3 Best Apps for Managing Your Money

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Many people find themselves in debt because they don’t manage their money well. There is a negative stigma on debt, but it is often the result of a series of small mistakes such as forgetting to pay off a credit card bill, not regularly checking bank account balances, not moving any money into savings or forgetting to make student loan payments and getting behind.

Luckily, there’s an app for that.

You can find an app for almost anything these days—editing photos, meeting new people, tracking your steps, booking a flight and even figuring out what song is playing on the radio. Take a look at these top user-rated apps for managing your money conveniently from your smartphone!

  1. Mint

Often touted as one of the best financial apps available, Mint is a collection of different apps for managing money. For example, Mint Bills lets you set up bill payments directly from your phone, while Mint Personal Finance keeps a log of all of your recent transactions and allows you to create and track budgets and credit scores.

You can manage your earnings, spending and savings via your bank account, mutual funds, 401(k) and/or IRA. Mint will alert you if you go over budget, overdraw your bank account or if an unauthorized payment was made using your debit or credit card (to help prevent fraudulent purchases).

Mint is available for iOS, Android and Windows, and it is free to download!

  1. Expensify

Expensify has both an app and web interface, so you can check your information from any of your devices. It is rated high in easy navigation and usability and offers four main features: SmartScan, Add Expense, Track Time and Track Distance.

The SmartScan feature allows you to take pictures and categorize your receipts. Expensify can use these receipts to generate reports and track your spending habits. This feature is mirrored in the Add Expense button, which allows manual entry.

  1. HealPay Reminders

healpayLast month, a Michigan-based company called HealPay released an app unique to their innovative bill pay solution—SettlementApp. HealPay’s “reminders” allow consumers to opt-in and create bill reminders via SMS and e-mail. Reminders allows for custom messaging, real-time delivery and unlimited reminders. This app, in conjunction with their online SettlementApp, reduces overhead and automates operations for companies that receive routine, reoccurring payments while reminding their consumers at no cost—a win-win for all parties. Learn more at http://healpay.com.

With today’s technological advances and a free app for managing nearly every aspect of your life, do your research and take advantage of the tools that can help you rest well knowing nothing has been forgotten!

In the News 06/02/2015

In a 9-0 decision on Monday, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that underwater homeowners, or homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth, cannot get rid of their second mortgage by filing for bankruptcy. All nine justices agreed that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection does not allow for canceling a second mortgage.

The original case involved two Florida homeowners who argued that a second mortgage is paid after the first and is essentially worthless after filing bankruptcy. However, SCOTUS sided with lenders who fought to keep the second mortgage liens, such as home-equity loans, citing the constant shift in the property market in their decision. The justices agreed that when the value of real estate changes, the second mortgage could be paid off in full.

For more information, visit http://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-underwater-homeowners-cant-void-second-mortgages-in-bankruptcy-1433173699.

How to Choose the Right Credit Card for You

Credit Card Reform Legislation Would Tighten Rules On Rates And FeesMany people fall into debt as the result of charging too much to their credit card(s). In general, credit cards should be used to buy things you need or want to make payments on—not to buy things you want but can’t afford.

While some people choose not to have one at all, having a credit card is almost a necessity in today’s economic environment. Many young people apply for credit cards to begin building credit in the hopes of one day securing a loan to buy a house, car or a even a small business. Having a credit card and using it responsibly are great ways to manage your money, but with so many to choose from, how do you know which is the right fit for you?

Check out these tips for choosing the right credit card!

1. Check your credit score. When choosing a credit card, you first need to see which ones are available to you. If you have a low credit score, it may be the ones with sky-high interest rates and baseline spending limits due to your credit history. While making purchase and paying them off with a credit card will help boost your credit score, you may want to consider other ways to improve your credit.

2. Don’t get blinded by rewards. In the colorful world of marketing, there are hundreds of impressive commercials about travel rewards and cash back. However, be sure to read the fine print. Advertisements fail to mention important information like annual fees, minimum payment requirements, penalties and reward caps.

3. Consider your lifestyle. There are several specialty credit cards that are geared toward specific groups like college students and small business owners. If you travel a lot for business, check for cards with point systems that reward you for hotel stays, airfare and car rentals. If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, consider cards that allow you to earn points on gas and groceries.

No matter which card you choose, make sure you pay your bill on time to avoid penalties and high interest rates.

In the News 05/26/2015

In a recent case against three major credit reporting agencies, one Ohio woman may have changed the landscape for the thousands of consumers who are unable to correct problems with their credit reports each year.

For 12 years, Julie A. Sagstetter endured calls, letters and posted notices from collectors and the sheriff’s department for failing to pay her bills. However, the collectors had her confused with another woman, Julie V. Sagstetter. Although Julie A. consistently tried correcting the information, the agencies refused to admit their mistake and continued harassing her.

Julie A. finally contacted Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in a desperate attempt for help. DeWine launched a case against Experian, Equifax and TransUnion that led to a settlement that will hopefully change this type of behavior. A total of 31 states have announced a crackdown on some of the nation’s largest credit-reporting agencies this past week.

The agreement requires the agencies to launch investigations when consumers report mistakes and keep a list of credit companies that regularly provide inaccurate information on credit reports, among other things.

For more information, visit http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/05/20/mike-dewine-credit-scars.html.

5 Tips for College Grads

Congratulations! After four years (or maybe five) of midterms, finals, all-nighters, projects and presentations, you’re finally ready to take your first steps out into the “real world.” For some, this may mean starting a job you’ve already secured, moving out of the dorm and into your first apartment, moving away from your family or moving back in with your folks until you figure things out.

Just breathe—it’s going to be okay.

While post-graduation can be a stressful time if you’re on the hunt for a place to live, a place to work and a way to pay back those student loans, it is also an exciting time to start fresh. As you begin establishing yourself in the business world, check out these tips to help you transition from the classroom to the board room.

  1. Spend less, save more. You’ve probably seen those movies where 20-somethings sit on the floor eating Spaghetti-Os because they can’t afford furniture or actual food. While that may be a slight exaggeration, you will probably not be going out to eat as often or splurging on weekend getaways. While it might still be difficult to imagine yourself buying a new home, you’ll be happy you put your money toward sensible goals like paying off your loans, buying a reliable car or building a comfortable savings. Don’t fall victim to quick loans with high interest rates or “buy now, pay later” schemes—buy only what you can afford.
  1. Clean up your social media. College is usually a fun time for all, but in the world of job interviews, it is wise to clean up your social media pages. Now more than ever, employers are looking at the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages of potential hires, and provocative pictures and offensive language may be the difference between you and John Smith getting the job.
  1. Learn how to sell yourself. In a marketing-driven world, knowing how to sell yourself is key to landing a job. Whether it’s in-person in an interview, through your resume or on your LinkedIn profile, make sure you know how to put your best foot forward. Don’t be shy about talking yourself up, displaying your strengths and admitting your weaknesses (nobody wants to hire someone who cannot answer the question, “What are your weaknesses?”). Which brings us to our next tip …
  1. Practice humility in the workplace. It’s okay to be proud of the degree you worked so hard to earn, but make sure to remain humble. The truth is, you are fresh out of college, and the people interviewing or supervising you have likely been working for several years. So while your advanced degree and amazing computer skills will make you an asset to the company, you still have a lot to learn (and that’s okay!).
  1. Don’t get discouraged. In today’s economy and job market, getting hired is harder than ever. Remember that you might not land the dream job right out of the gate—but just give it time. You need experience, and it might take you several years to work your way up the chain. Don’t get discouraged, and never stop aiming to do what you love.

In the News 05/19/2015

We don’t often discuss debt collection outside of the United States, but collections news continues to rule headlines all over the world. In the news today, Frankfurt buyout group Permira entered into an agreement to buy large German debt collection firm GFKL from Advent.

The rise of e-commerce in Germany is driving the growth of the country’s debt collection industry, but just like the United States, Germany has felt the sting of economic hardship, especially in the area of energy.

According to Permira representatives, the business is taking advantage of the fragmented debt collection market in Germany to increase their size and consolidate other firms into their fold.

While the specific amount paid has not been released, GFKL’s net worth has risen in recent years from 196 million euros in 2013 to 244 million euros in 2014. Insiders say this deal was worth more than 600 million euros ($684 million).

Adapted from http://www.reuters.com/.

Debt Collection Law Ranks High in Safety and Security

Debt collection law gets a bad rep. Just Google “debt collection,” and you’ll stumble across a thousand stories about crooked collectors, deceptive ruses and stringent regulations to maintain the climate of lending, borrowing and repayment.

If you’ve been following our blog, you likely already know that debt collectors must follow specific federal guidelines to avoid violating consumer rights and maintain their own responsibilities. Well-known laws that we’ve discussed include the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).

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However, what you might not know is that in the entire field of law, the legal debt collection industry is in the top 10 percent for IT security, data security, physical security and third party vendor management.

Because of the nature of the practice, collections tops all other areas of law in disaster preparedness, disaster recovery plans and employee training and conduct.

The industry as a whole is more likely to have superior call recording capabilities that record 100 percent of incoming and outgoing calls, email encryption and email programs that recognize and restrict the sending of a 16-digit sequential number (ie—credit card numbers).

The licensed and recognized creditors bar is the least likely to be hacked among all law firms nationwide, and although there have been attempted website hacks, there are no known data breaches in the entire industry of legal collections.

While the stringent standards placed on collectors are to protect the consumers, they make the practice of debt collection very expensive. Collectors rank high in the areas of safety and security, and that is a positive thing, but they pay handsomely to do so.

The bottom line after paying out for security systems and other third party vendors depends entirely on a collectors’ ability to connect with debtors and work toward a payment plan that benefits both parties.

Despite the horror stories, these statistics shine a positive light on the field of legal debt collection. Collectors are doing their best to ensure a safe and secure relationship with debtors, protect important and private information and collect money in order to regain economic balance in the area of lending.