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Sick of living paycheck to paycheck? Learn how to get back on track with finances.

6 Ways to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

By | Personal Finance

When you’re barely earning enough to meet all your bills and other financial obligations each month, you might feel like you’re backed up against a wall with few options to make a change. However, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your money situation. Here are six tips to stop living paycheck to paycheck – for good.

1. Create a Budget

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the biggest thing you can do to break the cycle is to make a budget. Start out by assessing how much take-home pay you can expect in a typical month, then start deducting all your typical monthly expenses. As you get to things that aren’t as pressing, such as going out to eat or weekend entertainment, you can give yourself a set amount that you can spend each month without going over what you earn.

There are many ways to try and stick to your budget. You can use mobile apps that track your spending, old-fashioned pen and paper, or even the cash system. Simply take out enough cash to cover those negotiable expenses, and don’t let yourself access more money if you run out before your budget resets.

2. Automate Your Savings

Creating a savings account buffer is one of our best tips to stop living paycheck to paycheck. That way, when you have an unexpected expense pop up, you’re not thrown completely for a loop. Even better, you won’t have to search for alternative ways to pay for those emergencies, like a credit card or payday loan.

The easiest way to start saving is to automate the process. Set up an automatic transfer each payday with your chosen amount. Your bank will automatically transfer funds from your checking account to your savings account. Even starting with $10 a paycheck can help. Then slowly increase the amount as you adjust your spending to match your new savings habit.

3. Start a Side Hustle

Depending on your job and financial responsibilities, you may need to earn more money. While you can always ask for a raise or extra hours at your job, you can also diversify your income with a side hustle. Explore your hidden talents and think of ways to earn some extra cash outside of your typical work hours. You can drive for a ridesharing service, deliver food, shop thrift stores to resell items on eBay, or tutor after school.

There are countless ways to create a side hustle that helps you make more. It also gives you a greater sense of financial security as you get away from living paycheck to paycheck.

4. Live on Less

As you analyze your money and spending habits, look for ways you can cut back on expenses. Start with the fluffiest expenses, like recurring subscriptions. If you’re a member of multiple streaming services, for example, you can pick just one (and get rid of cable while you’re at it). You may be surprised at how much you can cut out of your budget with multiple small-dollar items, rather than just a few big-ticket items.

5. Plan Ahead

It’s important to use these tips to stop living paycheck to paycheck today, but it’s equally important to help get your financial footing in check for the future as well. As you start to reconcile your spending versus your saving, remember to put money away for long-term goals such as retirement. Even if you don’t earn a lot today, you can still save for retirement on the smallest of budgets. If you begin now, you’ll accumulate quite the nest egg even if you start small.

6. Improve Your Credit

The better credit you have, the better credit terms you’ll receive if you ever do need to borrow money. Ideally, you’ll save enough to help during a financial crunch, but if you do need to take out a loan or credit card, having good credit can save you a lot in interest. It can even open the door to better options so you don’t get stuck using a predatory lender with excessive rates and fees.

You can repair your credit on your own by reviewing your credit report and disputing any inaccuracies. However, you can also hire a professional for faster, and typically better, results.

Sign up for a free consultation with Ovation Credit to see how you could potentially benefit from professional credit repair help. You can quickly stop living paycheck to paycheck with the right team behind you.

In order to boost your financial IQ, you have to set realistic and measurable goals.

5 Ways to Boost Your Financial IQ

By | Personal Finance

When you’re ready to take control of your money and really focus on creating financial security so you can achieve your goals, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. You don’t need a college degree in finance to gain a better understanding of your money situation. If you’re wondering how to boost your financial IQ, simply follow these five steps to get yourself headed in the right direction.

1. Find Financial Resources You Enjoy

There is no shortage of personal finance content available at your fingertips on the web these days. The great news is that you can easily find engaging resources that help you get a better grasp on topics you’re not comfortable with. There are plenty of blogs (we happen to know of a good one), YouTube videos, books, and even podcasts. You can browse general personal finance content if you’re not sure where to start or look for more niche resources if you want to learn more about a specific topic.

Not sure how to boost your financial IQ in regards to retirement planning? A quick search can give you plenty of results. Then dedicate an hour or two to finding the blogs or podcasts that really resonate with you. This will give you an ongoing resource to check in on frequently for new information that matters to you.

2. Look at Your Bank Statements Daily

As you start building your bank of general financial knowledge, you also need to get a good grasp of what’s going on with your own money. The best way to start doing this is by looking at your bank account each and every day. It may sound like overkill, but this habit serves as a strong eye-opener to figure out how much you’re actually spending day in and day out.

If you’re surprised by how much is flowing out of your bank account, consider implementing a spending freeze. This is a great way to break major spending habits cold turkey. At the very least, try it for a week or see how long you can go without paying anything besides your regular bills.

3. Perform a Review of Debts vs. Assets

Another way to boost your financial IQ is to determine your net worth. Do this by reviewing your current debts versus your assets. When you actually write down these figures and compare them, you can figure out what your financial goals should actually be. Do you have a lot of high-interest credit card debt? You may consider focusing on paying that down. Are you debt-free but don’t have cash saved up for an emergency? Work on building a strong savings account next.

Then you can determine how much you have left to put toward discretionary goals like saving for a vacation or a down payment on a house.

4. Check Your Credit Score

You also need to know your credit score to get a true understanding of your financial picture. Check your credit score so you get an idea of what kind of borrower you’d be if you need to apply for a loan or credit card in the near future.

Be sure to take a look at your credit report as well to make sure all your financial information is reported accurately. You can quickly determine if there’s been any fraudulent activity under your name, such as a stolen credit card number or new accounts opened with your social security number.

5. Reassess Your Goals Regularly

Once you’ve gathered your collective financial information, it’s important to regularly evaluate all of these contributing factors to see if any of your plans need to be tweaked. Maybe your car insurance went up or your employer started offering a larger 401(k) match. Or perhaps you had a financial emergency and used some of your savings — you need to rebuild those funds for the next emergency that pops up.

Allowing yourself the flexibility to make changes in your finances is one of the biggest components of boosting your financial IQ. Learn that lesson and you’ll be on track to handle whatever life throws at you, whether it’s a good event or a challenging one. A little financial know-how can go a long way in being prepared.

Need Credit Help?

If you need to know how to improve your credit, get professional help. Having the right legal team behind you gives a huge boost to your financial IQ.

Schedule a free consultation with Ovation Credit today.

Are you running away from your debt issues? Learn your rights and stay informed.

How Often Can Debt Collectors Contact You?

By | Debt

Dodging debt collector calls adds stress and anxiety to an already difficult situation. Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors have to play by a certain set of rules. They can still call you, of course, but the tone and the quality of their calls must meet a certain standard. If you’re wondering how often debt collectors can contact you, the answer is unfortunately not quite clear-cut. While the law imposes certain restrictions on the calls, there is no set limit of the number of times they can contact you. Here’s what you need to know when you’re receiving a lot of calls from debt collectors.

Acceptable Times to Call You

How often can debt collectors contact you? Debt collectors have a window of time that’s considered fair game for contacting debtors, typically between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. They also cannot call you an excessive amount of times each day, but unfortunately, the FDCPA does not define what counts as “excessive.” If you are receiving multiple calls a day, make a note of each call and the content of the conversation. That’ll be critical information to share if you decide to file a complaint or a lawsuit against the agency.

Harassing Is a Definite Violation

The FDCPA does specifically prohibit debt collectors from making repeated phone calls with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass consumers. However, you may wonder how many calls are too many — and whether the collector’s behavior amounts to true harassment. It’s safe to say that if the collector is calling more than once a day — and uses threatening language — you may be dealing with one of the more unscrupulous debt collection agencies. As stressed and afraid as you might be, make sure you keep your cool and fight the urge to argue with the collector. That’ll only escalate the unpleasant behavior.

Debt Verification

To immediately stop the phone from ringing, ask the collector to send you, in writing, a statement outlining the amount owed, the name of the original creditor, and the procedures for filing a dispute if you disagree with the amount owed. While the debt collector is validating the debt — or researching your dispute, if you file one — they must cease all collection activity until the investigation concludes. That’ll buy you some much-needed time to check your own records and verify that you do, indeed, owe the debt and possibly come up with a plan to repay it.

Protecting Yourself

Here’s the good news about persistent debt collectors: You can tell them to stop calling, and by law they must abide by your request. Send the letter, via certified mail, requesting that they cease further communications with you. Take note that the debt collector could still end up turning your account over to a lawyer if the amount is substantial enough. Or they might sell the account to another agency — a common industry practice — which means you might have to start over and deal with a different set of collectors. Once you’ve sent the letter, the debt collector may only contact you to confirm that it will no longer call you, or to advise that it will be filing a lawsuit.

Know Your Rights

Debt collectors can legally call you at your place of employment, which can naturally cause even more anxiety. However, once you inform them you no longer wish to receive calls from them at work, they must stop. Also, debt collectors may not advise any of your co-workers or bosses that they are calling about a debt. Legally, they can only ask if you work there.

Filing a Complaint

Once the debt collector’s behavior crosses the line into disturbing and intimidating territory, you may have grounds for filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the governing board that oversees FDCPA violations. You can also submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent consumer protection agency. Make sure to consult your state attorney general’s website, which will likely provide a summary of state-specific debt collection regulations that could bring an additional layer of protection.

Collection Woes? We’ve Got Your Back

Debt collectors can bring down your credit report, but you can recover your credit score thanks to our seasoned team of credit repair specialists. Don’t spend any more time worrying over how often debt collectors can contact you — take action today. Ovation Credit pros specialize in assisting consumers with collection account issues. Let us know how we can help you with a free consultation.

References

https://www.credit.com/debt/top-10-debt-collection-rights/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs

Are you looking to boost your credit score? Make sure you have these three accounts open first.

3 Types of Accounts You Need to Boost Your Credit Score

By | Credit Repair, Credit Reports, Credit Scores

Maintaining a solid credit score isn’t just about making on-time payments and keeping a low debt utilization ratio. Although these are two of the main criteria that credit agencies use in their formulas, they aren’t the only ways to improve credit scores. The major credit agencies also review the diversity of the accounts you have on your report—and that counts for 10% of the formula they use to determine your creditworthiness. Basically, they want to see that you have experience managing a variety of loans and accounts, such as a mortgage, a credit card, and an auto loan. People with the highest credit scores tend to boast a diverse mixture of accounts. Keep in mind that there is no magical set amount of accounts that will work for everyone, and the best blend for you will depend on your unique financial situation. Generally, you want to have at least three different types of accounts on your report. Here are three accounts that can help you improve your credit score.

Installment Loans

When you take out a significant loan for a large-scale expense, such as a home or a car, that’s known as an installment loan. You’ll generally agree to a fixed amount up front and then pay the same amount every month, with a certain amount earmarked for interest and the rest going toward the principal balance on the loan. Examples of these include a home mortgage, car loan, student loan, or home equity loan.

Why they help: Installment loans are an excellent way to boost your credit history. With a history of on time, regular payments, you’ll show potential lenders that you can handle larger loans.

Revolving Credit

As opposed to installment loans, you do not have a set payment schedule with revolving credit. Two common types of revolving credit are credit cards and lines of credit from a bank or credit union. Although you have a limit that dictates how much you can borrow—and minimum guidelines for monthly payments—it’s up to you to decide how much you want to pay. (Debit cards are not considered revolving credit, as they are treated like cash and therefore do not get reported to the credit bureaus.)

Why they help: As with installment loans, these types of accounts give your credit score a boost when you build a history of timely payments. However, moderation is key here. Lenders don’t want to see numerous credit cards open with several significant balances, which could indicate you’re overextended and in financial trouble. Revolving credit tends to be the area that causes the most trouble for consumers, but when used appropriately can be essential to establishing a solid credit record.

Open Credit

You pay your water and electricity bill each month, which typically varies depending on your usage. These examples, as well as other utilities such as sewer and phone bills, are what agencies consider open credit. The amount you pay is different from month to month, but you’re always expected to pay in full. These types of accounts are basically a cross between revolving credit and installment loans.

Why they help: You won’t see any difference in your credit score if you make these payments on time every month. However, missed payments will almost certainly appear on your credit report if you’re delinquent for 30 days or more. That’s why you should always make it a priority to budget for these bills first.

The Bottom Line on Improving Your Credit

It does help to have variety in your accounts. You’ll be proving to potential lenders that you’re able to responsibly manage several different kinds of accounts, making your credit risk fairly low. However, experts caution against opening up new accounts just to achieve that perfect mixture—especially if they come with high fees or you don’t intend on using them. Paying your bills on time and being mindful of your spending habits will go a long way toward improving your credit score as well.

When you’re trying to build up, fix, or repair your credit, it’s best to focus on only a couple of different accounts. Then, once you’ve established a solid payment history, you might consider a low-interest personal loan, or a CD-secured loan, to add some variety to your credit mix.

The factors that determine your credit score can be confusing to even the savviest consumers. If your credit report could use a tune-up, contact us for a free consultation. The professionals at Ovation Credit are here to help guide you through the process of repairing or building up a positive credit history, as well as complex issues like credit errors and credit disputes.

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