“Stop Playing Favorites”

July 30, 2009

Master Card AMEX cardsYou know which one it is, your favorite credit card, shiny but worn a little from lots of use.  Oh, you might have many others, but for some reason you always pull out this particular one.  Is it the art, the style of font, the bright or subdued colors ?  Maybe it is because it is the only one that hasn’t lowered your credit limit down to your debt line. 

 Now is the time to stop playing favorites, show a little love to all of your cards. Even if it is buying just a pair of shoes.  Credit is just that CREDIT.  That is how the banks make money is you USING credit.  IF you don’t USE credit, then the banks see no reason to keep your account open.  It is bad, when creditors close your account. Really bad, when credit bureaus tally up points creating your credit score.

 So pull the stack out of the drawer and see IF they are still alive, and what is available on each of them, use them at least every three to six months..  Use them or lose them !  Obviously, having a credit card canceled hampers your access to credit.  But what happens is far more damaging. Your credit limit is lowered and that messes with your debt to credit ratio.  You will appear incapable of managing your financial affairs. Your interest rates will be raised because now you are seen as a risk to your creditors. It is a snowball forming and will hit you upside the head when you least expect it or want it.

 Don’t be a victim of the games the banks are playing. Stay knowledgeable.  To maintain your debt to credit ratio you must always be doing the math !  Ideally you’d use less than 10% of your limit.  But 20% can be acceptable if you are making timely payments. But when you go over the 20% line you are in the CAUTION ZONE.  30% is the cliff- STOP ! Going over 30% appears you are maxed out. You are in danger of your entire credit world crumbling down around your ankles.

 Quick fix before your score drops is to apply for another credit card, preferably with a high credit limit and DO NOT USE IT except to show activity.  The whole reason for the card is to give you breathing room, expanding your overall credit limit, to align your debt to credit ratio.  It is NOT meant for you to use to expand your debt load.  Be smart !                                                                                                                       422

Spectrum Resources offers counseling in issues of debt, credit and home ownership, including prevention of foreclosure. Our mission is to provide education and resources giving you options to explore.  Call 863-967-0660, email: SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com  Don’t forget to visit all our blogs to learn more:

http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  and http://FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com and here http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com


“6 Ways To Stick To A Budget”

July 27, 2009

mortgage You have a financial plan, BUT you don’t stick to it. Welcome to the club ! As a credit risk assessment planner, I see many who know what to do but just can’t seem to stick with the plan to follow through. The word “budget” is like saying the word ‘diet” to a fat person.  Taking control of your money is NOT hard, you can succeed, if you keep it simple !

 1.         Be realistic, everyone could save money if we didn’t have to eat.  But you can cut your food budget 15% by planning ahead for shopping and meals.  Make eating out a special occasion not a weekly event. Look for and take advantage of specials and coupons on groceries. 

2.         You maybe one of those people who design a detailed budget when you have not first documented what you actually spend.  The detailed budget based on a wish list will create stress, not success. First you have to know where the money is going before you can attempt to take control of it.  Track every nickel spent for 30 days, then evaluate.  Tracking creates awareness enabling you to make better decisions. Correct bad habits with a personal audit at the end of every 30 days, learn from your mistakes.

3.         ‘Enjoy the simple life.’ Look for ways to reward yourself for free !  A concert in the park, hiking, bike riding, camping, volunteering at a local soup kitchen or visit a museum.  Doing something eliminates boredom –guaranteed. And doing something for free is rewarding as well.

4.         Plan for the unexpected. Right off the top of all your income, set aside 5% for your emergency fund.  Remember, your goal amount is six times your household expenses. By nature, most people learn to live on whatever the amount is coming in the house, if it goes up or down.  So if you take the 5% off the top, you have set your priorities to survive any unexpected event, and you will figure out how to live on what is left. 

5.         Don’t panic, your personal spending plan is not carved in stone. If you spend more than you planned, put it down as a lesson to learn from.  Keep your eye on your goals.  But you still should reward yourself also.  A reward at the end of the month is being realistic.  If we don’t acknowledge what we are doing right, we don’t feel the benefit and we stop trying. 

6.         Don’t get hung up on the need to have super duper accounting or budgeting programs, those are stressful in themselves.  Keep it simple.  You have so much coming in and that is your boundaries. Determine your wants and needs, and then set your priorities to fit within those guidelines. You can succeed !    

                                                                

For assistance in structuring a personal spending plan to achieve your goals, contact Spectrum Resources (863) 967-0660 or email: SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com

Please put our blogs in your favorites and visit often: http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  and http://FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com  and

http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com

All tax exempt donations are appreciated to help us help others with financial literacy.

Mail to: SRDC 2014 Brentwood Dr. Auburndale,FL 33823 or use the online check processor:  www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985


“The Shame Of It All”

July 24, 2009

Hanging CC out to dry“The Shame Of It All” is about the price we pay for debt. A client from a small town, but with a large circle of friends and family through church and school activities came to me for counsel after seeing an attorney who recommended bankruptcy first, then put the family into a debt consolidation program.

This is not about attorneys, and at this point I won’t go into details on ‘debt consolidation programs’.  “The Shame Of It All” is about pride. 

The entire globe is aware of American’s poor money management skills.  Conversations no matter where they are held,  easily come back to the economic times we are all experiencing.  And no matter what the nightly news announces, the statistics show unemployment is still rising and more families are still facing foreclosure due to the hard times.  Yet, due to pride, families like the one who recently came to me has been drowning in debt and despair and would not seek help because of pride. 

Once you get that feeling of ‘danger’ in the pit of your stomach, you should seek counsel of a trained specialist in debt, credit and home ownership issues.  Bad things happen to good people, a counselor doesn’t judge.  A counselor appraises the situation and looks for solutions and provides resources and options.  This family went to an attorney, an attorney’s first option is bankruptcy.  The very last option a debt counselor offers is bankruptcy. 

A counselor will offer ways to maximize on what is available to pay down the debt.  To structure a plan for efficiency.  To assist the family in re-evaluating their priorities, and making a commitment to necessary changes.  A counselor will understand the strength it takes to overcome years of bad habits, and weaknesses.  The human element is recognized, not stuffed further back in the closet and ignored with a quick fix or patch job. 

Pride is expensive when it takes you into bankruptcy which is damaging for 10 years. Debt consolidation is on your credit report 7 years.  But the option that is good for your pride and your credit score is available to those who want to learn how to take control of their finances. There is  a program that will allow a family with a 30 year mortgage to pay it off in 10 years or less and   raise credit scores at the same time.

The Debtor Club has millions of members. The shame of it all is that some members still think they are alone, and don’t want anyone to know that they are not in control of all aspects of their life, especially their finances.  Employment, illness, unexpected events, all are bad things that happen to good people, the single most important reason for preventive measures.  Don’t try to keep up with the appearances of the Jones family.  Be smart, because the Joneses today, are most likely having financial woes as well.

Contact SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com or call (863)967-0660.  Please put our blogs in your favorites and come back often: http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  and http://FinancialEducationAndOPtions.blogpost.com  and this one http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com   All tax exempt donations to help us help others with financial education is greatly appreciated and can be mailed to: SRDC  2014 Brentwood Drive Auburndale, FL 33823 or use online check processor: http://www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985


“Can’t See The Forest For The Trees”

July 20, 2009

You may have heard the saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees”.  More often than not, things we seek are right in front of us.  Perception is all about how we look at things.

Families who are beginning to feel the crunch go to a counselor and ask where they can find savings. Savings are just like the forest – most of the time right in front of us.  Recently, a local well known hardware store flier came in the mail, and what caught my eye as a counselor in debt, credit and home ownership issues was their marketing strategies. They were selling SAVINGS !   

Their message was timely, in today’s economy we must look at the big picture. As you can see in the following samples of their ads the store is answering the customer’s #1 question ‘WIIFM”.   Such as  for a new grill, their ad said, Save up to $750 a year ! Instead of going out for dinner, grill at home.  ( Savings based on family of four dining out one night per week.)”

 Another savings was swimming pool maintenance supplies: Save up to  $700 a year ! Do your own pool maintenance.  ( Savings based on national average cost of professional residential pool service.)”

 “Lawn Care. Save up to $900 a year ! Mow, trim and maintain your own lawn and landscape.  ( Savings based on national average cost of professional lawn service for a 70ft X 100 ft yard.)”

 Another was Pest Control. “ Save up to $300 a year !  Do your own pest control easily and affordably. (Savings based on national average of professional pest service 4 times a year.)”

 The list was long, but just these 4 things can produce $2,650.00 SAVINGS !   That is about $220.00 a month, that amount could save a home from foreclosure, a car from being repossessed. Consumer are starting to think more about value, price and savings than convenience of services performed by someone else. Now most consumers are thinking about what services they can do themselves instead of hiring it done to cut corners. The lesson here is for you to look around your home, and do the math on what you are paying others to do, and what services you can perform yourself. All savings start with priorities.  The forest is within your reach, the savings are there, they have simply been hiding behind your ‘want’ list.

 

For a personal credit risk assessment planner to help you achieve financial self sufficiency call us Spectrum Resources (863)-967-0660 or email

SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com   Please put our links in your favorites and come back often: http://www.MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  and

http://www.SpectrumResources.wordpress.com  and

http://www.FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com


“Can A Debt Collector Garnish My Bank Acct.?”

July 17, 2009

Emergency FUnd“Can A Debt Collector Garnish My Bank Account ?”  Well yes, if you don’t pay a debt, a creditor or it’s debt collector can sue you to collect.  However, in all lawsuits, you are notified by your county court this event is happening. You MUST respond within the specified time limits to dispute this action.  If you don’t want them to automatically win. IF..they win, the court will enter a judgment against you. The judgment states the amount of money you owe and allows the creditor or collector to get a garnishment order against you. This directs a third party, like your bank to turn over funds from your account to pay the debt. 

 Your wages are garnished when your employer withholds part of your compensation to pay your debts.  Your wages usually can be garnished ONLY as the result of a court order.  Again folks, DO NOT ignore a lawsuit summons. If you do, you lose the opportunity to fight a wage garnishment.

 The next question that comes before me as a credit risk assessment planner is; “Can federal benefits be garnished ?”  Well many federal benefits are exempt from garnishment including:  Social Security Benefits, Supplemental Security Income ( SSI ) Benefits,  Veterans’ Benefits, Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits, Service Members’ Pay,  Military Annuities and Survivors Benefits,  Student Assistance, Railroad Retirement Benefits, Merchant Seaman Wages, Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Death and Disability Benefits, Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits, Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U. S. Contractors Outside of U. S. , Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Disaster Assistance.

 BUT, federal benefits may be garnished under certain circumstances, including to pay delinquent taxes, alimony, child support, or student loans. 

 One way to avoid accessibility to any monies being pulled out of your account is to have separate accounts. Through further education you can learn how to do this efficiently and effectively to protect your assets. Call (863) 967-0660  or email: SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com to learn more.  

 Put our blogs in your favorites for fast referencing and more learning. http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  and http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com  and http://FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com

 Your tax exempt donation to help us continue to help others is always appreciated.  Mail to: SRDC  2014 Brentwood Dr. Auburndale, FL 33823  or  use online check processor: www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985


“Are You A Confirmed Plastic Addict ? “

July 12, 2009

“Are You A Confirmed Plastic Addict ?”   is a different kind of lesson that will allow you to take a 15 question true and false test to reveal your status as a credit user. 

Hanging CC out to dry

 In solving any debt, credit or home ownership problem, the first step is identifying it.  There are always options available to overcome challenges.  My objective,  as in other lessons is for you to self evaluate where you are in your financial life . Then to take positive actions to correct your course, and prevent future issues to become fiscally fit.

These 15 questions are designed as a wake up call.  Using a sheet of paper, take the following true and false 15 question test:

_____  1)  Having a credit card will give me (give me) a sense of security.

_____  2)  I purchase more (expect to purchase more) from retailers who will extend me credit.

_____  3)  I often pay for eating out or purchase gifts to impress others.

_____  4)  Credit cards (will) help me improve my life-style.

_____  5)  Having credit allows me to buy the things I want now.

_____  6)  I often argue with myself or family members or others about over-spending.

_____  7)  My savings account balance is negatively affected by credit-based spending.

_____  8)  I often have trouble recounting the money I have spent during the day.

_____  9)  Other people I know overspend, and it doesn’t seem to hurt them financially.

_____10)  My closet if full of things I have only used once or twice.

_____11)  Many things I purchase, I wish I hadn’t by the time I get home.

_____12)  I am often (can be) a few days late with some payments, but it doesn’t matter much

_____13)  I have borrowed money from friends and relatives that I have not repaid.

_____14)  I make impulse purchases to make me feel better.

_____15)  I charge things like meals, gas and groceries that are gone when the bill arrives.

 Now add up your true(s) and false(s) – scoring next

_____ None True:    A credit worthy person.

_____ 1 or 2 True:    Just barely “OK”

_____ 3 – 5  True:    Suspend credit-based spending.

_____ 5 –10 True:    You may be a “debt-head”

_____ 11-15 True:    A confirmed plastic addict.

 Put those credit cards in a glass of water and freeze them solid. 

 Call today ! Spectrum Resources offers education, resources and options that can help you. ( 863) 967-0660  Learn how you can deal efficiently and effectively with creditors. How you can structure a plan to get out of debt.  Come back to our blogs to learn how you can take control of your financial life !  Our email: SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com

 Put into your favorites and visit often to learn more on our family of blogs:  http://MoneySavingTips.polkvoice.com  and  http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com   and  http://FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com

 If you want to swap links to promote self sufficiency through online networking contact us.

 Spectrum Resources is not funded and accepts all tax exempt donations.  If you are learning from our Personal Money Management Lessons posted for your benefit, with every $10.00 donation we will mail  you a “Hey! Where’s My Money” book .  A little book with a big message ! Excellent as a gift for a young couple starting out, a college student, or anyone who is starting over and wants to learn how to take control of their financial lives. It’s insightful and motivating.  Use our online check processor: www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985  or mail a money order to: SRDC 2014 Brentwood Drive Auburndale, FL. 33823


“New Habits CAN Save Money”

July 8, 2009
As a credit risk assessment planner, of course my line of business brings me before individuals who have more month than money.  You know how it feels to feel closed in, borrowing from ‘Peter to Pay Paul’. You maybe sliding your money trying desperately to make ends meet before it starts all over again next month.  worried woman

You have tools to guide you and keep you on track, such as the debt to income ratios, and the debt to credit ratios.  These money management tools are helpful, but bottom line logic tells you that when you are using your credit cards to slide money because you don’t have the real cash,  you are in trouble !   There is no need for a mathematical formula to figure it out, the simple fact is that you don’t have enough money to cover your expenses.

We all live in a ‘cashless’ society and there is no ‘feeling’ of loss.  There is in place a very good marketing plan that motivates consumers of all ages to spend money without thinking.  But do think about it,  your income is automatically deposited to your checking account.  From the checking account you make purchases with your debit card.  Or you write checks or make payments online where the payments are auto debited from your account. And of course you have the ‘convenience’ of credit card purchases. WHEN do you ever really feel the cash flow ?  You don’t.  The mental stops are erased in a ‘cashless society’. Without seeing the stack of cash physically deplete you don’t make a decision to stop whatever you are doing wrong.  It feels good because you don’t see your money go down, or your debt go up. You experience emotionally only the good feeling of getting what you want.

So no matter what age, spending 50-75% of your income on debt can be an easy habit to develop.  ‘Habit’ is the key word here. Like any unhealthy habit, you can control it.  You Can Stop!  First you must realize the harm this bad habit does to you personally.  Then you must educate yourselves in the many ways you can make changes, then develop a personal plan.  And finally make a commitment to yourselves to follow the objectives in the plan to be successful.  No one can survive and be fiscally fit while spending 50-75% of your income on debt.  It might be a fun ride now, but the crash and burn part is not an experience many people enjoy.  Be healthy, take control of your money, learn how to become fiscally fit today.

Spectrum Resource’s mission is to teach you how you can live, manage and dictate over all your financial matters.  Please add our link to your favorites and come back often to http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com and visit our sister blog: http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com or email us at SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com or call (863) 967-0660

 Help Us Help Others with a tax exempt donation to our financial education fund.  Our fund raiser is a book on daily money managent from local author Jan Shore titled “Hey ! Where’s My Money ?” for a $10.00  tax exempt donation.

Use the online check processor www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985 or pay by money order mailed to: SRDC  2014 Brentwood Dr. Auburndale, FL. 33823