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Freedom Debt Relief - Warm Up For Winter

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As temperatures drop in the upcoming months, it may be tempting to spend more money on goods and services to keep warm. The tips listed below may help you brave the cold weather climates and ‘freeze’ …

As temperatures drop in the upcoming months, it may be tempting to spend more money on goods and services to keep warm. The tips listed below may help you brave the cold weather climates and ‘freeze’ some dollars for spring.

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  • 1. Volume 4 #9 Warm Up for Winter Tips to Overcome Common Financial Hurdles Inspiring Thoughts • Banks Reduce Credit Limits FDR Client Reminders • Spare Change Welcome to the Freedom Debt Relief monthly newsletter! As part of our ongoing goal to enhance our services, we will be sending you a monthly newsletter filled with interesting articles and helpful financial tips and 1-800-655-6303 advice. We hope you enjoy this issue, and that you find the enclosed information helpful as you continue on the road to financial freedom. Warm up Agriculture about freezing food safely located at www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Focus_On_ Freezing/index.asp. The web site for Allrecipes. for com also has a budget cooking section. You can find recipes for many tasty fall foods in addition to articles that discuss the pros and cons of bulk winter foods and meals for under $10. Visit the home page at www.allrecipes.com and then click on the “Budget Cooking” tab at the top of the page. A s temperatures drop in the upcoming to turning up the heat a few degrees. Children months, it may be tempting to spend can be especially expensive to clothe since they Driving can be more money on goods and services to outgrow items so fast. Instead of buying all new hazardous in freezing temperatures. According keep warm. The tips listed below may help you items for kids, check out thrift stores and resale to the Car Care Council, 70% of drivers do brave the cold weather climates and ‘freeze’ some shops such as Once Upon a Child (www.ouac. not winterize their vehicles. Ensure that your dollars for spring. com). Browse your local online classifieds such vehicle is prepared for inclement weather so you as www.craigslist.org and www.freecycle.org and can protect your investment. First of all, make The Alliance look for ads in which people list bags of clothing sure you have essentials such as an ice scraper to Save Energy (www.ase.org), a non-profit in a specific size. Some retail stores may also have and windshield wiper fluid. Once snowstorms coalition that supports energy efficiency, predicts a few racks of summer clearance left. You may hit your area, many stores may run out of these that natural gas and home energy costs will be be able to find practical items such as t-shirts items. Some other necessities to keep in your 20% more this year than in 2007. You may and tank tops that can be used as additional car in case you are stranded include jumper reduce your bill with simple tasks such as turning layers of clothing throughout the winter. Many cables, a snow shovel, rock salt, blankets, and a down your thermostat when you are not home communities also sponsor winter coat drives for flashlight. When temperatures drop, tires lose and closing vents and doors to unused rooms. families in need during this time of the year. Visit pressure. Tires affect ride, handling, traction, and Keep curtains open on sunny winter days to www.onewarmcoat.org for events and programs safety. Also, check your antifreeze and motor oil. heat up a room. When the sun sets, snug-fitting in your area. You can consult your owner’s manual or your drapes may also block cold drafts. Ceiling fans repair shop for specifications. Cold weather can can also help circulate heat during the winter Snowy also affect the life of windshield months. Poor insulation can also play a factor winter days can make it difficult wipers by making the rubber hard in skyrocketing heating bills. According to the to drive to the grocery store. and brittle. Wiper blades that Harvard University School of Public Health, During the fall season, you may are cracked or torn and do not there are 46 million under-insulated homes consider stocking up on foods such properly clean your windshield in the United States. For more information as canned soups, which usually should be changed. Freezing on insulating your home, check out www. make inexpensive and hearty temperatures will also reduce a simplyinsulate.com and visit www.energystar. meals. Campbell’s web site (www. vehicle’s battery power. It is critical gov/index.cfm?c=diy.diy_index for Energy Star’s rethinksoup.com) lists many recipes to keep battery connections clean, Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating. that use their condensed soup and tightened, and free of corrosion. The web sites listed in the box at the end of this even estimates the cost per serving. For more tips on general car care article also give some general tips on reducing For example, the approximate and winterizing your vehicle, your heating bill. cost per serving of Campbell’s visit www.carcare.org. During Condensed Tomato Soup is 23 the winter months, avoid making Warm clothing cents. You can also prepare food unnecessary driving trips. You will is essential during fall and winter months. ahead of time and then freeze it save money on gasoline and lessen Wearing an extra layer of clothing inside of the to eat on those chilly days. Read the online fact your chances of an accident due to hazardous house can be a frugal alternative as opposed sheet from the United States Department of weather conditions. Helpful Web Sites With Tips to Keep You Warm U.S. Department of Energy (www.energysavers. is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing gov): This section of the U.S. Department of energy efficiency. You can find information about Energy web site offers consumer tips on saving tax incentives for making your home more energy- energy. Discover simple no-cost and low cost tips efficient and download a checklist with energy to winterize your home and you can also find more saving tips. information about energy assistance programs in ENERGYguide (www.energyguide.com): In addition your state. to providing information on how to lower your energy ACEEE (www.aceee.org/Consumer/index.htm): The bills, this site also offers a lot of online tools to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy calculate your energy usage.
  • 2. a lot of bills and paperwork. Carefully review Tips to Overcome all items such as doctor and hospital bills along with insurance claim payments/denials. Mistakes do happen and uncorrected errors can be costly. Common If you can not afford your medical or hospital charges, contact the service provider’s billing department to set up a monthly payment plan. Financial Hurdles Be sure to save bills, cancelled checks, or other receipts for your tax preparer because you may be eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit. D Do a keyword search at www.irs.gov for HCTC. uring the course of your life, you will are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, If you are uninsured and have a serious health probably experience some sort of which may temporarily replace a portion of lost condition that makes it difficult to buy standard unexpected incident or emergency. wages. The web site for the Department of Labor health insurance plans, you may want to find Below are some common situations that may has a section that lists all of the unemployment out if your state has a risk pool. This type of drastically change a person’s financial situation. offices by state. Visit www.dol.gov/dol/location. insurance usually can not deny you due to most We would like to offer you some basic tips that htm for more information. This site also includes pre-existing conditions. For more information, may help reduce the impact on your finances. state job centers and employment outlooks for visit www.nahu.org/consumer/HRPGuide.cfm. Please note that the intent of this article is to give particular fields. During this time, try to keep an overview of general information. We realize spending under control so you can continue to A family member passes away. Coping with that everyone may have their own complex set pay necessary bills the next three to six months. the loss of a loved one will undoubtedly take an of circumstances that may require additional If possible, avoid withdrawing or borrowing emotional toll on family members. During this resources. money from your retirement savings. difficult time, most families will struggle with the unbelievable shock and grief of the situation. A divorce occurs. Divorce laws can be You can’t make your mortgage payment. If Therefore, finances and money will not be at the complicated and may differ by state. You may you are having difficulty paying your mortgage, forefront of someone that recently lost a loved choose to seek the advice of an attorney that you should contact your loan servicer and find one. This will be a time that family members specializes in this field. Search for a divorce out if you qualify for modified loan terms or can band together to support one another in attorney in your area at www.familylawsoftware. other options to help you keep your home accomplishing some of the following necessary com. Under the section labeled “For Individuals instead of losing it to foreclosure. You may also tasks. Facing Divorce,” click on the “Find Professionals want to seek help from a trained homeownership • Locate important documents, such as in Our Directory” link. This site sells divorce- counselor. To find a reputable counselor, insurance policies and the most recent will. related software, but also offers valuable contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at • Before committing to any funeral information about the divorce process. You can the Homeownership Preservation Foundation costs, consult with other family also check out the “Divorce Guide---A World (1-888-995-4673 or www.995hope.org) members and perhaps a lawyer of Help” link located under the “For Individuals or the U.S. Department of Housing about any prior instructions or Facing Divorce” column for a variety of helpful and Urban Development for a arrangements. information and calculators. A certified divorce referral to a HUD-approved planner (CDP) may also be able to assist you. homeownership counseling • Obtain multiple copies of the death This professional is a financial planner that has agency (1-800-569-4287 certificate, which will be needed to completed additional training and education or www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/ apply for death benefits (such as life related to the financial issues of divorce. If you sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm). insurance policies or Social Security) wish to hire a CDP, visit the web site of the and to access bank accounts. You or a family member Institute for Certified Divorce Planners at www. • If the family’s medical insurance experiences a medical institutedfa.com. is through the deceased person’s emergency. In addition to employer, consider options for A family member loses their job. If there dealing with a medical illness, continuing coverage. is a loss of income in the household, see if you your household will also receive into debt and considered it to be a big mistake. family illness or job loss, recognize that almost Dwelling on the past will not solve your current everyone experiences setbacks at least once problems. Remember that if nobody ever made a during the course of their life. In the midst of mistake, society would not grow and prosper. an unfortunate circumstance, you did what It’s true…everyone does make mistakes. you needed to do in order to survive. Once you However, you can learn from them and deal with complete your settlement program, you may the results of your mistakes in a constructive consider starting an emergency fund in case an and effective way. In order to learn a valuable unanticipated event should ever occur again. lesson, you must keep experimenting with Regardless of the reasons for your debt, realize new approaches to your dilemmas instead of that enrolling in a debt settlement program is repeating the same mistakes. For example, if you one way to rectify your economic situation. acquired debt due to overspending, use this time Commend yourself for taking this positive step to educate yourself on responsible credit card use. towards improving your finances. Although you The man who makes no mistakes does When it comes time to re-establish your credit, may be currently faced with overwhelming debt, not usually make anything. you will know not to make the same mistakes you have decided to take action. In the end, ~Edward Phelps again. Putting yourself down or becoming angry you may become a stronger person because you E and bitter will not help your current situation. learned from your mistakes. veryone makes mistakes. You probably On the other hand, if your debt was the have heard this phrase at some point in result of an unforeseen circumstance such as a your life. In fact, you may regret getting
  • 3. Credit Commentary Banks reduce credit limits Client Reminders R Visit us on the web! Did you ecent news indicates that credit card a recent Bankrate article, many lenders are also know that you can view your account companies may be reducing credit lowering credit limits for non-traditional reasons information online? We have recently limits on consumer accounts in such as whether the consumer has a sub-prime enhanced our web site for our clients. Go response to the troubling economy. Consumer mortgage or if they live in a state that has been to www.freedomdebtrelief.com and click Action, a non-profit consumer advocacy adversely affected by the housing crisis. on the tab “Current Clients.” Then, near organization, conducted a study this past Why now? Any individual or family the bottom of the page under the heading summer entitled, “Consumer Action’s Credit Limit Survey. According to this survey, 18% of “Existing Client Login for Account that has experienced a crisis situation may have the 1,083 participants revealed that their credit Information” click on the button, “Click discovered that difficult times sometimes inspire limits had been lowered by their banks this year. positive changes and bring families closer. Here.” Enter your e-mail address, and Consumers that plan to apply for new loans or As mentioned previously, the credit industry then follow the instructions to create a credit may also face more stringent guidelines. A implemented stricter policies regarding credit password and validate your information. July 2008 Federal Reserve Board survey indicates limits as a result of the crippling economy. You will now be able to view this that 65% of domestic banks had tightened their But, what happens if the nation’s financial information online! lending standards on credit card loans during the circumstances improve in the future? Will card previous three months. issuers resort to their former lenient lending Tax Debt? If you owe money to the practices? Only time will tell. IRS and would like information on Is this good news? For years, many Statistics cited in this article suggest that credit how to reduce your tax debts, please credit card companies have enticed consumers card companies are carefully assessing the risk contact our sister company, Freedom to spend by increasing credit limits and charging and creditworthiness of cardholders and potential Tax Relief at 1-800-455-6TAX. Our tax a relatively low minimum applicants. Regardless of the monthly payment. The state of the economy, it is easy attorneys and tax specialists are eager to convenience of credit to wonder why credit card immediately start helping you resolve cards have allowed some companies would not have your tax troubles. In addition, existing consumers to charge luxury more stringent underwriting FDR clients are eligible for a $100 referral items they would not standards for applicants such bonus if they refer someone to Freedom normally buy with cash, as college students. Most Tax Relief. cover emergency expenses, undergraduates do not need or pay for necessities a job or verifiable income to *** such as groceries or gas apply for a credit card. Customer Service Phone No: during tough economic 1-800-655-6303 How does this affect me? You times. Shrinking credit lines could be viewed as a positive step in the right direction as many may have limited access to credit while you are consumers may be required to live below their enrolled in a debt negotiation program. When it FAX No: 650-393-6800 means. comes times to re-establish your credit, consider Credit card companies also seem more applying for one or two credit cards with low prudent in making credit decisions. According limits. High credit lines should not really be Hours of Operation: to Consumer Action’s 2008 Credit Card Survey, that much of a concern to you because it is customer service representatives at six well-known Mon-Thurs: 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PST wise to charge only what you can afford to pay financial institutions told surveyors that they Fri: 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST in full each month. If you notice that a credit would reduce cardholder’s credit limits because Sat: 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. PST card company increases your limit due to timely of perceived customer risk. Factors included a payments, resist the urge to use plastic for decline in cardholder credit scores, late payments, extravagant purchases. Overspending E-mail: and balances that go too close to the credit limit. with credit can easily spiral out support@freedomdebtrelief.com This practice is not necessarily new considering of control and cause a that some credit card agreements have a universal dangerous cycle default clause, allowing companies to raise of debt. interest rates or reduce credit lines if information We want contained in a consumer credit report suggests a possible credit risk. However, according to Invest in your lunch. your ideas! Ordering take-out and dining out with coworkers may be a strain on your budget. Check out Bankrate’s Lunch Savings Calculator What do you want to see in the and discover how much money you can save each month by packing your lunch. Visit www.bankrate.com/brm/calculators/ newsletter? We welcome your input. calc_index.asp. and click on the “Lunch savings calculator” under Email your ideas to info@pifff.org. the Savings section.
  • 4. collection contact involving an accusation of a Spare Change crime or similar conduct is strictly forbidden by law. Consumers also reported that this agency threatened to sue them if they did not pay. Because this particular collection agency employs News, financial tips, and no lawyers and does not file lawsuits of any kind, other information regarding these threats were misleading and therefore, personal financial freedom unlawful. Con artists pose as FTC Buying used cars can save to freeze the bank accounts of New Yorkers employees. In their latest effort to defraud who receive income that is exempt from debt thousands. A recent Consumer Reports collection under federal and state law, such as the public, con artists claiming to work for the study of owner costs shows that choosing a Social Security, veterans’ benefits, disability, and Federal Trade Commission are calling consumers reliable three-year-old car instead of a new one pension. The law ensures the first $2,500 in and claiming that they have won a lottery or can save drivers thousands of dollars over the an account which contains directly deposited sweepstakes. As the nation’s consumer protection first five years. In many cases, that is enough exempt income cannot be restrained. agency, the FTC never collects money directly to pay for all the gas used during that time. from consumers. But the public may be fooled, With relatively low mileage, modern safety and Charges are filed against Florida because by using Internet technology, con convenience features, and usually a much lower collection agency. West Virginia Attorney artists can make it appear that they are calling price than similar new vehicles, late-model used from Washington, DC, where the FTC is General Darrell McGraw recently filed suit cars are great deals. On average, Consumer headquartered. The FTC’s name may even be against Florida collection agency for unlawful, Reports’ findings show that consumers can save displayed on consumers’ caller ID machines. coercive debt collection practices. Beginning 32 percent in the first five years by buying a All the public has to do, according to the con in 2006, consumers complained that they had three-year-old car. Similarly, with a one or two- artists’ pitch, is pay the taxes and insurance on received calls from this agency suggesting year-old car, they can save 19 and 27 percent, their “winnings.” The caller asks that consumers they would be arrested if they respectively. wire money or send a check for an did not pay a cellular telephone amount between $1,000 and $10,000. New law will assist New York bill. According to the lawsuit, In reality, there is no prize, and the this agency tried to coerce consumers. The Exempt Income Protection scammers disappear with the consumers’ payments from consumers by Act will shield elderly, disabled, veteran, and money. Real sweepstakes don’t require implying that a “federal marshal” lower income New Yorkers from unlawful you to send money to claim a prize. To would appear at the consumer’s practices by debt collectors and goes into effect learn more about avoiding this type of workplace, or that a deputy January 1, 2009. The new law closes a loophole scam, go to www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/ sheriff would serve a warrant for that has allowed debt collectors and credit consumer/alerts/alt099.shtm. the consumer’s arrest. Any debt card companies to use “restraining notices” The Freedom Debt Relief newsletter is published by The Premier Institute for Financial Freedom. While articles in this newsletter are factual and accurate, they are not intended to replace the advice of professional financial, accounting, and/or legal advisers. As with all decisions regarding your finances, the advice, techniques, ideas and suggestions offered herein should be followed under the supervision of the appropriate competent professional. 1875 South Grant Street Suite 400 San Mateo, CA 94402 Phone: (800) 655-6303 FAX: (650) 897-8800