• Lower your monthly payments
  • Reduce stress and live your life
  • Avoid personal bankruptcy court

4 Things Parents Must Keep In Mind About Student Loans

Every year has seen tuition costs for college and university rise – the average cost of private intuitions of higher education reached as high as $40,000 in 2013 and 2014, and the cost will only go up as time goes on. The increase is estimated at around 3%-4% every year, outpacing wage growth and inflation – which means that many families don’t have a choice but to take out student loans in order to make up all of the costs.

If you’re a parent sending your child to an institution of higher learning and you’re looking at taking out student loans, it’s important for you to know the ins and the outs of the college loan system – you don’t want to be caught off guard, so you should know about student loans.

Know About Student Loans

As A Co-Signer, You Are Always Responsible to Know About Student Loans

Some recent stories of parents co-signing for student loans have attracted some media attention – and one such story is that of the Mason family. The parents of Lisa Mason co-signed for nearly $100,000 of student loans to cover the cost of nursing school – and then tragedy struck. Lisa Mason died of liver failure at 27 years old, and the Mason parents were suddenly targets of lenders looking for repayment of the loans regardless of the tragedy. Because the Masons didn’t know about student loans, they suffered afterward.

While some of the lenders reduced their interest rates in light of the media attention the story found, a lot of people still don’t quite realize how dangerous co-signing can be. They’re liable, no matter what happens to the student – and even if the student remains in good health, the co-signer will be on the list when the time comes to pay.

Who Borrows the Money Is Important To Remember

When it comes to financial aid the calculations assume the burden of paying the loans is settled on two groups – the student and also the parents will make contributions to paying off the debt, and both are taken into account when it comes to the type of financial aid that can appear. Just like co-signing for private loans, it’s important to be accurate with who’s borrowing what for federal loans.

This flexibility can get you some better terms when it comes to interest rates and repayment. PLUS loans for parents can see fixed interest rates and delayed repayments when needed – but you need to ask yourself if you, as a parent, can repay the loans in worst-case scenarios. The more debt you take in your name, the more trouble you might have if things don’t play out well – just another thing that’s important to know about student loans.

Learn About Forgiveness Terms

The terms of forgiveness – if you have to pay back the loans – depends on what the type of loan is. Federal loans generally have a generous or kind set f forgiveness terms. Tragedies can see the loans forgiven so that you don’t have to pay back, if your child takes a public-service job (like teaching) it can forgive the loans over time, and if the school closes down for foreclosure it can result in you not having to pay the loans back.

Private loans, on the other hand, are much stricter. Lenders vary from one to the next on how they offer forgiveness terms if they do – and while they will take into mind how likely it is they’ll be paid back over a shorter or longer period of time (which can work out for you if you tell them, and get you on income-based repayment or a longer period to pay everything back), not many will give you outright forgiveness. Federal loans are better for you than private loans – but they can’t cover everything. If you have to take a private loan, make sure you know about student loans and every last detail of the loan contract and try to keep it in mind at all times when dealing with paying back your loans.

No Debt Is the Best Kind of Debt

It’s obvious – you’d rather have no loans to repay than some loans. It’s loan debt, and it can stack up from interest or generally hurt your credit score as time goes on. There’s a few ways to push toward this kind of goal, and one of them is to (while your child is still young – start as soon as you can) set up a college education fund near the start of the process and let it build up over time. Even a small amount every year can cut back the amount of tuition you will have to pay and make sure you have an easier time paying the loans back.

Just because you know about student loans it doesn’t mean you will have an easy time paying everything off – but being informed on exactly what each loan means can help you in the future of a tragedy or setback occurs and make sure you avoid the financial ruin that can from defaulted student loans.

How to Get Rid of Bad Marks on Your Credit Report

In America, there seems to be an obsession with having a high credit score, which is brought about with good reason: a credit score determines your eligibility for home ownership, loans, and credit cards.  While most people do keep track of their financial doings, there are always a few who, by one way or another, fall between the cracks.

If you are one of those people, if you have been faced with bad marks on your credit score, then take the time to read the information below.  You will not only find the culprit, but also how to rid yourself of it as soon as you are able.

Things That Can Lower Your Credit Score

  • Bankruptcy

Simply put, bankruptcies are outright statements that declare you are unable to repay your debts.  Chapter 13 bankruptcies are typically removed in seven years, while Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies can take ten years or more.  Even if you repay your dues, there is no certainty these bad marks will be taken from your credit report.

  • Foreclosure

When you foreclose on a house, it means you have given the bank free reign of your property due to an inability to pay.  This bad mark on your credit score lasts about seven years, whether or not your property is resold.  It can also lead to difficulties qualifying for future home purchases, as well as credit cards.

  • Tax Liens

Tax liens are government documents that give all ownership of your assets to the government, until your debts are paid.  Many of these are due to the failure to pay property or income taxes.  While your debts may be forgiven through a bankruptcy court, the tax lien will continue to haunt your credit report for another seven years, after it is paid.

  • Consumer Debt

Consumer debts are accrued through the use of credit cards and, if not paid monthly, will make an appearance on you credit report for seven years.  This is why it is crucial you know whether or not you can afford to pay for something, before you swipe your card.

  • Lawsuits and Convictions

Lawsuits that involve debt tend to stay on your credit report for seven years, however criminal convictions are bad marks that will stay on your record for an indefinite amount of time.  They can also disqualify you for certain careers, home ownership, and custody of your children.

  • Late Payments

While missing a payment here and there is not bad, being frequently truant will spell trouble for you and your credit score.  Late payments, while typically not reported until they are a month or more past due, will remain as a black mark on your credit score for seven or more years.

  • Credit Inquiries

Credit inquiries can remain on your credit score for one or two years, depending on whether they are a “hard pull” or a “soft pull.”  “Hard pull” credit inquiries, which last two years, are initiated by you and can act as a bad mark on your credit score.  “Soft pull” inquiries, on the other hand, only show up for one year and do nothing to your monetary reputation.

How to Deal

Many people are shocked, frustrated, and sad when they come to find a monetary mistake documented on their credit report.  If you are like most people, you work to fix the problem as quickly as you can.  Should you be curious as to what your efforts hold in store for you, see if your collector is one that does a periodical update on the status of his or her debtors.  This way, you will see if you can get your name off the “hit list” even quicker than before.

Another effective solution is to take a step back, breathe, and know the situation is temporary.  As long as you are working to make amends with your errors, you will never have to worry about them rearing their ugly heads, in the future.

Things You Can Do

If you see a bad mark on your annual credit report, the best decision you could make is to ensure the debt is paid as soon as possible.  As a result, you will have less likelihood of seeing it for another seven-to-ten years.  You might also want to meet with a financial advisor or a credit counselor, to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

When looking back, know that everyone has made a financial error at one time or another, whether these errors turned into crippling debt, however, is entirely up to the individual.  Even if you are in a rough place right now, it is never too late to seek help and resources that will aid you in repaying your dues.  While the effort may be exhausting and full of sadness, confusion, and anger, it is better than having your owings following you for the rest of your days.

Putting a Halt to the Overspending Habit

In America today, it is easier than ever to spend money.  The average American, when all is said and done, spends thirty-three percent more than what they make.  This is a scary statistic: regularly spending more than they earn, citizens of the United States pull their country into even more debt.

Of course, some debts are unavoidable.  College and medical expenses, which make up the bulk of American dues, are just a few examples.  However overspending, the simple act of buying what you cannot afford, comprises a percentage that is nearly as large as its predecessors.  While expensive items might make you feel good for a while, they are no substitute for genuine happiness.

Stop The Overspending Habit

Live Skinny, Smile Fat

Studies have shown that people who live frugally are happier, have lower blood pressure, and tend to “want” less than the average spender.  Some solutions to putting a stop to your overspending and living a happier life are:

Finding frugal fun

It is no secret that people who wish to save cash tend to go out less, at least in the traditional sense.  However, their social lives can still blossom: with all of the entertainment options that can be accessed from a home, private gatherings with family and friends become an ideal choice.  There is also a wide selection of outdoor activities that can be passed for little to no funds, such as biking or walking on a local nature trail, swimming in a lake, and having a picnic in the park.  While the above might still require some dough, it is far less than you would pay for dinner at a restaurant and a movie.

Knowing what you need

It is common for individuals who overspend to have a blurred conception of what they want and what they truly need.  If you are trying to stop overspending, it would be best to write out the desires that are currently on your mind, and deciding what you can and cannot live without.  In decreasing spending through the eradication of useless impulse buys, you can de-clutter your house, your bills, and your mind.

Plucking the plastic from your purse

Most historic overspenders are customers who, at all times, have a credit card or some other form of “instant cash” on hand.  The slide of the plastic, reassuring for some, can create surprises at the end of the month.  It has been proven that if you, before making a purchase, decide to delay your decision by a few days, you will be less likely to spend unnecessary cash.  If you are apt to overspending at the grocery or at local retailers, try stopping by the bank or an ATM so you can pay with real, old-fashioned, paper dollars.

A Credit Conundrum

As we saw above, most overspending comes from credit and debit card use.  The fact that you cannot see what you’re spending is a large contributor to the dilemma, as you have no physical basis for your debts.  While using cash-only is a guaranteed method of spending less, it can make some feel insecure that their money is “out there in the open.”  If you are dead-set on using your credit card or checking account, some wise pointers for ending your overspending are:

Limiting your budget

If you’re using a debit card, make sure that you only have enough money for your trip to the grocery or night on the town.  Knowing that your funds are not endless is a great way to keep your spending in check, even if you do intend to use them.  Being aware of your money can, when your bills show up in your postbox or email, give you the satisfaction of lower balances and reduced debt.

Sharing your goals

Since social media is now a prime mode of communication for anyone over the age of ten, it would not be a bad idea to post a status update or Tweet that you are trying to reduce your overspending.  It is surprising how much support you can receive, even for something as personal as patching that hole in your credit.  Also, please be assured that admitting your errors is not shameful: it is a step in the right direction.

Steering clear of the store

Another easy way to prevent overspending is to get away from the shops and begin spending time in places where you are not tempted to engage in bank-breaking habits.  Take yourself off of retailer mailing lists, as well as websites that send you that “monthly deal.”  New clothes can be essential for change every one in a while, however meaningful friendships have the potential to lift your mood more than that pair of jeans everyone is dying to buy.

 

Now, you hopefully have a guide that can help you stop your overspending habits and give you the worry-free life you are seeking.

Steps of Precaution to Take Before You Dispute Debts

Debts are a factor in our lives that we would all love to get rid of by the wave of a magic wand, but only if it was that simple! Being hounded by creditors at every instance of a phone call or a letter in the mail simply makes our lives miserable, especially if it has reached a point where the creditor has forwarded the case to a debt collector who in turn, is more adamantly aggressive in trying to get you to pay up. They will do anything to get you to admit and pay whatever debt they think you may owe them.

Before You Dispute Debts

However, what if you are being hounded unjustifiably?

It is not uncommon for debt collectors to consistently call you and demand that you start making payments on debts you know nothing about. What is even more frustrating is that the more you deny knowledge of it, the more persistent they become.

What ends up happening is that the debt collector, after numerous attempts of trying to compromise with you on a settled plan of payment and with no success, may end up resorting to reporting you to the credit bureaus which might prove to be catastrophic to the future of your credit score. Before you dispute debts, it is wise to first consider what the overall picture is, in order to combat it successfully.

Therefore, it is necessary to know where you stand when it comes to your legal rights before you dispute debts that you are certain you never owed.

What are your Legal Rights?

It is essential to protect yourself. There is nothing worse than being caught up in a murky situation whereby you lack the know-how of getting yourself out of it. More often than not, most people do not know their rights in many case scenarios and end up getting mislead into doing things that do not sit in their favor.

Before you dispute debts get familiarized with the law from the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).  Luckily, you are protected from debt collectors by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and it stipulates that:-

  • Word of mouth (phone conversation between both parties) is not considered valid until you personally send the debt collector a letter of dispute over the alleged debt. They cannot proceed to harass you until this is done. (Keep all documents you that you may receive from them safely for future reference) You have the right to contest the contents in the document of the debt 30 days after contact is made.
  • If in the event a debt collector should receive proof that the debt they pursue with an individual is non existent and they are still pestering that individual over it, then a complaint can be filed against them.
  • You are protected by the FDCPA if you have a dispute filed with a debt collector. The FTC does not take kindly to debt collector’s harassments. That works in your favor because they also cannot report you to any credit bureaus in an effort to spoil your credit.

Things to do before you dispute debts

With those pointers in mind, then you can proceed in disputing the debt, but not without doing the following first:-

Check your Credit first

First inquire about your credit report. That is probably the very first thing you should do before you dispute debts. Check it and make sure that it is, or isn’t included in the credit history. After all, that is the only way you will know for sure if you have no clue about what they are talking about. If it is not on the credit report, then you can dispute it. During this 30 day period, they are not allowed to call you again.

Don’t confirm or agree to the debt

When they first make contact, they catch you off guard. You may not know what they are talking about. That is why you should be vague and not very forthcoming in your responses. Conversations are recorded which may be used against you later on.

Other reasons why you should not admit to anything are:-

  • The debt may come from a deceased relative. They know this, but are hoping to impose the debt on you instead. Before you dispute debts, silence is surely golden.
  • When a debt goes unpaid for a certain amount of time, you become exempt from paying it (statue of limitations) but they try to make you pay for it anyway.
  • It may be a debt incurred by someone who stole your identity and you of course, don’t know anything about it.

In Conclusion

Before you dispute debts, these precautions are key. First know your rights and how well you can utilize them and everything else just falls into place effectively.

How to Avoid Overspending and Create the Right Spending Style

You will never get out of debt if overspending is your only style. Most people know that learning how to avoid overspending takes self-discipline. But it can, literally, pay off when you reach certain financial goals and aspirations. One of these five spending styles can teach you how to avoid overspending in 2014. Find the one that is right for you and stick to it.

Avoid Overspending

The needs-only spender

A great way to learn how to avoid overspending in 2014 is to focus solely on your needs. Create on honest list of your needs and wants. Then only spend money on your ‘needs’ list items. This list should include rent or mortgage, electricity, groceries and credit card debt. Do not spend one cent on ‘wants’. People already in debt will best learn how to avoid overspending with this style. You will erase debt faster and stop, or at least slow down, discretionary spending. This cash diet will also help you save for retirement and a child’s education.

Personal avoid overspending victory

Florida teacher Nysa Williams is a needs-only spender. She only buys when the money is in hand. No matter how tempting it is to buy something online. For Nysa, no money means no purchases. This is the style we are most likely to see on ‘The Suze Orman Show’ or ‘Til’ Debt Do Us Part.’

Using technology to avoid overspending

The ‘in the envelope’ spender

Here you learn how to avoid overspending by withdrawing money from an ATM machine once or twice a month. Label a few envelopes with words like rent, groceries and gifts to store that budgeted money. If you have a gift budget of $200, keep that exact amount in an envelope labeled ‘gifts.’ Yes this is an outdated system. But almost 40% of American citizens still follow this method. So it still has serious value.

The no-sweat spender

This style dictates shopping with credit cards only after you take care of financial obligations. You learn how to avoid overspending by checking your account once and deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ You should probably build a financial cushion first before adopting this spending style. Start with an automatic savings account and by paying your bills regularly. Focus on your real financial responsibilities, like rent and groceries. Then you will have more room in the credit card to buy other things. Like a new television, clothes or even a vacation.

The E-spender

Online has become so popular because many people are too busy for shopping in physical stores. This is a good spending for people who do not have a lot of time for money management and busy parents. One of whom is Mary, a single mother and an event organizer.

Mary is always on the lookout for discounts and free shipping offers. Another way Mary gets discounts, buy her groceries in bulk. My parents and sister have also done this for years. It helps decrease the number of trips to the grocery store you need to take. Ask anyone, it is a great way to learn how to avoid overspending. When online shopping at Amazon, I only pay attention to free shipping qualified items. If buying a gift, my budget is typically between $25-40. Of course, I am going to spend more money on my niece than my cousin Addison. But after taxes, I do not care if the final price is, for example, $42.50. Fortunately, I can handle that kind of price.

The rewards-happy spender

This spending style refers to those of us who enjoy using reward cards for extra points. I am guilty of this style. This is particularly the case at beauty stores and coffee shops. I have done the ‘buy ten drinks, get the eleventh drink free’ routine for years. But this style is only for those with no debts and a good credit store. A good way to learn how to avoid overspending in this case is keep tabs on expenses so you do not go overboard.

A very common tip is to always pay more than the minimum on credit card debt. It is okay if the payment is only two or three dollars more than the minimum due. I always do this. I also pay early sometimes.

It is hard to learn how to avoid overspending. Especially if you have spent a long time doing just that. Many over-spenders have to re-learn the lesson numerous times before they are ready to get it right. You have to want it desperately enough to make it right. May sound harsh, but the only person who can really help you is you. The problem started with you. So the solution needs to start with you. Of course, the people around you can cheer you on, offer support and hold you accountable for sip-ups. But the real work is yours.

Why Does Your Credit Score Matter

Chances are you have a good idea of exactly what where your credit score lies.  It’s just that little number, following you around everywhere with its big, sad eyes, and it might be 600, it might be 700, or it might be even higher – but does it actually matter?  And do you actually know what it is and why it matters?

How credit scores are calculated

The simplest explanation: your score is just your credit report’s numerical representation, based on mathematical formula developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation (now simply FICO).  Three credit report bureaus exist – TransUnition, Equifax, and Experian.  All of them select credit scores based on information from your score (compiled by FICO), but they each use a different proprietary formula.  It’s possible to have three separate credit scores, but as you can probably guess, a higher score comes with a better report.

Why your credit score matters

The first look a prospective lender will take before approving a credit application is right at your credit score.  The range can go down as low as 300 and up as high as 850 – and a score higher than 800 means you are clear when it comes to lending.  On the other side of the spectrum, if your score is lower than 500, you might have problems getting credit.  Lenders will see you as someone at risk not to pay them back, and the credit they do give you will be at a high interest rate.

Reasons for bad credit scores

You might lack any sort of credit history, you may have defaulted on personal loans, dealt with the pains of a foreclosed home, filed bankrupt, or been late making payments on existing debts.  These are all the types of things that contribute to a low score.

What you can do about your bad credit

The first thing you need to do is learn your credit score.  Check out www.myfico.com – if you sign up for a trial, only two-weeks long, of the FICO Score Watch, you can get your score for free.  If not, it’s only twenty dollars.

If you find out that you do, in fact, have a poor credit score, there are ways to improve that.  There are things called ‘secured credit card’ – you deposit cash to the company issuing the card, and the card is then charged until reaching a zero balance.  A large number of these cards are available, but be sure to check out fees before signing up for one, as some of them can soar fairly high.

Think about credit in a different way

Although it might sometimes feel like free money, you have to remember: it’s the exact opposite.  You don’t want to use credit for emergencies, unless there are absolutely no other alternatives open to you.  In an ideal world, you would never put anything on credit unless you could immediately pay it in the same month to avoid keeping any kind of balance in the future, but in the real world, there are problems, some self-inflicted and others brought upon us by powers beyond our control.  But one thing you can do is avoid shopping splurges.  This isn’t just when you go on a wild shopping trip.  It applies to smaller things – buying a round for your friends, eating out big one night, or purchasing tools to keep yourself entertained.  No matter how it happens, not being careful about splurging can rack up some serious credit debt.

Debt consolidation can be your rescue

At times it might feel like you don’t have a way out.  Your poor credit score comes from your debts, and you have trouble paying your debts – it can be a painful cycle, but we can show you the way out.  Our debt relief professionals offer you a simple way, 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

If ever, you grow dissatisfied or jaded with the debt relief programs we recommend, canceling out is free – you’ll see neither fees nor penalties come your way.  We are confident in the help we can provide to make you debt free in reasonable time, and in the process, we’ll save you thousands.  Fill out the forum on this page or dial our toll-free phone number, and we’ll give you even more information.  It might just be the smartest decision you make this year.

Budgeting – The First Step towards Financial Independence

Have you ever thought or dreamed about how it would be like if for instance one day you wake up and you realize you are financially free? You are under no debt; you have a nice mount of savings for any type of emergency and you are building your retirement plan well? That would feel like being on top of the world. Like you have no worries left to tense yourself up to. Nothing is impossible in this world and there are ways to alter the impossibilities. If you want this dream to come true, then budgeting is the way to achieve it.

Why a budget

Why a budget is critical:

Why a budget is critical is a good question. Mainly because it helps you secure your future. But budget is a word that frightens most people and makes them believe it is a strick routine of cutting of every desirable thing from their monthly expenses. It’s really not like that and shouldn’t be thought negative of. Sticking to a budget is hard but once you do eventually it will lead you to a peaceful financial independence. A budget should be a part of every person’s life and should have a vital importance.

Every Little Penny:

The first thing you need to do is note down all of your expenses of a month coin to coin. This should involve everything whether it’s random that changes like every month or week or fixed costs like mortgage, car and bill payments.

Arrange your Expenses into Groups:

When you realize where you are spending your money divide it into different categories and groups like transportation , food , bills, clothes, medical, and of course savings. In this way you will know in which category you are spending most on and you can easily see from this where you are going too high.

Start Cutting down:

The next step for you is starting to chop down things from your list. Fixed things like bills can’t really be changed but you can try to some extent like starting to use public transport more often or ridesharing. Food expenses can be cut down by using special offers, sales and coupons. Reduce your entertainment expenses by eating out a bit lesser watching a fewer movies out and try to visit the club lesser. Cut down things from almost every category or group you have made. If you just start randomly without any planning it will just create a mess and you might start reducing wrong things. So be wise and have a thorough look first. By cutting down some things in life which we are using an excess of really help you a lot. In the start you might feel like cutting down has made you poorer but that’s not it. It’s for your own good your future.

Sticking to your budget:

Sticking to a budget and following it is not really a piece of cake. You must mean it and take it seriously in it order to stick to it. There are some things which you can follow that can make you follow your budget and also save you from the later pondering on why a budget was needed for us when we can’t go with it.

Here are some tips to stick to your budget:

  • Some families turn the whole budgeting thing into a game. They set up a goal for a week like using only $100 for their groceries, when they reach that goal they celebrate it as an achievement.
  • You can also give out some small prizes for family members that think of different ways and come up with the best suggestions for reducing costs and sticking to the made budget.
  • Reward yourself when you feel like you’re sticking to the budget. This doesn’t mean a heavy prize or something but a family night at the cinema or maybe a DVD together at home.
  • Keep your spirits and hopes up and try to be optimistic. You are not favoring anyone than yourself and your family.  This whole plan is for your future.

Dealing with Debt:

Debt might be thought of as a fixed expense but in real it isn’t. There are ways to save thousands of dollars by appropriate debt settlements. Once all of your unsecure debts are settled down you will get a payment plan which will be even less than the total of the monthly payments you have at present.

Financial Independence:

Now you know why a budget is important for you. Create one for yourself and see the difference in increase of your savings. Control your expenses, get out or reduce every debt you are under think before buying things whether you need them or not. Soon you’ll realize yourself that you were over spending and that the budget you made help you get independent financially.

Best Debt Reduction Tools

Reducing your debt is the key to a happier life. Success can be measured by how satisfied we are in our lives and finding financial freedom is an important step. It is one thing to want to do something and quite another thing to achieve it. Millions of people each year plan to reduce their debt but it can be overwhelming. There are a number of tools available to help you create a plan, manage debt, and continue to motivate you on your quest of becoming debt free. This article will highlight the best debt reduction tools. It is up to you to decide which program makes the most sense to you.

Best Debt Reduction Tools

  • ReadyforZero

This software is free and it provides you with charts, progress e-mails and a community forum. The charts are particularly ideal for those that like to see their goals laid out before them and the e-mails track our goal progress. The community forum will help you stay motivated and it is nice to chat with other people working towards similar goals.

  • The Debt Snowball Calculator

Dave Ramsey, of radio fame, is the creator of this program. This calculator is designed as a supplement to people who listen to the Dave Ramsey radio program. This calculator has a monthly fee of $7.49 but it offers a free test period. Enter all of your loans, credit cards and other debts including interest rates and it will provide you with a debt free calendar date. The “Payment Schedule” option will show you a chart with your payments for the next few months and years. The format of this program may be helpful to those who follow Ramsey’s plan and it is among one of the best debt reductions tools.

  • Goals with Mint

Mint is a popular program that many households use to track a budget. The Goals with Mint program option allows you to integrate your monthly finances with your personal financial goals. The Goals section can be customized or you can select saving for college, retirement, take a trip, buy a car, buy a home, improve my home, pay off loans, pay off debt or save for an emergency. This program allows you to link a checking, savings or credit card to the software and it will give you a debt-free date. This program is free with an established account from Mint.

  • CNN Debt Free Calculator

This free calculator offers you three choices; minimum monthly payment, debt-free deadline, or fixed monthly payments. This allows you to adjust the way that you pay your debt and calculates the date based on your selection. This program shows you the best way to re-pay your debt based on what you are capable of doing.

  • LearnVest

LearnVest is the best debt reduction tool for those of us who need a long term plan. The financial planners at LearnVest will help you choose a 5-year plan and design a target date for you to be debt free. This program is $19.00 a month and well worth it. Having a financial planner will force you to be accountable and the results will be nearly instantaneous.

  • Debt Eliminator by Suze Orman

This program is free and it works in a similar manner as the debt snowball plan. Suze Orman calls her plan the Debt Avalanche Method. After you have entered all of your credit cards, loans, interest rates and available funds into the system, it will formulate your plan. The Debt Avalanche method involves paying off high interest loans first and the minimums on other loans or credit cards. Once that is paid off, the leftover income will be used to pay off the next high interest debt until you are free of debt.

  • Unbury Me

This plan offers two program options; the snowball and the avalanche. These programs are the same as aforementioned. This free calculator that will provide you with a chart and a debt-free date once your entire loan, credit cards and interest rate information is put into the system.

The key to all of these programs is accountability and knowledge of your debt. It is important to understand debt in order to develop a comprehensive plan for becoming debt free. These are the best debt reduction tools available but no plan will work if you do not work the plan. I suggest trying the free programs first and then if you do not like those, invest in a monthly plan. A financial planner may be necessary to keep you on track and to help you understand debt and finances. Any fees paid to help you get out of debt should be considered investments in your future. Educating yourself in personal finance could lead you to a more fulfilled life. Perhaps you could prepare for a better retirement or take job risks. These things can be attained through the freedom of debt.

Things to Think About When Trying To Save Enough for Retirement

Regardless of your age you should be thinking about your retirement. How do you need to save? If you are not saving enough for retirement you may be forced to work for the rest of your life! If your retirement savings plan relies on “winning the lottery or marrying rich” you should take a more pragmatic approach so you can have something to rely upon during the best years of your life. You are not alone, most Americans are not saving enough for their retirement but you shouldn’t delay saving, The sooner you start the better off you will be so let’s look at why people aren’t saving and what can be done to mitigate this problem.

Save Enough for Retirement

Retirement Planning Is Complicated and I Have Other Obligations

Most Americans have never taken a financial investing class or learned financial terminology. We don’t know the consequences of credit and not saving for a “rainy day”. Consumers simply don’t see the urgent need to invest for retirement so they put it off and wait till they are in their mid to late forties before actually investing anything and by that time you have to take riskier investments to generate a big enough return to meet your needs.

The most important step is creating a plan and putting away a small amount of money each and every paycheck, this amount can balloon over time into a considerable amount of cash but you need to start investing now.

Investing for retirement is not overly complex and by following these tips you are going to be taking a very big step in the right direction.

How Much Is Enough?

Each person has their own distinct financial needs, for one person $100,000 per year is more than enough and for others they would feel destitute. What you need to do is look at your current living expenses and multiply it by roughly 50%. Since your mortgage and debts should be paid off by the time you retire you just need to cover your basic living costs. You should plan to live to 80 or even longer. There is a considerable number of Americans who are living longer than ever and you need to take that into consideration when planning how much is needed for retirement.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm or In This Case Retirement Goal

The adage “The early bird catches the worm” is very appropriate for individuals planning for retirement. The sooner you start saving the more time your savings can mature and provide you with the returns you need to sustain yourself throughout your golden years.

If you want to make the savings even more manageable plan to retire a few years later. There is a considerable number of Americans who are staying in the workforce longer, Some of them do so due to financial constraints but unless you have something you really want to do there is no point retiring if you can still be economically productive. What you need to do is start off with something small and watch it balloon over time into a large nest egg. Granted it is not easy because it is a new skill but if you stick with it you will realize it isn’t so bad saving for the glorious day when you can say goodbye to work and hello to life.

How to Get the Upper hand

This is your first time investing so we want to help you realize your ultimate goal which is saving enough for retirement. If you follow these easy to apply suggestions you will be one step ahead and have peace of mind.

  • Reduce debt and stay away from new debt. Debt is one of the biggest threats to your financial well-being so stay away from it. If you are in debt don’t bother saving money for retirement until the debts are paid off. The interest rates being charged on these debts will be considerably higher than what you will earn in the market.
  • Only invest in things you understand. You shouldn’t invest in something “because everyone else is doing it”. Instead follow the golden advice provided by Warren Buffet which is only invest in things you understand and that have a “durable competitive advantage”. When you invest in something you don’t understand you could lose everything because you don’t know how to properly assess the risks.
  • Give your investments time to grow. We are all impatient it is part of being human but if you start investing early your investments will grow in value which helps you achieve your savings goal. Just remember there are no “risk free investments” and if you come across an investment that claims to be risk free you need to avoid it like the plague.

The fact you are reading this is a positive sign. If you stick with these suggestions you will be saving enough for retirement just be patient with yourself and you will realize your retirement saving goals.