After staying home for most of the past year, many of us are starting to go a little stir crazy, especially now that warmer days are arriving. If you feel this way but still leery about going out into the world, you’re not alone. It’ll take a long time before many people will be able to view previously normal activities the same after experiencing life during COVID-19.

Fortunately, there are several ways to safely get out of the house without draining your wallet. To give yourself a break, why not plan a few inexpensive day trips (or maybe a long weekend if your budget permits) this summer or spring? Today we’ve got some recommendations to help you plan safe affordable trips in 2021.

Places to go

Ideally, you want to choose a place that is direct and door-to-door. Traveling by car means you can compile your favorite playlists and hit the road, even if it’s only an hour away, while making minimal contact with people you don’t know. Great destinations include local, state, and national parks, along with beaches, mountains, and other outdoor spaces where social distancing is possible.

Safe and low-cost activities to consider this year are hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, rollerblading, biking, and picnics. Now might be a good time to take up bird-spotting or practicing nature photography using your phone and photo editing apps (many are free!) for relaxing experiences. If you’re looking to make an overnight trip, search for a well-priced Airbnb home, possibly one in a community with a pool and other desirable outdoor amenities. Plan to bring a DVD or stream a movie you haven’t seen and have a special movie night in a rental home, just don’t forget the microwave popcorn!

Keeping safe

We’re more than a year into the pandemic and, with vaccines becoming increasingly available, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. But we’re not out of the woods yet. To stay safe while leaving your home, extra precautions will be necessary. With proactive planning, you can enjoy a safe and sanity-preserving road trip.

  • Pack extra masks, sanitizer, and alcohol wipes.
  • Look for destinations where you can easily practice social distancing.
  • Pre-plan your route to identify safe places to stop for gas and rest areas.
  • Choose off-peak times to travel (e.g. avoid leaving Friday afternoons when roads and rest stops will be at their busiest).
  • Pack a cooler with drinks, snacks, and sandwiches.

Be sure to do your research before going on your day or weekend trip. Make sure the destination is open, won’t be crowded, and provides details about what COVID-19 safety measures are being taken.

Look for bargain opportunities

The tourism industry is struggling to recover from last year’s shutdowns. To give people an incentive to book, many accommodations, excursions, and other travel-related businesses are offering discounted getaway deals. Many emphasize safety and advertise safety protocols being taken to prevent COVID-19 spread. Choose a non-holiday weekend – or better yet – a weekday to score the best prices.

Staying cooped up inside as weather improves can have a negative impact on your mental health. Being April is “Stress Awareness Month,” now is a good time for us to make time to reset ourselves and take care of our emotional well-being. Planning a safe short trip away, whether for a few hours or a weekend, from the daily stresses associated with quarantine can go a long way towards both de-stressing and improving one’s state of mind.

Planning an outing this year that doesn’t compromise your budget will provide much-needed stress relief and provide an opportunity to make some special memories.

 

 


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!

 

Since 1992, the month of April has been set aside to raise awareness about stress. Stress is a killer. It can cause a wide range of health problems and even death. The idea of National Stress Awareness Month was created to help people learn about the risks of stress and what you can do to manage your stress more effectively.

What are the Health Consequences of Stress?

Stress takes a toll on human health mentally and physically. If it continues unchecked, you can experience long-term and debilitating health conditions, including those listed below.

  • High blood pressure.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Increased cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of libido.
  • Chest pain.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Digestive issues.
  • Poor heart health.

Stress can also lead to life choices that are unhealthy, such as smoking, drinking, binge eating, and failing to get adequate exercise.

How Can You Manage Stress More Effectively?

One of the most important things you can do to manage stress effectively is to identify issues that are driving your stress, such as your job, debt, relationships, etc. and try to manage those situations. If you are unable to manage the cause directly or are in the process, there are other steps you can take to help you reduce the harmful impact stress can have on your life. Try these on for size.

  • Meditation. We live in a fast-moving world. Meditation is taking the time to stop. Breathe. Relax. It is an opportunity to clear your mind of all the things that cause you stress and replace those thoughts with more positive uplifting ones instead.
  • Get active. If exercise is a four-letter word for you, call it something else, like adult play time, swim lessons, or dance classes – something that sounds more fun and entertaining. The idea is to MOVE! Your body and your mind will thank you for it.
  • Find a hobby. Taking a little time each day to focus on things that bring you joy can be incredibly uplifting and de-stressing. Build models, fly a kite, knit, read a book, or make music with some friends. The idea is to rediscover joy and bring it back into your life to reduce your stress and anxiety.
  • Eat a healthier diet. You are what you eat. You’ve probably heard that before. It’s true. Focus on eating foods that are wholesome for you and provide plenty of nutrients. This includes lean meats, vegetables, and the ocassional fruit.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal. One thing is certain. It is more difficult to feel stressed out when you’re spending part of your day focused on the things you’re grateful for. Try it. You’ll be impressed by how quickly your thoughts transform by this one simple act.

These things can be the perfect beginning to end your stress and the strangle-hold it has on your health. Try one or all of them today to see how quickly they can boost your mood and relieve your stress.

Managing Stress During COVID-19

COVID-19 has added new dimensions to the stress everyone is experiencing. Over the past year many people have lost jobs, lost income, lost loved ones, and lost a sense of health, safety, and security. This April, National Stress Awareness Month is taking on new meaning as people across the country struggle with stay-at-home orders, missing family, and missing the commeraderie that goes along with working among other humans.

Whether you’re living in isolation at the moment or one of the many essential workers bravely going to work each day in less than ideal circumstances, it is more important than ever for you to pay attention to your own stress levels and act to remove unnecessary stress from your life.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eliminate stress. In fact, you can start a gratitude journal, go on a walk, or stay on track with your debt relief efforts. Century is here to help you get control of your debt to reduce stress in a big way. Just stick with the program and see how quickly your mood and your health improves as your debt shrinks.

 

 


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!

 

It doesn’t take much time with a pet to understand the profound impact they can have on your mental health. Pets just make you a happier person to be around. National Pet Day is April 11 and that is the perfect time to explore the benefits pets offer their owners. What you may not know is that among the benefits to consider when it comes to owning pets is better overall health. These are just a few ways owning a pet can help your health.

  • Pets can help lower your blood pressure. It’s true! One study even determined that petting a dog for as few as 15 minutes can reduce blood pressure. You must be touching the dog, according to the study, to experience the blood pressure-reducing benefits.
  • Owning pets reduces anxiety. Fitting since April is also National Stress Awareness Month. Getting a pet can help on both accounts.
  • Pet owners suffer from depression less frequently than those who do not own pets.
  • Owning a pet can help you get more exercise in your day. Even if you don’t have to take your pet on walks, you do take extra steps when caring for your pet. These steps add up. If you have a dog you walk at least 20 minutes per day you may even lose weight without adjusting your diet.

Of course, none of these benefits surpass the emotional benefits of pet ownership and having a companion that is with you at all times. There is a sense of purpose involved in owning and caring for a pet. Your pet depends on you and that keeps you active, happy, and moving! All of these things are good for your health, both mentally and physically.

Types of Pets to Consider

While the most common pets people consider are cats and dogs, they are far from the only options available. Any pet can help you connect with the world around you on a deeper level and give you another living being to care for. This includes any of the following:

  • Snakes. Eep! However, even snakes become attached to their owners and may even seek affection and companionship. While not the right pet for everyone, they are a good option for people who suffer from allergies and need an alternative to pets with fur or feathers.
  • Rabbits. These do have fur, but they are fun to watch and do not require the same degree of care and maintenance as cats or dogs. Rabbits are good companion animals for those who live in small spaces or apartments yet deliver the same happy hormones you experience from petting dogs.
  • Fish. While fish do require a fairly large degree of care when getting started, they are fairly low-maintenance once you have the levels in the water just right. Plus, watching fish has a calming effect when it comes to heart rate and stress.
  • Birds. For some people, there is nothing on earth quite like a songbird. Be careful when choosing birds, though, as some of them have longer lives than the average human and can easily outlive their owners. Oh, and if you get one that can learn to speak, it will only ever repeat the things you do not want it to!

Reducing stress is important in these trying times. From pets to meditation to paying off your debt, stress-relief is something you can achieve. We’ll work with you to keep you on track as you work to get out of debt for good. What a relief that will be.

 


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!

 

Bill is a very empathetic man and loves to be able to lend a helping hand whenever he can. Unfortunately, when he helped his cousin out of a jam financially and they didn’t pay him back as promised, Bill himself was hurt financially.

Bill maxed out his credit cards to send aid to his cousin and when he couldn’t pay it back, the rates skyrocketed and Bill’s credit plummeted. He was unable to secure a debt consolidation loan and that’s when he found Century.

Bill washing car

‘In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was getting into and I wasn’t sure if it was a scam. I called every week just to make sure everything was good,” Bill said. ‘Anytime I had a question, I could call in and I never waited on the line for more than a minute. I always had a rep that was willing to answer me by email or take a call and talk to me in person. Being able to talk to someone was huge. Century always responded and it was a great experience.”

Bill and family

Century’s Customer Service representatives were able to put Bill’s mind at ease and assist him in completing his program 5 months earlier than expected. “I had three different credit cards that I had high debt on. Century was able to cut my debt in half. As of today, I have no more credit card debt and my credit score has improved incredibly. I would certainly recommend Century to anybody who has been going through what I was going through.”

 

 

Congratulations on your program success, Bill!
We thank you for trusting us to be a part of your journey toward better financial health and celebrate your diligence in staying with the program to make such great progress!

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

 

 


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!

 

With the warmer months of spring approaching, you might be thinking about doing a little “spring-cleaning” around the house—but what about your finances? If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that your personal finances could use a little organization, too.

So, where should you begin with setting realistic financial goals and “cleaning house,” so to speak? We’ve got some practical yet effective tips to share with you!

Get Serious About Your Budgeting

It all begins with a solid budget. If you already have a household budget in place, that’s great—but if it’s been a year or more since you created your budget, it could probably use some revisiting. If you don’t have a budget in place, now is the time to create one.

Having a budget is the single best way to know where you stand financially. Specifically, a budget helps you see how much money you have coming in versus how much you’re spending. Furthermore, a detailed budget will even break down how much you’re spending on certain categories, such as groceries, entertainment, utilities, and the like.

Not sure where to begin with your budget? Check out our blog post on some of the best budgeting apps out there today!

Streamline Your Expenses

Once you have a budget in place, you should also have a better idea of where you’re spending most of your money. Of course, some of the money you spend on a recurring basis will cover your essential living expenses. This includes things like rent/mortgage, debt repayment, utilities, and other things you need to get by.

However, you may also notice that a large chunk of your expenses are eaten up by non-essential spending. This can include things like shopping, eating out, and entertainment (like those five different streaming services you’re paying for each month).

Streamlining your expenses is all about finding ways to cut down on unnecessary spending. Most of this will come from eliminating sources of non-essential spending. For instance, rather than paying for your monthly Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO subscriptions, perhaps it’s time to narrow down your streaming services to just one or two that you use most often. Check out the new alliance Century has made with Billcutterz – ‘They do the work for you & save YOU money on your monthly bills’!

You can also look for ways to save on your essential living expenses, such as childcare and utilities. Check with your cable/Internet provider, for example, to see if they can offer you a break on your monthly bill. If you have children in daycare, “shop around” to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. You might be surprised to learn that it’s more affordable to hire an in-home nanny than it is to send your child to a daycare center, though this can vary depending on childcare costs where you live!

Get Help With Your Taxes

Tax season is also right around the corner, so now is a good time to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the resources available to you—especially if you’re facing tax liens, wage garnishments, tax penalties, or interest. To explore your options, check out CommunityTax and see what you may be eligible for based on the amount and type of debt you owe; they offer a wide range of programs, including penalty abatement and Tax Assurance Programs, to assist you.

In addition, you’ll also want to explore tax credits and deductions for which you may qualify. For example, your aforementioned childcare costs are likely tax-deductible, so be sure to keep track of how much you’ve paid to your daycare provider throughout the year so you can report these expenses accurately!

Stick With Your Debt Relief Program

Century Support Services Last but not least, make sure to stick with your debt relief program. Now is a good time to re-evaluate your program and make sure it’s working for your current lifestyle. Many people have felt the financial effects of the COVID pandemic and may have trouble staying on-track with their programs as a result. If this situation applies to you, it’s time to reach out to your debt relief specialist for assistance.

A little financial house-cleaning can go a long way in setting yourself up for success in 2021 and beyond, so be sure to follow these tips to meet and exceed your 2020 goals!

 

 


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!

 

The idea behind food prep is that you can eat good, healthy food throughout the week by doing a little extra work on the weekend. What this means is that on the weekend you do a lot of “pre-cooking” and cooking for meals that will get you through the week.

Not only is this a great way to keep your house warm and smelling amazing on your weekly “prep” day. But it also saves you tons of money by keeping you on budget. Plus, it’s much healthier than eating out. These ideas are easy on your budget, easy to prep, and make weekday cooking a snap!

You may be tempted to try some of the meal delivery services that do all the prep work for you. Unfortunately, these services are far more expensive than they are worth, especially when a little weekend prep can have you making delicious and healthy meals for a fraction of the cost. Try these dishes instead.

Egg and Sausage Bake

Forget everything you’ve heard about eggs being bad for you. Eggs are excellent sources of protein, nutritionally dense foods, and good for most people. Unless your doctor has told you to restrict eggs, there is much evidence that eating up to one egg a day is actually good for you.

This meal can be made on the weekend and portioned out into six individual portions to get you through the week with a healthy start for your day.

Ingredients:
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 pound of bulk pork or turkey sausage
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You can also experiment with this by adding in things like red pepper slices, onions, and other things that add a little hint of flavor to your breakfast.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. And coat an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place broccoli in the microwave for 10 minutes to steam thoroughly.
  3. Brown your sausage until fully cooked and drain the grease. Add the broccoli to the sausage and mix well so that the broccoli is fully integrated with the sausage.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spread sausage mixture evenly into the baking dish then pour the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake for 35 minutes or until the eggs are set and the top is beautifully browned.

The cost breakdown for this dish in the Midwest comes to just over $1 per serving so you won’t break the budget with this delicious dish.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Soups and stews are always excellent choices for meal prep. They are hearty foods that almost always taste better the next day, once the ingredients have had time to fully integrate. Plus, they can stretch a tight budget into a couple of meals for the family. This particular soup recipe is simple to make.

Ingredients:
  • 1 46-ounce can tomato juice (the cheaper or more acidic the better)
  • 1 pound of beef (can be browned ground beef, stew meat, or a roast that has been cut into chunks)
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, and green beans)
  • 5-6 potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For this recipe, you will brown and drain the ground beef first (if using ground beef) or simply add all the ingredients and simmer until the potatoes are tender. If you want to make your soup stretch, consider having grilled cheese sandwiches with this soup or make a loaf of French bread to go along with it. If you make this on the weekend, it can be a delicious mid-week meal you can prepare in a matter of minutes.

Crockpot Dump Meals

Another great weekend prep idea is to pre-make gallon-sized zipper bags with the ingredients needed for various crockpot meals during the week. Simply get up in the morning, dump the bag in your crock, set your crockpot to cook the food, and walk out the door for your day at work. The Internet is filled with healthy and inexpensive crockpot dump dinners that are easy to make ahead when prepping meals and go.

If this is still too much work for you and you think you will need to go the meal delivery route instead, consider using services like BillCutterz to see if you can get better rates for your delivery services.

 

Can you remember being taught about credit scores and credit reports when you were in school? If not, then you’re certainly not alone. Unfortunately, there seems to be a huge gap between what future consumers are taught in school versus what they really need to know to make wise financial decisions. And of course, your credit score is a very direct reflection of the financial choices you’ve made throughout life.

Fortunately, March is National Credit Education Month in the United States; this presents an excellent opportunity not only to further your own awareness about credit scores and credit reporting—but to spread some of this valuable knowledge onto your own children and other youth in your life.

The Importance of Proper Credit Education

Without a solid understanding of how financial decisions can affect credit, it’s very easy to make mistakes that can ultimately tarnish your credit and have a long-lasting impact on your life. You may already know this all-too-well, so by spreading awareness of credit education, you may be able to protect a child or another loved one from falling into a similar situation.

Unfortunately, according to the U.S. News & World Report, only 19 states across the country currently require students to take financial education classes. And of those 19 states, just seven of them include state-mandated testing on the subject matter. What this means is that young people are graduating from high school (and sometimes, even college) with a very minimal understanding of how their financial decisions can impact their credit scores and what the importance of a credit score even is.

Due to this lack of formal education, many young people are falling into the same cycle of debt that previous generations have. They’re carrying high credit card debt balances, struggling to afford their monthly expenses, and suffering from low credit scores. Even those who have managed to remain reasonably responsible with their finances may not understand how to check their credit reports or dispute errors/mistakes on their reports.

Helpful Resources for Credit Literacy

If you’re looking for a way to observe National Credit Education Month this March, make an effort to speak with your children or other youth about the importance of credit literacy. Sharing your own experience and struggles can be helpful here (if that’s something you’re comfortable with) and may serve as a cautionary tale of sorts.

From there, you may also consider providing any number of completely free resources for building credit literacy. One excellent resource to explore is the myFICO Credit Education platform, which contains plenty of helpful videos, financial calculators, and answers to commonly asked questions about credit reporting. This resource is 100% free to use and is a great starting point for many who are struggling with the basics of credit reporting and how it works.

Some other helpful (and free) resources for credit literacy that may be worth sharing and exploring for the young and young at heart include:

As part of National Credit Education Month, it’s also a good time to check and review your own credit report while encouraging others in your life to do the same. Remember that you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the major reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) each year. Taking the time to pull a copy of these reports and scrutinize them for errors is a must. If you do find any mistakes on your credit report, filing a prompt formal dispute is also a must.

The Bottom Line of Credit Education

Unfortunately, younger generations are still not receiving the practical education they need to make smart financial choices as young adults, especially as it relates to their credit. This is why it is more important than ever for parents to be proactive in making sure their children are getting this information from somewhere before they become adults.

With National Credit Education Month upon us, there has never been a better time to spread awareness to your loved ones. Share these resources and take some time to review your own credit report, too!

 

Women are pushing boundaries at a faster rate than ever before. There are more women in positions of leadership at powerful companies and government positions. More women are starting their own businesses and becoming the sole earners within their business. As March is National Women’s History Month, it proves the ideal time to focus on creating financial health within your own life.

Closing the Gap for Women

As more women engage in leadership roles around the world and make significant strides in business, it’s also time to close the gap when it comes to financial literacy. That’s not to say women haven’t been financially savvy in the past – there are plenty of examples of women stretching the dollar to the highest level. Yet, utilizing their financial prowess and additional support, women may be able to do much more.

In a study by Allianz, it’s clear that women are changing, but there’s still a lot of growth to happen. Here are a few things they’ve found:

  • Only 62 percent of women say they feel financially secure.
  • Only 38 percent of women say they are the financial breadwinner in their home.

The student also found that women are more active in their homes’ financial decision-making than in the past. Some of this comes from the lack of willingness to ask for a raise – just 27 percent of responding women reported that they did so in 2019.

Studies have long found that women tend to carry more debt than men. In fact, they hold 2/3rd of all student debt in the U.S., according to the American Association of University Women. That amounts to over $929 billion in student loan debt. That debt doesn’t often turn into better income, either. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau data shows that, in 2018, women earned just 82 cents for every $1 earned by men across all races. That’s significantly less for Hispanic or Latino women who earned just 54 cents for every $1.

Yet, Women Are Pushing Boundaries

While women are still struggling, they are making headway. There are numerous women holding CEO and CFO positions in powerful companies. In the 2020 Fortune 500 ranking, women held more CEO positions than ever before – holding 37 positions. Among them are Carol Tome, a Home Depot executive turned CEO of UPS, and Heyward Donigan, the new CEO of Rite Aid. Others include Kristin C. Peck, chief executive at animal health company Zoetis and Jennifer Jonson of Franklin Resources, an investment firm.

It Starts with Managing Personal Finances with Ease

Many women still struggle to manage personal finances. That comes from poor early decisions or a lack of access to funding. By embracing methods to get out of debt and to better manage personal finances, women will be able to make informed economic decisions throughout their lifetime.

In study after study, it’s clear – women need better access to personal finance management and training programs. A study by George Washington University Global Financial Literacy Excellent Center found that less than half of women taking a literacy test were able to answer questions correctly. The study found that a key factor in this is a lack of confidence in making these decisions.

Where can women go to get information and an education to make them financially savvy? Look at the opportunities around you. There are various ways to do this:

  • Turn to nonprofits locally or online to help you. Savvy Ladies is one example of an organization that helps support financial independence for women.
  • Take a free personal finance course from one of the many providers such as Clever Girl Finance.
  • Check out the Udemy courses on personal and small business finance (there are hundreds of options!)

Look to local community colleges and your local small business chapter for more insight. You may be able to find some support from learning on your own through organizations such as Credit.org, MoneyGeek, and TheBalance. These websites package information on just about every subject. Don’t forget to turn to the Small Business Administration for support for women-based financing, too.

How do women reach new heights? They have to be able to manage personal finances with more attention and care. With a better understanding of financial management skills, women may be able to learn how to start their own business or build financial wealth even as they continue to raise their families. It starts with simple things such as:

  • Learning to budget more accurately
  • Working to build a savings account
  • Paying down debt as quickly as possible
  • Minimizing credit card use while boosting secured loans to improve credit scores
  • Improving financial knowledge when making buying decisions
  • Investing in their future through retirement accounts

For many women, it can seem impossible to make a difference, especially when living paycheck to paycheck. Yet, those working in a debt settlement program are making big differences for their future. One day, they may become the next women business owner.

 

What can I say about Century! Well what can’t I say. They are an incredible group of caring people that guided me through a very difficult time. They are lifesavers…truly!

I was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. After seeing multiple doctors, I was faced with a major surgery for my cancer and my insurance did not do enough for my medical bills. Being on a fixed income, I was left in a place where I couldn’t pay my bills and resorted to using my credit cards.

Betty and her dog, Sam

Then, my dog Sam got hurt and needed surgery on his leg. I couldn’t let go of my best friend and I needed to find a way to pay for his surgery. I used my credit cards to pay the veterinary clinic and that only put me farther in debt.

Betty and her daughter

My daughter Sarah was working with Century getting relief from her debt and suggested I call and speak with Century. The Century people and their program were great. Whoever I spoke with at Century was wonderful and I really liked their program. They put me at ease when I would call with a question or problem. You can talk with them and they listen.

Betty

I finished my program with them at the end of 2020. If I ever have another problem with debt, I will call on Century. I don’t know how I would have ever done this without their help. I would recommend Century to anybody who is having financial trouble.

 

 

Congratulations on your program success, Betty!
We thank you for trusting us to be a part of your journey toward better financial health and celebrate your diligence in staying with the program to make such great progress!

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

The new year has begun with continued economic uncertainty for many people, but the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 shouldn’t cause you to forgo setting financial goals. While the crisis will likely alter your current financial position and immediate goals, setting those goals remains as important as ever (if not even more important). If you don’t know where to start, here are some financial goals to consider for 2021.

1. Strengthen Your Emergency Fund

An emergency fund serves as a first line of defense against the unexpected, and there’s certainly plenty of unexpected emergencies right now. Even if you aren’t currently impacted by Covid-19, there’s a good chance that you still could be — and having a strong emergency fund in place could help you weather the storm.

No matter what the state of your emergency fund is, strengthening it will provide greater assurance in the weeks and months to come. If you do manage to over-fund it, you can always readjust the fund once the pandemic eventually subsides.

There are a few ways you might strengthen your emergency fund:

  • Use part or all of a stimulus check to bolster the fund.
  • Move the fund to a high-yield savings account that will pay interest.
  • Set up direct payments from your paycheck to the fund.

In most situations, professionals recommend having an emergency fund that’s between 3 and 6 months of your living expenses. In a time like this, there’s nothing wrong with growing an even larger fund if you’re able to. If you’re not in that position, setting aside even a little is better than having no emergency fund in place.

2. Trim Your Monthly Budget

The two methods of increasing cash flow are to increase income and to decrease expenses. With conventional jobs, gig work and side hustles are all in scarce supply for many, decreasing expenses tends to be the way to improve cash flow right now.

Take a look at your monthly budget, and look for various ways that you can reduce what you spend. Most budgets have at least a few places where expenses can be trimmed. You might look to:

  • Reduce how much you spend on subscriptions each month.
  • Lower the number of times you order take-out or delivery.
  • Minimize impulsive online spending (consider waiting 24 hours before buying).

Of course, now is the time to start a monthly budget if you don’t already have one. List out all of your expected income sources and expenses for a month, and monitor them as paychecks are deposited and bills are paid. Your projections won’t be perfect, and that’s alright. Their purpose is simply to help you more clearly see your financial picture.

3. Reduce Your Debt Burden

If you have outstanding debts (and most do), reducing your debt will simultaneously help you free up money in the short-term and better improve your overall situation in the long-term. Any amount that you can reduce your debt by will better enable you to handle a Covid-19 financial emergency.

Depending on your debt load and financial situation, you have a few ways to potentially tackle debt. Either a one-time windfall or regular income can be used to:

  • Pay Down Outstanding Balances: Paying down outstanding secured loan balances reduces your credit utilization, improving your credit score and minimizing how much interest you pay in the long term. It allows you to own your home and cars instead of the bank owning them. This can relieve the worry about the threat of foreclosure or repossession. 
  • Accelerate Your Debt Settlement Plan: Making an additional one-time payment to your debt settlement plan can greatly accelerate your progress. Depending on your situation and the amount you pay, you may be able to settle one or more debts with the additional payment. Your stimulus check or tax return could be a source of funds for such an extra payment.

Set a Financial Goal for 2021

Do any of these describe progress that you’d like to make during 2021? Make one your financial goal for this year, and you’re bound to be better prepared for whatever the Covid-19 pandemic (or other things) might throw your way.

After nearly a year of pandemic-related isolation and quarantine issues, many Americans have found that there is a difference between having health and achieving wellness. While many have been able to protect their health by staying home, social distancing, and masking up, they have found that other areas of wellness have suffered. Isolation, while it may be necessary during this time, leads to struggles with depression. The overarching pandemic leads to increased levels of anxiety. Though the terms health and wellness are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Here’s a closer look at how they differ and how you can achieve both.

What is the Definition of Health?

The World Health Organization defines health this way: “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” This definition does not limit itself to physical health. It also includes mental and social well-being, which would, in turn, include financial stability.

What is the Definition of Wellness?

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness this way: “The active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” This is an active pursuit that leads to good health. While it is connected to health, it is not the same thing.

The Main Difference Between Health and Wellness

The main difference between health and wellness is this active process. Someone can be healthy without working for it, but wellness requires active pursuit. Someone may be healthy because their genetic makeup predisposes them to a lean body type and little risk for heart disease, but someone can achieve wellness because they eat a balanced diet and choose to exercise daily.

Though both definitions include non-physical aspects, the active nature of wellness makes it more likely that someone who is pursuing it will focus on their social, mental, and financial health as much as their physical health.

How to Achieve Wellness

So if wellness is an active state, what can you do to achieve it? Consider these tips:

  • Focus on Your Diet

    One action you can take right now to help achieve wellness is to focus on your diet. Switching from processed foods to whole foods, focusing on lean proteins and plant-based foods, will improve your health. That said, strive for a balanced approach to your diet. Eating a whole-foods way the majority of the time, and enjoying an occasional treat for a special occasion, helps you achieve a state of balance.

  • Move Your Body

    Exercise not only helps you achieve health, but it can also boost your mental health. When you exercise, your body releases hormones that boost your mood. You increase your physical strength and stamina while also improving your emotional health.

  • Rest Well

    Wellness is directly connected to quality sleep. When you struggle to sleep, you cannot achieve it. Aim to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time, and take a day off to rest on occasion.

  • Engage with Society

    Wellness requires social a focus on your social and mental well-being. Having a strong social network is critical to your overall well-being, so build and protect good, positive relationships. However, if you have relationships that sap your energy and drain your spirit, don’t be afraid to cut ties.

  • Achieve Financial Stability

    The worry over money is going to sap your mental and physical energy, so make financial health part of your overall wellness plan. Get financial tools in place so that bills are not a huge worry for yourself. Find ways to put money n savings while dealing with debt, so you can improve your financial situation.

  • Protect Mental Health

    Finally, take time to protect your mental health. When you face problems with anxiety, stress, or depression, seek professional help. Mental health is a major component of wellness.

Wellness and health are directly connected, but they aren’t the same thing. By focusing on wellness, you will often achieve health. Take time to understand the difference, and embrace the path of wellness.

The second stimulus check offers a direct cash infusion to many Americans, and there’s a great deal of flexibility in how it can be used. If you have received or expect to receive a second stimulus check, how you should use it depends on your particular financial situation.

Here are five potential ideas.

1. Catch Up on Past-Due Essential Bills

One of the main reasons to distribute second stimulus checks so quickly is so that people who are in immediate financial need can use the funds. If you’ve fallen behind on essential bills as a result of Covid-19 (or due to unrelated circumstances), use the money to catch up on those bills. Rent, utilities, auto and other necessities should be taken care of before all else.

2. Shore Up an Emergency Fund

Everyone should have an emergency fund, and the role of a fund becomes even more important during uncertain financial times like these. Saving up even a little bit can help when something goes wrong, and having a well-funded account can greatly reduce financial stress even in a worst-case scenario.

Consider using the second stimulus check to start an emergency fund if you don’t have one, or shore up an existing one. You may even want to over-fund emergency savings during the pandemic, and readjust them when the financial uncertainty is over.

3. Reduce Your Debt Load

Paying down debt will also strengthen your financial position, both in the short- and long-term. Reducing debt better enables you to handle financial emergencies, as you have more free cash to direct toward those emergencies. You’ll also pay less interest in total, which helps you make more financial progress over time. Paying down outstanding secured loan balances allows you to own your home and cars instead of the bank owning them. This can relieve the worry about the threat of foreclosure or repossession.

The stimulus check is likely enough to get you started along a debt relief program. Debt relief programs require a manageable monthly fee, which is used to negotiate your monthly payments one at a time. Most people pay off their first debt within a few months, and any progress that’s made remains regardless of whether you ultimately complete the program. A stimulus check probably could cover the first or next month’s payment.

If you’re currently enrolled in Century Support Services’ debt settlement program but have an additional unsecured loan or credit card, contact Customer Care. It may make sense to enroll the additional debt into your plan, and part of your stimulus check to your reserve account to help with that addition to your program.

4. Increase Future Savings

If your immediate financial situation is comfortably secure, the second stimulus check can help boost future savings. This is an especially good use if you weren’t able to save up as much last year as you normally would have.

As you consider the future, keep in mind that financial strains won’t stop as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is over. Vehicles, homes, appliances and other high-ticket items will still wear down and need to be replaced eventually. If you have leftover funds and know you’ll face a major purchase in the coming year or so, consider setting aside a little toward that purchase.

5. Help Others

Should you be in a position to help others, spending or giving your stimulus check in a way that’s beneficial to neighbors is a noble gesture. Consider making a big purchase at a local business that you want to support, or make a direct donation to charity. Either way, now is a great time to help others.

Use Your Stimulus Check Wisely

Before you spend your stimulus check, consider the many different ways that it can help improve your financial situation. You may use it to get caught up on essentials or to better position yourself for the future. In many cases, making an additional one-time payment to your Century debt relief program can greatly speed up your progress. That may be one of the smartest ways to use your stimulus check. Think about which of these uses will help in your situation, and make a wise decision about how to use the funds.