How to Deal with Debt in Australia

Debt can feel like an avalanche slowly rolling down a snowy hill. Starting as a snowball of one missed credit card payment, it can grow over time into several credit card payments, missed mortgage payments, and then utility payments. With the weight bearing down upon you, it’s easy to feel crushed by the responsibility. However, looking at ways to handle debt can sometimes add to feeling overwhelmed. Below are five

Refinancing with Lower Rates

Sometimes, getting ahead of debt is the best way to deal with debt. Refinancing can help lower payments if you’re able to get a good deal on your origination fees and closing costs. If you’re already feeling the pinch of debt, you can refinance to take out additional cash. One mortgage broker in Perth notes that a cash-out refinance offers a way to borrow at a low interest rate.

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan to pay off existing debts. A cash-out refinance as discussed above is one way to do this. By putting all your debts in one place, you can streamline your payments into one bill. When interest rates are low, you’ll be able to get a lower interest rate through the loan than through the individual payments which can help lower your monthly bills. For example, if you’re paying off multiple credit cards and paying high rates one each one because you fell behind in your payments, consolidating your debt into one lower interest payment can help you climb out from under the payments.

Debt Management

Debt management, although often confused with debt settlement, negotiates old payments with new payment plans instead of taking out a loan to cancel previous debts. The process usually takes 3 to 6 years to complete. First, you will work with a credit counselor to review your overall finances to create a monthly budget. Then you will plan how to pay off the debt based on your monthly payment abilities and number of accounts that need payment. Finally, you may be asked to use a direct deposit program to pay your monthly amount and then cancel all your credit cards.

Debt Settlement

Debt settlement essentially creates a way for you to negotiate dollars owed to your creditors. This is a fairly extreme option since it will hurt your credit score. While you can attempt to negotiate your debts on your own, Quantum Finance offers resources to help you find a settlement agent. Settlement agents will work with you to review your debt, income, and savings to help you determine what can be used to pay your debt. Then they will have you sign a contract for you to pay the settlement agent instead of your creditors. The money is put into escrow until you have enough to pay off the negotiated amount. After that, they attempt to negotiate a new amount with your creditors where you pay a lump sum the comes from the escrow. It’s important to have a legitimate settlement agent otherwise they may not be able to settle for you. Keep in mind, that they will take a fee from a percentage of the escrow account. If they do not negotiate well, then you are worse off because you will be further behind in your payments since you paid your money to the escrow account not the creditors.

Bankruptcy

In Australia, you have the option to present a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition. This gives a 21-day protection period where unsecured creditors can’t act. This acts as a probationary period pending bankruptcy. If you then want to file for bankruptcy, you can. Filing for bankruptcy covers most unsecured debts such as credit and store cards, utility bills, and medical, legal and accounting fees. Before assuming it releases all debt, make sure to check with your creditor to see if it will erase Centrelink Debts, Australian Taxation Office debts, victim of crime debts, and toll fines.

 

Keep in mind that there are also several debts including court imposed penalties and fines, child support and maintenance, HECS & HELP debts, and unliquidated debts.

 

Business Credit Secrets Every Owner Needs to Know

While most business owners understand how important it is for them to have excellent credit, very few know the basics of business credit.  In fact, one survey showed that 72% of all business owners in the U.S. don’t know their business credit score.  A big reason is that the secrets of business credit are rarely discussed; this is a shame as businesses tend to be heavy users of credit.    As such, here are some business credit secrets every owner needs to know.

A Brief Introduction

Similar to your personal credit score, the creditworthiness of your business is being graded by credit agencies and there are five reasons why your business credit score is important.

First, it affects the maximum loan for which your business qualifies.  While some banks & funding companies will offer small business loans to those with no credit, most banks require a high credit score for approval. Even if you are approved with a lower credit score, you will have to pay higher interest rates due to your credit score and this will cost you more money over time.

Second, your suppliers will access your business credit to calculate whether they will extend trade credit to your business.   This can impact your ability to purchase inventory on credit from a supplier.

Another way business credit is used is by insurance companies.  These company will look at your business’ credit score to determine how much they will charge you for premiums.  This might sound unfair, but insurance companies believe that policyholders with poor credit tend to make riskier decisions.

If you are looking to gain government contracts, then you want to make sure that you keep a close eye on the creditworthiness of your business as most tenders will include minimum credit score requirements.

Finally, an excellent business credit record helps to protect your personal credit as it reduces the necessity to use your personal credit for your business.  Remember, businesses are heavy users of credit, so if you are relying on your personal credit cards, then you are playing with fire.

What Goes into Your Business Credit Score?

Ok, so you have found out your business credit score but now you want to improve it.  As such, you need to know what goes into calculating your business credit score.  These factors include your business’ Credit Utilization Ratio, payment history, length of credit history, outstanding debts, public records, the size of your company, and any risks related to your industry.

Many of these criteria shouldn’t come as a surprise as they are like how your personal credit score the two differences are company size and industry risk.  However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise as the focus of your business credit score is your business.

While each credit bureau looks at this information they are constantly tinkering with their algorithms.  For example, some reports claim that payment history accounts for roughly half of a business’ credit score.  While FICO’s SBSS also looks at financial reports and the owner’s personal credit record.

Now to the elephant in the room.  When just starting out, your personal credit history plays a major role in determining your business’s credit score.  This makes sense as your business is new and there isn’t much information to go on.  As such, you want to make sure you have a firm understanding on your personal credit score when you are setting up a new business.

This highlights the need to take steps to separate your business credit from your personal credit early on.  Doing so will help your business and it will ensure the risk to your personal credit is limited.

Secrets to Maintaining Your Business Credit Score

Actually, the ‘secrets’ are no secret at all.  First, make sure that you pay your bills on time.  If you can’t pay the entire balance on time, then make sure you make the minimum payment.

Second, use your credit but don’t overuse it.  Remember, credit agencies look at your Credit Utilization Ratio – that is the amount of available credit you are currently using.  If your utilization ratio is more than 70%, then you might have problems getting additional credit.    As such, you should consider reducing your outstanding credit balance.

Lastly, you want to make sure that you regularly monitor your business’ credit score.  This way you can find any issues early on and get them corrected.  One of the biggest problems with business credit is confusion between two businesses with similar names, so by monitoring your score, you will know if something is being misreported.  Remember to take care of your credit and it will take care of you.

How adjusting your work-life balance helps you pay off your debts

Yup! You heard right. It’s not only working like a donkey that gets your numbers out of the red zone. Taking a break and enjoying life is just as important. Now, if you are rocking two or even three jobs with a one-hour commute, you are most probably shaking your head about this whole work life balance thing. But then again, take a moment to think it over. You don’t need to earn billions per year, travel all over the world to chill out in the most exclusive places and get down and funky with high-class escort girls from elite escort agencies for a couple of hundreds per hour. To find some peace of mind, you do not have to sit on the sunny terrace of a 5* chalet in Lausanne looking over the Swiss alps and sipping champagne with one or two ladies or that stunning ski instructor from the luxury resort next door.

All you need is some free time, a nice place to sit down for a while – outside your daily comfort zone – and the will to chill!

What is the concept behind the term “work-life balance”?

It’s quite straight forward. A perfect work life balance means that you are investing just as much time into your work as you do into your free time. And that is how far the theory goes for about 95 % of all working people. Let’s look at some facts:

Splitting up an average working day of a normal employee aged between 25 and 54 with two kids, the Bureau of Labour Statistics came up with these numbers (approx.):

  • Work: 9 hours
  • Sleep: 8 hours
  • Leisure & sports: 2.5 hours
  • Eat & drink: 1 hour
  • Household activities: 1 hour
  • Caring for others: 1.5 hours
  • Other activities: 1 hours

That is one third of a day spend at work. Not too bad, actually. But if things go belly up on the financial side, these 8 hours just won’t cut it in order to make ends meet. According to “USA Today” the number of Americans juggling up to three jobs a day to pay off their debts has been at an all-time high in the last eight years! There’s even a name for those working the night shift after their “normal” job: moonlighters. If you balance up to three jobs plus family, the thought of squeezing in some “me-time” will probably make you laugh out loud. And the idea that this bit of free time can really help you reduce your debt seems pure science fiction. But when you put some thought into it, turning the dial only just a notch towards “life” can really make a difference.

Stop. Think. Act.

Three words that describe a perfect approach to almost any given situation. While shopping, arguing, scuba diving or simply living your life. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to balance up to three jobs so that you and your loved ones can make ends meet, something is obviously going wrong. You can, of course, blame anything and everyone – from faith to politics and the weather – or you can just chill out for a while and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just take an hour and sit somewhere without too many distractions. A park, for instance. Because doing nothing is a great way of finding enough peace to mentally hover above yourself and to take a look at what is going wrong, what’s OK and – just as important – what you like about your current situation and what you would really love to do. This won’t happen the first time when you’ll take that hour or those 30 minutes for yourself. But that’s just fine … it is a bit by bit process after all. And once you’re sitting on the park bench, looking at nothing and enjoy wasting a bit of your precious time, you are actually adjusting the scale of your work-life balance. In consequence, you are beginning to understand what needs to be changed and can then begin the process of doing so. If you like this train of thoughts, have a look at this well written and interesting approach and step by step guide from “skillsyouneed.com”.

30 minutes. Every day or once a week. Time for you and you alone. Time to chill and to reflect. Time to come up with a new idea or another approach. Time to make things better!

The Glory Days Of No Responsibilities

Do you ever think back to your college days? I don’t know about you, but I had it made. No care in the world, just go to class and have fun with friends. My financial responsibilities were zero because of amazing parents. All I had to do in return was behave and do well in school. Why didn’t I realize how good I had it at the time?

Financial Responsibility

My parents paid for my room and board as well as my living expenses. I had a car, food, insurance, etc. all covered. The only thing I was responsible for was my entertaining money. This included going out and shopping. I did my share of working to cover these costs. I worked during the summers at various jobs to save up for the school year. My favorite job was being a beer cart girl at a local golf course. It paid very well and it was fun. I loved being able to talk to everyone and just driving around the course on the nice days. Can’t beat it. I also had internships during the year to help build my resume and also help out my savings. I majored in finance so I was an assistant to a financial advisor. I’m glad I did this because it helped me learn what direction I wanted to move in within finance.

Social Responsibility

I was recently talking to my husband about this topic. I am not sure what my parents did, but I was a well behaved kid because I didn’t want to let them down. I had my share of fun, believe me, but I was pretty responsible. I remember my mom would always say “just remember, I’m always watching you”, and I literally would think about what my parents would think if I got caught doing something. Because of this, I did well academically and socially in college.

Why the stress?

I remember at the time I felt stressed. Stressed about what you ask, I have no idea? Most likely petty, insignificant things that seemed major at the time. I had friends during college that were responsible for everything on their own. One was even looking into car title loans to cover their food costs for the month. Now that is stress if you ask me.

So thank you mom and dad for both giving me an amazing college experience but also teaching me to be responsible with money and as a young adult. You did it right and I will be forever thankful.

Logbook Loans – How Do They Work?

You may be thinking about taking out a loan because of a financial crisis.  You are not alone right now, the world is in trouble, the economy is bad and many people are thinking of financial loans.  You need to do some research on Logbook Loans so that you have a broad understanding of what it means to take out a loan and the repercussions that are possible.

When you take out a loan it is super important that you think about the future.  Sure you are in debt now but you do not want to be in debt forever.  You need to sort out your financial crisis as quickly as you can and then be able to move forward, debt free.

It is crucial that you turn to the right loaning company for help and that you are fully aware of what you re doing.  Finances are the most important thing in your life and you need to deal with any loan correctly.  You need to do homework on the company, have full transparency and know what you are signing up for.

You also want the transaction to be seamless.  We have all gone through the frustration of bank bureaucracy where the paperwork is endless, the time spent is exhausting and at the end of the day you still don’t quite know what you’re doing.

Have a look at http://www.logbook-loans.net/, who turn loaning into a simple and easy process.  It is all about using your motor vehicle as security which means the only thing you need is a motor vehicle.   That is the first step.  Do you have a car? Yes. Then, go to the homepage of Logbook Loans and read about how you can turn your car into money, while keeping your car at the same time.  Logbook Loans have made the process incredibly simple and going through their site is self explanatory.

Logbook Loans work with the largest Logbook Lenders in the UK.  They will do the ground work for you and find the Lender that is best suited to monetising your car.  Logbook Lenders will find you the best loan and the loan at the best competitive rates.   You get money and you continue driving your motor vehicle.

The most important thing, apart from having a motor vehicle, is that the motor vehicle is yours.  You need to be able to prove that you are the registered owner of the vehicle and as such, have the correct paperwork.  You must be a citizen of the UK and over the age of eighteen.  Your vehicle must have been insured and taxed and you need to have the valid MOT certificate.  If you purchased your vehicle in the legitimate way, you will get a legitimate loan from Logbook Loans without any hassle.

Once you have provided the paperwork and shown that you have no money owing on the vehicle, or just a small amount of money owing on the vehicle, you will need to provide information on your earnings – a payslip or a bank statement.  If you are a freelancer and worried about how to do this, Logbook Loans will guide you. There are always ways.

That is the most important thing for you to know. Logbook Loans will work with you and guide you every step of the way so that you know  if you qualify for a loan how to apply for it, understand what it means and how you will pay back the money.

Remember, you keep your car at the same time!  It’s a very good deal.

Top Tips To Save Money On Office Supplies

Running an office is not a joke. It is a fact that a good amount of money is spent on office supplies. So depending upon the size of the office and the number of the employees, the number can easily be too high.

Businesses need money to stay alive and such expenses can easily kill the company. So it really becomes necessary to think and spend every penny when it comes to buying office supplies. So if you too are facing the same issues, then the following tips will help you to have control on your spending and stay within the budget.

Shop in bulk

There are certain items you need regularly to run the office like pens, printers, printing paper, toner, ink cartridges, etc. So it would be wise to buy them in bulk and store. Buying in bulk means you will be getting a better rate compared to the single unit price of the products. Moreover, most of the stores offer a decent discount when you buy in bulk. You can easily find such deals at Dealslands.co.uk.

Go generic

Ask yourself whether it is necessary to buy from brands? Most of the time it is not. The price of branded products is high as people recognize and know them. This does not mean that their products are always superior compared to the generic ones available in the market. On the other hand, the generic products are less known and so they are cheaper compared to the branded ones.

Look for best deals online

One of the best places to shop for office essentials is to go for online stores. With good competition out there in the market, it would be better to check for better deals there. You can compare the rates of the different retailers within a few seconds. Just make sure that you consider the shipping costs too when searching for a deal so that you are not duped by the numbers. Always use Discount codes and Voucher when shopping online for office supplies.

Keep an eye on employees

More than 90 per cent employees have admitted to the fact that they steal office supplies. This action is not intentional or to harm the office but, they end up doing so. When said so it does not mean that they go for pricey ones. They mostly take up pens or sticky notes or scissors or duct tape, etc. Even though the items are not that costly, they add up to the expenses at the end of the year.

Set rations

We have seen above that employees take up office supplies to home. To avoid such scenario and control the spending on office supplies it would be better to set rations. You can set an allowance for each employee and ask them to stay within the limit and only go beyond that if necessary. This will save a decent amount at the end of the year.

Keep track of the money flow

When running the business you are the only person responsible for the spending. How much money you have and how much you can spend solely depends on you. So for the same reason, it becomes necessary to track the expenses. Do you know how much money was spent last year on ink cartridges? If no then it is time you start knowing it.

Replenish the stock on time

It is a good habit to refill your office supply stock from time to time. If you come to know the products are out of stock you may be compelled to head to the nearest store and buy products at higher rates. On the contrary, if you know that stock is low you can place a bulk order and save good money.

Taking a few wise steps here and there is what you need. Be proactive and you will be able to run the office smoothly at less expenditure.

PPI CLAIMS

When receiving a large loan, it can be overwhelming to think about its repayment. One thing that is concerning is the fear of the inability to pay back the loan due to unforeseen circumstances. Payment Protection Insurance is available to ease this fear. In the UK there is a scandal that has arose from the sale of PPI (Payment Protection Insurance). It can be referred to as a scandal because PPI  policies are sometimes sold without the consumer knowing. This causes the consumers to file claims against lending companies to get back money they have paid towards the policies that they were unaware they had.

Resources

If you are reading this and are someone who has been thrown into this type of situation, there are many resources out there to help you through it.

You are not alone! Companies are out there that can be hired to help you get the money back. For example, http://www.lowfeeppiclaims.co.uk, offers a competitive fee to help file these claims which can make the task less daunting. Most claims management companies will charge fees of 25% or more, whereas they charge a fee of 12% on your PPI claim, which is one of the lowest in the UK. A claims management company has the resources that will allow you to get your refund in a hassle free and timely manner.

Calculate your Claim

There are apps out there that can help you calculate what you could potentially be owed. You will need to know the details about your policy (Loan amount, term of loan, your premium amount and interest rate, etc.)

Buyer Beware

Consumers are also being mis-sold on PPI by not fully understanding their policies. There have been reports of a lot of consumers unhappy about PPI claims being turned down because of exclusion clauses in their policy. This is a form of being mis-sold on the policy because people buy into them thinking they would be covered for a particular situation and if that situation occurs, they may be denied coverage. Another issues is the coverage may not be explained in its entirety to the consumer when purchased, and the sum of money provided at payout could only be a percentage of your salary. There are often loopholes in the contracts that people are not aware of.

Overall PPI can be a very helpful tool to keep your family safe at times of crisis. However, it is  important to know what you are signing up for and to do your research before committing to a policy.