News for YOU!
News for YOU! is a free, monthly newsletter provided by KS StateBank that offers tips and other information to help you make wise financial choices. Please feel free to sign up now to receive new editions of our newsletters each month, as well as other updates. You can also subscribe to our business newsletter, News for YOU! Business Edition.
It's a holiday leftover many of us carry around for months. It's not Aunt Edna's fruitcake or even those few extra pounds amassed from all the holiday treats. It's the excess credit card debt that comes from spending more than you can afford during the holiday season. Unfortunately, for many Americans, a few festive days of the year can result in mounds of depressing debt that can take months to shed.
If you find yourself with leftover holiday debt, here are some steps you can take:
- Stop the credit storm. If you can't purchase something with cash or your debit card, don't buy it. While it's important to have credit cards for emergencies, it's a good idea to put them on ice until you pay down your debt.
- Start digging out. On your credit card statement is the minimum payment amount you must make each month to cover finance charges. Always pay more than that amount. The more you pay, the faster you will pay down your balance. If you have multiple credit card accounts, focus on paying off the ones with the highest interest rates first.
- Consolidate higher-interest debt. Many credit card companies offer attractive balance transfer offers that come with low teaser rates, allowing you to transfer higher-interest balances to save on interest. Be sure to read the fine print so you know when the introductory rate expires and what the prevailing rate will be. It's also critical to close the accounts from which you transferred the debt. Many people make the mistake of keeping those cards and running up new balances, creating even more debt.
- Minimize your other spending. Take a close look at your monthly budget and see if you can cut your spending in other areas in order to pay more on your credit card debt. If you have the opportunity to make more money, either by picking up more hours at work or getting a second job, consider putting excess funds on your credit card debt.
- Stay the course. While it can be overwhelming to look at the debt you owe, the most important thing you can do is keep making payments. If you keep digging, you're sure to see a clear path toward credit card debt freedom.
The cost of going to college is on the rise and many students are in search of scholarships and federal student loans to help them pay for their education. 84% of first-year students receive financial aid and 66% apply using Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
Unfortunately, the high volume of scholarship and student loan applications also creates an opportunity for scam artists. More than $100 million is lost in scholarship scams every year and more than half of all students who applied for a private loan reported receiving a fraudulent loan, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
It’s important to stay vigilant and informed so you can avoid these scams. Here are a few thing you can do to protect yourself:
- Be wary of the information you share and where. Never share your FAFSA information
- Only solicit federal student loans from companies identified by the Department of Education
- Never pay to apply for college scholarships
If you or your family encounter suspected scholarship scams, report them immediately to the following government agencies:
- Federal Trade Commission
- U.S. Department of Education
- Federal Student Aid Information Center (FAFSA)
Information for this article was provided by the American Bankers Association.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Our offices will be closed on Monday, January 16 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 17.
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