Credit Dusters has just launched our interactive television show. The network is called CDTV and it will start out with a daily show about all things credit. You can go there now…tv.creditdusters.com.
It seems strange considering my profession. I recently pulled a copy of my credit report through the credit watch service I am a member of. I needed to purchase a car so I wanted to see where my scores stood and shop for the best interest rate. To my surprise I had purchased a brand new VW (at close to $25,000)! It turned out this new purchase had affected my scores somewhat and I would have to wait to get it off my credit before I could qualify for the interest rate I wanted. The strangest thing of all is that I have never owned a VW and I also noticed that there was a strange address listed on my credit report from a nearby town.
Coincidence? I thought so until I went to my neighborhood Kroger to pick up a prescription. When the pharmacy rep rang up my order, she confirmed my address as the nearby town I mentioned above. Turns out the prescription was not even mine, but a totally different prescription from this ghost VW gal. My best guess is that this mystery person has the same name as me, social security number very close to mine, and just happens to live less than 15 miles from my home.
This sounds bizarre but you would be suprised how often these types of scenarios play out. More commonly these mistakes are made due to family error or even family identity theft. Are you a Sr. or a Jr.? Better check your credit. If you are a Sr. and have a Jr. floating around out there, it is likely you may have some things mixed up on your credit. Have you been through a divorce? Even more likely that the ex’s junk is showing up on your report and affecting you long after their gone. If you have ever filed bankruptcy, you better believe there is junk hanging around on your credit that shouldn’t be there.
Don’t be caught by surprise like I was. I had to wait an extra 60 days to purchase my car while I was waiting for mystery girl’s junk to be removed from my credit (after I disputed the information to the credit bureaus). Now I keep watch on my credit every 30 days through my credit watch service and have instant notification of changes or new inquiries.
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This week we are discussing a painful, but important situation that a lot of American consumers are facing. It is so scary to think that you might lose your home, but we want you to know that there is hope. We want to be a resource to those folks because we have been there and understand how scary it can be.
There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the Loan Modification process. We are here to shed the light on these myths and provide the resources necessary to get you a lower payment. Here are a few important tips that will help you complete your objective.
1. Be Kind. As the old adage goes, “One gets farther with honey than with vinegar.” You mortgage lender is not like the collection agents that hound you day and night. They are civil and most really want to help. The best way to get what you want is to make the person on the other end of the phone your best friend.
2. Understand The Process. If you go in with intelligence and explain to the Loan Modification Dept. your situation, the chances are actually pretty good you will walk away with a lower payment. The good news is that they do not want your house, they just want your monthly payment.
3. Have your paperwork ready. This will be the most impressive thing you can do. If you are prepared they will be much more likely to work with you.
Here is what they are going to require:
1. Hardship letter – This is an important piece to the puzzle. Type it up so it looks professional. The letter needs to include the reason for your request (i.e. job loss, sickness, divorce), why you feel you should qualify for a lower rate, and that you are willing to do what it takes to maintain your home. Budget – Many times they will go over the budget during the initial call so have this ready to read to them. Also, fax it with the other information.
2. Pay Stub – They are going to require proof of income.
3. Tax Returns – You are going to need to prove your income for the last two years.
4. Bank Statement – Usually they need at least the last two bank statements.
4. Ask Questions. Be proactive and ask for the next step. They receive a lot of request so you will need to give them time to do their job, but you don’t want to get lost in the avalanche of paperwork.
5. Keep paying your mortgage payment. Do not expect to be able to skip a payment. The Loan Modification approval is based on you continuing to pay your payment on time.
My family lives in a small, rural town in Southern Indiana. We are surrounded by a soy bean field with hundreds of sprawling acres across the street and a large lake that adjoins our property in the back. Sounds nice, right? Why am I so discontented?What is it that continues to drive me toward always wanting more? Every few months my wife and I have these long discussions about getting the house ready to sell. We say we want to move in closer to town, but that is actually code for BIGGER HOUSE!
I hate living like this. I really do. I despise being a hostage to the BMW 325 that I pass every day on my way to work.
The Solution: It is my desire to be satisfied. What I have found so far is that true simplicity is being satisfied exactly where you are in the moment.
I began writing about the subject as a result of my daughter and I going on a field trip to our county 4-H last week. All the modern day farmers talking about raising chickens, cows, rabbits, and living off the land made me yearn for a life like that. This is my journey…The truth is that money gives you options. This truth infects all of us. My son who has birthday money, runs around Wal-mart like a tycoon, my kids demand a family vacation when summer hits, and I want to be blogging on the beach. Beach Blogger? It has a nice sound!
So there is no doubting the power of money. It is intoxicating when you have it and frustrating to the point of madness when you don’t. So, what is wrong with money? There is nothing wrong with money – It is the incessant need and desire for it that is the problem.
If we are really honest with ourselves, we believe money gives us a life without worry. Yet we exchange the lack of worry for something much more sinister and that is a lack of satisfaction. When we have money we have so many options that we are no longer satisfied with what would have blown us away before. I have found that to be the case in my own life. Suddenly the Honda Accord (which is a great car) pales in comparison to a BMW. Why? You could say performance and better handling, but the truth is that we want more than we can really afford. We are always pushing the envelope.
This is why I am struggling so deeply with the concept of simplicity. I secretly do not want to be simple because then no one will notice me. My wife and I own a business so there is a certain perception with that. We get the questions like: “Did you guys move?” “I saw your new car! (It’s not new, except to us.)”
The truth is we are dealing with the same issues that every new, small business struggles with. Survival is the word of the day. Perception is everything though. So we continue down the road – choosing the one less traveled and wondering if we made the right choice.
In his book, Halftime, author and successful businessman Bob Buford comments on the purpose of money in the following manner:
Mike Kiami is a strategic planning consultant. He is brilliant. He is intuitive. He is demanding. He slices through all the pretense and posturing, and hones in on the core. He does not believe in God but I can testify that – at least in my life – God worked unmistakably through Mike Kiami.
I went to Mike because I wanted him to do for my life what he does so well for business: Draw up a strategic plan. I needed him to show me how to live so I was not plagued by a growing sense that I was missing out. I was not sure what I was missing, and I wanted him to tell me.
I went to Mike with tons of questions: What should I do with my life? How could I be more useful? Where should I invest my time, talents and treasures? What is the overarching vision that shapes me? Who am I? Where am I? Where am I going? How do I get there?
In this blizzard of wonderment, Mike asked me a simple, penetrating question: “What’s in the box?” This from a high paid strategic planner?I didn’t have a clue as to what he was getting at and asked him to fill me in.
“I can’t put together an honest plan for your life until I identify the mainspring. I’ve been listening to you for a couple of hours, trying to figure out what’s in your box. It’s either money or Jesus Christ. If you can tell me which one it is, I can tell you the strategic planning implications of that choice. If you can’t tell me, your going to bounce between those two values and be confused.”
No one had ever put such a significant question to me so directly. And he was right. I was highly motivated to serve Jesus, but I also was driven to be financially successful. I believed the two went hand in hand and in a way they do. But the reason I had such an unsettled feeling deep within was that I had tried to put two things in my box.
“Stop this train, I want to get off!” – Vanilla Ice
Yesterday I touched on the fact that I am soul searching for the simple life. My wife and I used to think the Amish had the answer. I now know, as I mentioned, that I do not have to buy a farm and work the land in order to embrace a life of simplicity.
We all yearn in some way to get off the roller coaster. This life is going way too fast. The highs are way too high and the lows…well that’s for another post. It does help that Laura and I have our own company and we are able to set the pace, which we have, but it goes so much deeper than that. Anyone can set their own pace.
I am learning that there is a lot of work in achieving simplicity. You are going against the culture of working till late at night to get the car (Lexus SC430, anyone?), the big house (Is it on a golf course?), and all the latest trappings. I feel as if I have to daily reboot my hard drive so as not to get caught up in the emotions and desires of consumer America.
We have had friends “upgrade” to that life and we have watched them become isolated from what really matters. I am not anti-wealth. The question is and will always be in my mind, “What price am I willing to pay for it?”
Is it ever enough?
John D. Rockefeller was asked by a reporter when he was at the pinnacle of wealth and late in his years, “How much is enough?” and John D. in startling honesty said simply, “Just a little more.”
What else needs to be said?