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

Great Apps to Use to Save Money on Dining Out

Dining out can make for a very enjoyable experience. You can do it with your family, with your friends, or even by yourself. However, a great experience can turn into one that was very expensive and leave you needing to work double time to make up for the funds that you should not have spent in the first place. No one should ever be forced to never dine out because of being on a budget. Instead, you should consider using ways that can help you to save money on dining out. Continue reading for great apps that you can use to save money on dining out.

Save Money on Dining Out

According to Research

According to a survey conducted by Visa, in 2013 there was an average spending amount of over $900 on Americans spending money on lunch outings. That is a lot of money to be spent on lunch, so it is definitely a huge increase for Americans who have dined out for dinner because dinner time is usually the time restaurants increase serving size as well as the price for those larger dishes. That dollar amount also only includes the main dish and does not include any dining extras like appetizers, drinks, and dessert. The majority of Americans use a mobile device and fortunately, those mobile devices can be the help you need to save money on dining out.

How to Save Money on Dining Out

Mobile devices come with the ability to download mobile applications to be used for your benefit. One of those benefits is to save money on dining out, but what apps should you use? There are many apps available that will claim to help you save money on dining out. Below is a list of the best ones to use to help you to save money on dining out.

Deal News

The first way to save money on dining out is to use the Deal News app. This apps will give you the best local restaurants that offer the best deals for you. Not only will you gain access to great restaurants, but you will also find deals for bars, cafes, and breweries.

Scout Mob

This app is run by big city dwellers that will help you to find any elite restaurant and offer you great deals to enjoy. Not only will you get great deals with this app, but you will also receive restaurant recommendations that are related to your recent searches or your previously used deals.

Groupon

This app will give you access to a variety of interesting restaurants and great deals that will encourage you to try them out. This app provides you with coupons that will discount a single meal or discount the meals for an entire group. Groupon also gives special deals depending on the length of time that you use the app.

Yelp

Not only does the Yelp app give you great deals on different restaurants that you can enjoy, it also provides you with unbiased reviews on new restaurants that you have never tried. Most of the deals given by this app will allow you to decrease the cost of your meal by a few dollars.

Living Social

This app is similar to Groupon in that you can access pretty much any restaurant to see if there is a special deal or discount to be used. This app also gives you access to restaurants from different areas which is great to use when you are traveling to a new area.

Bite Hunter 

As its name suggests, this app hunts from the best deals and discounts at restaurants and any other type of dining out establishment. You can even make your dinner purchase with this app and take advantage of any deals before you arrive at the restaurant.

Restaurant.com 

Using this app will get rid of the need to print off coupons. You will have top access to deals and discounts for a number of restaurants. The app can be used on your personal computer or on your mobile device.

A Few More Notes 

Some of the apps listed above are free to download and use. Others may require a small fee in order to take advantage of great deals. Although the free apps may be more appealing, paying a small fee to save money on dining out is worth it. Keep in mind that some restaurants may not acknowledge deals, discounts, and coupons that are uploaded onto an app. It is a good idea to call ahead to ask if the deal will be accepted. It is also recommended to inform you waiter or waitress at the restaurant when you will be using a discount from one of the apps.

Dining out does not have to be expensive if you use one of the available apps that can help you to save money on dining out.

Tips on Avoiding Debt Consolidation Scams

When you are facing debts, it may be very tempting to try anything available in an effort to better control your debt and possibly eliminate it. Certain methods of getting rid of debt, like obtaining a credit card, applying for a big loan to cover all debt amounts, and even debt consolidation may seem like a good idea to use to handle debt, but some of these methods can be more damaging to your credit. Nowadays, there are many debt consolidation scams that target desperate individuals seeking anything that can help them solve their debt problems. So, what can you do to make sure that you do not fall victim to any debt consolidation scams? Continue reading for more information on avoiding debt consolidation scams.

credit-debt-consolidation-150x150

Knowing When You’ve Been Scammed

When you are searching for debt consolidation assistance, there are a few key factors you can look out for to alert you that you may have uncovered a debt consolidation scam. Here is a short list of those alerts:

  • The service requires a high monthly service fee while providing little work for the money that is being requested.
  • The company takes minimal accountability when a client is dissatisfied.
  • The monthly payments determined are very high.
  • Funds are required to be taken from your bank account.
  • There is no way to keep track of what the company is doing with your payments (i.e. paying off creditors, keeping track of your remaining debt).

How Debt Consolidation Scams Work

Sometimes, you do not realize that you have been involved in any debt consolidation scams until you are well into the process. However, most debt consolidation scams require that you pay an extremely high monthly payment, require high monthly fees for their services, and take little blame for any dissatisfaction that the client may have. There is not track record of the payments that are being made on your account and there is no way to prove that the company is even using your payments to pay off creditors. Some debt consolidation scams take payments directly from your bank account without your consent. When you try to contact the company for answers, you are unable to locate a reachable number, address, or email. Instead of receiving calls from your debt consolidation company, you are still receiving calls from your creditors. Despite you paying tons of money toward your debt consolidation, you are still able to be sued by creditors because none of your money is being sent to them to satisfy your outstanding balances. Because of the debt consolidation scams, you are now at risk for losing any valuable assets and even more money than you have invested into getting rid of your debt.

Recovering from Debt Consolidation Scams

If you have been a victim of any debt consolidation scams, you may be even more hesitant to search any further for a reliable debt consolidation company that can really help you to resolve your debt issues. But first, there are some crucial steps that you must take. Firstly, if your payments are being drafted from your account, you should close the bank account immediately to avoid any further transactions. Also, you can check the contract that you signed and update yourself on the laws of your state. In some cases, you may be able to sue the company that is claiming to be a debt consolidation company. It is also a great idea to contact your creditors to inform them of your intent to settle your debt but of the scam of which you were unknowingly a part.

The last step is to do thorough research from good debt consolidation companies that will help you to solve your debt problems. A good place to start is with your financial institution. Your bank may be able to provide you with a list of debt consolidation programs that may be beneficial for you. If not, you can search online for debt consolidation companies but beware—the internet is probably where you came across your first debt consolidation company that turned out to be a scam. There are tons of reliable Debt Relief Companies that specialize in debt consolidation and will help you get on the right track if indeed debt consolidation is the right solution to your debt problems.

Being involved in any of the debt consolidation scams that are out there can turn your bad debt into horrible debt, so you must make sure that your debt consolidation company is there to work for you and not make you work harder to handle your debt. If you have already been a victim of a debt consolidation scam, do not be ashamed or hesitant to try again. There are many of individuals who have been bamboozled by a company claiming to help individuals solve their debt issues. Do thorough research to ensure that the company you are reaching out to is willing and able to give you a helping hand.

2014’s Top 10 Franchises

We can never designate one way to determine which franchise businesses are the strongest and best in the market, but looking at the top franchises of 2014, analysts have a close look at a few attributes that quickly identify a fast-growing, powerful franchise.  Before going over the top franchises of 2014, we’ll look at some of these qualities.

  • Proven affordable business model: clear proof that the franchise knows how to make money doing what they’re doing.
  • Start-up support: when franchisers (the original owners) help their new owners (franchisees) with their branches, especially through site selection, lease negotiation, financing, and other guiding help, it shows how competent the company is in expanding their interests.
  • Branding and marketing: a company that can get its name spread across the nation is naturally going to be more successful than those with much less marketing prowess.  Using TV, radio, traditional mail, and other methods like marketing collateral and digital ads, these franchises can expand at a much greater rate.

No business is ever guaranteed to do well as a franchise, but these 10 have shown great growth as they spread.

Businessman-with-laptop-under-his-arm-150x150

Anytime Fitness, LLC

This co-ed, 24-hour franchise of gyms and fitness facilities counts heavily on proprietary software, security, and surveillance to help their owners keep their fitness clubs safe without having to hire unnecessary personnel.  The owners greatly benefit from the growth of fitness in society and active lifestyles, as well as health insurance and corporate wellness initiatives.  Startup costs range from $71.6K to $353.9K.

Supercuts

The full service salon offers shampooing and conditioning, coloring, blow drying, styling, waxing beard trimming, as well as normal cuts—the works.  Like many family-business barber shops, they keep their franchisees around closely, but also gain a corporate edge by stocking professional hair care products for their customers to take home.  This cash flow creates an easy choice for one of the top franchises of 2014, with startup costs between $113.8K and $233.6K.

Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems

This business, named by many as “recession-resistant,” offers an invaluable service:  cleanliness in the workplace.  As such, it’s no surprise that this profitable industry has fostered one of the top franchises of 2014, and it also boasts a $48 billion industry value—with startup costs very low, from $3.3K to $49.9K.

Cruise Planners (American Express Travel)

Americans love to vacation, especially on cruises.  If you’re looking to become a franchisee but have a somewhat tight budget, becoming a cruise agent may be the way for you.  Requiring little to no travel experience, it can also allow you to work from home—not only one of the top franchises of 2014, but a very attractive and popular one too!  Avoid, retail space and construction, keep your own schedule, and as a bonus you’ll only spend $1.9K to $10K on a startup.

7-Eleven, Inc.

7-Eleven is a huge franchise with almost 53,000 locations.  The global adoration of the idea of convenience has spurred the market, bringing great profits to stores like these.  Using a turnkey approach where the parent company provides the franchisee all that he or she needs to start operation for a lowered cost as well as a POS scanning system for very easy stocking, 7-Eleven offers a big potential business for a startup of as low as $50K.

Kumon Math & Reading Centers

Toru Kumon, a Japanese math teacher, created the principles now used at Kumon over half a century ago and their influence has spread from his second-grade son to children all over the world.  With over 23,475 franchise units, the model relies on daily work and advancement based around individual pace for math and reading.  Toll-free phones, Internet sources, and newsletters plus meetings make sure that franchisees stay connected with the mother company, and this communication lands Kumon a spot in the top franchises of 2014.  Startup costs are between $72.2K and $149.3K.

The UPS Store

The largest postal franchisor, this company has 30 years of experience to ensure that its franchisees get the best possible experience (and profits).  New programs knock $10,000 off the licensing costs and 50% off the application fee to veterans and military spouses, so this may be the spot for you!  Startup costs range from $150.2K to $420.3K.

Liberty Tax Service

Businesses like this have blossomed because of their seasonal cycles for franchisees.  The new owner can work hard for four months, and then does whatever they want with their new profits—usually further investment and business opportunities—for the other eight.  Now with over 4,400 offices in only 17 years, this and other top franchises of 2014 don’t need prior experience for you to start today, but it’s a big help.  Startup costs begin at $57.8K.

Edible Arrangements

These fresh fruit bouquets and other arrangements are a bit of a niche, but with 700 franchisees in 12 different countries, it’s hard to deny this franchise’s success in 2014.  Startup costs are between $154.3K and $279.3K.

Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware Corporation has ruled the retail hardware market for a decade, and they’re looking for new franchisees to expand even further rom their Chicago roots in 1924.  With a boom in the DIY market and no slowing in sight, startup costs from $400K could start you with your own Ace Hardware.

From a few thousand to hundreds of thousands, there are now franchise opportunities for everyone.  This list should point you in the right direction towards some great franchises.

Do Better than Resolutions: Create Habits

Sure, making resolutions for a new year are fun and all, but there’s more substantial work one could be doing to make big changes in their life. A lot of the reason we make bad decisions in all aspects of life is because we’ve formed habits that don’t serve us best. There are all kinds of things that we can do to create habits that will work best for us in the long run. You’ll be surprised at the goals you can achieve if you formulate a thorough plan and make sure you follow through and document your progresses.

1662648_f260-150x150

You always say it; you always sike yourself up to believe that you’ll tackle every goal on your list with no problems. How can you make anything happen if you don’t find ways to change your negative patterns of action. Making change is neither simple nor easy, but in most cases it will prove to be extremely beneficial. More than half of Americans don’t even bother making New Year’s resolutions, but the ones who do can hardly stay committed to their goals. The time right in the beginning of the year as things start to take shape–during the first two weeks–is the easiest time to stick to your commitments. After the initial shine of a new calendar year has worn off, people tend to fall off the bandwagon and forget the goals they set out to achieve. It takes at least two months for a person to begin to form new habits, so it makes sense that so many people can’t keep their new practices in check. If you really want to see what kind of results you can bring to fruition, don’t refer to them as resolutions: resign yourself to trying to create habits that can sustain your through life.

You’ll be surprised at your skill to create habits and you won’t believe the things you’re able to do.

“I Just Want To Save A Little More Money.”

The best way to create habits that serve your financial status is by thorough planning of all the dollars you bring in and send out. When you stay on top of your budget with a fine tooth comb, you won’t run into as many surprises as you might have in the past. Once you’ve got a very functional budget to work with, you can begin to formulate a plan to save more money. You don’t want to overdo the savings plan, but starting simply with reasonable goals will make it so that you don’t feel pressured or shamed if you absolutely can’t save more a little month.

Over time, if you’re serious about saving, you’ll be able to see that account continue to grow.

 

Are you hoping to move into a new home this year? Crunch the numbers and find out exactly how much that will cost and start guiding your savings plan in that direction. You want to break down every level of saving and spending there is to get the most accurate figures to work with. If you’re sure you’ll always have the money in your account, you can set up automatic deposits to your savings account that will make saving less of a hassle. Doing a lot of math to find out workable figures can be difficult and somewhat frightening, so being able to have an automatic way to save is a bit of a relief. Increasing your spending by even a hair will add up in the long run.

When you create habits that force you to save, you will be very happy when you go to your savings account for an emergency expense.

“If Only I Could Save a Bit of My Raise…”

When you have to start living on a tighter budget, it can be very difficult to actually go through with it. Saving feels bad in the moment because you have to eat out less, you can’t shop as much and you can’t have the extra little things you like as much as you used to. That’s why getting a raise or bonus is always a wonderful time to save some that you weren’t going to spend anyway. If you didn’t have a bonus or a raise, you wouldn’t have the extra to do extra with. If you get a bonus every year at a certain time, it’s probably in your best interest to save it all. You’ll feel better about saving it if you’ve got a long-term or even a short-term goal coming up: it could help you get it done! If you must, you can take a small portion from your bonus to play around with!

When you create habits that feel like a stress-free necessity, you don’t feel like you’re losing as much and it becomes easier to be appreciative of your progress. Create habits that are both realistic and purposeful to get to your goals even faster.

Tips on the Health Insurance Marketplace/Exchange

No matter your personal political views on the Affordable Care Act of March 2010 (ACA), there is some good news if you need to purchase health insurance for either your family or yourself for 2015. The website that hosts the Exchange (where you apply for health insurance) has fixed some of its previous bugs and added some new features that make the site much easier to use. This year you can easily preview the rates, policies, and tax credits (which are applied in advance) you are eligible for merely by answering a few simple questions before going through the entire formal application process. If you enter your zip code into HealthCare.gov it will guide you to your state’s personal exchange if they have one (only thirteen states plus the District of Columbia have their own exchange). The SHOP (Small-Employer Health Option Program) allows the owners of small businesses with 50 or less employees to insure their employees. Small businesses with less than 25 full time employees may qualify to receive tax credits. There is an employee choice option that allows a business’ employees to choose amount a vast amount of plans in a selected tier, but it is only available in 14 states as of 2015. However, employee choice has been delayed in 18 federal exchange states until 2016. In those 18 states, employers will only be able to offer their employees a single health and a single dental plan. Applying for health insurance is a pretty complex process, so you may want to get started early (as in now). For coverage starting on January 1, 2015, the enrollment process began on November 15, 2014. February 15, 2015 is the last day to enroll for 2015 coverage. However, there are a few key things that individuals must know to avoid frustration during the applying process and get the insurance they need.

Woman-with-eyes-closed-holding-baby-300x199

Be Sure you’re Eligible to Apply

Whether you’re a 55 year old who lost employment or health coverage, a parent who needs affordable coverage for your family, or a 26 year old just now coming off your parents policy, you may be eligible for significant tax credits (which are delivered in the form of reduced premiums) which will help you to afford the coverage you need. People who cannot use the marketplace include people who have an employer-sponsored health plan, including COBRA, or people who have TRICARE for military families, Medicaid or Medicare.

Understand That Health Conditions Do Not Raise Rates

The best part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is that insurers cannot reject applicants or charge them anymore because of their gender or pre-existing health conditions. But keep in mind that rates still vary based on whether the applicant uses tobacco, whether you’re buying individual or family coverage, where you live, and your age.

Collect Key Information before You Start

When you begin the application process, you’ll be asked many questions. The first few will be about your household size and income. While some of these questions may seem straight forward, there are permutations. For example, the phrase “Household size” actually means “dependents” not actually the number of people who live in your home. When you apply for health coverage, you’ll be asked to estimate your income for 2015 and your credits will be based off of this. Estimate this number carefully because if you make more money than you estimate, you may have to pay back when you file your next tax return.

Choose the Right Plan for Your Needs

Every plan offers the same essential health benefits, including coverage for laboratory and wellness services, prescription drugs, mental health and substance use services, maternity and newborn care, hospitalization, emergency services, and outpatient care. The differences involve cost (obviously) and optional other health benefits the health insurance may cover.

Avoid Penalties for Being Uninsured

The Affordable Care Act requires all citizens to obtain at least the minimum standard health insurance starting in 2014. The penalty for not having health insurance in 2015 is $325 per adult and $47.50 or 2% of your total income, whichever is greater. The penalty will increase every year, with 2016 penalty being $695 per adult, $347.50 for every child, or 2.5% of family income with a maximum of $2,085 per year. However, certain groups of people are exempted from the penalty.

If you are just too intimidated and confused by the idea of purchasing health insurance, there are many insurance agents and brokers who can help you get through it. Just remember to remind them that if you think you could qualify for tax credits, they’ll need to enroll you into a marketplace plan. If you get on the HealthCare website, you can look at all of the plans that you qualify for and sort them in order of their deductible and premium amounts. If you have any difficulty with the enrollment process, you can call a hotline number 24/7. 1-800-318-2596

Do Better than Resolutions: Create Habits

Sure, making resolutions for a new year are fun and all, but there’s more substantial work one could be doing to make big changes in their life. A lot of the reason we make bad decisions in all aspects of life is because we’ve formed habits that don’t serve us best. There are all kinds of things that we can do to create habits that will work best for us in the long run. You’ll be surprised at the goals you can achieve if you formulate a thorough plan and make sure you follow through and document your progresses.

Smiling-couple-with-laptop-2-150x150

You always say it; you always spike yourself up to believe that you’ll tackle every goal on your list with no problems. How can you make anything happen if you don’t find ways to change your negative patterns of action. Making change is neither simple nor easy, but in most cases it will prove to be extremely beneficial. More than half of Americans don’t even bother making New Year’s resolutions, but the ones who do can hardly stay committed to their goals. The time right in the beginning of the year as things start to take shape–during the first two weeks–is the easiest time to stick to your commitments. After the initial shine of a new calendar year has worn off, people tend to fall off the bandwagon and forget the goals they set out to achieve. It takes at least two months for a person to begin to form new habits, so it makes sense that so many people can’t keep their new practices in check. If you really want to see what kind of results you can bring to fruition, don’t refer to them as resolutions: resign yourself to trying to create habits that can sustain your through life.

You’ll be surprised at your skill to create habits and you won’t believe the things you’re able to do.

“I Just Want To Save A Little More Money.”

The best way to create habits that serve your financial status is by thorough planning of all the dollars you bring in and send out. When you stay on top of your budget with a fine tooth comb, you won’t run into as many surprises as you might have in the past. Once you’ve got a very functional budget to work with, you can begin to formulate a plan to save more money. You don’t want to overdo the savings plan, but starting simply with reasonable goals will make it so that you don’t feel pressured or shamed if you absolutely can’t save more a little month.

Over time, if you’re serious about saving, you’ll be able to see that account continue to grow.

 

Are you hoping to move into a new home this year? Crunch the numbers and find out exactly how much that will cost and start guiding your savings plan in that direction. You want to break down every level of saving and spending there is to get the most accurate figures to work with. If you’re sure you’ll always have the money in your account, you can set up automatic deposits to your savings account that will make saving less of a hassle. Doing a lot of math to find out workable figures can be difficult and somewhat frightening, so being able to have an automatic way to save is a bit of a relief. Increasing your spending by even a hair will add up in the long run.

When you create habits that force you to save, you will be very happy when you go to your savings account for an emergency expense.

“If Only I Could Save a Bit of My Raise…”

When you have to start living on a tighter budget, it can be very difficult to actually go through with it. Saving feels bad in the moment because you have to eat out less, you can’t shop as much and you can’t have the extra little things you like as much as you used to. That’s why getting a raise or bonus is always a wonderful time to save some that you weren’t going to spend anyway. If you didn’t have a bonus or a raise, you wouldn’t have the extra to do extra with. If you get a bonus every year at a certain time, it’s probably in your best interest to save it all. You’ll feel better about saving it if you’ve got a long-term or even a short-term goal coming up: it could help you get it done! If you must, you can take a small portion from your bonus to play around with!

When you create habits that feel like a stress-free necessity, you don’t feel like you’re losing as much and it becomes easier to be appreciative of your progress. Create habits that are both realistic and purposeful to get to your goals even faster.

5 Tips to Save Money with Coupons

It should come as no surprise that there is a slight obsession with getting tips to save money through coupon shopping in America.  It makes sense, since Americans are trying to spare money wherever they can, and when it comes to food any money you can save is big money.  There’s even a reality show dedicated to giving tips to save money, called Extreme Couponing, and in 2013, Americans used 2.8 billion coupons on packaged goods.

Save money concept

Obviously we don’t all have enough free time be going through countless daily newspapers and circulars, nor to cut endless coupons out of said papers, and then organize them in alphabetical order in a binder.  And most people certainly don’t have enough extra time to stand in the checkout line, arguing with checkers about what’s expired and how many coupons you can combine for one thing.

For those of us with the typical amount of free time (that being not much), there are tips to save money when you’re shopping.  If you’re just a casual coupon user, try these easy tips to save money:

Look through your Mail

Those bundles of ads you find in your mailbox aren’t just useful for potty training your puppy.   Most dedicated coupon shoppers prefer using paper coupons that they received in the mail.  They’re more appealing than the digital alternative, because they are often sent from the consumer’s favorite stores.

It’s not hard to get on a mailing list for your favorite retailers.  Common coupon supplying stores are Express; Bed, Bath & Beyond; and Home Depot.  The next time you find yourself shopping at one of your favorite stores, simply ask a salesperson to be added to their coupon mailing list.  Alternatively, you can often do this on the store’s website.

Become a Digital Coupon Expert

Clipping coupons isn’t one of the only tips to save money.  Digital coupons are becoming very popular, and many retailers are starting to provide them.  These coupons can be retrieved immediately, and can be sent to your email or straight to your smartphone.  20% of coupon consumers would prefer to get their coupons on their phones instead of any other methods.

The popularity of the digital coupon stems simply from its accessibility.  Ask most shoppers, and they’ve probably brought their phone with them to the store.  It’s so easy to pull out your smartphone while you’re getting rung up, to bring up any applicable coupons.  Once the checker scans the barcode on your phone, you have instant savings.

Check out your favorite store’s website to see if they offer digital coupons.  You may even receive an additional bonus for signing up for their mailing list; sometimes retailers provide additional percentages off your next purchase in exchange for your information.

Sign Up for the Card

You’ve probably heard of frequent shopper cards, but did you know a lot of these involve programs to discount merchandise and deliver savings to the customer?  There are over 2 billion loyalty programs for a wide range of products and services, like groceries, cafes, pet supplies, and hotel stays.

The discounts you can get with these membership cards can be major, and you can also be getting points while you shop with your favorite retailer.  When you shop often enough, you can use your points for purchases you’ll make in the future.  Some of the best known rewards cards are from Starbucks, Walgreens, and Macy’s.

Coupon Codes

By regularly checking the best coupon sites, you could be getting free shipping, Buy One Get One deals, and large percentages off your purchases.  Be sure to check your tips to save money before you skip to the checkout button.  Here are some sites to look through:

RetailMeNot.com

This is the most widely used coupon website.  It breaks the coupons into different groups and keeps an updated list of valuable promotional codes to use when shopping online.

Coupons.com

There are a range of coupon types at this site, including printable, online codes, and coupons for grocery stores.  They also provide a tool so that you can keep track of how much you’ve been saving with your coupons.

FreeShipping.org

This great site will make it so you won’t have to pay for shipping when shopping online ever again.  Get shipping deals from over 800 well-known retailers.

Use Your Apps

There are even smartphone apps that will do all the work for you.  Here are some apps that you can bring up while you’re out shopping and looking for a deal:

Coupon Sherpa

You can download this for iPhone or Android, and you’ll be able to search for coupons by category, or for exact items.

RetailMeNot

Similar to the website mentioned above, find deals from your favorite stores and even get notified when new offers are added to your inbox.

ShopSavvy and RedLaser

Scan a barcode and find out if you’re getting the best possible deal.

With all these tips to save money there’s no excuse not to become a coupon addict!

The Tricks of Student Loan Servicers

Who would have known that the road to student loan is has been made even more difficult because of the secrets and trickery done by the student loan servicers? Yes, it is true—there are things that these student loan servicers are not telling you, and below is a list of those things you may not have known regarding your student loans.

credit_counseling

What Your Student Loan Servicers Don’t Tell You

Here are a few things that your student loan servicers do not tell you unless you ask them.

·         When Your Late Fees Are Added To Your Loans.

Whenever you have a student loan and you are given specific payment requirements, you are expected to meet those payment deadlines or risk having to pay a late fee. However, there are times when your student loan servicer fails to inform you of when the late fees are added. This could be an even bigger problem when late fees start to build on multiple loan accounts. Some companies take a payment on one loan and access it evenly among all of your loans. This is an illegal action, and if your servicer is responsible for doing this without your knowledge, you should report the company.

·         Whether Or Not Your Minimum Payments Are Correct.

Most student loans require you to make a minimum payment each month. However, when you have your loans deferred, your minimum payments could be the wrong amount. If there is a misunderstanding of what your minimum payments should be, it could result in your underpaying causing a late fee to be added to the loan. To prevent this, make sure to understand every aspect of your loan to know what you are required to pay. If you suspect foul play with your student loan servicing company, you should contact them immediately for answers.

·         What Happened To Your Grace Period?

In most cases, lending companies give you a grace period where you are not charged any late fees if you make a payment after the due date. Some grace periods last for 30 days up to 45 or 60 days. If you are not aware of any grace periods with your loan, ask to see if a grace period was included with your loan. If you do have a grace period and discover that late charges were still placed on the loan, contact your student loan servicer to get the charge removed.

·         Tax Information Needed For A Tax Deduction.

When you are paying back student loans, you are eligible to receive tax deductions on the interest you are paying back also. Some student loan servicers do not inform you of this or provide you with the documentation to be able to do that. It is important to understand that you are entitled to this information and should be given it automatically. With this tax deduction, students can receive up to $2,500 in funds.

·         How Bankruptcy Affects Your Student Loans.

If you have student loans and need to file for bankruptcy, you should understand that no student loan is erased when you file bankruptcy unless you show proof of an extreme hardship that prevents you from being able to repay your loans. Some student loan servicers may tell you that student loans cannot be erased in bankruptcy. In some cases, you can get is taken away.

·         Being Protected From Creditors.

Student loan servicers typically assume the role of creditors when student loans become past due. However, just like all other creditors, there are legal limits that must be set when informing borrowers of what they owe. Creditors are not supposed to contact borrowers during a certain time of the day and for a set number of times each month. It is important that you know your rights to not be harassed by any creditors and exercise those rights if you ever need to do so.

What You Can Do

Your student loans are definitely something that should be taken seriously. After all, this may be the first loans that are in your name, so you must take of them in order to keep your credit in good standings. Depending on the types of loans that you have, there are different times you will be required to start paying back the loans. You want to make sure you are ready to take on the challenge of repaying your student loan debts. For further information on any student loans that you may have, consult the Federal Student Aid website, and you should be able to find the answers to any questions you may have.

Student loans can be a hassle to handle, and your student loan servicers may be there to help you handle them, or can hurt you by not telling you certain things that you should know. When you are ready to repay your loans, look at this list to remind of what your servicers will not tell you.

Manage Your Debt Most Wisely

Even if you’ve only got the tiniest inklings of debt, you want to do whatever it takes to manage that debt with responsibility and tact. This means keeping up with your payments, paying your bills in full whenever you can and making sure your debts don’t spiral out of control. Transversely, when you’ve got too much debt, you have to put a lot more effort and hard work into managing your payments and spreading your resources as evenly as you can without causing too much suffering in other important areas of your life. If you’re looking for tips that will help you better manage your debt, you’ve come to the right place! Keep following along for advice and things to remember when trying to properly manage your debt.

Coins-bill-and-big-red-Past-Due-stamp-150x150

Know Who You Owe and How Much You Owe

Get serious with yourself and write down a list of all your debts including the creditor, the total amount you owe, monthly payments and the due dates. Your credit report can serve as a useful tool when going through this process because it will confirm what you already know and if there are any discrepancies, you can get them squared away as soon as possible. Keep this list as a record and when you pay bills you can check in on your progresses.

As the month’s progress and your debt amounts begin to drop, you should update your list as necessary to reflect those changes. When you manage your debt with a system in place, it feels less like a hassle or annoyance.

Pay your bills on time each month as long as you can help it. Late payments will make it harder to drop your debt amounts when you constantly have late fees getting tacked right back on to your balance. You want to manage your debt most efficiently so that you don’t incur fees that end up turning into higher interest rates and charges if you miss consecutive payments.

Use calendars in multiple places–like on your desk and in your smartphone–to make sure that you have constant, visible reminders when bills come due. If you miss a payment, you want to be sure to get it in as soon as possible: don’t make it a habit to wait until the next bill comes through! If you know you’re going to be late a few days on a payment, contact your lender and detail the situation. You might be able to set a payment arrangement or get an extra day or so without being charged a late fee.

Utilizing a bill payment calendar can help you decide which bills you want to pay with certain paychecks. Write down each bill’s payment amount next to whatever day it’s due. Then write in the days of each paycheck you receive. If you get paid the same days each month, you can use the same calendar from month to month. If you don’t, making a new calendar each month will be helpful to manage your debt.

Make the Best Payments You Can Make

If you can’t afford to make anything more than the minimum payment, at least do that. In truth, settling the minimum payment on your bills doesn’t help you make any real progress, but it does keep your debt from growing further. Missing payments altogether will make it more difficult to catch up and your accounts could go into default and that’s the last thing you need.

  • To manage your debt with your best foot forward, the credit cards you owe on should be first priority. Whichever credit card you have that holds the highest interest rate should be repaid first because it will cost you the most. Use that debt list you compiled to rank your debts from top priority to least important as a good plan of attack. Choosing to pay off debts with low balances might also be a great place to start so you can simply get them out of the way.
  • When you’re limited on funds to manage your debt, your focus should fall on keeping positive accounts in good standing. The ones that have already been sent to collections won’t do much to help your credit unless you pay them in full. Instead, pay attention to those past due accounts and handle them when you have the money to. Collections efforts will continue as long as you have outstanding balances.
  • A monthly budget will be most helpful when detailing just how much you can spend and where it can be spent. You always want to be sure you have the funds to afford your monthly expenses, and a budget can help you be sure of that. If you can plan far enough in advance, you’ll be able to tackle those instances when money is coming up short and if you ever have some extra, you can put that towards bills to pay down your debts faster.

Cashing In On Your Credit Cards

Credit cards have given new life to finances and the ability to spend money. Nowadays, purchasing merchandise and paying for services do not require cash or check writing transactions. All you need is a credit card with a sufficient balance on it to cover your expenses, and you are able to buy whatever it is that you need to purchase. However, with the increasingly rising use of credit cards, few consumers are aware that even with swiping the credit card, the purchase is only made temporarily because eventually, you have to make payments on the card to cover the amounts already taken off of the card. Not only that, you have additional processing and interest fees that must be paid as well. Because of that, consumers are constantly battling with credit card debt, either getting out of it or trying not to get into it.

1662648_f260-198x300

Credit Card Spending Trends

In a study conducted in 2013 by the Federal Reserve, payment trends including long-term and short-term that took place during the years 2000 up until 2010 were examined.  It was concluded that there were various transactions that involved card not present transactions on general purpose credit cards. This type of transaction means that the consumer was not able to present an actual credit card. These types of transactions typically take place over the internet or the telephone. The information taken from the study also showed that these types of transactions are becoming increasingly popular as the sale of merchandise online constantly increases. In fact, the trend increases at a rate of 25% or more each year, and currently almost $1 trillion is made in online spending.

Credit card companies are very mindful of this increasing trend. In fact, more credit card companies are shifting their standards in an effort to get more individuals interested in using their credit card. This puts consumers at risk for racking up further debt. In America, the average credit cards debt is approximately $8,000 per credit card user, and the APR averages at almost 13%.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

Because of the above study conducted in May of 2014, investors who have their funds invested into the world of retail have strengthened their investments by turning to exchange traded funds, or ETFs. Exchange traded funds gives a solution for retail investors who are looking for more exposure to more industries, commodities, and investment opportunities. However, exchange traded funds are not available to help those investors gain access to the credit cards industry. Any investor who wants to purchase stock in a credit card company is recommended to focus on the publicly traded credit card companies. Those companies are:

  • Visa with a market cap of $163 billion.
  • American Express with a market cap of $94 billion.
  • MasterCard with a market cap of $89 billion.
  • Discover with a market cap of $29 billion.

Credit Card Growth and Predictions

When it all boils down, consumer credit depends primarily on the state of the economy as a whole. When the economy is good enough for consumers to benefit financially, they are more able to make more purchasing leading to the retail industry increasing in profits and the economy improving all together. However, when the economy is decreasing, consumers become overwhelmed with making enough money to cover the expenses that are on their credit cards. This causes a decline in customer spending and an incline in consumer debt. This also results in the limited use of credit cards in general. Overall, the negative impacts that credit cards have on the economy of the country and the overall debt of consumers have made possible investors turn a blind eye to the credit card industry.

Out of all of the popular credit card companies, Visa seems to be the strongest competitor among MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Each trade on the market as resulted in a strong up-trend. If any investor were to pinpoint an ideal credit card company to invest in, Visa would be a good start, especially with its reported market cap being approximately $163 billion. Discover card, being the least used credit card company is slowly but surely making its way into consumers’ purses and wallets. Although its market cap is barely at $30 billion, it has improved on its quality as a credit card company, which is another company investors could be more interested in. its increasing quality has outdone its competitors in performance.

The rise of using credit cards as an alternative to using cash or writing checks have become a popular trend for Americans. Although credit cards are a convenient way to make purchases, it is also responsible for placing a huge debt on consumers and the country as a whole. So where does that leave investors interested in cashing in on credit cards? It is difficult to tell, but it is apparent that credit card companies are aiming at increasing their business to encourage more investors to hop on board.