Advice For Dealing With Creditors

At one time or another, all of us have forgotten to pay a bill or fallen behind on payments to credit cards, mortgages, autos, medical bills, or other situations involving bills. We have all therefore been contacted by a bill collector, ether through the mail or telephone call.  Some these calls and correspondence can become a terror attack from creditors.  Some creditors call at all hours at home and work. Some even may call the neighbors, the family, and/or employers.  Some collectors can be obnoxious, condescending and downright rude.  Despite laws governing their actions, many creditors and collection companies feel that an individual will not have the time, money or emotional strength to pursue them in court.  Therefore, they get away with the outrageous and, sometimes, illegal acts.

If you have filed bankruptcy, and received an automatic stay, it is against the law for the creditor or his collection company to contact you without permission of the Bankruptcy Court. If your case is discharged, then creditors and their collection companies are permanently barred from contacting you unless they have received special permission from the Bankruptcy Court, or your debt is one that is excepted from your discharge.

If you have entered into debt consolidation or debt settlement with a non-profit debt counseling service, make sure you know your rights for protection from creditor calls from your representative.

You have other legal rights which protect you against certain collection practices.  First, you should know what to do when you start getting bills. If you feel you do not owe the debt, or the amount the bill collector is claiming is incorrect, you should write a letter to both the collection company and the original creditor stating you do not agree you owe the money, or that the amount owed is incorrect. You should also ask for a record of your payments.

If the bill collectors report the debt to a credit reporting agency, you should write to the credit reporting agency and tell them the bill is in dispute. Whenever you write to a bill collector or to the reporting agency, you should sign the letter, date it, and keep a copy for your own file. Remember, just calling the bill collector to say you do not owe the money may not leave a permanent record of the call. Like most bureaucracies, if it is not in writing, it does not exist.

You can stop annoying collection. If the collectors continue to call you, you can send them a letter requesting they cease communication with you under the terms of the Fair Credit Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C.S. Section 1692. When you write your letter, do not forget to date it, sign it, and keep a copy. If you really want them to pay attention, send the letter CERTIFIED.    By sending the letter CERTIFIED, you have proof that you sent the letter. If you send this letter, it will not only stop letters to you, but will also stop telephone calls to you.

Also, The Fair Credit Collection Practices Act forbids bill collectors from calling you at inconvenient times, such as before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m..    The collectors or agents cannot communicate with third parties such as your neighbor, your friend, or your family members. They cannot contact you at work if they know (notice must be in writing) that your employer prohibits it.  They cannot threaten you with criminal prosecution or call you on the phone repeatedly with the intention of harassing you.

Document all your discussions and communications with any debt collectors. If the collection company continues to ignore your warnings and refuses to comply with the law then you could sue them.  But their behavior must be truly offensive, not just annoying.  You could bring an action in small claims court, or hire a lawyer.  But, you must have proof of their actions in order for any court to find in your favor.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Are You Buying A Lemon?

Buying a vehicle can be both a stressful and rewarding experience, especially if you plan on purchasing a used vehicle. Even if you get great financing and find the exact car you want with all the extras, there is still a chance that the car may not be as reliable as you hoped.  To avoid any future headaches, and empty bank accounts, be sure to do all of your homework first.

Read independent reviews from people who own the car you want. Web sties like and have a Consumer Review section for every car by make, year and model. Here, owners have the opportunity to share their views and experiences. These reviews are a great source of first hand information and can tell you exactly what to expect, from problems to compliments. Just make sure you read a few of them so as not to get a biased perspective. Once you found the car you like and know the good and the bad about it, all you need next is to find someone selling the car.

More specifically, you should find a car with a clean history. Worse then buying a car that with seats that seem to get more uncomfortable the longer you drive is buying a car with water damage. This usually means that the electrical system, the interior and the cars engine have been sitting in water for a period of at least two days. Traditionally these vehicles are taken to junkyards and are stripped for usable parts. However, this is not always the case.

The practice of selling damaged vehicles is kept alive by curbstoners. Curbstoners purchase damaged cars in volume, fix and resell them to dealerships and consumers who are interested in buying a less expensive automobile. Frequently, these cars are only minimally repaired and taken out of state to be re-titled as undamaged vehicles and are more commonly found after severe weather, such as after a flood or hurricane. Water damage to a car is tough to identify because the vehicle will continue to run, but its days are numbered. To ensure the safety of the future driver and the cars reliability, you will need to pull out a magnifying glass and start investigating.

What to do when looking at a used car:

– Have the car looked at by a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection

– Check the reputation of the dealership

– If purchasing a vehicle through the classifieds, check for multiple listings by the same owner (compare the advertised phone number to call)

– Review the vehicles history., is a good website for this purpose (you will need the vehicles VIN number) Inspect the car for water lines and signs of rust (check the glove compartment and underneath the seats)

If you do not feel 100% comfortable with a seller (or the vehicle), then perhaps it is a sign you should walk away from the deal. Visit for free educational information and warning signs to look out for when purchasing a used vehicle. If you believe you have purchased a lemon, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs in your state to find out what you can do.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Budgeting Basics

A budget, or spending plan, is the best way to get control of spending and review if your money is used the way that will benefit you best. Managing money is a skill, and like most skills it requires a bit of discipline and lots of practice.

Step 1: Journalize Your Spending

Using a spending diary can help identify areas where you can reduce unnecessary expenses. Logging your spending trends, such as the daily coffee and donut, the daily newspaper, or even the soda for lunch, can be a rude awakening. The coffee and donut can cost you $1,092 a year (assuming you are spending $3 for a medium coffee and a donut…$3 x 7 days a week = $21, $21 x 52 weeks per year = $1,092).

Step 2: Estimate Your Monthly Take-home Income and Expenditures

Gather all your bills including credit card statements, receipts for groceries, gas or anything else that you buy with cash. You should also have your checkbook register available to review additional expenditures. Write down all of your expenses, broken down into categories for (1) fixed expenses like the house payment, credit card payments and car payments; (2) flexible expenses that vary each month, including the phone and electric bills; and (3) discretionary expenses, such as a gift for someone’s birthday or a scheduled outing. Add up your total monthly expenses and total monthly income. Then subtract the total expenses from the total income. The difference is available for you to use as you desire. If the total difference is a negative amount, then you are spending more than you are earning. In this case you should take immediate action to adjust your lifestyle and expenses so you do not continue to accumulate more debt.

Step 3: Plan

It is comforting and almost second nature to think that you will have more money next year. But it will not happen without some serious commitment. Before making any promises and thinking that your financial situation will change automatically, plan for change. Sit down and make some goals. Goals give you direction to realize your dreams. Establishing goals for the short, mid and long term will help you achieve financial security. Short-term goals can be met within a year, mid-term goals would probably take a little longer, perhaps five years, and long-term goals may take ten to fifteen years to achieve. Be descriptive and define the means to the end. If your goals are specific enough, you will be motivated to cut down on your spending to reach those goals. For example, you can use this tactic:

Goal(s) _____________________________

Estimated Cost _______________________

Target Date__________________________

Monthly Savings ______________________

Step 4: Reduce Your Spending

The hardest part of the budgeting process is over; now comes the commitment. Although it may seem impossible to cut your ties with some of your expenditures, you will soon become comfortable with your new spending plan. Cutting expenses is perhaps the biggest challenge people face. This can be because they are already just meeting their financial responsibilities. However, it can be accomplished. There are a few suggestions to consider:

• Pay with cash instead of writing checks or swiping your credit card. It is so easy to just write out a check or to pay with plastic. The after effects are not felt until it is too late.

• Withdraw a set amount of money every week. If you only have $50 to spend in one week, you will monitor and perhaps be a little more frugal when it comes to buying something you do not need.

• Do not create more debt. If you cannot pay for it up front, do not buy it. Should you come across something you think you cannot live without, step back and reconsider. Do you really need the extra stress of one more bill? How is making that purchase going to affect your planned goals? Even when you know you deserve something, put your wants on hold until you have the cash to pay for them up front.

• Remember your weakness. If you like to shop for clothes on a weekly basis, try to avoid going to the mall or places of temptation. If you find yourself somewhere and you want to shop, only spend the allotted amount you budgeted for.

• Rethink your shopping style. Comparison shop! Plan your purchases before you buy. Make a list of things you need before you go into the grocery store – and stay within the list.

Step 5: Pay Yourself first

The easiest way to save is to think of this category as an expense. Try not to wait until the end of the month to see if you will have money left over to put into savings. Set up a separatmoney grow. It is very important to routinely compare your budget to how much you are actually spending. Once you become comfortable with the process you will be able to alter your categories and perhaps put a little more into savings.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email


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The thought of personal bankruptcy is very frightening, however over 5.4 per 1,000 people have filed for bankruptcy last year, and this rate has been growing at an average of nearly 7 percent. Researchers have determined that the primary cause of personal bankruptcy is uncontrollable levels of consumer debt oftentimes coupled with an unexpected event, such as a major medical expense not covered by insurance, the loss of a job, divorce or death of a spouse.

According to economists’ surveys, the classic bankruptcy filer is a blue collar, high school graduate who is the head of a household in the lower middle-income class with heavy use of credit. In order to protect both debtor, and creditor, laws were enacted to provide equal, and fair measures to satisfy the objectives of all parties. The primary purpose of the laws of bankruptcy are: (1) to give an honest debtor a fresh start in life by relieving the debtor of most debts, and (2) to repay creditors in an orderly manner to the extent that the debtor has property available for payment.

There are two types of structured plans for filing for personal bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Over two-thirds of personal filers choose Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Basically Chapter 7 requires the debtor to liquidate all non-exempt assists, and have them distributed among creditors. Some examples of exempt assists include equity in a primary residence, and a retirement program. On the other hand, Chapter 13 does not require liquidation, rather a debtor agrees to a specific payment plan, whereby a portion of any unsecured debts is paid, and the balance is forgiven. It must be stressed, that under both plans, certain debts are ineligible for bankruptcy protection. These debts include government student loans, child support, alimony, and income tax debt. These must be paid back in full.

Some analysts are concerned that this unprecedented level of debt might pose a risk to the financial health of American households. In an attempt to reverse the increasing trend in personal bankruptcy, the federal government has recently implemented sweeping bankruptcy reform legislation. On March 10, 2005, the Senate passed S. 256, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. On April 20th, President Bush signed into law the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (Bankruptcy Act of 2005). This act makes filing for bankruptcy more difficult through income-means testing, tougher guidelines for the homestead exemption, increased lawyer liability and required credit counseling.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Car Insurance

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Congratulations, you have just purchased the car of your dreams; you worked a great deal, now it is time to insure it. Car insurance is mandatory in all states, and must be maintained throughout ownership. Insurance quotes can vary from company to company, and there are a few factors that you can control, and other factors you cannot. A full understanding of how insurance quotes are arrived at, will give you the best rate, and maximum coverage.

Factors that cannot be controlled include the age of the driver. Common sense tells us that a new driver would be more of a risk to an insurance company, than an established driver. Therefore a driver in their early 20’s would pay a higher premium than a driver in their 40’s. Further, elderly drivers have poor reaction time, and similarly would pay more of a premium. The ideal driving age would be between 35 to 55 years; anyone younger, or older would pay more.

Gender is another uncontrolled factor that insurance quotes are based on. Statistically, insurance companies see females as safer drivers than males. As a result, female drivers pay less than their male counterparts.

There are factors, which we can control, namely the amount of traffic tickets and accidents. A ticket is a violation of law that could potentially result in an accident. Insurance companies frown on this, and will penalize the driver with higher rates. Similarly, accidents could indicate a pattern of behavior; as such the driver is penalized with higher rates.

Where you live is another controlling factor that effects insurance quotes. Living in a rural area, puts the driver at much less risk of accident or theft as compared to living in a city. As a result, city drivers will pay a larger premium than rural drivers with very few exceptions.

Want to drive a Porsche 911 Carrera? It will cost you. The more your car is worth, the higher your insurance quote will be. The logic should be obvious.

Car insurance companies are now looking at your credit worthiness. Do you have excessive, outstanding credit, or no credit at all? If so, you are a risk in the eyes of the insurance companies, and will get socked with higher insurance quotes. Keeping your credit in check will show the insurance companies you are responsible, both financially, and on the road. As a result, you will pay lower premiums.

Your occupation can put you at a higher risk. Jobs that require many hours of driving, or driving in hazardous conditions, or places will put your quote at a higher rate. Less driving, and exposure to high-risk opportunities, will result in lower premiums. Additionally you want to keep your annual mileage down to a minimum. The more miles you drive, the greater the risk of accident.

Vehicle theft is a risk factor that can easily be minimized. Most companies will give you a discount for having better security for your vehicle. An alarm, or another approved anti-theft device will usually result in some discount. Some companies may insist on having such devices installed on more expensive and desirable cars before they even consider offering you a price.

Some companies look favorably on drivers who have taken a defensive driver’s course. They see this as a commitment to safer driving, thereby lowering the risk of accident, resulting in lower premiums.

Keep in mind these are just general guidelines, and the difference in price between various companies can be significant. What one company may consider a high-risk factor another company may not view as so important. The bottom line, keep your credit in check, be careful on the road and choose a car that fits your budgets.


DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Reduce Debt By Taking Charge

Getting out of debt and staying out of debt is not easy. If you’ve already amassed a fair amount of debt and are thinking it will be impossible to ever get out from under it all, don’t despair, you can learn how to stop incurring new debt and take charge of your life.

The first thing you must do is STOP increasing your debt! If you have any credit cards that are maxed out, destroy them. The best way to manage your debt is to get spending under control by eliminating all of your credit cards, except one. Use your one credit card ONLY to buy “must haves” until you can get your finances in check.

Avoiding more debt starts with knowing what you are spending your money on. Record your spending. This is key to getting out of debt. You’re in debt because you spent money you didn’t have. If you’re like most people, your debt didn’t come from a single large purchase; it was trickles of spending amassed over time.  Each day for at least one month, write down every penny you spend, no matter how small.

The next step is to categorize your spending. Put your monthly expenses into groups of “Must have,” “Should have,” and “Like to have.” “Must haves” are things that will cause harm if you don’t buy them, such as food, rent, medicine, pet food, etc. “Should haves” are things that you need, but can do without for a little while, e.g., new clothes for work, gym membership, etc. “Like to haves” are things that you don’t need, but enhance your life, e.g., magazine subscriptions, newspaper, cable tv, coffee with friends, etc. By doing this, you’ll have a good idea of what you spend your money on, and you’ll be able to figure out where you might need to cut back on spending. You don’t want to eliminate all of the “should haves” and the “like to haves,” but take a look at those first.

Now, make a budget based on your spending record. Looking at your new budget, you’re going to be able to see areas where you might be able to cut back. Chances are, your budget has some fat that can be trimmed. Be realistic, but vigilant. Over time you will be able to hold back on purchases and you will be able to come up with a dollar amount that can be put toward paying down your debt.

To begin paying off your debt, first figure out how much you owe, to whom, and on what terms. Debt can often feel overwhelming because you really don’t have a clear idea of how much in debt you really are. Gather your bills, and make a simple list of all the debts you have. Write down all the pertinent facts, including name of the creditor, your total balance, your minimum monthly payment, and your interest rate.

Prioritize your debts. Debts that are past due, ones where the creditors are hounding you, and those with exceedingly high interest rates should be considered top priorities. You should pay the minimum on your low interest rate debts, and apply the bulk of your available funds to the highest interest rate notes. Once you pay off one creditor, each debt gets easier to pay off than the last. Continue to pay off each debt in your priority list. You’ll refine your budget over time, increase the amount of money you can pay yourself, and the amount you can put toward debt.

Once things become more manageable, make sure you always pay more than the minimum required, otherwise it will take an extremely long time to eliminate your debt. For example, a single credit card with just a $1,000 balance and 19% interest will take about FIVE YEARS to pay off by making only the minimum payment of $26. Paying the minimum, you will spend $1556.40, with the Total Interest Paid: $556.40! Paying only the minimum payment will equate to giving them 55% more than you actually borrowed.

Don’t give up. You probably didn’t get into debt in a day, and you won’t get out of debt in a day. There are no quick fixes. Consider contacting a credit counseling agency to consolidate or settle your debts. Learning how to manage your money can bring great peace into your life, and will give you the freedom to spend your energy on other things.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Don’t Succumb To Financial Stress

Financial stress is common if you are facing economic distress as a result of a lost job, divorce, death in the family, or being over your head in debt. This can lead to feelings of insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger, and depression.

These feelings can cause you to continue to make poor money management decisions. These poor decisions can lead to even heavier debt loads, and start a vicious cycle that never seems to end.

If you reach the point where your feelings of helplessness and hopelessness become overwhelming, get the help you need. Talk to a friend, loved one, your doctor, pastor, a debt counselor , someone.

No situation is hopeless. With just a little guidance, a few well thought out goals, and emotional support from family and friends, you can take steps in the right direction. As with many obstacles you overcome in life, you will emerge with a new outlook, new skills, and best of all, a new feeling of self-esteem.

You may want to consider debt consolidation or debt settlement to pay off your credit cards. One payment, usually a lot lower than your credit card payments, can help you get back on track.

The well being of you, and your family, has to be your priority during times of financial stress. Make the decision now to learn how to cope, to make the changes you can, to stay focused and goal-oriented, and to let anxiety and financial stress go.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Goal Setting Your Way Out Of Debt

Everyone talks about the importance of setting goals, but how many people really understand the process of effective goal setting? Goal setting is the foundation for both personal and professional growth and should rank high on your priority list, especially when it comes to the area of finances. If you are in debt, ignoring it is not going to benefit you. You must first asses your situation so you can determine what your options are.

If you are barely getting by financially and have no money in savings, contacting a credit counselor, who can offer advice on how to manage outstanding debts and answer related credit questions, may help you head in the right direction. You may want to consider entering a debt management program to allow credit counselors to negotiate with your creditors for lower balance, no fees and a lower rate of interest. If you have over $10,000 in unsecured debt, you may qualify for debt settlement. Bankruptcy, although a last resort, may ultimately be your best alternative. Whatever your situation is, the first step is to determine the best path for you. Only then can you begin to set realistic goals that will give you your desired results.

Once you’ve achieved this, you are ready to set your goals. Start by prioritizing which goals you’d like to focus on immediately. Goals should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, reasonable, and timely. You should have laser focus on what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it, and when you expect results.

Another important aspect to successful goal planning is positive language. Too often goals sound like painful work! Instead of a “to-do” list, how about an “action list” or “an action plan”. Instead of thinking in terms of what you don’t have, celebrate what you do have. Proper language should inspire, motivate and give you solutions, not cause you stress and be something you dread.

Breaking a goal into manageable steps is another helpful tool. Often we set goals, get overwhelmed, and give up. If a goal seems too big, pump it into steps that are achievable, but still challenge you.

Plan your weekly and daily goals and rank them in order, from most critical, to least. Your goals should consistently be rotated up the priority level and to accomplish them more efficiently.

Finally, visualization is an amazing tool to have in your toolbox when it comes to goal setting. Seeing yourself debt free is a powerful motivator that will keep you energized and on track.

Whatever debt relief solution you decide to embark upon, goal setting is an important component in the success of your venture.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Hybrid Cars: Cheap Transportation?

Maybe you want to do your part for the environment. Perhaps, you want a more economical way to travel since gasoline prices are on the rise. Or, you may want to purchase a vehicle that rewards you with federal tax incentives. Regardless of your reason for purchasing a hybrid vehicle, you need to do research and make sure you get the most out of this financial investment.

There are many web sites that help consumers with the process of purchasing a hybrid vehicle.  However, the research itself can still be overwhelming. Therefore, below are some important aspects you should consider.

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The cost to replace hybrid parts can be extremely expensive.  Reviewing your options when considering these costs can help you quickly eliminate some hybrids off your list. Check the Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and recalls. Go to and search for the vehicle you have in mind for more information.


If you are purchasing a used hybrid or plan on owning the vehicle longer than the standard warranty, really think about spending the extra bucks on an extended warranty.  Because hybrid vehicles are loaded with new technology, the cost to repair them is going to be extremely high.  Not to mention the cost of the knowledgeable mechanic working on these vehicles. So, between repair and labor, it may be a wise decision to purchase the extended warranty and have a little peace of mind.  Be sure to look into what the manufacturer offers.  If you cannot afford to buy the extended warranty at the time of purchase, consider buying it before the standard warranty expires.

Compare a Hybrid to a Conventional Car

Buy That New Car and Control Your Budget

Do you still think you need that new car?  The chart above is a good illustration of how much one would spend on either a conventional car versus a hybrid, plus the difference in gas mileage.  It also shows how a budget will be affected by the purchase of a hybrid. The extra money you could save every month for purchasing a conventional car would look great in your savings account.

Finding A Credit Counselor

Reputable credit counseling organizations advise people on managing money, bills and debts, help them develop a budget, and usually offer information and workshops. They should evaluate your entire financial situation with you, and help you develop a personalized plan to get you on the right track. Debt consolidation, debt settlement and credit counseling are often better options than bankruptcy. Input from a trained professional can help guide you in the best direction for your individual situation.

Finding reputable credit counselors has become more convenient. New laws requires credit card issuers to include a toll-free number on their statements that directs cardholders to information about finding nonprofit counseling agencies.

Most credit counselors offer services through local offices, the Internet, or on the telephone. If possible, look for nonprofit credit counseling programs. Just as with any other venture, the more educated you become, the better choices you will make for yourself and  your finances.

Save Your Money

Saving money is one of the single most important steps to achieving most of your financial goals in life and becoming financially sound. The sooner you begin to save, the better of you will be. Having a savings in place can also serve as a form of protection during a financial crisis such as job loss, unexpected medical expenses, death of a family member, etc.

A savings serves as your cash reserve or safety net when you need it. The key is to have it in place before the need arises. At the core of building adequate savings is debt avoidance.

You should try to save a minimum of 10 percent of your take home pay in addition to your retirement planning contributions. If you do this on a regular basis, you will become used to it and accustomed to living below your means. If you are able to save more then 10 percent, do it!

Also, you have 3 to 6 months worth of expenses saved up as your emergency fund. This amount includes all expenses, fixed and unfixed. For example, if in January you spent a combined total of $2500 on your mortgage, car loan, home utilities, insurance, food, credit card bill, and other expenses, then you would need to save three times that, or $7500 at the minimum.

Unfortunately, most people live paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings. Work to build your reserve as fast as possible. Consider automating your savings. Most payroll providers provide an auto transfer feature directly to your savings when you get paid.

Start saving as early as possible. The amount doesn’t matter in the beginning. Just start some place and be consistent. Condition yourself into not missing or needing that amount. Over time, your savings will grow due to your diligence. View your savings as another bill that has to be paid. Once you pay off a line of credit (car note, credit card, or mortgage), continue to pay that same amount toward your savings.

Before you know it, you will have the protection you need on the event of an emergency. By building your savings now, you will have a larger nest egg available when you need it.

DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt.  Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email

Start Fresh After Bankruptcy

Getting back on your feet following bankruptcy can be a very difficult task. You’ll be starting from scratch. It’s critical to your future financial success to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes .

To ensure you make a “fresh” start, you need to think and analyze your previous spending habits. What really lead you to go bankrupt? Analyze your expenses, the way you handle your money and of course your lifestyle. Do you have to live a lavish lifestyle? And the major question is can you afford that kind of living? What are your major purchases recently? Asses your situation, and the causes that made you experience bankruptcy.

After that, make a plan on how recover and live without going into a financial difficulty. The primary thing that you have to do is to reestablish your credibility, especially to financial institutions. You must regain a good financial standing status. Start to build up resources. Save your money and put it to good use. Don’t splurge on extravagant items. Keep in mind what drove you to bankruptcy, your too much spending attitude. You have to change the way you regard your expenses.

If you use a credit card, be sure to pay on time, in full. Make sure also that when using credit cards, it’s for emergency purposes and not for luxurious items. Keep only one or two credit cards. A lot of credit cards may lead to temptation. You don’t want to end up into the same situation again. Having a savings account is also a good option because it means less reliance on your credit card purchases. You’ll learn how to set aside cash in your account for large purchases.

Budgeting is also very important because it teaches you on how to manage your money. Stick to your budget!.

Some lenders are willing to offer housing loans to people who have declared bankruptcy. If you find a financial company to hold your home mortgage, make sure you pay them promptly. Prove to them that you’re worth their risk.

Bankruptcy can bring stress to your life, but there is a lesson to be learned. You’ll know now how to deal with your monthly expenditures. Your spending habits will change for the better and you’ll live a life without worries. Keep in mind, it’s fine to have debts as long as you know how to manage your resources and pay your creditors.

Have a Teen Driver? Learn How to Save Money on Insurance

Did you know that adding a teen to a car insurance policy could increase premiums from 100 percent to 355 percent, even if the teen is just driving the family minivan?

There are several different ways to get lower premiums for your teenagers. Many insurance companies offer online tutorials that they can take and, if passed, companies will provide substantial discounts. For example, State Farm has an online tutorial called Steer Clear and if the new driver passes it, State Farm will give up to a 15 percent discount to first time drivers. Many other insurance companies have similar online programs that offer discounts for teens. Esurance, an online car insurance company, gives discounts every six months for clean driving records.

According to, here are a few insurance tips for teen divers and their parents.

– Call around to different companies and compare prices with discounts that best suit your needs.

– Be aware that your insurance rates typically increase when a new driver is added to the policy. If you are not adding a new vehicle to the plan, it is best to have the teen as a primary driver of one of the family cars.

– Take advantage of student discounts. In most states, students at accredited high schools, colleges and universities can get discounts if they have a grade point average of a B or higher.

– Talk to your teen about safe driving habits and how traffic violations can increase their rates.If you are planning to buy a brand new car for your teen, you may want to check which vehicles get the best rates.

Most Insurance Companies use three different ways to rate cars in terms of damage, safety and liability.

1. The Damage and Theft Index (DTI), rates vehicles on the cost of payment for damage and theft.

2. The Vehicle Safety Discount (VSD), awards discounts up to 40 percent for car models that generate lower payment for injury to occupants in the vehicle.

3. The Liability Rating Index (LRI), rates vehicles on the amount of damage and injury it causes to the other vehicle and its occupants.

-Consider getting a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy (PLUP). If you or your teenage driver accidentally injures someone or damages their property, you could be sued. Even though your underlying policies may provide substantial liability limits, it is not uncommon today for juries to award damages that exceed those limits.

There are many different areas insurance companies look into while quoting you a premium for you and your teen. Companies will look at what kind of deductible you want, the kind of car you drive, the areas you drive in, the amount of time you are on the road, your age and gender, your driving record and even your credit history. So if you live in a major metropolitan area with high auto theft rates, chances are good that your rates will be much higher than those who live in the suburbs with low auto theft rates.

Here are other ways to save yourself and your teen some money when buying car insurance.

– Most companies give an Anti-Theft Device Discount for cars that have car alarms and other forms of security.

– If you have ever been convicted of a moving violation or have been an in accident, take Driver Improvement Courses to improve your chances of having a lower rate. Many of these courses can be taken on the Internet now.

– Teens can get discounts if they complete a Drivers Education course through their school or accredited agencies.

– Vehicles that have airbags, anti-lock brakes, head restraints and day-time head lights can also get you a discount on car insurance.

Everyone knows that car insurance can be really costly, but there are ways to slash the price if you ask about them.

Deal With Your Debt

If you are one of the millions of Americans out of work, and your cash flow has been impacted dramatically, there are several things you should do especially if you are carrying large credit card balances.

If you know you will be going delinquent on your payments, you should stop using your credit cards immediately, except for one that you will need in case of emergency.

It’s important to contact the remaining credit card companies to let them know your situation and that you will need some relief from your payments due to your employment situation. In the current economy, there are thousands of people defaulting on their credit cards and going bankrupt. When you show that you want to do the right thing and work with the issuer to come up with a solution to your problem, the issuer generally will do all that they can to help you.

Your creditors may suggest that you work with a local credit counseling firm. This is in their interest because those companies receive a portion of their fees on an annual basis from the issuers, along with whatever fee you would be paying them for their service. Asking them for a settlement probably won’t be helpful, they generally do not do this until you are severely delinquent and they have exhausted other resources, such as consumer credit counseling.

The important thing is to get in front of your debt problem. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. By that time your choices become more limited, you will most likely be recieving numerous collection calls, and maybe even threatened with lawsuits.

You are more in control than you might imagine if you start early, recognize the problem and deal with it.