Debt Consolidation Take 5 – Why Take the Debt Consolidation Route

There are numerous debt relief and management processes. They include budgeting, living within your means, debt relief, debt settlement, debt management, and bankruptcy. Despite these avenues, when you are in debt, the first place and option that you will think of is debt consolidation.

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Ready to Tackle Your Debt? 10 Tips to Get Free or Cheap Help

Watch the video of ‘Ready to Tackle Your Debt? 10 Tips to Get Free or Cheap Help’ on

If you’re carrying a load of debt — maybe staggering under its weight — you are not alone. US households hold, on average, credit card balances totaling $16,061, according to the annual survey of household debt by Nerdwallet. For some, the big burden is student loan debt or tax debt. The average household with any kind of debt owes $132,529, including mortgages, Nerdwallet said.

Debt — especially credit card debt — is expensive, and it’s only becoming more so as interest rates climb.

In short, 2017 is an excellent time to get some help and bring your debt down to manageable levels.

Fortunately, there are many excellent, trustworthy credit counseling agencies able to help. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to stumble into the hands of a bad “adviser” — including debt-settlement companies that may leave their clients in worse shape than they were. So, as you resolve to tackle your debt, follow these tips:

To be safe, get financial counseling from a nonprofit agency. Here’s where to find one:

  • Money Talks New Solutions Center: Find a reputable expert to help you with credit card debt, student loan debt, tax debt, and more. These are partners we’ve hand-picked to help our readers.
  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling: The NFCC agency locator shows local, regional or national organizations operating near you that provide credit, debt and budget counseling in person, online or by phone. You can get started by submitting information online.
  • The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies represents independent nonprofit agencies providing credit counseling and debt help to consumers. Find a member agency here.
  • Other sources of help: The Federal Trade Commission says:

Many universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and branches of the US Cooperative Extension Service operate nonprofit credit counseling programs. Your financial institution, local consumer protection agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and referrals.

What to expect

Trustworthy credit counseling agencies offer help with reducing debt and establishing and maintaining good credit. They can help you set up a budget. With their debt management plans, you may be able to have fees waived and interest rates and monthly payments reduced. But they can’t reduce the balance (the total amount) of debt you owe.

ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, a NFCC network member, explains a debt management plan:

It’s a systematic, step-by-step, personalized plan for paying off 100 percent of your debt. Participants make a single monthly payment to a consumer credit counseling service such as ClearPoint, and the agency distributes the funds to their creditors.

Get a plan in place to chipping away the debt — that would be an accomplishment in itself — but the duration of that plan will depend on your obligations. For many people it takes three to five years to pay them off.

Be wary

Credit counselors can negotiate with your creditors to reduce your payments by lowering your interest rate or spreading payments over a longer time. But be wary of companies promising to reduce the amount of debt you owe. The CFPB says to distrust debt settlement companies that:

… typically offer to pay off your debts with lump sum payments that are less than the full amounts you owe. For example, for every $100 of a loan that a creditor agrees to forgive, the debt settlement company will charge you some portion in fees.

If you sign up for a debt management plan, make sure it includes all of your debts, not just some. And be certain that you’ll be able to receive regular reports on your accounts. The NFCC explains in detail how to assess debt management plans and credit counselors.

When shopping for help managing your debts, here’s what to look for:

1. Free or low-cost counseling

Many nonprofit credit counseling services provide free advice about credit, debt and budgeting.

And when it comes to getting help with a debt management plan, USA.Gov says there’s no reason for an agency to charge consumers high fees: “The cost of setting up this debt management plan is paid by the creditor, not you.”

For example, for a debt management plan, GreenPath Debt Solutions, an NFCC member, charges a one-time setup fee of zero to $50 and a monthly fee averaging $36.

2. Straight talk about fees

Don’t trust a company that gives you the runaround when you inquire about the cost of its services.

3. Free information

You should be able to learn all the details you need about an agency and its debt management plans for free. Don’t surrender your personal details to get information about a company or its fees.

4. Free help for serious hardships

Agencies should waive fees if you have a serious financial hardship. “If an organization won’t help you because you can’t afford to pay, go somewhere else for help,” advises

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Government removes debt from social assistance

Social development

Year was marked by the largest transfer of history to state and municipal funds: R $ 2.93 billion

The social assistance debts left by the previous government were totally paid off by this administration.Only in thelast week, theMinistry of Social Development and Agrarian (MDSA)transferred R $ 400 million.

The pulp released this year R $ 2.93 billion directly to the municipal, state and Federal District funds, which corresponds to the total amount due in the years 2014, 2015 and much of 2016.

For minister of pulp, Osmar Terra, this is yet another demonstration that the federal government is engaged in strengthening and improving social programs.Our country was practically broken, and the economy has yet to be rebuilt.Despite this, we managed this year to increase the transfer of resources to municipalities, he said.

For Terra, the total debt settlement left by the past government shows that the social area is among the priorities of President Michel Temer.According to the minister, the federal government is committed to making this scenario not repeat itself.

Municipalities implement policies and programs.If we do not pay, we aggravate the situation.We are committed not to delay, not to leave the municipalities in difficulty, said Terra.

As soon as I took over the ministry, the first complaint I received was about the delays in going deep to the bottom.These are essential resources for the maintenance of social programs and for ensuring the provision of continuous action services, concluded the minister.


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Bounce back from holiday spending

Sometimes holiday spending can get out of control. Last-minute expenses always seem to pop up that time of year. If it’s happened to you, making a plan to get your spending in check is crucial. Here are my tips for bouncing back from holiday debt.

Assess your financial situation

Before you do anything, it is important to understand your complete financial picture, including your monthly budget. Make a list of your debts, payment due dates, minimum payment amounts and interest rates.

Make a plan to tackle debt

Paying the minimum monthly payment is the worst thing you can do. Ideally you should pay off balances in one to two months. If you have debt on multiple cards, pay off the balance with the highest interest rate first. Setting up automated payments will also ensure you don’t let due dates slip by and incur any unnecessary late fees.

Don’t make it worse

It’s impossible to get out of debt while adding to it, so curbing any frivolous spending is critical. Post-holiday sales are tempting, but put yourself on a financial diet and try not to spend on any nonessential items until you catch up on your debt incurred during the holidays. In fact, put your credit cards out of reach so you’re not tempted to use them. You can also make simple lifestyle changes, such as canceling underused subscription services and limiting the number of times you eat out per week, to help get things back in order.

Avoid quick fixes

Even if your debt seems overwhelming and you’re looking for help, you may want to avoid companies that promise to help you settle your debt for only a small percentage of what you owe. Many debt-settlement companies charge an upfront fee before providing any services and some of the services are even illegal.

Monitor your credit

It’s important to see where you stand by reviewing your credit report. The report should include factors that are negatively affecting you score and areas you can focus on to improve your score. And, of course, it is important to review it so you can keep an eye out for fraud. You can also sign up for free credit monitoring at sites like CreditKarma that will alert you if there are changes to your score.

Before the end of the year we got a call from the person who does our taxes to let us know our tax bill was more than we were anticipating. In response, we’re going to tighten our belts and get back to budgeting. The New Year makes for the perfect time to reassess your financial goals!

Kat’s Money Corner is posted on every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click or visit

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Pay Down Debt With Your Tax Refund

The tax refund you receive in 2017 could be just what you need to pay down any credit card debt you rang up over the festive season. It may help you to clear your balances and enjoy the rest of the year with fewer struggles.

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year for families, but many Americans spend more than they can afford, leading to a credit hangover after Christmas. Mark DiGiovanni, a Certified Financial Planner, says that due to a lack of budgeting and restraint over the festive season, many people spend themselves into a hole by the beginning of the next year, and they spend the better part of the year trying to dig themselves out.

A recent study found that credit card debt in the US varies from state to state. DiGiovanni suggests the rising number of loans are due to the improving economy, with many households becoming more optimistic about taking on extra debt. For those in states like Georgia, which ranks third in the country for average credit card debt, and where the average income is lower, this has led to more spending on plastic.

To tackle these debts, DiGiovanni suggests households try to cut their expenses during the first few months of the year and put any savings towards credit card bills. If your balance has not been cleared by April, he recommends using your tax refund to reduce the remaining debt.

If you want to settle outstanding debts for less than what you owe, try our debt settlement tool.

Photo copy; (Dmitry Vinogradov)

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Liberty Home Loans and Meals on Wheels Delivering Hope to the Hungry

Liberty Home Loans and Coal Creek Meals on Wheels helping the less fortunate and families in need with holiday gift baskets.

Robert Myers, of Liberty Home Loans, is proud to announce the company is lending a helping hand to families and individuals in need via holiday gift baskets and donations. We came up with this program twenty years ago to help seniors and families in the community, said Myers. We did about fifteen baskets the first year and it has expanded every year thanks to wonderful people, some of whom have helped every year since we started the program. That is what I call the definition of community and the meaning of holiday tradition.

The aim of Liberty Home Loans is to bring a smile and hope to less fortunate people in its community. Myers credited the success of the program to great partners like Four Star Realty and Pellman Automotive for all their help and fundraising.

This year Liberty Home Loans teamed up with Coal Creek Meals on Wheels, whose mission is to provide daily nutritious meals and related support services to members of the community in need while helping them to live with dignity in their own homes. The goal was to deliver more than 100 gift baskets to homebound individuals, collect donations and adopt needy families in the community. In fact, 126 gift baskets, which included popcorn, chocolate, coffee and more, were delivered. This is a wonderful cause in which 100% of all contributions are donated to charity, concluded Myers.

To donate directly to Coal Creek Meals on Wheels, please visit;action=newDonationamp;fwID=28204.

About Liberty Home Loans
Liberty Home Loans guides its clients through the labyrinth of mortgage regulations and protocol. Each of its team members is equipped with comprehensive knowledge of the mortgage lending system as well as secure relationships with various lending institutions nationwide. For more information, please call (720) 890-8900, or visit The office is located at 287 Century Circle, Suite 201,Louisville, CO 80027.

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Trump’s contender for Treasury Department found profits in mortgage mess

By Zachary R. Mider

Bloomberg News

NEW YORK Dubious lending practices. Bailouts. Foreclosures. Robo-signing. Huge executive paydays. If Steven Mnuchin is nominated for treasury secretary, his confirmation process promises to dredge up every controversy of the US mortgage meltdown almost a decade ago.

Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner and movie financier with no government experience who spent the past six months working as Donald Trumps chief fundraiser. Trumps transition team recommended Mnuchin for the treasury job, people with knowledge of the matter said last week, and a decision could come any day. The part of his background thats likely to get the most scrutiny is the six years he spent running OneWest Bank, a Southern California lender.

In 2009, during the depths of the financial crisis, Mnuchin joined with a group of former Goldman Sachs colleagues and billionaires to buy the remnants of IndyMac, which had collapsed after bingeing on reckless home loans during the frenzy of Californias subprime-mortgage boom. They changed the name to OneWest, turned it around and sold the bank for a big gain last year. Mnuchin may have personally gotten more than $200 million in proceeds from the sale, according to Bloomberg calculations. That doesnt count any dividends or payments he might have received as chairman and chief executive officer of OneWests parent company.

The bank carried out more than 36,000 foreclosures during Mnuchins reign, according to the California Reinvestment Coalition, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose deputy director, Kevin Stein, dubbed the bank a foreclosure machine. The group has accused OneWest of shoddy foreclosure practices and avoiding business in minority neighborhoods, claims the bank has denied.

Its unclear whether OneWests practices were worse than those of other banks during the financial crisis or how much blame Mnuchin deserves for problems at a financial institution that was troubled before he bought it.

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Home Loan Lending Will Not Be A Super-Safe Business From Now

It is safe to say that most lenders in
India, give home loans worth only around half of the real value of the home
being bought. This makes home loan lending extremely safe .

The idea is that with the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes being demonetised, people will not be able to put together the black element for the home-buying transaction.

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Alterra Home Loans Grows Key Finance Positions

Alterra Home Loans has hired Alex Urmersbach and promoted Yvonne Yacono to bolster its finance department as the company continues on a steady growth path. Urmersbach has joined the team as chief financial officer (CFO), and Yacono will now serve as chief business officer.

Urmersbach will focus on executing financial strategies, planning and analysis, bringing more than a decade of experience to the role, which he will employ to continue driving Alterra’s mission to create wealth through homeownership.

“I joined Alterra because I believe in the leadership, culture and mission, all which has built an infrastructure that sets up for continued growth of the business,” Urmersbach said.

Previously, Urmersbach served as finance and strategy executive for Prospect Mortgage and Bank of America, as well as working for several financial institutions in South America and Europe.

Yacono previously served as Alterra’s director of finance, where she has improved department efficiency, added payroll and loan purchase processing and provided interim servicing management to the team. In her new role as chief business officer, Yacono will manage and develop the company’s accounting and finance operations, including payroll, servicing and process improvements throughout each department.

“That is how I live my life,” Yacono said. “I go after my dreams and give my very best to make those dreams happen and to build the people around me.”

Yacono has a diverse background in finance, having worked in banking, healthcare, hospitality, mortgage and in homebuilding, having worked for several of the country’s top 10 homebuilders.

“These two positions have Alterra in a great position to focus on the future,” said Alterra President and CEO Jason Madiedo. “Alex brings the skills we need to build a larger, more responsible and more sustainable business. And in her new role, Yvonne will ensure Alterra’s strength and continued hunger to serve our mission.”

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Future Looks Dim For Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Under Trump Presidency

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump made his disdain for the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms clear, leaving many to wonder what a Trump White House would mean for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the financial services regulator created by the 2010 legislation. Now that pieces are beginning to fall into place for the Trump transition plan, the outlook for the CFPB does not appear very bright.

Will CFPB Be Dismantled?

Even before the CFPB launched in 2011, its been opposed by many in the financial industries, and by the lawmakers they back.

While the hard line against the CFPB has called for Congress to dismantle the agency entirely, that could prove too difficult as it would likely require legislation that would not survive a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

Ed Mierzwinski, of the US Public Interest Research Group recently told reporter Bob Sullivan that anti-CFPB lawmakers will probably try to get around a filibuster with smaller legislative efforts that chip away at the Bureaus authority and its ability to enforce rules deemed too-restrictive on banks.

He points to recent attempts by these lawmakers to damage the CFPB via riders on appropriations bills that sought to eliminate independent funding, convert it to a commission, and delay enforcement of rules on payday lending and forced arbitration. Those efforts never bore any fruit because of the threat of presidential veto and the lack of numbers in the Senate to override that veto.

Bank-Backed Foes

One of the most vocal opponents of Dodd-Frank, and of the Bureau and its Director Richard Cordray, has been Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and potential nominee for Treasury Secretary in the upcoming administration.

Hes also, one of the most bank-backed members of Congress. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Hensarling was second only to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan among House members in receiving campaign contributions from commercial banks, and his PAC received more contributions from this sector than any other House member. In all, Hensarlings campaign and his leadership PAC received around $1.9 million from the financial and real estate industries for the most recent election cycle, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all money raised for the Congressman.

Even if Hensarling is ultimately not named Treasury Secretary, his influence is already being felt. As the Wall Street Journal notes, much of the financial reform policy coming out of the president-elects team is virtually identical to legislation that Hensarling has previously proposed, some of which involves changes that would significantly blunt the Bureaus fangs.

Changes At The Top

Arguably the most significant looming change to the CFPB comes not from the Trump camp or from anti-CFPB members of Congress, but from the courts.

Director Richard Cordray has been a controversial figure since President Obama used his recess appointment power to install the former Ohio attorney general as CFPB head more than four years ago. The move so upset some members of Congress that Hensarling and others refused to hear testimony from Cordray until he was vetted and approved by the legislature. Cordray was, after more skirmishes in the Senate, eventually confirmed for a five-year term in mid-2013.

In theory, he could remain as CFPB Director until that term runs out in 2018, but a recent federal appeals court ruling has called that authority into question.

In an effort to maintain the independence of the CFPB Director, the position is unique among federal regulatory agency heads. Agencies are usually headed by either a single director who can be removed at whim by the president, or by a multi-commissioner panel where its not as simple to remove an official.

At the CFPB, there is a single Director, but he cant not be dismissed at will by the president, only for cause. The reasoning is that this shields the CFPB Director from pressures that regulated parties might try to put on the executive or legislative branches of the government.

While there is no law explicitly stating that a federal agency must be run by either a sole director that can be changed at the discretion of the White House or a multi-commissioner panel with term limits, a federal appeals court recently concluded that the CFPBs peculiar structure is unconstitutional because it concentrates too much authority in one person who is not directly answerable to the president once in office.

If that ruling stands, it would mean that Cordray will likely be packing up his desk in late January. The law allows for his Deputy Director to assume the head position if Cordray exits before his term ends, but the White House will likely have a replacement in mind if they believe the appeals court ruling will survive.

People weve talked to in DC believe that the Trump administration would likely name an interim director to head up the Bureau while allies in Congress try to pass legislation that would restructure the CFPB leadership to a multi-member commission.

The other important change that anti-CFPB legislators have wanted is to make the CFPB more accountable to lawmakers by having its funding come through Congress rather than independently from the Federal Reserve. This revision to the Bureaus structure has been proposed a number of times over the last five years, but has never been taken as a serious possibility until now.

Pending Plans

Bank-backed lawmakers have tried to de-fang the CFPB in recent years by forcing the Bureau to delay enforcement or redo research on controversial issues like payday lending and forced arbitration.

Some marquee regulations like the long-awaited final rules on using arbitration in financial services are still pending, and their future remains in doubt if Cordray leaves or is removed.

The Hill reports that the CEO of the Credit Union National Association wrote to Cordray earlier today, calling on the Bureau to press pause on many pending CFPB rules. Additionally, President-elect Trump has pledged to put a moratorium on new agency rulemakings once he takes office.

CUNA contends that this is the will of American voters, who do not feel their voice is being heard by federal policymakers and they want that to change.”

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