What is Zombie Debt? How to Avoid a Resurrection.

What is Zombie Debt? How to Avoid a Resurrection.
What is Zombie debt? How to avoid a resurrection. BrilliantlyFrugal.com

Zombie Debt is OLD Debt

Zombie Debt is debt that has been dead and gone for a LONG time now. This is debt that hasn’t had any activity for over 7 years. Activity is when you make a payment, you missed a payment, or the balance increased.

Check Your Credit Report

Zombie Debt cannot be added to your credit report or should have already dropped off of your credit report if it was already on there. If you notice debt on your credit report that should have already fallen off, report it to the credit bureaus. Check the Transunion, Experian, & Equifax websites to see how to report old debt.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Credit Report here.

Check Your State Law

In most cases, the statute of limitations has also expired, meaning that the creditor or a collections agency cannot take you to court for it. Check your local laws to learn about the statute of limitations in your state

Don’t Resurrect Zombie Debt

Do NOT pay Zombie Debt if the statute of limitations has expired in your state. If you make a payment or promise to make a payment and miss it, the debt counter goes from 7+ years to 0! This means that now it CAN be added to your credit report and it may start the statute of limitations over as well, which means they may still be able to sue you over the debt. DO NOT let that happen! Do not let a zombie that is dead in its grave come back to life. Never make payments or promise to make payments on Zombie Debt.

Collections Calling You About Zombie Debt?

Collections agencies will often buy Zombie Debt from creditors or other collection agencies for PENNIES on the dollar. They then hope to scare consumers into paying old debts that they, in most cases, no longer are legally obligated to pay.

Here’s what to do If you are getting collections calls about Zombie Debt:

1. Don’t Panic.

You and you alone are in control. Do not let a creditor or collections agency call scare you.

2. Make it stop.

Tell the collections agency to stop calling you and to remove your number from their list. Under the Federal Debt Collections Practices Act, the collection agency must stop calling you when you tell  If they call you again, report them to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

3. Know your dates.

Know when your account went into default so you know if it can still be added to your credit report and if the statute of limitations is up.

4. Know your rights.

It is abusive for a collections agency to threaten legal action or a lawsuit or to threaten to call your work or bosses. If a collections agency threatens to do any of these things, make sure you know the name of the collections agency and report them to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

5. Don’t Resurrect the Zombie.

NEVER pay or promise to make a payment on zombie debt. This will resurrect debt that is dead. If you resurrect Zombie Debt, it can show back up on your credit report. Let it stay dead and buried.

Don’t let Zombie Debt and collections call get you down. YOU are in control! YOU are Brilliant!

How to Start Paying Off Your Debt TODAY – Free Download!

FREE Download! Debt Payoff Calculator!

Are you wanting to pay down your debt? Does it seem impossible?

 

IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE! YOU CAN DO IT!

 

Chances are, your debt isn’t even that bad. According to Experian, the average American has $6,600 in credit card debt. Even if you have double that in credit card debt, it is possible to pay it off. You may not pay it all off by tomorrow, but it can be paid off.

 

Paying off debt is a journey, you just have to be willing to drive. Your first stop? This Brilliantly Frugal debt calculator.

 

This freebie will be helpful in calculating your debt. It will also give you a snapshot of your payoff schedule under your current circumstances.

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

 

CAUTION:

When I first used the debt calculator, I became very discouraged. I have a lot of debt and it made it seem like I would NEVER get out of the hole.

 

WHAT I FORGOT:

The debt calculator does not take into account work bonuses, raises, promotions, side hustles, income tax returns, inheritances, and budget adjustments.

 

ALSO:

I had to remind myself that the longer my accounts are open and in good standing actually HELPS my credit score (Read the Ultimate Guide here).

 

LET’S GET STARTED!

There are two different strategies for paying off debt; Avalanche (Highest Interest First, a favorite of CPAs) and Snowball (Lowest BALANCE first, my personal favorite).

 

Why Snowball is the best!

Debt Snowball

When using the Snowball method you start by paying off your account with the Lowest Balance First. When you finish paying off that account, you take the payment you were making on that and add it to the next lowest balance. You Snowball it up! This is great because you get instant gratification when you pay off a small balance loan quickly. Plus you get to put bigger and bigger payments down towards your debt.

FOR EXAMPLE:

Let’s say my car payment is $300 per month and I only owe $1,000.

My student loan payment is $100 per month and I owe $5,000.

My credit card payment is $40 per month and I owe $7,000.

 

I will put add any extra money that I have to my car payment to pay off my car FIRST.

Once my car is paid off, I will start paying $400 ($300 car payment + $100 student loan payment) towards my student loan.

Once my student loan is paid off, I will pay $440 ($300 car payment + $100 student loan payment $40 credit card payment) towards my credit card.

You keep rolling your payments into a bigger snowball as you pay off debt until you have a GIANT SNOWBALL to tackle your debt. Snowball gives you the benefit of the snowball effect, but you may end up paying more interest over time than if you were using the Avalanche system.

 

BRILLIANTLY FRUGAL TIP:

If you have two debts that are close to the same balance but have very different interest rates, you may see a big difference in the total interest that you pay if you change the order of the two accounts so that you pay the account with the higher interest rate first. In that case, use the Order Entered in the Table strategy in the Brilliantly Frugal Debt Payoff Calculator.

 

Why Avalanche Saves You More Money

Debt Avalanche

When you use the Avalanche system, you pay off the account with the Highest Interest First. This means that you will accrue and pay less interest in the long run. In other words, you start at the top of the mountain with the worst interest rate account and then move down the mountain to the next highest interest rate account.

FOR EXAMPLE:

Let’s say my car payment has $300 per month and I have a 2.9% interest rate.

My student loan payment is $100 per month and I have a 5.8% interest rate.

My credit card payment is $40 per month and I have a 19.99% interest rate.

 

I will put add any extra money that I have to my credit card payment to pay off my credit card FIRST.

Once my credit card is paid off, I will start paying $140 ($100 student loan payment + $40 credit card payment) towards my student loan.

Once my student loan is paid off, I will pay $440 ($300 car payment + $100 student loan payment $40 credit card payment) towards my car payment.

 

You keep going down the mountain faster and faster with the added money from your paid off accounts. Avalanche will save you more in interest in the long run, but you won’t get the same instant gratification that you do with the Snowball method.

 

BRILLIANTLY FRUGAL TIP:

If you have two accounts that are very similar in interest rate, but one balance is lower than the other, switch the order so that you pay the lower balance account first. This way you get that gratification of paying off the debt faster.

 

MAKE A DECISION

Decide whether Snowball or Avalanche will work best for you. Avalanche is sometimes the best decision for saving money in the long run. It was not the right fit for me though. When I started working on paying down my debt, I had high balances. If I had started on my highest interest rate account first, it would have taken me 5 years before I paid off my first account. That was too long for me to wait to see my reward. Instead, I decided to start with my credit card account which had 0% interest at the time and an $800 balance. I was able to pay it off it just three months and I felt great about paying it off! It helped me stay motivated to work towards paying off one of my student loans.

Once you’ve decided which method will work best for you,

START CALCULATING

 


REEVALUATE PERIODICALLY

You should redo your calculator at least once a year. So many things happen in a year that can change the debt calculator. Your pay will change, your budgets will change, and your balances will change. It is also possible that your minimum payments may change, and your interest rates may even change. Take the time to redo the spreadsheet and see where you are. Don’t forget to celebrate your progress, and evaluate how well you are doing.

Paying off debt is a journey. Make sure to take time to look back on where you’ve been. Stay focused, keep working, and don’t give up.

 

REMEMBER:

 

DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED!

THIS IS NOT FOREVER!

YOU CAN DO IT!

5 Brilliantly Frugal Apps to Save Money While Shopping

5 Best Apps to Save Money While Shopping

5 Brilliantly Frugal Apps to Save Money While Shopping

5 Best Apps to Save Money While Shopping

*This page contains Affiliate links. See the Terms of Use for more information.

I have a confession to make. I am an extreme couponer. Saving the most amount of money possible when shopping is so important because I LOVE SHOPPING. I would love to teach everyone to extreme coupon, but the truth is that most people would love to save money while shopping without being extreme. So consider this the lazy girls guide to saving money while shopping! These 5 apps and chrome extensions are my FAVORITE easy (read lazy) to use to save money on grocery and online shopping. Download them to start saving NOW!

#1 HONEY

Save money on ALL online shopping! And earn cash back!

This is my all-time favorite chrome extension. I have saved SO MUCH money. Download the extension, set up an account and Honey will AUTOMATICALLY apply coupon codes to your checkouts when you shop online. If it can’t find any coupons, sometimes you earn HONEYGOLD anyway. Honey Gold can be cashed out for gift cards (including Amazon).

Sign up through THIS LINK!

 

#2 MYPOINTS

Download the App AND the Chrome extension for full benefits.

The Chrome extension is similar to Honey. It will add coupons to your check out and give you cash back! However, it won’t do it automatically. It’ll pop up prompting you to opt-in for the coupons or cash back when you get on an eligible site, so make sure that your pop up blocker doesn’t block Mypoints.

Download the app for additional points! The app lets you take surveys, watch videos, and click through emails to earn points towards gift cards.

Earn bonus points by signing up through my link here.

#3 IBOTTA

Save money on store shopping!

This app lets you save coupons and then redeem them by taking a photo of your grocery receipt. Simply go shopping, as usual, check the app, save coupons, snap a pic of your receipt, and see the savings added to your account! You can cash out for gift cards once you have $20 in your ibotta account.

Sign up here to get a $10 welcome bonus!

Or use code 34xkg.

This app sometimes has coupons for online shopping as well! I’ve seen coupons for H&M, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond and more!

#4 CHECKOUT 51

Save money on store shopping!

The Checkout 51 app works exactly the same as the ibotta app. Use both to score twice the savings! That’s right! You can claim coupons twice for the same item when you use both Ibotta and Checkout 51 for double the savings! You can request a check from Checkout 51 once you have $20 in your Checkout 51 app.

Download it here.

#5 The Target App!

Save money shopping at Target!

I love shopping at Target! You know all of those memes about people who go to Target for just one thing and come home with a cartful? Those are me. Those memes were made about me. So I definitely do whatever I can to save money at Target. Que the Target App!

The mobile coupons and Cartwheel deals make saving money at the register SUPER easy! My favorite feature is being able to scan the barcode of an item while I’m in the store to see if a coupon is available! If there is, it automatically gets added to my Target Wallet. At checkout, all you have to do is have the cashier scan the barcode in the Target Wallet and BOOM! INSTANT SAVINGS! How brilliant is that?

Start downloading NOW!

5 Brilliantly Frugal Gift Ideas for that Special Someone

SpecialSomeoneGifts

For gift giving, my rule is $25 per 3 months of dating. (EX: dating 3 months – $25, dating 6 months $50, dating 2 years $200, etc) You shouldn’t spend more than that because you don’t want to scare them off early with a gift that’s too elaborate. Also, if you end up breaking up (God forbid), you won’t kick yourself for “wasting money”. Here are 5 Brilliantly Frugal gift ideas that won’t break the bank at each stage of the relationship. The best part is that all of them are available on Amazon Prime!

1. Try a Funny Gift!

At the beginning of a relationship, you may not know all of their likes and interests, but you may have an inside joke that you share. Any gift that puts a smile on their face would be a great gift.

Get it here

2. Gift Something You Can Use Together!

Do you like to go camping together? Or do you frequent the drive-in movies? This two-person sleeping bag is perfect for snuggling!

Get it here

3. Is Your Significant Person a Techy?

They would love a home assistant if they don’t already have one.

Brilliantly Frugal Tip: Always buy electronics Refurbished. They are a fraction of the price, have gone through a lengthy Quality Control process, and come with a warranty.

Get it here

4. For the Wonderful Foodie in Your Life

Instapots are THE THING right now. Get yours here

5.  For Our Hard-Working Coffee Lovers

Who, let’s be honest, deserve a treat!

Nespresso machines may have been a gift from the coffee gods themselves.

Get it here

You can also check out more ideas on my idea board here

If you don’t have amazon prime, you should. It is $99 per year, which is easily made up by the free shipping! I save so much money every year by having Amazon Prime. You can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial here:

*This post contains affiliate links. This means that Brilliantly Frugal receives a commission for items purchased through the links here. For more information, visit the Terms of Use.

5 Credit Card Myths ANNIHILATED

5 Credit Card Myths Annihiliated
5 Credit Card Myths Annihilated. BrilliantlyFrugal.com

After reading the Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Credit Score, some of you decided to open a new credit card to build your credit! I have been getting a ton of questions about it. Turns out that there are still some credit card myths out there that need to be ANNIHILATED. Here are the top 5 credit card myths:

 

Myth #1: You have to carry a balance.

Incredibly FALSE! You DO NOT have to carry a balance on your credit card to keep it open or to build your credit. In fact, you should NEVER carry a balance on your credit. You should always pay off your full balance with EACH paycheck. Credit cards have the WORST interest rates. You do not want to rack up that interest.

Myth #2: You have to use your credit card every month.

FALSE! You only have to use your credit card ONCE A YEAR to keep it open. You could use it more often if your card offers rewards like cash back or miles, but only if you have the cash available in your budget to pay it off immediately.

Myth #3: You have to have credit to get a credit card.

Having credit and good credit is helpful when you want to open a credit card, but it is not 100% necessary. You have options, but a conventional credit card may not be one of the options available to you. Some other options are a student credit card (This was my first credit card!), a store credit card, a secured credit card, or a credit union credit card. Check the credit cards area of Credit Karma to see your approval odds.

If you have decent chances of being approved for a low credit line conventional credit card, consider applying for a Discover card using this link to receive a $50 statement credit if you are approved and make a purchase within three months! (Disclaimer: I will also receive a $50 statement credit for referring you).

Myth #4: Credit cards are the devil and ruin your credit.

YOU are in charge! Do not let your credit card control you. Your goal is to make your credit card work FOR you, not work to pay off your credit card. Credit cards can actually help you build your credit if you use them correctly. You should only use your credit card when it benefits you, like collecting reward points, cash back, or travel miles. You should only use the credit card when you already have the cash in your bank account to buy that item.

For example, if my credit card is offering 5% cash back for gas station charges, I will charge all of my gas on my credit card that month. This doesn’t mean that I will drive more than usual that month. I purchase the amount of gas that is available in my budget, immediately pay off the balance, and collect the 5% cash back as either a statement credit or an Amazon gift card to treat myself later (for FREE)!

Myth #5: Credit cards are impossible to pay off. You should cut up all of your cards.

DO NOT CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARDS. You want to keep them open and active to help build your credit. If you have credit card debt that you are struggling to pay off, that is 100% okay. I know it seems scary and daunting, but it is manageable and it is possible to pay them off. Your first goal is to stop charging items on your card, if at all possible. Start by deleting your credit card information from Google Chrome and all of your online shopping accounts. Your second goal is to pay more than the minimum payments. Review your budgets to see if there is anywhere that you can cut back on to pay extra on your credit card. Make a payment on your credit card with EACH paycheck, no matter how small each payment is. You WILL accomplish your goal. YOU CAN DO IT!

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Credit Score

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Credit Score

It is 100% okay if you don’t know anything about your credit score and how it’s calculated. I certainly didn’t when I first started. Making the decision to learn and empower yourself is the important part. Credit scores are so confusing and how they are calculated can seem like a big secret, but today you will learn all of those secrets to be brilliant with your credit!

The first step is to know your credit score number. You can request a copy of your credit report directly from each of the credit bureaus. You are entitled to one free copy per year. However, I find this burdensome and limited. I personally like to check my credit report every month, and like everything else, I don’t want to have to pay for it. That’s why I use Credit Karma. You can Download the app HERE or HERE, or sign up on creditkarma.com. It is COMPLETELY FREE. They never ask you for payment information.

Remember that a credit score doesn’t measure whether you have NO debt. It measures whether you can responsibly manage debt OVER TIME. This is measured by 6 main factors to your credit. We will discuss them one at a time.

1. Number of Hard Inquiries

Firstly, Hard Inquiries are when some has pulled your credit. This is usually when you apply for new credit, like a credit card, auto loan, home loan, etc. A hard inquiry shows on your credit for two years. Your goal is to have less than 3 on your credit score at a time. This means that you want to choose when and what credit you apply for VERY CAREFULLY. DO NOT keep applying for credit cards one after another until you get approved. Find out your approval odds BEFORE applying and THEN apply. You can do this through Credit Karma. They suggest cards and show you your approval odds.

2. Payment History

This is probably the most obvious one. If you have late payments, they will negatively hit your credit score HARD. Do everything you can to make your payments on time to avoid it hurting your credit score. Late payments can stay on your credit score for up to SEVEN YEARS. Don’t let a hardship haunt you for that long.

If you are unable to pay a bill on time, call your creditor ahead of time. They may be able to move the payment date or work something out with you. Everyone goes through hard times. They understand. It may be embarrassing, but short-term embarrassment now is better than long-term embarrassment later from bad credit. If that creditor is unable or unwilling to work with you, do everything you can to get it paid. If you have other bills due soon, try to see if one of those creditors will work something you with you so you can pay this one, and get an extension on another instead.

3. Derogatory Marks

Derogatory Marks are anything from collections to bankruptcy. These can stay on your credit score for 7-10 years, depending. These are separate from late payments. However, if you have a bill that is late and then ends up in collections, you will get hit negatively in both categories. This means that even one bad Derogatory Mark will hit your credit HARD. Derogatory Marks should be avoided at all costs.

Avoid collections by trying to work out a payment plan with anyone trying to collect a balance you cannot afford. They will many times take minimal monthly payments, as long as you are paying something and consistently. Bankruptcy can often be avoided by the same means. Look out for a new post soon discussing this topic more thoroughly.

4. Credit Card Utilization

Credit Card Utilization is probably the easiest one to manage. This factor considers the balance on your credit cards, divided by the amount of credit you have available on your credit cards. Your goal is to keep your utilization below 30%. Keep your balances low and pay your credit cards balances in full with every paycheck and this will be a breeze.

Keep track of your credit score and income. Each year, if anything has changed (credit score went up, income increased), apply for an increase in your credit limit on your current credit cards. They will not make a hard inquiry on your credit. The simply look at the new information, and your good payment history, and determine if you are eligible for an increase in your credit limit. This doesn’t mean you should spend more money with them! This is simply a tool for keeping your utilization low and increasing your credit score. (Check out this post about credit cards).

5. Credit Age

You Credit Age is the average age of all of your open accounts. This will likely remain “low” while you are trying to build your credit, but your long-term goal is 9 years. This obviously takes time! My average is only about 3 and a half years right so don’t worry if yours is also low for a while. 

The key is to stagger your new credit. Don’t apply for a bunch of new credit at once. Apply for one (a new credit card, auto loan, etc), wait six months to a year and then apply for new credit (another credit card, a home equity loan, etc).

6. Total Accounts

Lastly, your Total Accounts is the total of both your closed and open accounts. Again, this is one that takes time to build up. Your long-term goal is 11 accounts. By working on your other factors, this one will occur naturally.

Finally, This is a lot of information and I know it can be overwhelming! Don’t worry! You are not alone. I often felt overwhelmed when I was first learning about credit scores too. You cannot build or change your credit score all at once. Work on one factor or couple of factors at a time, but keep in mind what other factors you may be affecting. Take things one at a time and you are on the right track to succeed brilliantly!

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