Your Finances: Here are ways to save money on a beach trip

by Shelton on August 12th, 2014

filed under Finances

Growing up, the highlight of summer was the family beach vacation. It provided us a chance to spend quality time with one another and relax while building sand castles and catching waves in the ocean.

If you are headed to a beach this summer, here are some budget-friendly tips that may help you save money.

Road trip

Download an app that can help you find cheap gas stations when you are on the road. There are several apps available, such as

Pack a cooler with sandwiches, snacks and drinks to avoid expensive purchases at gas stations. Use the cooler for a rest stop picnic if you happen to need a break from driving.

Cottage vs. hotel

Hotel rooms can be convenient for shorter stays. However, if you are a planning a weeklong vacation at the beach, you will probably save money renting a cottage, condominium or house.

Not only will you have more room in a cottage, but also you will have a kitchen. Food can be one of the most expensive aspects of a vacation budget; you can cut those costs significantly by preparing the majority of your meals in the cottage. Go grocery shopping at the local store when you arrive and stock up for the week on perishable items, such as fresh vegetables and meats, but bring staples from home, including coffee, seasonings and sauces.

This way, you can eat breakfast at the cottage and make a picnic to enjoy on the beach for lunch.

Even if the cost of the cottage is slightly more than a hotel, when you factor in the cost of eating out at restaurants, you are usually better off.

Bring your own stuff

Before you leave home, go to your local discount store to purchase beach umbrellas and chairs so you dont have to rent them at the beach. They should last you several years, so the initial investment will quickly pay off.

While you are at the discount store, save on essentials such as sunscreen, bug spray and beach toys for the kids the boogie boards at your local discount store are far less expensive than boogie boards at the beach shop.

Drink water

When you do go out to a restaurant, forgo the soda and just order tap water you will save an average of $2 per person. You can use that savings to treat the family to ice cream for dessert.

Saving money while enjoying your vacation can really pay off. A client recently told me that by preparing two meals a day in their cottage when they were at the beach, his family was able to save enough money to afford another vacation. Now that is what I call good planning!

Laura Medigovich is a certified financial planner and vice president for MT Banks Hudson Valley region. The views expressed by the author are her own and are not endorsed by MT Bank, MT Securities or their affiliates.

Debt Consolidation USA Shares Tips To Stay Away From Phantom Debt …

by Shelton on August 12th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

Debt Consolidation USA explains in a recent article published last July 16, 2014 how consumers can stay away from phantom debt collectors. The article shares how phantom debt collectors are able to secure and use private consumer details to harass and threaten debt payment.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) July 18, 2014

Debt Consolidation USA explains in a recent article published last July 16, 2014 how consumers can stay away from phantom debt collectors. The article titled “5 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Phantom Debt Collections” shares how phantom debt collectors are able to secure and use private consumer details to harass and threaten debt payment.

The article explains that a consumer can fall victim to phantom collection when they are being made to pay debts that are already past its statute of limitations. Phantom collections also uses the debt of other consumers to collect from unsuspecting people. They will be collecting a debt that the consumer being made to pay did not take out that debt to begin with. Victims of identity theft also fall prey to phantom collection calls.

One of the ways to stay away from phantom debt collection calls is taking good care of personal information. The article shares that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau or CFPB has received more than 30,000 complaints of consumers on debt collectors where some of it are phantom debt calls. There shady groups can use personal information such as social security numbers to dig up more information about debts of the consumer.

The article also suggests applying for payday loans face to face with the lender. This is because some scrupulous entities work behind the disguise of an online payday lender and once the consumer inputs personal details, they use it to start making phantom debt collection calls.

When getting a collection call, the first thing a consumer can do do is to ask for proof that the debt is theirs. This automatically weeds out legitimate collection companies from phantom callers. The article also encourages consumers to confirm the identity of the debt collector. This is something that will be handy if a report or complaint is necessary.

Checking if the consumer’s identity has been compromised is another thing the article warns consumers about. Once this is confirmed, consumers should immediately put their credit accounts on fraud alert. To read the rest of the article, click on this link:

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

Debt Consolidation After the Great Recession

by Shelton on August 12th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

USA’s love affair with debt is a problem

by Shelton on August 12th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

Americas love affair with debt is starting to be a problem.

Consider: Average total debt per American with a credit file stood, in September 2013, at $37,952 in mortgage debt and $15,898 in non-mortgage debt, according to a new study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC And if that wasnt bad enough, more than one in three Americans have debt in collection.

No doubt many of these and other Americans, young and old, are wondering whether it make sense to use a credit counseling agency, or to seek other ways to reduce their debt. But how should they go about finding such help? Experts recommend the following.

Same process for young and old. The process of evaluating and selecting a legitimate agency would be, with one exception, the same for those 65 and older as it would be for those under age 65, says Gail Cunningham, a spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), a financial counseling organization based in Washington, DC

Whats the exception? If debt is the issue that prompted them to seek help, a person approaching retirement might want to set his or her goal to be debt-free by the time they retire, says Cunningham. Of note: It usually takes a maximum of five years if a person goes on a debt management plan or DMP.

Whats in a name? Eleanor Blayney, a certified financial planner and the consumer advocate of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, suggests learning the differences between debt management, debt consolidation, and debt settlement when thinking about getting help. And when evaluating any firm to help you with your debt, make sure that debt management, which includes credit counseling, and a payment plan to reduce debt, is a major feature of the service provided, she says.

In the main, experts recommend working with a nonprofit agency. But remember this. Nonprofit doesnt mean free or even low cost, says Erik Carter, a senior resident financial planner with Financial Finesse, a financial education company based in El Segundo, Calif. Make sure you understand all the fees you may be charged and ask what support they can offer if you cant afford them.

What to avoid. Avoid debt settlement companies, says Carter.

Others agree. Debt consolidation is just one debt management option and generally involves refinancing your unsecured debt with a new loan, says Blayney, who is also president of Directions for Women, a McLean, Virginia firm that teaches women about money. Beware of companies that say they are debt consolidators, but are in fact in the debt settlement business. This last service is of dubious value, usually comes at a high price, and often leaves the debtor in worse shape than before.

How so? According to Blayney, debt settlement involves negotiating down the amount owed, and the debtor is usually advised not to pay anything on the debt or to contact creditors while these negotiations are going on. This service does nothing to stop the harassing phone calls, which is often why people are considering some form of debt relief service in the first place, she says.

In good company. Search for credit counseling agencies associated with reputable organizations such as the NFCC and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, says Carter.

An initial evaluation is generally free, and additional services, such as a debt repayment plan, are very reasonably priced, says Blayney. You may find you do not need to go further, to a debt consolidation firm, she says.

Carter also recommends checking whether the agency is included in the United States Trustee Programs list of credit counseling agencies approved to provide pre-bankruptcy counseling. Also, he suggests checking with your states Attorney Generals office and local consumer protection agency for any complaints filed against them.

In-person best. Debt issues can be emotional and are often best handled face-to-face, says Carter. Try to find a local one in your area that offers in-person counseling.

Carter says this is especially important when youre older. Retirees should find someone they can work with face-to-face, he says. They may also want another family member involved if theyre at all cognitively impaired.

Of note: Cunningham says those already retired will have to tell their credit counselor about all sources of income, many of which will be fixed, and that they may have limited opportunities to increase income for debt resolution purposes.

What services are offered? Once youve narrowed down your search, ask what services are offered and how theyre delivered, says Carter. Do they just consolidate debt or will they help you develop a more comprehensive cash management plan to avoid falling back into debt? Are the counselors accredited by a non-affiliated third party? Are they paid more if you sign up for certain services? Will all information be kept confidential and secure? Whats in the written contract?

Go it alone. Consider too that there may be a lot you can do yourself to lower your debt burden, says Blayney. Contact your creditors directly, and ask if they will consider a lower interest rate, or if they will modify the amount outstanding, she says. You could also take advantage of offers by lower interest-rate credit card companies to accept transfers of outstanding debt on other higher rate cards.

Beware, however, of teaser rates that are good for only a limited time, and then revert to high rates once again, says Blayney.

Consider a reverse mortgage. For retirees who need debt relief, a reverse mortgage is an option, though you do have to pay off any existing mortgages on the home before getting one. These loans have become more consumer-friendly: Lower fees, and now available as lines of credit, in addition to upfront loans, says Blayney, Because the house will secure the mortgage, the rates are almost certainly going to be lower than unsecured personal debt, which is a plus for seniors.

Still, a reverse mortgage is not something to use without consulting with experts and family. There are other features that retirees, and their children and beneficiaries, need to carefully consider before going this route, Blayney says. One negative is that refinancing through a reverse mortgage is not accompanied by an overall look at the existing debt, and the reasons why it exists in the first place.

Robert Powell is editor of Retirement Weekly, a service of Email him at