ACCC provides free advice to help consumers make sure they’re flirting only with love this Valentine’s Day.
Boston, MA – February 12, 2014
While the overall financial situation has recently improved in the United States, many Americans are still facing tough personal financial circumstances. As February 14th draws closer, American Consumer Credit Counseling invites Americans to self-reflect and determine if they are flirting with a personal financial disaster.
“Although the economy has seen an improvement over the past several months, many Americans are still struggling with their finances,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of national non-profit American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Let’s face it, everyone has good intentions when it comes to their personal finances, but sometimes we get off track. It is so important to be able to recognize the signs leading up to a personal financial disaster. You can avoid a financial catastrophe by getting back on track before it’s too late.”
Here are 11 signs that you are flirting with financial disaster:
- Not paying your bills on time. Although it may seem like no big deal, failing to pay your bills on time hints at larger problems. Paying bills late leads to extra charges like late fees, and can deflate your credit score. Also, some student loan lenders and credit companies will increase your interest rate after one late payment.
- Missing payments. Compared to paying a bill late, missing a payment all together is a big problem –missed payments will kill your credit score. In fact, most credit card companies and utility companies will report your late payment to a credit reporting agency, and credit card companies will increase your APR after one missed payment. Additionally, after three missed mortgage payments, some lenders will start the foreclosure procedure.
- Struggling to make minimum payments. Minimum monthly payments are typically about two percent of the account balance and in most cases, the minimum payment goes toward interest not principal. Moreover, if you’re struggling to make the minimum monthly payment, you probably have way more debt than you can handle.
- Making payments using credit cards. When you use your credit card to make payments on other bills, you are playing a high-risk game. You’re not only paying bills with money that you don’t have, you will end up paying more in the end because of the interest you accrue from your credit card company.
- Taking cash advances out on your credit cards. While it may seem like an easy way to get fast cash, taking out a cash advance on your credit cards is a bad idea. First, cash advances on your credit card usually come with a transaction fee. In addition, cash advances are usually subject to significantly higher interest rates than ordinary credit card transactions and are not included in interest-free periods.
- At the limit or over the limit on your credit cards. Did you know that your credit score is partially calculated by comparing your total balance to your credit limit? Accordingly, being at or over the limit on your credit cards will do a number on your credit and could cause you to be denied loans or other lines of credit.
- Refusal of credit. Being refused credit is a red flag that you may be on the verge of a personal finance emergency. Credit card companies are almost always eager to attract new customers. If you are denied it probably means that your credit score is so low that the company perceives you as a risk.
- Spending more than you earn. We all know that we should be saving a little each month and there is no way you can save if you are spending more than you earn. Being in the red month after month is very stressful and can cause major financial problems.
- Dipping into savings or retirement. People dip into their saving and retirement for a number of reasons ranging from medical expenses to mortgage loan distress. While pulling from savings and retirement may seem like a good option in the short-term, the long-term impacts can be devastating.
- Arguing with your significant other over finances. Money is the number one reason couples fight. If you don’t believe us, check out our infographic on how money effects relationships. It is important to listen to your better half’s position and reflect to determine if what they’re saying is true. Does your partner think you spend too much? Do you? Additionally, having an exorbitant amount of debt can definitely add to the finance arguments. One of the easiest ways to alleviate the situation is to work together to tackle the debt.
- Tossing out bills before opening. They say ignorance is bliss, but ignoring bills will only lead to heartache. Throwing your bills away before opening is a clear sign that you have given up. While opening the bills may cause you stress, it’s not too late to get a handle on your finances. Start looking at your bills and devise a plan on how you’re going to pay. Perhaps you should consider signing up for e-bills, not only will you be able to manage things electronically, you’ll be doing something good for the environment.
“Americans will exchange candy, flowers, and gifts with their loved ones this Valentine’s Day,” says Trumble, “but I encourage all Americans to give themselves the gift of financial self-reflection.” Trumble added, “If consumers who are on the edge of a personal financial crisis can acknowledge that things are bad, they can take the necessary steps to help themselves. The signs that you’re flirting with a financial disaster are simple – you’re continually not paying your bills on time, missing payments, having issues with your credit cards, dipping into savings or retirement, and arguing with your significant other about finances. Fortunately for the consumer, there are resources to help you get back on track.”
American Consumer Credit Counseling’s certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling, and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability. To learn more about these resources or to speak with a representative about what steps consumers need to take before signing up for a credit card, please visit ACCC’s Financial Fitness Center at www.consumercredit.com
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management.
For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- For more information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health and debt relief through education, counseling, and debt management solutions. ACCC provides individuals with practical debt solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC’s certified credit advisors work with consumers to help them determine the best plan of action to get out of debt and regain financial stability. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com