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Totally Money Blog Carnival

Hey Gang!   Please check out the first edition of the Totally Money Blog Carnival at the link below.  I am pleased that Crystal was kind enough to include an article of mine in this edition.  I have read many of the articles in this edition and it is packed full of great money related articles!  Please take advantage of this free wealth of information and sign up for delivery of future editions.

http://www.budgetinginthefunstuff.com/totally-money-blog-carnival-inaugural-edition/

Hats off to Crystal for a great job pulling this together.

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Bad Credit – Moving Past the Shame

If you have perfect credit then most likely you own a great sense of personal worth.  You can pretty much write your own financial ticket if you wish.  I believe that folks with great credit deserve to feel such high esteem as it’s not easy to keep awesome credit in today’s economy and material world.  But then again many with positive credit might also be dealing with high debt loads that could also be accompanied by some shame of sorts.

If you have bad credit then most likely you have a very negative sense of personal worth.   In fact, in today’s society you may mentally portray yourself as a deadbeat and be ashamed of your financial life.  Is this how you feel?  

Whichever case you are in it’s always very important me to affirm where you are and tell yourself that you are amongst millions in the same place. There is nothing to be ashamed for in today’s society.  Those of you with great credit and high debt loads need to put  a plan in place to make sure you are paying down that debt in a timely fashion while protecting your high credit scores.  For those of you with bad, poor, or no credit it will be very important you deal with any shame or fear you have about your situation.  Read on my friends and consider this…

 Fico Inc. says that over 43 million Americans have credit scores under 599.  Do you hear that?  YOU are not alone!  Say this out loud! “I am not alone!” 

Chain Breaking

Break loose from shame of bad credit.

Of course there are many paths of entry into this sub-prime credit world and I don’t think it’s important for me to share with you all of the possibilities.  What I do want to call to your attention is that you must figure out for yourself what brought you to this point.  In order to move on to better credit there will have to be a lot of hard work.  And sometimes the hardest work is just identifying and owning up to the factors that have led to your current credit situation.   From my own personal experience I know my financial life was pretty much shaped by what I learned from my family and by my father in particular.  This may not be the same for you but once you figure it out it will become freeing knowledge for you.  For me it was a chance to break a cycle of financial dysfunction.  I love my family but I had to do things differently to get ahead of the game and create a positive sense of personal worth.

So please take time to reflect on how you learned the skill handling your money and what are the circumstances that created your bad credit profile.  Write it down.  Share it with someone.  Own up to it.  Forgive yourself!  These are lessons learned so please learn from them.

Warning!  If you skip forgiving yourself first then the shame and fear will linger and continue to be baggage.  Your financial pitfalls with be recycled so you must deal with self-forgiveness first.  Why not write a comment on this article to proclaim your financial past and present along with a note of forgiveness to yourself?  It will remove the weight on your shoulders and propel you forward in making the decision to repair your past mistakes.  This I challenge you to do this today! 

I have been coaching folks through these sort of situations since 1998 and in most cases these persons are paralyzed by the secret shame that is controlling their lives.  Living with this unnecessary shame is no way to live.  Each of you deserve to live richly today but you’ll need to define what that means for you.  So I encourage you to start off by facing your bad credit head on.  You should know it really is a gift that we have the opportunity in America to fix and or repair our credit no matter how bad it is!  It’s never too late or too much!

To wrap it up you may be asking where to start fixing your bad credit?  It’s simple.  Start with some personal confession plus forgiveness.  If you boldy cast off the chains shame the rest of the journey will be a blast!  I promise.

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The Credit Report Dispute Process

 In order to have false, outdated, or incorrect items removed from your credit file expeditiously, we use the rights granted us under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You have the right to dispute any items that are incorrect. This is our protection from creditors running amok with our credit history.  The power is achieved through the use of our Credit Report Dispute Letter.

Credit File Dispute Process

This is where the rubber meets the road. You need to take each of your credit files and look it over carefully and highlight where there are errors.  The items you highlight will be where you begin composing your first credit report dispute letters. We always recommend you use printed or hand written letters when using the dispute process.  On CreditMania.com we have an example for you to follow and highly recommend you rewrite them in your own words.

Its best if you use handwriting on a legal pad or use your home computer if that is easier. It used to be that if you use a computer, you are more likely to appear to be using a credit repair company and will probably be handled with delay tactics such as, labeling your dispute frivolous.   This is not the case any longer.  The volumes of online and offline disputes are immense and there is little attention paid to method of writing.

We do recommend that you stay away from using the phone to make disputes or the online dispute forms provided by the credit reporting agencies. This sounds like working or cheating the system. But in reality we are once again stating rights that the Federal Trade Commission affords everyone. The right to dispute errors. The rules are on your side so please act on them.

Beware we know there is a Moral Dilemma as this process can lead to consumers using the laws afforded them to seek legitimate information being removed from their credit files. I know this is often a moral and ethical dilemma that must be evaluated by each consumer personally. Understanding and accepting circumstances, along with the fact that even in our world today, most people are afforded a second chance, I am making this information available to all who need help with their credit history.  Ultimately we do not condone the use of this information in a fraudulent manner. Be responsible and you will succeed.

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House of Cards? How much is too much credit?

A  recent Rasmussen poll showed: 

  • 180 million Americans have credit cards over 159 million on year ago.
  • 83% of Americans say credit cards are tempting them to spend what they can’t afford.
  • 40% of Americans have more than 3 credit cards.

 Even though some key indicators say that the economy is turning around I’m still very concerned about the amount of consumer credit in America.  Folks we must at some point accept that we have to stop spending what we don’t have and control to overcome our buying temptations! 

Family Fire Safef

Keep valuables like credit cards locked away to fight off temptation.

 I urge each of you to review your January credit card statements and see where you stand on balances to see the month over month debt load increase.  How much did you spend last month during the holidays?  Are you in a financial position to pay off the balance in full?  If not take some time to plan out your repayment strategy.    

For those that are over 50% credit limit and you are not paying in full, lock them up.  Don’t use them.  I know this is a drastic measure but it’s a sound plan.  I personally usually lock them in one of those personal safes to will keep me from temptation of using them, like at Best Buy when I don’t really need that new great gadget.   Don’t get me wrong.  We need credit.  It’s a vital part of our personal finance lives, but misuse or over use is a losing strategy.

Ultimately,  begin to challenge yourself to accept the fact that we all must live within our means (expend less than we make in income).  This year will be a great year to begin or increase saving money! 

Live life richly my friends!  Please leave your comments regarding your own savings and spending strategies.

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Up Your 401K and Adjust W4 Exempts

2011 Money Quickies

I wanted to call-out a couple quick things to consider going into 2011.  They are easy tweaks to make that can have significant impact on your savings for the future as well as your immediate take home pay.

  1. Now is the time to make the most of your employer’s match to your retirement account.  If you employer matches your contribution I would urge you to make the choice of maxxing your contribution so that the employer is helping double your maxxed savings for the year.  If you really want to make a choice in 2011 that will make a bigger difference when you are ready to retire, now is the time to adjust.  It may mean less take home pay but you are going to spend less in 2011 anyway, right?
     
  2. With the new year you should consider reviewing your W4 form.  That’s the form that allows you to claim exemptions on your payroll taxes.  The more you claim the less taxes are withheld on your pay checks.  If you are getting an abnormally large refund check from Uncle Sam each year, I think you should probably up the exemptions so that you are getting more of your money up front.  Thus, allowing you to put those dollars to good use such as paying down credit card debt or monthly bills.  On the other end of the spectrum is if you are having to pay Uncle Sam each year in April, I suggest lowering your exemptions so that you are not getting yourself into that financial position.  Either way you can go to the IRS website and play with the W4 calculator and see what they suggest.

I hope these simple suggestions help you in your journey to living life richly!  Every little bit helps and we all need all of the help we can get!  Please share a comment if you have any tweaks you’d like to suggest to the readers as well!

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