Action Line: Do your homework before hiring debt consolidation company

by Shelton on August 9th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

From a reader: I am having trouble paying my bills. I recently started better budgeting and using money-saving techniques that I have found online. These techniques have helped me with my finances, but I still fear that I may lose my home or car. I am considering finding a company that provides debt consolidation services to lump all my bills into one combined debt. Whats your experience dealing with people that have turned to debt consolidation providers?

Action Line: Many people face a financial crisis at some point in their lives. Youre not alone and often these situations can be overcome.

In this difficult financial situation you want to consider your options: self-help using budgeting and other techniques, credit counseling, debt settlement, debt consolidation, or bankruptcy.

Be aware that some companies dont warn customers about excessive fees they charge. A few fees to be aware of are sign-up fees, monthly fees, percentage of the total debt, and a portion of the amount you save.

When looking for a reputable company, know that there are some out there that advertise they are a debt consolidation provider, when in fact they provide debt management. The companies try to cash in on people not recognizing the difference between debt consolidation and debt management. Before committing to a company, do your homework and check out the company at

The Federal Trade Commission recommends people follow the precautionary tips listed below before taking out a loan.

  • Beware of companies that pressure you into a plan or make any guarantees without looking into your specific needs.
  • Research the company and the services it offers. Its best when companies offer a wide range of options and education on how to handle debt.
  • Contact your creditors and ask them if they will work with the company.
  • Read the fine print: Make sure to review the agreement closely, ensuring that it outlines the finance companys plans and its time frame.
  • Before you start paying the finance company, ensure that your creditors have accepted the companys proposed plan. Until they do, be sure to continue paying your bills as usual.
  • After you begin the program, keep a close watch on your statements and call the creditors to ensure they receive payments.
    • Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or

      How to Stop Ignoring Your Finances

      by Shelton on August 9th, 2014

      filed under Finances

      Whether you hope to buy a home or retire comfortably (or both!), financial goals can often seem too big and like they will take too long to reach. Dealing with your personal finances may feel like just another thing on your to-do list. That can cause stress, but ignoring the problem will not eliminate it, so it’s important to work toward reducing your financial stress as well as meeting your financial goals. It’s a good idea to determine what you want your financial future to look like and work to make your goals a reality. Below are some tips to maximize your chances for success and minimize your stress.

      Be Realistic amp; Prioritize

      No matter what your goals or your lifestyle, it is important to set aside time in your schedule to plan and manage your financial goals. This can be something you schedule once a month or even once a week. If it’s in your calendar, you will be less likely to forget it and more likely to prioritize it over whatever else comes up.

      Setting small, actionable and realistic goals can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Be sure you can achieve the ideals you set for yourself within your current budget so you know exactly where you stand for your future. Meeting your goals can not only position you for future financial success, but can give you a feeling of accomplishment that can propel you to make strides in other areas of your life.

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      Track Progress

      In our hectic lives, we may find it hard to fit in financial tracking  but this can make the difference between retiring early in your dream home and working two jobs just to pay off debt well into old age. Keeping track of how you are spending and saving your money as well as progress on those realistic goals you set helps keep you accountable. Plus, life happens, and unexpected expenses can arise that may lead you to re-evaluate and adjust your plans. Regularly checking on your progress, as well as if your goals still fit, can go a long way to help you meet them.

      Ask for Help

      Navigating the struggles of personal finance can be difficult on your own. Successful money management and financial planning may include fine print, confusing laws or policies and procedures you are unfamiliar with. Reaching out to a professional and using online tools can help you create and manage your budget, set savings goals like having enough money for retirement, and even help handle major purchases. In addition, monitoring your credit standing (which you can do using free tools on can help you see whether you need to improve your credit habits. Having better credit gets you access to lower interest rates, which means you spend less on your loans over time. Every little bit you save can help.

      While everyone’s situation is different, setting goals and fitting them into your life can apply to everyone. It’s important to remember that long-term goals won’t succeed unless you start planning for them in the short term.

      More Money-Saving Reads:

      • What’s a Good Credit Score?
      • What’s a Bad Credit Score?
      • How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life

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