I had a great talk with Millennial Money Man yesterday and my favorite piece of advice he gave me was to âwrite what youâre passionate about.â It took me literally five seconds to think of the one thing Iâm really passionate…
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This page may include affiliate links. Please see theÂ disclosure pageÂ for more information. If you have many different debts with different interest rates, payoff schedules, and balances, it may sound like a good idea to sign up for debt consolidation. Debt consolidation can seem appealing with the promise of a significantly lower monthly payment and a…
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If youâve ever had an overdue bill get sent to collections, then you may have encountered a junk debt buyer. These companies purchase overdue accounts from a business or lender with the intent of collecting…
The post What Are Junk Debt Buyers? appeared first on Crediful.
Letâs face it: The worst thing about having to go to the hospital to receive medical treatment is being slammed with a huge bill afterwards. Sometimes, these medical bills are so expensive that you simply donât have the means to pull it off right away, especially without health insurance. While we may find it easier in the short term to pretend that our unpaid medical bills donât exist, avoiding the problem could only make it worse. Many medical providers are aware of this, which is why there are ways that you can negotiate your medical debt when you are unable to pay in full. In this article, we will discuss the different ways you can go about taking care of those medical expenses so that they donât stack up later and wreak havoc on your credit.
Negotiate for insurance rates
Without health insurance, youâll most likely be charged a much steeper price. If you want to negotiate your medical bills, one thing you can do is research what the fair market value is for whatever treatments you received. Usually, this is the price that insurance companies have to pay medical providers, and most of the time, itâs a lot cheaper.
Once youâve found the dollar amount youâd like to ask for, you will need to get in touch with the billing department. If the person on the phone turns you down, ask to speak to their supervisor. Itâs important to remain calm and polite while doing this but be persistent. Continue to ask to speak to a higher ranking individual until you reach someone who agrees to make a deal with you.
Pay it in cash
Cash payments are hard to turn down in most cases. if you want to negotiate a lower price on medical bills, you can offer to make a cash payment. Call your medical provider or the billing department and ask them if they would be willing to knock down the price of your bills if you were to pay in cash. Explain to them that if they canât offer you any other sort of financial assistance, then this is another route you can take.
Not only will this save them money on credit card fees and hours worked by office employees, but it will also save time spent on processing paperwork. This is a smart offer to make, as instant cash payments as opposed to electronic payments are a lot harder to say no to for any business or institution.
Ask for a payment plan
Thereâs a good chance that even after youâve asked for a lower price and offered to pay in cash, your medical provider will be unwilling to give you a deal. When this happens, there is still one more thing you can try. Before readily handing over your credit card, ask them if you can make payments on your bill. Most companies will allow you to do this and are used to working with people who are unable to pay their bills in full. Be honest about how much you are able to pay at a time.
Itâs likely that they will try to negotiate a higher payment amount, but politely tell them that itâs not feasible for you. Most of the time, they will be understanding and take whatever payment they can get. If youâre struggling financially, making small payments on your medical bills is the best way to go to keep your credit score in tact. As long as you are making payments on your bills, the companies will not report you to the credit bureaus.
Take precautionary measures
A lot of medical providers and medical facilities have programs that offer financial assistance, but you are going to have to ask them for it. Be transparent at the time of or even before your medical treatment occurs. If the treatment you are seeking is not a medical emergency, ask ahead of time if there is a cheaper option or if you can get a discount. If you donât have health insurance, this needs to be explained as early on as possible. Let your doctor know if you are living off of low income or if you are in the midst of some other type of financial hardship that is keeping you from being able to pay for service.
If you are successful in negotiating your medical bills, you might want to get it in writing so that you have proof. In some cases, you may even want to make your request in writing so that you have it on record in case anything goes wrong later. Once a deal has been agreed upon by both you and the medical provider or billing department, type up a summary of the conversation including key details of who you spoke to and the prices that were negotiated.
Other options for paying bills
There is no one-size-fits-all way of clearing your medical bills once and for all.Â Some people have insurance, some can afford to pay in full, and some are going to have to negotiate a lower price. If you have already tried negotiating medical bills and were unsuccessful, there are other options to explore. Here are some other ways you can go about paying your medical bills:
Medical credit cards: Thereâs no guarantee that your medical provider will accept a payment plan. However, most of the time, they will accept payment with the use of a medical credit card. If you have no other choice, ask your doctorâs office about how you can apply for a medical credit card. Usually, you are able to apply at the office right then and there. Most medical credit cards offer zero interest for up to 12 months. If you can manage to pay off the medical debt within that timeframe, then perhaps a medical credit card is a good choice for you. Be wary of this if you already have poor credit.
Personal loan: If youâve already been through all of your other options and were unable to make something work, it might be time to look at taking out a type of unsecured credit, such as a personal loan. If you have a significant amount of medical debt looming over your head, this might be a good idea as you can usually take out anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000. Once again, if you donât have a good history with using credit, seriously consider the pros and cons of doing this.
Interest free credit card: If you donât end up qualifying for a payment plan or a medical credit card, you can use a 0% interest credit card to pay the tab as long as you have good or outstanding credit.
Hire a medical bill advocate: If you feel overwhelmed by the task of reading through your medical bills and looking for errors, you can hire a professional to do it for you. Medical bill advocates are familiar with common procedures and the prices of treatments. If you have been wrongfully charged or overcharged, a medical bill advocate will be able to find this right away. Aside from pinpointing any errors, experts in medical bills will also do the negotiating for you.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by a large medical bill, remember that you have several options for taking care of it. It might be tempting to ignore the bill altogether but doing this could really damage your credit. Being honest with your medical provider from the beginning can prevent you from having to deal with extra costs. However, sometimes medical bills are ineveitable and we have to pay them. Consider payment plans or a medical credit card, but whatever you do, donât let your unpaid medical bills be a show stopper!
How to Negotiate Your Medical Debt is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
As Americans grappled with the financial consequences of the pandemic in March of this year, the federal government took several actions to help cash-strapped consumers. For starters, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in late March of 2020, which included a temporary suspension of payments and interest for government-owned student loans through the end of September 2020.
Beyond just suspending payments and interest, the act also halted all collections activities on federal student loans. Americans pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) would see these non-payment months counted toward the 120 months of payments needed to have their loans forgiven.
This announcement was a huge relief for Americans with student debt since it meant they could pause federal student loan payments without accruing interest or facing penalties for several months. And recently, this assistance was extended for the remainder of 2020.
About the Student Loan Deferment Order
According to a memorandum from the White House, this extension intends to âprovide such deferments to borrowers as necessary to continue the temporary cessation of payments and the waiver of all interest on student loans held by the Department of Education until December 31, 2020.â
What does this mean for borrowers? The extension of this order means that those with federally owned student loans (not private student loans) can continue skipping payments for the duration of 2020. Interest wonât accrue on federal student loans during this time, and penalties wonât come into effect for those who choose to defer loan payments.
How Does This Help Student Loan Borrowers?
Although unemployment numbers have improved since the summer, the initial pause on federal student loan payments was of massive help for borrowers struggling with job loss or a loss in pay. After all, getting a break from student loan payments made room for funds to go toward other household needs and bills. Keep in mind that the average student loan payment is approximately $393 for all borrowers, but that many with advanced degrees pay significantly more than that every month.
When the Presidential action was released, it was unclear whether borrowers pursuing PSLF will still receive credit for non-payment months. However, a U.S. Department of Education press release clarified that PSLF borrowers would, in fact, receive credit toward loan forgiveness as if theyâd made on-time payments.
Just keep in mind that this order does not apply to consumers with private student loans. Only federal student loans qualify for this protection, although some private student loan companies are offering their own separate deferment options to consumers who can show financial hardship.
Pros and Cons of Making Payments During Automatic Deferment
One interesting detail from this order is buried in the fine print:
âAll persons who wish to continue making student loan payments shall be allowed to do so, notwithstanding the deferments provided pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.â
In summary, you can continue making payments on your federal student loans during the deferment period if you want to. Whether you should, depends on your goals and your situation.
Benefits of Making Loan Payments
If you havenât faced a loss in income, then you might be tempted to continue making payments on your student loans. The benefits of doing so include:
Paying down your student loan debt faster. The Department of Education says that, through the end of 2020, âthe full amount of your payments will be applied to principal once all the interest that accrued prior to March 13 is paid.â This means that every cent thrown toward your loans right now applies to your loan balance, quickly reducing your student debt on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Saving money on interest. Because of the way interest accrues on student loans and other debts, reducing your balance will automatically save you money on interest over the long haul. The more you pay toward your student loans now, the more money you save.
Related: How To Pay Off Student Loans Faster Than Ever
Disadvantages of Making Loan Payments
There are a few potential downsides to making student loan payments when theyâre not required. Plus, borrowers with certain types of student loans should not be making payments right now.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
You may need the money later on. Even if your income is fine right now, the financial fallout from the pandemic is far from over. If you choose to make student loan payments through the end of the year and lose your job in a few months, you might wish you had saved that extra cash instead.
Those pursuing PSLF shouldnât make payments. If youâre pursuing PSLF, then this deferment period is counted toward the 120 on-time payments you need for loan forgiveness. If you continued making payments through the end of the year, you would be throwing money down the drain.
Most borrowers on income-driven repayment plans have little incentive to make payments. If youâre on an income-driven repayment plan like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Income Based Repayment (IBR), then your loan payment is only a percentage of your discretionary income, and your loans will be forgiven after 20-25 years of on-time payments. Borrowers who aim to have their loans forgiven after 20-25 years anyway should skip payments through the end of the year and set aside their cash for a rainy day instead.
The Bottom Line
Individuals who want to pay off their loans quickly would be smart to pay as much as they can, but only if they can afford it. It also makes sense to be cautious about any extra income you have for the time being. After all, more economic pain may be on the way, and itâs possible you could face a loss in income later in the year.
Without any interest accruing on federally owned student loans during this historic forbearance, however, you could always put your student loan payments into a high-yield savings account until the end of the year. At that point, you can assess your financial situation and make a large, lump sum payment toward your loans if you want.
This strategy creates a greater safety net for the remainder of 2020 while also paying down debt faster with a large payment before the end of December. Run the numbers and make sure you have a plan (and a back-up plan) in place.
The post Should You Make Payments During Coronavirus Student Loan Deferment? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
The post How to Become Financially Stable appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
lThese are things you must due in order to improve your financial stability.
Letâs talk about financial stability. The truth is, living a financially stable lifestyle leads to all kinds of great things like great credit scores. Â You have a savings pillow to fall back on during hard times. Â It allows you more possibilities in everything from choice of car, home, vacation and everything in between.
The bottom line is, living a financially stable lifestyle is more important today than ever before and will continue to gain importance throughout the future. That being said, here are 3 things that you can do to improve your level of financial stabilityâ¦
CREATE A BUDGET
Budgets are one thing that everyone knows they should have but few people actually do! The simple fact is, either people simply donât want to sit down for the 2 or 3 hours it might take to make a budget or they donât know the first place to start.
Think about all of the things that might need to be included in your spreadsheet. You will need to track your monthly income, monthly bills, debts, savings and goals.
You can use your favorite spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, or any other program and make a spreadsheet that will track all of this information.
If youâre not too great with spreadsheets, donât worry, I recently wrote a step by step guide including screenshots of steps on how to make a budget spreadsheet.
TRACK YOUR CREDIT
Your credit scoreÂ is going to follow you around for your entire life. Even after you pass, what your credit report displays could put a dent in your estate! That being said, itâs always a good idea to get a copy of your credit report about every 4 months.
Doing so will help you to understand who you owe money to and, what you can do to improve upon your overall levels of debt and income. Also, itâs important to make sure that your credit report is accurate. By getting a copy of your credit report every 4 months, as soon as anything changes, you can make sure that it changes on your credit report as well.
The law requires the 3 major credit reporting agencies to provide consumers with a copy of their credit report once per year. So, you wonât have to pay for yours! Simply go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com and request your report from a different reporting agency every 4 months and you donât pay a dime!
SECURE YOUR IDENTITY
Iâve never been to any nice houses that didnât have alarm systems. Even in theÂ ritzyÂ areas, homeowners have an alarm on their house to protect the stability of their home.
Your identity is just as important as your home and, identities are stolen at similar rates to home break ins! It is important to take simple steps to protect your identity, especially when making risky purchases. For instance, any online purchase should be considered as a risky purchase but, there is a safe way to do it.
First, use a service like PayPal that provides fraud protection. Next, only enter your payment information into websites that have an active security certificate. You can tell by looking at the URL. If it starts in https://, you are on a secure page within the website. If it starts with anything else, you should not enter any payment or personal identification information.
You may also consider looking into identity theft protection services as they are pretty cheap and can save you tons!
This article was written by Joshua Rodriguez, proud owner and founder of CNA Finance and avid personal finance journalist. Join the conversation with Joshua on Google+!
The post How to Become Financially Stable appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Dealing with a bill collector is never fun and it can be particularly stressful when youâre sitting on a mountain of debt. Sometimes debt collectors fail to follow the rules outlined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If thatâs the issue youâre facing, it might be a good idea to file a complaint. But if youâre personally making any of these mistakes, your debt problem could go from bad to worse.
Check out our credit card calculator.
1. Ignoring Debt Collectors
Screening calls and avoiding bill collectors wonât help you get your debt under control. Debts generally have a statute of limitations that varies depending on the state you live in. Once it expires, the collector might not be able to sue you anymore. But you could still be responsible for paying back what you owe in addition to any interest that has accumulated.
In addition to the potential legal consequences of unpaid bills, letting old debt pile up can destroy your credit score. Unpaid debts can remain on a credit report for as many as seven years. So if your debt collector is getting on your last nerves, it might be best to stop hiding and face him head on.
2. Saying Too Much Over the Phone
If you decide to stop dodging your bill collectors, itâs important to avoid sharing certain details over the phone. You never want to say that youâll pay a specific amount of money by a deadline or give someone access to your bank accounts. Anything you say can be used against you and agreeing to make a payment can actually extend a statute of limitations that has already run out.
A debt collectorâs No. 1 goal is to collect their missing funds. They canât curse at you or make empty threats, but they can say other things to try and scare you into paying up. Staying calm, keeping the call short and keeping your comments to a minimum are the best ways to deal with persistent bill collectors.
Related Article: Dealing With Debt Collectors? Know Your Rights
3. Failing to Verify That the Debt Is Yours
When youâre talking to a bill collector, itâs also wise to avoid accepting their claims without making sure theyâre legitimate. Debt collection scams are common. So before you send over a single dime, youâll need to confirm that the debt belongs to you and not someone else.
Reviewing your credit report is a great place to start. If you havenât received any written documentation from the collection agency, itâs a good idea to request that they mail you a letter stating that you owe them a specific amount of money.
If you need to dispute an error you found on your credit report, you have 30 days from the date that you received formal documentation from the collection agency to notify them (in writing) that a mistake was made. Youâll also need to reach out to each of the credit reporting agencies to get the error removed. Theyâll expect you to mail them paperwork as proof of your claim.
4. Failing to Negotiate the Payments
No matter how big your debts, thereâs usually room for negotiation when it comes to making payments. If the payment plan your bill collector offers doesnât work for you, itâs okay to throw out a number youâre more comfortable with.
Sometimes, itâs possible to get away with paying less than what you owe. Instead of agreeing to pay back everything, you can suggest that youâre willing to pay back a percentage of the debt and see what happens. A non-profit credit counselor can help you come up with a debt management plan if you need assistance. Whatever you agree to, keep in mind that the deal needs to be put in writing.
Related Article: All About the Statute of Limitations on Debt
5. Failing to Keep Proper Documentation
Whenever you communicate with a bill collector, itâs a good idea to take notes. Jotting down details about when you spoke with a collector and what you discussed can help you if youâre forced to appear in court or report a collector who has broken the law. Collecting written notices from bill collectors and saving them in a folder can also help your case.
Dealing with bill collectors can be a real pain. By knowing how to interact with them, youâll be in the best position to get rid of your unpaid loans and credit card debt (that is, if you actually owe anything) on your own terms.
These are the steps that introduced me and my husband to what financial independence is and for that I am eternally grateful. But a lot of important considerations get looked over if you just find a list of the steps…
The post The Baby Steps Explained, And Why They Work! appeared first on Modern Frugality.
This page may include affiliate links. Please see theÂ disclosure pageÂ for more information. When the calendar says it’s the first of the month, do you get excited about the opportunities that may arrive with the new month, or do you have panic attacks on how you are going to survive another month living in debt?Â If…
The post Personal Finances: Prioritizing and Paying off Debt appeared first on Debt Discipline.