How Investing Can Help Your Clients Climb Out Of Debt

Personal debt levels in the US are currently sky high:as CNBC has reported, total household debt currently sits at above $13 trillion, meaning there’s a ticking debt time bomb everywhere you turn. If you’re one of America’s almost 300,000 financial advisers, then, it makes sense to think about how you can advise your clients to break out of the debt cycle and get their finances back under control. This could involve taking out a stocks and shares savings plan, for example, or you could encourage your clients to invest in their own properties to help improve the sale price.

Stocks and shares

If your client is able to save some money, they may be able to invest it in such a way that their debt is paid down over time. Stocks and shares, for example, can provide high returns: the Nasdaq composite index, for example, has grown by over 5,000 points in the last ten years. However, it’s important to think twice before advising a client to do this. If the rate of return on the investment is higher than the interest paid on the debt, it makes sense. However, interest rates sit at a relatively low level of just over 2% at the moment – meaning that this isn’t always possible except in the highest risk-reward scenarios. In that case, any saved money may be best spent on paying down the debt.

Property options

In the event that your client owns a property, however, it makes sense to use this as a way to battle the debt burden. Adding value to the property and then selling it could provide a decent profit, and this could be put towards paying off debt. Putting in a new bathroom can add an average of $11,000 on to a property’s price, while creating an extra bedroom, garage space or a conservatory can also push up value. Adding IOT features to a property, such as smart lighting, can not only push down your bills and let you save cash in the here and now, it can also boost the chances that a potential buyer will opt for your client’s property.

DIY can now be done to a high standard thanks to Youtube tutorials and online resources, too, so it’s a low cost mode of investment which won’t necessarily break your client’s bank account. The advantage of doing it this way is that it doesn’t require additional significant cash spending, as the stocks and shares route would. Depending on their age, your client may also be eligible for home equity release schemes – so it’s worth looking into that, too.

There are, then, lots of options for your clients to make the move from debt-laden to debt-free. Whether they choose to invest in their properties or they open a stocks and shares account, there are plenty of possible avenues to go down. And as an advisor, you’ll be able to play a significant role in giving advice on what is financially prudent.

Chrissy Helders

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Balancing Health Care And Medical Debt

Medical debt is a big problem in the United States. 20% of Americans with health insurance found that when trying to pay off their medical bills, they had serious financial challenges and even had to make changes in employment and lifestyle. However, these statistics aren’t all that bad, as trends show a continued decrease in medical debt in recent years, with nearly 13 million people reporting that they have fewer medical problems and debt than they did five years ago. By learning how to effectively balance quality health care and medical debt, Americans can take advantage of the healthcare system without going under.

Don’t ignore medical problems or bills

In order to stay healthy, both financially and physically, it’s important not to ignore any problems, and this includes going to the doctor when you need to and paying the bills on time when they come. Ignoring problems can only make them worse, as is the case with physical and dental health issues that need fixing as well as medical debt. If a medical bill isn’t paid, it will be sent to a collection agency where it will then begin to hurt your credit report, affect your chances of getting a bank loan and possibly be garnished from your wages.

Contact your insurance company

Insurance companies have a lot of work to do in various different departments, which is why mistakes can happen sometimes. If you’ve received a medical bill, be sure to check it to ensure that your doctor’s office billed the insurance company for the right services. If you think there is a mistake, be proactive in following up or try negotiating with them. If you’re being charged an absurd amount of money for a few bandages, you can argue with them about it or contract a company that will do that bidding for you in order to reduce your medical bill by thousands of dollars.

Take advantage of government healthcare

If you find that you cannot manage medical bills with the insurance that you have or that you are unable to find proper health insurance, you can try to see if you qualify for Medicaid, which is a health insurance for low-income residents who can’t afford their medical care expenses. While the requirements for qualification might vary by state, you can contact your local office to see if you qualify and then use your to pay for medical expenses you’ve already incurred, but only within a certain time frame.

Physical and financial health

Staying healthy is an important component of an overall happy life. By ensuring that you have access to and are registered for insurance that covers you when you need to visit the doctor’s office, experience an emergency or need a particular medicine is a great way to keep up with your physical health. Managing the bills you incur will ensure you are financially healthy and avoid medical debt. If you find yourself unable to manage this type of debt, however, you can contact professionals that will help you manage what you owe while also helping you learn how to take care of your finances yourself.

Chrissy Helders

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Top 2018 Apps To Help Manage Your Debt

Student loans are a $1.5 trillion crisis, but worryingly there are also around 1 million people that default on their commitments every year. But it doesn’t stop with student loans, as there are a number of other financial products that are placing tremendous pressure on consumers such as auto finance, personal loans, credit cards, and of course, mortgages. While there are a few simple steps that consumers can follow to minimize their debt, they can also expect some help from technology.

The Most Integral Part of Debt Management: The Budget

There is no denying that the budget is the cornerstone of good debt management. Apps such as Mint and You Need A Budget (YNAB) are quickly becoming go-to apps for those who need to keep track of their monthly income and expenses. These apps provide a number of features that range from basic budgeting to a more in-depth analysis of monthly spend. When consumers can pinpoint what they spend their money on, this can free up some of the cash flow to clear off debt faster.

Spending Habits That Need To Be Controlled

Overspending accounts for many ruined budgets and an increase in debt and the only way to manage this is by stopping it in its tracks. A telltale sign of overspending is a maxed out credit card. Whether this is done through a wild shopping spree or unexpected medical expenses, living paycheck to paycheck is stressful and can be avoided. Apps such as Every Dollar provide users with the means to track their spending and the app can be loaded on your tablet, smartphone or laptop for easy access. Once users are more aware of their spending habits, they’ll be in a better position to reduce overspending on their credit card.

Manage Those Payments

Keeping track of debt payments and outstanding debt can be tedious, considering that the process often tends to be manual. With the help of apps such as Debt Payoff Planner and Debt Payoff Assistant, users have access to a simple overview of their current debt situation. Not only can they track their payments with these apps, but will also be guided along various techniques of getting out of debt faster.

With some guidance from the right app, consumers can manage their expenses more effectively to stay on top of their debt. They will also be able to navigate through their various financial products a little easier and have a greater understanding of what needs to be done to get those outstanding balances reduced.

Chrissy Helders

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Repair Your Finances By Choosing Second-Hand Household Appliances

The nation simply can’t live without their household appliances. 96% of U.S households own a microwave, according to CNN. While, one in four have two refrigerators or more. However, Angie’s List advises that such appliances can cost anywhere from $350 to $8,000. And, with Fox News reporting that a typical American has $38,000 of personal debt, buying new appliances can be a costly expense when times are hard. Therefore, when it’s time to replace your existing appliances or invest in new ones, it’s wise to change your spending habits and seek out second-hand and budget friendly appliances.

Do your research

There are some appliances which are much better value for money when bought second-hand than others. Items such as refrigerators, televisions and ovens are frequently discarded by homeowners long before they break down. According to Howstuffworks, such appliances can last for decades, however, homeowners typically discard and replace them early due to newer models being released or following a home redesign. To ensure that your second-hand appliance is worth the money, research when the model was made so you can determine how old it is and its potential remaining lifespan.

Read reviews 

Once you discover how many years the second-hand gas range, printer or freezer you’re after has, it’s wise to read reviews on the product on an independent review site. Spiegel Research Center states that almost 95% of shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, while, Inc states that 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as they trust their friends. When seeking out reviews, look for ones which show a verified purchase as these are usually the most reliable and unbiased. Certain appliances should be reviewed in finer detail, too, including items required for school or work, such as laptops and printers. Before purchasing a printer, consider how much energy it consumes per use, as well as the type of ink it requires. You should also question how many printed sheets you get per ink cartridge to ensure that buying second-hand is more cost-effective in the long-run.

Sourcing the perfect appliance 

When it comes to picking up a second-hand appliance there are a variety of places to scour. The internet is a great place to start and provides multiple options, including auction sites, social media marketplaces and local classified advertising sites. According to Statista, 42% of American consumers have searched and purchased goods online, with 14% stating they prefer the online shopping process compared to buying in store. Alternative options for finding second-hand household appliances include going to yard sales, garage sales, junk stores, charity stores and flea markets.

Securing a great deal 

The great thing about buying face-to-face is that you can see and feel the appliance for yourself. In some cases, you may even be able to test it out. By seeing it’s condition in person and meeting the seller, you have an excellent opportunity to barter on the price and grab an even greater bargain. The Spruce advises that by simply asking for a discount, you can get 10% off in a junk store. Meanwhile, when buying from an auction site, set a maximum figure for the appliance you’re after and make sure you don’t go over it. With The Association of Resale Professionals revealing that one in five Americans buy second-hand, competition can be fierce and it’s easy to spend more than you intended. But, by being strict with the price you’re prepared to pay, it will prevent you spending more than you can afford.

For the millions of American households who are currently in debt, buying second-hand appliances is the ultimate way to minimize your expenses. So, when you’re next shopping for goods for your home, research and review used appliances from appropriate sources to secure a great deal.

Chrissy Helders

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Live Off of a Passive Income While Building Your Small Business

The latest statistics show that there are “28 million small businesses in America.” For many of these businesses, it can take “as little as five days to start.” Whether you are about to start your business, or are in the process of building it to be the best it can be, the process is undeniably expensive. In fact, it can take two to three years for a business in any industry to reach profitability. Therefore, while building  your company at any stage, it (literally) pays to explore other income opportunities. One of the most utilized is passive income.

Not sure if it is possible for you to live off of a passive income while building your company? Explore four strategies that almost anyone can use.

Write an industry relevant book

Making money while you sleep or while concentrating on improving your business sounds too good to be true, but isn’t. One way that many professionals with industry knowledge make passive income is by writing a book. The self-publishing industry has made it easy and inexpensive to write your own book.

Some of the latest data shows that there were 727,000 US self-published ISBNs registered in 2015. Because you have acquired enough knowledge to start and run your own debt relief company, you surely have enough knowledge to write about the subject. In addition to being an excellent way to establish authority, books and ebooks can be a great way to make a passive income. How much can you expect to make? While this number varies greatly, authors can earn 70% royalty on each ebook.

Use financial knowledge to your advantage

As a professional in the financial industry, you are likely already aware of some of the strategies you can use to make a passive income through investments. From dividend stocks to real estate, there are a number of effective ways to earn a large passive income. If you currently have investments, now would be the time to use those funds to live off of while building your business and paying to train your staff. However, unlike the other options listed, there is a big upfront cost for these kinds of passive income ideas.

Leverage affiliate marketing

Although this form of passive income is usually small at the start, there is little to no cost to get started. Affiliate marketing is defined as “the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.” One way that many professionals utilize this form of passive income is by finding a product line (or multiple, non-competing product lines) that are relevant to their business. The financial industry alone has dozens of these opportunities from which you can begin earning extra funds.

Rent out your room/home while away

Have an extra room to rent out in a popular travel destination? Are you often away for business travel, and don’t spend much time at your home or apartment? Consider using one of the popular home rental websites to make a passive income. While not the average result, some individuals who use these platforms are able to make thousands of extra dollars per month (which can be enough of a passive income to replace most of your desired salary).

While it can be a challenge, creating multiple streams of passive income can generate enough money to live on. Because each of the above opportunities varies so much in potential earnings, it is almost impossible to estimate how much you can expect to make. However, all of these recommendations have the potential to generate thousands of dollars per month or per year.

 

Chrissy Helders

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Three Simple Everyday Habits That Can Help You Reduce Your Debt

Many of the financial decisions we make in our daily lives can seem minimal but when accumulated can pack a decent punch. That $2 cup of coffee on the way to work each morning adds up to $10 per a 5 day work week and over $500 each year. With the average American household carrying $137,063 in debt,it is becoming more clear that managing our debts is quickly becoming a priority. Whether it is through consolidation of credit cards and student loans or debt repayment plans, Americans are looking for a way out. One way to tackle this issue: simple everyday financial habits. The earlier you begin practicing these habits, the quicker you can gain control of your finances and even reduce your outstanding debt.

Make a habit out of being accountable

Studies have shown that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Keeping track of your spending does not have to be complicated or time- consuming.  One interesting technique: taking a money minute each day. For 60 seconds, you can record your purchases and take stock of your account activity. Doing this each day lets you know how much you have spent and where you stand financially over the course of the month. You can then plan accordingly to stay on track to achieve your savings or financial goals for that month. Before you know it, it will become an unconscious habit each day.

Make budgeting a part of your routine

It may seem like an insignificant part of your routine but making and sticking to a budget can save your hundreds in unnecessary spending; some of it in credit cards and debt. With the variety of budgeting tools available today, the task has never been easier. Online and mobile phone apps now allow you to do your budgeting anywhere, even on your commute home.

It is important to remember that budgeting does not end with the creation of a columned spending plan but also centers around the process of keeping track and prioritizing your expenses including your debts. Making a debt repayment plan a key element of your budgeting process is a great way to reduce your debt every month and get your finances in great shape. Setting a realistic budget for your monthly expenses also allows you to see in numbers, any areas you can cut back and further reduce your debt.

Make your savings a bill

Every month just like clockwork, we make it a priority to pay our bills. When it comes to savings, we often see it as an option and can be tempted to spend it on something else, thinking that we would just save the following month. If we made saving a set amount every month an automatic task and thought of it as a bill, then sooner rather than later we can end up saving consistently and more. With consecutive and increased savings, you can make additional payments towards any debt accounts, reducing the burden and time taken to pay. Setting up an automatic transfer for each month can be a great way to achieve this.

These three simple habits are just a few of the things you can do in your daily routine that can have an impressive impact on your financial health. From becoming more aware and accountable to changing your viewpoint, you can get started on getting rid of that debt today. With the outstanding debt gone, you can be well on your well to financial freedom.

Chrissy Helders

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Getting Out Of Debt: What To Consider Before Getting A Second Job

At first glance, getting a second job to pay off your debts more quickly seems like a pretty straightforward solution. In reality, however, it takes careful planning to make the whole thing work. Make a couple of wrong decisions along the way and you may end up still in debt but significantly more stressed. So, before you try to figure out the best way to land that second job, you need to take the following things into consideration first:

How much extra time do you really have?

Sure, it’s pretty common nowadays for Americans to take on second jobs. Unfortunately, it only works if you actually have enough extra time to do so. If you’re already working extremely long hours and still not making enough money, then maybe polishing that old resume and getting a higher paying job should be your first priority. Getting a second job, in this case, could lead to decreased productivity, burnout and maybe even health issues. Needless to say, these three things would not only negatively impact your performance at work but also cost you even more money.

How much extra money do you need to make?

“Need,” in this case, does not only refer to the amount required to pay off your debts. It also pertains to the amount you need to not mess up your taxes. Keep in mind that depending on how much additional money you make from your second job, you could not only end up paying significantly higher taxes but also lose any tax benefits—like the Earned Income Credit, for instance—that you are currently enjoying. The goal is to either earn just enough extra cash to boost your cash flow without changing your tax bracket or earn so much more that the extra taxes and lost tax benefits no longer matter. At the end of the day, as long as you actually end up taking home enough additional money to get out of debt, you’re doing something right.

Supplement it with better financial management

Regardless of how much extra money you make from taking on a second job, you’d still need to get better at handling your money for the whole thing to work. The first step is to cut back on unnecessary spending to increase your total cash flow. Step two is to direct 100% of the money you make from your side hustle into paying off your debt. Just use your full-time income for everything else. The third and final step is to stop needlessly spending money you don’t have so you never have to deal with debt problems again in the future.

Chrissy Helders

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Should You Use Your Property for Debt Relief?

Consumer debt is at an all-time high in the US reaching $3.855 trillion representing a 3.4% increase. Credit card payments, rents, personal and student loans are just some of the expenses that form part of this figure. If you are struggling with your debts, there are ways to go around them. From creating household budgets to eliminating frivolous expenses, these cost-cutting methods can help manage debts. However, if the interest rates are very high and it is difficult to keep up with large payments, you may need to go for drastic actions to pay debts. Debt relief or management is something that you might need to consider. Using a property to settle debts might also be an option.

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

In situations where you cannot repay your debt at all, you might have to go to a reputable debt relief company if you have exhausted your options such as going to a (non-profit) consumer credit counseling service. The agency will typically negotiate on your behalf with your creditors to pay a smaller amount than what you originally owed. This involves paying a one-time lump sum to your creditor through the debt relief company. The advantage of debt settlement is that the creditor is willing to accept a lower amount of the original loan you took. In addition, the lender cannot sue you for the debt nor can collectors bother you with payments. Going down this road involves some risks for it might take a long time before all your debts are settled. In the meantime, you might even discover that you owe back taxes on any loan or debt that you have. Plus, it should not be forgotten that you need to pay back a debt relief agency for their services which is a percentage of settled or eliminated debt. Your credit score will also take a hit so you need to consider this solution very carefully.

Personal Property in Debt Relief

For homeowners who are 62 years and above, home equity financing or a reverse mortgage may be used to supplement income and help pay debts. If you have property and used a mortgage to secure financing for it, this is a separate type of loan. You cannot use your property to pay off unsecured debt. Lenders cannot take away your property if you cannot pay your unsecured debts. However, mortgage and financial companies can sequester your home if you fail your obligations. If unable to pay your mortgage, you can opt for refinancing, loan modification or selling the house. If the market value of your property is bigger than your mortgage, you can opt for this solution and maybe have something left over to pay the unsecured debt.  However, you won’t have a roof over your head so you need think of the consequences as well of selling including a short sale.

There is no clear-cut answer as to what is the best option to repay debts. Your property can, perhaps, help pay for unsecured debts in cases where its value exceeds the loan. In extreme situations, declaration of bankruptcy may be the last resort. Talk to a financial adviser who can help you find an acceptable solution to your debts without compromising your property.

Chrissy Helders

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In Debt? Why You Should Never Rely On One Income

America is in the midst of a national debt problem. The country owes millions and 1 in 5 American citizens have more credit card debt than emergency savings, according to personal finance company, Bankrate. Therefore, the last thing the population wants to hear is that Trump’srenegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement could result in 300,000 job losses in the country. So, with consumer debt at an all time high and hundreds of thousands of US jobs at risk, now’s the time to build a secondary income.

Utilize your skills

It’s so easy to become complacent when you have a regular salary from your employer. However, should an life-changing illness or a redundancy occur, you’re stuck with rising debt and no pay packet to rely on. Every individual has skills they can utilize to bring in a secondary income. These skills may be the result of expert training and qualifications gained in your current employment or picked up over the years doing day to day tasks. Either way, take the time to sit down and list your talents to determine how best to use them. If you’ve got great design expertise and are keen to sell some of your arts and crafts to supplement your income, then building an eCommerce website via an efficient WordPress hosting service is a perfect task to complete in your spare time.

Monetize your hobbies

Hobbies can be an excellent money maker. For individuals who are established bloggers, signing up and advertising affiliate services is a simple way of making a passive income to help pay off your debts. Photographers who take innovative and compelling images are highly sought after and can make a decent secondary income by offering their services at special occasions. Alternatively,simply selling your photos to clients to use on their own websites and business marketing material is a great way to bring some additional money home.

Making the most of your secondary income

When you’ve decided which avenue you’re going to take to secure a secondary income, it’s essential that you are sensible with how it’s used. Don’t be tempted to blow the extra cash on luxuries such as a holiday or a posh meal out. Every penny you make should go towards clearing your debt. You may decide to make a repayment once a month to clear the debt, or, alternatively, you could put the money in a high interest savings account for a period of time and once you’ve accumulated the interest, pay your debt off in one lump sum.

Debt isn’t an easy thing to live with, so, by securing a secondary income you’re ensuring you’ve always got a way to pay it off and need never worry should your main income source suddenly come to a halt.

Chrissy Helders

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On the Road To Financial Health – Creating A Household Budget

Financial health, and being in debt, is socially embarrassing, but how many Americans realize they are not alone? Eight in ten Americans are in debt, reports CNBC in a 2015 report. Many Americans remain in debt until death, and the average household is actually over $100,000 in debt. If there is a better argument for household debt management, it has yet to be reported. Luckily, household debt is manageable with time, diligence, and a solid plan in place. Necessities and luxuries for home or business are still possible to obtain with some strict discipline on the household finances.

Face the music directly

Getting a handle on the finances means facing them head-on, similar to how any business solution is managed. This is the scariest step in the process because the numbers might be staggering. However, it is necessary to gather all debts to be weighed against all possible avenues of income. This is similar to reviewing the bottom line of a successful business. Enlist the help of a financial advisor,who may be free of charge through the credit unions for members. List financial goals, such as having a specific amount of debt paid off within a year, then create a budget for that goal. Learn to live without some luxuries, such as dining out or other recreation, to meet financial goals. Just as a business needs the books balanced, so too does a home.

Look for cuts

Look for cuts in every part of the budget to help put more money into the debt. Look for reasonably priced homeowner’s insurance rates, re-figure cable bill costs, and look for cuts in the utility bill. Consider how a business chooses what to sell, and how to make a profit. A successful business would never purchase a product, then sell it for less than cost. This is similar to making home purchases on credit or paying for services that aren’t being used. Research every item that takes away from the income with a magnifying glass. Call each company to find out how to reduce payments or cut services. Contribute the extra cash to debt.

Don’t be shy

Talk to companies that hold household debts. Many of them will help a household with smaller payments during financial difficulties for accounts that are in good standing. Choose a debt that will be paid down first, then pay the minimum on all other debts. Use the extra cash toward the chosen debt.Do this until all debts are paid off. This method will help ensure there is enough income for everyday expenses while the debt is whittled away. Calling debt holders and asking about payment options provides a timeline for debt repayments. It is important to stay caught up on every bill, however, as companies are more likely to work with a person who has an account in good standing.

Paying off debt is socially responsible, and with eight in ten Americans doing the same, almost no one is alone in the effort. Figure a budget and stay devoted to the cause. Before long, the debt will be gone.

Chrissy Helders

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