Recent studies have shown the average American is about $10,000 in debt. Because of this, many people are looking for ways to consolidate their debts. It is not always an easy task to find ways to get your debt consolidated, but it is possible.

Often, it can be important to consolidate debts because doing so can help your financial future become a bit brighter. It also helps you in short-term financial ways as well. The following are a few tips that can help you consolidate your debts to help improve your financial picture.

Tip#1 Seek Lower Interest Credit Cards

If you have debt that is on high interest credit cards, you may want to consider consolidating those debts onto low interest credit cards. There are various credit cards where you can transfer the high interest balance to one card. These cards offer low interest rates and some that even offer zero percent interest for a selected portion of time. Why keep paying those higher interest rates. You can get a lower interest credit card and save yourself much money each year.

Tip#2 Use the Equity in Your Home

One avenue for consolidating debts that many people forget is using the equity that they have in their home. If you own your own home, you may be eligible to get a home equity loan. In addition, you can apply for a line of credit to help you consolidate those high interest debts that you may have. It is important that you always keep current on your monthly payments to avoid losing your home.

Tip#3 Debt Consolidation Loans

Another way that you can consolidate debts is by taking out a debt consolidation loan. You would find these loans suitable if you have too much debt, and you find it tough meeting the monthly payments. Also, if you shop around you should get a break on the interest rate. That alone could reduce your monthly payments. Once you reduce your payments, you get out of debt much quicker than you could by paying off individual debts each month.

Tip#4 Try to Settle Your Debts

If you are desperate for a solution, try calling your creditors. Some creditors would be glad to help you continue paying, even a small amount. But don’t be fooled. It is in their best interest to motivate you to keep paying. So if you have the will to clear all your debts, you can most likely settle with your creditors. Remember you will need to contact all your creditors for this to work. Having one or two on board and not the other four can derail your plans with the first two creditors. Of course, there are other ways you can do this. Just use your imagination.

Tip#5 Refinance Your Home

You can also consolidate your debts by refinancing your home. By refinancing your home at a lower interest you can free up some cash. You can use the extra money to pay off some of your high interest debts.

These are just a few tips that can help you to consolidate your debts. Remember to weigh your choices carefully. Choose the one that gives you extra cash and some breathing room, in that order.

Holiday shopping brings bargain hunters and retail outlets together to fight it out over the once mighty dollar. As always, there are winners and losers in this economic game. The winners from the business side are the retailers that met or exceeded their sales expectations. The winners from the consumer’s side are those of us who did not overspend, or break our holiday shopping budget. Of course, you must first need to know what your holiday shopping budget is in order to know if you have won that game.

The losers on the business side are the retailer who did not meet their sales expectations. Of this group, the big losers are the small, locally owned shops without any corporate backing. This group must find ways to pay for excess inventory, and extra hours worked by their employees. Unfortunately, this could mean borrowing money. Which of course leads to further reductions to the bottom line in the form of increased interest payments.

Another unfortunate occurrence is when these small retailers no longer can obtain a quick loan, or cannot receive more credit from their vendors. They may turn to business credit cards to “bail them out”. This is a huge gamble, as credit cards usually carry higher interest rates that can increase at any time, just because the bank wants them to. Businesses that use credit cards to fund parts of their business operations are setting themselves up for a vicious cycle of debt. This should always be avoided.

As for the consumers, the losers of course are those who overspend on holiday gifts. The biggest losers are those who overspend using their credit cards, and do not immediately pay them off. Even while paying a bit more than the monthly minimum, after adding interest and fees, it could take months, or even years to pay off just one season of holiday shopping. And we start this all over again in less than 11 months.

What about those consumers who did not break their holiday spending budget? Did they win? Well if they shopped using cash, checks, or debt cards, then yes, they are the winners. However, if their spending budget was based on the fact that they could charge their purchases, and make small monthly payments, then they too are losers in this game. Interest on the debt built up over the gift giving season can easily break anyone’s budget. Most people do not stop to calculate the interest paid on specific purchases, and the banks will not help you do this. For too many people, the finance charge on their monthly statement is just another line item. Just part of life, or part of their expenses that can’t be avoided. We get to pay that in small monthly payments too. Plus more interest.

If you are bankrupt and rebuilding credit, it will be helpful to monitor your progress as you add more positive information to your credit report. And one way to monitor your progress is by using a credit monitoring service.

When you declared bankrupt, you know how hard it is to raise your credit score again. At this point you know that you should take extra care and precaution in keeping your credit score safe from, or else you might become the next victim of identity theft. Bankrupt or not, you don’t want it to happen. But now that you are bankrupt, nothing will undermine your efforts in rebuilding your credit faster than having your identity stolen.

While you can do the monitoring yourself, using a credit monitoring service can be advantageous in helping you recover from bankruptcy and rebuild your credit.

Here are the following reasons.

1. Credit monitoring services usually monitor any inquiry made on your credit report and why. This helps you detect if there are any unauthorized activities being done under your name.

2. Credit monitoring services also monitor if there are any new accounts being opened in your name. One of the ways identity thieves use your information and leave you with debt is by getting a hold of your name, address and Social Security Number for them to open new accounts using your name, run up charges in that account and leave you with more debt. This delinquency will be reported on your credit report, which will hurt your credit score more. But by monitoring closely your credit file, you can protect yourself from the further damages of ID theft if you know once when someone has opened a new account in your name.

3. Credit monitoring services monitor if your mailing address on your credit card account has been changed. Identity thieves can change your mailing address, and have your statement sent to the new address so they can get more of your financial information like your credit card numbers, and run up charges on your account. And because those statements are sent to the new address, it will take long before you become aware of it. Through a credit monitoring service, you will monitor of there were changes to your mailing address.

4. Credit monitoring services monitor if there has been an increase on your credit card limit. Identity thieves can also request for an increase on your credit card and run up charges on your account. This can in turn leave you with large debt and a worse credit score if you cannot pay it on time.

5. Credit monitoring services are very convenient because you are just a mouse click away from accessing your credit report, instead of monitoring your progress yourself. This makes it a time saver as well, especially if you choose to have their email alerts delivered to your inbox on a daily basis whenever a change happens to your credit report. This will make it easier for you to see if there are any inaccurate information being added so you can correct them as soon as possible, which can help improve your credit score.

So you see, using a credit monitoring service offer many benefits to you if you are bankrupt and are rebuilding your credit. Just study what they offer and choose one that suits your needs best.

Only three things are certain in life – death, taxes, and rising gas prices. Reducing household expenses can be easy enough. Just make do without certain things that you do not need. Reducing gas expenses, on the other hand, can be a little more complicated. Your car will always require the same amount of gas to run and you can’t change that, unless you walk, commute, or ride a bike. Inviting as these alternatives might be, it defeats the purpose of having a car in the first place.

Because of stiff competition, credit card companies have collaborated with gas stations to come up with the best gas reward credit card. The best gas reward credit cards on the market today are forever competing to come up with the best incentives for consumers. By choosing the best gas reward credit card most suited to your lifestyle, you can reduce the costs of your gas expenses considerably.

Match Made in Heaven

The best gas reward credit cards allow consumers to accumulate points for every gas purchase they charge in certain gas stations. This is a partnership that is beneficial to both the credit card and gas companies. Affiliate gas companies pay credit card providers what we call merchant charges for the use of credit card facilities. And since the best gas reward credit cards are specific to certain gas brands, gas companies gain the advantage of being set apart from the competition.

As a consumer, you benefit every time you use the best gas reward credit cards. You earn points simply by frequently charging your gas purchases in affiliate gas. Once you have reached a certain point threshold, you are rewarded with free gas.

Make Your Credit Card Work for You

Many credit cards claim to be the best gas reward credit card. Before settling on a specific credit card, however, research your options and find the best gas reward credit card that fits your needs. Remember that the best gas reward credit cards only award points for gas purchases made in affiliate gas stations. If you have a specific gas brand of choice, it is best to apply for the best gas reward credit card it is affiliated to. If sticking to one gas brand does not appeal to you, however, there are also gas credit cards that allow you to earn points from any station, like the Chase PerfectCard Mastercard and the Discover Gas Card.

Apart from earning points for gas purchases, the best gas reward credit cards also offer other perks to consumers. Some of the best gas reward credit cards offer a 0% annual percentage rate, or APR, on purchases and balance transfers for an introductory first year. Cards of this type include the Chase Freedom Cash Visa Card and Chase BP Visa Rewards Card.

Another feature common among the best gas reward credit cards is the ability to earn rebates when used in restaurants, retailers, drugstores, and supermarkets. Cards like the Citibank Drivers Edge Platinum Select Card and Blue Cash from American Express let you do this. There are even gas credit cards that earn points not only with gas companies, but also with most leading car manufacturers throughout the world. Examples of these cards are Volkswagen Platinum Visa, Chase Subaru Mastercard, and GM Flexible Earnings Card.

With the variety of privileges offered by credit card companies, no credit card can singularly lay claim to being the best gas reward credit card. Compare and find out which one can save you the most money. Finally, choose not only the best gas reward credit, but the one that gives you the best value for the long gas-ups ahead.

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