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6 questions you MUST ask before you sign up with any debt relief program

So you need help getting out of debt? No big deal, lots of people need help these days. Just don't be like the ones who sign up for a debt relief program with no idea what they are signing up for - and then complain about getting ripped off.

Sadly, many people who complain loudly about debt relief scams got ripped off for one of two reasons:

  • They didn't check out the company first.

  • Didn't really get ripped off, but had no idea what they were signing up for.

And these people give the good, honest companies a bad reputation. So do yourself a favor, and ask yourself these 6 questions BEFORE you sign on the dotted line (or before you give away personal information without signing anything).

1 - What type of service do you offer?
There are many terms used by professional companies - Debt relief. Debt management. Debt settlement. Debt consolidation. Credit counseling. So it is critical that you get a detailed explanation of the service you will be getting. It really doesn't matter what it is called. But it does matter what the company will do for you. And if you don't know what they'll do, how can you determine if it will help you? DO NOT sign up with any company that doesn't give you specifics. A company that just promises to "help you get out of debt" is a disaster waiting to happen, and you should run away from them.

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5 Ways You're Losing Money and How to Avoid Them

A healthy financial picture is like any complicated infrastructure - it relies on the efficiency of a lot of moving parts. If those parts aren't all working the way they should, you could be losing money - and, if you're not on a detailed home budget, you could be losing a lot more than you think. Here are five ways you might be forking over cash unnecessarily, and how to avoid them.

1. Not Dropping Your Home Telephone

Still have a home telephone line? If so, you're in a group of only 60% of Americans who still do, according to the National Health Interview Survey. Take a moment and decide for yourself whether or not you truly need it. If you don't think you can get by with just the smartphones in your household, consider a service like MagicJack - you don't even need an Internet connection to have one. The Plus version costs $49.95 (with the first six months of service thrown in) and $29.95 per year thereafter.

2. Failing to Save on Groceries

Grocery coupons are available in many more places than you'd think. Of course the Sunday paper is an old standby, but did you know you can also visit your preferred food manufacturers' websites for printable coupons? Sign up for the customer loyalty program at your favorite grocer and you could receive some in the postal mail, as well. If you own a smartphone, download an app like Saving Star to get mobile coupons.

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Is a college education worth getting into debt?

Education can be the key to your dream career but it can also be the key to large amounts of debt that could take you years to payoff. As colleges continue to raise their tuition year after year, more students have difficulty paying for their education and must resort to other forms of financial aid outside of grants and scholarships they may already be receiving. Student loans have become increasingly the norm with students and many graduate with thousands of dollars of debt to their name. In 2012, the average student loan debt per student was about $25,000 and that only accounts for those that earned a bachelor?s degree.

While pursuing a degree can turn into a huge financial investment it does reap major benefits, college graduates still earn significantly more than those that do not have a college degree, about 65% more. However, college graduates do have more debt because of student loans and often graduates will be paying off their loans well into their 40s. To learn more about the real costs of a college education check out this infographic by Consolidated Credit, which gives more information about the history of student loans in the past 60 years...

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Answers to the most commonly asked questions about debt settlement

What is debt settlement?

Debt settlement (also called debt negotiation) is a process of negotiating with your creditors to pay off your credit cards and other unsecured debt (student loans, auto loans, and home mortgages are secured debts, and don’t qualify) for an amount less than you currently owe, often at a 40-60% savings. You will need to be behind in your payments in order to gain the leverage needed to get the creditors to settle your debts at a reduced amount (if you are making your payments on time, creditors won’t want to give you a “deal”). Typically you will pay the settlement company a percentage of the savings.

Does debt settlement really work?

Yes it does. Debt settlement works best for people who cannot pay their bills, are behind in their payments, or are considering bankruptcy. It is not designed for consumers who have small amounts of debt or who can still make their payments. It is a more aggressive approach to getting out of debt, and is not right for everyone. But debt settlement is a proven method, that does work (and worked very well for me personally).

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The debt snowball method - funny name but an effective strategy

There are lots of ways to get into debt. That's the easy part. And there are also lots of ways to get out of debt. Some you can do on your own. Others you can get professional help. If you want to do it yourself, there is one particular method that works quite well. But it has a funny name - debt snowball.

No, it doesn't mean you that you challenge some famous rich person to a snowball fight, and whoever wins gets all the money (but wouldn't that be loads of fun!)

I can tell you from my own experience that it's not that easy getting out of debt, and it's definitely not that much fun. But if you decide to use the "debt snowball method" you will see just how well it works!

Why the name "Debt Snowball"?

Think of your debt like making a snowman. You start with a small snowball. Then you roll the snowball in the snow, and as you roll it keeps getting bigger, and bigger and ... well, before you know it you've got a snowman!

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Is buying & selling stuff on craigslist really safe?

If you’re looking for a way to make a few extra bucks on the Internet, using Craigslist is an easy way to get started. You don't need to have any technical skills. You don't need to spend any money. So there's really nothing to lose. You just need "stuff" to sell.

And if you're looking to save a few bucks by buying stuff on Craigslist, it's very simple. Just search for what you are looking for, contact the seller, and pick it up.

Craigslist makes comparison shopping can really fun & simple!

But is buying & selling stuff from strangers safe to do?

The simple answer is "yes". After all, it's not that much different than a tag sale. Of course, there are some ways you can protect yourself so you don't put yourself at risk. I've both sold & bought stuff using Craigslist for years, without any problems. But these days you can never be too careful. Here are some tips to keep you safe:

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Thinking about debt settlement but worried about getting ripped off?

Here are reviews of two of the top
debt settlement companies

Are you considering debt settlement, but are not sure how to find a company that's honest, reliable, and won't rip you off?

Well, you're not alone. Finding a good debt settlement company isn't easy. There are so many companies out there that they all start to look alike after a while. Ads on TV, the radio, in newspapers - you've probably seen them. And of course, they all say they're good. But how the heck can the average person tell the good ones from the bad ones?

So, what makes a debt settlement company a good one?

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Are credit checks a fair part of the hiring process?

Your credit score is an important part of your financial well-being. Duh. Pretty obvious, right?

Most people know that your credit score is used to determine whether or not you will get a loan or a credit card, and how high or low your interest rate will be. But most people don't realize that your credit score is used on other ways too - such as your insurance and employment. That's right, your credit score can be used by employers to determine whether or not you get a job!

Is that fair?

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