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Improving Your Finances: Debt Settlement vs. Credit Counseling vs. Credit Repair

By | Your Credit

If you’re struggling with improving your finances, you may have seen several different services offering to help. Each type of service has a different goal, so picking one over the others could change the amount you have to pay toward your debt, and the impact on your credit score may vary by service. Which service you should choose depends on your debt, your goals and budget.

Improving Your Finances

What Are the Basics?

While the broad goal is to improve your financial situation and credit score, each service has a different primary purpose.

  • Debt settlement seeks to reduce the amount you have to pay. This could be by offering a lump sum payment for pennies on the dollar or negotiating a payment plan that won’t pay off the full debt.
  • Credit counseling works on improving your finances  by helping you develop better habits like sticking to a budget and finding ways to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. It may also help you do things such as negotiate for lower interest rates, find a personal loan and use balance transfers, but in most cases, the end goal is to pay off your debt in full.
  • Credit repair focuses primarily on your credit score and removing negative items from your credit report. Paying down your debt may be part of this, but it is only one possible tool, not the ultimate goal.

Is One Type of Service More Legitimate Than the Others?

Many providers who only offer one of the debt settlement, credit counseling or credit repair services will try to diminish the other two services, even to the point of implying that they’re a scam. The truth is that as long as you pick a reputable company, each type of service is perfectly legitimate.

Of course, because the different services have varying methods and potential outcomes, there could be one that is better for improving your finances than the others.

Does the Amount of Debt Matter?

Certain programs may set minimums or maximums for the amount of debt they’ll work with, but the rules aren’t set in stone. There are a few general guidelines to consider:

  • If you’re struggling but still able to make at least your minimum monthly payments each month, credit counseling may help you find a little breathing room without damaging your credit score.
  • If you can’t keep up with your payments but haven’t taken a big credit score hit yet, debt settlement may help minimize the damage.
  • If you’ve already gone into default, had an account charged off, or entered or considered bankruptcy, it may be time to shift your focus to credit repair.

What Happens to My Credit Score?

In terms of credit scoring, there are clear winners and losers when it comes to improving your finances.

  • Credit counseling: Because credit counseling focuses on finding ways to pay your debt in full, it will not hurt your credit score and may actually help you to build positive credit history over time. Even if you negotiate lower interest rates or transfer balances, it still counts as a paid-in-full account.
  • Debt settlement: Debt settlement will almost always lower your credit score. Since the creditor loses money on a settlement, settled accounts are marked negatively on your credit report. However, continuing to add missed payments or having an account charged off could lower your credit score even more.
  • Credit repair: In theory, credit repair can only raise your credit score, but that only tells part of the story. If you switch into credit repair mode before your accounts are paid, settled or discharged in bankruptcy, additional negative items could still be added to your credit report.

How Long Does it Take?

There are no clear-cut answer for the amount of time it will take improving your finances and each service. It varies widely based on your exact situation.

  • Credit counseling often involves either one-on-one sessions or attending classes. Depending on the timing and how quickly you’re able to follow their suggestions, you could start seeing results in days or weeks. Bigger changes, and actually paying your debt completely off, could take months or even a few years.
  • Debt settlement depends entirely on the status of your account. If you have an account in collections with a debt collector willing to settle, it may take a single phone call. If you have a high credit card balance but have managed to make your minimum payments on time, the issuer may require you to enter into a special program before they’re willing to settle. Overall, expect anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
  • Credit repair is another process that can take anywhere from days to months. Creditors have 30 days to respond to credit bureau disputes or updated information on an open dispute. Some may fix obvious errors faster, but there is often a processing backlog that pushes them right up against the deadline. If you’re trying tactics like goodwill letters or pay-for-deletes, expect several rounds of back-and-forth letters or phone tag.

Which Should I Choose?

When you consider the above information and how willing you are to spend your limited free time, the answer may be all three. Remember, credit counseling will help with improving your finances by teaching you good spending habits, debt settlement will help with debts you can’t pay in full and credit repair will help reverse damage to your credit report. Whether you need one, two or all of these services, you are free to customize a plan that meets your needs.

Sources:

  • https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/the-difference-between-credit-counseling-and-debt-settlement-2/
  • https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/whats-the-difference-between-a-credit-counselor-and-a-debt-settlement-company-en-1449/
  • https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-credit-counseling-en-1451/
  • https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-are-debt-settlementdebt-relief-services-and-should-i-use-them-en-1457/
  • https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/a-credit-repair-firm-sent-me-an-offer-outlining-their-credit-repair-program-should-i-enroll-en-327/
  • http://blog.quizzle.com/2010/09/debt-consolidation-vs-credit-counseling-which-is-right-for-you/
  • http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/debt-management-vs-settlement.aspx

5 Great Places to Travel on a Budget in 2016

By | Budgeting, Personal Finance

Travel Budget 2016

While others are making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, you’ve resolved to travel more and spend less. Let Ovation Credit help you get on top of your finances this year, and explore new places while doing it.

Here’s a list of 5 places to visit on a budget in 2016:

1. Barcelona, Spain

In Spain you can enjoy $2 beers and lunch for less than $15. There’s much to see and do in Barcelona including taking in the art that is modernista architecture by Antoni Gaudi. Enjoy tapas by the beach and let your worries melt away. Take a hike and take in the sights up Montjuic mountain. It’s the perfect place to view the city and you’ll find structures built for the 1992 Olympic games.

2. George Town, Malaysia

Known for its diverse cuisine, George Town is a great place to have a culinary journey. Dine on Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine for just $2 to $3. Tourists and locals love the fresh fruit juices which you can enjoy for just $1. Part of the cost of travel is dining out, but at those prices you can eat for less than $10 a day.

3. Thrace, Turkey

According to Edna Zhou who writes for Expat Edna, the Thrace region of Turkey starts in Istanbul and runs north-west between the Aegean and Black seas and is a great place to take in Bulgarian and Greek cultures. According to Zhou, it’s a complete contrast from Eastern Turkey. Go wine tasting and explore the vineyard for a fraction of the cost.

4. Xi’an China

China as a travel destination has increased in popularity in recent years causing the cost of travel to increase in cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Xi’an is one Chinese destination that’s still affordable. Destinations in Xi’an include the Terra Cotta Warriors and the historic city walls.

5. Morocco

Always wanted to take a trip to Casablanca? Make 2016 the year you travel to Morocco. Stay in a seafront village outside the city for just $330 a month. In Morocco you can spend all day at the beach, swim in a waterfall, climb a mountain or take a journey through the desert. According to Zhou, a three hour journey can cost just $5.

With online tools you can travel to just about anywhere on a budget. Start with a flexible budget and use sites like Kayak to find the best travel times. Use travel sites, join email lists and comparison shop to secure the best rates on lodging. Establish a daily food allowance ahead of time and scout restaurant deals online to save on dining.

Where will you travel this year? Let us know in the comment section below.

A Healthy Credit Score in Your 20s and 30s Is Possible if You Follow These Tips

By | Credit Scores

Managing finances can be tricky, especially when you’re young. For many people, getting started with financial planning is made more complicated by the plethora of information out there. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an easy-to-follow set of fundamental principles that provide a good foundation for financial health. Whether you’re trying to maintain an exemplary credit score, planning for retirement, or determining how best to repair your credit, these “money musts” can help you get started.

3 “Money Musts” to Jump-Start Your Finances in Your 20s

1. Break the cycle of credit card debt. It’s tempting to hold off on repaying debt until you’re older and bringing in a bigger paycheck. But the fact is, as your salary increases, so do your expenses. Along with that extra money comes a natural progression of increasingly costly expenses: buying a house instead of renting, having a family, or combining finances with a partner. That makes tackling debt early and often a good idea as long as you’re avoiding making big repayments you can’t afford. Budget out a realistic plan and stick to it.

2. Build up those emergency savings. The best way to do this? Set up a direct-deposit from your paycheck into a high-yield savings account. That’ll keep you from spending that money before you get a chance to save it. Stay realistic: Start off by saving one month’s salary. Then build to three months’ worth of pay in your emergency fund. Work your way up from there until you hit the emergency savings sweet spot: six times your monthly take-home pay.

3. It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. As far away as retirement might seem, it’s vital to start putting some of your extra cash into your 401(k). Thanks to compound returns, even small amounts can make a big impact. Once again, it’s important to start slow. Put away a reasonable portion of your paycheck and increase it by 1% every six months until you reach the maximum allowed. If your company participates in an employer match, take full advantage. Not doing so is leaving free money on the table.

3 “Money Musts” To Jump-Start Your Finances in Your 30s

1. You’ve hacked away at that debt? Great. Keep at it. Once you move into your 30s, it’s all about strategically taking down your remaining debts. Focus on the credit card with the highest interest rate and pay the minimum on the others. You might be close to paying off your student loans in your 30s, but if you’re paying higher interest rates (6 percent and up) on other debt, pay off those loans first as soon as you’re financially secure. If your student loan interest rates are low, you can even feel free to concentrate on other financial goals while continuing to pay off the low-interest loans.

2. Don’t forget about the kids. By now, your money management needs might include planning for others besides yourself. This could come in the form of child care costs and college savings for your children. To lessen some of the financial strain of tuition costs and college fees, consider opening a 529 plan. Just make sure you choose wisely—529s sold by investment advisers tend to carry higher fees than the ones made available directly from the state.

3. Take stock of big life events and reassess your insurance needs. View the big milestones in your life as the perfect time to take a second look at whether your insurance needs are being met. For example, securing life insurance may become a priority if there are people in your life who depend on you for financial security.

Following these tips should put you on the path to solid money management. Another huge part of financial health is the state of your credit score. That’s where a credit repair agency like Ovation can really make a difference. Give us a call today so that we can connect you with one of our credit experts for a free consultation.

6 Ways to Keep Your Job Search Away From Your Credit Score

By | Credit Repair, Credit Scores

“Job hunting is cheap and easy,” said no one, ever.

There are many resources to consider as you search for the perfect job; however, some of these resources may cost a pretty penny. Applying for another line of credit to pay for these expenses, however, is not the answer, since that course of action may affect your credit score.

To avoid fluctuation of your credit score or a need for credit repair down the road, here are six ways you can search for a new job with minimal costs:

1: Be your own headhunter

The Internet provides many resources that can help you find a job. You can browse through employment websites and download job-hunting apps to your smartphone.

Most of these employment services are free; however, if you are looking for a high-level position, you may want to consider a headhunter. Do your research first so you get results for the money you are spending.

2: Consider a career coach

Career coaches can help you determine your career goals, and they can help you establish your career path. Their services do involve a fee, though, so research your options and find someone credible. You may even consider bartering your services for free career advice.

3: Look good, spend less

Always be sure you look professional at an interview. That said, putting together the right outfit doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Hiring managers will be much more concerned with your experience and personality than your designer suit or shoes. If you really want to buy a new outfit, however, consider shopping at a local second-hand store for business attire.

4: Keep those receipts

Keep track of all your finances while you are searching for a new job. Expenses such as resume preparation costs and headhunter or career coach fees may be tax deductible. These costs are deductible as long as you are searching for a job within your current occupation.            Remember, too, that only the total amount exceeding 2% of your adjusted gross income can be deducted.

5: Use your community resources

Take advantage of the career resources in your community while you are searching for a new job. Employment centers and public libraries may offer workshops for job hunters as well as classes to brush up on computing skills. Additional resources may include clinics for helping with interviews and resume writing.

6: Network online and offline

Networking is one of the best ways to find work. It’s important to introduce yourself and get your name out there. You can find local networking events by visiting the Meetup website or by joining a professional association in your field.

LinkedIn is also a powerful online networking tool. Be sure to use a professional photo (no selfies!) and proofread your profile for accuracy. Moreover, write a summary to tell your profile viewers who you are and what your goals are. You never know who could be looking at you.

The best job resource

It’s you! Sure, searching for a new job can be time-consuming, and the fast and easy way may be to pay someone else to do the work for you. But this is not a solution for everyone, and you shouldn’t risk your credit score to find the best headhunter. There are many free and low-cost resources that can help you find a job just as well.

On the other hand, if you ever need assistance with credit repair, consulting with professionals could do you a world of good. Consider calling the credit experts at Ovation Credit if you think you’re in need of some help. We’ll be happy to set you up with a free consultation to discuss your financial situation.

How Financial Planning Can Increase Your Credit Score

By | Credit Scores

financial-planning-credit-scoreIf you think it’s easy to live like the wealthy, think again. With every increase in income and publicity, expenses seem to rise just as fast. However, many millionaires in this country live just like the “people next door.” The difference is that they save most of their income and stay out of debt, so they are under less stress than the rest of us. Taking a look at the attitudes and priorities of these wealthy people can help you learn how to become richer yourself while at the same time improving your quality of life and credit score.

Here are nine healthy money habits that can help you along the way. Some of these approaches may be surprising, while others are “tried and true.”

  1. Start with the big picture. Where do you want to be in five years? Take some time to figure this out, and set up a financial plan to get you there. For example, if you’ve got kids going to college in a few years, how much do you need to save by then in order to pay that tuition? Also, what kind of emergency funds should you have on hand (experts generally suggest that you save enough money to pay for three to six months’ worth of expenses)?
  2. Keep spending in line with that big picture. When we bring home our paychecks, we tend to go out to dinner, buy some special item that’s on sale, pay our bills, then notice that there’s very little left over. Instead, start by first putting money into that five-year plan. Then pay your bills. Then see what’s left over, and make sure you can live on that. It might mean you cook dinner more often—but that’s likely to be healthier for you and your family anyway.
  3. Develop healthy money mantras. We all live by rules. For example, we can’t drive on the streets without obeying a bunch of traffic regulations; as a result, students who are just learning to drive often develop mantras to help remember the rules of the road. Similarly, it can be helpful to develop your own personal rules and mantras for your finances. Mantras like “I can’t spend more than $200 this month on clothes” or “we can’t spend more than $300 a week on groceries” will help you to keep your spending in check.
  4. Live like the “next door” rich. What is it that they do differently? They set a budget and stick with it—even if they make a lot more money than they planned for. These rich might put as much as 90 percent of their income straight into savings. If you can think like that, you can also learn to live like that—although your savings percentage might be a tad bit lower!
  5. Remember retirement now. Having enough finances for retirement might seem like something you can put off until tomorrow, but it absolutely is not. Since your money will have less time to appreciate, every year you wait, you’ll have to put more money away in order to have enough to live on when you retire. Begin saving for retirement as soon as possible.
  6. Know your monthly finances. Do you examine every paycheck? You should. Do you track the cost of every dinner out? Again, you should. When you don’t know where your money is going, that’s when you can get into trouble financially, and that will likely have an impact on your credit score.
  7. Avoid “bad” debt that lowers your credit score. We all have debts. Mortgages and student loans are reasonable, wise, and pretty much inevitable (and mortgages are wiser than renting, since you’re increasing your home equity with each month’s payment). Credit card debt is bad, because the interest is so much higher, and the penalties for missing one payment are so much greater.
  8. Increase your income. You can do this by taking on a second job that doesn’t feel like work (book lovers can be librarians, for example). Or else consult with a financial planner about prudent investments that can grow your financial nest egg.
  9. Trust the experts. Finances are like anything else in your life: There are experts who can help you along the way, and it pays to get them involved. Unless you’re professionally knowledgeable about credit scores, you’re likely not going to know all of the possible solutions to your credit problem. So if you need credit repair, contact us to discuss how we can help you set up a plan to control spending, beef up your finances, and increase your credit score today.

How Millennials Can Retire Tax Free

By | Credit Repair, Save Money

retire-tax-freeIf you’re a millennial, the idea of retirement is far away and it doesn’t consume your time or energy thinking about or planning for it. However, with President Obama’s newest myRA account, there is now an easy savings option that may appeal to the millennial.

Roth IRA Lite

In many respects, the myRA is like a Roth IRA account. You can contribute up to $5,500 a year and you can only participate if your income is less than $191,000 (married) or $129,000 (single). In addition, the minimum opening balance for the account is $25. Like a Roth IRA, contributions don’t reduce your taxable income. However, the truth is that a myRA is more like a Roth IRA with training wheels because it has limited investment options. The ideal savings plan for a millennial that is comfortable exploring different investment options is a true Roth IRA, which will help you retire tax-free and give you more choices to grow your contributions.

Better than myRA?

The Roth IRA has two significant advantages for young people. First, unlike a traditional, pre-tax IRA or 401k, withdrawals in retirement aren’t taxed at high-income rates. As a matter of fact, with Roth IRAs, although you get no tax breaks for your contribution, withdrawals are tax-free.

When you do withdraw your funds from your Roth IRA, your income is likely going to be higher, and therefore your tax rate will likely be higher too. This makes waiting until retirement for your tax break more valuable than receiving one now, as with a 401k. The Roth option also provides a shield from tax and benefit penalties for higher-income retirees.

The second advantage of a Roth IRA for millennials is flexibility. As young adults, you might have unexpected expenses, such as graduate school, starting a business, or just making ends meet. If you withdraw funds from a traditional IRA, you will get hit with a 10 percent early-withdrawal fee. With a Roth IRA, meanwhile, you can get your money back without paying a stringent penalty.

What about 401k’s?

Most individuals believe that a 401k is the best instrument for creating retirement savings, and yes, it is a good place to start — but it is most beneficial when used in tandem with a Roth IRA. A 401k allows you to save generally up to 6 percent of your salary with an employer’s match. However, if you’re planning a decent retirement and have other savings goals, it’s important to save more than 6 percent a year. That’s where a Roth IRA can make up the difference.

Get Going!

If you are ready to start your Roth IRA, remember that in 2014 you are able to contribute $5,500 per person, provided that your adjusted gross income isn’t more than $114,000 for a single person or $181,000 for a couple.

If you’re already saving in a 401k and fully funding a Roth IRA and can still save more, then it’s important to build an emergency account of three to six months’ worth of expenses outside the Roth IRA, so you can leave the Roth account untouched and growing tax-free. Once your emergency account is established, consider maxing out your 401k to maximize your finances and set yourself up for the most success upon retirement.

Help is Available

If planning for retirement scares you, you aren’t alone. For most millennials, it seems so far off that it isn’t worth planning now. But the truth is, the earlier you start, the better and easier it will be for you in the future. If you’re struggling to save or to make ends meet, it’s likely your credit is also suffering. Let us at Ovation help you. We offer a wide range of credit repair solutions customized to meet your unique needs.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Shopping Smart: Negotiating Deep Discounts to Improve Your Credit Score

By | Credit Repair, Credit Scores

negotiating-discountsWhile not adding any points to your actual score, negotiating discounts on big purchases can provide long-term help to anyone in financial trouble.  Whatever your credit looks like, sometimes you need to make a purchase.  Negotiating discounts means less to pay in the long term, and we have a few tips on how to get good at getting the best deals out there.

Choose Your Battles: Credit Repair Through Large Discounts

Don’t bother negotiating at the supermarket, Wal-Mart, or the corner convenience store. Places like these have set prices and it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get them to budge. Discounts are more likely on big ticket items like cars, expensive one-time services like cleaning or car repair, and monthly service bills like mobile phones and cable packages. If you have any plans to travel, hotel rooms and rental cars can often be negotiated. Search for best fares for air, rail and bus tickets – many carriers offer discounts if you know where to look. Saving on these far more expensive items will help your finances more than milking the supermarket out of a few cents on a dented can of tuna fish. Instead save your strength for big negotiations.

Gathering Your Financial Toolkit

Before going into any negotiations, do your research. Look into average prices for the product or service and get an idea of what you’re willing to pay. Make sure to take into account the merchant’s need for profit. You can’t expect them to take a loss.

Once you know roughly what you want to pay, ask to see a manager. A salesperson probably doesn’t have much sway to give you a discount, so don’t waste their time (or yours) and cut out the middleman. Remember to stay pleasant, never rude. The store has something you want and losing your cool with those who could give it to you won’t do you any favors.

Also, it’s not just who you ask, it’s when you ask. Make sure to go to the establishment at a good time for negotiating. When is that? It’s not when the store is crammed with other customers. Employees will be too busy and frazzled to give you more than minimal attention, and managers don’t want an audience to see them giving discounts. Would you? Do visit during off-peak hours, such as a weekday morning. Everyone will be less stressed and more willing to discuss giving you a great deal.

Most importantly, be willing to walk away, particularly with high-priced items like cars. Leave the merchant your phone number so they can contact you if they’re ready to meet your asking price, and just leave. Sometimes having the loss of a big sale staring them in the face is what a merchant needs to grant a discount.

Ovation Credit Eases Your Finances Even More

Just like we’ve given you the tools to get yourself great discounts, Ovation Credit can give you the tools to improve your credit score so you won’t need discounts (even though you’ll still get them). Call us today to be matched with your personal credit professional and start actively improving your credit score.

Teaching Kids to Save

By | Budgeting, Save Money

teaching-kids-saveHealthy money habits are established at an early stage in life and it’s important for parents to help their kids develop these habits at an young age. Kids are clean slates, giving you the opportunity to teach them the type of healthy habits that will carry them through adulthood. Below are a few best practices to help you begin the process of teaching your kids how to save effectively.

Open a savings account.  At most banks, savings accounts can be opened at no cost for minors. In addition, if the minor opens an account at the same place that the parent banks, the issuing establishment might provide a waiver on any fees. Opening a savings account can help teach kids the importance of saving money (and beginning to build interest) for a large purchase in the future.

Match contributions. The easiest way to help your children see and understand the value of saving is to match the amount they save. This will show them that you also value saving and are wiling to invest in their smart decision.

Give them an allowance. Most parents have ditched the concept of an allowance, but if you want your kids to learn healthy saving habits, you are going to have to give them money to save. In addition, giving your kids an allowance helps them understand the concept that money is not disposable and that they must budget properly to pay for the things they want without running out of money too quickly.

Get a piggy bank. The concept of a piggy bank extends far beyond the bright pink pig sitting on your kid’s nightstand that he or she dumps pennies into at the end of every week. Today’s piggy banks are much more sophisticated. Many have slots for spending, saving, and donating. This type of bank can help teach kids about budgeting and categorizing money for different expenditures.

Play games. Kids like to have fun. If you help them have fun, they will enjoy learning much more. It’s easy to help them learn about saving money by making it a game. For example, put together a challenge for them, or instead, play online games that teach them basic principles such as separating wants from needs and avoiding impulse buys.

Go to the bank. The bank might seem like a boring place to you, but for a kid, it can be an educational experience.Let your kids help you and tell them what you are doing and why.

Invest. It’s important to set up a mutual fund or savings account for your child in order to teach them to be a saver, but a stock investment can teach them even more. It’s best to choose a company they are familiar with. This type of investment can help kids learn how to research stocks and save more money.

Helping kids learn how to save is a process, but can be done with these few best practices. Before you can teach your kids about saving effectively and investing wisely, it’s important that you are also doing the same. This helps set you up for financial security in the future. Financial security is mostly determined by your credit score, which can determine much of your buying power and future financial decisions. However, if you’re experiencing trouble with your credit score, you could be a candidate for credit repair. At Ovation, we offer a wide range of credit repair solutions, customized to meet your unique needs.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

How to Live on Half Your Income

By | Budgeting

live-on-half-incomeIt’s no secret that families everywhere are trying to stretch every dollar to make ends meet. Most families are struggling to do this because their expenses are greater than their income, and savings are sparse. Given this challenge, it’s the wisest decision to save as much as you can in the event of a rainy day and to lighten the stress of having to stretch every penny. This savings strategy helps you prepare for the worst so that you can maintain financial stability and set yourself up for future financial success.

Living on half of your income is possible but seems like a challenging and daunting task. Here’s how you can make it work.

Track your spending. Determine where your money is currently going. This will help you evaluate your spending habits and begin to make better ones.

Go on a diet. Determine which of your expenses are unnecessary and eliminate them for a period of time. Go back to the basics and cut out the daily lattes, shopping sprees, and weekly happy hours with coworkers.

Automate your savings. Once you have tracked your spending and eliminated your unnecessary expenses, you can start saving half your income. Open a separate account and place your newfound income into this account.  This money should never hit your “spending” account and should automatically be put into savings.

These three suggestions are no easy task, and there will of course be obstacles to overcome. The biggest hurdles can come from things such as your home, your car, and perhaps the needs or wants of your kids. These items are harder to avoid if unexpected expenses incur. However, when it comes to your house, before you shell out cash, first ask yourself if that expense is absolutely necessary. New windows might be imperative but new surround sound speakers for the family room may not be.

Regarding your car, take a look at expenses such as your gas, insurance, and maintenance to determine if there are ways to cut costs. For example, consider joining savings clubs such as Costco or Sam’s Club, where you can find gas that is 20 to 30 cents per gallon cheaper than some gas stations. You should also call your insurance company to see if there are ways to save on your premiums. Many insurance companies offer programs that will lower your premium if you display safe driving habits over a certain period of time.

When it comes to your kids, the best thing to do is communicate to them the new spending habits you plan to implement. If they are aware, it makes it easier to explain to them why you can’t buy them the latest game or order ten pizzas for their upcoming sleepover. You can make it a family affair and get them involved in the savings. This also teaches them financial responsibility while allowing you time together.

While living on half your income sounds challenging, the payoff is tremendous. Saving smart is the first step to setting yourself up for financial success. It allows you the financial freedom to pay off debt, and in many cases, repair your credit. However, if you are having any difficulty, you may be a good candidate for credit repair. If so, let us at Ovation help you.

We offer several credit repair solutions that are customized to meet your unique needs. At Ovation, we believe that no two people are alike; therefore, our approach is always unique.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Top 10 Ways to Manage Finances & Avoid Credit Repair

By | Credit Repair

manage-finances-avoid-credit-repairYou’ve seen film critics list the Top 10 movies of the year, heard hit songs making the Top 10 charts, and maybe watched David Letterman’s Top 10 list. As key as these rankings may seem, none is more important than the Top 10 ways to handle your finances so you can avoid low credit scores and the need for credit repair:

10. Lunching and dining out may not seem like a big expenditure per meal, but they add up fast. If you brown bag your lunch twice a week and dine out every other weekend, you can save hundreds—perhaps thousands—of dollars a year.

9. Speaking of food, be mindful when you grocery shop. Make it a practice to only purchase items on sale, use coupons, and never go when you’re hungry to avoid purchasing more than you need!

8. Discounts don’t solely apply to groceries. If you’re looking at marked-down merchandise and find the perfect gift for someone months before his/her birthday, wedding or special occasion, buy it and store it for when the time is right. In addition to saving you money, it will save on gas and time since you won’t have to drive around in search of a present days before the big event.

7. With regards to driving, you can lower your gas expenses by carpooling, taking public transportation, or biking and walking, which are actually better for you and the environment. If that’s not your style, check out www.gasbuddy.com and www.gaspricewatch.com two sites that can help you locate inexpensive stations where you can fill up for less.

6. While you’re dealing with car expenses, take a close look at your current insurance coverage. If your car’s value has decreased, you may decide to keep collision (which protects your car if you’re in an accident) as well as liability (which protects you if you damage another driver’s car) but eliminate comprehensive insurance (which covers your car if it’s damaged by something other than an accident). This small change could save you hundreds of dollars each year.

5. Partial insurance coverage isn’t the only thing to cut from your expenses. Consider getting rid of habits such as smoking, drinking, and gambling, which are all unhealthy for your body and your pocketbook.

4.  As difficult as it sounds, monthly cable packages are not a necessity of life and nixing your cable plan could have a big financial savings. However, before you pull the plug, call your provider to negotiate a lower rate by implying you will go elsewhere for a more competitive offer.

3. Show an interest in interest. If you can swing it, pay down your credit card debt. Instead of just paying the minimum charges, try to pay the balance. If you don’t, you will continue to accumulate interest and wind up paying much more for an item than it actually cost at the time of purchase.

2. Be sure to check your billing statements. Not all bills are due on the same date each month. Sometimes the deadline falls on a Sunday when you cannot make a payment because the banks are closed. In this case, make sure you pay on the Friday before to avoid an unnecessary late fee.

1. Even when budgeting, maintain a good credit score. This will better qualify you for loans and credit cards that have better interest rates. If you feel it’s already too late, that your lack of finances have put you in need of credit repair, then seek advice from an industry leader such as Ovation. Our experts will work with you personally to build a credit repair and credit re-establishment plan that is tailored solely for your situation. Your path to debt-free, stress-free credit repair begins with a phone call for a free consultation.

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