Google Analytics Alternative Credit Zeal - Repair & Improve Your Credit Score With Confidence: 2018

Pages

How to Remove Collections from a Credit Report


How to Remove Collections from a Credit ReportIt’s almost impossible to get by in our modern world without credit.

We use credit to secure credit cards, use it to alleviate our financial obligations, use it to purchase vehicles and homes, and even use it to take advantage of new financial opportunities, build businesses, and get the kind of education we need to take our lives to the next level.

Unfortunately for many, credit also has a bit of a dark side – particularly if you have been anything but ridiculously careful with your credit, your repayment history, and your credit utilization levels.

It’s very easy for just a few small bumps in the road to completely derail our finances.

According to different industry reports, the average American has to scrape and scrounge to meet a $500 emergency financial obligation, and many of them do not have the credit score necessary to get a short-term loan to flow those kinds of issues without headache or hassle.

Should your credit have a couple of collections on it already (or even just a single collections account) the odds are pretty good that you’ve watched your score go into a tailspin.

The odds are also pretty good that you’ve been told – especially by people that you trust – that there is no way to get your score backup while a collection is on your account, and that you’ll have to wait seven years (SEVEN YEARS) until that collection falls off and you can build your credit back up again.

Well, we are happy to tell you that NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Sure, you’re going to have to do a handful of very strategic, very savvy, and little-known things to unlock your credit from collections and even have these collections accounts removed from your credit score completely.

But by the time you’re done with the inside information in this quick guide you will know EXACTLY how to get collections off of your credit report so that you can begin rebuilding your financial life ASAP.

Let’s dive right in!

Is it really possible to learn how to remove collections from a credit report early?


As we highlighted above, most collections are going to stay on your credit report for upwards of seven years before they “drop off” – but there are a handful of things that can make those collections stay on your account even longer than that.

For starters, even just reaching out to a collections agency and speaking to them about your specific debt can be enough to reset the clock and start the seven year collections timer all over again. You’ll want to make sure that this isn’t EVER in approach you take (outside of a handful of times, utilizing strategies we highlight below).

Secondly, though, is that you can actually figure out how to remove collections from a credit report early – kicking those collections off of your report as though they didn’t exist in the first place. This can happen almost immediately after you receive a collections notice, a couple of years down the line, or anywhere in between the moment that your collection shows up on your credit report and the moment it is about to fall off.

That’s what we hope to help you with below!

You’ll be able to use the specific strategies we highlighted in this quick guide to figure out how to remove collections from credit reports, but also how to remove medical collections from credit reports – collections that can feature some skyhigh debt numbers, that’s for sure.

Right out of the gate, however, it’s enough to know that it is possible to figure out how to remove paid collections from a credit report. You’ll be able to move through this process with a lot less headache and hassle than you ever expected, too.

Dispute your debt


The first tool that you have in your arsenal for removing debt collector accounts from your credit report is a simple dispute, something that you can process all on your own with about five minutes of your time.

All you have to do is look up your credit report (you can do so using any of the major credit bureaus), find a debt collections account on your credit score, and simply use the credit report dispute tools that are built right into these reporting agencies.

Most people on to the impression that they are only ever going to be able to dispute this debt if it is in some way erroneous, but that’s not exactly the entire truth. According to the law, you’ll be able to dispute debts even if you do believe that they are legitimate yours but if you feel that the debt collection agency isn’t legally able to collect from you themselves.

This spends things into a debt validation process. A debt collector has to then prove that YOU personally all the debt that they are looking for, and it’s not at all uncommon for their records to be incomplete. If they cannot prove within 30 days that you personally are responsible for the debt that they are trying to collect, they must drop the collection from your account and your credit score completely.

Dispute your debt whenever collection agents sell it off


Every six months or so, collection accounts are sold to other debt collectors that are looking to discharge the debt that they have been hunting.

Debts are assigned and sold to different collection agencies, and if the collection agency listed on your credit report is not be agency that is currently collecting on your debt, you’ll be able to have the collection dropped completely from your credit report.

It’s also not a bad idea to dispute your collection account with a new debt collector immediately after the sale has been processed. As we highlighted above, paperwork and evidence that you actually on the debt is not at all uncommonly lost in the shuffle. Should they lose your documentation, or not be able to furnish your documentation within 30 days, the account must come off of your credit report.

Pay for Delete actually works


A lot of people are, for one reason or another, under the impression that it’s impossible to negotiate with debt collectors – or even the people that originally owned your debt to begin with.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Obviously, you’ll first want to try to dispute any and all of the collections that you have on your account and wait the 30 days necessary for your collections agency to furnish records or not.

If the debt collection agency is able to furnish records within that 30 day block of time, you’ll then have the opportunity to offer a pay for delete agreement to these collection agencies.

This is essentially a certified letter that you’ll send to the collection agency stating that you have interest in paying on your account. Usually you’ll be able to offer a lowball figure to the debt collection agency (that has purchased your debt for pennies on the dollar, no less) if they in turn agree to delete the record of a collection off of your credit report in exchange for the payment that you are making.

If you receive an affirmative from the collection agency, make sure that they agreed to sign a copy of the letter and return it to you before you send over any payment whatsoever. This is a huge piece of the puzzle.

A lot of people take the time to negotiate these kinds of deals over the phone, mostly because collection agencies are more interested in getting as much money from you as possible.

They’ll try to push you towards a higher agreement, but because you have all of the leverage – if they won’t play ball, you could simply wait them out until the collection agency sells your debt or the seven-year trigger – you should usually be able to get them down to the number that you are comfortable with.

All the same, be sure that you never send over ANY payment until you have a signed copy of your pay for delete agreement in your possession. Without this agreement, you’ll lose all leverage, will reset your seven-year countdown, and will have to go through the entire process all over again.

Should you make your payment after receiving your signed agreement and still notice that your credit report hasn’t been adjusted after 30 days, dispute the debt, provide the credit bureau with a copy of your agreement and proof of payment, and they will personally remove the collection from your account for you.

Inquire about Goodwill Deletions


There are two different kinds of goodwill deletions that you’ll want to look into, the first having to do with the overwhelming majority of debt that you may have taken a and the second having to do with medical debt in specific.

The first type of goodwill deletions we are speaking about has to do with collection accounts that you have already paid off without realizing that you could have done a pay for delete letter and had your account cleared up completely.

These are a bit of a Hail Mary, for sure – particularly when you’re doing business with collection agencies that are usually anything but empathetic – but are still worthwhile if you’re looking to fix your score.

Simply write a letter saying that you have already paid off the account and ask the credit bureau or the collection agency to remove the debt from your account out of the goodness of their heart. Ask them to remove it simply because it’s continuing to damage your life even though you have taken action to pay back the debt.

It’s impossible to know whether or not that’s going to work, and some collection agencies are going to be more likely to take this kind of action if you call in person first then others. It’s not a totally useless gesture, however, and is worthwhile to attempt.

The second kind of goodwill deletions we are talking about has to do with you speaking directly to the medical clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office that you have racked up debt with.

These organizations almost always have individuals in their debt collections department assigned to find goodwill cases where debt forgiveness kicks in and the hospital foots the bill of the ENTIRETY of the medicine, procedure, or expenses incurred along the way.

These kinds of organizations are willing to do so because it’s not only a major tax write off and advantageous to their bottom line, but also because it builds quite a bit of good publicity and goodwill towards the hospital and organization in the local community. These kinds of operations do not want to be seen as heartless or difficult to work with, though they may or may not provide you with a goodwill deletion depending upon a whole host of different factors.

Closing thoughts


At the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to have bad marks removed from your credit report (and a whole lot faster than the traditional seven years it takes most people to have them removed) than you would have ever expected.

Be sure to use all of the inside information we have highlighted above in conjunction with your own research and due diligence and you should have no trouble at all getting your credit report cleaned up a lot faster than it would have been cleaned up otherwise.

Obviously, you’ll want to do everything you can in the future to keep your finances in order. Take advantage of credit opportunities only when they are the right decision to make (and not simply when they become available) and you’ll have a lot less to worry about when it comes time to build your credit score over during the recovery.

With the tricks we highlighted above, and solid credit rebuilding strategies, it shouldn’t be difficult for ANYONE to restore and rebuild their credit back to 700 or so inside of 12 to 24 months.

The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll start to see your credit climb again!





How To Remove Public Records On Your Credit Report


Public RecordsYour credit report is a summary of your financial well-being. It reflects if you have any debts, whether or not you are paying your bills on time, if you have impending loans or are applying for several types of loans at the same time and other quintessential facts related to your borrowings and repayments. Anyone who pays their bills on time and has no debt whatsoever should not worry about their credit score. Their credit report should be impeccable. However, there are instances when errors can lead to wrong entries on the credit report. Everyone should contest such wrong or factually incorrect entries and have them removed.

Public Records 


Not everything on a credit report is a public record. A public record is basically any information that is available with government agencies or regulatory authorities that can be accessed upon request. For instance, your name and address are public records. However, your age or your social security number is not. Public records on credit report have a bit more nuanced definition. These are essentially any information that pertains to legal issues related to your finances. Any legal liability you have, be it an unpaid debt or an impending repayment of a loan, will be a public record. Credit reporting companies will have access to such records. Government agencies and autonomous institutions including courts are also required to report such public records to the credit bureaus.

Types of Public Records 


There are three instances when a development will become a public record on your credit report. The first instance is bankruptcy. If you have filed bankruptcy, which could be personal or for a proprietary business, then that would reflect on the credit report immediately after the court pronounces its judgment. If your company goes bankrupt, that too would reflect on your credit report, unless it is a limited liability corporation or a publicly listed company wherein your personal assets and wealth are completely segregated from the business entity.

The second instance is a tax lien. If you have not paid your taxes, whether you have not filed them or you have not paid some money that is due, such liens will appear on your credit report as public record. There may or may not be any intervention by a court. Such liens feature anyway. If a court gets involved and you are held liable to pay the tax lien, then such record will reflect on the credit report.

The third instance when you would have a public record on the credit report is when you have been sued by someone or an entity and you have lost the case in a small claims court. This can be the fallout of any type of financial dispute. You could be sued by your landlord. You may have a financial dispute with someone you had borrowed money from. Your car may have been involved in an accident and you may not have paid for damages.

Not every financial dispute becomes a public record. If you settle a dispute with someone before they file a case or takes you to court, then there is no judgment in your favor or against. Hence, there is no public record to report to the credit bureaus. Any other financial problem that does not involve the court will not get featured on the report. For instance, you may have a divorce, you may have some personal financial liabilities or some impending payments that are not being documented and reported by any company. Such details will not make their way to the public records on your credit report.

Misconception about Public Records


Court judgments, bankruptcy and tax lien are the three types of public records that feature on a credit report. Income tax, welfare or benefits, education or employment details, healthcare details or other financial information do not become a part of public records. Even if a court judgment involves some of these aspects, only the amount of money you have been asked to pay to the person or entity who won the case will get reported to the credit bureaus or agencies.

Public records work in the same manner as debt collectionagencies report to credit bureaus. Whenever you don’t pay something on time and when the creditor or lender refers your account to a debt collector, the same gets reported to credit bureaus. Hence, if you have a foreclosure, it would get reported. The intervention of a court, bankruptcy and lien are similar. They are about money you owe and hence a form of debt. Such debts get reported and listed as public record.

Facts about Public Records


Public records will stay on your credit report for seven years. If the debts are unpaid, then they can stay for ten years. This rule varies from state to state but seven years is the standard. Whenever a public record appears on your credit report, your credit score will take a hit. It may reduce by fifty points. If the debt is phenomenal, then the credit score can reduce by hundreds of points. The review of your credit score depends entirely on the amount of money you owe and whether or not you have paid it.

Any debt that is paid will have a reduced impact on the credit score. Also, older debts that are paid would have a substantially reduced impact. In five to seven years, older debts will have very little or no impact on the credit score but you must have maintained an impeccable record of repaying loans including timely credit card payments over the same period of time.

How to Remove a Public Record from your Credit Report


The first step is obviously to avoid having any debt, lien, bankruptcy or foreclosure. If you do have a financial dispute that gets the court involved, you should try and settle it before you lose the case. Do not wait for a court judgment if you know you have to pay some money. Pay it before you get sued or before the court considers the merits of the allegations. You can avoid a public record this way. There is not much you can do about bankruptcy or foreclosure. Tax lien is also something that you cannot change in hindsight. Legal disputes pertaining to financial matters are what you can respond to and you should.

One way to remove public records on your credit report is to look for errors in the entry. It is possible that a record will show a debt as outstanding and not paid. You may have paid the debt. This could be a fine levied by the court. This may be a sum of money you had to pay to an individual or organization as warranted in the court judgment. Your public record should have authentic information. If a debt is paid, it should be stated as paid. You can always get the credit bureaus involved, write to the court or hire a credit repair company to fix this. You can also use the debt collector or the agency that was involved in the particular case to report the accurate information so your public record is rectified.

Older public records will fall off your credit report automatically. Credit bureaus don’t look farther than seven years in the past. Banks and other lenders are also more concerned about red flags in the recent years or months. However, it is quite possible your credit score remains low as a result of a public record that has fallen off your report. You should report this to the credit bureaus and have your credit score reviewed.

Some public records cannot be removed. Bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for seven years in most cases and ten years in some states. If you do not attend to some liabilities as instructed by the court following your bankruptcy, then these would reflect on your credit report. You should look for accuracy while studying public records. You want paid debts to appear as paid and unpaid debts will appear accordingly. You cannot remove unpaid debts. Tax liens too will remain on your credit report, even if you have paid them. Make sure they are listed as paid.
  
You can remove a judgment which is a public record on your credit report. You can hire a credit repair company or you can try to do this on your own. Once you pay a debt as instructed by a court in its judgment, the public record on your credit report will appear as paid. This will positively affect your credit score but the review would not be consequential. Banks and lenders would still consider it as a red flag, especially if it was a fairly recent incident.

One way you can remove public records, in case of a court judgment against you, from your credit report is by getting in touch with the debt collector or debt collection agency that was appointed to recover the money you owe to the plaintiff or claimant in the case. The court will report the developments according to the provisions laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting ActThe Section 609 or US code 1681 requires debt collectors to validate a debt so they know for certain that the individual they are pursuing is actually the person who owes the money. No debt collector can pursue an individual without proving that the debt is valid.

You can write to this debt collector or agency to validate the debt. You can send a letter and it is likely you would be asked to provide more information. In cases where courts are involved, things can get a little complicated as the debt collector will have to refer to the judgment and accompanying documents. It is possible you would have to write more than two or three letters but eventually you will be provided the information you are looking for, wherein you would be confirmed as the individual who owed the money and had actually paid it. Since the debt is paid and it is no longer outstanding for the claimant, court or the collection agency, it should not be reported as such on the credit report. The debt collection agency would report to the credit bureaus and the public record may be deleted as a result.

Impact of Removing Public Records


Your credit report should have entries that actually reflect the facts. If you have an outstanding debt, it should be reflected on your credit report and your credit score will be reviewed accordingly. If you don’t have an outstanding debt, then ideally it should not be on your credit report. Some paid debts will always be on the report as public records but not all. Legal disputes wherein you owe some money are not a conventional loan. It is a judgment that has gone against you and you are anyway required by law to pay the money on the scheduled date. You cannot really dillydally with the judgment as you would be held in contempt of court.

Public records should not be presented unfairly on the credit report. This is where credit repair companies come into play. They can help people to get such records deleted or removed. You can fight this battle alone but it may take eight months to a year. Courts don’t respond promptly. Most courts have an auto response. There would not be any investigation till you send the second or third letter. The debt collector may not be able to steadfastly work with the court and other public records departments where from your details must be obtained. All such problems can prolong the process.

Removing public records from your credit report would have an instant effect on the score. Your credit score may increase substantially but it may not be back at the level where it was before you had the judgment against you. This will take some time.




Special Needs Financial Planning: A Definitive Guide


Special Needs Financial PlanningParents with special needs children know how expensive it is to raise their child. They know what care they can get, what financial aid they can get and what funded therapies and courses their children are entitled to. In short, they know the day to day costs of living with a child who has special needs.


But what about after the parents die? What then? The child will still need day to day care but who will provide it? Who will pay for it? And who will make the important decisions regarding the child’s healthcare?

There are many fears and stresses surrounding parents in this situation and it can seem daunting but if you prepare now then it leaves more time to enjoy the time you do have with your children.

Below are 10 ideas to help plan for the future for a special needs child. 

Set up a Special Needs Trust Fund


Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) is a monthly stipend that is available to children with special needs and Medicaid offers health insurance, however, to qualify for these benefits, the applicant (i.e, your child) must not have any assets worth more than $2,000 in their own name.

But, when you die, all of your estate and assets will be passed on to your children. Chances are that this will push them over the threshold and make the ineligible for SSI or Medicaid. This is where a Special Needs trust comes in. By setting up the trust, all monies and assets can safely be put into the trust and not into your child’s name. Meaning that your child will still benefit, but it won’t disqualify them for any benefits.

Talk to family members and friends


Family members may want to help with healthcare and educational costs of your children. But it is important for them to understand that nothing must be put in your child’s name.They cannot name your child as a beneficiary in their will or open savings bonds in your child’s name.Like wise, gifts of cash, checks or stocks must not be held in your child’s name as this will push them over the threshold for financial help.

If friends or family members wish to help financially, then ask them to name the special needs trust as the beneficiary in any wills and pay any cash gifts straight into the trust.

On a side note, the 529 college savings plan is usually not necessary for a child with special needs as this can only be used for education post secondary school and does not cover private tutors, therapies or private education needed before the age of 18.

Appoint yourself a Guardian, Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney


Within the United States, once your child reaches the age of 18 they are legally regarded as an adult in the eyes of the law and will therefore have the same rights as any adult, unless you step in. If you feel that your child’s needs are such that they cannot  make important life decisions regarding finances or health care for themselves, then you need to apply to become your child’s legal guardian.  You can also petition the court to become your child’s legal guardian if you so wish. If you are happier to designate another adult to be the child’s guardian then you can do so. 

In fact, giving another trusted adult legal guardianship of your child will give you peace of mind, knowing that, in the event of your death there will be someone on hand to tend to your child’s needs.

Before you appoint a guardian, speak to the person that you have chosen and make sure that they understand the levels of commitment and care they would need to be responsible for.

If you do not wish to be a legal guardian, nor have power of attorney over your child’s affairs as perhaps your child would be able to make decisions but would perhaps need some guidance, you can appoint yourself or another adult to be a health care proxy instead.

Should your child object to a named guardian or is not in a position to agree to having a legal guardian, then the matter will most likely be decided by a probate court judge.

Write a Will


Again, this goes back to setting up a special needs trust. Make sure that all of your assets and estate goes to the special needs trust as without a will, a probate judge will name your child as the beneficiary and push your child over the threshold for Supplementary Security Income and Medicaid.  If you need help it might be advisable to approach a law professional.

You can also name the guardian you have chosen for your child in your will.

As making a will to include a special needs child is not something that can be done in an off the shelf will writing kit, it would be advisable to hire a lawyer who specializes in people with special needs and who would be familiar with your state’s laws surrounding people with disabilities.

Once you have your will finalized, give a copy to your lawyer and then distribute copies to any guardians you have named within your will.

Name a Trustee


The trustee will be the person who is in charge of the special needs trust once you are gone. This could be a bank, an attorney, a judge, a family member or an individual you trust. 

The trustee will be responsible for making sure that the money from the trust is spent exclusively on your child’s needs and any services, therapies or educational programs that you have specified or that become necessary for the care of your child.  It is important to note that your child’s legal guardian cannot spend any of the money held within the trust with out the permission of the trustee, thus making sure that the money is appropriately spent and will not be wasted on things that may not be appropriate or necessary for your child’s needs.

It is advisable though not to use the same person as you have named as legal guardian as this will ensure that everything is checked and that all finances are handled fairly.

Plan for your child’s independence


At the age of 21, 22 and even 26 in some states, education stops for children with special needs in the United States and you will need to decide what is to happen after this. Do you want your child to still live with you at home?  Is it possible for your child to go into independent or shared living?  If this is the path you want to take, then you need to start looking at homes and house shares.  Investigating different companies and looking at what each benefits package has to offer. Also, it is a good idea to apply to any waiting lists early to avoid disappointment should you find a placement that is perfect for your child.

Compile a Letter of Intent


Although this is not a legally binding document, it is helpful for you to outline your wishes for your child if anything should happen to you. This is your chance to be specific. If your child has a set routine that you would like continued then write it down in detail. If there are special dietary needs, or methods and educational needs that work well for your child, include them in your letter.

Include in your letter and medical support your child has or doctors and medical professionals your child is familiar with and also any medication they take and their schedules and dosages.

Once you have written everything down, make sure that you keep a copy, put a copy with your will and give a copy to any trustees or guardians you have appointed and make sure that the letter stays current by revising and updating it either every year or whenever any new medication is started or a new program is put into place for example.

As this is not a legal document, then it does not need to be seen or held by an attorney and you can change it as often as you want.  It will also cost nothing to compile and doesn’t need to be advised upon my a legal professional.

If you feel you need help, then get some!


There are many firms that offer financial planning for special needs children. To find one, ask the human resources department of the company that give advise you on your benefits package as they may offer this service.  Other areas you can try are the Special NeedsAlliance or the Academy of Special Needs for a referral to a professional special needs financial planner in your area.

A special needs advocate is also someone who will help you through some of the red tape and loop holes, file paperwork and generally support you through applying for help.  To get in touch with an advocate try approaching schools and colleges that offer special needs programs and ask if they can put you in contact with an advocate.

Create a contingency savings plan


It is always a good idea to have some put aside in case an emergency should arise. By saving up as much as you can as often as you can, you are safeguarding against any future financial problems.  It doesn’t matter if you are not in a position to save much each month, as even little amounts will soon mount up.

Other help available


Look into other help that may be available for your child. Look up your local social security office website and see if there are any benefits that you are entitled to that your child does not yet receive.

The United Healthcare Children’s Foundation do offer grants for eligible families. It is always a good idea to check with them to see if there is a grant available for your child. It may be an idea to supplement any medical insurance for special educational or medical therapies your child may need with grant money supplied by the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation.

It is also worth looking into opening an ABLE account for your child. This is not taken into account when assessing the $2,000 threshold for Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid and  is a tax free growth fund to help with housing costs, medical treatment, legal fees or educational costs.  Be aware though that there is a maximum annual contribution limit of $14,000 of tax free savings to this account.

Help can also come in the form of a medical professional such as your family doctor who may be able to help to navigate the mine field of medical costs.  Also, social workers will help you to plan for your child’s future and will lobby on your behalf.

It is also a legal requirement for all schools to offer a free and appropriate educational pathway for children with special needs until they graduate under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  In addition to this, the schools must fund private services if it is not able to meet your child’s educational needs.  [email protected] is a program that informs parents of children with special needs of any educational benefits that are available to them through their child’s school.

IDEA also has a program in place for children with special needs starting at the age of 14 and states that the school must provide cross over benefits to help parents of children with special needs to understand the options for their child once they have left high school. To find out more about these benefits, speak to your child’s school’s resource coordinator and discuss with them what you would like to happen once you’r child leaves school.

Another useful resource for finding programs and support is thearc.org. Your local Arc chapter will help you to learn what educational and therapy benefits there might be in your local area to help support your child after they leave school.

Emergency Funds: An Ultimate Guide

Financial Emergency Fund Challenges and Solutions

The American Dream for the past 60 to 70 years, ever since the Great Depression, has been that money can buy everything, including happiness. Buying brand name items has become a way to be seen as successful, the person who has it all.

Whether a Ford or a Rolls Royce, at the end of the day it is just a method of transport designed to get a person from A to B. Walking or a bike or public transport will often serve just as well, and cost far less.

Emergency Fund
Saving money hasn't been a priority for many people for a long time. We've become a culture of people who spend our entire paycheck before we've even deposited it into the bank. In many cases we're over extended, in debt to credit card companies which charge exorbitant interest. Many Americans struggle to pay the bills each month, even though most of them earn more than the Gross National Product of many third world countries.

If you are struggling every single month to meet your expenses, your obvious question is: How on earth are you going to be able to save money for an emergency fund for your household to cover unexpected expenses?

The truth is that it is exactly this type of situation and this lifestyle that makes a financial safety net a must. What would happen if you or someone in your family lost their job? Or had a medical emergency for themselves or a beloved pet? Where would the money come from to pay rent, food and electricity? Or doctor and hospital deductibles and vet's bills?

Maybe you think the answer is credit cards. That's a common financial emergency fund for many people, but in reality, it only makes the situation that much worse. If you don't pay the bill by the end of the month, interest rates start to mount up. If you pay only the minimum each month, you are looking at paying off your credit cards for the rest of your life.

Now we will take a look at the biggest challenges many people face when
trying to create a financial emergency fund.


They include:

  • Existing Debt 
  • A Tight Budget 
  • Bad Spending and Savings Habits 
  • Being Unsure of How to Start 


Existing Debt

Statistics tell us that the average credit card debt in America is now over $8100 per household as of  February 2018. This is the average. Some people don't owe anything; however, many people owe much more than that. 

Debt has become a fact of life for many. The recent financial crisis felt around the world has made many realize that debt is costing them more than they can ever imagine. It is putting a mortgage on their entire future. For example, many employers now run complete background checks on prospective employees. If they discover a bankruptcy or excessive debt, they might think twice about hiring the person, even if they are the best one for the job. 

In addition, banks and other mortgage lenders, and landlords you would be interested in renting property from, also do extensive financial background checks now. Therefore, if you are carrying any debt of any kind, be sure to start paying down your debt as quickly as possible. 

Be sure to check your credit report. If there are any errors, make sure you challenge the report as soon as possible and take steps to get it cleaned up. It is also a handy way to make sure that you have not been the victim of identity theft, which can cost people thousands through no fault of their own. You are entitled to a free copy of your report from each of the debt reporting agencies, so as a New Year's Resolution each year and to remind yourself, check your credit report and try to improve your score each year. 

The other key step to take is to pay off any outstanding debt as quickly as possible. Make sure you pay above the minimum and pay not only on time, but early. If you find yourself With any extra at the end of a month, and your debts are still high, put some into your emergency fund, but also make an extra payment to the credit card with the highest interest rate, rather than put all that money into savings. 

An emergency fund is extremely valuable protection for your financial future, but remember than any interest you might get on money accumulating in the savings account is going to be much lower than the amount of interest the credit card companies are going to charge you to carry the debts that you owe. 

This debt reduction and elimination plan often means that savings will put on hold. While that may have been recommended a short couple of years ago, most experts now agree that you must pay attention to both, paying down debt while still making sure you have a cushion in the form of an 
emergency fund. 

Financial expert Dave Ramsey recommends putting your debt payoff plan on hold until you've saved $1000 in cash. You should still continue to pay the minimum balances during this period so you don't incur any fees or ruin your credit score. However, keep putting money away each week until you reach that $1000 goal. Ideally, you'll have $1000 saved in six to eight weeks maximum is you are strict with yourself. It is good discipline, and real money you can use if there is an emergency at any time. Even a few hundred in savings in the bank as a cushion is better than nothing, after 

If you cannot make the minimum balances and save that much money, aim for $500 in savings. Then you can resume your debt reduction plan and slowly add more to your emergency savings account at the same tine. $1000? Because this is generally enough to cover most household emergencies. If your water heater breaks or you need a new set of tires for your car, $1000 will cover it. You won't have to go into a ton of debt or run up even more on your credit cards. 

However, Suze Orman recommends a more realistic emergency fund, one which will cover a full 6 months of household expenses, should the worst happen and you lose your job or become ill. For most people that would seem like an astronomical number, but check out your latest credit card 
statements before jumping to that conclusion. 

On the second page of the statement, you will see the total amount of interest and fees charged as a year to date figure. If you look at it and see more than $500, you've got a high interest rate card and chances are a high balance, and therefore a high debt to wages ratio, a perfect excuse for many card companies to send your card's interest rate soaring even higher. 

Now add up all those sums for all the cards you have. What could you have done with that money instead of give it to the credit card company? What about any overdraft fees on your account? If you don't sit on top of your finances, they will soon overwhelm you. That IS more money lost which 
could have gone into your emergency fund. 

Therefore, it pays to follow up on all your money at least once a week, to see where it is going and how well you are sticking to your budget. Often it does not require a lot of intelligence to keep track of your finances, just a lot of organization. 

If you don't have a budget, well, there is your place to start. Once you know how much you really have coming in and how much going out, you will then be able to plan your savings and especially your emergency fund. We have included a sample budget in an appendix at the very back of this 
article for easy reference at any time. Use it to start calculating your income versus your continuing monthly household expenses, so you can see what room you have, if any, to start saving for an emergency fund. 

If there is no room, then you are dealing with excessive debt, in which case, we will look at some strategies for this in the next section

Dealing with Excessive Debt

Being in debt is not desirable - especially in today's economy - yet most Americans are in debt. It is not impossible to get yourself out of debt, however. Many options exist that can help you compile and pay off all debt with some advance planning. With a plan and determination, you may find yourself getting rid of debt faster than you thought possible. 

Debt consolidation is a method of combining all of your credit card payments and loans into one lump sum payment each month. This can make your life easier because instead of tracking multiple payments and due dates, you will be tracking only one. This does not typically apply to a mortgage or car loan, although there may be specific options for those types of loans. 

Debt consolidation focuses on credit cards and personal loans. The amounts are consolidated into one lump sum, and a payment schedule that fits your budget is worked out between you and the consolidation company. This may not be an option for you, however, if you do not have enough debt. Most debt consolidation companies require a minimum of $5,000 to $10,000 in unsecured debt in order for you to be considered. 

If student loans are a problem, there are a variety of new options available for repayment. One of the most popular options is the income based repayment. The income based repayment plan Will work on the basis of your salary minus any expenses you incur each month. 

Other payment plans exist as well. These include the extended repayment plan, which will extend your payments up to 25 years, and the graduated repayment plan, which will start out with low interest and then increase your repayment every two years for up to 10 years. 

Be sure to do the research in regards to the types of payments available to you. Most student loan companies will work with you during a hard time to create a plan that meets both of your needs. 

Debt cancellation is also a good option. If you are in default on any of your credit cards or they have been turned over to collection agencies, this is the time to settle them for up to 50% less than the balance. 

Call the collection agencies and speak with a financial representative. Tell them what you can afford to settle the debt for and they will work out a plan with you. If they are unwilling to accept your settlement amount, they will continue to work with you on lower monthly payments until the debt 
is settled. There are scripts online that will tell you exactly what to say, such as at America's Debt Diet. It may sound terrifying to have to do this, but the alternatives are usually going to be much worse. 

Getting out of debt and becoming a debt survivor can be a difficult path. However, with a little bit of research and guidance, you will be surprised at how easy it can be to choose a debt repayment plan. Whether your issue is with credit cards, personal loans or student loans there is an option out there that will help you become a debt survivor. 

Above all, read the fine print before deciding on any of these methods of reducing debt. For instance, a debt management service may charge high fees and if the amount is small, you should be able to take care of paying down the debt yourself

Avoid so called debt management services that are really just offering you a lump sum loan, or a home equity line of credit. Your home is at risk if you do not keep up the payments. In many cases the interest rates will be higher the worse your credit score is and the more trouble you are in. 

To get started with debt consolidation, you will need records of all of your debtors, that is, anyone you owe money to, from credit card bills to medical expenses. You will need the bills for at least the last three months, plus your pay stubs. 

You should also call up the customer service number on each card to get a current balance on each and also check your credit report. If you are behind on payments, note that down too. 

Next, list your cards in order starting with the highest interest rates and then the smallest balances. Aim to pay those off first and then put the cards on ice, that is, not use them, but do not close the accounts. 

Keep one card in the event of genuine emergencies, such as one that gives you cash back on purchases or has the lowest interest rate. But otherwise, plan to pay down the debt in a structured way, even if it means giving up some luxuries for a while. 

Most credit cards sites now have a calculator that will help show you the results of paying even just a little bit more than the minimum each month. So if you use the calculator and can see yourself paying off all your credit card debt within a year to two years, chances are that you can do it yourself and not need a debt management service. Three to four years, you can try it yourself too, though it will be harder. More than five years, the service will probably be worth its fees if it can do that in a more speedy manner. 

Check your local area for free debt management credit counseling, especially if you are having trouble paying your mortgage. HUD.gov can help you with your mortgage issues and also refer you for credit counseling

And for anyone who has considered bankruptcy as their only way out of debt, think again. Many people believe that filing for bankruptcy will be the 'solution' to all their problems. In some cases, it will give you more problems than you have ever dreamed of. 

In the early years of this century, bankruptcy was a fast fix, with debts being wiped out at the stroke of a pen in the bankruptcy court, and banks and other lending institutions being able to write off the losses as bad debts. 

Now in 2018, there is no such thing as an easy bankruptcy. You will need a lawyer, who will have to be paid, and if there is any hope of you paying off your personal debts, you will be issued with a payment plan you will need to follow. 

While the creditors might make a deal for a lesser amount owing than is on the books, on the whole, you will have to pay off all your debts in a structured way. If you get in trouble with the tax man, they will garnish your wages from your employer--that is, they will get their share of your salary every paycheck until the money is paid off, before you ever see a dime, and you will have to live on whatever is left after they have taken the back taxes. This can leave you with a real financial struggle on your hands every month until the debt is paid. 

The biggest consequence of bankruptcy is what it will do to your credit history for the next seven years. In addition, it can even affect your ability to get certain forms of employment. Jobs in which money have to be handled on an ongoing basis are going to want to run an extensive background check and will certainly be very leery about hiring anyone with a bankruptcy in their past. (The same can be true of your bad credit rating at this very moment, even if you are not yet in serious financial 
trouble.) 

Your credit history can also affect your ability to rent an apartment, let alone get a mortgage or any other form of credit (read more here). Therefore, bankruptcy might seem like a short term solution, to get the calls to stop and just make the debts go away, but it certainly has long term consequences. If you have fallen on hard times due to the recession, you are not the only one. If you have fallen on hard times due to credit card debt then there are no fast fixes. It took you some time to get into that position. It will therefore take you some time to get out. Bankruptcy should be seen as a last resort, not a magic wand. 

So let's look at another reason why people get into debt in the first place: a tight budget. 

A Tight Budget

Even if you don't have any current debt, or much current debt, you may think that your budget is too tight to save any money each month. Maybe you're literally living paycheck to paycheck. Many families are at this point in time, and of course unemployment is not exactly untold riches. Yet if you are not carrying any debt any longer because you have made a conscious effort to pay it all down, then there is still an opportunity to save. 

Look at your budget and examine what you can eliminate. For instance, maybe you can start biking to work or carpooling, in order to save at least one tank of gas each month. If you estimate one tank of gas to be $50, then that amount can go toward your financial emergency fund. 

Do you eat lunch out most days? Cut it back to perhaps once or twice a week, brown-bag on the other days, and put the saved money in a jar to deposit in the bank at the end of the week. Chances are you will have at least $20, which can add up to $80 a month. 

Can you eat dinner at home more day in each month? Can you skip the morning coffee from the local shop and make it at home, and carry it to work in a thermal travel mug? Put all the money in your jar that you would usually spend on these items, and see how it all adds up. 

Carry a small piece of paper in your wallet on which you note down everything you spend. Leave the credit cards at home. Only buy what you can afford from the cash you have in your wallet. These are just a few of the ways to keep yourself on a tight rein to find some extra cash that would otherwise slip through your fingers. 

We are not talking about completely depriving yourself to the point at which you will be miserable, but we are asking you to take a long, hard look at what you are really spending your money on. Savings in the bank will give you a lot more sense of freedom than mindless spending on eating out all the time or drinking with buddies every weekend. 

Even if you only saved $1 a day, that would be $30 a month, $360 in a year. Most of us can do better than that if we cut down on our wants and focus on what we really need, for the sake of our financial future. 

Making sure we have an emergency fund is just common sense. Any other savings you can set aside for retirement college savings, and so on, are all ways to build a solid financial future for you and your family. 

Saving, not spending, needs to be your key strategy. Making money, not frittering it away, can be a challenge and requires some mental rewiring, but luckily, you are not alone. In addition to the experts out there that can help you plan and stick to a budget, everyone these days is looking for ways to save and earn extra income. 

There are a variety of titles at Eternal Spiral Books which serve as practical guides to help you meet your financial, business and employment goals, by ourselves and other exceptional colleagues. Whether you need Smart Spending Strategies or How to Turn Your Hobby into a Small Business or 
find Angel Investors, be sure to check out the latest offerings at EternalSpiralBooks.com and at Amazon

Bad Spending and Savings Habits

One of the toughest parts about creating a financial safety plan is not touching it until there is an emergency. That new flat screen television is not an emergency, nor is the new dress you want to buy for your first date  with a hot new guy, or you daughter's prom dress. All of these expenses 
can be predicted and planned for. 

The only true emergencies will be illness, death or job loss, things that no one can really prepare for in some senses, though they certainly can in others, such as by having good insurance coverage. If your family would be left in desperate circumstances if you were to ever lose your job, become ill, or die, then be sure you are adequately and appropriately insured. 

Budget insurance premiums into your household expense sheet and stick to it, and also keep saving for emergencies. 

If you have bad spending and bad savings habits, now is the time to improve them, to build your emergency fund for your household finances. 

Make sure you put your emergency fund in a separate account that will be relatively inaccessible compared with your personal checking account but not so inaccessible that you would have a hard time getting hold of the money if an emergency did occur. 

You don't want to put your money into an investment that can't be touched for a number of years without penalty. However, you don't want access to be so easy that you're tempted to spend your emergency fund frivolously. 

Online banking is one easy way to set up your savings account and put money into it easily. Transfers take a few days to withdraw, which means you may be able to resist spending it impetuously. 

In addition, you can set up automatic transfers from your checking account into your savings account. This automatic withdrawal eases some of the burden of saving for your emergency fund. It's gone from your account before you even have the chance to spend it. Once it is in your emergency fund savings account, pretend it does not even exist. Put the debit card that will come with it somewhere safe, and no matter what don't be tempted to tap into it unless a true emergency occurs. 

Not Sure How To Start Saving

Finally, one of the biggest challenges is knowing how to start saving. Many people just don't have a handle on their accounts and their finances. They spend money, use credit cards and pay bills without any sort of plan or budget, and hope that things will just work out. They spend almost all of their salary each month, and worse still they get into debt by using credit cards to buy things that are supposedly a great bargain, or that they really only want on a whim rather than genuinely need. 

If this describes your approach to dealing with your finances, then your first step is to get a handle on your finances. That begins by balancing your checkbook and creating a budget. As the old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. " Your budget is not a straitjacket. It is nothing more than a financial plan you can live by. Your earnings level is not a judgment upon you as a human being. But it is a matter of what you can afford to spend, and what you can afford to save. 

Determine exactly how much you have coming in each month and how much you spend each month. Create categories that are unchangeable, like your rent, electric, and insurance bills. 

Also create categories that are flexible, like your monthly dining-out expenses. You may want to whittle down that figure to start putting money into more meaningful things like buying more groceries and cooking those meals at home, and taking the rest to start paying down debt and building an emergency fund. 

There are many online budget calculators available, and ones you can use on your computer which you can edit easily. Online is useful, but it is best to have a budget on your computer at all times that you can adjust as needed. We have provided a handy suggested one at the end of this article for you to access at any time. 

You can also use a simple sheet of line items to track your expenses for a week to two weeks,especially if you really have no idea where all your money has been going. It will help you hone in on the places you can save and help you come up with a reasonable plan to pay down debt and start to save with the help of a realistic budget. If you get paid once a week, track for one week. If you get paid every two weeks, track your spending for two weeks. 

So far in this special report we have covered the four most common challenges to creating a financial emergency fund: 
  • Existing Debt 
  • A Tight Budget 
  • Bad Spending and Savings Habits 
  • Being Unsure of How to Start 

If you're experiencing one or all of these challenges, don't worry. All it takes to get on financially sound ground is a plan and a commitment. Find a dollar a day, set it aside, and save it until you reach your goal. Use online banking and automatic withdrawal and a savings account which bears interest, and see the money start to add up. 

You emergency fund will start to snowball sooner than you think, especially if you have no debt. If you still have debt, pay it down first as a matter of priority, with a small amount in savings for a rainy day. It does not take much to start your emergency fund. Which brings us to the next key question readers always ask us— Exactly how much should you save? 

How Much is Enough When it Comes to an Emergency Fund?

As we have said, there are a number of suggestions out there as to how much is enough. From $1000 to Suze Orman's suggested 6 months worth of expenses, there is a lot of leeway. 

Visit any financial advisor or read any financial magazine, and you'll see a variety of recommendations on how much to save for emergencies. Again, it would also depend on the nature and extent of the emergency. A vet's bill can add up to over $10,000 in only a few short days; even with insurance and deductibles, it is still a hefty amount of money to pay at short notice. 

Dental bills for a broken back tooth, likewise. Front tooth, even more expensive! Take my word for it. I have personally had all these situations and more in the past few years, and even with insurance, it  certainly added up. 

So at the very least, I suggest that should have $1000 in the bank at all times as a reserve. That is not that hard to come up With if you plan carefully and commit yourself to growing your savings whenever possible. 

Quit smoking, walk to work, gather tin cans for recycle, whatever it takes you will find your perceptions will change as you seek to meet that savings goal. Once you reach that goal, you will most likely be so happy with the feeling of confidence and relief that this financial safety cushion gives you, you will want to save even more. 

Suze Orman's is a worst case scenario budget: what if you were unable to work? Lost your job, in other words, or worse still, became ill? Let's look at her six month emergency fund next. 

Coping With the Loss of a Job and other Major Financial Loss

The rule of thumb for this account is to save enough expenses to cover all of the essentials if you were to be out of work for six months. Some experts say it can be as little as three months while others recommend saving for an entire year. Three months just doesn't make sense with the current job market. 

It can take months, sometimes even years, to find employment, as many people have discovered. As of the writing of this article, in late April 2018, many people have exhausted the 212 weeks of unemployment that  they had been given - many ran out at Christmas in December 2017. We do  not know what the effects of this will be or whether there will be extensions, but it is a sobering reminder of just how deep this recession and financial crisis is, for all the talk of signs of recovery due to a bit of consumer spending at Christmas. (Which also made no mention of the prices they were paying or the profits for the companies. More than likely they were bargain sales items more than full ticket ones). 

The higher up you are on the totem pole, the longer it will take to get a position paying even a remotely similar salary. The executive job site The Ladders guesstimates it takes at least 6 months for top executives to find a new position: 6 months if you are earning 6 figures. Anyone we know who 
has used the site has also told us that the six figure jobs are few and far between. Even if they get an interview, they are not being offered $100,000. They are lucky to be offered $60-$70,000. 

So even when there are new jobs available, with the huge pool of qualified applicants, they can afford to be choosy, and can go as low as they like in the sure knowledge that people have to eat. Again, we do not know the  long term economic impact of such depressed wages on the economy as a whole, but we can certainly see it on American families in particular. There  is real suffering out there. 

And suffering for pets as well, who are getting abandoned on the streets because, as one shelter told us, people can't even afford the $30 surrender fee at the Humane Society. They will pretend to 'find' the animal, or they will just tie it up or leave it in a carrier outside. Worse still some people have left their pets behind in foreclosed homes, thinking that the bank would go there straight away to repossess the property, only to have the pets suffer from a lack of food and water for days, even weeks, to the actual point of death. 

Times are tough, but things should not be this bad. It is a question of  compassion, and also common sense. Six months at your existing salary level seems the best way to calculate what you need to save in the event of  a financial catastrophe and to meet all your obligations and responsibilities, including those of your pets, in the same way as your  children and any other family members you might be caring for. 

So, how on earth can you achieve this? It may sound strange, but start looking for a new job. If you think your job is at risk, be proactive. In the process of looking, you can take on a second job or freelance work and save all of the income you can from it. 

Consider starting your own business on the side as well, to make the most  of your talents. Do not put all your eggs in one basket if there is even the  remotest chance that your job won't be there in a month or six months. 


Ways of Making Extra Money

It may seem like the end of the world to lose a job for many people, but the good news is that it is not necessary to have a full time job in order to earn income. There are plenty of ways to earn money without going the traditional route. If you have talents or skills, you can put those to use to earn income. There are several ways to put your household and your knowledge to work for you to either
add a new stream of income to your household, or replace lost income. Read on to find out more.

Sell your own items: This can be a combination of belongings that you have lying around the house or items that you make yourself. Do an inventory of your belongings. Chances are you will find many items that you no longer use or want. You can sell these items either on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon or
another similar venue. If you make handmade items such as stationery, knitted goods or similar crafts, you can sell these for profit and make that your source of income.

You can also donate them to charity, such as to the Salvation Army. You will be able to get a receipt and should adhere to their guidelines for pricing, but the amount of money can be deducted from your taxes, resulting in savings on unwanted items.

Write for money: This may seem like a job in itself, but it truly is not. You are free to write when you want to and on the topics that you like. Man websites hire freelance writers for content and there are some publishers out there who hire writers on a freelance basis with a lot of work available. You will need to pass a writing test and be sure that your work is original content. Payment is anywhere from a flat rate to revenue share on the website, with the more articles you have up online giving you more chance of earning more page views and thus more cash.

If you have a talent such as gardening or musical knowledge, use that to your advantage: Offer gardening services or musical lessons in your neighborhood and others close by. You can schedule the musical lessons at your house and offer gardening services at the customer’s home.

Tutoring services are always in demand: Parents who have trouble understanding their children’s
homework problems are likely to bring in a tutor. If you have a college education or advanced knowledge of subjects such as English and math, chances are someone will be looking for your skills.

Sell other people’s belongings: Oftentimes people are not skilled at selling their own items, so they hire someone else to do it. Payment is normally a percentage of the selling value of an item. You
can sell the items in any manner that is acceptable to the owner.

Freelancing: There are a number of freelancing websites that match people looking for short term projects with those who need them completed. Just be careful of excessive fees.

Consulting: If you have been working in high-level positions for a while, consider offering your services as a consultant to similar businesses. Just make sure there is no non-compete clause in your contract.

Leveraging Your Severance Money to Create Your Own Business: If you got a good severance package, put some of the money to use to start your own business. In this way any income you earn from freelancing and so on can be offset against any deductible expenses related to running the
business. This has legal and tax advantages, through separating your personal finances from your corporate ones and allowing you to take more deductions than a sole proprietorship would be permitted. An LLC, Limited Liability Company, is easy to set tip and inexpensive. Rules vary by state so be sure to follow the rules.

Become an Affiliate Online: An online affiliate sells products for large retailers and prominent companies in exchange for a commission. Many people who have a website, and even those who don’t, post specially coded links on sites they usually participate in, and if people click on the link and either give their email address or other personal information (pay per lead) or buy something (pay per sale), you can get a flat fee or percentage commission. See Joan Mullafly’s great title on how to get started as an affiliate even if you have no website for a step by step guide on how to get
started in this multibillion dollar industry. The best thing is, once you set up the links, they will keep earning for you around the clock, 365 days a year. If you are crunched for time as well as money, consider becoming an affiliate marketer.

If you brainstorm, you can come up with several different ways to make money without having an actual job. Whether you decide to go into business for yourself or put your talents to use in helping others, where there is a will, there is a way.

You may find that you have to use several different activities in order to make ends meet or to build your savings accounts, but it is possible with some imagination and effort.

Six months can be calculated in round figures. If you make $30,000 annually, then the goal will be to save $15,000. Based on your budget and financial standing, this can take a while to save. But remember, once you’ve already saved $1000 and you’re on your way to paying off debt if you
haven’t already, you will be able to accomplish this goal too.

With interest, over time the amount you are saving will grow. Add in financial gains like tax returns, bonuses at work and any other money you can save rather than spend as soon as you get it, and you’ll reach your emergency fund goal in no time.

It may seem like a bad time to talk about a raise with your boss, but this is another way to save money. Put any extra that you earn right into the emergency fund. What you are not used to, you will never miss.

Because you’re not going to need quick access to this savings account, you can put it into a money market fund or other account with higher interest rates. You can earn around 5% with many online banking money market funds, which can all add up over time. Online banking terms are a lot more flexible than they used to be, and there are CDs that will allow a limited number of withdrawals, such as one or two, without any penalty.

As I have said, automatic savings into an interest-bearing account can help it grow without you feeling the pain. Once you are out of debt, the money you were paying to the credit card companies in interest and fees can also swell this account.

Just remember not to close your credit card accounts once you pay them off. Your creditworthiness is determined in part by the extent of your line of credit. And once you do pay it off, do not be tempted by all of the great credit card offers you will be bombarded with.

The only kind of credit card you should carry should be one that gives you cash back on your purchases or gives you points towards something you and your family could really use, like a 529 college savings account for college savings, and for repaying existing college loans which qualify for the program (see my special report on that subject for more information).

Planning Your Financial Future

The one question you’re probably mulling over is, “How am I going to save all of this money in an emergency fund and also still save for retirement, college, and live day to day?”

The answer is to make a plan based on your needs and priorities. For instance, if your child is about to go to college in 3 or 4 years, that should be a bit higher on the list of priorities as compared with them planning to go in 10 to 15 years.

Some financial experts recommend saving in tiers. Focus on tier one, your household emergency savings account first. Secondly, save for the loss of a job or a major financial emergency, accruing 6 months worth of living expenses. Third, save for retirement. College savings, if you can manage it, is a last priority. As they say so often, “You can’t take out a loan for retirement.” We would add that you can’t get scholarships for retirement either.

The key to knowing how much you can save and how long it’s going to take you to reach your goals is to create a long term financial plan and budget accordingly. Your budget will tell you not only what to expect day to day, but also help you set aside money for all of your financial goals. It is all a question of priorities, and balancing them.

Again, a second job, freelance work, or starting a business of your own at home are all ways to improve your financial situation. See our small business titles for ways to start your own successful business even if you have very little cash to spare.

Beyond Your Emergency Savings - How To Be Prepared 

A financial emergency fund is about more than setting aside money. It’s also about protecting your money and your finances. Asset management is not something they teach in school or college, but it is certainly one of the keys to financial freedom and all it takes is a little time and effort.

Here’s a list of the documents you should have in place and the measures to take to protect you and your family’s financial future:

  • Will and Testament
  • Living Will/Medical Directive
  • Trust
  • Home Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance


Other documents to consider:

  • Long term disability insurance
  • Long term care insurance 


Insurance protects you and your family against emergency. It is one of the most responsible and
financially sound decisions you can make. If you don’t have insurance, consider visiting with an insurance representative for a package deal. If you are insured,consider consulting a financial advisor or insurance agent to make sure you’re properly insured and getting the best deal for your money.

Additionally, a will and testament and a medical directive will ensure your requests are met (though do check the laws in your state to be sure just how much impact they have). A trust ensures your wishes stay out of court and in the hands of your family.

Make sure you have a list of all your accounts and who the beneficiaries are to be. Your 401k, 529 college savings accounts, savings accounts, CDs and so on should all be accounted for and kept an eye on.

Other items which you might consider to be a good investment might not be. Similarly, items you might take for granted such as clothes and computers, are a serious investment that you should take more than a bit of passing thought. In the next section we will look at some of the best ways to make your money stretch even further than you think.

Can Less Be More? Avoiding Consumerism

In the quest for living a more simple, and economical life, it can be difficult to make the necessary changes. It’s tough to know where to start. It’s also tricky to know where you should scrimp and where it makes sense to splurge. Here are several key ways that less can be more.

#1 Buy your clothing and gear off season.
This practice takes a little preparation and forethought. However it’s a great way to save tons of money. Buy your swimsuit for next year during the winter months from a closeout website. You can get a suit that once cost $300 for $30. The same holds true for exercise equipment and even home goods. You can buy that patio table and chairs for a quarter of the cost when you buy it on closeout during the fall and winter months.

#2 Coordinate your wardrobe.
Clothes are about two primary things, form and function. You want to look good and feel comfortable. One great way to make your clothing budget stretch further is to buy quality basic items like black pants, white shirts and navy or brown blazers. These items can be mixed and matched with other less expensive additions for a wardrobe that looks expensive and extensive but really isn’t.

#3 Get your pantry organized.
A well-stocked pantry can make a busy evening mealtime easy. Generally, when the family has to be in four different places at once, we tend to order out or go through the drive though. That’s expensive. A well-stocked pantry can turn it around. A package of pasta, a can of sardines in tomato sauce or anchovies in oil, and voila, you have a ten minute gourmet meal that can be eaten right off the stove or heated up quickly and easily. Additionally, pantry items generally cost a tenth of what it’ll cost you to go through that drive through, and it’s healthier too.

#4 Get rid of the landline, unless you really need it.
Most families have a landline and a cell phone plan. The landline rarely serves a purpose any more. You can save $30 to $50 each month by simply getting rid of it. And you can get rid of the cell phone contract by purchasing an inexpensive pay as you go phone and a Google phone number. Simply forward your free Google calls, text and voice mail to your pay as you go phone. You can save hundreds annually by evaluating what you really need when it comes to phones and phone plans. An unlimited plan for the whole family, for example, can save you thousands of dollars a years. Avoid being nickeled and dimed to death by texting and other fees (more like 20 cents each the last time we looked!) Sit down with your phone bill and see what you are really spending. Then comparison shop to save.

#5 Get rid of your car or downsize.
It may sound extreme, but many people are paying hundreds of dollars each month for a new car and a car lease payment. Stop for a moment and consider what you could do with that extra $300 to $500 dollars each month. A lot, right? In fact, simply saving that money for your emergency fund or retirement would put you way ahead of your savings targets in no time.

If possible, get rid of your car completely. If you’re close to town or public transportation, you can buy a bike for a few hundred dollars. You can buy a motor scooter for not much more these days.

However, if getting rid of a car entirely isn’t an option, consider down-scaling or reducing the number of cars in your household. A used car will take you the same places a new car will and it’ll save you thousands.

Finally, if you have more than one car, can you cut back? Can you sell a car? Cars eat up a budget fast, and down-scaling or eliminating them from your monthly budget is a great way to reduce financial stress.

#6 Cut down on cable.
Have you checked your bill lately? Chances are it costs a lot more than that ‘great’ deal you were offered last year.

Do you really need to have three thousand channels? See if there are ways to cut back and also explore other options such as the competition’s offerings, or ways to get a bundle or to un-bundle services you really don’t need after all. Ten dollars might not seem like a huge difference but when you add it to the other savings, it all adds up and is better than being ten dollars in debt.

Can you do more with less? Absolutely! These tips are only the beginning. Take a look at where you spend your hard-earned money and evaluate where you can cut back or modify your needs and still have all ou really need for a simple but good life.

Then put your savings into your emergency fund and once you hit your target, keep saving for your next goal, such as retirement or college for the kids, or even a great vacation one day.

Throughout this report we’ve discussed several types of savings to have in your emergency fund, and a tier based system, with savings allocated in order of importance to you and your family. We’ve also mentioned where to save your money depending on the savings type. In the next section, we will review your savings options.



Where To Save Money

Depending on how much you’re saving, how much access you need to the money, your tolerance for risk and how much interest you want to earn, there are a number of options to save your money.

These options include:

Interest bearing checking accounts:You can find access to this type of account online or with your local bank or credit union. Research bank fees and interest rates to find the best option for you. This is an ideal account type for a household emergency savings account of $1000 or less.

Money Market Accounts: These sometimes offer check-writing services and offer a higher interest rate than a standard checking or savings account. Some of them will even offer a debit/credit card for emergency access.

Money Market Funds: These are not FDIC insured but are generally safe investments. They tend to pay more than any type of bank account. There are no huge interest rates at the moment on these funds, but any interest is better than none, especially if you have paid down your debts.

CDs or Certificate of Deposit: These are Federally insured for up to $250,000 and have a good interest rate. However, you don’t usually have easy access to the money. They’re better used for long-term savings like saving for the potential loss of income. Many people build a CD ladder with the CDs falling due on a regular basis to take out the money if needed, without any penalty, or reinvest it if it is not needed. Time periods range from a year to five years, with the interest being highest on those of the longest duration of commitment. There is a new class of CD which will let you make a
withdrawal without penalty, so shop around carefully for the best deal for your circumstances.

What To Not Use To Pay For Financial Emergencies 

In an ideal world, we would all have a nice plump emergency fund and good savings for all of our needs, from retirement to college funds for the  kids.

Alas, this is not an ideal world, and especially in this economy, many people are feeling the pinch and struggling to make ends meet.

Therefore, an emergency can really propel them right over the edge into dire financial difficulties.

While it is tempting to do so, these are some of the ways you should  AVOID paying for any emergencies which might arise:

  • Credit Cards 
  • Home Equity Line of Credit 
  • Second Mortgage 
  • Tapping into your 401k or retirement plan 
  • Postponing key monthly payments in order to try to deal with emergencies 


Your financial emergency fund should be established to help you avoid falling into the trap of borrowing from anyone in order to cover any  emergencies which might arise. You don't have to borrow from yourself  and mortgage your future, or borrow from creditors to stay on solid
financial ground.

All it takes is willpower and some time and effort for solid financial planning. Even if it means sacrificing cable TV for a month or two, isn't it better to bank that $70 to $100 a month and have the peace of mind of money in the bank rather than a whole bunch more channels that you
most likely never even watch?

Looking carefully at your monthly expenses to weed out memberships that you never use, expensive phone plans With extras you never use, and cutting back on convenience foods and take away and cooking at home yourself, and brown bagging lunch at least a couple of times a week, can add up to big savings. If even one of these steps helps you find a nice tidy sum to put in your emergency fund, just think what trying all of them can do to your bank balance.

Your home is your most important investment for you and your family. Yes, credit card debt is serious and it can ruin your credit rating, but there are ways to recover from it. Homelessness is less easy to rebound from. Likewise, not having enough money to live on during retirement can mean disaster later in life. Think short, middle and long term for all your financial needs not just the here and now, and you will soon be able to get a handle on your spending, and get into an even better habit of savings.


Conclusion


Financial emergencies happen. They're a fact of life. When you're prepared for them, you can focus on getting through the tough times in your life without dealing with the added stress of financial insecurity, which can in some cases be so drastic it can lead to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not an
easy way to escape the debts you owe. It is a black mark on your financial future that will have long-term implications for at least seven years, if not many years to come in the form of not being eligible for a mortgage, certain rental properties, and various job and career opportunities.

You owe it to yourself, to your family, and to your future to take a look at your financial plan right now. Create a plan to:

  • Budget 
  • Pay off debt 
  • Save for minor emergencies 
  • Save for major emergencies 
  • Protect your finances 
  • Save for retirement 
  • Save for college for the kids 


Pay down your debt first. Then start saving. Use the three tiered approach, focusing on your goals in order of priority. Review your budget and meet your obligations to your savings plan even if it means making some short term sacrifices for long-term gains. Set the money to come out of your account with automatic withdrawals.

Use only bank cards or credit cards (preferably a single one for emergencies only) which gives you a low APR and/or cash back.

These few simple steps, and some time and effort will get you started on the road to a solid emergency fund and a more stable financial future. Start today and in only a few weeks, you'll be amazed at how much you have managed to save.

Take a second job, freelance, start your own home-based business, and watch your savings grow even more rapidly.

We hope this guide sets you on the road to building a solid emergency fund, and that you never have to use it. In the event that you do, at least you will know that no matter what disaster befalls you, it can always be worse: you might have no emergency fund at all to help you cope.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck at the minute and not really focusing on the future, remember, it is not a question of IF an emergency will occur, but WHEN. Arm yourself With the knowledge from this special report and take action TODAY, for a more secure financial future tomorrow.