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A Closer Look at How Credit Card Debt Consolidation Works

A Closer Look at How Credit Card Debt Consolidation Works

    In recent times many individuals, especially US citizens, are knee-deep in credit card debt. People can incur credit card debt due to many reasons, like medical expenses, extravagant vacations, renovating houses and paying bills due to low income. No matter how you get into debt, you must try to come out of it as soon as possible. You may pursue either credit card debt consolidation, debt settlement, debt management, or even file bankruptcy to wipe off the credit card debt. But remember, debt consolidation has certain advantages over other methods of debt elimination. Before you proceed with the process of credit card debt consolidation, you must know how it works.

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    What is credit card debt consolidation?

    Credit card debt consolidation is a program that allows you to consolidate all your multiple debts into one monthly payment. With debt consolidation, you can lower the interest rate and therefore reduce monthly payments. Thus, credit card debt consolidation helps you pay off your debt as soon as possible. This is the best way to wipeout debt without injuring your credit.

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    Ways to consolidate credit card debt

    • A primary way of consolidating credit card debt is to take out a loan at lower interest rate and merge all the debts into the loan. If you own a home, you may put it up as collateral in order to get a lower interest rate loan. This loan is also known as a home equity loan.
    • Another way of consolidating credit card debt is a balance transfer. Transfer the balance on your credit card to a new form of credit that offers zero or low-interest rate.
    • You may also apply for a personal loan or unsecured line of credit to consolidate and pay off the credit card debt.

    Define your goals

    1. Amend the inflow of cash. Try to reduce the size of your monthly payments over time so that the amount lowers gradually and eventually increases the inflow of your cash.
    2. Rid your debt sooner. Try to erase your debts as fast as possible. This will enable you to save some money and prevent your credit report from getting damaged.
    3. Do not miss payments. Never miss monthly payments and bills. That would certainly add up to the total debt amount — and create stress as well.

    A few important tips before considering debt consolidation

    1. Before you choose the method of consolidating your credit card debt, you must contact creditors in order to find out the outstanding balance on each of your accounts. Then, obtain a personal loan or unsecured loan to pay each creditor in full.
    2. If you are planning to transfer your balance you will have to provide your creditor with billing information, an account number and the balance on the account you are transferring. After you have paid off each account in full, you then have to decide whether you want to close the accounts or want to leave them open.

    The difference between debt consolidation and debt management

    There are many people who think that debt consolidation is the same as debt management and credit counseling. The fact is debt management and credit counseling involves debt consolidation through a company. When you hire the services of a credit counselor or a debt management company, they negotiate with creditors and reduce the interest rate on each account. Then they collect a fixed monthly payment from you and disburse it to creditors in order to pay off your existing credit card debt.

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    Conclusion

    Debt consolidation is the most viable method to pay off the credit card debt. But before going for this option, you must consider some factors associated with it. If you take out a consolidation loan while putting up collateral, you must remember that you cannot afford to miss a monthly payment. If you default on loan repayment, you may lose your asset. So make sure to choose the debt consolidation option through giving it careful thought and analyzing your fiscal situation.

    (Photo credit: Colorful stack of credit cards via Shutterstock)

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    Published on September 17, 2018

    How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

    How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

    Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

    With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

    So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

    1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

    It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

    You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

    So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

    2. When you want something big, wait

    Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

    It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

    We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

    A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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    So, you get the itch.

    You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

    Here’s where you have to take a step back.

    Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

    Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

    It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

    The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

    3. Live smaller than you can afford

    You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

    You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

    That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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    Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

    Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

    The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

    But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

    4. Practice smart grocery shopping

    Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

    But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

    Create a grocery budget

    Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

    Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

    I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

    Make a list… and never deviate

    Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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    You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

    These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

    Eat before going grocery shopping

    It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

    If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

    After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

    Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

    However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

    This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

    5. Cancel your gym membership

    Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

    The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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    Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

    I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

    Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

    Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

    For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

    Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

    There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

    It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

    I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

    Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

    The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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