Personal Finance Basics – Is Consolidating Your Credit Card Debt Worth Doing?

You have probably heard about or seen advertisements about how consolidating your credit card debt can help you by reducing your monthly repayments. Therefore, you will be better off, right? Personal finance basics, that is a basic knowledge of personal finance, will tell you – maybe. It works for some but it will not work for others. So to benefit you have to know which is which. And even if you realize consolidating your debt is not for you, then you will benefit. Because you now know more than you did before about your personal finance and you did not allow yourself to get into a worse situation.

The whole principle of consolidation your credit card debt is to have all your debt in one place to take advantage of lower premiums. Lower premiums because you can take advantage of better interest rates.

But consider this; often you will have to take out a personal loan to consolidate your debt. But, because of the nature of personal loans, there will be a definitive term for the loan, unlike credit cards, where, if you make minimum payments, you can extend the loan term in exchange for smaller monthly payments.

It is usually a bad policy to always make minimum payments on your credit card debt. But, there are situations where it can be beneficial to you. Perhaps your budget shows you can increase your payments after a couple of months. So, as a short term measure, short term means months not years, this facility could be very useful.

Remember that lower rates may not mean lower monthly payments. If you consolidate your debt through a personal loan you will have a definite term to pay off the loan. So, it could mean your monthly payments are increased even though you are taking advantage of lower interest rates.

An advantage, not to be overlooked, of consolidating your credit cards debts, is the fact that you will have only one repayment for your debts each month. This does make budgeting a lot easier and will reduce the chance of you forgetting about a payment and thinking you have more money to spend than you should.

One other thing you must remember is consolidating your debts is a method of improving your financial position. It most definitely is not a method of having more money to spend each month. You must strongly resist taking any additional money you get and spending it. You must use this money to repay your loans faster.

You should always be looking for ways of improving your personal finance basics. Make sure you understand how your credit cards work and make sure you have a budget you can work to.

Emergency Fund Accounts – Personal Finance Basics

As a financial consultant and I have coached a lot people as to why emergency funds are critical. In an earlier post you learned crucial personal finance basics with regards to creating an emergency fund like budgeting, goal setting and automation. Today I’ll discuss a few quick tips to help you pick where to invest your emergency fund.

Convenience – If you are like lots of people, you want to make saving into an emergency fund as fluent and simple as you can. Coaching personal finance basics has also shown me that if it’s not easy, chances are it won’t get done. You likely have a checking account. If so, you probably have a savings account in place too, if not you could open one with your bank on the Internet or at your branch. I recommend using this account to park your emergency funds. Chances are the interest rates aren’t great, but it’s an a simple account you probably have, or you could set up in a jiffy.

High Interest Savings – You shouldn’t worry too much about the interest rate you get with your emergency fund as it’s considered a short-term investment. A personal finance basics way of thinking is that you’ll probably use the fund within the next five to seven years, it’s short-term. ING is avery popular savings vehicle, as is PC in Canada. There are plenty of high interest savings accounts available to create online, just be careful of their fees, terms and conditions and legitimacy. Money market funds is one other choice, and can even provide higher interest than savings accounts, but they aren’t guaranteed. I have personally used ING for my emergency fund and think its excellent.

Liquidity – How quick can I get my money? Another important factor you need to think about is how accessible are your emergency funds. The simple rule with this is that it should be available by less than five days at the very most. You should try to get a fund that could pay out your money within 24 hours of when you need it. The personal finance basics question to ask yourself with this when choosing an account is “Can I get the money when I need it?”

I hope these personal finance basics regarding convenience, high interest savings and liquidity will help you make your emergency find into a reality. Check our resource link for free budget spreadsheets and other financial calculators to give you the head start you may need. We go more in depth in our e-book as well. The best tip I can give is to get it started. Even if you only got a 0% rate of return, you will still have money tucked away for those unexpected expenses that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Personal Finance Basics – Do You Check Your Credit Score Regularly?

Did you know that the credit companies can make mistakes? Sometimes you can be refused credit because of a bad credit score that is just plain wrong. Somehow or other they have the wrong information about your credit history and this is being passed throughout the industry. It could be a mistake on their part or a misunderstanding but it really does not matter at the moment because it is there and is affecting you. Your personal finance basics knowledge should have a default position, which is to check your score regularly.

Checking your score regularly will also let you know if your financial activities are affecting your score. In either case you should check out any instance of your score lowering. Checking your score regularly enables you to deal with any problems as they start to appear and not when they affect your finances.

People have different ideas about how often you should check your score. It depends on your circumstances and whether or not your finances are changing. But, as a minimum, I recommend you check your score at least annually. The vast majority of people do not do this.

The main bureaus operate independently so some could have different information than others. If you check your score regularly you could find misleading or false information about you that could affect your ability to borrow money when you need it. Now you need to check this out and get it dealt with before it becomes a bigger concern.

Most of the time, any discrepancy will be a mistake on their part. Communicating with the bureau concerned and talking to them about it can correct this.

Unfortunately, sometimes an ‘error’ you find could be identity theft. Here it is imperative you contact all the bureaus concerned and the fraud squad immediately.

An alert will be placed on your file, which lets anyone checking your score know you have been a fraud victim. This alert will also inform you when lenders are looking at your files. If you are not requiring any financial transactions then it could be the identity thief is trying to obtain a loan in your name.

An alert will usually last between 90 to 180 days. But you can get this extended if you request it. With the alert in place a lender can tell that the person trying to obtain the loan is not you and will decline it.

If you do not regularly check out your credit score you are placing yourself at risk. Your personal finance basics knowledge should be used to remove this risk.