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Eliminating Credit Card Debt April 19, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information, Tips For Good Credit.
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Part V in our “How to Manage Debt & Credit” posts: Eliminating Credit Card Debt

If you think you may have too much credit card debt, begin to address it by honestly evaluating your spending habits. Examine your existing expenses to analyze how your money is spent. You will most likely be able to identify the problem areas where you are more likely to spend too much or too readily with credit cards. Then, based on your current spending practices, create a realistic budget to pay off your credit card debt in the shortest time possible while not adding any more debt to it. For assistance, you may want to turn to your financial advisor, who can help you to allocate your resources wisely to address your credit card debt.

Here are a few simple steps to help you make a plan to eliminate credit card debt:

  1. First, list each of your credit cards. You’ll want to include the outstanding balance, interest rate, and minimum payment. This information can easily be found on your last monthly statement.
  2. Order the cards on the list so that the credit card with the highest interest rate is at the top, and the lowest is at the bottom.
  3. Total the minimum payments.
  4. The total monthly minimum is your absolute lowest monthly payment, but remember, we want to pay more than the minimum in order to repay the debt quickly. So, take a look at your budget and see how much extra you can come up with each month in addition to the minimum. Whether it’s an extra $20 a month or $100, every little bit helps.
  5. As your payments come due, pay the minimum on each card except for the one at the top of your list. Remember, that one has the highest interest rate and it costing you the most money by maintaining a balance. So whatever additional money you budgeted in the previous step, apply that to that card.
  6. Continue this process until the first card is paid off. When that card is paid off, continue with the minimum payments on the other cards, but now take the amount you were paying on the first card in addition to the minimum payment and apply it to the second card on your list.
  7. Repeat this process until all cards are paid off.
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Revolving Credit April 13, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information.
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Part III in our “How to Manage Debt & Credit” posts: Revolving Credit (AKA – Credit Cards)

A revolving line of credit, also called “open-ended credit,” is made available to you for use at any time. Examples of revolving credit are credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and department store cards. When you apply for one of these cards, you receive a credit limit based on your credit payment history and income. When you use the credit line, you must make monthly minimum payments based on the total balance outstanding that month. Some lines of credit will also have an annual account fee.

 

While revolving credit is a convenient way to borrow, it can also become an endless pit of minimum payments that barely cover the interest due. Many cards charge annual rates of interest of 18% or higher. As you pay off your debt, the minimum payment is also reduced, thus extending your payoff period and, consequently, the interest you pay. Paying just the minimum due on a $2,000 credit card loan could mean making monthly interest payments for 10 or more years!

Revolving credit, in addition to being convenient, eliminates the need to carry a lot of cash and can help establish you as a creditworthy risk for future loans. The itemized monthly statements also can help you track your expenses. But some people can easily yield to the temptation that the convenience of credit cards offers. Impulse buying, failing to compare costs, and purchasing large items you can’t afford are all downfalls brought on by always available purchasing power. Spending more than you earn in any given period is a dangerous practice at best, but doing it over an extended period of time can be financial suicide.

Installment Debt vs. Revolving Debt
Lower interest rates and an amortizing repayment schedule can make installment debt a much cheaper alternative to revolving credit.
Installment Revolving
Beginning Balance $2,500 $2,500
Interest Rate 10% 18.5%
Years to Repay 4 30*
Interest Cost $544 $6,500
*Paying 2% minimum monthly payment.
Sources and Costs of Debt
Source Type of Debt Cost
Banks and Credit Unions Personal, secured Low
Personal, unsecured Moderate
Mortgage Low
Credit Card Low to High
Mortgage Companies Mortgage Low
Department Stores Revolving High
Insurance Companies Personal, unsecured High 

(Thanks To Yahoo Finance)

Installment Debt April 8, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information, Tips For Good Credit.
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Part II in our “How to Manage Debt & Credit” posts: What is installment Debt? Is it good or bad?

Debt comes in many forms, and most types help us in our daily lives — when used responsibly. Most people cannot buy a home without some financial help, and many cannot buy a car (especially a new one) without some sort of financing. The money borrowed to purchase large-ticket items is called installment debt: The debtor pays a portion of the total at regular intervals over a specified period of time. At the end of that time period, the loan with interest is paid off.

Installment debt allows you to purchase items at a competitive interest rate: for example, 5% to 7% for a 30-year home mortgage and 8% or 9% for a car loan. The loan is paid back on an amortizing schedule, monthly payments of a fixed amount that remain constant over the life of the loan. At first, most of the monthly payment consists of interest. In later years, principal begins to be paid down.

Installment debt is easily budgeted and the debt is eliminated on a predetermined date. Even for those who may actually have the cash to purchase the desired item, installment debt can make financial sense if you can earn a higher return (after taxes) on your investment of cash than you must pay on your installment debt.

Having an installment loan can also help an individual establish credit. One factor considered by credit reporting agencies when calculating credit scores is how many types of debt a consumer has utilized. If a person has made timely payments on both a credit card and installment debt, he will receive a higher score than if he his only obligations have been revolving credit. While it is good to be cautious before entering into any loan agreement, an installment debt may be a good option. Handled properly, it is a way to acquire a large ticket item through budgeted payments. The lower interest rate and set term can be an attractive alternative to large credit card purchases.