Help For Those In Financial Debt
Financial Help for Widows: Managing Debt, Mortgage & Social Security
Trying to make ends meet is tough enough when a spouse dies, but not surprisingly, it’s even tougher when you are a woman.
There were 4.5 million Americans over the age of 65 living in poverty in 2016 and two-thirds of them were women. American widows see a 37% decline in household income when their spouse dies, while men see only a 22% drop.
Expenses for both sides – rent, food, medicine, transportation, etc. – remain the same, women just have a lot less money to deal with them, usually because they seldom remarry.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 2016, there were 9.7 million widows over the age of 65 and only 2.4 million widowers. That means that four times as many women as men are trying to make ends meet with only one income.
“When you’re used to having two Social Security checks come in every month and one of them goes away, life can suddenly get very expensive,” said Larry Kotlikoff, author of the New York Times best-selling book “Get What’s Yours – the Secrets of Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits.”
“The surviving spouse has to deal with electricity, food, cars, maintenance and all the other day-to-day living expenses that don’t change, but they’ve only got one income to throw at it. That’s difficult for anyone.”
The Social Security Administration says that women, who reach the age of 65, are expected to live 86.3 years, but only 42.6% of them will be married. By comparison, 70.4% of men 65 and older are married. By the time women reach 75, only 33% of women are living with a spouse, while 67% of men still live with their spouse.That means a majority of men are living in households receiving two Social Security checks a month. The majority of women are living in households receiving one.
It is a problem that is widely known and occasionally discussed among politicians, but little has been done to address the matter, even as 10,000 Baby Boomers roll into retirement age every single day.
Finding Financial Help for Widows
There are several government agencies, nonprofit organizations, churches, civic and community groups that offer widows financial assistance, but very few provide it on a continuing basis.
Social Security is the prime continuing resource available for widows. It allows you to claim either your spouse or your own benefits, whichever is greater, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through to maximize your benefits.
The Veterans Administration has a “Survivors Pension” benefit available to low-income, widows who don’t re-marry. The benefit is your yearly family income and the number of dependent children. In 2017, a widow without a dependent child, must have an income under $8,656 to get help.
The next-best source of continuing financial help for widows would be the spouse’s former employer. It may take a visit to that company’s Human Resources Department to find out how much he has in 401(k) or other retirement accounts and if there was a life insurance or healthcare benefit left for you.
Financial Help for Widows from Family
When widows experience financial problems, the most obvious place to turn is family, which can be a blessing, or curse, depending on how it is handled.
A study by Pew Research Center found that 75% of adults say they have a responsibility to offer financial assistance to elderly parents and many have the resources to do so.
The study showed 43% of people making over $100,000 had a living parent over 65. The numbers dropped dramatically as income fell.Only 25% of people making $30,000-$100,000 had parents over 65 and 17% of those making less than $30,000 were in the same situation.
The quickest help from family is a gift of cash. The law allows widows to receive $14,000 from a single child with no tax implications either way. If the child is married, the limit goes up to $28,000. Another way to handle this might be to ask a child for a loan at 0% interest, or a very low, affordable rate.
That could be a quick ticket trouble credit card debt, or past-due housing payments. However, if you are borrowing money from family as a loan, be sure to get the expected terms of repayment in writing. That will help avoid the financial drama that tears apart some families and could cause all sorts of family headaches when you die and your will goes to probate.
Online Financial Assistance for Widows
A visit to benefits.gov might be the best resource for finding government agencies outside of the Social Security and Veterans Administration that offer benefits for widows. You must fill out a questionnaire to see which agencies you qualify for assistance from, but the site is very extensive and useful.
gov list includes resources SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamp program); Medicaid for health coverage assistance; LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) for help with paying your electric bill; Rural Rental Assistance for help with housing supplements to reduce rent; and Reemployment Assistance Insurance Program that provides unemployment benefits for eligible widows.
Another government website that just opened – aging.gov – offers information on a large assortment of topics, dominated by financial assistance.
Most of the nonprofit organizations, churches and community groups also can be found online. They usually offer help on a one-time basis for things food, housing, clothing, furniture and other basic needs.
There are some national organizations devoted to widows –The Modern Widows Club, The Liz Logelin Foundation, Widow’s Hope, Acts of Simple Kindness (ASK), – but much of the help is found at local churches and charities.
For example, many Catholic churches have a ministry called the St. Vincent de Paul Society that deals specifically with people in a financial crisis. most church organizations, their assistance is on a one-time-only basis for rent, utilities, food, etc, but if you need immediate help, churches and local charities are probably your best bet.
What Happens to Your Home When Your Spouse Dies?
If a widow owned a home with her spouse, paying off the mortgage is her responsibility after his death. For women who did little more than sign the original loan agreement, this can be a shocking experience.
The good news is that if you co-signed the loan with your spouse, federal law prohibits the lender from demanding the entire amount due at his death. Mortgage terms remain the same, as long as you make the monthly payments. The only difference is that you own the entire house and its value, instead of owning just half.
If you are having trouble keeping up with payments, check with your lender to see if your husband had an insurance policy on the mortgage that would pay off the remaining balance.You might get financial help by way of refinancing the loan. A lower interest rate and monthly payment would provide immediate relief, but might also mean a longer payoff period for the loan. Before finding out what happens if you pay your mortgage late, call your lender to find out if they have a hardship program you can enroll in.
One other possibility: A reverse mortgage. You would have to be 62 or older and owe less than half the home’s value to take advantage of this through a lender. You also could try a reverse mortgage through one of your children or family members, but that could cause real strife in the family if things went sour.
The final option is to simply sell the home and use the money to find a more affordable living situation.
What Happens to Credit Card Debt When Your Spouse Dies?
Dealing with credit card debt after death for which there is no simple answer, but the easiest way to look at it is this: If your name was on the credit card account as a co-signer, you owe whatever debt has accrued there, whether you actively used the card or not.
If you were a co-signer (sometimes called a joint account holder) and do not pay on the card, that information will go on your credit report and ly have a sizeable negative impact on your credit score for seven years. Your account could be sold to a collection agency, which would pursue it until the statute of limitations (4-5 years in most states) runs out.
If you can’t pay the debt, you would be better off seeking help from a nonprofit credit counseling agency for advice on a debt management plan, a debt consolidation loan or debt settlement to take care of the problem before it reached a collection agency.
On the other hand, if your name is on the account simply as an authorized user, you are not responsible for the debts, but the estate is. If money is available when the estate is settled, it will go toward paying the balance of the credit card debt.
Beyond that? Well, it all depends on the circumstances, including whether you are a resident of the 10 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin) that operate under “community property” laws.
In some (not all!) of the community property law states, the surviving spouse is responsible for all the deceased spouse’s debts, even if they had separate accounts. If you live in one of those 10 states, it’s best to consult a lawyer to find out for certain if you’re responsible for the debt.
Does Social Security Save Widows?
Social Security is the primary financial resource available for most widows, but unraveling all the knots tied up in claiming your spouse’s benefits is not an easy task.
That’s why Kotlikoff, an economist with a Ph.D. from Harvard University, became a best-selling author and why he thinks widows should be looking beyond Social Security to ease financial woes.
“Social Security benefits definitely help, but not nearly as much as people would want,” Kotlikoff told InCharge.org. “There are all sort of gaps in the system and ways you have to deal with them to get what you deserve.
“But inevitably, the picture is not all that good for widows. Women receive a disproportionately small share of the benefits. That’s why so many of them end up impoverished as they get older.”
Kotlikoff didn’t want to try and unwind all the “what if” possibilities for widows and social security, beyond suggesting they get an early start in understanding the system because the older you get, the more it becomes a burden than a benefit.The Health and Human Services Profile of Older Americans done in 2015 said that 32% of the population over 65 reported incomes of less than $15,000 and Kotlikoff said that the number of widows with income close to the poverty level increases as they age.
“I would suggest that widows make a lifetime budget plan as early as possible,” Kotlikoff said. “Figure out how much you’re going to need to maintain the lifestyle you want to lead and then look at your expected benefits from social security, life insurance, retirement plans, pensions, – anywhere you expect to get money – and see if that’s going to support it.
“People usually underestimate how much they will need and you can get hurt very badly is you screw this up.”
Tips for Widows Dealing with Social Security
Everyone knows that the Social Security Administration is supposed to be the financial pillow people can fall on when they reach retirement age, but few people realize what a labyrinth of twists and turns the system is.
Here are a few things you should know before trying to claim your benefits.
- Surprisingly, only 3.7 million of the estimated 10 million widows in the United States received Social Security benefits in 2016.
- It is best to apply for benefits by visiting a Social Security office in person. Call ahead for an appointment. You will save hours of frustration.
- To receive full social security benefits, you must be 66 years and two months old. You can start receiving reduced benefits as a widow at age 60. Full retirement benefits are at age 66 years and two months and if you can wait, maximum benefits come at age 70.
- Bring original copies of your spouse’s death certificate, birth certificate, marriage certificate and proof of U.S. citizenship. You must have originals – not photocopies! – to make claims at the Social Security office. A photocopy of a W-2 form or self-employment tax returns are also necessary.
- Familiarize yourself with the various options available to widows. You can take either your husband’s social security benefits or your own, but you can’t take both. In some cases, it may be beneficial to take your own, until your spouse’s benefits have maxed out, which would happen when he would have reached 70.
- If your husband received Social Security payments before he died and checks continue to come to you, DO NOT cash them. The government eventually will reclaim all the money they paid after his death. If you cashed the checks, you are liable for that amount and must pay it back.
Widows Financial Problems Get Worse with Age
Though women are catching up rapidly, the majority of those eligible for Social Security and retirement benefits are underfunded when they reach retirement age.
The combination of a lifetime of working for less because of the gender wage gap and taking time away from work to raise children, usually means lower Social Security benefits and 401(k) or company pension plan for retirement savings.
According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the median income for women over the age of 65 was $17,375, or about 80% less than the median income for men ($31,169) of the same age.
It’s hard to balance a budget with 80% less income.
“And it only gets worse as women get older,” said Cindy Hounsell, President of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER). “By the time they get to their 80s, a lot of women are near poverty because they never had the discussion with their husband about “what’s going to happen to me if you’re gone?”
Hounsell founded WISER to try and get women to do some planning for a future that is almost a statistical certainty: Women outlive men, and for the most part, end up living alone.
“Odds are that if you’re a woman, you’re going to be going it alone at some point late in life,” Hounsell said. “Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t know where the money is, where it’s supposed to be coming from and how to manage money on their own so when their spouse dies, they’re stuck. They don’t know what to do.”
Financial Help for Widows: Government Benefits, Managing Debt
The emotional toll of losing a spouse is incalculable. Unfortunately, bereavement is not the only trouble that death brings. It may not even be the most lasting.
The surviving spouse often must deal with significant financial as well as personal loss. While this can impact both sexes, women tend to outlive men, and men tend to out-earn women, so the economic impact falls disproportionately on widows.
Fortunately, financial assistance for widows is out there. Little to none of it lasts forever, but it can be a lifeline for those who suddenly find themselves in need. It’s about more than finding sources of money.
Learning to manage your money, obtaining professional help if you start sinking in debt and knowing how the financial decisions you make affect Social Security are part of the equation.
What Financial Help is Available for Widows?
Before reaching out for assistance, widows need to know what they have, not only from their deceased spouse’s personal life insurance policies and savings accounts, but through his former employer. Find out what he had in retirement accounts and if he had a life insurance policy through the company.
Financial help for single parents can be found through several government agencies, nonprofit organizations, churches and community groups in the form of grants for low-income widows and professional financial guidance that includes debt management advice.Of course, the most obvious place to seek help is from those closest to you: your family. A single child can give a widowed mother up to $14,000 with no tax ramifications either way. If the child is married, the limit jumps to $28,000.
Family members also might provide a loan at no or low interest. Naturally, any such loan should have repayment terms written out. That helps avoid both hurt feelings and more complicated problems when the widow dies and her will goes to probate.
Social Security Widow Benefits
Social Security is an important resource available, but to claim them, you must make an appointment with the local SSA office. You can’t apply for benefits online.
A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record.
Monthly Social Security benefits may be available to a widow or widower age 60 or older (50 or older if disabled), a surviving divorced spouse in some circumstances and a widow/widower of any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and already receiving benefits.
If the deceased worked long enough under Social Security, the widow/widower can receive full benefits at the full retirement age or reduced benefits as young as 60. The amount of the benefit depends on the earnings of the deceased. The more they paid into Social Security, the greater the benefits.
Grants for Widows
Let’s start with the bad news: There are no government grants specifically for people who lose a spouse. There are, however, grants to address specific needs, including needs that the widowed often encounter. A good place to start is www.benefits.gov, which provides links to government benefits in every state.
Housing assistance is available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov). In addition to public housing that provides affordable apartments for low-income tenants, HUD provides what’s known as Section 8 vouchers that can pay for all or part of rent, and also helps apartment owners offer reduced rents to low-income tenants.
Widows looking to improve their long-term finances through higher education may be able to get Pell grants of up to $6,095 that are available through the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office.
Charities and Church Assistance for Widows
Most of the nonprofit organizations, churches and community groups that offer assistance to widows can be found online. They usually offer help on a one-time basis for things food, housing, clothing, furniture and other basic needs.
Some grants are available through private organizations. The Liz Logelin Foundation (www.thelizlogelinfoundation.
org) provides short-term financial help to young families with dependent children during the first year after death to assist with rent or a house payment, utility bills, a child’s activity fees, lessons, school clothes, a special family outing or gifts for the children. The Ted Lindeman Outreach Foundation (www.tedlindemanoutreachfoundation.com) has a similar program.Many Catholic churches have a ministry called the St. Vincent de Paul Society that deals specifically with people in a financial crisis. Their assistance usually is on a one-time-only basis for needs such as rent, utilities and food.
Not all the needs are financial, and there are organizations that help with the social and emotional loss of widowhood, including The Modern Widows Club, The Widow Connection, Hope for Widows Foundation and The Sisterhood of Widows. The American Widow Project is a similar organization for military widows.
Financial Assistance for Widows of Veterans
When military personnel die as a result of their service, their spouses are entitled to a death gratuity, which currently is $100,000. It is free from federal and state income taxes for any service member who dies while on active duty or while performing authorized travel to or from active duty.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to eligible survivors of military service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors or veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
For details and other benefits, visit Spousal Survivor Benefits.
What Happens to Debts?
Although many of the concerns widows must face involves lost income, there’s also the matter of debt the deceased spouse had. Is the surviving spouse expected to pay?
The important answer is: No, unless you co-signed a loan and the most obvious examples of that are a loan for a house, a car or a credit card. As co-signer, you are liable for the debt.
If you aren’t on the loan agreement, you are not personally obligated to pay it off.
However, in community property states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), a husband and wife are each equally responsible for paying each other’s debts as long as one of them acquired the debt during the marriage. Consult an attorney.
Credit Card Debt
Was your name on the credit card as a co-signer? Then, the debt is yours, no matter how often you actually used the card. If you don’t pay on the card, your credit score will take a big hit, and you can expect regular calls from a collection agency.
Can’t pay? Don’t delay: Talk to a nonprofit credit counseling agency for advice on a debt management plan, debt consolidation loan or debt settlement. Do it before a collection agency starts calling.
However, if your name is on the account simply as an authorized user, you are not responsible for the debts, but the estate is. If money is available when the estate is settled, it will go toward paying the balance of the credit card debt.
Again, the community property exception applies here. Check with an attorney.
If your spouse dies and the mortgage has not been paid, the responsibility typically falls to you. Assuming you want to keep living there, you’ll need income or assets to keep up payments.
If the deceased had a life insurance policy, you might use the proceeds to keep paying on the mortgage, or even retired the debt. Another option could be selling the house to satisfy the debt, though that means finding another place to live.
If you or anyone else in your family is unwilling or unable to make payments, the lender can foreclose on the loan and sell the home through a sheriff's auction.
This depends a lot on where you live. In general, a spouse is not obligated to pay the medical bills of another spouse. However, you would typically have to pay if you live in a community property state, or if you signed a document stating that you would be responsible for payments on a medical bill when your spouse was admitted to the hospital.
Some states have what’s called “doctrine of necessities.” This makes a spouse liable for the “necessary” expenses incurred by the other spouse during marriage. Medical bills are almost always deemed “necessary.”
Even in states where those rules don’t apply, the creditor could still seek payment from the estate of the deceased.
Professional Financial Help for Widows
The melancholy irony of widowhood is that in your time of bereavement, it’s important that you don’t try to tackle the big issues all by yourself. That’s true even if you correctly consider yourself a capable, independent person. The issues are too important.
What issues? Pension options. Social Security spousal benefits. Life insurance. Paying the bills. Changes to your house title and other assets. Bringing your own will and estate plans up to date.
This is a time for trustworthy advisers, both for immediate decisions and ones for the long term. Expert advice from an attorney, financial advisor and accountant can help you get through the tough decisions to make your future smoother.
Consult an Attorney
Using an attorney through the probate process is a good idea, even if the issues appear simple, and especially if they do not. A probate attorney can manage the process, enabling you to make decisions about your future.
Attorneys also can modify your own will and other documents in keeping with your needs and your new situation. Additionally, your attorney will be able to make adjustments to estate planning documents such as financial powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney and living wills.
Depending on the complexity of the estate, the legal process can take a few weeks to several years to complete. You absolutely need someone to guide you through that.
Hire a CPA
Taxes can be complicated enough in a normal year. The death of a spouse adds more variables, which makes a CPA a good person to have in your corner.
Some of your benefits may be taxable. Some may not. When filing taxes, you’ll want someone who can get the most deductions and plan for what you’ll owe. Unless you’re a tax expert yourself, hiring a CPA is a good move. Do so within the first month after your spouse’s death to make sure you meet tax filing deadlines for the estate.
Hire a Financial Planner
It’s hard to know where you’re going unless you know where you are, and that’s especially true of finances. A financial planner can assess your situation and the impact of your spouse’s passing on your future.
A planner who studies your assets and obligation can put together a financial strategy or update any existing plans to help your life become what you want it to be in terms of retirement, education, travel, charitable giving, among a wide range of possibilities.
That way, you can secure your financial future and avoid any unnecessary risks or sacrifices to your current lifestyle.
Consult a Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency
Perhaps you’ve been widowed for a while, and you’re having a hard time paying your bills, much less saving for the future. The balance on your credit cards keeps growing, and you can’t seem to get on top of your finances.
There are reputable, nonprofit counselors that can help. Their services are available by phone or online. Find one by using your favorite search engine.
Your financial institution, local consumer protection agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and referrals. But take note: Nonprofit doesn’t necessarily mean free, and it’s best to check with online review sites, your state attorney general or local consumer protection agency to make sure they’re legitimate.Reputable credit counseling agencies can give advice on managing money and debts, help develop a budget and offer free educational materials and workshops. Their counselors are certified and trained in consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting.
Obviously, losing a spouse is difficult. Finding people to help you navigate the issues you’ll face will go a long way of making things better.
5 Books That Help You Pay Off Debt
This post is part of our Summer Reading series!
If you’re in debt, chances are you feel you’re fighting an uphill battle.
No matter how many payments you make, you can’t seem to make a dent.
Your progress is moving at super sloth speeds.
I know how it feels. I’ve been paying off my student loans for the past five years (oh man, that was painful to write!), and all I can focus on is the fact that I’m at least moving in the right direction.
Some of you may feel a bit more lost. Maybe you have more debt to tackle than just student loans. Maybe you’re not sure how to pay off your debt, or maybe you just don’t have enough income to gain momentum.
Whatever the road block may be, the following books will help you pay off debt for good.
1) Hustle Away Debt
Of course, we have to start this list with DC’s new book, Hustle Away Debt. DC has a great take on the situation, and if you’re a frequent reader of Young Adult Money, you’ll recognize it instantly.
Instead of focusing on cutting back your spending to free up money to pay off your debt, focus on earning more instead.
It provides you with the biggest return because your earning capacity is much greater. You can only cut so much from your budget.
DC shows you exactly how to hustle away your debt by providing strategies that will get you started with earning money on the side. It’s perfect for beginners who aren’t sure how to go about establishing a side hustle. You’ll get a ton of ideas from this book – DC has tried a variety of different hustles!
Not only that, but I’ve seen many fellow bloggers pay down their loans with money generated from side hustles only. If you’re able to live off the income from your day job, then just think about the progress you’d make by dedicating all your side hustle money to debt!
This book is for…anyone who has run up against a wall in their debt payoff progress due to low income. While it’s geared toward millennials, I think plenty of people can benefit from this strategy. Also, if you’re a fan of colors and illustrations, this book is equally visually appealing as it is informative.
2) The Total Money Makeover
We can’t talk about debt payoff strategies without mentioning Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.
Ramsey has many, many fans, and for good reason – thousands of people have used the information contained within the book to turn their financial lives around.
Ramsey provides seven “baby steps” you can take to work your way debt, one day at a time, and also provides suggestions on how to stay debt once you’re debt free.Be aware that he has several strong opinions some disagree with. For example, he’s against credit card usage, and one of the last steps is to pay your mortgage off early.
Just remember that there’s no one right or wrong way to achieve your financial goals. Evaluate your needs and habits and adjust accordingly. You don’t need to blindly follow any advice out there!
This book is for…those who need a step-by-step system to live by while climbing their way debt. Ramsey’s plan gives you focus as you aim to complete each step.
3) How to Get Debt, Stay Debt, and Live Prosperously: the Proven Principles and Techniques of Debtors Anonymous
Wow, this one’s a mouthful! How to Get Debt, Stay Debt, and Live Prosperously: the Proven Principles and Techniques of Debtors Anonymous by Jerrold Mundis provides a ton of useful information on how to tackle debt, and as you can see from the title, the focus is largely on staying debt and creating a debt-free life.
Also in the title is “Debtors Anonymous,” a program dedicated to helping those with chronic debt problems get out and stay debt. While it’s not associated with the book, Mundis has gone through the program and shares the helpful insights he learned.
Not only that, but Mundis offers solutions that worked for him as he used to be thousands of dollars in debt. It’s nice to read personal accounts from people who have been where you are as the material tends to be easier to relate to.
You’ll find budgeting methods and ways to curb your shopping in this book as Mundis addresses the root cause of spending problems and how to manage your money more effectively.
This book is for…those with serious debt problems who lean more toward shopping addictions or compulsive spending. Good for those of any age as it can help you kick start your financial life.
4) The Debt Escape Plan: How to Free Yourself From Credit Card Balances, Boost Your Credit Score, and Live Debt-Free
The Debt Escape Plan is authored by Beverly Harzog, a credit card expert, consumer advocate, and debt coach. While her writing comes from a place of expertise, it also comes from experience.
As Harzog writes on her site, she accumulated $20,000 of credit card debt within a 10 year period, and then paid it off in two years. Impressive! (She also has another book, Confessions of a Credit Junkie, which provides details on how she did it.)
Again, it’s awesome to read debt payoff strategies from people who have actually implemented them and experienced success, and The Debt Escape Plan is no different. Harzog provides actionable tips on paying off debt, maintaining good credit, and does it while being entertaining and conversational (something that’s important when writing about finance!).What really intrigues me is her “Money Personality Quiz.” She’s a believer in a custom debt payoff plan, and you have to know what type of money manager you are to create one. What’s even better is the free worksheets she provides from the book on her site.
This book is for…anyone struggling to get debt with a “traditional” debt payoff strategy. If you haven’t found one that works for you, don’t give up – read this first!
5) Deal with Your Debt: Free Yourself from What You Owe
Liz Weston is the author of Deal with Your Debt: Free Yourself from What You Owe, and if you’re familiar with personal finance, you’re probably familiar with some of her writing already. She’s an award winning finance columnist and she has packed this book with practical information for those seeking a solution to debt.
What I about this book is that it provides you with realistic debt payoff systems. Weston gives information on which debts you should pay off first, and how different strategies have different impacts on your credit score.
She also tackles the issue of good debt vs. bad debt, and why trying to live completely debt-free might be impractical. Her views on money management are in opposition of Ramsey’s, so if you’re just starting out with paying off debt, it could be a good idea to read both to get a sense of which would work better for you.
This book is for…those looking for a practical, realistic way of managing their debt, who are interested in learning more about the big financial picture and where debt does and doesn’t fit.
One Final Note if You’re Paying Off Debt…
While I believe authors deserve support, if you’re in the middle of paying off debt, or are struggling with it, consider borrowing books from the library (if they’re available) before buying.
I’ve seen quite a few people who are hungry for solutions go through book after book, or program after program, with no end in sight.
You should definitely seek financial education, but not at the risk of your wallet, and there are plenty of free resources available online. All of the books listed above are great in their own ways, but remember that there are core, basic financial principles that you should follow.
After a certain point, reading more isn’t going to help. You need to be committed to taking action. Facing your debt and creating a plan can be scary and stressful, but it’s worth it once you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are some of our top posts on strategies that help you pay off debt:
What are your favorite books on how to pay off debt? Did you personally find any to be life-changing?
Freedom Financial Network Offers Tools to Help Get Debt — Now with $5 Billion of Consumer Debt Resolved So Far
In a Nutshell: Understanding your finances and managing debt shouldn’t send you into a state of shock. Though often daunting, your personal finances can provide a sense of freedom when in order. Freedom Financial Network has three sites under its umbrella — Freedom Debt Relief, Bills.
com, and FreedomPlus — all providing simple, honest pathways to a healthy financial future. Whether you need to get debt, better manage your bills, or find a mortgage loan that’s right for you, the people at Freedom Financial can help.
As a leader in online financial services with more than 1,000 teammates, the network has now helped resolve more than $5 billion in consumer debt.
Today is a great day. Your hair did exactly what you wanted it to. You nailed your big presentation at work. And that cute guy you gave your number to last week finally asked you on a date. You’re feeling all is right in the world. And then you get home and check your mailbox.
American Express. Macy’s. Chase. Target. Credit card bill after credit card bill surfaces from that evil metal box, and your smile fades. Those feelings from a great day quickly turn to regret and worry. Which ones will you pay this month? How much can you put toward your balance? Is it too late to return those jeans?
We’ve all had those moments when a new stack of bills ruins an otherwise perfect day because you have more money going out than coming in. You are certainly not alone.
In 2015, the average American household carried $5,517 in credit card debt. Thankfully, there are services and solutions to help you put your debt behind you. One organization that provides several solutions under one roof is Freedom Financial Network.Freedom Financial Network is a collection of companies that help people improve their financial standings.
Freedom Financial Network is a collection of companies with a mission to provide financial solutions, service, and education that enable consumers to reduce debt, build wealth, and achieve financial freedom. Instead of letting those bills get you down, take action and seek help from the trusted experts at Freedom Financial.
Since 2002, Freedom Financial Network has blossomed into a leader in online financial services, operating under the values of excellence, integrity, innovation, and compassion.
Freedom Financial provides services from three companies: Freedom Debt Relief, Bills.com, and FreedomPlus. Whether you want to eliminate your debt or just learn more about managing your overall finances, there is a service tailored to your needs.
Freedom Debt Relief: Helps Reduce The Amount You Owe
If you’re tired of coming home to a mailbox full of credit card bills, Freedom Debt Relief could be an ideal service for you. Freedom Debt Relief is a leader in the credit advocacy and debt resolution industry, resolving more than $5 billion in debt for clients, more than any other company in the U.S.
Freedom Debt Relief provides free financial assessments for people with debt resolution issues.
Freedom Debt Relief is where people go for help when they are facing serious debt challenges. It helps clients by first assessing the amount of help they need.
Some need simple credit counseling while others might require debt settlement, consolidation, or even bankruptcy.
Freedom Debt Relief reviews every customer’s specific situation prior to enrollment to assess whether its program offers the right solution.
If the program is not right for you, Freedom Debt Relief will refer you to other companies that may be a better fit. The goal is to help guide you to the route that works best for you, the one that frees you from debt.
If Freedom Debt Relief is a good fit, its employees will work with you to build a customized debt program your situation and your financial goals. Recognizing you’re working to pay off debt, you will not be charged any fees until after your debt is resolved.
Bills.com: Learn How to Make Good Financial Decisions
According to a recent study by the Investor Education Foundation, only 37% of Americans proved to possess an adequate understanding of financial literacy, answering four or more questions correctly in a survey about mortgage loans, student loans, and credit cards.
Bills.com offers an array of financial resources to help individuals make better decisions with their money — everything from informative articles to mortgage calculators and debt management tools.
Bills.com offers tools and resources to help answer questions about personal finance and credit.If you have a financial question and you’re not sure where to turn, Bills.com offers a free online service called, “Ask Bill A Question.” This service not only allows you to consult with a panel of experts, but you can also see archived questions and answers that might help solve your problem.
If your budget needs some updating — or you need help in creating one — Bills.com also offers a free guide to managing your budget that includes downloadable worksheets.
FreedomPlus & Consolidation Plus: Assistance with Your Next Loan
FreedomPlus aims to simplify the loan process with a fast and simple application. You can apply for a loan for a variety of needs, find out if you’re approved within hours, and have money in your account within 48 hours.
A loan through FreedomPlus ranges from $5,000 to $35,000 and comes with hands-on customer service, clear terms, and one fixed monthly payment.
FreedomPlus has a simplified loan process that can get you money in your account within 48 hours.
When you have multiple loans and/or credit cards, managing payments can be a challenge. E-bills and paper bills get shuffled in the flurry of life and before you know it, you’re slapped with a new finance charge on one and a higher interest rate on another.
Sometimes, consolidating all of your debt into one loan can help you breathe easier. FreedomPlus offers an invitation-only Consolidation Plus loan to customers who are making the effort to make financial improvements and erase their debt.
Sometimes, the route to becoming debt-free can seem insurmountable. Freedom Financial Network has the tools to get you started on the path to rescuing your financial standing.
Freedom Financial is a trusted source for lending, mortgage, and debt relief solutions, serving more than 100,000 consumers every month. Its creative strategies have garnered multiple awards over the last 13 years for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Freedom Financial ensures transparency and a better user experience with proprietary technology.So, the next time you’re having a great day — when your hair is perfect and all is right in the world — let’s keep it that way. Don’t come home to a mailbox full of bills. Don’t let your debt worry you or take away from the moments in life that keep you smiling. Take charge of your happiness, and begin your journey to financial freedom.