Ask KP – How Can I Increase My Credit Scores

1. Change your mindset
2. Pay your bills on time
3. Keep your balances at or below 30% of your credit limits
4. Clear up past issues through payoffs, settlements, etc. This step is tricky because depending on the age of the negative, it may or may not help your credit scores. Contact my office at 404-793-7900 with any questions.

You can join my $250MM Debt Challenge group to begin the journey towards becoming debt-free. It’s not a quick-fix group, but a circle of people with the same goals as you. Visit to register absolutely FREE.

How to save hundreds of dollars this month

I generally don’t post the weekly sessions for my $250MM Debt Challenge group. However, I believe the session from last night will assist those of you who are looking for tips to reduce your expenses.

Feel free to join the $250MM Debt Challenge by signing-up at

(points below referenced from the article How to save $500 this month on Yahoo Finance)

1. Be a diligent saver
If money is tight and you need to drastically reduce your budget, here are some strategies to start saving right away. Putting even one of these ideas into practice should give your finances some much-needed breathing room, but if you adopt all of them, as long as your income remains steady, you could be looking at an extra $500 – or more – this month.

2. Curb eating out
It sounds basic, but discretionary expenses add up. Last year, a Visa survey of 1,005 adults found that on average, American consumers eat lunch at restaurants almost twice a week, spending about $10 each time. Putting a moratorium on dining out could save you $80 a month – and perhaps much more.

3. Eliminate Cable
Swearing off cable could net you an extra $90 monthly – the average bill for a U.S. household, according to The NPD Group, a market research company. Instead, find ways to watch your favorite shows for free on network websites and services like Hulu.

4. Adjust your commute
According to the California Energy Commission, commuters would save an average of 30 percent on their fuel costs if, instead of driving alone to work, they carpooled, took a bus, rode a bicycle or walked. Considering that the average household spent $2,912 on gasoline in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a 30 percent savings could equate to more than $70 a month.

5. Modify your auto-insurance
If your car is getting old and you’ve paid it off – and especially if it hasn’t retained anything close to its original value – both comprehensive and collision insurance may be a waste of money. Someone with a 2008 Toyota Camry who switches to only liability insurance might see their insurance costs drop by 30 or 40 percent. “Depending on where you live, [that could be] $200 to $600 per year,” says Craig Lozofsky of That’s $17 to $50 a month.


6. Give up a guilty pleasure
The average consumer spends more than $1,200 a year on beer, according to Survey Analytics. And according to the American Lung Association, the average retail price of a pack of cigarettes is $5.51. If you’re a pack-a-day smoker, you’ll save $167 in a month if you give up this vice, and a little over $2,000 a year. Maybe you gamble? There’s got to be something, from a serious vice to a relatively innocuous habit (like soft drinks), you can cut back on.

7. Grocery shop smarter
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average family of four with tweens spent $1,258 at the grocery store in December 2013. An adult male or female spent between $300 and $400. So if you’re spending more than that, you could probably do a lot better. Strategies to help you save: Don’t shop when you’re hungry; take a shopping list; look at the unit price as well as the actual price tag; bring coupons; shop at deep-discount grocery stores.

8. Tighten-up your finances
This isn’t just budgeting – it’s looking at when bills need to be paid and having a system for keeping your financial life on track. It’s crucial to avoid late fees and slash unnecessary expenses. “You get a late fee, a negative mark on your credit report,” says Gail Cunningham of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. ”And then there’s the gym membership that’s on automatic pay, and you haven’t seen the gym in six months. How about habitually picking up fast food on the way home from work because you’re too tired to cook? … All of these could add up to over $100 a month or over $1,000 a year. Now that’s real money.”

How to Spring Clean Your Finances (via Yahoo Finance)

By Kimberly Palmer

When spring fever hits and you start tossing out old clothes and scrubbing the floors, don’t forget to give your finances some fresh air, too. Here’s an 11-step guide to a cleaner — and healthier — financial life:

1. Put papers in their proper place.

You’re probably just wrapping up your taxes, which means it’s the perfect time to establish some smarter paper-tracking habits. Regina Leeds, known as the “Zen Organizer” and author of “One Year to an Organized Life,” suggests setting up a file system to easily store receipts that pile up throughout the year. For example, you might want to have separate files for expenses related to your car, business, health care and child care. (She adds that the super ambitious may want to set up an online system to eliminate the need for so much paper.) You’ll also want a file for household expenses, related to maintenance, like cleaning air filters, or repair work, like fixing a broken roof, as well as income-related paperwork like 1099s.

[Read: Will You Get Audited This Year? ]

2. If you don’t need it, toss it (or archive it).

You’ll probably need to hang on to important documents (some states require taxpayers to keep up to 10 years of filings on hand), but much of your old paperwork belongs in the trash or the shredder if it has valuable information on it like bank account numbers. Store your most important documents in an archival box or locked file cabinet that’s separate from your day-to-day files, Leeds advises. “Every year, take a look at your archived files. You might be able to eliminate a few [files] each year,” she adds.

3. Go electronic, go green.

“Just about everything these days is online, so all the old rules about what you need to keep are changing,” says Russell Wild, a fee-only financial planner in Allentown, Pa. Credit card statements, bills, paycheck records, investment account statements and even tax paperwork can often be shifted online. “Just make sure you have access,” Wild says, meaning a system for keeping track of all your passwords. If you’re still hooked on old-fashioned paper statements, try this: As soon as your first-quarter account statements arrive, shred the monthly statements for January and February.

4. Check your credit.

Your credit report deserves a little TLC, too. Get your free annual credit report at to check for any errors and fix any mistakes that could be dragging down your credit score.

5. Pay it down.

If you’re still carrying debt on credit cards, check their interest rates and balances, and make a plan to pay them off. If you’re due for a tax refund, consider using it to pay off that debt.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Paying a Debt Collector (via Yahoo Finance)

by Gerri Detweiler (

When you’re trying to put a collection account behind you, the biggest hurdles are coming up with the money to pay the debt and negotiating a payment plan or settlement that you can afford. Once you’ve accomplished that, however, the next question is, “How do you pay the debt collector?”

It may be trickier than you think. Some payment methods are riskier than others. The debt collector is likely to try to get you to pay using a method that’s best for him, but not for you.

“When dealing with the subject of paying debt collectors, many experts will always look to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA),” warns financial consultant Damon Day. “While I agree it is important to know what collectors can and can’t do, I rely more on Murphy’s Law when advising clients about the best options for paying debt collectors. For those unfamiliar with Murphy’s Law, it is typically stated as: ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong’.”

With that in mind, here are the pros and cons of various methods for paying debt collectors.

Bank Account Draft/ACH

Most debt collectors ask you to provide information about your checking account so the payment can be taken right out of your account. It’s convenient, and often costs you nothing. But is it safe? That depends on how well you trust the debt collector.

“Never [pay this way],” says Mike Arman, a retired mortgage broker. “Autodebit is permission to access your account whenever they feel like it and then say ‘Oh, we made a mistake’—and do you think you’re getting any money back? They can also come back later for more, whether by ‘accident’ or design.”

Even if the debt collector does what he says he will, there’s another potential problem with this method. If you agree to pay off your debt in installments and your financial situation changes, or if there’s not enough money in your account to cover the payment when it’s due, you may find yourself on the hook for both the debt to the collector, as well as a new debt to your financial institution for overdraft fees.

In addition, this method “may be difficult to stop at the last minute because of processing cycles,” warns Bill Bartmann, President and CEO of CFS II and a veteran of the collection industry.

An alternative? Open a second checking account just to pay the collector. “Setting up a new checking account will allow a consumer to set up an auto draft or write a personal check to a debt collector without putting the rest of their finances at risk,” says Day. Of course, if you only have a single debt to resolve, that approach may prove to be an expensive hassle. If so, you may want to consider another method.

The general consensus? Avoid giving your bank account information to a debt collector unless you’ve set up a separate account for this purpose.

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