your own taxes, but in some cases, you may save money by going with a professional.

Buying cheap stuff
I try not to buy things I don’t need, but I certainly love getting good deals. However, I’ve made the mistake, on several occasions, of confusing what is cheapest for what is the best value. Several years ago, I bought a coffee maker for $10. What a great deal, right? Well, I thought so, until it broke 3 weeks later. Instead of saving $30 by foregoing a higher quality coffee maker, I wasted $10 by buying a crappy one instead.

Stocking up on groceries
Think buying in bulk will save you money? It may if you shop for a family of four. For a single person, you may actually waste more money. Unless you plan your meals carefully, you could end up tossing a lot of the food away. What a waste!

Driving around for cheaper gas
Driving, especially when you live in a big city, can be very expensive. You may think you’ll save money by driving around for better gas prices, but most of the time, you just end up wasting time, burning gas, and not really saving that much money.

Wasting utilities
I try to be mindful about not wasting utilities, but there are still times when I forget. It’s not just about saving money, it’s about conservation too. Just remember, if the lights are on in a room you’re not sitting in, you’re wasting money. Use only what you need, and don’t be excessive in your utility usage.

If you’re looking to save some money, keep these things in mind. It can help you save some serious cash in the long run. You may not be guilty of the items listed above, but there may be ways you can trim your spending.

 

7 Ways to Fix Your Credit

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Some of you may be thinking, I’m still young, so why should I care about my credit score? Lots of people have debt and less than stellar credit, but they’re still enjoying a cushy lifestyle. As long as I’m able to buy the things that I want, why should I be concerned? The answer is simple. Life is easier when you have good credit.

Take a look at it this way. Landlords, employers, and lenders need to determine whether they can trust you, and they look at your credit score as an indicator of your financial reputation. You may not think credit affects you greatly, but it does. When you ruin your financial reputation (a.k.a. credit score), it will take you a long time to restore it.

Poor credit affects your ability to rent, buy a car, get a home loan, and even open up accounts. Creditors don’t want to work with people with bad credit because the risk of not getting paid is very high. How can they trust that you will pay them back if you haven’t even paid others? If you’ve already tarnished your credit, here are some tips to help you fix your score and reestablish your life.

1) Make Your Payments on Time
This may sound trivial, but we all know that money can be tight, and skipping payments on one bill can help pay for other expenses. But, timely payments are the biggest factor affecting your credit score. Keep a budget, and make sure you have sufficient funds to make your credit card and loan payments on time.

2 ) Avoid the Minimum Payment Trap
Credit cards come with high interest rates. We all know how our $2,000 computer ended up costing $8,168 because we only made the minimum payments at 20% on our credit card. Keep constant payments on your credit card (and don’t run them up again) and your balances will drop.

3 ) Use Your Credit Cards Lightly and Check Your Limits
Even if you pay your bills on time and in full each month, having big balances can hurt your score. Try to limit charges to 30% or less of your card’s limit. Lenders typically like to see a big gap between how much you’re charging and your available credit limit.

4 ) Keep Old Credit Cards
Don’t close out old credit cards. The longer your credit history, the better. Leave the accounts open but once you pay them off, stop using them. Closed accounts tend to bring down your score.

5 ) Suspend Credit Inquiries
The more credit inquiries you have, the more your credit score drops. Fix your credit and wait a while before allowing your credit to be pulled again.

6 ) Check Your Credit Report for Errors
You can check your credit report without negative scoring (once per year, for free) with the three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure to look for any mistakes that could be hurting your score. If you see something wrong, make the effort to have it corrected.

7 ) Seek Professional Help
If you are overwhelmed with debt and don’t feel you can handle the problem on your own, consider working with a professional debt relief company. They can help you explore your options and give you guidance on how to fix your credit.

It’s very easy to ruin your credit, but it takes time to build it back up. No matter how bad your credit is, you can take steps to make it better. Sometimes we mishandle our budget, and we spend more than we should. And, sometimes we end up in tough financial situations because of things beyond our control. Whether you have experienced job loss, illness, or another type of financial disruption, it’s important to know that you can turn things around. It may not be easy, but step by step, you will be able to fix your financial situation.

How to Prioritize Your Debt Payments

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In order to get started with a plan to resolve your debt, you will need to take a look at your overall debt picture and come up with a practical spending plan. This usually starts with tracking your monthly expenses and deciding how to distribute payments. Tailor your spending plan to your needs and adjust it as your needs change. If you haven’t done so already, create a spending plan and/or budget.

Although coming up with a spending plan is important, it does not tell you which debts to pay-off first, especially if you can’t afford to pay all of your bills. You’ll first need to sort out which debts are your highest priorities. Keep in mind that everyone’s situation is unique and priorities may differ.

Cover your family necessities first.
Never let a creditor pressure you into making a payment, especially if you can’t even cover household essentials. This is particularly important if you can only afford some of your payments and need to prioritize your debts more carefully. There are many ways you can approach the topic, but a good way to decide how to pay your accounts is to divide them by secured debt and unsecured debt.

  • Secured Debt – This type of debt is tied to an asset that is considered collateral. Two of the most common examples are car loans and mortgages. In these cases, your creditors can take possession of your physical property if you fail to make your payments. If the lender takes your asset because you’ve been delinquent on your bills, the asset will be sold. However, if the selling price for the asset doesn’t cover the debt, in some states the lender may still pursue you for the difference.
  • Unsecured Debt – This is the opposite of secured debt. Any debt that does not have a specific piece of property tied to it is considered unsecured debt. While you may have a number of items that you purchased with credit cards, they are not considered secured debt. In most cases, a credit card company cannot repossess the items you bought with credit cards. They would have to take you to court and obtain a civil judgment.

No matter what kind of debt you have, never carry more debt than you can reasonably pay off. However, if you’re strapped for cash and faced with the difficult decision of paying only some bills, the secured debts are typically the better choice. These payments are often harder to catch up with and could cost you essential assets, like your house or car, if you fall behind on payments.

In other instances, you might give more priority to unsecured debts if you’re making extra payments to pay off some high cost debts. Sometimes, unsecured debts have higher interest rates that make it expensive to spend a long time paying them off. Even when you’re repaying your debts, it’s important to attempt to keep up with the minimum payments on ALL of your accounts.

Freedom Debt Relief – Ellen’s Story

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The house is falling apart. The car is breaking down. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and a mountain of debt growing. Unfortunately, this is a reality for too many Americans. This is also a story that my friend, Ellen*, is all too familiar with.

Ellen is an amazing person. She’s a cancer survivor, a math teacher, a mother of three, and one of the most wonderful women I know. I met her a few years back while doing some work at a local non-profit. Ellen was working there (her 2nd full-time job), and we quickly developed a close friendship.

She opened up to me about her life, her battle with cancer, and her persistent money struggles. Though her husband had a job, she was always the main breadwinner of the family. Ellen is actually quite sensible when it comes to spending, but her husband had more of a “you only live once” attitude.

One day, Ellen came home from a weekend retreat with her school, and there in the driveway was parked a shiny, new Mustang! Her heart dropped immediately, because she realized her husband had bought a new car. Admittedly, his old car was giving him trouble, but they both knew a new car wasn’t something they could afford.

With three children in school, bills to cover, home repairs to be made, and medical debt to pay off, money was already tight. Her family was living paycheck to paycheck, and now the new car would be an added load to Ellen’s burden.

Over time, Ellen’s family racked up a pretty large sum of debt. Keep in mind that these are very hard-working people. Ellen worked seven days a week with two full-time jobs and hadn’t taken a vacation in years. She really needed a break (and her family agreed), so on Ellen’s 50th birthday, they surprised her with a trip to Monterey. Of course, everyone had a great time, but I later found out that Ellen’s husband had borrowed from his retirement plan to pay for the trip.

This type of spending and debt accumulation continued for another year, until one day, Ellen just couldn’t handle it anymore. The stress was getting too overwhelming, and she was beginning to feel hopeless. She was seeing less and less of her family, because she had to work long hours to make ends meet. Ellen knew that things needed to change, and it was time to tackle her family’s debt.

Though it was hard, her loved ones all jumped on board and made a commitment to change their habits and get out of debt. I was so happy for Ellen when she shared this with me and encouraged her to start with a free evaluation from a certified debt specialist. That way, she could see all of her debt relief options and find a customized plan that would work for her situation.

It has now been a few weeks since I’ve chatted with Ellen, but last I heard, she decided that debt settlement was the right choice for her family. They are now on the right track to resolving their debt and taking the necessary steps to build a stronger financial future. Once the debt is paid off, Ellen plans to retire from her non-profit job and focus on the two things that she loves most – her family and being a teacher.

I know it is possible for her to achieve her financial goals and wish her (and her family) nothing but continued success on this all-important journey!

*Ellen’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Freedom Debt Relief – 2013 Year in Review

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Happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice, restful weekend.

As we round out the month of January, let’s take a look back at some of the coolest things that happened in 2013! We’re excited to share some wins with you, and look forward to making 2014 an even greater success!

In 2013, Freedom Debt Relief…

  • had 4,589 clients graduate with all enrolled debts fully resolved.
  • helped 51,000 clients manage their debt.
  • resolved a total of 107,568 accounts.
  • worked with clients in 36 states and U.S. territories.
  • successfully negotiated with 2,311 creditors and collectors.
  • resolved large accounts owing as much as $187,877 in credit card debt.

MILESTONE: To date, Freedom has resolved over 2.5 Billion in debt for our clients!

Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to work with so many amazing clients, helping them on their journey to a brighter financial future. We’re  grateful that we get to come into work every day and make a difference in people’s lives.

If you’re interested in resolving your debt, connect with us –  we promise you’ll get the service you deserve from a team that’s dedicated to your success. Here’s to 2014 –  a New Year and a new beginning!

All the best,
The Freedom Family

 

20 Something’s Biggest Money Fears

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For the most part, being in your twenties is pretty cool. You’ve escaped the awkwardness of your teenage years, earned some new-found freedoms, and now have your whole life ahead of you to shape and mold into what you want it to be.

It’s a decade of growth and discovery – one where you will learn to navigate relationships, careers, and dreams. This time of change can be exciting, but at the same time, it can also be a bit stressful.

Out of all the things that stress out millennials, finances typically tops the list. Here are some of the biggest money fears that 20 somethings face and how they can overcome them.

1. Where and How to Get Started
Personal finance isn’t something that many people learn about in the classroom. Though you can take money management classes, it generally isn’t offered in school as a prerequisite to graduation. As a result, many millennials aren’t sure what to do when they get into the real world. My Advice: Start with step 1 of creating a financial plan by defining your goals. Is there something specific that you want to achieve (i.e. pay off your car in 6 months)? Where do you want to be in X number of years? By setting clear goals, you can figure out how much money you need to save and what you need to do in order to get there.

2. Dealing With Student Loan Debt
Higher education is often correlated with better jobs and higher salaries. Going to college is a personal investment for the future, so even though it’s expensive, many people feel the costs are justifiable. However, even with a degree in hand, it can be daunting to tackle student loans, especially in today’s competitive job market. You’ll need to take note of how much you owe, select a repayment option that works for your financial situation, and be diligent about taking care of your student loan debt.

3. Not Making “Enough Money”
“Enough money” is a relative term. What may be sufficient for one person may not meet the needs of another. Regardless of location or life stage, one worry that many 20 something year-olds have is not being able to make enough money to be independent and achieve the things they want in life. For example, many people want to be able to purchase a home by a certain age. This can be a great goal to work towards – to own a home that you can afford. However, don’t jeopardize your financial situation to buy/keep a house that is out of your budget. It just isn’t worth it!

4. Not Being Able to Retire
Life expectancy is higher these days, and when you do the calculations, you may be shocked to see how much you’d need to save in order to retire. It’s daunting to feel that you’d need to work well into your golden years before that can happen, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Even though retirement may seem far away for people in their twenties, they have an advantage: time is on their side. Though it may feel like putting money into retirement savings is cutting into current cash flow, you need to remember that your future financial security is largely dependent on what you do now. It’s never too early (or too late) to start saving for retirement.

Dealing with money issues can be stressful, but with a good plan in place, you’ll set yourself up for financial success. No matter what age you are, it’s time to take control of your finances, practice smart money management, and wave goodbye to your money fears once and for all.

A Faster and Cheaper Way to Get Out of Debt

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With so many ways to get out of debt, how do you cut through the noise and find the solution that’s right for you?

People who struggle with paying down debt know that it can be a vicious cycle. Every time you take one step forward, you get knocked ten steps back! The amount of interest and fees keeps piling up, yet the debt load never seems to shrink.

At this point, you may be considering getting help from a professional debt relief service. But with so many options out there, how do you weigh out which ones will be effective in helping you reduce debt? The thing is, every situation is unique and there isn’t a cookie-cutter solution. You need a plan that’s customized to fit your needs.

If you’re struggling with a significant amount of debt, $10,000 or more, there are a few options to consider – debt settlement being a very popular choice. Not only is it an alternative to bankruptcy, it’s also considered one of the fastest ways to get out of debt, potentially saving you more money in the end.

Though you can certainly try to resolve debt on your own, sometimes working with the right partner can be the difference between success and failure. Of course, there are companies out there that are deceptive in their practices, so you need to be extra careful. Do some homework before you make your decision! Remember – a reputable debt settlement firm will not charge you any fees until a debt has been resolved.

I’m proud to say that Freedom was the first company to fully embrace and support new federal regulations that prohibited debt relief companies from charging upfront fees. If you are struggling with debt burdens, we genuinely care about your success and want to help you reach your financial goals.

Need more information? Chat with us at 1(800) 544-7211 and get a personalized solution to fit your needs!