If you’re thinking of opening a new bank account, you may be able to get some free money in the deal. I recently opened a savings account for my 3-year-old daughter at Commerce Bank and got $10 from the bank to add to the deposit. What was the catch? She had to read (with my help) 10 books over the summer months.
Other banks have similar promotions to attract new banking customers. Bank of America offers existing credit card customers $75 for opening a new checking account with a minimum deposit of $25. For companies that use Bank of American’s online payroll services, it offers a $25 bonus to both the employer and an employee who opens up a new personal checking account.
Other banks offer similar bonuses for opening savings and checking accounts from time to time, so it pays to periodically hunt for deals in the promotions sections of bank Web sites. But keep in mind that you need to read the fine print on these deals since there may be minimum deposit requirements or penalties for closing accounts early. There also may be requirements for having direct deposits made to the account.
About the Author
Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.
We here at DebtHelp pride ourselves on being the one site and the one solution for all of your debt needs. However, with the total consumer credit debt reaching $12.8 trillion in 2008, sometimes the best debt help is looking yourself in the mirror. According to some sources, household debt averaged a record 133.7% of disposable income in the fourth quarter of 2007 - that means that people spent 33.7% more than they made. There are many of us who have more than $10,000 in credit card or other forms of debt, and the numbers just keep growing. However, there are many of us who are below the national average for debt amounts, yet we still have debt. The natural question is are debt consolidation and debt settlement companies right for those of us who are just a little bit in debt?
The answer is “maybe not”. Obviously, each person’s debt situation is unique and their ability to deal with their debt primarily depends on their level of debt, their ability to exercise self-control and their general prospects going forward. That is why we put together 3 easy steps to help those of us who are just a little bit in debt, become debt free.
1. Develop a budget. There are many ways to develop a budget for yourself and your family. There is the traditional method (yeah, the pen-and-paper kind) and there are also many different softwares that you can buy and download that enable you to sync up with your bank accounts to analyze your spending. However, there are also online options. One of our favorites is the personal finance site Mint.com. Mint is a free (yes it is free) web-based solution for online financial management. It enables its users to connect to their bank and credit card accounts and analyze their spending in a single screen. Here comes the best part - they also search through various offers on the Internet that match your current spending habits to help you save money.
2. Work out a plan with your creditors. One surprising fact that you may not be aware of is that your creditors actually do not want to turn you over to the collection agencies. When a collection agency gets a hold of an account, they get to keep an average of 33% of the money that they collect for that account. Since all of the creditors are businesses, their preference would be to keep all of the money collected; therefore, contacting your creditors when you realize that you are having trouble making your ends meet, rather than waiting for them to turn you over to a collection agency, will enable you to work out a payment plan with them. Many creditors have various options available and are more willing to work with you to get all of the money paid, rather than just turn you over to the collections.
3. Understand the difference between secured and unsecured loans. A secured loan is one that is backed by an asset and usually refers to auto loans, mortgages, etc. An unsecured loan is not tied to any asset and usually includes credit card debt, student loans, etc. If you get behind on payments for a secure loan, the creditors can come and collect the asset. That means if it is a car loan, they can come and repossess your car at any time - no notice required. If the asset happens to be your house, then the lenders can start the foreclosure process. Either way, the best way to prevent these actions from occurring is to be open with your creditors. Contact them as soon as you realize you are having a difficult time making your payments. By working closely with them, you can set up a payment plan that will enable you to keep your car, your house and your credit history in good shape.
Using these tips, you will be able to start damage control and utilize self help for your debt problem. If you are considering contacting a debt consolidation or a debt negotiation agency, we recommend using our debt consolidation service to find the right agency for you. You can also visit the Federal Trade Commission for additional information on Choosing a Credit Counselor.
As always, if you have other tips and recommendations, we would love to hear from you.