Attacking Your Debt From All Angles

The following is a guest post by Jasmine from Check N’ Go.

With the miserable state of the economy today, some are desperate to find ways to reduce their debt without filing bankruptcy or losing their home and savings.  The sad reality for many is that bankruptcy and foreclosure are the only events on their financial horizon.

In order to attack debt and free yourself from financial woes, it’s going to require some creative use of existing resources and changing the way you approach debt reduction.

Change Your Habits

During Market Panics Debtors And Investors Win While Savers Lose

I’m feeling a little sadistic right now. A large part of me is hoping the equity markets take a big dump again before the end of summer. Bring on the pain baby! I thought I was absolutely done with refinancing my primary residential mortgage in 2010 when I got 3.625% for 5 years. But, I just called my banker on 2/3/2015 and he says I can now get 2.25% jumbo and no points or fees for the same duration! Because I would simply refinance with the same bank, the process would be streamlined since they have all my documentation.

What is this world coming to? Who does that, putting more money in the pockets of consumers who never asked for it?  Why save me thousands of dollars a year in interest expense when there’s a guy who’s been out of work for over two years and needs it more? If I do the refi, living in my house will be cheaper than living in a 2 bedroom rental.  Something is wrong with how government policies are working. The more the Fed and the Treasury meddle, the more unintended consequences result.

Those with debt are the bad guys right?  We’re living in houses we can’t afford to pay in cash, and we refuse to live in crappy rentals whose landlords never do any updating.  Debtors are living it up because they can, and know there’s only one life to live.  There’s no point making money if you aren’t spending your money.  Meanwhile, savers are getting squeezed as their rates head to 0% and their equity investments go down the tubes.  Debtors are being rewarded again for living beyond their means and that’s just fine by America and our politicians.

ROLLING THE DICE WITH CHEAP MONEY

Understanding The Debt Relief Industry

The debt relief industry doesn’t really have the greatest reputation for some reason or another.  Perhaps the reason is because we secretly harbor resentment for people who get in way over their heads and look for solutions other than paying off their debt!  When you can solve your debt situation yourself by begging, pleading, calling your creditors to come up with a repayment program, why would you let a debt settlement company charge exorbitant fees?  If you make your case strong enough, you might even get the credit card company or the bank to forgive a portion of what you owe!

Thanks to the horrendous economy in recent years, consumer debt levels have risen to alarmingly high levels.  From buying that new car you shouldn’t have, to big screen TVs that ruin the feng shui in your bedroom, to luxury clothing with 95% margins that never get worn, to nice vacations which you think you deserve, to $100 meals per person, people’s consumer debt has blown up in a bad way.  Never fear though!  With the government ready to bail you out with incredibly long unemployment benefits, free money for your mortgage, and credits for paying on time (shouldn’t you do that anyway?), some consumers will be alright.  But for others, in come the debt relief companies to save the day!  Maybe.

The Issues With Debt Relief Companies

Will Greece Default And Blow Up The World?

16.8%.  That’s how much the current Greek 10-year bond yield is producing thanks to their debt mess.  16.8% is a juicy 13.9% higher than the current US 10-year yield to put things in perspective.  The question on everybody’s mind is will lawmakers pass a new 5-year, 28 billion Euro austerity plan in order to tap a 5th installment of the bail out money available to repay almost US$10 billion worth of maturing bonds this August? We shall see come Thursday, June 30 whether the Greek Parliament implements the package if it passes on June 29 in the first place!

More than a year has passed for the market to digest the European debt crisis, but after a year of hand wrangling, pretentious pronouncements by aggravated government officials, and raucous rioting in the streets of Athens, nothing much has changed. The economic recovery that was to produce the growth and tax revenues to bail out the sinking ship of “PIIGS” has never materialized, and patience is running thin as potential defaults creep into the not too distant horizon.

The European version of Wall Street’s “CDO” meltdown has gradually unfolded over the past two years, beginning with leaks in the press that something was askew in Greece near the end of 2009. As the truth of the financial depth of deficits finally surfaced, the crisis hit front-page news headlines in May 2010, when it became apparent that the financial malaise was not confined to Greece alone. A new anagram, namely the “PIIGS”, entered our daily lexicon. Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and possibly Italy had similar, but different, according to finance officials, debt and deficit problems.

The crisis was met with proposed bail out packages from the stronger banks in the region that claimed that capital stress tests would prove their stability to meet most any contingency. Each proposal and subsequent approval was accompanied by pompous protestations from each government that debt payment schedules and bloated deficits were no longer issues to be concerned about, at least until the next revealing story in the press negated everything that was previously said. This bumbling scenario has been repeated countless times to the point that confidence in the respective governments has all but disappeared.

18 STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT!

How To Pay Off $35,000 In Credit Card Debt In One Month

Credit Card DebtSeveral years ago, I put around $35,000 on my one and only credit card thanks to a home remodeling project and a new watch purchase. My “reward” was a 1% rebate towards my home mortgage, which is not bad considering $350 paid to principal is thousands in interest savings over the life of the loan.

$35,000 is the most I’ve ever put on a credit card in one month and it felt kind of odd. But, I really wanted to create a new bathroom from a closet to add functionality and value to my house. There’s an amazing amount of stuff you need to buy when building a new bathroom: wall tiles, toilet, limestone, shower heads, copper pipes, sinks, mirrors, lights, deep soaking jacuzzi jet tub, lights, light fixtures, paint, doors, crystal knobs, skylight, ventilator and so forth. $20,000 in materials adds up quick!

The watch was a Stainless Steel Daytona that cost $9,600, which I promptly sold for a profit three weeks later because a friend begged me to sell it to him! For those who know watches, the Stainless Steel Daytona is one of the most coveted watches on the market, which can’t be bought in any store. You need a jeweler, connections, or a history of purchases to gain access to this particular watch. It’s a big waste of money, but one of my weaknesses that I so conveniently categorize as a hobby to justify.

Add on all the other normal purchases of food, insurance, membership dues and transportation costs, racking up $35,000 in credit card debt in a month is just as easy done as said!

THE SECRET TO PAYING OFF $35,000 In CREDIT CARD DEBT

Small Business Credit Card Issuers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Searching for a new home. Canoe on the lakeWe all know the old adage, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” What you might not know is that banks apparently had this in mind when branding business credit cards. You see, one would think there’d be significant differences between general-consumer and business credit cards. However, according to a recent Card Hub study, the only thing that really distinguishes a business credit card from a general-use card is the fact that a company is liable in addition to an individual cardholder.

Oh, and the fact the new credit card law (CARD Act) only applies to consumer credit cards. In light of this, a clear hierarchy of business credit card issuers actually emerges when you compare the extent to which issuers recognize the bond between consumers and business credit cards and in turn proactively apply CARD Act protections to these spending vehicles despite their branding.

Ultimately, you are left with a list of the good, the bad and the ugly business credit card issuers.

The Good

The European Debt Crisis is Still Alive and Kicking

For those with memories longer than the time it takes to read this article, the month of May is quickly approaching, and with it, the one-year anniversary of not only the “Flash Crash”, but also the moment when the European Debt Situation grabbed financial headlines, causing an immediate crisis of global proportions.  Capital suddenly flew to safe havens in the form of treasury bills and precious metals.  The Euro fell from its lofty perch relative to the greenback, and “PIIGS” was a euphemism that forever joined our daily lexicon of favored terms.

The Euro had strengthened from its debut to the $1.60 range, but the recession pulled it back.  As it began to recover afterwards, it staged another assault, rising to $1.51 until news of debt problems surfaced at the end of 2009.  In May, the full import of the debt problems became common knowledge, and the downdraft plummeted the Euro to its lowest value in four years, a startling $1.18.  Greece was the initial focus, but then the malaise spread to concerns over Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, the remaining members of the “PIIGS” anagram.

TIME TO GO ON A DIET

How One Late Payment Can Kill Your Credit Score

Don't Be LateFICO gave a small peek behind the curtain at how their scoring model works and showed just how much mortgage delinquencies affect your credit score.  The example they gave drew attention to three different FICO scores on the higher end of the spectrum (680, 720, and 780) and how one late payment of 30 days affected each score.

According to FICO, the impact of a 30-day late payment on a consumer s mortgage varies greatly depending on how high the consumer’s credit score already was.

FICO broke it down like this:

Book Review & Giveaway: Debt Free For Life by David Bach

I’m excited to review David Bach’s new book entitled, Debt Free For Life!  I’ve been a fan of David’s books since his very first bestseller, The Automatic Millionaire.  David writes in a very easy to understand, logical sort of way which allows readers to follow his advice easily.

I remember the first time I picked up one of his books, I was at Barnes & Nobles.  I sat in a corner for an entire hour and read the book from cover to cover.  Sorry David!  I know I should have bought it instead, but I was practicing my frugal ways at that time in my life.  Actually, I still am.

For someone who is in debt, and who has never read any of David’s books, I highly encourage you to read his latest, Debt Free For Life.  Given I’ve read practically every single one of David’s books, it’s hard for me to learn anything new.  That’s somewhat of bummer since I was hoping there would be something as innovative as the “latte factor” was 10 years ago.  Still, if you’ve only read one or two of his books and are on a mission to pay down debt, this book is perfect for you.

One of the best things about book reviews is access to an author’s mind.  I ask David five burning questions to challenge him beyond the plain vanilla, and to my delight he answers most of them quite directly.  Hope you guys enjoy the insight!  There are three books to giveaway at the end of the interview!

FINANCIAL SAMURAI QUESTIONS FOR DAVID BACH

The Best Way To Lose Weight And Become Debt Free

Yesterday was one of those perfect gastronomic days.  For breakfast, there was all you can eat fruit and pastries.  For lunch, some deliciously “low calorie” Greek baked spaghetti with garlic bread you see to the left.  To top off the evening, a bone-in filet mignon, with baked potato with the works, blue cheese wedge salad, and a couple glasses of pinot noir from Napa Valley.

All told, I probably consumed some 5,500 calories worth of food!  I didn’t feel incredibly sick to my stomach (OK, maybe a little bit!) because I made sure I played an hour and a half of tennis before dinner.  It was actually a wonderful experience since I normally eat half as much.  When I was in the cab ride home, I had an epiphany.

Perhaps the reason why there are so many large folks in America is because people purposefully gorge themselves in order to lose weight!  Eating great food is such a wonderful pleasure that it’s irrational not to.  It trumps any negative feels about packing on weight otherwise we wouldn’t let ourselves go.  Furthermore, the reason why there are so many people in debt is because it’s just so rocking fun to spend money you don’t have!  Finally, it feels great once you pay back that debt!  Double pleasure going both ways is why there is such a correlation.

GAINING WEIGHT IS THE PERFECT SOLUTION