debt consolidation

What You Should Know About Free Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation can be one of two things.

It can be a loan that consolidates all your debt into a single loan with one monthly payment. This loan is secured with collateral, usually your home.

The second type of debt consolidation is a reorganization of your unsecured debt through a debt counseling organization. This type of debt consolidation is not a loan, but it does offer you the convenience of making one monthly payment to repay your unsecured loans.

But by now you are probably wondering if there is such a thing as free debt consolidation and if there is where you can find it. Well, the answer is yes. Or rather, it can be found for very close to free. Be sure to choose a certified, non-profit consumer credit counseling service, sometimes referred to as CCCS. There are many debt counseling services out there today, but not all of them are non-profit.

CCCSThe non-profit credit counseling agencies will offer either free credit counseling or credit counseling with a one-time set-up fee (usually less than $50). Some of these agencies may charge a small monthly fee (usually $30-$40). This really is a small price to pay considering your interest rate and fees will be reduced by much more than that.

The credit counselors employed by credit counseling companies work to consolidate your unsecured debt into one low monthly payment with a substantially reduced interest rate. They will negotiate with your creditors to lower your monthly payments and lower or possibly eliminate the interest on these payments. These debt counselors can get you started down the road to debt elimination very quickly and can have you debt free in 2-4 years.

Credit consumer counseling organizations do no offer loans, which could possibly put you deeper in debt. These debt counselors will negotiate on your behalf with your creditors, creating a repayment plan that will be beneficial to you and your creditors. Your credit counselor will educate you on how to control and manage your debt.

Credit cards can have an interest rate between 18% and 26%. If you pay only minimum payments, it will take you between 30 and 40 years to pay off your credit card debt. With the use of certified credit counseling and a consumer credit counseling agency, you can quickly be on your way to debt freedom.

Debt consolidation loans, many of which are second mortgages on your home, have closing costs that are added to the amount of the loan. In many cases, this amount is less than $500 and is not an out-of-pocket expense. So, at the time you secure the loan, you will not be paying anything.

As far as the fees for debt consolidation, they are going to be quite small. In most cases, the small expenditure required for debt consolidation is worth what you are getting in return. You find yourself in a position where your debt is being reduced and you are making progress towards getting out of debt.

Fort Lauderdale FL

Best Family Restaurants to Save Money in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Ft. Lauderdale has many restaurants that cater to all members of the family and where you can save money. Many offer special discounts or offer other extras for the family. No matter what type of cuisine you prefer, there is something for everyone.

Sweet Tomatoes

With multiple locations across South Florida, Sweet Tomatoes is a wonderful restaurant for the entire family. It is a salad bar buffet restaurant with many healthy and delicious items good for both the body and the taste buds. Your kids can get whatever healthy veggies they like, as can you.

Although it is called the salad bar restaurant, there is far more than salad at Sweet Tomatoes. They have pizza, which is always a favorite for the children, in addition to multiple types of pastas, five or more soups and more. They offer savory bakery items, such as blueberry and other flavored muffins, breads and more. They offer baked and sweet potatoes as well as rice. They also offer various fruits.

When it comes to dessert, the entire family will be happy. Children can make their own ice cream sundaes with vanilla or chocolate ice cream, sprinkles, caramel syrup and hot fudge. They can enjoy savory brownies, chocolate pudding or whatever specialty cake they are offering (past offerings include hot chocolate lava cake and gooey caramel pumpkin cake).

They also provide different events for children. Many locations offer free face painting by Curly Sue and friends on one day of the week. They also work with school groups to do fundraising. They have family friendly prices, with excellent coupons such as buy one meal and two beverages and get a second meal free, which brings the price of each meal to under $8.00.

Bellante’s Pizza and Pasta (Closed)

If you and your children love pizza or pasta then Bellante’s is the place for you. For a meager $5.50 (lunch OR dinner) they offer an all you can eat buffet encompassing a wide variety of pizza, including classic, barbeque chicken, meat, alfredo, veggie and more. You can also get cheese bread, breadsticks and more. If you like pasta, then you will have your choice of alfredo, an oil and garlic mix or classic tomato. They also have a variety of soups.

Children will also enjoy the delicious desserts. Bellante’s offers chocolate cake, lemon cake, dessert pizza and sweet bread. If the children are done eating they can play video games while the parents watch on special televisions set up in the dining area. The entire family leaves happy from a meal at Bellante’s Pizza and Pasta.

Ft. Lauderdale has a wide variety of family friendly restaurants. Sweet Tomatoes and Bellantte’s are just two of the best in the area.

Fort Desoto Campground

Camping with a Florida Flair: Ft. Desoto Campground and Park

I love camping and have been to several camping areas in Florida but by far the best I have visited is Ft. Desoto Campground. This St. Petersburg Florida area campground gives you a true feel for the Florida lifestyle, giving you the best combination of an award winning Florida beach, access to great views of both Tampa Bay and the Gulf, canoe, biking and running trails and amazing waterfront campsites that are surprisingly private.

There are some really nice options at the campground such as the pet friendly sites, tent and pop-up only area and RV sites. This, in my opinion, makes for a better experience when you can choose what type of “neighbors” you have. Too many campgrounds just pile people wherever and I have had my tent surrounded by RV’s and listened to dogs barking all night in other campgrounds. Campgrounds that I have never returned to.

Fort Desoto CampgroundThe sites at Ft. Desoto are all surrounded on at least three sides by enough of a wooded area to give you real privacy from the campsites next to you and far enough back from the road to allow you plenty of room for all of your camping gear and vehicles. I have fit 2 large tents and a screen room with more than enough room left over for a nice fire pit and picnic area. This alone seems to be a rare feature in many Florida campgrounds and it gets better. Many of their 238 sites offer a wonderful water view and the interior sites allow for easy access so you can watch the sun rise or set over the water.

The sites all have charcoal grills and picnic tables but no fire ring. However, you are welcome to bring a portable fire pit…just watch for the outdoor burning warnings. Firewood is a problem at times as the campstore tends to run out and in the off season local stores do not carry it.

However, I did manage to find a little garden shop on Hanes Rd. and 16th Ave that sells oak firewood year round. It is about 20 minutes away from the campground. You should also be aware that raccoons are all over here and they are smart. Lock your food away even if you just pop across to the restroom. My son found out how much they liked his barbecue chips when he returned from the restroom to watch as his new table mate was having a snack.

The camp store is available for those little things you need, but my advice is to make the drive up the road about 10 minutes to the nearest Walgreens or grocery store if you can. The prices at the camp store are high and they run out of the main camping necessities fast in the busier seasons.

Ft. Desoto Park as a whole gives you so many options. You can take the Ferry over to explore the beautiful nearby island or just spend a day relaxing on any part of the about 3 miles of beach. Even the beach gives you options. There is a nice water-sports area towards the east end, a pet beach and fenced in pet park toward the middle, more private beach areas also toward the middle and then the North Beach area with picnic shelters, grills, kids playground and nice family friendly beach area.

Fort Desoto CampgroundYou can read your favorite personal finance book, enjoy a bike ride, run, walk or roller blade along the 6 mile long paved trail that winds its way from the campground to the beaches or grab the water trail and canoe or kayak through 2 miles of Florida waterways. Canoes, kayaks and bikes can all be rented at the park. My personal favorites are a nice relaxing kayak trip off the campground shore at sunset and a nice quiet run along the beach right at sunrise…nothing quite like it.

In the center of it all is the Fort itself. Self guided tours on, in and around the fort give you a taste of the parks history. Climbing to the top of the fort will give you a breathtaking view of the Gulf.

I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what this park has to offer. 24 hour boat ramps, two fishing piers, boat tours and best of all the most amazing camping experience you will ever have.

Reserve your site way in advance as this park tends to stay booked pretty solid and go enjoy camping the way it should be in Florida.

personal budget in Florida

Is it Really Necessary to Live on a Budget in Florida?

This article comes from my own experience. I believe every family should operate on a budget, especially in expensive Florida. Not everyone is good at budgeting; look at our government. They never can come up with a balanced budget. In order to provide for our families properly we have to have a balanced budget, or else we will always be running in the red.

When I worked for a living as a nurse, I ran our home like a business. I kept track of every penny that came into our home, and I watched every cent that we paid out. Since I became disabled and my monthly pay is only a fraction of what it used to be, managing a budget became a lot more difficult. Even though it is difficult, it can be done.

What must we do to manage our finances?

In order to manage your finances, you need to know just how much income you have from every source. For example, I count my income from online sources, as well as my monthly disability income. My income from online sources varies, so I have to guesstimate an average monthly income.

Once you have added up all your monthly income from all sources, you need to list all your monthly expenses, starting with your living expenses. Your housing, utilities, food, and other expenses, such as your vehicles, and car insurance must be included. Your monthly life insurance payments, if you pay them monthly, must be calculated also.

What happens if you have more expenses than you have money?

I quickly found that I had more month than I had money, when I became disabled. Not only did I lose my job due to disability, but I also lost my husband to another woman, so I had to cut back if I were to survive. I lost a lot back then. I lost my home to foreclosure, because I could no longer pay for it. I tried to sell it, but it seemed to me that buyers were just holding off to see if they could get my house for nothing, or nearly nothing.

Fast forward 15 years and I am still struggling, but I am working my way through each month. I had to downsize a lot over the years to get by. A few months ago I decided to give up my cell phone. I still have a cell phone, but it is on my daughter’s family plan, so I don’t have to pay for it. I was paying $50 to $60 a month for my cell phone.

budgetingMy latest expense that I got rid of was my car. My car was paid for, but it was also a gas hog. The insurance I paid for the car wasn’t worth the time I spent driving it. I couldn’t afford to put gas on it to keep it on the road, so it was a waste of money to keep the car. I probably should have sold the car, but being that it was a gas guzzler I didn’t think I’d get anything out of it anyway.

In this Covid-19 affected economy many folks are finding themselves in the position to downsize. They might have to sell the home they live in to buy a more affordable home. They might have to give up one car and make do with one. They might have to give up driving entirely, and take public transportation. We all do what we have to do to get by.

If you have more monthly expenses than you have money, and you aren’t willing to cut back, or you can’t manage even after cutting back on expenses, you might have to consider getting a second job. If you have a spouse that stays at home, that spouse may have to either find a job that pays her/him to stay home, or go out and work in the public sector.


Money Saving Tips for the Horse Owner

We all know how tight money is these Covid-19 days. Having horses is an expensive hobby and the cost can sometimes get overwhelming, especially if you live in Florida – a very expensive place. Here are some great tips horse owners can follow to save money:

The first thing to do is think about cutting back on your herd. If you have a horse or two that you just don’t ride anymore and are going to waste in the pasture, you may want to think about selling or leasing them out.

horses pastureWe all love our horses, but it can get unreasonable to pay a fortune in bills for a pasture ornament. If selling is out of the question, consider leasing your horse out, or charging others to ride it. This way you’ll still be able to keep your horse, but he’ll earn his keep and won’t be such a strain on your bank account.

Sell your old tack and riding gear. When I used to walk into my tack-room, I’d see loads of tack I never used, from assorted saddles I picked up over the years, to once-tried bits, old bridles and hardly-worn show clothes. I finally decided I’d clear out my tack room of all the things I didn’t use.

I listed my tack on, and craigslist and ended up bringing in nearly $2,000. Also try bringing your unused stuff to your local tack swap.

Do you have an indoor arena or nice outdoor riding ring? Try charging for haul-ins. Lots of people don’t have a space of their own to ride and would gladly pay to haul their horse into a nice covered arena or lighted outdoor ring.

What about an extra stall or pasture? If you have your own private barn and are not filling up all the space, you may consider renting it out for some extra cash.

If you have the skill and experience, start offering to give riding lessons. Not only is it a great way to make some extra money, but it really improves your own skills and can be a lot of fun.

If you have a special horsey skill you’d like to share and make some cash while you’re doing it, try hosting a clinic at your barn. Weekend horse clinics are a blast. Skills permitting, you can host anything from a dressage clinic to a reining clinic, a horse diet clinic or a vaccinating clinic. The possibilities are endless.

horseIf you have some extra time, offer to ride, train and condition other people’s horses. People who don’t have time to ride their own horse will pay good money to have a qualified rider do it for them.

Do you have any artistic ability? Try making some horsey art out of old horseshoes. You can make anything from dream catchers and picture frames to personalized stall signs. Other horse owners will gladly pay for creative horse-related artwork.

Horses are supposed to be your escape from life. Don’t allow them to become a financial burden during these tough times. Next time you’re a little short of cash, take a look at this list.