When the Great Recession hit, a crisis in the housing market lead to tighter lending standards leaving millions of consumers out of the home buying process. Today, although the lending market has normalized, the economy remains unstable and many consumers struggle to put together a strong enough application for a loan approval. Read more
With unprecedented debt levels at older ages, Americans are struggling to get it all done before retirement. Experts commonly recommend having a million or more in savings. Debt levels are at all-time highs, and those in their 50’s are still adding debt instead of paying off mortgages.
As you get serious about retirement you may wonder which option will offer the highest payoff:
Pay off all your debt and enter retirement with little or no savings, or save as much as possible and enter retirement with heavy debt loads? Read more
The process of saving money for an emergency fund is rather simple: You transfer money into a savings account and then leave it alone. Automate the process and watch your money grow as time passes. There are a few challenges with this simplistic approach because it also means you must have additional money in your paycheck, or it comes right back out to pay a bill.
The benefit of building an emergency fund goes beyond having money in an account to cover an emergency or unexpected expense; accumulated savings also represents financial security and stability that most of us seek.
Many consumers have a deep desire to become debt free. The question is: What exactly does debt free mean? Does living debt free mean you will never use credit again? Does it require paying cash for everything and cutting up all your credit cards? Does living debt free include large investments like a home and the accompanying mortgage or only eliminating credit card debt?
Everyone has different goals regarding debt elimination strategies because we all have different life experiences that color the way we see borrowing. There is no one size fits all when it comes to defining what it means to live a debt free life. Some of the differences in attitudes stem from recategorizing debt as good or bad debt, in an effort to redefine the typical negative view of borrowing. Let’s take a closer look.
As the holidays wind down and schedules return to normal, it is common to take inventory of your finances. If strict budgets were not kept over the last two months, you may find that the incoming January bills are much larger than anticipated. After the shock and dismay over what you really spent passes, it is time to get down to the business of paying off the holiday debt so it doesn’t linger on your balance sheets for years to come.
When debt is left to linger it can lead to a financial crisis not far down the road. Companies spend millions in advertising each year to convince you that their products are not merely wants, but insatiable needs. When you buy into these messages you can be left with large amounts of debt that can take decades to pay off. This is especially true when only minimum balances are addressed each month. Now is not the time to access blame, but to tackle the problem at hand and focus on workable solutions. Read more
For most consumers, filing bankruptcy and obtaining a discharge was supposed to mean the debts were erased off the credit report and they would receive a fresh start. Unfortunately for millions of Americans, until recently, this has not been the case. Even with bankruptcy relief, zombie debts can create havoc on consumers due to illegal reporting practices of the banking industry.
Top banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Synchrony Financial (Formerly GE Capital) had instituted reporting practices, leaving debt on credit reports even after they have been sold to a debt buyer and/or later discharged in bankruptcy. These are often referred to as zombie debts because consumers have been unable to correct reporting errors when these debts show up after years on a credit report. Read more