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I get so wrapped up in my daily routine that I forget that

my children were younger than they are today. This article

is just to get you thinking about your child's financial future. 

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Kara Miller

 First Steps For Credit Card Consolidation

Some tips on credit card consolidation are common sense. One thing that should go without saying is to not make a new agreement that you can’t pay. It does not do any good to consolidate your credit cards for a lower monthly payment if that payment is still too high.

Four important things about credit consolidation
1) Make sure the debt consolidation company or credit counseling company you’re working with is reputable. These companies are a dime a dozen and are all over the Internet. You can also find dozens of different such companies advertised on the television and radio.

Just because you see the ad at a popular and reputable website, or see the ad on the television, doesn’t mean the company is a good one! Even rip-off companies need to advertise to draw in customers. Try to talk to someone who has used the company.

Investigate them online and with the Better Business Bureau.

My question is still, does the BBB do anything? 

I guess if you research a company and it comes up with hundreds of bad reviews it's a good idea not to use them but, there is always that person that reads 10,000 reviews that are bad, has a buddy that swears they are good and the buddy carries more weight in the final decision.  If you are that person you are welcome to leave. -Kara

2) If you’re using credit counseling or a debt consolidation company, be sure to know the terms of the agreement. This is one of the tips on credit card consolidation that can’t be stressed enough.

Do the math yourself.

Even if the company is a good one, you shouldn’t just take what they’re saying as gospel. Crunch the numbers and figure out just how much you’re saving. Sometimes what you find can be surprising.

You may be about to sign an agreement that eases your burden today, but increases it tomorrow!

If you’re getting a lower monthly payment, make sure that your interest rate is lower also.

Otherwise, your debt will accumulate at the same rate or a higher rate

even though it appears that you are paying less.

This might seem like an acceptable solution if your payments are out of control but, you will be in debt longer and you will be making payments longer. If you’re having trouble with your debt now, think about how you’ll be adding to it in the future. How likely is it that you will be able to make bigger payments in the future to pay off more debt and that won’t be a problem for you?

Being in debt is a rotten feeling but, you are not alone. 

Most good companies avoid placing you into this situation but,  now is the time to pay attention and make sure you’re not putting yourself deeper into debt.

I'm sorry but, you do really have to do the math every time you take a step toward

achieving financial freedom.

3) This information is for the do-it-yourselfer. (You didn’t contact a service but instead decided to tackle the problem by yourself.) Read the new card agreement carefully. If you think you might be forced to make a late payment even once, reconsider. If you know you are going to miss or be late with a payment, contact the company that issued credit and make arrangements for payment.
Avoiding the problem does not correct it and not communicating with your creditor can send your interest rate skyrocketing which means you could end up in deeper debt than before.

4) Once you’ve consolidated your credit cards, stop using the ones that have a zero balance. Use cash only and do your very best not to add any new credit debt. If you don’t stop using the credit cards you have paid off, you’ll end up with the consolidation to pay plus new debts on other cards.

Stop using credit cards is one of the best tips on credit card consolidation you can get.

Does Free Credit Card Consolidation Exist?

When you see an ad for free credit card consolidation, does that mean that their service will help you consolidate your credit cards for absolutely nothing? How many businesses do you know of that provide their services without charging you? What the free usually means when you see an ad for free credit card consolidation is that your consultation is free.

This doesn’t mean that just because an ad uses the word free to get your attention that they’re doing something wrong. If they offer a free consultation then it’s only natural for them to want to get that information in front of you.

Offering part of their service for free is a great way to get business. If you’re in credit card debt, after all, and you see a credit card consolidation company that interests you, you’ll want to contact them. But if they charge you for a consultation, how likely are you to follow up?

Most companies don’t just advertise credit card consolidation. They’re usually total debt consolidation services that can help you combine your credit card debt, your mortgage debt and other debts. The company generally pays off your debts by using a consolidation loan.

If you get the loan, you pay off your individual creditors and then simply have to pay back the loan. You’ll make one payment per month instead of several. This simplifies things and makes it easier for you to manage and understand your debt.

The interest on your one debt should be lower than the interest you were paying combined

on your individual debts. Your one payment each month should be less than

the total of the individual debts you had.

This kind of arrangement can cost you more in the long run, though. You need to do the math and look at the terms very carefully. Free credit card consolidation is possible in this case because the company makes money from you on the interest associated with your loan.

You could end up paying less per month and having a lower interest rate, but paying more in interest over the long run because the payments are stretched out so far.

You may also have to pay fees to get the loan.

Some companies don’t offer a loan but, they instead negotiate with your creditors to lower payments and interests. Then you pay the credit counseling company who distributes the payments to your creditors. There’s generally a small monthly fee associated with that.

Consumer Credit Counseling Services has agencies that are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that offer credit counseling sessions and their website has excellent information about establishing your own Debt Management Plan.

Is it possible to get free credit card consolidation? The simple answer is, yes there is but you need to do it yourself. You can transfer your multiple credit card balances to one card.

Choose one with a low-interest rate and look at the terms carefully. Pay your credit card for a single card and then your payments will be consolidated on that one card.

The risk in any of these methods is that you’ll use the cards you just paid off (or transferred balances from) and run your debt back up. To make free credit card consolidation really work, make your payments on time every time and stop using those zeroed out cards.

Starting with a budget sure helps. Dave Ramsey claims that you can turn a bad financial situation around in nine weeks. I by no means suggest that he is wrong about this but, this is a best case scenario and it does take commitment. I found enough free information online and at local book sales to learn more than I will probably ever need to know about achieving financial peace. I am not currently affiliated with his company and it may be something that you would like to invest in but, for right now I'm good using the Dave Ramsey YouTube channel.   ~Kara

Another nice tool from Dave Ramsey is EveryDollar.  Everydollar lets you create a budget in 

the matter of minutes. My problem with it is that a trial period is offered and then a monthly fee is applied.  I started my budgeting by using an old version of Microsoft Money. It is out of date and offers no internet features but, it's free!  The Balance has a list of Free Personal Finance Software