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					                                                                                                                                             Volume 4 #9
                                                                                                                             Warm Up for Winter
                                                                                                    Tips to Overcome Common Financial Hurdles
                                                                                                Inspiring Thoughts • Banks Reduce Credit Limits
                                                                                                           FDR Client Reminders • Spare Change
                                                                                Welcome to the Freedom Debt Relief monthly newsletter! As part of our
                                                                                ongoing goal to enhance our services, we will be sending you a monthly
                                                                                newsletter filled with interesting articles and helpful financial tips and

         1-800-655-6303                                                         advice. We hope you enjoy this issue, and that you find the enclosed
                                                                                information helpful as you continue on the road to financial freedom.



                                  Warm up
                                                                                                             Agriculture about freezing food safely located
                                                                                                             at www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Focus_On_
                                                                                                             Freezing/index.asp. The web site for Allrecipes.
                                                           for                                               com also has a budget cooking section. You can
                                                                                                             find recipes for many tasty fall foods in addition
                                                                                                             to articles that discuss the pros and cons of bulk

                                       winter                                                                foods and meals for under $10. Visit the home
                                                                                                             page at www.allrecipes.com and then click on the
                                                                                                             “Budget Cooking” tab at the top of the page.


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          s temperatures drop in the upcoming         to turning up the heat a few degrees. Children
          months, it may be tempting to spend         can be especially expensive to clothe since they                                           Driving can be
          more money on goods and services to         outgrow items so fast. Instead of buying all new       hazardous in freezing temperatures. According
keep warm. The tips listed below may help you         items for kids, check out thrift stores and resale     to the Car Care Council, 70% of drivers do
brave the cold weather climates and ‘freeze’ some     shops such as Once Upon a Child (www.ouac.             not winterize their vehicles. Ensure that your
dollars for spring.                                   com). Browse your local online classifieds such        vehicle is prepared for inclement weather so you
                                                      as www.craigslist.org and www.freecycle.org and        can protect your investment. First of all, make
                                 The Alliance         look for ads in which people list bags of clothing     sure you have essentials such as an ice scraper
to Save Energy (www.ase.org), a non-profit            in a specific size. Some retail stores may also have   and windshield wiper fluid. Once snowstorms
coalition that supports energy efficiency, predicts   a few racks of summer clearance left. You may          hit your area, many stores may run out of these
that natural gas and home energy costs will be        be able to find practical items such as t-shirts       items. Some other necessities to keep in your
20% more this year than in 2007. You may              and tank tops that can be used as additional           car in case you are stranded include jumper
reduce your bill with simple tasks such as turning    layers of clothing throughout the winter. Many         cables, a snow shovel, rock salt, blankets, and a
down your thermostat when you are not home            communities also sponsor winter coat drives for        flashlight. When temperatures drop, tires lose
and closing vents and doors to unused rooms.          families in need during this time of the year. Visit   pressure. Tires affect ride, handling, traction, and
Keep curtains open on sunny winter days to            www.onewarmcoat.org for events and programs            safety. Also, check your antifreeze and motor oil.
heat up a room. When the sun sets, snug-fitting       in your area.                                          You can consult your owner’s manual or your
drapes may also block cold drafts. Ceiling fans                                                              repair shop for specifications. Cold weather can
can also help circulate heat during the winter                                  Snowy                                       also affect the life of windshield
months. Poor insulation can also play a factor        winter days can make it difficult                                     wipers by making the rubber hard
in skyrocketing heating bills. According to the       to drive to the grocery store.                                        and brittle. Wiper blades that
Harvard University School of Public Health,           During the fall season, you may                                       are cracked or torn and do not
there are 46 million under-insulated homes            consider stocking up on foods such                                    properly clean your windshield
in the United States. For more information            as canned soups, which usually                                        should be changed. Freezing
on insulating your home, check out www.               make inexpensive and hearty                                           temperatures will also reduce a
simplyinsulate.com and visit www.energystar.          meals. Campbell’s web site (www.                                      vehicle’s battery power. It is critical
gov/index.cfm?c=diy.diy_index for Energy Star’s       rethinksoup.com) lists many recipes                                   to keep battery connections clean,
Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating.       that use their condensed soup and                                     tightened, and free of corrosion.
The web sites listed in the box at the end of this    even estimates the cost per serving.                                  For more tips on general car care
article also give some general tips on reducing       For example, the approximate                                          and winterizing your vehicle,
your heating bill.                                    cost per serving of Campbell’s                                        visit www.carcare.org. During
                                                      Condensed Tomato Soup is 23                                           the winter months, avoid making
                                 Warm clothing        cents. You can also prepare food                                      unnecessary driving trips. You will
is essential during fall and winter months.           ahead of time and then freeze it                                      save money on gasoline and lessen
Wearing an extra layer of clothing inside of the      to eat on those chilly days. Read the online fact      your chances of an accident due to hazardous
house can be a frugal alternative as opposed          sheet from the United States Department of             weather conditions.


                                                      Helpful Web Sites With Tips to Keep You Warm
                                             U.S. Department of Energy (www.energysavers.                 is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing
                                             gov): This section of the U.S. Department of                 energy efficiency. You can find information about
                                             Energy web site offers consumer tips on saving               tax incentives for making your home more energy-
                                             energy. Discover simple no-cost and low cost tips            efficient and download a checklist with energy
                                             to winterize your home and you can also find more            saving tips.
                                             information about energy assistance programs in
                                             your state.                                                  ENERGYguide (www.energyguide.com): In addition
                                                                                                          to providing information on how to lower your energy
                                             ACEEE (www.aceee.org/Consumer/index.htm): The                bills, this site also offers a lot of online tools to
                                             American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy             calculate your energy usage.
                                                                                                               a lot of bills and paperwork. Carefully review

                                              Tips to Overcome                                                 all items such as doctor and hospital bills along
                                                                                                               with insurance claim payments/denials. Mistakes
                                                                                                               do happen and uncorrected errors can be costly.

                                              Common                                                           If you can not afford your medical or hospital
                                                                                                               charges, contact the service provider’s billing
                                                                                                               department to set up a monthly payment plan.

                                              Financial Hurdles                                                Be sure to save bills, cancelled checks, or other
                                                                                                               receipts for your tax preparer because you may
                                                                                                               be eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit.



  D
                                                                                                               Do a keyword search at www.irs.gov for HCTC.
             uring the course of your life, you will     are eligible to receive unemployment benefits,        If you are uninsured and have a serious health
             probably experience some sort of            which may temporarily replace a portion of lost       condition that makes it difficult to buy standard
             unexpected incident or emergency.           wages. The web site for the Department of Labor       health insurance plans, you may want to find
Below are some common situations that may                has a section that lists all of the unemployment      out if your state has a risk pool. This type of
drastically change a person’s financial situation.       offices by state. Visit www.dol.gov/dol/location.     insurance usually can not deny you due to most
We would like to offer you some basic tips that          htm for more information. This site also includes     pre-existing conditions. For more information,
may help reduce the impact on your finances.             state job centers and employment outlooks for         visit www.nahu.org/consumer/HRPGuide.cfm.
Please note that the intent of this article is to give   particular fields. During this time, try to keep
an overview of general information. We realize           spending under control so you can continue to            A family member passes away. Coping with
that everyone may have their own complex set             pay necessary bills the next three to six months.     the loss of a loved one will undoubtedly take an
of circumstances that may require additional             If possible, avoid withdrawing or borrowing           emotional toll on family members. During this
resources.                                               money from your retirement savings.                   difficult time, most families will struggle with
                                                                                                               the unbelievable shock and grief of the situation.
   A divorce occurs. Divorce laws can be                    You can’t make your mortgage payment. If           Therefore, finances and money will not be at the
complicated and may differ by state. You may             you are having difficulty paying your mortgage,       forefront of someone that recently lost a loved
choose to seek the advice of an attorney that            you should contact your loan servicer and find        one. This will be a time that family members
specializes in this field. Search for a divorce          out if you qualify for modified loan terms or         can band together to support one another in
attorney in your area at www.familylawsoftware.          other options to help you keep your home              accomplishing some of the following necessary
com. Under the section labeled “For Individuals          instead of losing it to foreclosure. You may also     tasks.
Facing Divorce,” click on the “Find Professionals        want to seek help from a trained homeownership           • Locate important documents, such as
in Our Directory” link. This site sells divorce-         counselor. To find a reputable counselor,             insurance policies and the most recent will.
related software, but also offers valuable               contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at
information about the divorce process. You can           the Homeownership Preservation Foundation                           • Before committing to any funeral
also check out the “Divorce Guide---A World              (1-888-995-4673 or www.995hope.org)                                   costs, consult with other family
of Help” link located under the “For Individuals         or the U.S. Department of Housing                                      members and perhaps a lawyer
Facing Divorce” column for a variety of helpful          and Urban Development for a                                           about any prior instructions or
information and calculators. A certified divorce         referral to a HUD-approved                                         arrangements.
planner (CDP) may also be able to assist you.            homeownership counseling                                       • Obtain multiple copies of the death
This professional is a financial planner that has        agency (1-800-569-4287                                         certificate, which will be needed to
completed additional training and education              or www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/                                    apply for death benefits (such as life
related to the financial issues of divorce. If you       sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm).                                              insurance policies or Social Security)
wish to hire a CDP, visit the web site of the                                                                           and to access bank accounts.
Institute for Certified Divorce Planners at www.           You or a family member
institutedfa.com.                                        experiences a medical                                           • If the family’s medical insurance
                                                         emergency. In addition to                                        is through the deceased person’s
   A family member loses their job. If there             dealing with a medical illness,                                  employer, consider options for
is a loss of income in the household, see if you         your household will also receive                                continuing coverage.

                                                         into debt and considered it to be a big mistake.      family illness or job loss, recognize that almost
                                                         Dwelling on the past will not solve your current      everyone experiences setbacks at least once
                                                         problems. Remember that if nobody ever made a         during the course of their life. In the midst of
                                                         mistake, society would not grow and prosper.          an unfortunate circumstance, you did what
                                                            It’s true…everyone does make mistakes.             you needed to do in order to survive. Once you
                                                         However, you can learn from them and deal with        complete your settlement program, you may
                                                         the results of your mistakes in a constructive        consider starting an emergency fund in case an
                                                         and effective way. In order to learn a valuable       unanticipated event should ever occur again.
                                                         lesson, you must keep experimenting with                 Regardless of the reasons for your debt, realize
                                                         new approaches to your dilemmas instead of            that enrolling in a debt settlement program is
                                                         repeating the same mistakes. For example, if you      one way to rectify your economic situation.
                                                         acquired debt due to overspending, use this time      Commend yourself for taking this positive step
                                                         to educate yourself on responsible credit card use.   towards improving your finances. Although you
   The man who makes no mistakes does                    When it comes time to re-establish your credit,       may be currently faced with overwhelming debt,
 not usually make anything.                              you will know not to make the same mistakes           you have decided to take action. In the end,
   ~Edward Phelps                                        again. Putting yourself down or becoming angry        you may become a stronger person because you



  E
                                                         and bitter will not help your current situation.      learned from your mistakes.
         veryone makes mistakes. You probably               On the other hand, if your debt was the
         have heard this phrase at some point in         result of an unforeseen circumstance such as a
         your life. In fact, you may regret getting
                                              Credit Commentary
                                              Banks reduce
                                              credit limits                                                       Client Reminders

  R
                                                                                                                 Visit us on the web! Did you
          ecent news indicates that credit card        a recent Bankrate article, many lenders are also
          companies may be reducing credit             lowering credit limits for non-traditional reasons
                                                                                                                 know that you can view your account
          limits on consumer accounts in               such as whether the consumer has a sub-prime              information online? We have recently
response to the troubling economy. Consumer            mortgage or if they live in a state that has been         enhanced our web site for our clients. Go
Action, a non-profit consumer advocacy                 adversely affected by the housing crisis.                 to www.freedomdebtrelief.com and click
organization, conducted a study this past                                                                        on the tab “Current Clients.” Then, near
summer entitled, “Consumer Action’s Credit                Why now? Any individual or family                      the bottom of the page under the heading
Limit Survey. According to this survey, 18% of         that has experienced a crisis situation may have          “Existing Client Login for Account
the 1,083 participants revealed that their credit      discovered that difficult times sometimes inspire         Information” click on the button, “Click
limits had been lowered by their banks this year.      positive changes and bring families closer.               Here.” Enter your e-mail address, and
Consumers that plan to apply for new loans or          As mentioned previously, the credit industry              then follow the instructions to create a
credit may also face more stringent guidelines. A      implemented stricter policies regarding credit            password and validate your information.
July 2008 Federal Reserve Board survey indicates       limits as a result of the crippling economy.
that 65% of domestic banks had tightened their                                                                   You will now be able to view this
                                                       But, what happens if the nation’s financial               information online!
lending standards on credit card loans during the      circumstances improve in the future? Will card
previous three months.                                 issuers resort to their former lenient lending
                                                       practices? Only time will tell.                           Tax Debt? If you owe money to the
   Is this good news? For years, many                     Statistics cited in this article suggest that credit   IRS and would like information on
credit card companies have enticed consumers           card companies are carefully assessing the risk           how to reduce your tax debts, please
to spend by increasing credit limits and charging      and creditworthiness of cardholders and potential         contact our sister company, Freedom
a relatively low minimum                                                     applicants. Regardless of the       Tax Relief at 1-800-455-6TAX. Our tax
monthly payment. The                                                         state of the economy, it is easy    attorneys and tax specialists are eager to
convenience of credit                                                        to wonder why credit card           immediately start helping you resolve
cards have allowed some                                                      companies would not have            your tax troubles. In addition, existing
consumers to charge luxury                                                   more stringent underwriting         FDR clients are eligible for a $100 referral
items they would not                                                         standards for applicants such
                                                                                                                 bonus if they refer someone to Freedom
normally buy with cash,                                                      as college students. Most
cover emergency expenses,                                                    undergraduates do not need          Tax Relief.
or pay for necessities                                                       a job or verifiable income to
such as groceries or gas                                                     apply for a credit card.                                ***
during tough economic                                                                                                Customer Service Phone No:
times. Shrinking credit lines could be viewed             How does this affect me? You                                    1-800-655-6303
as a positive step in the right direction as many      may have limited access to credit while you are
consumers may be required to live below their          enrolled in a debt negotiation program. When it
means.                                                 comes times to re-establish your credit, consider                FAX No: 650-393-6800
   Credit card companies also seem more                applying for one or two credit cards with low
prudent in making credit decisions. According          limits. High credit lines should not really be
to Consumer Action’s 2008 Credit Card Survey,                                                                             Hours of Operation:
                                                       that much of a concern to you because it is
customer service representatives at six well-known     wise to charge only what you can afford to pay             Mon-Thurs: 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PST
financial institutions told surveyors that they        in full each month. If you notice that a credit              Fri: 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST
would reduce cardholder’s credit limits because        card company increases your limit due to timely             Sat: 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. PST
of perceived customer risk. Factors included a         payments, resist the urge to use plastic for
decline in cardholder credit scores, late payments,    extravagant purchases. Overspending
and balances that go too close to the credit limit.    with credit can easily spiral out                                      E-mail:
This practice is not necessarily new considering       of control and cause a                                      support@freedomdebtrelief.com
that some credit card agreements have a universal      dangerous cycle
default clause, allowing companies to raise            of debt.
interest rates or reduce credit lines if information
contained in a consumer credit report
suggests a possible credit risk.
However, according to
                                                                                                                             We want
                                     Invest in your lunch.                                                                   your ideas!
                                     Ordering take-out and dining out with coworkers may be a strain
                                     on your budget. Check out Bankrate’s Lunch Savings Calculator
                                     and discover how much money you can save each month by                      What do you want to see in the
                                     packing your lunch. Visit www.bankrate.com/brm/calculators/                 newsletter? We welcome your input.
                                     calc_index.asp. and click on the “Lunch savings calculator” under
                                     the Savings section.                                                        Email your ideas to info@pifff.org.
                                                                                                                                                                 collection contact involving an accusation of a

Spare Change                                                                                                                                                     crime or similar conduct is strictly forbidden by
                                                                                                                                                                 law. Consumers also reported that this agency
                                                                                                                                                                 threatened to sue them if they did not pay.
  News, financial tips, and                                                                                                                                      Because this particular collection agency employs
                                                                                                                                                                 no lawyers and does not file lawsuits of any kind,
  other information regarding                                                                                                                                    these threats were misleading and therefore,
  personal financial freedom                                                                                                                                     unlawful.

Buying used cars can save                                                      to freeze the bank accounts of New Yorkers                                        Con artists pose as FTC
thousands. A recent Consumer Reports                                           who receive income that is exempt from debt                                       employees. In their latest effort to defraud
study of owner costs shows that choosing a                                     collection under federal and state law, such as                                   the public, con artists claiming to work for the
reliable three-year-old car instead of a new one                               Social Security, veterans’ benefits, disability, and                              Federal Trade Commission are calling consumers
can save drivers thousands of dollars over the                                 pension. The law ensures the first $2,500 in                                      and claiming that they have won a lottery or
first five years. In many cases, that is enough                                an account which contains directly deposited                                      sweepstakes. As the nation’s consumer protection
to pay for all the gas used during that time.                                  exempt income cannot be restrained.                                               agency, the FTC never collects money directly
With relatively low mileage, modern safety and                                                                                                                   from consumers. But the public may be fooled,
convenience features, and usually a much lower                                 Charges are filed against Florida                                                 because by using Internet technology, con
price than similar new vehicles, late-model used                               collection agency. West Virginia Attorney                                         artists can make it appear that they are calling
cars are great deals. On average, Consumer                                     General Darrell McGraw recently filed suit                                        from Washington, DC, where the FTC is
Reports’ findings show that consumers can save                                 against Florida collection agency for unlawful,                                   headquartered. The FTC’s name may even be
32 percent in the first five years by buying a                                 coercive debt collection practices. Beginning                                     displayed on consumers’ caller ID machines.
three-year-old car. Similarly, with a one or two-                              in 2006, consumers complained that they had                                       All the public has to do, according to the con
year-old car, they can save 19 and 27 percent,                                 received calls from this agency suggesting                                        artists’ pitch, is pay the taxes and insurance on
respectively.                                                                  they would be arrested if they                                                    their “winnings.” The caller asks that consumers
                                                                               did not pay a cellular telephone                                                            wire money or send a check for an
New law will assist New York                                                   bill. According to the lawsuit,                                                             amount between $1,000 and $10,000.
consumers. The Exempt Income Protection                                        this agency tried to coerce                                                                 In reality, there is no prize, and the
Act will shield elderly, disabled, veteran, and                                payments from consumers by                                                                  scammers disappear with the consumers’
lower income New Yorkers from unlawful                                         implying that a “federal marshal”                                                           money. Real sweepstakes don’t require
practices by debt collectors and goes into effect                              would appear at the consumer’s                                                              you to send money to claim a prize. To
January 1, 2009. The new law closes a loophole                                 workplace, or that a deputy                                                                 learn more about avoiding this type of
that has allowed debt collectors and credit                                    sheriff would serve a warrant for                                                           scam, go to www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/
card companies to use “restraining notices”                                    the consumer’s arrest. Any debt                                                             consumer/alerts/alt099.shtm.

     The Freedom Debt Relief newsletter is published by The Premier Institute for Financial Freedom. While articles in this newsletter are factual and accurate, they are not intended to replace the advice of professional financial,
    accounting, and/or legal advisers. As with all decisions regarding your finances, the advice, techniques, ideas and suggestions offered herein should be followed under the supervision of the appropriate competent professional.




 1875 South Grant Street
 Suite 400
 San Mateo, CA 94402
 Phone: (800) 655-6303
 FAX: (650) 897-8800

				
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