Reducing your home’s energy usage doesn’t require you to spend much money. By making small lifestyle changes and by making changes to the way you use electronics and appliances, you can reduce your home’s energy bills. Over the course of years, you can save hundreds of dollars.

1. Cook Inside in Winter, Outside in Summer

grilling

Your stove and oven produce a lot of heat, which can warm up your home’s interior at hot times of year. If you’re running the air conditioner, this forces your A/C to work much harder than necessary to keep your home a comfortable temperature. Cooking outside, either with a portable electric cooktop or with a small grill, can help reduce the burden on your home’s HVAC system, which prevents the HVAC system from running longer than necessary.

In winter, cooking indoors can help heat your home. After you’re finished baking and the oven is off, leave the oven door open a crack. This lets the warm air into your kitchen, which helps the furnace do its job.

2. Cut Back On Appliance Usage

hanging clothes to dry

Think about the times when you use appliances at home. Many homeowners use their appliances more frequently than necessary. Take the dishwasher for example, which uses electricity and water every time it’s used. You can limit the water and electricity that your dishwasher consumes by only running the dishwasher when it’s completely full.

Another appliance that uses a lot of energy, and which is often used unnecessarily, is the clothes dryer. At times of year when the weather is warm and dry, consider using a clothes line rather than a clothes dryer. Using your appliances in this way will reduce your home’s energy usage, and will also reduce wear and tear on your appliances, which will save money on appliance repair and replacement.

3. Use Your Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are common in homes now, but many homeowners don’t use these devices as they were intended. By programming your thermostat to raise or lower the temperature at night, you can save money with little effort. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10% per year on heating and cooling by reducing your home’s thermostat by about 7 to 10 degrees daily.

4. Ensure Proper Insulation and Sealing

sealing

According to the EPA website, homeowners can save about save about 15% on their home’s heating and cooling bills by sealing and winterizing their home. Weatherstripping is a part of this process. Weatherstripping is an easy activity that most homeowners can do on their own, even on a tight budget. Weatherstripping foam can be found in hardware stores and home improvement centers. Installing weatherstripping foam along your home’s windows and doors can prevent air leaks that puts pressure on your home’s HVAC system.

Do you feel a draft in the room when you’re standing near your windows. This is a sign that your home needs to be weatherstripped. Can you see daylight shining between your home’s front door and the door frame? This is another indication that your home could use some weatherstripping. Get started!

Reduce Your Home’s Energy Usage, Cut Your Bills

By taking small steps to reduce your home’s energy usage, you can cut your home’s energy bills. For more information about how you can save money through small lifestyle changes or adjustments, keep checking back with our blog.

While the holidays usually afford some extra time, much of which we seem to be compelled to go shopping, there are creative ways to stay active while managing your budget. If you’re looking for fun things to do this winter, there’s no reason that you have to splurge though. There are plenty of things to do for free (or nearly free) no matter what age you are. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Brainstorm New DIY Projects

DIY holiday craft

Last year taught so many people the value of resilience, and part of taking on new challenges is doing it on your own. Thankfully, there’s a fun side to DIY, and it starts with finding your favorite outlets for creativity. So maybe you write your own personal story of 2020, or maybe you make your own decorations to celebrate the change of seasons. Sometimes it doesn’t take more than a few blank pages and some markers to make something you’re truly proud of.

Slow-Cook Your Favorite Meals

slowcooker meal

Pot roast, chicken noodle soup, meat sauce: many of your favorites require the most important ingredient of all — your time. The upside to this is that your home will slowly fill with the kinds of aromatics that make everyone feel warm and toasty. From baking cookies to making chili, this is a winter activity that will keep you both physically and mentally full for a while. Make a few batches so you can freeze the leftovers for the rest of the season.

Embrace the Darkness

Flashlights, glow-in-the-dark stars, glowsticks, shadow puppets: there are ways to turn all that darkness into something a lot less dreary. Instead of just switching on the lights when the sun goes down, switch it up with a little extra imagination. Read books by candlelight or ask people to make up their own stories. There’s something about not being able to see people’s faces all the way that can really help them open up.

Weekly Movie Nights

movie night

Instead of just flipping through Netflix for a while before finally settling on something, it’s time to kick movie nights into high gear. Fancy snacks, bowls of popcorn, and movie candy are just a few ways to get things going. Make sure that you decide on a movie beforehand (maybe rotate having people choose every week or vote on a movie to watch). Or have a picnic on your carpet with a little help from a checkered blanket and basket stuffed with goodies.

Play Games

board games

Whether it’s a snowball fight or a board game, playing games is a time-honored way to have fun without spending any dough. For this year, try avoiding video games and concentrating on competitions that require a little face time. (It only takes one deck of cards to have hundreds of games right at your fingertips.) You can also create your own winter traditions this year by making chores fun. Have a prize ready for whoever can shovel the most snow or rake up the most leaves.

Go for a Sled Ride

Sledding is an exhilarating way to let out your frustrations. Plus, it really only takes one for everyone to enjoy. If you don’t have a sled, see if someone will lend you one this winter for an afternoon filled with screams and laughter. Have a thermos filled with hot chocolate or tea to take the chill off the worst of the winter winds.

There’s nothing better than enjoying yourself without having to compromise your budget this year. These activities are not only fun to do, but they can also bring you closer to those you love the most by adding to your most precious memories.

When Mark realized he needed help with debt relief, he turned to Century for assistance. Like many clients tell us, he felt like he was “running out of options” and Century offered the services that he needed at the right time. “I felt like there was no end to the mountain of debt I had and no way out of it,” he said. Then he called Century and every representative he spoke to was so reassuring, understanding and compassionate.

Mark and his family

“They helped me to understand my position and seek a remedy that would be long-lasting,” Mark said. He was initially wary about the effects that debt settlement would have on his credit score but our representative was able to put his mind at ease by explaining how the program worked and how we would customize our program to meet his specific needs and circumstances. Mark is thrilled with the results he’s seeing with Century. “Once everything started progressing, my credit score started to creep back up. I love the progress we’ve made.”

Mark and his son

With guidance, support, and instruction, Mark is on a path toward financial relief that he might have never thought possible. He noted that “Century’s customer service has been excellent and is completely satisfied.” “It hasn’t always been easy and with the impact of Covid on job loss, I was able to work with Century to continue to make my payments,” Mark said. “I’m moving in the right direction now and am glad I made this choice.”

 

Mark – Thanks for being an incredible Century partner along your journey!

 

Congratulations, Mark!
Patience, perseverance, and commitment to the program are really paying off! We’re right here with you on this journey to financial freedom!

*We protect the privacy of our clients by changing their names and omitting any identifying details.

The holidays can bring many pleasures, from reminiscing with family and old friends, to enjoying favorites foods and festive drinks. But the holiday season can also be a stressful time, especially with added financial pressures and complicated logistics of fitting in work, special events, family time, and your own self care. Between the constant temptations of sweet treats and the changes in routine, it’s all too easy to let your health and wellness plan go.

Read on for some practical tips for how to stick to—or start—a fitness plan during the holidays, plus some key tips on how to be realistic and do your best with what you’ve got!

1. Set a Schedule

Commit

Take a few minutes to decide your workout goals over the holiday season, and then plug those sessions into your paper calendar, your phone, or whatever reminder system will keep you on track. Instead of just picking the days you will workout, try to be specific about the time of day so that it feels like part of your schedule instead of something optional you’re trying to “fit in.”

2. Create Realistic Diet “Rules”

Veggies

A strict diet during the holidays may not be realistic, so focus on your priorities. For example, it may be best to ensure you eat 5 servings of vegetables every day as opposed to saying that you’ll “never” eat any sweets. By allowing yourself some indulgences as long as you’ve got your healthy basics covered, you’ll be able to stay on track while still enjoying the season.

3. Recruit Accountability Buddies

Doing all of your workouts solo may feel isolating during a time that’s often about togetherness. Join up with a friend or family member who shares your health and fitness goals, and get in a practice of texting each other when you complete a workout to stay accountable and motivated.

4. Take it Outside

outside

Taking your exercise routine outdoors can give you a welcome breath of fresh air—literally! Activities like walking, running, hiking or bodyweight exercises done on a mat in the driveway or backyard cost nothing at all to do, and save you the hassle (and gas money) of getting to a gym. If you live in an area that turns into a winter wonderland, look into purchasing gently used snowshoes or cross-country skiis, which will allow you to get into nature while burning hundreds of calories an hour!

5. Make It Easy

make it easy

Overcomplicating your fitness plans can sometimes set yourself up for failure. You don’t need to pay hefty gym fees or purchase pricy meal systems to stay in shape. Take small steps, like meal prepping a few health weekday lunches each week, or keeping an extra gym bag in the car. Build in systems that make it really easy to say yes to your fitness goals instead of requiring lots of extra steps—or money—to work out or choose healthier foods.

6. Mix It Up

While routines can be super helpful to keep you on track, be careful to not get too bored with the same old exercise routine or healthy meals. Research some free, online workouts you might want to try, and easy, inexpensive recipes that fit your diet. Keep a list you can reference when you’re feeling uninspired, and continue adding to it. To make it feel more festive, consider writing the ideas down on individual slips of colored paper in a jar. When you’re tempted to skip a workout, or feeling tired of your usual baked chicken and salad, you can pull out an idea and try something new!

Remember, any fitness plan is better than no fitness plan, and even a plan executed 50% of the time is better than not trying at all! Be gentle with yourself this holiday season, and don’t let a day of getting off track sabatoge your whole season. Give yourself plenty of opportunities to recommit, start fresh, and stay on track. Your health will thank you! Happy healthy holidays!

What is your biggest worry? If it has anything to do with your financial health, you’re not alone. 73% of Americans rank their finances as the biggest stress they currently have. Avoiding your financial issues won’t help you alleviate this stress, it only makes it worse. The best way to overcome it is by facing your finances head-on and developing a plan to help you succeed.

The New Year is the perfect time to set your financial resolutions. With simple planning techniques and a little honesty, you can straighten out your finances, develop a good budget, and save money.

Money-Saving Strategies for Your New Year

older couple reviewing finances

The biggest problem that most people have with their finances is that they are embarrassed. They avoid thinking about it or doing anything to correct it, and the issues they’re experiencing keep snowballing. The higher your debt, the more money you need to pay in fees. If you start with a simple, honest strategy, you can gain control of your spending and savings.

Give Yourself a Waiting Period

Unless a purchase is absolutely necessary, wait at least 24 to 48 hours after you have the impulse to buy it. This is difficult especially when shopping is right at your fingertips. Take a moment and put down your phone or walk away from the computer. You may find that doing something as simple as putting down your phone or walking away from the computer will help you spend less and save more because the impulse will pass. If, after the waiting period, you still find you could benefit from the item and can truly afford it, then buy it without regrets. This is a common problem and often the reason people get into debt in the first place. Life situations can change, leaving you with more debt than you can comfortably maintain with your current income.

Create a Meal Plan

meal planning

Most people start off the New Year with two primary resolutions – get fit and save money. This strategy gives you the benefit of both. Meal planning is not only good for your waistline, but it’s also good for your budget. When you plan for a week or two, and only go to the grocery store one time, you spend less on groceries. When you already know what’s for dinner, you spend less on emergency trips through the drive-thru. Consider keeping a few cheap but easy things on hand, like frozen pizzas, for those nights when your cooking plans go awry.

Change the Habit of Going to the Store

The habit of running to the store when you need something may not seem like a big deal, but how often have you purchased something new because it was convenient instead of searching for a more affordable used option. Many items do not need to be purchased brand new. You can get furniture, toys, clothing, sporting goods, and even tools second hand and save significantly. Learn to shop through Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, Swap.com, and other online venues that provide a one-stop shop for quality used merchandise. Make a habit of looking for used first, before running to the store.

Switch to Cash

switch to cash

Pulling out the debit card to pay for purchases means little thought about those purchases. Switch to using cash, and you will have a visual representation of how much money you have and how much you’ve spent. Pulling out your cash is a bit more work, and will cause you to think more about what you’re buying. You will naturally spend less as a result.

Once you’ve found ways to save that work for your budget, don’t simply add the saved money into your free spending funds. Instead, use them towards your debt settlement or credit card debt goals or use them to build up an emergency fund, so you will be prepared the next time you have an unplanned expense. This is a small change that will yield big results when you are well prepared for the unexpected events of life. Then, pay down credit card debt and start saving for retirement. Remember, you don’t necessarily need to make more money or make huge changes to start saving money. With these small changes, you can free up more of your cash for savings, and start enjoying less stress and worry in your life.

The pandemic has put up so many barriers to our normal celebrations that it’s easy to feel disappointed before they even arrive. Yet now is the very best time to think about the people in your life and show them just how much they mean to you. It can help you wrap up the year with that much more gratitude and love. We’ll give you some ideas to give gifts on a budget without compromising your (or anyone else’s) safety.

Your Guide to Budget-Friendly Gifts

Here are a few gifts that would light up anyone’s life:

  • Frames: A good frame can spice up a loved one’s favorite poster, picture, or print.

  • recipes

    Recipes: If you have a signature dish that everyone loves then it’s time to share! Use your handwriting to give it a personal touch.

  • Candles: Scented candles around this time of year truly light up the senses. If you’re going to give to everyone, consider making your own.

  • Kitchen/gardening supplies: From corkscrews to spades, these practical gifts end up being surprisingly useful.

  • ornaments

    Ornaments: Help your friends and family cover the tree in color and start some new traditions this season.

  • Used books: From cookbooks to novels, a book that’s specially picked out specifically for someone can have a big impact.

  • Coffee mugs: Garage stores are excellent ways to find kitschy mugs that are truly one-of-a-kind.

  • books

    Stationery: Encourage your friends to write to you with the help of good quality paper. Add in a pen and few stamps for better odds they’ll actually use it.

  • Accessories: Fun hair ties, crazy mittens, and funky earrings can quickly brighten up anyone’s outfit (and day).

  • Wine: There are plenty of bottles that are under $10, making this a very reasonable gift.

The real value of a gift isn’t just the price tag but the way in which it affects someone’s life. Don’t be afraid to buy a person something small and seemingly insignificant. If it’s personal to them, they’ll appreciate the thought behind it. And if you want to make sure you get it right, ask them exactly what they’re looking for!

How to Exchange This Year

In-person exchanges this year are not exactly recommended. As tempting as it is, we’re really meant to avoid contact even during this festive time. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can get around these orders though without endangering anyone’s safety.

facetime

One popular way will be by using the same meeting technology that we’ve all been using. Whether it’s FaceTime, Hangouts, or Zoom, it’s possible to use your devices to bring people together. If you have gifts delivered directly beforehand, set up a meeting where you can all open the gifts at the same time. This might take some coordination in terms of when you shop since everyone is going to be doing more shipping this year. Make sure that you’re planning this event as far out ahead as possible.

If you are going to have any in-person gatherings this year, try to limit the guest list. This should be both in terms of the number of people and only those who have been compliant. If it’s possible, have everyone try to quarantine at home for a couple of weeks before the part, so there’s less chance of an outbreak.

This year’s holidays can be every bit as special as years past. If you can shift your mindset a little, you can still manage to hit everyone on your list without breaking the bank or exposing anyone to the virus.

The overarching goal of debt reduction is always to reduce how much outstanding debt you have, but there isn’t only one way to accomplish this. People successfully use a variety of different strategies to pay down their debt, and each of these major different strategies approaches the question of which debts to pay off first slightly differently.

None of these different strategies are one-size-fits all, but they’re each helpful in certain situations. For example, people who have a few high-interest debts that they’re current on might choose the avalanche method to minimize the total amount of interest they pay. Someone who has many debts that they struggle to pay will likely find that debt settlement is a more practical and more financially sound solution for their situation.

You’ll want to choose a debt reduction strategy that makes sense for your situation, and what debt you should pay off will depend on several different factors. Balances, interest rates and personal goals are a few of the main items to consider as you review the following methods.

Paying Off Highest Interest Debts First

The avalanche method is a debt reduction strategy that focuses on paying off the highest interest debts first. With this method, you:

  • List your debts in order of highest interest rate to lowest rate
  • Make minimum monthly payments on all of your debts
  • Direct any available additional income toward the highest rate debt
  • Direct freed-up monthly payments toward your next debt as debts are paid off

Because credit cards frequently have high annual percentage rates, this method often results in paying off credit card debt first. If you don’t have credit card debt or have a low-interest promotional card, though, you may end up paying off a personal loan, variable rate student loan or other high-interest debt first.

The avalanche method of debt reduction makes mathematical sense since paying off debts in order of their interest rates reduces how much interest you pay overall. Making progress with the method can be laborious if your highest interest debt has a high balance. Sometimes, people become discouraged when paying toward a high-balance debt and stop pursuing debt reduction as aggressively.

The avalanche method may make sense if you have smaller balances and/or higher interest rates. You must be able to make extra payments for the method to work. Should you choose the avalanche method, the first debt to pay off is the one with the highest interest.

Paying Off Smallest Debts First

The snowball method of debt reduction focuses on paying off the smallest debts first. With this method, you:

  • List your debts in order of smallest balance to largest balance
  • Make minimum monthly payments on all of your debts
  • Direct any available additional income toward the debt with the smallest balance
  • Direct freed-up monthly payments toward your next debt as debts are paid off

This method often results in paying off several small debts in a relatively short amount of time, which can be quite encouraging. As you see debts get paid off, your motivation will hopefully increase. By the time you’re onto those high-balance debts, you should be quite motivated to attack them with a vengeance.

Prioritizing debts from smallest to largest irrespective of interest rates organizes the payoff schedule on an emotional rather than a mathematical basis. Even though the avalanche method mathematically should result in paying less interest overall, many people pay off debts faster with the debt snowball method because they become so motivated.

Paying Off Your Debts by Credit Limit

Some people choose to pay off their debts in order of how close they are to each debt’s credit limit. With this method, you:

  • Calculate each debt’s credit utilization (balance / maximum credit x 100 percent)
  • List the debts in decreasing order of credit utilization
  • Make minimum payments on all of your debts
  • Direct any available additional income toward the debt with the most utilization
  • Direct freed-up monthly payments toward your next debt as debts are paid off

The main benefit of this strategy is that it can boost your credit score faster than the other methods, because credit utilization is a significant portion of your credit score. This may be a notable benefit if you need a good credit score for an upcoming major purchase.

Paying off debts according to credit score can result in paying more in fees and interest than you would if you used another method, however.

Consider Debt Settlement

While the three strategies above may be right for certain situations, they don’t work well if you have a large amount of debt and can’t make more than your monthly minimum payments. If you’re financially overburdened by debt, you may want to consider debt settlement as a more practical method.

Debt settlement stops payments on all unsecured debts that you enroll in a plan. A reasonable monthly payment is then set aside each month, and the funds that accumulate are used to settle debts for less than what you owe. The vast majority of debts that are settled cost less to settle than what the original balance on them is, and people usually save money with this option.

Contact Century to Learn About Debt Settlement

If debt settlement sounds like it might be the right debt reduction strategy for you, contact Century Support Services. Century has helped hundreds of thousands of people settle debts that they otherwise couldn’t pay, and has saved clients a lot of time, aggravation and money in the process. To date, Century has settled more than $1.3 billion in debt and maintains a 94% satisfaction rating.

 

To get started, you’ll receive our free assessment and our Certified Debt Specialists will create a personalized program plan for you.

To learn more about the debt settlement process or if you have any general questions relating to how long does debt settlement take or how long will it take to recover from debt settlement, we’re happy to answer any questions.
Contact us today!

 

While we might have all hoped COVID-19 would be behind us by now, the reality is that it’s here to stay — at least for the foreseeable future. If you’re like most people, you may be wondering how to celebrate this holiday season without compromising the health and safety of you and your loved ones. We’ve got good news and not-so-good news on that front: The holidays aren’t canceled, but they’re going to be different.

Here’s a closer look at the latest safety recommendations, along with tips for making the holidays merry and bright — even in the midst of a pandemic.

CDC Guidelines for COVID-19 Holidays

Holidays are occasions for family and friends to gather and celebrate. This was before the days of social distancing, quarantines, and skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, however. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines aimed at minimizing the risk of getting and spreading coronavirus during the holidays. In addition to cautioning against unnecessary travel, the CDC sorted activities into three categories: lower risk activities, moderate risk activities, and higher risk activities.

Activities falling into the “lower risk” category are most advisable. These include hosting a small dinner for immediate members of your household; preparing traditional holiday foods for friends and neighbors and delivering them via no-contact methods; organizing a “virtual dinner;” shopping online instead of in crowded stores; and watching movies, parades and sporting events from the comfort — and safety — of home.

Moderate risk activities offer less protection from the virus, but are still preferable to business as usual. These include sharing small outdoor dinners with family and friends who live in your community; enjoying seasonal activities like visits to orchards and pumpkin patches while adhering to social distancing recommendations; and attending small outdoor events while taking the recommended safety precautions.

Lastly, the CDC proposes that the following higher risk activities be avoided completely: shopping in crowded stores; participating in or attending sporting events, such as Turkey Trots; being a parade spectator; and attending large indoor gatherings with non-household members. The CDC also recommended limiting alcohol and drug use, which can impair judgement and lead to risky behaviors.

Making the Most of Your Holidays During COVID-19

The restrictions above can be disheartening, and it is normal to feel disappointed. But it’s also important to know that just because the holidays won’t be the same doesn’t mean they can’t be special.

Chef and food writer Alejandra Ramos suggests using these unusual times as an opportunity to embrace the things you truly love about the holidays and let go of the rest. “Don’t really like turkey or always end up with too much cranberry sauce because nobody eats it? Go ahead and skip it. Or swap in something you and your household loves instead. If there was ever a year to break the rules, this one is it,” she told Today.

Happier at Home author Gretchen Rubin shared similar advice with Real Simple. “Think about what is the essence of the holiday for you, so you can try to preserve it. Even if you’re not doing everything you used to, you can set up the holiday decorations, if that’s really important, or make the special foods you love.”

I Don’t have the heart to carry on your usual traditions in the absence of loved ones? Ramos suggests skipping attempts to recreate what’s missing and shaking things up, instead. “You can also look to other cultures for ideas. For example, my Puerto Rican family always celebrates Thanksgiving with a slow-roasted pork shoulder called Pernil which is perfect for a smaller group,” she continues.

Other ideas for making new memories include everything from watching Christmas movies on Netflix with your immediate family members to making your own advent calendar to help create a sense of excitement and anticipation. A side benefit? Smaller holidays and fewer holiday activities mean you’re likely to spend less money in the weeks and months ahead.

Ultimately, you can’t change COVID-19, but you can reframe your perspective to stay focused on what actually is in your power to change. Rubin concludes, “This exceptional holiday season will probably be more memorable because it’s so different. We just have to find a way to make the most of it.”

The holidays are coming up, and that often means some extra spending. While that’s to be expected, the additional challenges of 2020 can make spending money more difficult this year. Fortunately, there are great ways to save money and be frugal while still offering your friends and family something they’ll enjoy and treasure.

Here are some important issues to consider, so you can be prepared for the 2020 holiday spending and the after effects of that spending in 2021.

Know Where You Truly Are With Your Current Budget

The first thing you’ll want to do before you start spending for the holidays is to be sure where you are with your budget. Take a critical look at it, and consider what you honestly have to spend on the holidays. It might not be as much as you’d hoped, or as much as the previous year, and that’s okay.

Many people have lost jobs, had their hours reduced, or otherwise had to reconsider how they do things financially in 2020. You won’t be the only one shopping carefully and potentially reducing how much you’re spending on your family and friends this year. Don’t feel guilty about making a change to protect your financial future.

Take Full Advantage of Deal and Sales

When you take advantage of a good deal or look for items on the clearance rack, you’re being wise and frugal. Don’t let the idea of “buying cheap” bother you. It’s possible to get good quality items at low prices when you shop sales and pay close attention to deals. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great times to get what you’re looking for, but make sure you focus on getting what you planned to buy, and don’t buy a lot of extra items just because they’re less money. If you don’t need them at full price, you don’t need them on sale, either.

Create a Plan for Paying Off Any Holiday Spending

Understanding how you’re going to pay off your holiday purchases is another important aspect of shopping for gifts for friends and family members. If you have a budget and make a plan to pay off what you spend, you won’t be scrambling to get things paid in January and February of 2021. Bigger purchases may take longer to pay off, of course, but if you have a plan you can feel confident that those purchases will be paid off properly and won’t cause you any extra financial stress.

Set a Limit, And Make Sure You Stick to It

Setting a limit for how much you’re going to be spending is vital, and so is sticking to that limit. Even if you see something else you know a friend would love, or something a family member needs, buying extra and going above your limit can get you into trouble later. It’s important to avoid that, and you can steer clear of financial troubles more easily when you stick to the limit you’ve created. You may want to make some small changes to your purchases if you see something that you think is a better fit, but make sure the changes you make are still in your overall budget.

Turn Shopping Into a Game, and Reward Yourself

Shopping is usually a pretty fun activity overall, and you can make it even more fun when you turn it into a game. Look for ways to reward yourself, and consider options for how to get the most for your money. By turning it into a game, you can have an even better time finding everything that your family and friends might want for the holidays and that fits into the budget you’ve already set for yourself. You’ll probably find that you don’t have to pay full price for nearly anything, when you turn shopping into an enjoyable game with rewards for what you can find at great prices.

Return Unwanted Items, and Use That Cash Back

After the holidays are over, you’ll probably have some cash back from your purchases. You might also have some items you received that really don’t fit what you’re looking for. Make sure you return them promptly, so the return window doesn’t close on them. Also, use that cash back for something you need, or use it to pay down your credit card or other bills that accumulated from shopping for the holidays. You can often get a lot of money toward paying off your bills when you do that, and you’ll avoid keeping things around the house you don’t want or need, as well.

3 Practical Ways to Talk About Money And Plan for Your Financial Future

How you perceive the world has an oversized impact on how you approach it, and the same is true with specific regard to finances. How you think and talk about your finances has an enormous impact on how they go.

It’s not always easy to have a clear-headed view of your finances when you’re in the midst of a difficult situation, but remember that how you perceive them can have a tremendous impact on how they go. That’s an empowering statement, for simply changing how you talk about your money could help you take steps toward a better financial future. Here are some practical ways to talk about money so that you can make progress.

1. Be Sensitive to Everyone’s Emotions

Many people initially learn about money in mathematical terms, learning that cents add up to dollars and spending is subtracted from income. This can lead to a belief that money is primarily approached in a logical manner — but logic only addresses one-half of how people view money.

Money is also a deeply emotional issue for many people. Most people don’t experience the extreme highs and lows of a high-stakes poker game when they review their budgets, but it’s common to feel good when budgets go well and bad when they don’t. When creditors send letters and make calls about past due-debts, people often feel really, really bad.

As you talk about money, make room for these emotions. Whether you need an honest discussion with yourself or have to review a family budget with a partner, recognize that both you and everyone else involved will likely have emotional — and perhaps even visceral — reactions. Find ways to allow everyone involved in the discussion to safely and respectfully cope with these emotions.

At the very least, let everyone involved in a money discussion express their feelings as they feel the need to. Allow time for some rants, and don’t shoot down emotional statements with practical questions. As long as everyone is respectful, they should be able to express themselves.

2. Remain Respectful to Everyone Involved

The importance of remaining respectful during these conversations can’t be understated, for this is the only way to ensure that the conversation is a safe place for people to express their feelings. Statements along the lines of “I feel like” and specific actions that people did are fine to mention, but there’s never a reason to name-call, berate or otherwise demean someone based on their financial decisions. We’ve all made mistakes before, and getting better requires looking toward the future rather than the past.

If you’re discussing a particularly stressful situation that has everyone tense, it may be wise to discuss cooldown tactics that can be used throughout the discussion. Pre-arranged timeouts or allowing people to call a timeout during the discussion is an effective way to let people vent on their own without disrespecting others. You can all reconvene when emotions have subsided a little.

Remember, this idea of remaining respectful applies even if you’re the only one who’s involved in a financial talk. Even if you’re reviewing your budget or financial plan alone, don’t beat yourself up over what’s already been done. Acknowledge mistakes and recognize that you can move forward. You may even give yourself a timeout or two if you become too upset.

3. Schedule Regular Money Talks

One of the most effective ways to make money talks more manageable on both the emotional and the mathematical side is to have them regularly. Rather than having only an occasional major budget, debt and savings discussion, have frequent check-ins that address minor items or look at only one aspect of your financial situation.

When climbing up Mt. Everest, mountaineers break the mountain into different stages and complete one at a time. If your financial feels like Mt. Everest, breaking it into smaller stages may have the same effect of making the journey more manageable.

As you plan regular money talks, consider having a full discussion at the start of each month and a smaller weekly discussion throughout the month. The weekly discussions will ensure everyone’s on the same page, and the monthly discussion will be quicker as a result.

Approach Money Talks with an Understanding View

In short, be understanding as you approach money talks. Emotions are normal, especially if you’re in a difficult situation. By making space for them and treating everyone involved with respect, however, you can make your way through the situation and toward a better financial future. Track each step, and discuss every bit of progress that you make along the way.

Yasmine noticed that she wasn’t making much progress on reducing her credit card debt by making minimum monthly payments on cards with high interest rates. As unexpected expenses started to rise she knew she needed to resolve her debt before it was too late. That’s when she turned to Century.

Yasmine

Since enrolling in Century’s debt settlement program a few years ago, she noticed how much more money she is able to save while getting out of debt — in less time than estimated and she’s almost done with her program. Great job Yasmine!

Being stressed by your financial situation never gets easier, requires patience, and working with a partner dedicated to your unique needs. “When it comes to any questions that I might have, the communication with Century is awesome,” Yasmine mentioned. Yasmine She noted that Century provides many convenient ways of staying in touch such as text, email, and phone calls. She also said “it’s been a good experience” and “being able to save more money, get out of debt, and bring up my credit score” has been a major relief, so much so that Yasmine has recommended Century to a few friends.

Yasmine – Thanks for being an incredible Century partner along your journey!

 

 

Congratulations, Yasmine on Staying Strong in your program.
Your hard work and diligence has paid off for you.

*We protect the privacy of our clients by changing their names and omitting any identifying details.

Consumers struggling under a mountain of growing debt might come to the realization they need to find a better solution to solve their money problems. Many find debt settlement solutions to be the perfect solution for them to get out from under a mountain of debt and put themselves back on a healthy financial track.

If you find yourself experiencing debt at a level you can’t keep up with as interest payments continue to snowball, you might find debt settlement appealing. With professional intervention, you can have the entire amount of your debt reduced for you to pay back in a way you can afford.

How Debt Settlement Works

Debt settlement is an ideal solution for people with a large amount of unsecured debt, especially those who have multiple loans or open credit cards and are no longer able to make their monthly payments. In a nutshell, unsecured debt is debt with no collateral backing, such as credit cards, medical bills, student loans, back rent, and utility bills.

If you carry unsecured debt, a debt settlement solution can help you to reduce the overall amount of money you owe. The goal is to get you out of debt in a way that is both manageable and achievable. How Century’s program works is:

  • We’ll do the negotiating for you. Debt specialists will negotiate for you a lowered total amount owed with every credit card company and other creditors you owe money to.
  • You have time to save money. As our debt specialists negotiate, you focus on saving money to pay back the money you owe in one lump sum.
  • You can get relief from harassing debt collectors. Century has contracted with the United Consumer Advocacy Network (UCAN), an agency that protects the rights of people who fall victim to harassment debt collectors. As one of our clients, you’ll have access to the benefits of this program free of charge.

Century Support Services is very skilled at giving our clients a rewarding journey that leads them to eventually become debt-free. We take our clients’ needs and trust in us very seriously. Our debt specialists put the focus entirely on you to ensure you have the best experience possible with the least amount of stress.

Benefits of Debt Settlement

For people who are trying to juggle their bills, along with multiple loans or credit card balances with accumulating interest each month, there are many benefits to debt settlement.

  • Avoid bankruptcy. Unlike debt settlement, bankruptcy will follow you for the rest of your life. The truth is debt settlement will hurt your credit score for about seven years; however, you can bounce back from this temporary setback – bankruptcy not only hurts your credit score but is a question frequently asked on job and loan applications (not answering honestly constitutes fraud).
  • Reduce overall debt. Debt settlement emphasizes actually decreasing the entirety of the debt you owe, not just reducing your monthly payments. This makes being actually debt-free far easier to achieve.
  • Stress-free experience. Debt settlement takes a lot of the pressure off of you because a debt specialist takes on the task of negotiating down your overall debt while you focus on putting money aside to make a lump-sum payment.
  • Pay back debts faster. Once connecting with a good debt settlement program, you can usually be debt-free in about 24-48 months. Trying to do it on your own can take years and years and you’d typically still be paying the original amount owed, plus interest.

When it comes to debt, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. Century understands this, and in our program, we put the focus completely on you and work to establish a plan that is customized to your situation to ensure you fully receive the benefits of debt settlement.

Alternatives to Debt Settlement

Consumers all have different financial situations. While debt settlement is ideal for many consumers, at Century, we recognize it’s not for everyone. Some consumers may find other debt relief solutions to better fit their personal finance situation. Alternatives to debt settlement include debt consolidation loans, bankruptcy, credit counseling, and debt management. People who have taken out multiple loans, have unmanageable credit card debt, or generally higher amounts of debt typically find debt settlement to be their best option that results in the best savings.

Contact Century to Learn About Debt Settlement

Century Support Services is a debt settlement company with a proven track record for helping our clients get out of debt. With more than 17 years of experience, we have helped 250,000 customers settle almost $1.3 million in debt over the years. With a 94 percent customer satisfaction rating, we stand out among other debt settlement companies. Our certified debt specialists will work hard to provide a personalized solution for you before they get to work negotiating with your creditors.

If you’re carrying a high amount of unsecured debt, our program may be right for you. To learn more about our process and receive a free debt assessment, contact Century today to get started.

To learn more about the debt settlement process or if you have any general questions relating to how long does debt settlement take or how long will it take to recover from debt settlement, we’re happy to answer any questions.
Contact us today!