Let’s Talk Money Management

Let’s talk about money management.  A lot of people have heard of a celebrity named Dave Ramsey.  Dave is a financial adviser, radios show host, and acclaimed author.  Dave’s book, “The Total Money Makeover” helps people learn the ins and outs of debt and how to get out of debt and stay out of debt.  In fact, Dave’s number one goal is for people to live debt free.

One of the principles Dave uses in his strategy is to get people to use envelopes to help manage their money.  Envelopes? you ask.  Yes, envelopes.  Dave has a strategy in which you set a monthly budget.  Let’s say your food, rent, gas, utilities, and some extra spending money.  Dave’s strategy says once you have been paid from your employer that you should immediately withdraw the cash you need for expenses.  If you’re rent is $700 a month you would get your paycheck, take out $700 in cash, and place it in an envelope you have tapped to your wall marked “rent”.  Now that the money is set aside for rent you need to do the exact same thing for your food, utilities, phone bill, etc.  The second you get your paycheck, take out the cash and place it in your envelopes and DON’T TOUCH THE MONEY!

When you need to go to the grocery store, go to your food envelope.  When you have to pay rent, go to your rent envelope.  Anything you have left over from your paycheck that didn’t go into your envelopes should go into a savings account or into paying off debt.  Don’t go out and buy the latest video game with the extra money, but PAY OFF DEBT!

This method is effective IF you stay focused.  You have to already have budget in place and have planned out your finances in order for this system to work.  If your food budget is $400 a month and you only take out $200 for your food envelope the process is pointless.

at FIRMS we believe that the first step to paying off debt is setting an honest budget and sticking to it.  Don’t do anything halfway, go all out and get focused on setting your budget and taking back control of your finances.  

As a premiere debt collection agency FIRMS is always here to help you manage your money and pay off your debts through our blogs.  Do you have any specific questions on money management or debt?  Comment below and we will be glad to respond!

 

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The Need For Cash

There are thousands of blogs, articles, books, and workshops floating around in the world that are all circulated around the same topic; how to get out of debt.

There are differing opinions and views about how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and better manage your personal finances.  Among the vast majority of those views is the same principle; track your spending.

We live in a world where money is electronic.  today we have credit and debit cards, papal accounts, apple pay, Samsung pay, and Bit Coins.  Money has become numbers on a screen and has lost it’s reality as total value.  Studies show it is easier to spend more money with electronically than it is when you have the cold, hard cash in your hand.

Tracking your spending starts with using cash and leaving your debit card at home.  Let’s say you’re going out to a local electronics store to buy a new television.  You have a budget in mind of $300.  You have done your research at home, you know exactly which model you want to buy and so you go out with the exact amount the television will cost in cash.  You get to the store and begin walking around looking at all of the bigger, brighter, and more defined televisions.  Suddenly the great model you found for $300 seems too small or too dim.  What are you going to do?  If you’re smart, you’ll buy your television for the $300 you planned and you’ll be happy because a $300 television is an upgrade from what you own now.  Maybe you will leave the store without a television and you’ll go home and save for a week or two until you can afford the nicer model.  Now, let’s pretend you are not that smart, which we all know you are.  But let’s say you forgot to leave your credit card at home and guess what?  You have $500 available on that card!  That means you can take your cash and your credit card and buy an $800 television!  Sadly, this is what most of us do on a daily basis.  Maybe we our budget says we have $5 to spend on lunch.  You decide to go to Panera bread for lunch and notice there’s a great lunch special for $10 and it looks delicious.  You have your debit card in hand and decide to double your budget for lunch that day.  Guess what, chances are you’re going to do the same thing 3 days out of the week, spend more money than you budgeted because you decided to leave home with your debit card.

See, this is where tracking your spending and paying with cash will benefit you.  If you track your spending you can see those patterns developing over time and see how much you actually spend over budget each week because of using your credit or debit card instead of sticking to your budget and paying with cash.

FIRMS is an odd debt collection agency.  Why is FIRMS different than most debt collections companies?  Because we don’t want you to go into debt, we want to help you get out of and stay out of debt.

We hope this helps,

 

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When A Debt Collection Company Is Wrong

When A Debt Collection Company Is Wrong

Today we are going to tell you a little story about John who recently had an interesting and frustrating experience with a debt collection agency.  John’s story may be unique and not every reader will be able to relate, however the principles are true and worthy of giving your attention to.

John Smith got a call one day from a debt collection company stating that John had a past due amount he owed to a local cable provider.  John was confused as to how he could have such a bill.  John had recently moved into his childhood home and had never had any sort of account with the cable company in question.  The debt collection agency didn’t want to hear any excuses from John and called him a liar and stated that he owed them $175.

John hung up the phone with the company and after a couple of days he forgot about the situation.  

Two months later John went online to check his credit report and found that there was a negative claim on his account that shouldn’t be there.  After some investigating John realized it was that mysterious cable company bill.  John called the debt collection company and tried to find out more information.  It turned out that John’s grandfather had opened the account and the final bill was never paid after his grandfather had passed away years ago.  The issue was that John shared the same name of his grandfather and now john was living in his grandfather’s old house, so there was virtually no way to distinguish between John and his grandfather.

John talked to every manager at the debt collection agency he could find but no one was willing to help him. He finally called the cable company and went through their channels to try and find someone that could help.  The cable company wanted John to submit a death certificate for his grandfather proving John was telling the truth!  After more and more digging and talking to more and more managers, John finally asked the manager to check when the account was opened.  They found it had been opened in 1995 when John would have only been 7 years old.  The manager apologized for the mistake and immediately removed everything from their system.  John’s credit still took a minor hit but that will soon recover.

The point of this story is that you should never allow a debt collection agency to push you around or harass you.  If there has been a mistake on your credit report you need to spend some time and dig to find out what the mistake is so you can correct the issue and fix the situation.  Most debt collection agencies will not assist you and most companies will not immediately correct the issue unless they have proof.  You have to work to prove that their reporting is inaccurate.  So don’t get upset if something is wrong on your credit report. Just work a little bit harder and find the mistake and then contact the company with the correct information!

Remember, with FIRMS we are here to help you with any financial or debt related questions you might have!  Don’t hesitate to contact and let us know how FIRMS can help you!

 

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FIRMS – Changing the Debt Collection Industry

There was a national article written sometime in 2008 that got a lot of attention for the debt collection industry, a lot of negative attention.  In the article you can read the story of a journalist out of Buffalo New York who went undercover at one of the nation’s largest debt collection agencies.  The article details all of the horrid practices that the debt collection industry is known for.  Harassing customers, making up titles for themselves, in the article the story talks about one employee who masked himself as a “fraud investigator” to make the person he was collecting debt from become scared and hopefully make them settle their debts immediately.  Whatever the practices, the fact remains the industry has some bad eggs out there hurting the people they are collecting from and the businesses they are trying to help grow.

This is one of the main reasons we started FIRMS in the first place.  We wanted to help businesses grow and collect on those outstanding debts but we also wanted to help those average Americans who’d gotten a little behind on their bills or lost their job, we wanted to make sure we were holding true to the best business practices possible.

I cannot begin to tell you how many customers we have that tell us how easy the process is when they are receiving calls from FIRMS.  We make sure that our call specialists are trained to be polite and friendly when contacting individuals who have fallen behind on their bills. We ensure our customers, the local veterinarians or the local optometrist that are working hard to keep their doors open, that we will help them collect on debt and maintain a positive image for their company.

At the end of the day, FIRMS is not just collecting debt from ordinary people, we are making a difference in local communities.  FIRMS is helping solidify the good customer service practices of local businesses we are helping to collect on those outstanding debts.

Contact FIRMS today and let us show you how we can help your business collect and how we can do so with the best practices around!

 

Expert Advice To Get Out Of Debt!

    wallettIf you’re one of the thousands of Americans who has committed to finally paying off your debt this year, then you might be wondering how to keep that promise to yourself. After all, people often build up debt not because they want to but because of unexpected life events, from an illness to job loss. The Nerd Wallet 2015 American Household Credit Card Debt Study, released last month, found that the average household has $15,355 of credit card debt (and $129,579 in total debt, including mortgages).  Paying it off is not going to be easy. But it is possible. U.S. News asked four money experts to shed light on how to get it done.

  1. Pick 10 micro steps.

“Often people get the big goals, but they don’t have micro action steps. Every macro win requires 10 micro wins,” says Lisa Nichols, life coach, TV personality and author of the new book, “Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today.” Focusing on baby steps helps prevent the paralysis that can come from feeling overwhelmed, she adds.

  1. Develop a new revenue stream.

“Most people only think about cutting expenses, which is necessary, but an abundant thinker spends more time growing their top line, too,” Nichols says. That might mean launching a side business helping friends organize their closets, for example. “With the money you make, write yourself a check and on the memo line, write, ‘funding my freedom’ — you write that a couple times, and, girl, you get real excited,” she says.

  1. Be patient.

If you’re paying off a lot of debt, it might take 18 months and not 90 days, Nichols points out. “Give yourself permission” to take the time you need, or else you could be setting yourself up for failure, she says.

  1. Fully commit to a debt-free life.

“We have to start with our minds and decide it’s important and possible to get out of debt,” says DeForest B. Soaries Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, and author of “Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom.” He started helping members of his church become debt-free after noticing how many of them, including relatively affluent, high-earning members, struggled with debt. “Being in debt prevents us from having emergency funds, from accumulating wealth, and from a spiritual perspective, it speaks to a spiritual flaw, that we don’t have discipline and self-control,” he says.

  1. Track your spending.

Back when Soaries was younger and routinely asked his father for money, his dad asked him where his paycheck was going. “I didn’t know — it doesn’t leave home when you’re sleeping,” he says. So he started tracking his spending by writing everything down, and he now encourages others to do the same. “You can literally give yourself a raise if you start by taking control of the money you have,” he says.

  1. Find an accountability partner.

You can sustain change by joining a money support group. “We work through church groups to celebrate each other’s victories and create positive peer pressure,” Soaries says. “If you don’t go to church, find one person to do this with. It’s harder to do by yourself.” Finding a friend who is also committed to paying off debt can make it easier to stick with your goals.

  1. Get help.

Leslie Tayne, author of “Life & Debt” and a debt resolution attorney based in New York, often negotiates new, lower payments with lenders on behalf of her clients, who can’t keep up with their payments. Her typical client has $60,000 to $80,000 in credit card debt. “This time of year, our phones are ringing much more, and people are motivated to take a look at their finances and make a change,” she says. While sometimes her advice is as simple as canceling orders for big-ticket items that haven’t yet arrived, she also works out new payment plans.

“Theoretically, you can try to do it on your own, but most people are not that successful with it. You don’t know whether the creditor is telling you accurate information, and you want to be careful because there are nuances when resolving debt. You want certain things in writing,” she says.

  1. Transfer balances to lower interest rate cards.

If you are paying off debt on multiple credit cards with different interest rates, you can reduce your payments by transferring balances to the lowest interest rate card, or even taking out a 0 percent interest card if possible, suggests Lynn Pettus, partner and national director of employee financial services at Ernst & Young. (Just be sure to pay off the remaining debt before that 0 percent introductory rate expires.) “Make sure you don’t get more and more credit cards but consolidate,” Pettus says.

  1. Focus on credit card debt first.

Unlike mortgage interest payments, credit card interest payments are not tax-deductible, Pettus points out, and they usually have a higher interest rate than student loans or mortgages. That makes paying off those credit cards a top priority. If you get a tax refund this year, consider putting that money toward the debt to get even closer to paying it off. Then, going forward, save up money in advance for big expenses, such as a vacation or holiday gifts, so you can avoid building up debt again, Pettus advises.

After all, the easiest way to pay off credit card debt is to avoid it in the first place.

Characteristics of Debt-Free people

    Let’s talk about goals.  But first we need to get real with ourselves.  

Let’s assume you have personal debt.  According to credit.com 80% of Americans are currently in debt of some sort whether it be student loans, credit cards, car loans, or home loans.  My question for you is this; how does it feel?  Do you like having those debts?  Does it feel good to make payments month after month with those interest rates adding to the amount of money you owe?  I will take a stab in the dark and say your answer is no, you do not like paying those bills every month.  Wouldn’t it be nice to not have those payments?  The average American carries over $15,000 in credit card debt alone!  Imagine not having that account any longer.  What could you do with that money?

    I am writing this post at 8:25PM on Wednesday January 13th.  I have been told that tonight at 10:59PM the Powerball lottery numbers will be chosen and someone, or a number of people, will win over ONE BILLION DOLLARS!  I am sure a lot of you are dreaming about what you could do with that much money, and I am sure that in your top ten list of what you would use the money for paying off debt is not listed.  Whether you win the Powerball lottery or not, I want to provide you with a strategy that will help you pay off your outstanding debts.  The following is a list of some characteristics of debt-free people.

  1. They are wise.  Debt-free people are not as concerned with their FICO score as they are with their net worth.  While you are focusing on paying off your debt you should consider debt as being a very bad thing.  Do not go into debt while you are trying to pay off debt.  It is not wise and debt-free people are wise.
  2. They are patient.  Debt-free people are focused and secure in their goals and their strategy and they do not fly by the seat of their pants.  They wait patiently for their opportunity.  You should not go into debt to buy Powerball tickets hoping to pay off your debts!
  3. They are not materialistic.  You do not need the latest iPhone, especially if it will cost you paying off your credit card debt.  You do not need to go spend $200 at the bar or at the newest restaurant in town.  Never allow your need for materialism to get in the way of you being debt-free.      
  4. They are willing to make sacrifices.  You may need to sacrifice your morning Starbucks and make coffee at home in order to pay off a credit card earlier.  You could save $250 a month by simply making coffee at home rather than buying your morning cup of joe at a local coffee or donut shop.

Set goals, make a vision board.  Determine what you are going to spend all your money on when you are debt-free.  Plan that dream vacation you will be able to afford when you don’t have all of those monthly debt payments to worry about and then stick to the principles above to get yourself out of debt and on your way to financial freedom!

    At FIRMS we are dedicated to making America a better place by helping businesses stay open by assisting them in collecting debts owed to their business and helping the average American in debt by giving them useful tips and information to become debt-free.

 

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resolutions1

New Year’s Resolutions!

Happy New Year!

    Welcome to 2016!  Today people everywhere are making New Year’s resolutions.  They are setting goals they hope to attain this year to enhance their lives.  The goals could be to lose weight, to write a novel, to make more money, to save more money, to get out of debt, to eat healthier, to join a gym, to learn how to play a musical instrument.  Whatever the resolution may be, the point is that people everywhere are making them.  You have probably already made a list yourself, I know FIRMS has made our list of changes for 2016.  One of the resolutions at FIRMS is to help more people, just like you, get out of debt and give more information and advice through this blog.  With that in mind, today’s post will focus on how to stay focused on your New Year’s resolution to pay off debt.

Did you know that more than 65% of Americans who set a New Year’s resolution have broken that goal within the first month of the New Year?  It’s true!  So here are a few tips on how to make sure your goal of paying off debt will stay intact all year long!

  1. Make it something you really want.  Set a reason for why you want to pay off debt.  Maybe you need to move into a larger apartment or house.  Maybe you want to pay to go back to school.  Maybe a vacation you want to take this summer.  Make sure you have a specific reason for paying off debt and then write it down and post it in a place where you will see it everyday.  
  2. Make your goal specific.  Don’t just say “I want to pay off debt.”  But set a specific goal.  “I want to pay off $3,000 in debt this year.”
  3. Help yourself by automating your savings.  Set up a savings account where $50 is automatically deposited from your paycheck or checking account every month.  That way you can take yourself out of the equation and guarantee some progress no matter what happens.  Also, companies such as Acorns can help you save and invest.

    Some tips from resolution masters to keep on track and not forsake your goals are:

  1. Keep a journal.  Keep a little notebook with you and write about your experience in maintaining your resolution.  What is difficult about keeping your resolution?  What is easy for you?  Write it down.
  2. Take someone with you to reaching your goal. Maybe it’s your spouse or a best friend.  Encourage someone to go along with you to reaching the same goal and then get together to talk about the progress you have been making.
  3. Don’t make your resolution too extreme.  Don’t set a goal of paying off $25,000 in debt if you only make $30,000 a year, that is not possible.  Set a manageable goal, something that will push you but something you will be able to accomplish.

    Remember, you can do this.  Every journey begins with the first step forward.  Don’t let anything keep you down, set your New Year’s resolutions today and get out there and accomplish your goals.  FIRMS is always here if you have any questions about one of these topics and we would be happy to help.

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FIRMS Goal for 2016

    Today is the end of a year, 2015, and what a great year it was!  Tomorrow is a new beginning, a new start, a new opportunity for individuals and businesses to grow and to change and to reach the goals and accomplish those tasks that have been on the to-do list for awhile.

At FIRMS we take great pride in being one of the premier debt collection companies in the industry.  Our focus has always been and will continue to be helping doctors office, small businesses, and any other company stay open and profitable by helping to collect on outstanding debts.  FIRMS is very unique and vastly different from other debt collections agencies because we are not just focused on collecting money but on making sure we change the debt collection game in the process.

We have written before about some of the ways FIRMS is unique.  Whether it be our focus on making the account management fast and simple for office managers, or our dedication to helping those individuals we contact to collect from by writing their resume and helping them find work when they are unemployed, or it could be our wanting to change the debt collection industry by offering our clients complete transparency when it comes to the collection process and account updates.

FIRMS is making 2016 a year of growth and change.  We are more committed than ever to help our clients collect on those outstanding debts and to help local communities by collecting in a friendly, uplifting, and effective process.

If you have been reading and are curious as to how FIRMS can help your business, now is the time to contact our offices.  Don’t put off for tomorrow what you should be doing today.

We wish you a very happy New Year and look forward to working with you!
     – FIRMS

What we can learn from Steve Harvey

    I would imagine most everyone in the universe has been reading about the mishap with Steve Harvey and the Miss Universe competition that happened last week where Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner in front of the entire world.   

Everyone has some experience in our lives where we can relate to Steve Harvey and the embarrassment that followed the broadcast.  Granted, most of us reading this have not made such a large mistake on national television but we have made embarrassing mistakes in our lives in the past.  Maybe we have made poor financial mistakes and now find ourselves living with an embarrassment because we are too far in debt and don’t know how to get out.

Living with debt can be embarrassing because it keeps us from living a life we would like to live, at least it can feel that way sometimes.  Maybe we are driving an old, beat-up car and cannot afford a newer, better looking model because of our debt and financial situation.  Maybe we cannot afford the new home because of our credit score.  Whatever the reason may be the fact remains that we can learn three vital lessons from Steve Harvey and the Miss Universe competition that will help us face our debt and work towards moving past our financial obstacles in life.

  1. Turn and walk away.  Once Steve Harvey had announced his mistake and corrected the error, he turned and walked off stage.  Now, FIRMS is not recommending that you walk away from your debt before you’ve had the chance to pay it off, more that you walk away from the embarrassment and the error.  Don’t linger in the mistakes but turn your back on the financial mishaps you have made and begin the journey to a better financial future.
  2. The next thing Steve Harvey did was issue an apology for the mistake.  Now, you don’t have to tweet out that you have made some financial mistakes.  But you need to acknowledge the mistakes you have made and move forward, don’t allow yourself to stay in the pain of being financially behind.
  3. Laugh it off.  Steve Harvey sent out a meme on his Facebook page where he was making fun of himself for the mistake.  It’s always important that we learn to laugh at ourselves and not let the weight of the situation drag us down further.  Get out in front of the issue and show yourself you can move on.

Not everyone understands the reality that being in debt is not just a financial situation but that it can affect us emotionally, physically, and financially.  You have to have a plan to move forward and get back on track with your finances and your life.  Being a premier debt collection agency, FIRMS is seeking to do just that, to help you find your way out of debt.

We understand it can seem contrary to the plan of a debt collection company to help people get out of and avoid going into debt.  But the truth is we are constantly seeking ways to help people better manage their finances, their careers, and help them live better and more financially stable lives.

FIRMS is here to help with any debt or financial question you might have.  Leave your comments below and we will address them in future blog posts.

 

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Positive Tips To Getting Debt-Free

    At FIRMS we are aware that most you are probably still trying to get used to the fact that a premier debt collection agency, such as FIRMS, would actually want to help you get out of debt.  Well, trust us when we say that a major part of our pride is helping people just like you learn to better manage your finances and become financially healthy so you can avoid going into unnecessary debt.   While most debt collection companies might try to intimidate you and remain focused on simply collecting your money, FIRMS is dedicated to helping you learn to get out and stay out of debt.

One of the more serious factors in the life of someone stuck in the debt cycle is their mindset.  It is not just the mindset of finances and understanding money but the mindset of negativity that keeps us outside the place of growth and change.  One of the most important aspects to getting out of debt and making better financial decisions is staying positive in your thinking and your views about where you are going.

FIRMS has developed three changes you can make starting right now in your life to help you get out and stay out of debt.

  1. Stay Positive in your thinking.  NEVER allow your thoughts or feelings go to a negative place concerning your finances.  If you currently have some outstanding debts, don’t have negative thinking keep you in the debt cycle.  Change your thinking to be positive.  Tell yourself that yes, you do have some debt, but you are going to have everything paid off soon and you are making better financial decisions.  
  2. Set a goal and complete it.  Start with something simple like you are going to cook dinner at home more often rather than eating out.  Don’t start with your first goal being something along the lines of paying off your home.  Sure, you can pay off your home but that could take a long time.  We are looking for short term goals that you can complete soon and get some momentum going in your favor.
  3. Set a savings goal.  Set out to save $100 and then take that $100 and put it towards one of your outstanding bills or debts.  Write your goal down on a piece of paper and set it somewhere you’ll see it often.  Maybe tape it to your refrigerator or inside your car where you can see it.  Now work towards saving that $100.  Look in your house and car for spare change, maybe make your coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks. Once you have saved your $100 go and put it towards an outstanding debt.

These are three actions and changes you can make RIGHT NOW that will help you get out of debt and actions that will make you much better and managing your personal finances and having far better financial health.

    Leave your comments below and let us know some of the ways you work to become better at managing your finances.  And as always, leave any questions you have below and we will answer them in our upcoming blog posts.  FIRMS is dedicated to helping you get out of debt.

 

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