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If you find yourself struggling with debt, making multiple monthly repayments to a variety of different lenders with different interest rates, one of the most attractive options may be debt consolidation.  Used correctly, debt consolidation can be a great way to manage your debt problems and help you become debt free; however debt consolidation may not be the best option for everyone and in many cases can lead people into a worsening debt situation.

What is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation or refinancing is a way of taking multiple debts and consolidating them into a single loan, subject to a single interest rate generally with a single monthly repayment.  Instead of having to manage repayments to multiple banks and financial institutions a debt consolidation loan allows you to deal with a single lender. This makes managing your debt situation significantly easier and often you can wind up paying less each month than you were paying before.

What debts can be consolidated?

Generally a debt consolidation loan allows you to consolidate all of your unsecured personal loans, credit cards and store cards. However some mortgage refinancing allows you to consolidate your unsecured debts in with your mortgage.

What are the benefits of debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation allows you to combine all of your unsecured debts into a single more manageable loan with one monthly repayment. Most debt consolidation loans should offer you a lower interest rate than you are receiving on your credit cards and personal loans. This reduced rate could ultimately save you thousands in interest over the course of the loan.

Additionally you will be able to deal with a single bank or financial institution rather than multiple different creditors. This should make your debts easier to manage and save you money on fees and late payments.

Am I eligible for debt consolidation?

Eligibility for a debt consolidation loan is at the discretion of the bank or lender. Generally speaking you are unlikely to be approved for a loan if you have a bad credit record, a history of late payments, are in default on any other loan repayments or are unemployed or not in regular employment. So if your debt situation has gotten out of control you are unlikely to be eligible for a debt consolidation loan.

What are the drawbacks of debt consolidation?

Some people who take out debt consolidation loans eventually find themselves in a worse position than they were in before.  Why is this the case? Because debt consolidation doesn’t help change the behaviour that got them into debt trouble to begin with. After taking out a debt consolidation loan, many people who find their credit card balances cleared wind up maxing out their credit cards and slipping back into the same bad spending habits as before. This can lead to a situation in which you not only have to repay the same amount of debt as before but also have to repay the debt consolidation loan on top of it.

Without discipline and a change in your spending and saving habits, debt consolidation is not going to provide a long term solution to your problems and you may eventually find yourself slipping back into debt. Ultimately debt consolidation should be used in conjunction with better financial habits such as budgeting and saving if it is going to be truly effective and help the borrower to become debt free.

What are the alternatives to debt consolidation?

If you’ve been rejected for a debt consolidation loan or simply think debt consolidation is not for you, there are alternatives to consider.

If your debt problems haven’t yet gotten completely out of hand and your repayments remain manageable, the best option is always budgeting and smarter management of your finances. Sit down with a pen and paper or using your computer and work out your total monthly expenses including your mortgage repayments, credit card bills, groceries, school fees etc. and balance them against your total household income. By doing this you should be able to identify areas of unnecessary expenditure and be able to better manage your spending habits. Any savings you make from budgeting and phasing out unnecessary expenses should be redirected toward paying off your debts.

However if you have been rejected for a debt consolidation loan and your debts have become unmanageable there are alternatives for you to consider. One increasingly more common option is entering into a debt agreement with your creditors. A debt agreement is a legally binding arrangement between you and your creditors based upon what you can reasonably afford to pay. Similar to debt consolidation they allow you to make a single ongoing repayment to your debt agreement administrator. However unlike debt consolidation all of your debts aren’t paid out upfront but instead your creditors receive dividend payments based upon your debt agreement contributions. Once you have successfully completed the agreement you are released from your debts. It is only possible to enter into a debt agreement if you have become insolvent, in other words you cannot afford to pay your debts as and when they fall due.

Finally in more extreme cases declaringbankruptcy might be the only option available to you. Bankruptcy should only be considered as a last resort and in situations in which you are unable to reach an agreement with your creditors. Bankruptcy has serious consequences and as such you should seek further financial advice before considering this option.

Fox Symes is the largest provider of debt solutions to individuals and businesses in Australia. Fox Symes helps over 100,000 Australians each year resolve their debt and take financial control.

By Victoria Munro        

As a business owner, you may receive constant requests for your time from clients, vendors, colleagues and employees, as well as from family and friends. If you’re not careful, that precious time you need to focus on growing your business and taking care of yourself can be eaten away, leaving you stressed and behind schedule.

Though you want to be helpful to others whenever you can, developing the art of graciously saying “no” can be key to your survival and your sanity. Below are ten tips to help you:

1.Learn from the past—remember what it’s like to feel guilty and frustrated about commitments you’ve made to do things you don’t have the time, energy or desire to do.
2.Think and plan ahead, blocking out time on your calendar for activities important to you. Saying “no” is easier when that time is already scheduled for something else.
3.Commit to never giving an immediate response—request time to think about it. Simply say, “I need time to think about this. I’ll get back to you.”
4.Weigh the costs and rewards. Ask yourself, “Will scheduling this cause undue stress? Does this align with my goals?”
5.Learn to say “no” directly, without feeling guilty or giving a lengthy explanation. After all, you don’t usually offer a reason when you say “yes.”
6.Be prepared for others to push your boundaries and be ready to say “no” as many times as it takes.
7.You may be able to avoid a confrontation by offering the other party choices.
8.When you’ve said no, remember that you’re not responsible for others’ reactions.
9.Practice saying “no” until it feels comfortable without offering any explanation.
10.Before making a commitment, be sure you have a complete understanding of exactly what’s being asked of you.

About the Author: Victoria Munro is co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small-business owners through creatively designed programs and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,”, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.

By Brook Evans
In current times, the average person is faced with many situations that require him or her to have some form of wealth. A person in such a dilemma may consider taking up a loan from a reliable financial institution. When this happens more than once, intervention is then needed to sum up all the small amounts of money that a person owes and help the person pay them off in one instance.

by Carlton_Mansour

A payday loan is a short term loan that is often used to cover up unexpected expenses and it is paid into your bank account directly. In order to apply for this type of fund, it is vital that you should fill up the application form properly and that you should fill up a few other forms as well. If you follow this type of online application procedure, it is vital that you only have to spend a few minutes for this purpose.

Are you overcome by debt? Do bill collectors leave more messages on your machine than your friends & family? Are you ready to say, "enough is enough" and take back control of your financial situation? If so, No Debt Today is here to help you reclaim financial freedom by offering the internet's most trusted, free debt consolidation online program since 1997.
The debt consolidation loan is a low interest secured loan taken out against the spare cash tied up in your house, known as equity. This loan is used to pay off all your credit cards, store cards and other monthly debts.

This debt consolidation loan will have two immediate effects. It will greatly reduce the amount of interest you are paying, and it will also reduce the amount you are paying out of your pocket every month by a considerable amount.

It can remove the stranglehold around your neck caused by huge amounts of debts and high monthly payments. It can clear all your debts in one fell swoop, allowing you to regain your financial freedom.

This kind of loan can free you from juggling multiple payments at the end of every month. And relieve you from the stress of figuring out how much you can afford to pay on this credit card and which credit card will have to wait until next month.

Debt consolidation loans can give you a fresh start, allowing you to consolidate all of your loans into one, giving you one easy to manage payment, and at a lower rate of interest.
If you're interested in taking advantage of No Debt Today services or you would like to learn a little more about what No Debt Today have to offer you, simply choose the type of debt consolidation online program you need from the list of their site. After you've determined which program fits you best, use the form on the right to get your free online debt consultation. There's no obligation to commit today, and you can take as much time as you like to consider your options

“See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” ~Dalai Lama
I was a perfectionist growing up, always trying to bang my flawed round-shaped self into a perfect square hole that couldn’t possibly contain me.
In my early twenties, I decided to focus on personal development—a positive thing, I assumed.
I figured if I worked on improving a little every day and nurturing a positive mindset, I’d feel a lot better about myself than I did when I got down on myself for my flaws. 
I didn’t take into consideration that I might become a perfectionist about positivity.
That I might catch negative thinking and feel guilty about it instead of letting it go and moving into a more positive space.
That I might muster every piece of my will to avoid negative feelings and end up over-thinking them instead of simply feeling them and letting them pass.
For most of my life, I’ve fought reality. I didn’t like the way people responded to me, so I tried to manipulate their perception. I didn’t like the world around me, so I tried to control it. I didn’t like the world within me, so I tried to escape it.
Even when I tried to be positive, I was resisting the present. If only I was positive enough, I thought, I could create a better tomorrow—then I’d really be happy.
I tried on different positive hats in my pursuit of happiness.
I’ve told myself that everything really is in my mind—that if someone appears to be mean or inconsiderate, it’s largely a consequence of how I’m interpreting things. But then I started wondering if that’s the case, what’s wrong with my mind? Why do I so frequently assume the worst first and then have to catch it and change it?
I made lists of all the things my life would involve if it was more positive: I’d volunteer; I’d be open-hearted, always eager to greet a stranger with a smile; I wouldn’t fear lacking, and would freely give to anyone who needed it. Then I felt overwhelmed by the list of things I needed to do. Who has the time and energy to be that positive?
I’ve focused on things I appreciate in life by keeping a gratitude journal. Oddly enough, I stressed about that, as well. I felt guilty if I missed a day and continually measured whether or not I was doing enough to express gratitude in my daily life.
Positive thinking didn’t bring me peace because I was still the one doing the thinking, and I hadn’t really changed. I was still fighting, judging everyone and everything, including myself, and wondering when life would finally get easier.
No matter how positive I tried to be, it never worked because I wasn’t working for it.
Working for it, for me, involves just fifteen minutes a day.
I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it myself, but a brief morning meditation has a profound effect on me. When I start the day by sitting in silence for even a short while, my mental space transforms.
Without some type of contemplative practice, my busy mind gets overwhelming. Without taking time to clear my head, positive thinking is only moderately effective because there are just too many thoughts for the positive ones to have an impact.
Positive thinking, in itself, isn’t enough for me to experience the world in a present, joyful way. The most positive thinking, I’ve decided, is less thinking.
I’d like to say I no longer over-analyze, get lost in my thoughts, or get hard on myself, but that’s not entirely true.
Even with tools that help me feel calm and centered, I still feel this way at times.
There are days when I fight with myself and the world and judge myself pretty harshly. It’s usually when I’ve stopped doing the things I know I need to do for me. When work gets overwhelming and people seem demanding, sometimes I don’t make those things a priority.
I am still imperfect, I still make bad decisions at times, and I still struggle with letting go. It’s called being human.
Growth is rarely a straight line. It’s more like an EKG monitor. It’s tempting to look at it with a sense of anxiety. To measure the peaks and valleys, wondering if the peaks are high and frequent enough.
But I’m learning that being positive means releasing the need to judge—to stop assessing what’s right and good enough, and whether I’ve been right or good enough, and approach each new moment with a sense of space.
It’s my job to create that space—to clear out all the thoughts that drown out the positive ones.
The biggest barrier between me and peace is my instinct to analyze why I didn’t, don’t, or might not have it. Stillness silences that instinct.
When I take time for stillness, it doesn’t matter how I interpret things because suddenly I stop telling stories about events as they happen to me.
When I take time for stillness, it doesn’t matter how many positive things I could do if I tried; I’m too busy putting good into the world to dwell on those lists.
When I sink into stillness, it doesn’t matter how many things I write in my gratitude journal; I’m too busy appreciating the world in front of me to worry about jotting it down.
Today, I feel peaceful. In this moment, I am not trying to be positive. I created space for myself to just be. And that, I’ve learned, is the most positive thing we can do for ourselves.
Sunset yoga image via Shutterstock

Sometimes, you just have to bow your head, 
say a prayer and weather the storm.

Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.” 
― Nicole Sobon

Moving on is one of those things that is much easier said than done. Most of us grow deep roots with the people, things and places that make up everyday life, so it can be hard to withdraw the roots and leave.  Just like when one pulls up a weed from a garden, sometimes you just need to take a firm and strong pull then rip out the roots all at once.
Once an individuals determines they are willing to make that firm tug, it becomes easy to move onto bigger and better things. Making the decision to rip out the roots is the hardest part of this process! Here are 10 signs it is time to think about transplanting your roots to a different place in life.

1. When you aren’t Feeling Challenged

It is easy to plateau off at a comfortable place where you aren’t making any improvements in your personal or professional life. If everything seems to be just a little bit too easy, it is time to seek out a different challenge.

2. You Get that Gut Feeling

Human instinct is a powerful thing. Often deep down we’ll know it is time to move on before we may be ready to intellectually accept it. Sometimes it pays off to trust that gut feeling, because eventually it’ll grow strong enough that you won’t be able to resist it anyway.

3. An Opportunity is Available

Turning down opportunities for growth is often a huge mistake. If you get the chance to make a change that will improve things for the better, take it. Then perhaps assess the things that were holding you back in the first place.

4. People are the Only Thing Holding You Back

As social creatures, people do hold a significant place in our life. However, often the key to success is building your life around dreams, not people. There are exceptions to this rule of course, especially when it comes to your children, but otherwise, sometimes we have to cut ties in order to achieve success.

5. When the Only Reason you are Holding on is Fear of Letting Go

Never, ever let fear determine what course that you take. End of story.

6. When you are Waiting for Change

Holding onto hope for change is a common problem people encounter. The important thing to remember is that you can only control yourself. If you are waiting around for someone or something to change, don’t hold your breath.

7. If Negative Emotions are Present more than Positive Ones

Life can hard. Sometimes everyone experiences negative bouts of emotions; however, when the bad feelings start to outweigh the good ones, it is definitely time for a change. There is enough joy in this life, especially if you have electricity and the internet, to not be caught in an endless cycle of  negativity.

8. When Life Becomes a Chore

Life is filled with duties, but when these duties begin to grind against your will to live, consider making a change. Whether it is a change in attitude about the daily grind, or it is actually a change in your life is up to you to determine that..

9. It No Longer Serves You

Letting go of things that no longer serve your journey towards being the person you want to be is extremely important, especially when those things are not just neutral, but actually detrimental to your desired growth.

10. When You Don’t Feel Passionate

You may not always feel passionate about everything in life, but there should be at least a little trickle of passion that comes through regularly. Feeling enthused and excited about what you are doing in life is a sign that you are on the right course. Think about if you are going in the right direction when it comes to your goals and ideals, if not find out how you need to alter things to work towards re-igniting your fervor for life.

I know how much social pressure there is to conduct yourself a certain way. Some people they know what’s best for you and the whole world. But remember…

1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your living situation.

It doesn’t matter what kind of living situation you’re in, whether you have housemates, live alone, live unmarried with a partner, or live with your ex still. You don’t need to explain to anyone why you live the way that you do.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your life priorities.

Want to open a business? Become a pastor at your church? Sell all your belongings and backpack through India? Go for it! And remember, you don’t have to explain your priorities to anyone. They are yours, and you don’t have to try to impress people with them.

3. You don’t owe anyone an apology if you are not sorry.

If you’ve done something that someone else doesn’t like but that you don’t regret, you don’t owe them an apology. An apology is to try to rectify a mistake and the impact it’s had on others.

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for requiring alone time.

If you need alone time, you’re not being rude, introverted, or unfriendly. You just need time alone. You don’t have to explain your need for that. Just enjoy that precious time alone.

5. You don’t owe anyone your agreement on their personal beliefs.

When people share their personal beliefs with you, it’s often a sign of trust that should be cherished. It’s a window into their souls and the way they think. But just because someone has shared their personal beliefs with you doesn’t mean you have to nod in agreement. Also, see #3.

6. You don’t owe anyone a yes to everything they say.

I know it can be hard to say no to the hard ask, but just know that you don’t have to say yes to everything everyone asks of you. Know your limits and what you’re willing to do for others.

7. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your physical appearance.

If you’ve lost weight, gained weight, changed your hair, grown a beard, or done anything with your physical appearance, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for it. You’re just doing you. They can deal with pink hair.

8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your food preferences.

We all like different types of food. If someone tries to judge you over it, don’t engage. You don’t have to explain what kind of food you like to eat. You just eat what you want to.

9. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your sex life.

Whether your sex life doesn’t exist or does with another consenting adult, it’s no one’s business but your own. People will try to judge you for who you sleep with or what your sexuality is, but what they think generally doesn’t matter.

10. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or personal life choices.

When it comes to the direction you’re going in life, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or the direction you’ve opted to go. Just go for it! The people who truly care for you will back you up.

11. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your religious or political views.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim, it’s your choice and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for it. If someone wants to have a fun, candid discussion with you and you also want that, have at it! A good debate or exchange of ideas is a lot of fun.

12. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being single.

It doesn’t matter if you’re single by design or by accident – you’re single! Chances are, you’re pretty happy with it too. You might get pressured to go find a partner and get married, but you march to the beat of your own drum.

13. You don’t owe anyone a date just because they asked.

This is such an important thing to remember. You don’t have to say yes just because someone asked you to go out with them!

14. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decision about marriage.

Want to get married at 18? Don’t ever want to get married? As long as you’re an adult making decisions of your own accord, your decision about marriage is yours alone.

15. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices.

Did you forgive a cheater? Did you get back together with your ex? Did you say no to a marriage proposal? These decisions were made by you for your own set of reasons, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for that.
Photo credit: Jade Small

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