Sometimes reading your credit report can be incredibly confusing. One of the most confusing phrases you can find on a credit report is “Charge-Off.” I remember the first time I was looking over my credit report and saw charge-off, I had no clue what it even meant. If you have struggled at any time in your life to make payments on time, there is a good chance you may have an item on your credit report that has those two infamous words.
If you are looking for an easy way to set up a holiday budget, you have come to the right place! If you follow these steps, you will be able to spend less time worrying about your wallet and spend more time actually enjoying the holidays!
I love this time of the year, I really do. There are so many things to be grateful for: family, friends, good food and so many others. But heck, let’s face it, when it comes to finances, there isn’t much else that causes stress like finances do. It seems like every direction you turn, your money is flying out the door.
Living on a budget is important no matter what time of the year it is; however, living on a budget during the holiday season is even more important. Whether it is gift buying or traveling to visit family that is farther away, you can find that your spending gets, well…a little out of control. Even I tend to go a little over on my budget, especially when it comes to spoiling my wife.
That is why I want to help get your budget ready for this holiday season. Now, I realize that I may be a little late getting this out for Christmas 2016, but hopefully it will help you realize where you may have already overspent so you can re-adjust your budget. And I also know you may not want to even discuss budgets, but I promise that it will bring you more peace in the overall scheme of things.
Recently, a client of mine asked me what their rights were when it came to a debt collector using robocalling as a method to get you to pay your debts. These calls can quickly become annoying and you will find that they are being used more frequently. The robocalls can be very convincing and sound official, as they give your name, your debt and even the company you owe the debt to. They are meant to be that way, as they want to collect as much money as possible. So what do you do when they call multiple times a day, every day of the week?
Some may tell you to change your phone number, but I am here to say that you shouldn’t let these companies rule your life. Send them the correct message by using the law against them. There are a couple of laws that are out there to protect you when these things happen. The first is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the second is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This is in part to overeager telesales and debt collectors abusing those that they are calling. To take advantage of these laws, follow these two steps:
- Keep a Log of Every Call
Write down every phone call you receive from the collection company, this includes all robocalls and in-person phone calls. Write down the day and the time that you received the call. Debt collectors are not allowed to call you before 8 am or after 9 pm unless you have given them permission to do so. I would keep a notebook with me at all times. There were even times that I would record the calls that were made to me. Some states have stricter policies on recording, so check to see what policies are in place for your state.
- Write a Letter to the Debt Collector
When you get a phone call from a debt collector, ask them for their company name and address and your account number with their company. Inform them that you do not want to receive phone calls from them going forward, and that you will only accept correspondence from them in the form of a letter. Even though you have now informed them you will only correspond with them by mail, you will most likely still get a few calls. Because of this, send them a letter stating that you will no longer accept phone calls and that you want them to validate the debt. Do not give them any personal information, as there are many companies out there phishing for information to use for identity theft.
Additional Articles that May Be Useful: 5 Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors and 3 Tips for Negotiating with Debt Collectors
The process may take a couple of weeks, but the calls should stop. If they do not stop making phone calls, they are breaking the law. When it comes to what a debt collector can or cannot do, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has given the rules to these companies. You should make sure you read these over to educate yourself on your rights. Be sure to file a complaint with the FTC if it continues to happen. You may also consider hiring a lawyer to assist you in the matter. I am not a lawyer, but I do know of an affordable solution you can use.
Be sure to know what your rights are when it comes to receiving phone calls from debt collectors.
Question: How many calls do you receive on a weekly basis from debt collectors? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
When you are repairing your credit, one of the important things to understand is how your credit score is calculated. There are two main credit rating systems calculating your score, the Fair Isaac Corporation’s FICO score and the VantageScore. I want to make sure that you understand each of them, so this week, we are discussing the VantageScore.
When I first started working on repairing my credit and raising my credit score, it was because I wanted to buy a home. Let’s just say that my credit score was far from where it needed to be to be approved for a home loan. In full disclosure, my credit score was a 411, nearly as low as it could get. What I didn’t understand, was how my credit score was calculated. And had I understood that, it may not have taken me as long to get my score high enough to obtain my goal.
Wherever you are on your financial journey, the whole concept of an emergency fund is an important cog in the wheel. Back in December, I walked through a basic guide of setting up a starter emergency fund. You may be still building up to that $1,000, and maybe you are there already and ready to get your emergency fund fully funded.
For my family, getting the emergency fund set up is a critical part of our financial plan. After losing two jobs in just over a year, it had become very clear why we needed it. Initially, I thought the $1,000 along with some savings, would tide us over until I found a job. A thousand dollars goes away really fast when you are looking at mortgage, food, bills, and more. That is why one of our short term goals is to get our emergency fund fully funded. Most experts say that to fully fund your emergency savings, you should have 3-6 months of living expenses. I am going to cover how to determine a month of expenses, but let’s just pick a number really quick. Let’s say your monthly expenses are $3,000. If we take that and times it by three, we get $9,000. Times it by 6 and we have $18,000. That is a lot of money, right? That is why a starter fund of $1,000 is just that, a starter emergency fund. It isn’t meant to carry you over until you get the next job.
There isn’t much that will brighten your day more than when you see a large check come in the mail or hit your bank account. The tax refund has finally come! What are we going to do with it? Should we be responsible or should we hop on the next flight to Vegas?
Ever since I started claiming myself on my tax return, the tax refund has been something to look forward to. I believe that most people feel that way, even though receiving a large tax return isn’t that great when you think about it. A large return means that we have overpaid and have given an interest free loan to the government.
When I was younger, buying the latest technology or spending it on who knows what, was exactly what I would do with my refund. Once I got married, that all changed. Now we place the money into a savings account to pay for having a baby, or putting a down payment on a car, not to mention the home improvements or repairs that need to be made.
Have you ever done something stupid that costs you money you don’t have? How did you pay for it? Did you place it on your credit card or use your emergency fund? The past couple of weeks I have had a major budget crushing accident that has been killing me.
I love to garden, it takes a lot of stress out of my life. Last year I felt like I had a great garden that produced a large number of vegetables and I wanted to have more. After a period of time, I sort of convinced told my wife I was going to add three more garden boxes to our back yard. The current box I had set up to have our sprinkler system water the garden so I didn’t need to go out every day to do the watering. With the addition of three more garden beds, I knew I was going to need to add a couple more lines to the sprinkler system. I had dug out the area around the sprinkler box and found the direction where the pipe was heading and mapped out the course on the new line. I rented a trencher to do the hard work and started down my path I had marked out to where the new pipe would lay.
Identity Theft – Alabama Loan Company
A loan company employee has been caught and plead guilty to stealing the identity of customers and fraudulently seeking $400,000 in tax returns.
According to Alabama court records, Wendy Huff, worked at two loan companies and stole the identification of customers, including their names, social security numbers and dates of birth. She and her partner filed more than 300 tax returns claiming $400,000 in fraudulent tax returns.
Debt collectors purchase accounts from companies for pennies on the dollar and then pursue collecting the full amount from the people that owe the money. When dealing with debt collectors, most people are uncomfortable with negotiating, but it is one of the most important skills to develop. In most cases you can also negotiate the debt for pennies on the dollar as well, especially if you can come up with a lump sum to give them.
From 2006 to 2010 I was constantly receiving phone calls and letters from collection agencies for mistakes I had made. One agency had purchased my debt from Compass Bank and Bank of America for what I would assume at the time was a fraction of what was actually owned. Most of the time I just ignored them because I couldn’t afford to do anything. As I began to get my financial life back in order in 2010, I received another letter from the collection agency. I called the number that was listed on the letter to discuss the payments that were being offered. The monthly payment was pretty reasonable compared to what they were initially offering over the last couple of years. The problem was, I had already scheduled some debts to be paid off or had set up some payment plans, so I couldn’t offer the minimum amount they were asking for.