Friday, August 23, 2013

5 Behaviors of Highly Effective Savers

Today's blog is a guest blog from the team at Debt.Org. Special thanks to the writer, Alanna Ritchie.

Managing personal finances successfully requires more than understanding numbers and having good accounting skills. In order for debt management solutions to be effective in helping you get out of debt and stay that way, they must be supported by changes in behavior.

Adopting five behaviors of highly effective savers can help to ensure that once you gain control over your debt and finances, you'll be able to keep that control in the long-term. Try incorporating these behaviors into the way you operate your personal finances, as well as your life in general, and you'll be sure to see positive results:

Set Incremental Goals

Setting a huge, generalized goal may end up overwhelming you, rather than moving you forward. Take that big goal – to get out of debt, perhaps – and break it into smaller, very specific steps with a workable, realistic time schedule. For example, when preparing for an upcoming big expense, set a weekly goal for saving for it.

Be a Good Record Keeper

Keeping track of what comes in and what goes out assists you in understanding the effects of your financial choices. When you are working to regain control of your finances, being a good record keeper will show you the positive results of your efforts, supplying even more motivation to keep up the good work.

3.       Own Your Situation and Your Choices
If creditors are pressing you or your credit card interest rates have skyrocketed, the bottom line is that such things are a natural consequence of your past behavior. Accept it, own it and deal with it, rather than being angry at the people calling or your credit card company. It will reduce the stress in your life and help you to be more focused on what has to be done. Maybe think of joining a credit union. They normally have fewer fees, lower interest rates on loans, more services and higher dividends on deposits than banks.

4.       Prioritize Properly
Place long-term well-being over instant gratification. Expand your vision beyond what you want in the moment to what you hope for and really need in the future by putting money in savings before you spend any for pleasure. Apply this concept to credit card use. Make financial choices—like putting money in savings or making a credit card purchase only if you know you will be able to handle payments—with the future in 

5.       Evaluate and Adjust as Needed
Effective savers are good at evaluating their own behaviors and situations and making the necessary improvements. They strive to be honest about their weaknesses and work hard to improve them. That is because they keep their goals and the big picture clearly in mind.

When you make these behaviors a part of how you manage your life and your finances, you'll be able to make the most out of the opportunity that debt settlement or other debt-related solutions offer you. All the work you do to eliminate debt will be wasted if you don't supplement the effort by developing behaviors that will keep you from returning to that position again.

Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.

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Our next Free Financial Education Workshop is this Wednesday. Credit Myths and Repair will explain the top ten myths of managing credit. We will address balances, payments, collections, and judgments.  The workshop is fun and informative. You will learn more about credit than you had ever imagined!

Credit Myths and Repair
6:30 PM - Wednesday, August 28th. 
5615 Chesbro Ave, San Jose CA 95123

To RSVP, please contact or call 408-365-6328

Friday, August 9, 2013

Incoming Freshman: Easy Stuff for Managing your Money

Cool, you have graduated high school and have moved on to an institution of higher learning aka a university or community college. Maybe you’re self funded, parent-funded, or using a variety of grants and/or student loans to make your ends meet. Over the next four years, you will likely be handling more money than at any other time in your life so far.

As you start your classes, you will find there are a lot of demands on your wallet. Books and tuition are a large part of this demand. But it is managing your living expenses and personal entertainment that calls for the most attention. Take some advice and don’t throw money out a window!

  1. Open a checking account at a credit union.
    • Why a CU? No monthly service charges. Reduced fees. More Free ATM’s.
    • Use your online banking to track your checking usage. Don’t be afraid to check your balance daily on your phone, laptop, or tablet, it’s free!
    • Open up a savings, too. Set up a small amount to automatically transfer to the savings monthly. You may not miss the money but it will be there when you need it. $20 a month can be a lifesaver down the line.
  2. Organize: Create some files for your important documents and statements. The basics will include:
    • College File: This file has your documentation for your financial aid; loans or grants. It should hold the receipts for your tuition payments.
    • Banking File: This file has all your bank statements (if you are not using your online banking). If you have a credit card you are managing, the statements would go here as well.
    • Bills: This file is where your monthly/quarterly records of bills shall be filed away; i.e. rent, cable bills, cell phone, heat/electricity.
    • Find a locking cabinet at a yard sale or second hand store to save your documentation. A simple lock is often all it takes to keep honest people honest and discourage would be identity thieves.
  3. Budget: You have a limited amount of money each semester from your student aid grant or loan receipts.
·        Use any money left over after paying your tuition and book expenses to help pay for your living expenses. That money left over after paying your school expenses is not a bonus to be spent at parties and spring break. It is what you have to feed and cloth yourself.
·        Take the amount and break it out in even amounts for the next few months until your next aid payment is expected.
·        Plan for your expected expenses by creating a budget for each month. You don’t have to wait until October to create the budget for October.
·        Saving money should be the second item in your budget after paying your rent. See #1.

  1. Avoid owning a car. This may sound crazy in “Car Culture” California, but in the big picture, owning a car is a major expense.
    • Paying for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs can put a major crimp in your happy fun time at college.
    • Colleges like San Jose State are close to all manner of stores and restaurants. There are lots of great shopping and eating options within easy walking or bike riding distances.
    • Besides, municipal transportation passes/bus passes are so much cheaper than gas, tires, and car insurance!
  2. Don’t get talked into applying for a credit card. You don’t need it.
    • Of course, if Mom or Dad set you up with a card that you will manage together, that is a different matter. That card is in your possession for emergencies more than likely. Emergencies involve medical issues, police issues, fire, or floods. Running out of beer or pizza does not constitute an emergency. There is no such thing as an emergency night at the movies or an emergency concert.
    • Manage the card well and, if your name is on the account, you will build a strong credit record while you are enrolled in college.
    • Mismanaged cards don’t just get you into expensive credit card debt at high interest rates, it can affect you emotionally through depression and that can affect your studies.

Some of these suggestions may make your life easier. Some of them may save you money. The final word is that only you can make decisions and manage your finances. No one will do it for you. Do it right and you will thrive. I don’t like to think about the alternative! 
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Our next free financial literacy workshops are coming August 21st and 28th. 

  • The 21st we will have our Real World Budgeting Class for Teenagers. The class is held here at our main office in our Training Center at 6:30pm. Click her to RSVP! 

  • The 28th we will be offering The Myths of Credit and Credit Repair. This class will also be held here at our main office in our Training  Center at 6:30pm. Click here to RSVP!