A friend of mine lost her longtime job back when one of the biggest companies in the state closed during the financial crisis. She received small unemployment checks for nearly a year and a half while she searched for a new one.

With two kids to support, she could barely make ends meet. Soon after her job loss, she stopped paying on her two credit cards and cell phone bill.

The result? Three accounts amounting to the tune of $3,500 are now in collections.

She finally found a new job and started to straighten out her finances a few years later. But by then, her debt was already sent into collections. She wanted to know what the best way to deal with the obligation was and asked for my advice, so I went into research mode.

Here’s what I found out about settling debts that are in collections:
[ continue reading… ]

“Come on. We’re going out tonight. You and Rebecca meet us at Dave & Buster’s. We’ll be there at seven.”

“We can’t.”

“Why not?”

You’re at a loss: You don’t want to admit you’ve blown your budget for the month and have no play money to go out with. “Uh, Becca’s not feeling well,” you say. This is immediately followed by that awful feeling of lying to your best friend and the resentment of not being able to go and have a blast.

As always.

We’re always worried about money.
[ continue reading… ]

Money is a complicated subject because we all have unconscious beliefs about it. Financial planners and psychologists refer to these beliefs as “money scripts.” They’re the stories about money we’ve told ourselves since childhood, and they’re often rooted in how money was viewed in our childhood homes.

Once we know and recognize our money scripts, it’s easier to amend the way we view money, thereby improving our finances. Here’s how:
[ continue reading… ]

edge of a cliff
One of the scariest financial situations to be in is living paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, too many people are in this predicament. According to a study done by LendingClub and PYMNTS.com, 64% of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. What’s even more surprising is that almost half of Americans who earn more than $100,000 live this way as well. It’s a difficult situation to be in, especially when you have a family to support. It can also be mighty tough to get out of this rut.

Having savings to fall back on in case of emergency is important to everyone, which is why living paycheck to paycheck can be so dangerous. Any unexpected expenses can really complicate your life and create long term problems that make it more and more difficult for you to dig out of this hole. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, consider these seven tips to help you get on the right course:
[ continue reading… ]

confident retirement
Many of us are unsure about what to expect when it comes to planning for the future. Study after study in recent years indicates that many of us aren’t sure whether we will be able to retire comfortably and “on time.” And with the crazy price increases seen everywhere of late, it really does seem that it’s increasingly difficult for some to feel confident about retirement.

A recent study from Allianz Life highlights the concerns that many feel about being able to meet their retirement goals. According to the survey, 84% of respondents believe it’s unrealistic to start retirement at age 65 by doing exactly what they want. Many believe they will have to work longer, or that they will have to curtail some of their expectations for retirement.

Reading this survey got me thinking about my own retirement confidence, and considering what “retirement” means to me.
[ continue reading… ]

Around six months ago, I declared I was going to “unspoil” my kids.

My kids are pretty well-behaved, but I wanted to start teaching them about responsibility and the value of a dollar.

Even though my kids are young – three and five – I’ve still found some ways to start instilling financial responsibility in them.

Here are several ways to unspoil your young children and teach them about money:

Give them simple chores – without pay

As a child, I was never made to do any chores. No washing the dishes, running the vacuum, or even cleaning my room. I think this was a big mistake.

My mom, who worked a day job, tried to do it all. The thing though was that she could never really keep up. Instead of making her three children contribute to the household, she overworked herself. I thought it was normal since this was all I knew. Now that I know differently, I don’t want my kids to think they never have to make household contributions.
[ continue reading… ]