Monday, December 31, 2007

8 New Year's Commitments for 2008

Here are 8 New Year's Commitments that will improve your financial life, reduce stress, end fights regarding finances, and bring peace to your life.

1. Save Money - Create an emergency fund with enough to cover at least 3-6 months worth of bills. This will prevent you from getting into debt. For long-term goals create a savings account with a high interest rate and make plans to save for retirement.

2. Further Your Education - Take training classes or get a college degree to increase your skills set and salary. Plan to take at least one training course every year during your career to stay current with industry standards and technology advances.

3. Get Out of Debt – Get current on any late payments. Negotiate with creditors to setup payment plans and pay off debts older than 6 months. This will increase your credit score.

4. Get Your Financial House in Order – Organize financial papers and store in a centralized secure location. Backup financial documents and records saved on your personal computer. Use secure websites for processing transactions and storing personal information, i.e. bank accounts, automatic payments, etc. Organize your home office with file folders, file cabinets, etc. Make copies of all personal documents and store in a fire proof safe. Develop a will and designate or update beneficiaries for life insurance policies.

5. Trim Spending - Don’t live above your means. Buy needs more often than wants. Find ways to reduce expenses to help pay down your debts. Catch public transportation or carpool to work. Buy items or sale, use coupons, or shop at wholesales or thrift stores.

6. Limit Credit Card Usage - Use your credit card for emergencies only. Don't use your credit card to purchase gas, food or other everyday items. Keep credit card balances at 40% or below the credit limit. Pay balances off at the end of the month.

7. Develop a Flexible Spending Plan - Write a list of all of your total monthly expenses including debt and write down your total monthly income (net). If you have any money left over use that to pay down your debts. If you do not have any money left over look at the areas where you can reduce expenses.

8. Don't go into debt at Christmas - Don’t overextend yourself buying gifts at Christmas, buy gifts throughout the year to limit credit card usage and help spread costs for gifts over a period time. Even starting shopping in November will reduce costs and stress felt when shopping in December.

Copyright © 2008 H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tax Tips for 2007

There are hundreds of tips that can save you money when filing your taxes. Here are 9 ways to save your money during the 2007 tax season.

  1. Read the tax booklet that corresponds with your tax forms to make sure you are not overlooking any tax credits that you are eligible for.
  2. Don't get a rapid refund or loan. These usually have high interest rates and may not be faster than if you just filed electronically.
  3. If you owe don't file late, if you think you will need an extension request it now. You will save yourself headaches and money.
  4. There are several free tax software available that you can use if you have access to a computer.
  5. If you cannot afford to hire a tax preparer search for free tax filing services in your area, start with your local library or government tax authority.
  6. Be aware of new tax tables for Federal and State for 2007.
  7. If you have defaulted on your student loan and you are expecting a refund, chances are your tax refund will be taken to pay for your overdue student loans.
  8. Make a donation to a charity, you have until December 31, 2007 to make donations.
  9. Keep records of your tax forms for at least 3 years.
  10. Enter accurate information on your tax forms to prevent being audited.

Copyright © 2007 H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

10 Tips to Protect Your Identity During the Holiday Season

According to the 2006 Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Survey Report, in 2005 8.3. million Americans were victims of some form of identity theft. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, it takes 12 months, on average, for a victim of identity theft to notice the crime. In 2006, 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft. Here are 11 tips to protect your identity during the holiday season.

  1. Don’t carry your SSN or other personal papers in your wallet or purse
  2. Leave mail and other personal papers at home and store in a safe place
  3. Check your mailbox regularly, hold mail during vacations
  4. Shred personal information and mix in with other trash
  5. Don’t use an ATM in a secluded area
  6. Carry only the credit cards you know you will use
  7. Shop online at secure websites, https or shttp
  8. Create PINs that cannot easily be guessed
  9. Verify all monthly statements with your receipts
  10. Order your credit report at least once a year and verify all information
  11. Beware of camera phones

Copyright © 2007 H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Monday, December 17, 2007

Credit Score Used by Insurers

Congress will began looking into where the insurance industry's use of credit score to determine a customer's insurance risk discriminate against certain groups of Americans.

Critics argue thta credit scoring models negatively impact minorities and low-income Americans.

A Federal Trade Commission study results indicated that credit-based scores are effective predictors of automobile insurance risk. Using credit scores is likely to lead to increased insurance payments for 64% of African Americans, 53% of Hispanics and 38% of non-Hispanic whites.

Four statees have banned insurers from using credit scoring outright: California, Maryland, Hawaii and Delaware.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

6 Options If You Are Facing Foreclosure

Put away those credit cards and stop charging if you are facing foreclosure. Put yourself on a budget quickly and continue to monitor your finances until your other debts are paid off so you do not get into the same situation in the future. Whatever decision you make get it in writing from your lender. Consult a tax advisor to determine rules regarding foreclosure. Ask the lender if the foreclosure option chosen will be reported on your credit report. Here are 6 options to take if you are facing foreclosure.

1. Special Forbearance. When a lender arranges a repayment plan based on your current financial situation or and may provide a temporary reduction or suspension of your mortgage payments. You may qualify for this if you've recently experienced an involuntary reduction in income or an increase in living expenses.

2. Mortgage Modification. You may be able to refinance the debt and extend the term of your mortgage loan for the missed payments. This will help you catch up by possibly reducing the monthly payments to a more affordable level. You may qualify if you've recovered from a financial hardship and your net income is less than it was before the loan default.

3. Partial Claim. Your lender may be able to work with you to obtain an interest-free loan from HUD to bring your mortgage current, if you qualify.

4. Pre-Foreclosure Sale. This will allow you to sell your property and pay off your mortgage loan to avoid foreclosure and damage to your credit rating. If you're unable to afford the house long-term, you may sell the house yourself before the foreclosure sale date and save some of your equity.

5. Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure. As a last resort, you may be able to voluntarily "give" your home back to the lender. This may help your chances of getting another mortgage loan in the future.

6. Short Sale. You can sell your house for less than what you currently owe on the mortgage loan. This is win-win for you and the lender. Your home does not have to go into foreclosure, you don't have to file bankruptcy and the process is much faster. The lender saves money without having to file foreclosure proceedings but does lose money by not getting the full price of the home during the sale. The buyer gets the house at a reduced price.