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6 Savvy Ways of Paying off Credit Card Debt Without Feeling Stressed

6 Ways of Paying off Credit Card Debt Without Feeling Stressed

Credit card debt can seem like a heavy burden when you have other bills to pay as well. Here's your guide to paying off credit card debt without feeling stressed.

The average American carries approximately $6,375 in credit card debt. For many, the stress associated with trying to pay off this high level of debt is significant.

If you find yourself in the group of people stressed about how to go about paying off credit card debt, you will be happy to learn there are some tips and tricks you can use. While your debt may seem insurmountable now, with time, effort, and dedication, you can get out of debt for good.

If you’re ready to learn what steps to begin taking, keep reading.

1. Focus on One Debt At a Time

Are you carrying a balance on more than one credit card? If so, you need to make sure you are always paying the minimum required on each.

However, don’t stop there. Once the minimums are paid, you need to concentrate on paying down the balance on each card. Be sure you choose one card to focus on at a time.

You can choose the card with the highest interest rate to pay off first, or the one with the smallest balance. Both of these strategies are effective but choose the one that works for you, and then stick with it.

2. Get Rid of the Cards – For Good

If you want to get out of credit card debt and stay out of it – for good – you have to take some drastic steps. One of these is to destroy the cards.

Regardless of what you think, there is no such thing as responsible credit card use. There is no good reason to keep these cards around, especially the department store cards that would not even be helpful in an emergency situation.

While this step may sound somewhat drastic, it’s the only surefire way you won’t get right back into credit card debt once you have paid everything off.

3. Combine and Conquer

Another option is to consolidate your debt. You can combine several of the higher-interest balances into a single payment. In most cases, the transfer fee is going to be three to five percent, but you can compensate for this with the savings you are going to see from the transfer.

If you have any equity in your home, you may be able to use that to pay down your credit card debt, as well. Home equity lines of credit often provide a lower interest rate than what the typical credit card charges.

It’s important to understand that closing costs will apply. However, the benefit is that the equity interest payments are usually tax-deductible.

If you choose the consolidation path, remember, you need to control your spending. This can help you avoid accumulating new debt, along with the debt that’s just been consolidated.

4. Build Your Emergency Fund

If you are planning to pay off and destroy your credit cards, then you still need to ensure you have some type of safety net for emergency situations. This is where an emergency fund comes in.

Building an emergency fund can take some time, but it will also be valuable if you encounter an unexpected expense or some type of income disruption. All you have to do to create an emergency fund is put a little back from each of your paychecks. By doing this, you can avoid missed payments and the need to use a credit card in the future.

5. Rearrange and Reprioritize Your Budget

You need to get a handle on your budget and make sure you fully understand what it is and how you can make the most of it. For example, top priorities should be transportation, groceries, housing costs, and entertainment.

A great way to begin this reorganization process is by looking at your credit card statements, as most issuers categorize your spending.

Be sure you scrutinize this information closely. Find areas where you can cut back how much you are spending. Then take the money that you have “found” and put it toward paying down the debt you have.

6. Don’t Give Up

If you are like most people, you didn’t get into credit card debt overnight. As a result, you are aren’t going to be able to get out of it that quickly either (unless you find a windfall of some sort).

Be patient and continue on the path to living a debt free life. While this is bound to take some time, in the end, it will be well worth it, and you will be in a position to take charge of your finances and finally achieve the financial freedom that you want and need.

Paying Off Credit Card Debt: It Is Possible

There’s no question that paying off credit card debt is something that takes time. However, it’s possible when you use the right tactics and rely on the right information.

Be sure to use the tips and information found here, as they’re going to help you on your journey to financial freedom. You may also want to reach out to a financial advisor, who can provide you even more information on how to best manage your finances to remain debt free.

If you are ready to take control of your finances, rather than letting them control you, we can help. Our team can provide the information you need on any finance related topic. For example, we have a recent blog on how to take the pain out of monitoring your finances.

Stay tuned to our blog for more insights.

Know the 4 Most Common Auto Loan Mistakes Before you Go to the Dealer

cash and car for auto loan
Be aware of auto loan pitfalls and save! 

 

Want to hear something scary? “The big mistakes are made in the financing office,” explains Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com, the auto research website. “Making the right decisions can save thousands over the life of the loan.”

A car is a big purchase with a lot of moving parts. Dealers makes their profits between the gaps in buyer’s knowledge and they may try to confuse by unleashing lots of terms like “negative equity” and “origination fees.” Use these recommendations from experts to save thousands over the life of your car loan.

Don’t let the dealer define your credit score or credit “worthiness.”

Walk into the showroom with your credit report snugly in your back pocket. Otherwise, you run the risk that the salesperson leaves your negotiation only to come back with bad news about your credit. And of course that score isn’t high enough to get you the best rates. Who knows if he or she was checking your scores or playing a quick game of hacky sack? Dealers know that most consumers do not check their credit before being lured in by deals. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to this unethical treatment.

We discuss how to find your credit score easily in our previous blog post on rebuilding your credit (LINK). Just go to Annualcreditreport.com, fill out a few fields and your report arrives in you inbox instantly. Trust these results from the only free site authorized by the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission. Typically, anyone with a credit score of 720 or higher gets the lowest interest rates as they’ve demonstrated the most responsible money management. Still high 600s to low 700s is considered a “good” score. Those with lower scores can still get loans, but they will pay more in interest and fees.

Another way to check your credit is to get pre-approved from an outside lender like your bank or by applying for an online auto loan.  If you can manage to shave just 1 percent from your car loan, you’ll pay hundreds less over the next five or six years.  

Don’t make the wrong choice between a loan interest rate and a cash rebate.

Sure, the cash rebate feels enticing. And it might be the right choice if you use it to pay off other, higher interest loans like cash advances or credit cards. Basically, you need to decide if you want a lump sum up front or lower monthly payments over the next five or six years. Of course, not every car buyer is offered low-interest car financing, only those with the best credit scores. Again, know your score before you go to the dealership.

Don’t roll negative equity forward.

Some like to get new cars every two years. Often, they walk into the dealership with their auto loan “upside down.” That means they still owe more on the car than it’s worth. While those loving shiny new cars can get their next ride even if their loan is upside down, they’re putting themselves on a downward financial spiral.

Dealers don’t care what financial shape the car buyer puts themselves in. They will just add the negative equity–what you owe–into the purchase price of the new car. Chances are, this frequent buyer will just roll even more negative equity into the next new car, too.

Rather than enter this vicious cycle, consider buying a used car. A car loses much of its value in the first two years off the lot. And today, most cars are built to last 250,000 miles. Consider keeping the car longer and buying used to get the most for your car budget.

Don’t finance costly add-ons.

Just as movie theaters make most of their money on the popcorn, 37% of auto dealer’s profits come through aftermarket add-ons. These add-ons include  extended warranties, fabric protection and paint sealant and they are always less expensive from vendors other than the dealer. These costs feel like a no brainer when amortized over the life of the loan. The salesperson is quick to tell you that they add just a few dollars to every payment. Still, even $20 more over 60 payments is an additional $1200–real money.  

Don’t hesitate to question all fees.

With the deal wrapping up, a buyer’s guard is down. Salespeople know this well. The deal takes so long for a reason. It’s at the end that a salesperson may bring up unusual fees that may have official sounding names. Review all of the legitimate fees here and don’t hesitate to push the salesperson to drop anything that sounds suspicious.

A+ Rated First Financial Approves Auto Loans Up to $45,000

Better Business Bureau A+ rated First Financial has helped arrange over 1,000,000 auto loans, some with approved amounts of up to $45,000. We have loans for borrowers with all credit scores, even fair poor and bad credit. Take three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan and get your answer fast!

 

Credit Score Hit by Holiday Shopping? How to Rebuild with Credit Cards

 

The bill for the holiday fun comes due in January when the credit card statements arrive. You may even have used a quick cash advance to get all your gifts purchased during November and December. Prepare now to tackle those bills AND improve your credit score throughout the new year.

Step 1: A Few Clicks Gets Your Credit Report in Your Inbox

The first of the year inspires all kinds of resolutions. If you want this new year to be when you get your financial house in order, it’s time now to tackle that daunting document: your credit report.

You’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. Annualcreditreport.com is the only free site authorized by the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission. Don’t be intimidated. Just fill out a few fields, check some boxes and it comes right to you.

Step #2: Take a Look at Your Credit Utilization

Statement in front of you? Good. We’ll take it step by step.

The first element of your credit card examine is your credit utilization–basically, how much credit you have used compared to the total that banks are willing to lend you. Those using 50% of their available credit on any one account or 50% of credit offered across ALL accounts have lower scores than card holders using less than that halfway point. If you’ve spent $10,000 of a $15,000 limit, you’re using 67% of your available credit. Your annoying brother-in-law using only $5,000  of a $15,000 limit has a 33% credit utilization rate.

Credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your score. It’s also rather simple to improve. How? Apply for new credit cards and ask for the highest limits. Then, assuming you start with the $15,000 credit limit we discussed above, an additional $10,000 in new credit available to you gets you to a new limit of $25,000.  $10,000 out of an available $25,000 credit line creates a 40% credit utilization, far lower than 67%. Keep working on it and you’ll be below 30% in no time.

Credit card limits are tricky. Even if a credit card issuer approves you for $10,000 or $20,000, it doesn’t mean they think you have the income to spend all of that. Approved for $20,000? Best to keep your debt to $10,000 and under.

Your new January approach will be to work your credit card balances down below 50% of your limits or the amount your bank permits you to borrow. Whether that’s through paying down balances or opening new credit lines depends on your financial situation.

Step 3: Look at Late and Missed Payments

Where credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score, late payments impact it even more. Even one payment that’s late 30 days starts shaving points, but 60 and 90 day late payments wreck real havoc. At 120 days, most card issuers hand the account over to a collections agency. Now you’re talking about having your credit score drop into the 500s.

If you see that you have late payments, don’t despair. These three options may get them removed:

  • Ask the creditor for a “goodwill adjustment,” based on the responsible payments you have made.
  • Tell the creditor you will sign up for automatic payments debited from your bank account if they remove the late payment.
  • Claim the late payment is inaccurate. This works only if you have documentation, however.
  • Employ a professional to negotiate with the creditor.

After you’ve addressed your credit utilization and payment history data, you can go forward knowing exactly how to put your best foot forward in rebuilding your credit.

Step 4: Rebuild with Secured Credit Cards

With a firm understanding of how credit scores are calculated and how your behavior contributes to them, you can be confident about finding credit cards that will stabilize your finances.   

Keep that positive in mind when you find out that you most like will need to start out by using “secured” credit cards that have fees, low limits and may even require a deposit. Banks and the U.S. government want you spending, so the secured credit card is the way they make it happen.

These credit cards work just like a regular credit card, except you deposit often the same amount of cash collateral that they permit you to spend. What’s the benefit, then? These secured credit cards report to the three credit bureaus ( Experian, TransUnion and Equifax ) that you’ve shown responsible use of your secured credit card. Every on-time payment gets documented.

Eventually, the secured credit card company should approach you about using an unsecured credit card, where you don’t have to put up the cash. If they don’t after six to nine months, by all means apply for a different unsecured credit card or approach your current company for the same opportunity. The credit card company will consider how you’ve managed –not only your secured card– but all of your credit cards and loans.

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Once you get the unsecured card, your collateral from the secured card comes back to you, given you’ve paid all charges.  

Come Back from Your Holiday Spend the Smart Way

Holidays are not ALL about the gifts, but they sure make these few days out of the year more fun. And the fun is not just in receiving, but giving. In fact, studies have shown that those who spend money on others feel happier  and have more of a sense of purpose than those who don’t. Gift exchange has promoted connection and well-being since prehistoric times. If your generosity is crushing your credit score, rest assured you can work your way out slowly but surely.

 

Know these 2019 Auto Loan Trends Before You Buy a Car

aston martin with a good auto loan

There are some pretty sweet 2019 automobiles hitting the markets right now.

Acura redesigned their luxury compact RDX. Subaru is doing it’s Outback one better with its the 3-row Ascent SUV. Pickup trucks have been re-tooled as well. The compact Ford Ranger gets a sporty new design, and Chevy has modernized its powerful Silverado.

And then there are the high-tech features!

Internet connectivity, which sounded space-age just a few years ago now comes standard on many models. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto puts a range of entertainment and navigation options at drivers’ fingertips.

But before you let these new models and technological advances bewitch you, understand the trends in 2019 auto loans so you can get a deal.

Trend:  Slowing car sales

Why?:  Millennials and urban dwellers are avoiding buying cars because they find Uber and public transportation sufficient. Millennials also put less focus on material possessions reflect status. They are not enthusiastic buyers of cars OR homes.

For You:Car manufacturers and dealers will offer more incentives. Car prices will stay steady from 2018 to 2019.

Trend:  Lower loan origination fees

Why?:  Cloud processing, automated application review, and digitized documents mean dedicated, in-house loan analysts now have to get jobs at Subway. It also means lower labor costs for lenders.

For You: In the competitive auto loan market, lenders have to compete on price. Therefore, the buyer has more power to negotiate the 1% to 2% loan origination fee.

Trend:  Eight-year car loans

Why?:  Cars are lasting longer. Toyotas and Hyundais tend to get the most praise for working well after 200,000 miles.  According to autobytel.com, however, American models like the Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse hold up well into the 200,000 mile range as well. “Every new car today is built to last a quarter of a million miles,” explains Mike Calkins, AAA technical services manager. Taxi drivers brag that their Priuses make it to 600,000 miles!

For You: Car buyers who like to keep their cars for a long time can get more car for their budget with an 8-year car loan. While they’ll be in for more interest payments, using that money in other better-performing investments offsets auto loan interest costs.

Trend:  Rising interest rates

Why?:  With the economy thriving, the federal reserve has raised the federal funds rate eight times since the end of the Great Recession. It’s now at 2.25%. Most economist predict “The Fed” will bump rates up three more times in 2019 and then at least once more in 2020. With a federal funds rate at 3.25%, you bet the average auto loan cost will rise.

For You:   The tricky thing is, as happens with homes, when auto loan interest rates rise, car manufacturers tend to compensate with lower prices. They know about how much their consumers can spend each month on a car payment. Still, when you go into the dealership, don’t be surprised that the 1% interest rates have disappeared.

A+ Rated First Financial Cuts Auto Loan Costs to the Bone

Are you in the market for a new or pre-owned car? Better Business Bureau, A+ rated First Financial has auto loans for all credit types, even bad credit! Since 1996, we’ve helped arrange over 1,000,000 auto loans, some with approved amounts of up to $45,000. Take three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan at the lowest rates!

Is Now the Right Time for a Personal Loan?

Making a decision about the economy

Is your job stable enough to justify a personal loan? 

Until 2012, many viewed having a personal loan as risky. Having to pay for money you didn’t have would drive a consumer further into debt, jeopardizing their financial situation.

Today, the economic outlook has changed. Economists predict that 2017 will see a slight rebound.

First: wages are actually growing. According to the Atlanta Federal REserve Board, wages have enjoyed their fastest in crease in the past year. With unemployment at a low 4.6% today, most economists explain that the U.S. is at “full employment.” As workers get harder to come by, wages will rise.

The rise in consumer spending of 3.8% in just the last six months, too, boosts the U.S. Gross Domestic Product which helps the overall economy. This may have been a result of the rise of the employee’s wages over this time also. This is highly comparative to the 3.6 percent of gain for the take-home pay, thus a noticeable drop in the savings rate. The perceptions of the individual also about sending is better than the average and this has come to be stable for the previous months of observation. It is highly likely that they would have their expenditures increasing as directly proportional to the wages that they get to receive in their respective jobs.

Another factor that can be viewed as an advantage is the construction of more houses. The more of them that are built, the lower the prices could go. Houses with lower prices than the usual average price can be a driving force for the individuals to avail, thus setting the economy to be rocketing. The apartments have the most gain for this, though. This is because multifamily starts have an increase of 14 percent over the previous year while the single family has an increase of a mere 1.3 percent.

However, if you do not feel that there is an increase in your wage over the previous months, then you should ask for a raise. The U.S. Census Bureau has already increased the median incomes during the previous year after it has its years of falling or just being stagnant. You can just as your employer to give you a raise. If not, then it are better for you to look for another company that could serve you well as you have served them.

What could this say about the economy of the country? It can be that the business all over the place is booming in such a way that it creates a great many opportunities for the employees to get their own savings and even encourage personal loans.

Unlike a housing loan or a car loan for that matter, a personal loan can be used for the tuition fees of your children, or for the expenses of your travels when you feel like paying another place a visit just for mere relaxation, or anything else that you may want in your life. Further, if you want your personal loan to be secured as you should, you will be required to have a collateral such that it could back your personal loan. Some common cases for this are having a house or a car to comply the said requirement. You can also have your personal loan unsecured, and in this case, you would not need a collateral for your loan.

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Does a Better Economy Translate into Favorable Personal Loan Rates?

We certainly think so!

As economic conditions continue to improve, Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve Bank will increase interest rates. That means rates on all loans will increase, although not too fast and not by too much.

Those considering a personal loan should do it right now while it is still early. Most Americans have been putting off home improvements and car upgrades because of concern over the economy. The above information should give you the confidence that we are in a stable period.

 

 

Trust A+ Rated First Financial to Get You a Personal Loan Fast and at the Best Rates!

When considering personal loans, don’t forget that online lenders have the automation and reduced overhead to offer the best loans and terms. First Financial is the national leader in providing personal loans for borrowers of all types, even bad credit borrowers. Just fill out some forms, upload documents and get the money in your account in a matter of days. The Better Business Bureau rate First Financial A+ because we make customer service our highest priority.

 

 

 


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