Get Your Accounts in Shape

Guest blog by Tiffany R. Love
Author of Surviving Financial Disasters: Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Eviction, Auto Repossession, Excessive Debts and Much More 

With 57 percent of wage-earners with children living paycheck-to-paycheck and the record total of outstanding consumer non-mortgage debt nearly $2 trillionÜ it's time to take charge of your finances. Great news, help is available. Women have historically relied on husbands to care for their finances. In the event of divorce and, oftentimes, death many women don't know where to turn. Furthermore, a growing number of adults are choosing to remain single. What to do when prince charming isn't around? While I, a single woman, was completing my first book I was suddenly and unexpectedly found unemployed. This distressing event didn't alter my spending habits. With the threat of foreclosure lingering I took control of my financial future to save my property and rescue my sanity. Each of us have stories that lead to the disappearing of our savings, but knowing how to alter spending patterns sooner rather than later can enable us to take charge as opposed to running and hiding from creditors. 

I often liken money management to working out at the gym. How many people sincerely want to spend an hour working out each day? Most of enjoy eating ice cream and watching our favorite video. Similarly becoming financially fit takes work, a little bit each day to get into shape. The first step is to obtain your credit report; regard this stage as the enrollment process. Don't fear obtaining your credit reports; this is a pivotal sobering step that shifts our focus onto our finances. A contact list of the three major credit bureaus is included at the end of this article.

For some, your credit report may tell you that you're not in bad shape. However, others are laden with a history of unpaid debt and need to take action to prevent you from collapsing under pressure. Consider this your lucky day because it's not too late to turn your finances around. Even if the house is in foreclosure, bankruptcy is the only way you can stop creditors from calling, or the repo man is stalking you there's still time repair your finances. However, you must remove the blankets from over your head and face the problems; this is an important requirement to becoming financially healthy. 

Ready? Let's begin working out. Here are a few exercises adapted from my book Surviving Financial Disasters to help lift debt off your shoulders:

∑ For those with several credit cards, don't spend your income tax return building a deck or painting the house, use the money to pay off your credit cards and then close accounts, cut up the cards, and don't look back. 

∑ Maybe you owe the IRS and a refund is a fantasy, but you have steady income and plenty of write offs. It's time to increase the number of dependants claimed on your income tax. This should provide you with more money each month to pay off your debts. Contact a knowledgeable tax accountant to ensure you have enough write offs to prevent owing additional money to the IRS. 

∑ Don't delay selling possessions to obtain extra cash. Instead of refinancing a home consider selling the property and relocating to a less expensive area. This could be a temporary move until your debts are manageable. Don't forget yard sales. Items hidden in your closet and garage may be the find your neighbor has been searching for. Yard sales are an excellent source for immediate money.

∑ Think resourceful. We're constantly tempted with the lasted and greatest. Think long term. A Mercedes Benz isn't the only vehicle that can get back and forth to work. Wait for the sales. Evaluate the importance of the purchase. Ask yourself if it can be realistically liquidated to pay the mortgage next month?

∑ Missed mortgage payments can be made up. Don't worry, missing mortgage payments frequently occurs. Lenders allow borrowers to enter forbearance (or mortgage modification) agreements. The delinquent balance can be paid over time or added the balance of the loan.

It's time to live each day as a deposit into an account of your ultimate happiness. Women don't need to feel alone nor do we need to learn the hard way. Numerous options are available to those who want to prevent and get out of debt. Don't feel discouraged, remember it will take time to have a nice tight account, but it's worth the work. Best wishes.

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

P.O Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104

Trans Union
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022