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.





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.





FTC Publishes Top Consumer Complaints- released March 2011

17 03 2011

The Federal Trade Commissions compiled a list of consumer complaints for last year, 2010..  Among complaints over internet services, imposter scams, internet auctions, foreign money and counterfeit scams, identity theft topped the list captivating 19% of complaints. Debt collection ranked number 2 for top consumer complaints.

Identity Theft is estimated to affect about 9 million Americans a year. Most victims do not find out until they are denied from mortgage or car loan because of credit issues, receive letters from collection agencies for debt that the person never incurred, or receive something in the mail about a house the consumer never bought, apartment they never rented, or a job they didn’t have. It is important for a consumer to protect by monitoring their personal information, such as their credit scores, to prevent identity theft or catch it early before too much damage is done.

The FTC reported 144,150 collection complaints in 2010.  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan claimed that her office received more than 7,000 debt related consumer complaints last year taking the number one spot on her costumer complain list.  With more people struggling to pay off mortgage loans and credit card debts, consumers worry about their financial future.  For the Illinois Attorney General’s complaint list, identity theft came in at number 2 with more than 3,600 complaints about fraudulent credit card charges, utilities opened in the victim’s name, and bank fraud.

For the first time, Imposter Scams made the list of complaints for 2010.  This growing crime includes people posing as friends, family, or trusted businesses or government agencies to get consumers to send them money.  Consumers should be wary of any entity that wants them to wire money, pay to collect winnings, or claim to be with a government agency or someone you care about, or want you to act immediately. 

A favorite impostor scam during tax season is the fake Internal Revenue Service e-mail. The target of the fraud gets an e-mail with an official-looking IRS logo demanding a credit card number to settle a tax debt. If the potential victim doesn’t come through, the e-mail warns, the agency will take action by garnishing the person’s wages or placing a lien on his or her home.

The IRS doesn’t contact taxpayers by e-mail or even by phone, but by email.  A person who doesn’t know that might be shaken enough to click on the link in the e-mail and plug in a credit card number.

Another impostor fraud, the grandchild scam, used to target seniors by phone. An elderly person would get a call from someone claiming to be his or her grandchild in distress, wrongly arrested in a foreign country and desperately in need of money to get out of jail. But because the grandchild scam required a gullible senior, who was perhaps forgetful or hard of hearing, con artists have moved on to pastures where the potential victims are more plentiful: social networks.

Impostor Scams should contact the FTC immediately http://www.ftc.gov/





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.





Seven Ways to Stand Out At Work

14 01 2011

1. Control your image. This not only includes your clothing style but your self image as well. You should always dress appropriately for your job. You should have self confidence in the work you are doing and believe that you can accomplish the job at hand.

2. Communicate Effectively. Listen actively to understand what you are being told. When you are speaking, speak clearly. Avoid negativity and pay attention to yours and others body language. Be sure to show interest.

3. Improve your leadership skills. Motivate others by giving reinforcement, teach others, give enthusiasm, and pass up leadership in areas where someone else is better suited than you.

4. Maintain Integrity and Digression. Practice ethical behavior and use your common sense. Do not take credit for others work or pretend to know something when you don’t. Do not lie you want to be trustworthy. Be discreet about what you say and who you say it to.

5. Learn From Mistakes. It is okay to admit your faults and let it go. Do not blame others. Be rational and do not make false assumptions. If you do not know something it is okay.

6. Adjust to Change. Technology and organizational functions are constantly changing. Be flexible and accepting of change.

7. Manage your Time. Planning, prioritizing, and getting organized is a good tool to stay on track and to avoid wasting time. Do not take too long to take advantage of a good opportunity.





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.