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The post The Chilling Truth About Debt Settlement Programs appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Debt is a very touchy subject for most people. Feeling the stress of overwhelming monthly payments, many people just look for what seems to be the easiest way out. This is when the salesmen tend to strike. Â The reason is a good deal of your financial information can be considered public knowledge.
Every day, many in debt get phone calls from high energy salesmen talking about the miraculous debt settlement concept. So, I’m going to start by saying, one great lesson we all learn young in life is, âIf it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!â
I made this mistake myself. Â I was so far in debt that I was drowning. In an act of desperation, I used a debt settlement company. Â Turns out, they did nothing to help me. It only made the situation much worse.
Here are a few chilling facts that you should know about debt settlement programs. Â These may just prove that the concept is too good to be true!
Fact #1: You May Be Sued For Not Paying Debts Even As You Make Payments
Did you know the payments you make may not go to your lenders? Â Yep! Â When working with a debt settlement company, your payments are not sent in on a monthly basis. Â Instead, these companies hold the funds from your payments. In most cases, the money is held in special purpose savings accounts until it has reached enough to pay off a debt. Once one debt is paid off, the savings process is started for the next.
Therefore, the last lender or two may wait 3, 4 or even 5 years before they see the next payment. The truth is, if you look at it from their perspective, it’s cheaper to take you to court. They will get the money faster through a settlement because they can garnish your wages. Also, in many cases, you will have to pay the court costs as well!
Fact #2: Your Credit Will Be Destroyed
While talking to a debt settlement agent, you will find that their last interest is in your credit score. Also, if you bring up the topic, they may try to downplay the effects of debt settlement on consumer credit scores. With that said, I’m not going to downplay it at all for you! Here is the truth…Because lenders are not being paid for long periods of time, your debts will be charged off.
One collections agency will sell it to the next and each time, it will damage your credit score! This is why I generally advise against this option if the consumer has good or excellent credit scores. The effects of credit card debt settlement programs will not pass in 6 months either! They will last throughout the term of your settlement and at least a year and a half to 2 years afterwords.
Fact #3: Debt Settlement Costs Thousands Of Dollars In Most Cases
The truth is, if you are going to settle your debts, with a little bit of online research, you can do it on your own. However, when you higher a debt settlement company, chances are, you will pay a percentage of the total amount owed, somewhere around 15%. That means if you have the minimum amount of debt that most companies accept, $10,000.00, your fee will be $1,500.00 minimum in most cases.
This does not include the cost of a special purpose savings account which, usually runs about $25 per month. Add in the cost of paying an attorney when you get taken to curt and, you will now find yourself paying just as much as you did before you hired the debt settlement company in the first place!
Every Dark Cloud Has A Silver Lining
Although debt settlement may not be the option for most, always remember, there is an option for you. As a matter of fact, I recently wrote an article that included a few great options called DIY Alternatives To Debt Consolidation. Trust me, those alternatives only begin to touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great, legitimate ways to get out of debt!
This article was written by Joshua Rodriguez, proud owner and founder of CNA Finance and avid personal finance journalist. Join the discussion about this article on facebook and Google+!
The post The Chilling Truth About Debt Settlement Programs appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
College is expensive and everyone knows that.
Between paying for tuition, parking, textbooks, extra fees, and everything else, you also have basic living expenses to pay for as well.
All of these costs are either brand new or somewhat new to you most likely as well, so you might not even know how to survive on a budget, let alone a college budget.
Don’t worry, though, surviving on a college budget is possible. Learning how to save money in college is possible!
Related post: How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans In 7 Months
Whether you are trying to survive the whole year off of what you made over the summer or if you have a steady job throughout the school year, there are ways to budget your money and not fall into any extra debt. Plus, you can still enjoy your college years on a low budget as well!
Below are my tips on how to survive on a college budget.
Use your student ID.
Your student ID is good at many places beyond just your college campus. Before you buy anything, I highly recommend seeing if a company offers a student discount.
Your student ID can be used to save money at restaurants, clothing stores, electronics (such as laptops!), at the movies, and more. You may receive a discount, free items, and more all just by flashing your student ID.
After all, you are paying to go to college and you are paying a lot. You might as well reap one benefit of paying all of those high college costs.
Make extra money.
You may need to look into making extra money if you just don’t have enough to survive on. I am a firm believer in making extra money and I think extra time can be wisely spent doing this.
Some online side gigs with flexible schedules include:
- Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I made over $150,000 last year by blogging and will make more than that in 2015. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
- Survey companies I recommend include Survey Junkie, American Consumer Opinion, Product Report Card, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! It’s best to sign up for as many as you can because that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
- InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free!
- Swagbucks is something I don’t use as much, but I do earn Amazon gift cards with very little work. Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded points called “SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough points, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. You’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up today!
- Check out 75 Ways To Make Extra Money for more ideas.
- Read Best Online Jobs For College Students
Use coupons to stay on a college budget.
Just like with the above, you may want to start using coupons.
By doing so, you can save money on nearly everything. You can find coupons in newspapers, online, and in the mail. They are everywhere so you should have no problem finding them and saving money today.
Related post: How To Live On One Income
Learn how to correctly use a credit card or don’t have one at all.
Many college students fall into credit card debt, but I don’t want you to be one of them.
Many college students will start relying on their credit cards in order to get them through their low college budget, but this can lead to thousands of dollars of credit card debt which will eventually seem impossible to get out of due to significant interest charges that keep building up.
In order to never get into this situation, you should avoid credit cards at all costs if you think you will rely on them too heavily.
You should think long and hard about whether you should have one or not. Just because many others have them doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing! However, if you think you will be good at using them, then there are many advantages of doing so.
Related post: Credit Card Mistakes That Can Lead To Debt
Only take out what you need in student loans.
Many students take out the full amount in student loans that they are approved for even if they only need half.
This is a HUGE mistake. You should only take out what you truly need, as you will need to pay back your student loans one day and you will most likely regret it later.
I know someone who would take out the max amount each semester and buy timeshares, go on expensive vacations, and more. It was a huge waste of money and I’m still not even sure why they thought it was a good idea.
Just think about it – If you take out an extra $2,000 a semester, that means you will most likely take out almost $20,000 over the time period that you are in college.
Do you really want to owe THAT much more in student loans?
Skip having a car.
Most campuses have everything you need in order to survive – food, stores, and jobs. In many cases, you do not need to have a car whatsoever.
By foregoing a car, you may save money on monthly payments, maintenance costs, car insurance, gas, and more.
Related post: Should We Get Rid Of A Car And Just Have One?
Eat out less.
Now, I’m not saying you should stop eating out entirely if you are trying to survive on a college budget. I know how it is to be in college and to want to hang out with everyone. These are your college years after all.
However, you should try to eat in as much as you can, make your own meals, and try to eat out only during happy hours or when food is cheaper, such as during lunch time. Eating out can ruin your college budget!
Have a roommate.
The more people you live with, generally the less you will pay when it comes to rent and utilities. If you are living on your own, then you may want to find roommates so that you can split the costs with them.
This will help you to lower your college budget and you may even find some awesome friends.
Related post: What I Learned Having Roommates
What college budget tips do you have?
The post Learning How To Survive On A College Budget appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
Paying off debt may feel like a never-ending process. With so many potential solutions, you may not know where to start. One of your options may be withdrawing money from your retirement fund. This may make you wonder, âshould I cash out my 401k to pay off debt?â Cashing out your 401k early may cost you in penalties, taxes, and your financial future so it’s usually wise to avoid doing this if possible. When in doubt, consult your financial advisor to help determine whatâs best for you.
Before cashing out your 401k, we suggest weighing the pros and cons, plus the financial habits you could change to reduce debt. The right move may be adjusting your budget to ensure each dollar is being put to good use. Keep reading to determine if and when it makes sense to cash out your 401k.
How to Determine If You Want to Cash Out Your Retirement
Deciding to cash out your 401k depends on your financial position. If debt is causing daily stress, you may consider serious debt payoff plans. Early withdrawal from your 401k could cost you in
Deciding to cash out your 401k depends on your financial position. If debt is causing daily stress, you may consider serious debt payoff plans. Early withdrawal from your 401k could cost you in taxes and fees as your 401k has yet to be taxed. Meaning, the gross amount you withdraw from your 401k will be taxed in full, so assess your financial situation before making a decision.
Check Your Eligibility
Depending on your 401k account, you may not be able to withdraw money without a valid reason. Hefty medical bills and outstanding debts may be valuable reasons, but going on a shopping spree isnât. Below are a few requirements to consider for an early withdrawal:
- Financial hardships may include medical expenses, educational fees, bills to prevent foreclosure or eviction, funeral expenses, or home repairs.
- Your withdrawal is lower or exactly the amount of financial assistance you need.
To see what you may be eligible for, look up your 401k documentation or reach out to a trusted professional.
Assess Your Current Financial Situation
Sit down and create a list of your savings, assets, and debts. How much debt do you have? Are you able to allocate different funds towards debts? If you have $2,500 in credit card debt and a steady source of income, you may be able to pay off debt by adjusting your existing habits. Cutting the cord with your TV, cable, or streaming services could be a great money saver.
However, if youâre on the verge of foreclosure or bankruptcy, living with a strict budget may not be enough. When looking into more serious debt payoff options, your 401k may be the best route.
Calculate How Much of Your Retirement Is at Risk
Having a 401k is crucial for your financial future, and the government tries to reinforce that for your best interest. To encourage people to save, anyone who withdraws their 401k early pays a 10 percent penalty fee. When, or if, you go to withdraw your earnings early, you may have to pay taxes on the amount you withdraw. Your tax rates will depend on federal income and state taxes where you reside.
Say youâre in your early twenties and you have 40 years until youâd like to retire. You decide to take out $10,000 to put towards your student loans. Your federal tax rate is 10 percent and your state tax is four percent. With the 10 percent penalty fee, federal tax, and state tax, you would receive $7,600 of your $10,000 withdrawal. The extra $2,400 expense would be paid in taxes and penalties.
The bottom line: No matter how much you withdraw early from your 401k, you will face significant fees. These fees include federal taxes, state taxes, and penalty fees.
What Are the Pros and Cons?
Before withdrawing from your 401k, there are some pros and cons to consider before cashing out early.
- Pay off debt sooner: In some cases, you may pay off debt earlier than expected. By putting your 401k withdrawal toward debt, you may be able to pay off your account in full. Doing so could help you save on monthly interest payments.
- Put more towards savings: If youâre able to pay off your debt with your early withdrawal, you may free up your budget. If you have extra money each month, you could contribute more to your savings. Adding to your savings could earn you interest when placed in a proper account.
- Less financial stress: Debt may cause you daily stress. By increasing your debt payments with a 401k withdrawal, you may save yourself energy. After paying off debt, you may consider building your emergency funds.
- Higher disposable income: If youâre able to pay off your debts, you may have more financial freedom. With this freedom, you could save for a house or invest in side hustles.
- Higher tax bill: You may have to pay a hefty tax payment for your withdrawal. Your 401k is considered gross income thatâs taxed when paid out. Your federal and state taxes are determined by where you reside and your yearly income.
- Pay a penalty fee: To discourage people from cashing out their 401k, thereâs a 10 percent penalty. You may be charged this penalty in full.
- Cut your investment earnings: You gain interest on money you have stored in your 401k. When you withdraw money, you may earn a lower amount of interest.
- Push your retirement date: You may be robbing your future self. With less money in your retirement fund, youâll lower your retirement income. Doing so could push back your desired retirement date.
6 Ways to Pay Off Debt Without Cashing Out Your 401k
There are a few ways to become debt-free without cutting into your 401k. Paying off debt may not be easy, but it could benefit your future self and your current state of mind. Work towards financial freedom with these six tips.
1. Negotiate Your Credit Card Interest Rates
Call your credit card customer service center and ask to lower your rates on high-interest accounts. Look at your current interest rate, account history, and competitor rates. After researching, call your credit card company and share your customer loyalty. Follow up by asking for lower interest rates to match their competitors. Earning lower interest rates may save you interest payments.
2. Halt Your Credit Card Spending
Consider restricting your credit card spending. If credit card debt is your biggest stressor, cut up or hide your cards to avoid shopping temptations. Check in on your financial goals by downloading our app for quick updates on the fly. We send out weekly updates to see where you are with your financial goals.
3. Put Bonuses Towards Your Debt
Any time you get a monetary bonus, consider putting it towards debts. This could be a raise, yearly bonus, tax refund, or monetary gifts from your loved ones. You may have a set budget without this supplemental income, so act as if you never received it. Without budgeting for the extra income, you may feel less tempted to spend it.
4. Evaluate All Your Options for Paying Down Debt
If youâre in dire need to pay off your debts, look into other accounts like your savings or emergency fund. While money saved can help in times of need, your financial situation may be an emergency. To save on early withdrawal taxes and fees, you can borrow from savings accounts. To cover future emergency expenses, avoid draining your savings accounts entirely.
5. Transfer Balances to a Low-Interest Credit Card
If high-interest payments are diminishing your budget, transfer them to a low-interest account. Compare your current debt interest rates to other competitors. Sift through their fine print to spot any red flags. Credit card companies may hide variable interest rates or fees that drive up the cost. Find a transfer card that works for you, contact the company to apply, and transfer over your balances.
6. Consider Taking Out a 401k Loan Rather than Withdrawing
To avoid early withdrawal fees, consider taking out a 401k loan. A 401k loan is money borrowed from your retirement fund. This loan charges interest payments that are essentially paid back to your future self. While some interest payments are put back in your account, your opportunity for compounding interest may slightly decrease. Compounding interest is interest earned on your principal balance and accumulated interest from past periods. While you may pay a small amount in interest fees, this option may help you avoid the 10 percent penalty fee.
As your retirement account grows, so does your interest earned â thatâs why time is so valuable. While taking out a 401k loan may be a better option than withdrawing from your 401k, you may lose out on a small portion of compounding interest. When, or if, you choose to take out a 401k loan, you may start making monthly payments right away. This allows your payments to grow interest and work for you sooner than withdrawing from your 401k.
This type of loan may vary on principle balance, interest rate, term length, and other conditions. In most cases, youâre allowed to borrow up to $50,000 or half of your account balance. Some accounts may also have a minimum loan balance. This means youâll have to take out a certain amount to qualify. Interest rates on these loans generally charge market value rates, similar to commercial banks.
Pulling funds from your retirement account may look appealing when debt is looming over you. While withdrawing money from your 401k to pay off debt may help you now, it could hurt you in taxes and fees. Before withdrawing your retirement savings, see the effect it could have on your future budget. As part of your strategy, determine where youâre able to cut out unnecessary expenses with our app. Still on the fence about whether withdrawing funds is the right move for you? Consult your financial advisor to determine a debt payoff plan that works best for your budgeting goals.
The post Should I Cash Out My 401k to Pay Off Debt? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When I first connected with Julia and John, the Queens, NY couple was expecting their first child and grappling with some debt, a lack of savings and income prior to the baby’s arrival. The couple was basically living paycheck to paycheck and in need of some advice to break through that cycle.
We reconnected this month to see how they’ve been doing. Julia is now nearing the end of her third trimester. The baby is due to arrive in two months.
I was hoping that with a baby on the way the couple would have found some ways to chisel away their debt or bulk up savings. Unfortunately, fie months later, they’re more or less still in the same money boat.
But they did act upon a couple of my tips and are benefiting from the goodness of New York and their parents, which has their futures looking brighter.
First, John, who lacks a college degree and was struggling to find full-time work, is going back to school. Not to a college or university, but to a 9-month software boot camp in New York that’s going to give him the skills and network to become a software developer. His potential earnings in the first year in the market could be as much as $75,000 (based on some people I know who’ve gone through similar programs in New York.)
The program will be about $15,000, a fraction of what it would cost to earn a bachelor’s degree. John’s parents have agreed to loan him the money. The couple’s decided to place that $15,000 family loan in savings and, instead, take out a small student loan to pay for John’s school. I agree with that strategy, given that their family is about to increase in size and having some cash on hand will be very important.
Once John completes school and finds work, I’d recommend the couple prioritize the credit card debt by paying at least double the minimums each month. Be most aggressive with the highest interest credit card debt first. Their student loan will likely have a smaller interest rate and can be paid over a 10-year period, making the monthly minimums relatively manageable. Automate those payments as soon as possible and benefit from a 0.25% interest rate reduction when they do.
While they’re taking on more debt, I’m okay with it. Investing in John’s education is one of the best ways this couple can get ahead and better secure their finances in the future – so long as they commit to earning more and paying it down.
Ahead of that program starting, John’s also taken on a side hustle (per my advice). He’s been working a few shifts here and there at Julia’s company, working with special needs patients as a social aide, taking them to community and outdoor events.
Some other good news that’s developed since we last spoke is that New York State has enhanced its Family and Medical Leave Act by implementing Paid Family Leave. In the past, certain employers were only required to provide workers with their jobs back after taking a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks. Now, qualifying private employers must provide paid time off and a continuation of health insurance for 8 weeks in 2018.
This came as a surprise bonus for Julia, who was preparing for zero paid time off from her employer.
It would be my recommendation to use part or all of that extra money to pay down their high-interest credit card debt.
Once Julia returns to work after her maternity leave, her mother-in-law will be the go-to caretaker during the day, another huge help.
They’re fortunate to have free childcare from a trusted, loved one. With that very big expense covered and John’s schooling about to start, I feel confident that the couple’s future is a financially bright one.
The post Check-In: Expecting Couple Struggling with Debt, But Future Looks Bright appeared first on MintLife Blog.
You might feel like youâre out of options when youâre swimming in credit card debt, but thatâs just not the case. Debt settlement is a viable option that helps you negotiate a lower debt amount…
The post How to Settle Your Credit Card Debt appeared first on Crediful.
Debt comes in all shapes and sizes. You can owe money to utility companies, banks, credit card providers, and the government. Thereâs student loan debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, and much more. But what are the official categories of debt and how do the payoff strategies for these debts differ?
Categories of Debt
Debt is generally categorized into two simple forms: Secured and Unsecured. The former is secured against an asset, such as a car or loan, and means the lender can seize the asset if you fail to meet your obligations. Unsecured is not secured against anything, reducing the creditorâs control and limiting their options if the repayment terms are not met.
A secured debt provides the lender with some assurances and collateral, which means they are often prepared to provide better interest rates and terms. This is one of the reasons youâre charged astronomical rates for credit cards and short-term loans but are generally offered very favorable rates for home loans and car loans.
If the debtor fails to make payments on an unsecured debt, such as a credit card, then the debtor may file a judgment with the courts or sell it to a collection agency. In the first instance, itâs a lot of hassle without any guarantee. In the second, theyâre selling the debts for cents on the dollar and losing a lot of money. In either case, itâs not ideal, and to offset this they charge much higher interest rates and these rates climb for debtors with a poorer track record.
There is also something known as revolving debt, which can be both unsecured and secured. Revolving debt is anything that offers a continuous cycle of credit and repayment, such as a credit card or a home equity line of credit.Â
Mortgages and federal student loans may also be grouped into separate debts. In the case of mortgages, these are substantial secured loans that use the purchase as collateral. As for federal student loans, they are provided by the government to fund education. They are unsecured and there are many forgiveness programs and options to clear them before the repayment date.
What is a Collection Account?
As discussed above, if payments are missed for several months then the account may be sold to a debt collection agency. This agency will then assume control of the debt, contacting the debtor to try and settle for as much as they can. At this point, the debt can often be settled for a fraction of the amount, as the collection agency likely bought it very cheaply and will make a profit even if it is sold for 30% of its original balance.
Debt collectors are persistent as thatâs their job. They will do everything in their power to collect, whether that means contacting you at work or contacting your family. There are cases when they are not allowed to do this, but in the first instance, they can, especially if theyâre using these methods to track you down and they donât discuss your debts with anyone else.
No one wants the debt collectors after them, but generally, you have more power than they do and unless they sue you, thereâs very little they can do. If this happens to you, we recommend discussing the debts with them and trying to come to an arrangement. Assuming, that is, the debt has not passed the statute of limitations. If it has, then negotiating with them could invalidate that and make you legally responsible for the debt all over again.
Take a look at our guide to the statute of limitations in your state to learn more.
As scary as it can be to have an account in collections, itâs also common. A few years ago, a study found that there are over 70 million accounts in collections, with an average balance of just over $5,000.
Can Bankruptcy Discharge all Debts?
Bankruptcy can help you if you have more debts than you can repay. But itâs not as all-encompassing as many debtors believe.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge most of your debts, but it wonât touch child support, alimony or tax debt. It also wonât help you with secured debts as the lender will simply repossess or foreclose, taking back their money by cashing in the collateral. Chapter 13 bankruptcy works a little differently and is geared towards repayment as opposed to discharge. You get to keep more of your assets and in exchange you agree to a payment plan that repays your creditors over 3 to 5 years.
However, as with Chapter 7, you canât clear tax debts and you will still need to pay child support and alimony. Most debts, including private student loans, credit card debt, and unsecured loan debt will be discharged with bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy can seriously reduce your credit score in the short term and can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, so itâs not something to be taken lightly. Your case will also be dismissed if you canât show that you have exhausted all other options.
Differences in Reducing Each Type of Debt
The United States has some of the highest consumer debt in the world. It has become a common part of modern life, but at the same time, we have better options for credit and debt relief, which helps to balance things out a little. Some of the debt relief options at your disposal have been discussed below in relation to each particular type of long-term debt.
The Best Methods for Reducing Loans
If youâre struggling with high-interest loans, debt consolidation can help. A debt consolidation company will provide you with a loan large enough to cover all your debts and in return, they will give you a single long-term debt. This will often have a smaller interest rate and a lower monthly payment, but the term will be much longer, which means youâll pay much more interest overall.
Debt management works in a similar way, only you work directly with a credit union or credit counseling agency and they do all the work for you, before accepting your money and then distributing it to your creditors.
Both forms of debt relief can also help with other unsecured debts. They bring down your debt-to-income ratio, leave you with more disposable income, and allow you to restructure your finances and get your life back on track.
The Best Methods for Reducing Credit Cards
Debt settlement is the ultimate debt relief option and can help you clear all unsecured debt, with many companies specializing in credit card debt.Â
Debt settlement works best when you have lots of derogatory marks and collections, as this is when creditors are more likely to settle. They can negotiate with your creditors for you and clear your debts by an average of 40% to 60%. You just need to pay the full settlement amount and the debt will clear, with the debt settlement company not taking their cut until the entire process has been finalized.
A balance transfer can also help with credit card debt. A balance transfer credit card gives you a 0% APR on all transfers for between 6 and 18 months. Simply move all of your credit card balances into a new balance transfer card and then every cent of your monthly payment will go towards the principal.
The Best Methods for Reducing Secured Debts
Secured debt is a different beast, as your lender can seize the asset if they want to. This makes them much less susceptible to settlement offers and refinancing. However, they will still be keen to avoid the costly foreclosure/repossession process, so contact them as soon as youâre struggling and see if they can offer you anything by way of a grace period or reduced payment.
Most lenders have some form of hardship program and are willing to be flexible if it increases their chances of being repaid in full.
Different Types of Debt is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
One of the harsh truths of secured loans is that your asset can be repossessed if you fail to make the payments. In the words of the FTC, âyour consumer rights may be limitedâ if you miss your monthly payments, and when that happens, both your financial situation and your bank balance will take a hit.
On this guide, weâll look at what can happen when you fall behind on your car payments, and how much damage it can do to your credit score.
What is a Car Repossession?
An auto loan is a loan acquired for the sole purpose of purchasing a car. The lender covers the cost of the car, you get the vehicle you want, and in return you pay a fixed monthly sum until the loan balance is repaid.
If you fail to make to make a payment or youâre late, the lender may assume possession of your car and sell it to offset the losses. At the same time, they will report your missed and late payments to the main credit bureaus, and your credit score will take a hit. Whatâs more, if the sale is not enough to cover the remainder of the debt, you may be asked to pay the residual balance.
The same process applies to a title loan, whereby your car is used as collateral for a loan but isnât actually the purpose of the loan.
To avoid repossession, you need to make your car payments on time every month. If you are late or make a partial payment, you may incur penalties and itâs possible that your credit score will suffer as well. If you continue to delay payment, the lender will seek to cover their costs as quickly and painlessly as possible.
How a Repossession Can Impact Your Credit Score
Car repossession can impact your credit history and credit score in several ways. Firstly, all missed and late car payments will be reported to the credit bureaus and will remain on your account for up to 7 years. They can also reduce your credit score.Â
Secondly, if your car is repossessed on top of late payments, you could lose up to 100 points from your credit score, significantly reducing your chances of being accepted for a credit card, loan or mortgage in the future.Â
And thatâs not the end of it. If you have had your car for less than a couple of years, thereâs a good chance the sale price will be much less than the loan balance. Car repossession doesnât wipe the slate clean and could still leave you with a sizable issue. If you have a $10,000 balance and the car is sold for $5,000, you will owe $5,000 on the loan and the lender may also hit you with towing charges.
Donât assume that the car is worth more than the value of the loan and that everything will be okay. The lender isnât selling it direct; they wonât get the best price. Repossessed vehicles are sold cheaply, often for much less than their value, and in most cases, a balance remains.Â
Lenders may be lenient with this balance as itâs not secured, so their options are limited. However, they can also file a judgment or sell it to a collection agency, at which point your problems increase and your credit score drops even further.
How Does a Repo Take Place?
If you have a substantial credit card debt and miss a payment, your creditor will typically take it easy on you. They canât legally report the missed payment until at least 30-days have passed and most creditors wonât sell the account to a collection agency until it is at least 180-days overdue.
This leads many borrowers into a false sense of security, believing that an auto loan lender will be just as forgiving. But this is simply not true. Some lenders will repo your car just 90-days after your last payment, others will do it after 60 days. They donât make as many allowances because they donât need toâthey can simply seize your asset, get most of the money back, and then chase the rest as needed.
Most repossessions happen quickly and with little warning. The lender will contact you beforehand and request that you pay what you owe, but the actual repo process doesnât work quite like what you may have seen on TV.Â
Theyâre not allowed to break down your door or threaten you; theyâre not allowed to use force. And, most of the time, they donât need to. If they see your car, they will load it onto their truck and disappear. Theyâre so used to this process that they can typically do it in less than 60-seconds.
It doesnât matter whether youâre at home or at workâyou just lost your ride.
What Can You Do Before a Repo Hits Your Credit Score?
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the repo process and escape the damage. You just need to act quickly and donât bury your head in the sand, as many borrowers do.
Request a Deferment
An auto loan lender wonât waste as much time as a creditor, simply because they donât need to. However, they still understand that they wonât get top dollar for the car and are generally happy to make a few allowances if it means you have more chance of meeting your payments.
If you sense that your financial situation is on the decline, contact your lender and request a deferment. This should be done as soon as possible, preferably before you miss a payment.
A deferment buys you a little extra time, allowing you to take the next month or two off and adding these payments onto the end of the term. The FTC recommends that you get any agreement in writing, just in case they renege on their promise.
One of the best ways to avoid car repossession, is to refinance your loan and secure more favorable terms. The balance may increase, and youâll likely find yourself paying more interest over the long-term, but in the short-term, youâll have smaller monthly payments to contend with and this makes the loan more manageable.
You will need a good credit score for this to work (although there are some bad credit lenders) but it will allow you to tweak the terms in your favor and potentially improve your credit situation.
Sell the Car Yourself
Desperate times call for desperate measures; if youâre on the brink of facing repossession, you should consider selling the car yourself. Youâll likely get more than your lender would and you can use this to clear the balance.Â
Before you sell, calculate how much is left and make sure the sale will cover it. If not, you will need to find the additional funds yourself, preferably without acquiring additional debt. Ask friends or family members if they can help you out.
How Long a Repo Can Affect Your Credit Score
The damage caused by a repossession can remain on your credit score for 7 years, causing some financial difficulty. However, the damage will lessen over time and within three or four years it will be negligible at best.
Derogatory marks cease to have an impact on your credit score a long time before it disappears off your credit report, and itâs the same for late payments and repossessions.
Still, that doesnât mean you should take things lightly. The lender can make life very difficult for you if you donât meet your payments every month and donât work with them to find a solution.
What About Voluntary Repossession?
If youâre missing payments because youâve lost your job or suffered a major change in your financial circumstances, it may be time to consider voluntary repossession, in which case there are no missed payments and you donât need to worry about repo men knocking on your door or coming to your workplace.
With voluntary repossession, the borrower contacts the lender, informs them they can no longer afford the payments, and arranges a time and a place to return the car. However, while this is a better option, it can do similar damage to the borrowerâs credit score as a voluntary repossession, like a traditional repossession, is still a defaulted loan.
Missed payments aside, the only difference concerns how the repossession shows on the borrowerâs credit report. Voluntary repossession will look better to a creditor who manually scans the report, but the majority of lenders run automatic checks and wonât notice a difference.
Summary: Act Quickly
If you have student loan, credit card, and other unsecured debt, a repo could reduce your chances of a successful debt payoff and potentially prevent you from getting a mortgage. But itâs not the end of the world. You can get a deferment, refinance or reinstate the loan, and even if the worst does happen, it may only take a year or so to get back on track after you fix your financial woes.
Repossession Credit Scores: What You Need to Know is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.