Did you ever imagine what it would be like if cameras filmed you as you overcome your debt problems? Envision creating your own documentary that may help others in the same situation. These are some episodes that may be included in 6-week documentary series.
Volume 5 #2 Your Debt Documentary Can You Lower Your Property Tax? Spare Change • Living Longer on Less Inspiring Thoughts • FDR Client Reminders 1-800-655-6303 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 advice. We hope you enjoy this issue, and that you find the enclosed information helpful as you continue on the road to financial freedom. Your Debt Documentary: Be a Money Management Star H H H H H H Week 5: Earn money by using your talents. If you are employed, the majority of your documentary may be filmed at your job. One way to earn extra income to fund your reserve account is to work overtime or a second job if it fits into your schedule. Certain skills such as programming, writing, or data entry may help you earn money doing freelance work or short-term assignments. Week 6: Show your results. On your last episode, you can show your fans how much your situation may have improved. Although debt problems are usually not solved in six weeks, viewers can see how many good moneymanagement skills you have acquired. One way to continue your progress is to focus on educating yourself about personal finance. Tell your viewers to visit educational money sites such as www.bankrate.com, www.dolans.com, or one of the web sites listed below. You can also find many helpful tips in this monthly newsletter and borrow books about personal finance at your local library. id you ever imagine what it would be like if cameras filmed you as you overcome your debt problems? Envision creating your own documentary that may help others in the same situation. Below are some episodes that may be included in 6-week documentary series. D Try calling your utility company and ask for a more convenient due date. Settling your debts is usually not an easy goal to accomplish. But, it is possible. Although you may feel like giving up, try to stay focused on your ultimate goal of becoming debt-free. Week 1: Don’t let creditors get the best of you. If cameras were filming you on a daily basis, they may see you lose your temper with a collector. Although persistent collectors may give you a reason to get upset, yelling and screaming may only create more stress for you. Some creditors want to “press your buttons” so you will become annoyed and pay your bill. If your caller identification shows that it may be a collector, we recommend that you do not answer the phone to avoid starting a dialogue with them. Collectors do have to abide by the laws of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Contact your debt negotiation company if you feel a collector was out of line. experience tough challenges as you strive to overcome your debt problems. A documentary of your day-to-day life may show how you handle an unexpected expense or how you manage a dwindling bank account when payday is still a week away. Viewers may see your stress and frustration, but also how you can conquer these dilemmas. For example, use the food in your cabinets before buying a new order of groceries. Week 3: Avoid temptation. People that are tackling debt problems may be faced with constant temptation. Your documentary can show viewers that you are able to avoid the allure of a great sale or a buying the next latest gadget. Merchants make it especially difficult to avoid temptation in the current state of the economy. Many stores are eager for consumers to spend money, so you may see enticing sales at many retailers. Unless you have a planned purchase, try to ignore stores that are having a “sale of a century.” Grocery stores also have many marketing ploys that can make you sway from your list. Be careful of convenient online shopping sites. It is easy to add more items to your shopping cart with a few mouse clicks. Week 4: Fix your financial house. Many popular television shows focus on renovating, cleaning, and organizing homes. Demonstrate to your viewers in your documentary how these ideas relate to your finances. Keep your bills organized with financial software or a filing system. Track expenses and review your budget to see if you can eliminate financial “clutter.” For example, do you use your debit card a lot for dining out or for small purchases? Are you able to reduce your cable or cell phone bill? Helpful WEb Link Week 2: Never give up. You may ü www.Livingonadime.com: The motto of this web site is “Making the Most of What You Have.” You can find many money-saving tips on basic household expenses. In addition to helpful articles about personal finance, you can also take a “Financial Fitness Quiz” and access a budget calculator. site is sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and includes approximately 100 online calculators and a variety of money-saving tips. ü www.Smartmoneytips.com: ü www.choosetosave.org: This Can you lower your property tax? Client Reminders know that you can view your FDR program overview online by visiting www.fdrclient. com? If you have not yet created a username and password, just follow the instructions on the screen. All clients also have access to FDR’s free educational and financial literacy tools at www.freedomdebtrelief.com/clients. php. Both the username and password for this information is “FDR”. View your account online. Did you Contact Info: Have you moved recently or changed your phone number? Please contact customer service to ensure we have all of your updated information. Tax Debt? If you owe money to the IRS and would like information on how to reduce your tax debts, please contact our sister company, Freedom Tax Relief at 1-800-455-6TAX. Our tax attorneys and tax specialists are eager to immediately start helping you resolve your tax troubles. In addition, existing FDR clients are eligible for a $100 referral bonus if they refer someone to Freedom Tax Relief. lobal Insight, a company that analyzes and forecasts economic trends, states that U.S. home prices fell at a fast pace during the end of 2008, according to a study entitled, “Home Prices in America.” Because of the rapidly declining prices of homes, the housing market is now undervalued. This data may not be a positive step for the economy, but consumers that live in areas that have been affected by the housing crisis may be able to reduce their property taxes. Below are some steps to take if you want to question the value of your home. Appealing your home’s value may require you to spend time doing some research. It may be worth the effort because the National Taxpayers Union estimates that as many as 60% of all homes are over-assessed and not in line with their actual value. Despite this fact, only one in 50 homeowners tries to appeal assessments. You can begin your research by obtaining a copy of your assessment records from your local assessor’s office. The American Homeowner’s Association (AHA) reminds homeowners that The Freedom of Information Act entitles homeowners to have access to all documents regarding their property. You may be asked to show proof of ownership to view the records. Try visiting the web site G for your local community. Some counties and municipalities offer online databases of property records. Do your homework. Verify your home’s description. Once you obtain a copy of your property assessment, ensure that all of the information is correct. According to AHA, many property tax assessment errors are clerical. Appraisers are usually on strict deadlines to assess many homes in a short amount of time and they also do not go inside of your home. So, simple mistakes can happen. For example, make sure your assessment lists the correct number of bedrooms, square footage, and age of the home. Misrepresentation of these factors can affect the value of your home. File an appeal. If your assessment does not contain any errors, you can still dispute the value of your home. Inquire at the assessor’s office about how to appeal a property tax assessment. The process may vary among local communities. In most cases, you will have to do more research, which may involve gathering data on comparable properties in your area. According to Consumer Affairs.com, it may help you to seek the advice of a real estate agent or attorney to obtain the evidence that you need. Customer Service Phone No: 1-800-655-6303 FAX No: 650-393-6800 Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs: 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PST Fri: 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST Sat: 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. PST *** E-mail: email@example.com Google Docs (http://docs.google.com): If you have a free Google e-mail account, you can also use Google Docs. This tool may be able to handle your basic word processing and spreadsheet tasks. It is accessible on the Web and it may save you from purchasing expensive software. We want your ideas! What do you want to see in the newsletter? We welcome your input. E-mail your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. these materials are absolutely free. You can not earn a degree or college credit, but it is a great opportunity to expand your mind about subjects that interest you. MIT OpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit. edu): OCW is MIT’s ambitious program to share course materials, which including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams from about 1800 of the Institute’s classes. All of Podcasts (www.itunes.com): Podcasts could be described as the modern-day version of educational radio shows. You can download the Itunes program for free at www.itunes.com and subscribe to an unlimited number of podcasts on a variety of topics. You do not need to own an Ipod or purchase anything from Itunes in order to subscribe to the podcasts. bank account. Using a technique known as skimming, they set up equipment that captures magnetic stripe and keypad information when you put in your PIN at ATM machines, gas pumps, restaurants, and retailers. The editors of Consumer Reports Money Adviser offer three tips on how you can protect yourself: • Don’t type in your PIN at the pump. Gas pumps are notorious for skimming because they’re produced by only a couple of different manufacturers. If you must use a debit card, choose the screen prompt that identifies it as a credit card so you don’t have to type in your PIN. • Stick with ATMs located at banks. Use machines at banks rather than in convenience stores or any other isolated locations. A thief has to be able to attach and retrieve a skimming device to see the data gathered, and that’s more likely to happen in nonbank settings where there’s less traffic and no surveillance cameras. • Closely monitor your bank accounts. Federal law limits your liability for fraudulent debitcard charges to $50, but only if you report the theft or loss of your card or PIN within two business days of discovering the problem. midst of another tax season, consumer advocates at the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) are warning taxpayers to steer clear of refund anticipation loans (RALs). New figures reveal that RALs drained the refunds of 8.67 million American taxpayers in 2007 (the latest year recorded), costing them $833 million in loan fees, plus over $68 million in other fees. RALs are bank loans secured by the taxpayer’s expected refund and the loans last about 7-14 days until the actual IRS refund repays the loan. According to the NCLC, that is a good indication of just how needless most RALs are. Most taxpayers could have their refund in approximately two weeks if they file electronically or have their refund deposited directly into a bank account. News, financial tips, and other information regarding personal financial freedom As economic conditions have worsened, there’s a noticeable increase in all types of card fraud. People who create counterfeit ATM or debit cards by stealing your PIN and other account data can simply pull cold cash from your Protect your debit card from thieves. Avoid refund anticipation loans. In the Speak out against overdraft fees. The Federal Reserve Board is asking consumers what they think of overdraft fees. The public has until a March 30 deadline to tell banking regulators whether a) banks should be required to let customers “opt in” to these overdraft programs or b) be allowed to continue automatically signing them up. The Center for Responsible Lending website has more information on overdraft fees and provides an easy way to comment to the Fed: http://ga3.org/campaign/no_gotcha_fees.To comment to the Federal Reserve Board directly, send an email to regs.comments@federalreserve. gov. Note that the subject line MUST include “Docket No. R-1343.” Living Longer on Less ccording to a recent study from the Senior Economic Security Index, 1 in 3 senior households has no money left over after meeting essential expenses. Seniors experience financial problems primarily due to the cost of assisted living facilities, medical expenses, housing costs, and dwindling retirement funds. If you are a senior citizen that is in a tight money situation, or you know of one who is, keep the following suggestions in mind. A always available for expenses such as hotel rooms, plane tickets, and bus fare. You may also contact your utility company if you are having trouble paying your utility bills. Your state may offer special low-income programs for seniors. For discounts on prescription drugs, contact the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA). Eligible participations will usually receive low cost or free prescriptions. For more details, visit www.pparx.org or call 1-888-4PPA-NOW. assist the elderly in many aspects of their life. The Administration on Aging (AOA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helps seniors maintain their independence by offering coordinated home and community-based long-term care. Visit www. aoa.gov for more information. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is the leading non-profit organization for people age 50 and older. Their web site offers a wealth of information to help the elderly population. Visit www.aarp.org to read about pertinent issues such as Medicare and Social Security. Research organizations and government agencies. Many organizations Beware of scams. The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services reports that the elderly population easily become victims of a number of schemes. Common financial crimes against the elderly usually involve home repairs, investments, telemarketing, false charitable contributions, sweepstakes, and lottery schemes. Seniors should be very wary about divulging financial information over the phone or online. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov if you feel you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam. Older Americans may see some benefits as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Take advantage of discounts and special programs. Senior discounts are almost Take advantage of the recent stimulus. Act of 2009. This legislation will offer a $250 economic recovery payment for individual older persons and $500 for couples. According to the web site for the Social Security Administration, recipients will not have to do anything. Funds will be delivered in the same method that they receive Social Security benefits. Retirees who do not receive Social Security may also qualify, but may have to file a tax return. Payments are expected to be disbursed in late May. Visit the Social Security Administration’s web site at www. ssa.gov/payment for more information. The unemployed may also receive an extension and an increase in benefits as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.. According to AARP, the number of unemployed aged 55 and older has risen 65% during the past twelve months. your stress levels while you strive to settle your debts. healthy ways to control anger, visit www. avoidingangerandstress.com. Get a good night’s sleep. The Better Sleep Council reports that 65% of Americans are losing sleep due to stress and 16% claim that worrying about personal finances is keeping them awake. Consider improving your sleep habits by going to bed the same time each night and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine a few hours before bedtime. For more tips on better sleep, visit www.bettersleep.org and www.sleepfoundation.org. Manage your anger. Collection agencies are calling repeatedly. You just received your paycheck and barely have enough left after paying the mortgage and utilities. Pipes in your bathroom are leaking and you are trying to find some available funds to hire a professional plumber. On top of all of these financial woes, your child just informed you that they need money for a field trip tomorrow! One stressful problem after another can oftentimes result in angry outbursts. According to the American Psychological Association, excessive anger can cause high blood pressure and depression. Anger is a natural human emotion that should be expressed constructively. If you feel as though you are going to lose your temper, try counting to ten or removing yourself from the situation to collect your thoughts. Writing down your thoughts in a journal may also help you release your anger in a non-violent way. For other Establish an exercise routine. According to the American Council on Exercise (www. acefitness.org), physical activity can help relieve some symptoms of stress, especially during tough times. For example, exercise may help you feel less anxious and encourage you to eat better. An exercise regimen does not mean that you have to purchase expensive equipment or a gym membership. Consider walking in the park or around your neighborhood. If you prefer to exercise with friends, consider forming a walking group. Contact your local community college or recreational center to find out if they offer any low-cost yoga or aerobic classes. Learn to say “no.” As you work towards settling your debts, your may choose to take on a busy schedule. You may decide to work a second job or volunteer for many overtime hours. Although these actions show that you have a good work ethic and that you are dedicated, working constantly may cause additional stress and may affect other aspects of your life. Consider setting limits in order to maintain your busy schedule. Over a period of time, excessive stress may cause burnout and make you become unproductive because you are so mentally and physically exhausted. Commend yourself for making the effort to become debt-free, but also remember to take some time for you. Inspiring Thoughts s you may know, debt can have an impact on your financial life. However, you may not realize how much this problem can affect your health. According to WebMD (www.webmd.com), an online health resource, worrying about debt over time can lead to stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, migraines, and heart disease. Below are some ways that can help you reduce A 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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