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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pay Day Loan Confession: I've fallen and I can't get up!

…have you (or someone you know) "fallen" into the Pay Day Loan bottomless pit of debt and feel like you can't "get up" out of it? I have.

When you’re in a bind and you need a few hundred bucks to bridge you over a few days until your next pay day, a pay day loan may look very appealing. In my opinion ... Pay Day Loans are like an addictive drug. The first experience may seem helpful and pleasurable but it eventually becomes something that you believe you can’t live without.  And just like a drug addiction, getting out of Pay Day Loan debt can be scary, daunting and financially painful. But … there is a cure for this Financial Dis-Ease. 
Let’s first discuss how Pay Day Loans causes Financial STDs (Substantially Tremendous Debt).  Ok … (true story) … a family member of mine needed $200 to pay the electric company to keep the lights on. A so-called friend referred them to a local pay day lender. The pay day lender charged $20 per $100 borrowed. The process was so pleasant and easy that they decided to borrow an extra $100 for a total of $300.  They paid their past due electric bill for $200 and had $100 for food and gas until their next pay day. On their next pay day, they made the fateful decision to renew the pay day loan. So, this time the loan was for $360 (to pay off the original loan amount of $300 loan and the $60 fee). The new fee was another $72, which totaled $432 for the new loan. My family member renewed this pay day loan at least 5 or more times and quickly began to sink into debt.
Getting “up” out of pay day loan debt is not as easy as falling “down” into it, but it is possible. Here are 3 tips to get out of Pay Day Loan Debt.
If at all possible, the best method is to stop taking out pay day loans immediately and sacrifice for the pay period. This will reset your financial situation and give you your full pay check during your next pay check.  It is important to plan for this pay check deficiency. To help you through this financial deficiency,

  • Ask your family members if they some money to spare or borrow,
  • Contact your bank or credit union to see if you qualify for a payment deferment on your loan payment due to financial hardship,
  • Cut out eating out during this pay period to save a few bucks, or
  • Carpool with a co-worker or take public transportation to save on gas.

Another option is to apply for a loan with a reasonable interest rate and short period of time (term) to pay off the pay day loan. So instead of having a pay a lump sum every month, you can pay the new loan off in more reasonable and smaller weekly, biweekly or monthly payments.  If you go this route, make sure you keep the term at 12 months or less and make sure that the interest rate does not exceed 18%. Some credit unions may offer loan programs designed to help people get out of pay day loan debt.  One of the advantages of getting a loan from credit unions is that they must comply with a “usury law,” which means that they cannot exceed a specific interest rate, usually 18%.  If you have a great relationship with your bank, ask them if they have a loan consolidation program that can assist you with refinancing your pay day loan.
A last resort to get out of pay day loan debt may be bankruptcy. The two chapters available to file under for bankruptcy are Chapter 13 or Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is considered “reorganization” and is appropriate if you have significant collateral that you want to keep like a home or vehicle. Chapter 13 establishes a payment plan up to 5 years to pay on your debt based on your financial capacity.  Once you have completed all of the payments ordered in the bankruptcy plan, the debt is considered “discharged” and the remaining debt is not collectible by the creditor.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is considered “liquidation” and is appropriate if you have significant unsecured debt and minimum or no collateralize debt.  Chapter 7 liquidates or “terminates” qualified unsecured debt. Should you have collateralized debt, you can “reaffirm” with the bank and continue to make payments according to your credit agreement or you can “surrender” the collateral to the bank or trustee so it can be sold to pay on the debt to liquidate.
This option again should be a last resort consideration but can assist you in resetting your financial situation with a fresh start.  There are pros and cons to filing for bankruptcy so make sure that you consult with a knowledgeable and consumer focused bankruptcy attorney.  Click here to listen to my interview with Bankruptcy Trustee & Attorney, Angelyn Wright, Esq., as she talks about the “Truth About Bankruptcy.”
Sinking in Pay Day Loan debt can feel helpless and hopeless, but there is financial resurrection. The great thing is that you hold the power in stopping this type of financial abuse by making the decision to stop using pay day loans.  Make the decision today.
Of course, the best way to avoid "falling" into this bottomless pit of debt is to avoid using it at all costs. Seek alternative short term loans through your bank or credit union.
Financially True,
Tarra Jackson ... Making Money Sexy
P.S.  The 3 tips above is a start to help you get up from falling down into this type of debt, but there are other ways as well.  What are some other tips to "get up" from falling into pay day loan debt bottomless pit?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Owing Taxes SUCKS!

… Have you (or someone you know) filed your taxes and ended up owing taxes back? I have.
Yes, owing taxes SUCKS, especially when it is an absolute surprise.  Some of us have owed taxes for several years. Owing the IRS is sometimes an unexpected bill that can’t fit in our already tight budget. Despite how we may “feel” about it, owing taxes is essentially another "Loan" that is owed.  Here’s how it is like a “loan," how it can affect your Credit Score and 3 Tips of things to do to avoid having to pay back taxes next year.

When “not enough” taxes is OR “too much” taxes are being taken out during the course of the year, it means that the exemptions on your W-4 or your tax deductions may be incorrect. But, here is how taxes are like a "loan.”
If “too much” taxes are being taken out of your check throughout the year, the government is essentially “borrowing” that money from you.  They pay the amount they “borrowed” in a lump sum called a “Tax Refund.”
Conversely, if “not enough” taxes are being taken out of your check throughout the year, you are essentially “borrowing” the money from the government.  The amount you owe in taxes is the “borrowed” money you must pay back.  The great thing is that if you are not able to pay it back in a lump sum, payment plans over a period of time are available to avoid additional fees and penalties.
If the Taxes Owed is not paid within a timely manner, the IRS may report the delinquent taxes as a “Tax Lien” on your credit report under the Public Records section on your credit report. This will negatively affect the Payment History category of your credit score, which is 35% of the calculation. Also, the amount doesn’t matter. Whether you owe $500 or $5,000, the negative affect to the credit score will be the same.
If it is reporting on your credit report and you have paid the taxes due in full, make sure you get a copy of the Satisfied Tax Lien notice from the IRS. Also, dispute the information on your credit report, if necessary to have it updated as “Satisfied.”

As promised, here are 3 Tips of things to do to ensure that you don’t owe taxes next year.
Some people love to DIY (Do It Yourself) everything, including their taxes. And there are great Tax softwares available to help you do your own taxes. You can even do your taxes online. If you choose to do your own taxes, just remember President Ronald Reagan’s quote, “Trust but Verify.”  This is important, especially if you owed taxes for last year.  Simply take your completed taxes to a tax accountant or tax professional so they can make sure that you didn’t leave out any new deductions or, better yet, you didn’t write off something that didn’t qualify.
One of the reasons why people end up owing taxes is because they have the wrong number of exemptions on their W-4 forms.  Make sure to review, and update if necessary, your W-4 form with your employer annually, preferably at the beginning of each year. Consult with a tax accountant or tax professional for guidance.
Many people have turned their hobbies into a business. However, some of those people don’t give themselves credit by not taking advantage of available business tax write offs.  Not taking advantage of every eligible business tax write off is like giving away extra money. So, whether it’s selling your homemade secret recipe cakes or providing consultation, make sure you keep your receipts for all of your business related expense in one place, like an envelope for next year’s tax return.  You never know, certain business meeting meals up to your cell phone bill used for your business may be business tax write offs. Consult with a tax accountant or tax professional to understand what business expenses are tax deductible. 
The moral of the story is that winning the Tax Game is to GET NOTHING and OWE NOTHING! #IJS
Financially True,
Tarra Jackson ... Making Money Sexy