Helping People Reclaim Financial Health

Archive for tag: Budgeting

Priority Pay

Priority Pay- A new program!

The Priority Pay program is a brand new addition to the many other services offered at RethinkingDebt. This program is available to clients who, due to financial restrictions, do not qualify for a traditional debt management program. At your appointment with RethinkingDebt, you will speak with a certified credit advisor and create an in depth budget based on income, living expenses, creditors, and amounts owed to each creditor in order to see your financial situation as a whole. This will allow the advisor to determine the most beneficial way to pay off outstanding debt. Priority Pay allows our clients to start debt repayment while still maintaining their everyday living expenses. Our staff understands each individual has a unique financial situation, and we try to assist each client in determining the best option based upon their own individual needs. Unlike the debt management program, when on Priority Pay, there is not a minimum payment requirement for each creditor. Once a creditor is paid in full, the funds can be reassigned to another creditor with an outstanding balance until all debts are paid in full. There is no time restriction for paying off the debt. This program simply allows you to start the process to obtaining financial health by paying one, two, or a few accounts at a time without disrupting your monthly budget. Our certified advisors would be glad to schedule an appointment in person or over the phone to review your current debt situation. Call us!

 

 

You Are Not Alone

Need help with your debt? You are Not Alone.

By Lynette Baker- Director of Marketing at CCCS of Rochester

 

If you are struggling each month to pay your bills, and you don't seem to be making any progress, maybe it's time to consider getting some help. A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is a great option if you need professional advice. The goal of any DMP is to help you decrease your debt and allow you to take back your financial future.

A DMP can help with your unsecured debt. Unsecured debt is debt that is not secured by an underlying asset or lien. Examples of unsecured debt are credit cards, personal loans, and attorney or medical bills. A DMP will take all of your unsecured debt and combine it into one affordable monthly payment. It is not a debt consolidation loan though and unlike debt settlement services, there are no upfront fees. A credit counseling agency will provide you with practical budget counseling services and work with you and your creditors to build a budget you can live with. A DMP will help you pay off your debt and improve your credit rating. An agency that offers DMP's can offer helpful suggestions and assist you with:

                •lower interest rates

                •lower payments

                •reduction or removal of late or over limit fees

                •relief from collection calls and letters

Regardless of your specific need, choosing a good credit counselor is extremely important. Some organizations, including some non-profit credit counseling agencies, may be more interested in their bottom line than in helping their clients. A 2005 Senate committee, though, lauded the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) for its commitment to ethical credit counseling that is provided at low or even no cost to consumers. The NFCC has member agencies all over the US including Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester. There are some important criteria to keep in mind when choosing an agency to work with.

•Find out if the agency belongs to a national organization such as the NFCC to ensure it meets quality and ethical standards

                •Ask the Better Business Bureau and other third parties about the agency

                •Watch out for large upfront or monthly fees

                •Be skeptical of BIG promises

                •Make sure the agency will work with all your creditors

                •Be wary of "fly by night" agencies- make sure the agency you choose has many years of experience

Keep in mind that a DMP is not a "quick fix". No one can get rid of your debt overnight. A DMP will get you back on track though and improve your finances for the future. You must be committed though. A credit counseling agency can help you lower payments but you still have to be disciplined to make those payments and not incur any further debt while you are on the DMP. Your patience and hard work will be rewarded with a brighter financial future!

Back to School Dollar Stretching

Stretching the Dollar While Back-To-School Shopping

By: Lynette Baker, Director of Marketing

Back-to-school time can be bittersweet for parents and kids alike. For kids it means an end to the care-free days of summer. And for parents it means an expensive annual tradition. But back-to-school shopping doesn't have to break the bank. By planning ahead, there are plenty of ways to be a smart shopper and save.

RethinkingDebt.org suggests the following tips for parents as they kick-off back-to-school shopping.

  • Begin with a plan. Start by taking an inventory of what you currently have at home and talking with your kids about what they will need. Use the school's supply list as your reference and stick to your list of essentials.
  • Clip coupons and be on the lookout for sales. Coupons mean money in your pocket. Be sure to check out the weekend newspaper circulars because stores will be advertising big sales. Study them and compare prices on different items to get the best bang for your buck. Check to see if your state has a back-to-school tax-free shopping holiday and use that time to do your shopping.
  • Stay on budget! Develop a budget and stick to it. Or, limit your kids' spending with a pre-paid gift card. You can monitor where kids shop and limit spending amounts with pre-paid gift cards, which nearly every retailer offers for both in-store and online purchases. This is also a great opportunity to teach your older kids about responsible spending habits. Let them do the comparison shopping and point out if they get the more expensive item, they will have to cut back in other areas. Not only will they learn about smart shopping, they will value what you buy for them much more.
  • Remember kids grow quickly. When shopping for clothes, look for articles of clothing that are basic and never go out of style. You can even buy a couple of sizes too big to keep in the closet for a later time. Buy items on the sale rack, but be mindful of the store's return policy. Head to outlet malls and discount stores. Purchase items that allow for kids to grow such as blouses and shirts with long tails, as well as pants with elastic waistbands and overalls.
  • Buy in bulk. Buying supplies like pens or notebooks in large quantities can save you money in the long run. If the quantity is too large, see if you can split the cost and the items with another parent. Consult neighbors and friends who have completed the grade your child is entering to make sure you're getting the right items.
  • Avoid the parking lot and shop online. Save time and money. Stores often put their best sales online and it's a great way to compare prices. With access to countless stores at your fingertips, you can keep track of your spending and cross items off of your list in no time. However, beware of identity theft and credit card fraud. Protect yourself by making sure the online transactions are secure. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call. Most online retail sites also have toll-free numbers.
  • Hang onto your receipts. Return items that don't fit or won't get used. Beware of the return policy as some stores put a limit on how long you can wait before returning an item. If the item goes on sale after you purchase it, ask the store to give you credit for the difference.
  • Delay if you can. You don't need to buy everything before school starts. Once kids see what others are using and wearing, they always seem to have some new ideas about what they need. The sales at the stores usually extend past the first day of school so you can still benefit from them.