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Alternatives to Bankruptcy: Debt Solutions Explained

Alternatives to Bankruptcy: Debt Solutions Explained
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Debt is a big problem all over the world. In the UK, the average debt per adult currently standing at a massive £29,210. In the US, the average household with debt carries $15,762 in credit card debt and $130,922 in total debt. Rising debt, plus a drop in income and savings, means 2016 is a rather uncertain one when it comes to our finances.

If you’re in serious debt then a debt solution could be the way out. For some people, bankruptcy isn’t the preferred option because this route can cause long-term problems, such as issues accessing credit, losing property and getting work.

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Of course, seeking out a debt solution requires a lot of consideration, so always take debt advice before you do anything. This guide outlines some of the common alternatives to bankruptcy and aims to help you work out which is the best option for you.

1. Debt Management Plan

A debt management plan is an informal repayment agreement between you and your creditors. You will agree a monthly sum and pay it back. Typically, a debt management company will manage such a plan for you. Find out more about debt management plans on this government website.

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2. Individual Voluntary Arrangement

An individual voluntary arrangement, or IVA, is a formal agreement between you and your creditors. This means it is approved by the court. With an IVA, you would agree to pay off your debts over a set period of time. An IVA needs to be set up by a lawyer or an accountant.

3. Debt Relief Order

Debt relief orders are designed for people on low income with relatively low levels of debt (typically, less than £20,000). Under a debt relief order, your debt repayments and interest are frozen for 12 months. After this time, if your financial situation hasn’t changed, your debts are written off.

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4. Trust Deed

Available to residents of Scotland, a trust deed is similar to an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (explained below). It’s effectively a formal repayment agreement between you and your creditors. A Scottish trust deed would see you transfer some or all of your assets (cash, property) to a trustee who would manage them for your creditors. You would pay a single monthly payment to the trustee. Find out more about trust deeds from Trust Deed Scotland.

5. Write-off

If you are in real dire straits and cannot afford to make any payments towards your debts whatsoever, one option is to try and get them written off. To do this, you would have to formally ask your creditors if they would be prepared to do it. Obviously, it is highly unlikely that they would. You can find a template letter for requesting a write-off for your debts.

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6. Last Resort – Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy should be regarded as a final option. Bankruptcy sees an official receiver take control of your assets. Note that these assets could be sold to pay your creditors. You will also have to follow certain bankruptcy restrictions and details of your bankruptcy will be made publicly available. Remember that bankruptcy could affect your employment and access to credit.

Keeping On Top of Things Day-to-Day

With the possibility of the Bank of England raising interest rates later this year, families and individuals need to prepare themselves to properly manage their finances. We’ve added some simple ways you can keep on top of your money.

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  • Assess whether you’re paying for anything you’re simply not using (Netflix, etc).
  • Start signing up for loyalty and reward programs to get vouchers and deals.
  • Sell anything you no longer use.
  • When going to the supermarket, write a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Avoid fast food – it’s expensive.
  • Head to charity shops for bargains.

Falling into debt is not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in. But, know that it need not be the end of the world. With a number of debt solutions available, there’s every possibility you’ll find something that changes your financial situation for the better.

Featured photo credit: Wipe your debt via thealertinvestor.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There

Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There
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Have you ever considered your life now, and how it would be if you had more time to spend with your family and less worries about money?

Nowadays, financial stress is one of the most troublesome weights in life. If you’ve ever encountered financial stress, you know the difficulty of not having enough income to pay your obligations or bills.

Many people say that money is not the ultimate goal of life. While that’s true, money certainly plays a very significant role. The meaning of financial freedom changes with the different phases of our life, but ultimately, it is something that many people strive for.

In this article, we’ll explain how to capture that financial freedom you’ve been looking for. Read on to learn the secrets to financial freedom.

Break Free of Your Finances

Financial freedom is about having a constant flow of cash from your assets to cover all your regular needs.

When you are not worried about your income, or living paycheck to paycheck, you gain a great sense of freedom. It’s the freedom to be obtain and do what you truly need to make your way through everyday life.

Gaining financial freedom, though, is a process of growth, making small improvements and gaining emotional strength.

Though it seems hard to believe, it is really very simple to get financial freedom.

To do so, you simply need to make sure that your assets exceed your liabilities. In other words, you’ll need to find the sweet-spot where your residuals meet or surpass your expenses. This is something that you can achieve with the proper plan.

While not every person will accomplish financial freedom, the potential for anyone to do so is certainly there. Anyone can achieve this success, regardless of their income level.

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Outlined below are 9 secrets that will help you in your goals of achieving financial freedom.

1. Stop Unnecessary Spending

We often spend money inwardly, instead of objectively.

For example, you may spend when you’re anxious, depressed, restless, exhausted, from fear of missing out, or to please others. This is a very unhealthy way to handle your finances.

To stop this habitual spending, log down all your spending over the course of a month.

Just as some people keep a food diary, keep an expense diary. Remember not to just write down how much and what you spent the money on, also include the circumstances of why you spent the money. Was it an impulse buy at the checkout line or was it something you planned to purchase?

This increased self-awareness could enable you to avoid triggering situations in the future when you are considering an impulse buy.

2. Plan a Monthly Budget

This is a great opportunity to get serious.

Take a seat with your spouse or partner and make a monthly budget based on your income, not your expenses. You are never again going to spend more cash then you have on hand.

Overspending is the thing that led you to more financial obligations. Make sure you decide every month what is coming in and what will be going out and stick to that budget… no matter what.

3. Cut-up Credit Cards

Perhaps you are the type of person who always pays your credit card balance in full before the end of your billing cycle, and enjoys the reward points you gain. If this is the case, then you’re already way ahead of the game.

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If not, you may want to consider ridding your life of the burden that credit cards bring.

Many cards have strategies set up so that if you make a certain number of late payments, they will raise your interest rate much higher. This can really add up in the long run and you won’t be doing your financial situation any favors. If you’re prone to late payments or have a large balance due on your cards, cut them up!

Without proper self control on credit card spending and payments, you are basically throwing your money away. To ensure that you have better control over your spending, use only cash or debit for all future purchases (and don’t forget to pay at least your minimum payment on your cut-up cards each month!).

4. Increase Savings

There is no doubt that for a comfortable retirement you must accumulate satisfactory savings throughout your working life.

It’s good practice to save up to 15% of your income.

Start with your workplace 401(k), if you have one. If not, a Roth IRA (if you are eligible) or a traditional IRA (if you are not eligible for the Roth) are the next logical steps.

Increase in longevity means you might be able to look forward to 25 to 30 years in retirement, or possibly even significantly more. Investing now in good retirement plans will ensure that you have a guaranteed a stable monthly income when the time comes to stop working. [1]

5. Invest Wisely

Consider investing in funds.

Specifically, you will gain higher returns if you invest in different types of mutual funds such as Debt funds, Equity funds and Hybrid funds with a proper balance, although it absolutely relies on your personal preferences and sense of risk taking.

To get the most of these benefits, make sure you are investing in a variety of assets. Another resource of investing in mutual funds is SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) where you invest some money every month in funds. SIP works by averaging the per unit price of the stock.

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Mutual fund investors are aware of the benefits of an SIP (Systematic Investment Plan). For one, it is the most secure way to invest in equity mutual plans so that wealth is created over a long period of time. This plan also helps you to gain a better sense of financial discipline, which will come in handy in all your financial endeavors.

6. Invest in Gold

There isn’t really a better way to invest in gold than to have the physical gold itself in your possession.

You can purchase gold coins and bars from mints as well as from coin dealers and other private sellers.

Another way to invest in gold is through ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).

These are is similar to mutual funds but they are exclusively investments of gold. ETFs are great because they offer more liquidity; the ETF owns the actual physical gold, stores it, and retains the value of the shares. These shares can then be bought and sold in the stock market, and one big benefit is that the transaction costs of gold ETFs are much lower than the that of physical gold.

With its consistently-increasing demand, investment in gold can be very wise long-term investment to make.

7. Stash Emergency Funds

Whether it’s a cash gift or a work bonus, always try to save any extra money that comes your way rather than making unneeded purchases.

If you get paid every other week, you’ll get an “extra” paycheck (three rather than the usual two) twice a year. Either save those paychecks towards your emergency funds or utilize the money to pay down other obligations, such as loans, credit cards or other debts.

Make it hard to get your cash.

Put your savings in an alternate bank, maybe an online bank that forces you to delay for several business days before transferred money hits your regular bank account.

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8. Find Fabulous Mentors

Find a mentor, such as a friend or family member, who has exceptional control over their finances and pay attention to everything they do.

If you do not have any friends or family that are enjoying financial freedom, then find a mentor online! There are numerous blogs and guru websites featuring the advice of many people who have reached financial freedom, and they exist primarily to let you in on how to achieve it for yourself.

There are also plentiful forums available that share tips and tricks on how to best achieve financial freedom. Read as much as you can and start changing your habits for the better.

9. Be Extra Patient

Patience is the key of financial success.

Being patient can be quite tough, especially when you’re struggling with your finances, but having faith is worth it. You’ll continuously be on the right track if you are taking the proper steps above.

So don’t be discouraged, even if you are only saving a few dollars a month; it all adds up. Within just a few years you’ll look back proudly at your accomplishments and be glad that you had the patience to get there.

Financial Freedom for All

Anyone can achieve financial freedom, regardless of their financial circumstance.

Use the tips provided above to get yourself on the track to financial freedom and toss your monetary concerns out the window. If you wish to achieve a life with financial freedom for yourself and your family then you must adopt a disciplined approach towards your finances.

Following the simple secrets above is a great start to making your money work for you, so you can work less and live more!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Hartford Gold Group: IRA Retirement Accounts

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