Are you overwhelmed with debt?

13 07 2011

There are several options that consumers have to deal with their debt before considering bankruptcy. Declaring bankruptcy may be helpful in certain situations but it should always be used as a last resort. Depending on your level debt and self discipline, there are different options that you should consider.
Organize yourself
Contact your creditors directly and try to work out a payment plan. Try explaining to them the cause of your financial troubles, they may be understanding. Don’t wait until you have debt collectors calling you because that means your creditors have given your debt away to someone else which may or may not affect your credit. If you have secured debt like a home or car loan those objects may be repossessed until the full payment of the debt is received. If you foresee that you cannot make the payments on time, If possible, the best way to avoid this is sell the car or house and pay off the loan before the amount builds up more than you can handle.

Work with credit counselors
If you cannot organize your finances on your own there are organizations out there to help people with these exact problems. They usually offer services online or on the phone. They can help advise you on managing your debts and money, develop a budget and offer free educational materials.
Enroll in a debt management plan
Debt management plans or DMPs are programs that work with your creditors and schedule timely regular monthly payments for you unsecured debt. In exchange for inactivation of the accounts or credit cards the creditors may lower interest rates or fees. These are not for everyone though. If you fail to make a payment while enrolled in one of these programs it may affect your credit even worse.
File for bankruptcy
This should be done only as a last resort. The results of this are long lasting and can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. This can make it almost impossible to buy a house or car or even get a job. But if it is your only option, it is an option.

Advertisements




Hiring the Right Sales Person for Your Company

2 06 2011

Hiring the right sales person can be a difficult business decision.  Not only do you want to get the best person for the job, you want the best person for selling your product.  Hiring sale people can be difficult because if they are good at what they do they will be selling themselves to you in their interview.  There are different angles to be considered before hiring a new sales representative.

Hiring sales people already in your industry has its advantages and disadvantages.  Some of the advantages are that sales people within your industry are already familiar with how to sell to your customer base.  It can also reduce the cost and time of hiring and training new employees.  Sometimes hiring people already in your field may expand sales by acquiring the new contacts.

However, there are disadvantages to hiring sales people within your industry.  People already in the industry might not be the best candidates to choose from.  If someone is looking for a new sales position within the same industry there is a reason.  Usually these people are at the bottom percentage of the sales ranks.  Remember that every sales group is different, even within the same industry.  Your company might require different skill sets than what your new sales person learned from their previous company.

Hiring from outside your industry can be an excellent choice to avoid some of the problems listed above.  There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for sales people new to your industry.  Look for people who have job skills that are clearly defined and have worked within standard sales dealings that aren’t industry specific.  Remember that a good sales person is responsive to the customer.  By predicting the purchasing patterns of your customers, it shouldn’t be difficult to find related industries where the sales people are trained in a way that making the switch in industry will not affect their selling skills.  Finally, look for skill not just a degree.  Ask the prospective sales employee about their numbers from previous jobs.  Remember that perseverance and drive are not things that can be learned in school.

Remember when hiring a new sales person to keep in mind their persuasiveness and selling points.  You want to hire the best person for the job and your company, but you need to make sure they will fit into your company culture.  Just because people have sales in your industry does not necessarily mean they will be the best candidate for the job.





What Your Credit Score Means

7 04 2011

A survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America found that only 1/3rd of Americans know what their credit score means.  Credit scores are essential in qualifying for a mortgage, car loan, and a bad credit score can even prevent you from being getting a service like internet. 

A credit score tracks how you incur debt and pay your bills.  A high score shows you are responsible and will pay off loans.  High scores not only help you get lower interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, but also for renting an apartment, getting a job, getting utilities.  Businesses that may extend you credit, look at your credit report to decide whether to lend to you or not and how much and at what interest rate.

You can find your score for a small fee from Equifax (800)685-1111, Experian (888)397-3742, or Trans Union (800) 916-8800.  If you are applying for a mortgage you can get your score for free from your lender. Annualcreditreport.com will give you access to a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting companies.

Your score will fluctuate whenever you pay a bill on time or late, apply for a new credit card, or take out a loan.  It attempts to predict what your credit behavior will be like in the future. A creditor looks at the information on your credit report and predicts the creditworthiness based on outstanding debt, payment history, late payments, and age of your accounts.  The total number of points received suggests how likely you are to pay back a loan or pay bills on time.

To improve your score you should pay your bills on time, reduce outstanding debt, avoid having a creditor check your report, do not add new balances, stop applying for credit, keep one or two credit cards that you have had the longest and cancel the rest.  If you do this it will take some time to change, but over time your score will go up.

If there is something wrong with your credit report you should dispute it.  The credit reporting agency is required to investigate all disputes. With the increase in identity theft, you want to protect your information from people who may open a credit card or utility using your information that can damage your credit rating.

A score of 760 or above is considered an A grade and will receive the best interest rates. Above 700 is a B, between 600 and 700 is a C, and below 600 is a D or an F and will lead to higher interest rates.  Establishing good credit is important for future purchases you may wish to make.





Paying Off Your Debt

31 03 2011

Whether you accumulated consumer debt, or business debt, paying off your loans or credits is important for your financial health.  Although, you may fall into hard times and money is short, you still need to prioritize your bills.  Below are a few steps in getting organized and prepared to pay off debts.

  1. Create a list of what you owe.  Put a list of all your debts and bills in order of the balance owed.  Then prioritize your repayments by importance and the interest rate accumulating on the debt.  You should pay down the highest interest rate first.
  2. Eliminate Credit Cards.  Pay off your credit cards and then either cancel the account or use it responsibly.  Do not charge more than you can afford.
  3. Make a spending plan.  Track the amount of money that is coming in and how much you are spending.  Make sacrifices by giving up a luxury or two in order to pay off more of your debt.
  4. Pay more than the minimum.  By paying more than the minimum required each month, you will pay off your debts quicker and in return you will save money on interest that is accumulating on outstanding debt.
  5. Before declaring bankruptcy , borrow against your 401K, home equity, or life insurance, but be careful because that must be repaid too.
  6. Renegotiate terms with your creditors.  Let them know that if you are unable to work out a lower payment plan, or receive a lower interest rate, you will have to file for bankruptcy.  Most creditors will not want to experience a total loss on the debts owed to them.
  7. If overspending is a continuous problem get help.  It can be a difficult habit to kick, but it is important to have control of your spending to stay out of financial trouble.

Remember, it is important to be responsible and pay off your debt in order to save your credit score.  A low credit score can result in a world of trouble if you ever need a car or business loan, or want to take out a mortgage to purchase a house.





Recap of 2010: Credit

1 02 2011

The year set a record for property foreclosures in the U.S. The number was 2,871,891 property foreclosures. That is an astounding 23% increase from 2008.  And they said things were getting better?

Statistics, by RealtyTrac:

  • 2.23% of all housing units received at least 1 foreclosure filing in 2010
  • December recorded 257,747 foreclosure filings on US properties – a decrease of about 2% from November and 26% from last year in December.
  • Nevada ranked in as the state with the highest foreclosure rate in the country for the 4th year in a row; Arizona being the 2nd highest for the second year in a row.
  • California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Arizona made up 51% of the country’s total foreclosure activity in 2010.

Another interesting thing to point out that happened in 2010 concerns credit scores and credit card debt. The average credit scores of US consumers fell by 1 point since last year, but the credit card debt also fell by 8% to about $7,000. Credit card companies would be pleased to know that by the end of 2010,  Did US consumers begin to make payments for their debts and thus stabilize their credit scores or was more debt just written off?

It turned out that six cities in the US experienced a greater decline in credit scores than the average of the rest of the nation. For instance, Chicago, Houston, and New York City had a 2-point drop. Los Angeles and San Francisco had a 3-point drop. Philadelphia had a 4-point drop. Are these the cities with high unemployment one might wonder.

If you live in Massachusetts or New Jersey, keep up the good work. These states have the highest national credit scores, averaging 686. However, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have an average score of 650 or lower.

Additional information concerning  average consumer spending in 2010 (holding a bank account), by CreditKarma.com:

  • home mortgage loans – decline of 4% to $173,340
  • home equity – decline of 4% to $49,803
  • auto loans – increase of 4% to $15,274
  • student loans – increase of 10% to $29,016

All of these statistics points to one thing. Businesses and Consumers alike are picking and choosing who they will pay and when they will pay. If someone owes you money become the squeaky wheel! Those who sit back and wait will do just that..they will wait and wait and wait to get paid what is owed to them. Picture your customer sitting in front of their desk with a one foot high pile of bills to be paid and a 6 inch pile of money to pay . A decision is made as to who will get paid. Make sure it is you!

Stay tuned for more blogs by Butler, Robbins & White.





New Years Resolution for 2011: Five Ways to improve you collections from 2010 to 2011

14 12 2010
  1. Develop an approval process to reduce the number of problem accounts. Only extend credit to those who pass your approval process. This may include getting a background and asset check before accepting them as your customer. Once you accept a customer, you may want to consider the following:
  • Possibly getting a credit card to secure payments.  Next to cash payments, this is an effective way to ensure the customer is committed to paying you.
  • Consider setting in a Progress Payment Plan for work in progress or Contract Sales.  For example, 15% at placement of order, 40% after 60 days, etc. to lighten the tightness of cash flow and lower the payment for the customer.
  • Set a credit limit for every customer.
  1. Get Deposits. In Large orders, produce to orders, and custom orders, getting a non-refundable deposit of 10-50% of the final price ensures the customers commitment to pay.
  2. Do not wait too long before you attempt to collect. The grace period past the due date should only be about 2 business days.  After that is it time to contact your customer to let them know that you are on top of things.  The longer you wait the less chance you have of collecting. Be friendly with the first reminder.  If your customer still does not pay after you continually contact them, consider hiring a debt collection agency, and FAST!
  3. Document any contact you have with your customers.  Always start a conversation with the terms of the original agreement to let your customer know that you are going to be on top of the issue until the bill is paid.
  4. Be fair and firm.  Creating templates of scripts of what you will say is a great way to be sure that you stay calm and friendly when trying to get your customer to pay.




Small Business Loans for 2011 Unlikely: Businesses turn to Collections for Cash

3 12 2010

Cash is needed in order for any business to operate.  In the past it was easier for Banks to lend money in order for the business to continue operating but since banks have tightened up giving loans to small businesses, many have been forced to max out their credit cards carrying further debt into 2011. Businesses will continue to need economic relief. The question is “where will it come from?”

 

Fico claims that banks as Lenders may not be able to meet the credit demands of small businesses seeking relief in the future.  59% of those surveyed expect small businesses to request a higher amount of credit over the next six months, but less than 37% expect lenders to increase the amount of credit given to those small businesses.

 

According to Standard & Poor’s Data, only four companies last month received leveraged loan covenant relief for a total of $883 million in leveraged loans.  This is the lowest amount of relief given since February 2008.

 

S&P expects covenant relief activity to be high in the beginning of 2011 as checks due to lender agreements from 2008 and 2009 are paid.  But as the year goes on, businesses may not be able to get relief from banks.

 

Until problems in mortgage portfolios are solved and private sector employment grows, the gap between credit demand and credit supply is unlikely to close. Along with this, the number of failing banks is increasing as well.  In 2010, 141 banks failed, making it the worst year ever, and this list is expected to continue to grow.

 

With banks unable to loan money, small businesses will seek other ways to generate cash to operate.  THERE IS A SOLUTION.  Businesses can rely on Commercial Collections professionals to recoup lost cash flow from customers who have not paid. Although times continue to be hard professional B2B collection agencies have the tools, the staff and the expertise to put your receivables on the TOP of their bills to be paid.

 

Caine & Weiner reported that out of the businesses surveyed, 57.5% plan to place accounts for collection in order to generate cash and the sooner the better. Credit and Collection managers also plan to reduce credit lines given to clients and to initiate collection sooner in order to protect their accounts receivables and generate money as banks are unable to offer financial relief in the upcoming year.

 

The bottom line is that businesses can no longer continue to be their customer’s bank and CFO’s; Controllers and Credit Managers must be more proactive in 2011. It can be argued that revenue generation is the most critical function of a company.  However, that revenue must be converted into cash.  Cash is the lifeblood of any company.  Every dollar of a company’s receivable must be managed and collected.