Redefining Reimbursements The Paperless Approach

f19As you read this, an employee in some part of the world is struggling to find his bill in order to file his reimbursements and his manager is having a miserable time going through a stack of receipts that are not making it any better for her. Have you been there as well? Then it is time to digitize the process and make it a lot easier.

Over the past few years there have been a lot of buzz about going paperless in offices, home and on-field workplaces. A bunch of reasons might have reached your ears about going paperless; like saving the environment, saving money for your company, hassle free procedures et al. However, another important approach, which remains unnoticed,is increased productivity. Remember the time, you used to keep all your receipts in a shoebox? They were stacked up at one place, but were they organized? They were not in any planned order and finding a specific one at the drop of a hat was a myth. It is time to change that.

Information as we know continues to grow at an astonishing rate, as is the technology that is used to create, store and share it. The clients, customers and public demands easy access to data and in order to achieve that, a collaborative effort is required to distinguish, sort and prioritize information, data and management tools. While Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are taken into account, the digitization of expense management is required for saving time, high productivity and employee satisfaction. In a recent study by University of Michigan, it was found- paperless management enhances customer service, reduces cost, and improves speed, efficiency and productivity among employees in the workplace. In addition to that, government agencies and organizations in Australia are moving towards virtual business processes and digital record management to inculcate the true essence of the era of digitization.

It has also been proven over time that smart phones and cloud based application services can be used to their maximum potential and help to make cumbersome processes easier. With the latest mobile applications, that online automate expense management procedure, it easy to capture receipts or expenditure data. Take a simple snapshot of the receipt, send it for approval and your work is done. With this, it is much simpler to apply for reimbursements, review and approve these reports as well as tackle dishonest claims.

Well, even though you are almost finished reading this, that employee mentioned at the start of this article, is still struggling to find his bill and the manager isn’t sorted with the stack of receipts yet. Think again, do you want to be one of them? Go paperless and get yourself a digital and hassle free solution.


What The Face of Professional Wrestling Can Teach Us About Getting Out of Debt

f18As I was getting ready for work one morning I watched the Today Show. John Cena, who is a professional wrestler, as well as an actor and rapper, was guest hosting. I am not a follower of professional wrestling but I have seen Mr. Cena in a few movies and if I could describe him in one word, the word would be “chiseled”.

Natalie Morales, one of the regular hosts on Today, mentioned how in shape he appeared and asked him how many hours per day he spent working out. I wish I had recorded his answer because it surprised me. I am paraphrasing Mr. Cena’s response here:

“Watch what you put into your mouth, and do a little bit more physically every day. You will be amazed at how your body will respond. Keep this simple!”

I lost thirty pounds last year by doing this (I counted carbs and calories on my iPhone and walked more). But as I listened to him, it made me think about my last journey with getting out of debt.

In 2010 we had $20,200 in consumer debt, plus our home mortgage. The consumer debt consisted of the balance on a car loan (we purchased the car in 2008 with a five year loan), a department store credit card, an orthodontist bill for our son’s braces and one VISA. My wife and I decided we were tired of these bills and decided to get serious about paying them off. 23 months later, all four consumer debts were paid off. We kept going forward and on August 22, 2014, we paid off our home mortgage!

So how does this relate to John Cena’s advice? Just keep your plan simple and implement the plan!

The first step (after deciding once and for all to get out of debt) is to create a household budget. Just thinking about income and expenses is not enough. The budget gives you the information that you need to be able to have a plan of attack. One of my coaching clients told me he did not want to have a budget because it would force him to acknowledge that he needed to work more hours in order to pay down his debts! A budget will expose the issues causing debt.

Second, do you have an emergency fund? How would you feel if you knew you had money in the bank to use to fix a dead car battery instead of having to charge it on a credit card? A coaching client told me she would “have a huge weight” lifted off of her shoulders if she could have just $600 in savings! The budget she created showed her that she could save $25 every week if her husband would stop buying energy drinks at work (which he agreed to). They also eliminated some other expenses so they could put $300 per month into their emergency fund.

How much should you have in your emergency fund? Whatever amount you believe will make you feel secure in case something unexpected happens. $500? $1000? My wife and I started with $1000.

Third, what order do you want to focus on your debts? Some people want to pay off the account with the highest interest rate first. Others (like my wife and me) choose to pay the smallest balance first. Either plan works. Pay the minimum amounts on every debt except the one you are focused on. That debt gets every dollar possible thrown at it until it is paid off. Then you take that money and add it to the payment on your next debt list.

When the second debt is paid, you roll that money towards the next debt, and so on until they are all paid off. Do not spend the extra money as that kills the plan!

My newest coaching client told me during our introductory session that she was considering bankruptcy because she did not have enough money coming in to pay all of her credit cards. Once she put her budget on paper, she realized that she was making extra payments to all of her credit cards. We worked together to create a plan where she attacks one card and pays minimums on the rest. She had the income but she was not seeing any progress because every card was being worked. With intense focus she will knock out her first bill in just two months and generate the momentum needed to kill all of her debt!


Why You Should Use a Debt Coach to Get Out Of Debt

f17Have you tried to lose weight before? What methods did you try? Most people “go on a diet”. They count their calories and limit their sugar and fat intake. Some people swear by eating all fats and no carbohydrates, others go heavy on protein. There are as many diets out there as there are people on them! And 95% fail to keep the weight off according to major studies.

Others hit the gym to lift weights and get some cardio work in. A New Year’s resolution to get in shape and lose weight. Yet by now, most everyone who made that resolution has stopped. Lines at exercise machines are three deep on January 10th and the machines are empty on February 10th!

A study was funded by the National Institutes of Health in 2012 which compared the weight loss results of people who used a health coach versus people who did not. The people who worked with a health coach lost more weight than those who did not work with a coach.

What do you think? Have you found it to be easier to get to the gym because you were paying for a trainer? Easier to stay on a diet when you used a calorie counter app on your smart phone?

The interesting part of the story was what a health coach was defined as. A health coach did more than just tell the client to exercise more and eat less. The coaches taught principles of behavior modification to help their clients stay on track towards their goals. They helped their clients bust through psychological barriers so these weight changes would remain permanent.

Let’s change the topic from weight loss to getting out of debt. Have you tried to go “cold turkey” on your spending? Live life with a “gazelle intensity”? How long did you last before it became too tough and you just gave up?

Getting out of debt is just like losing weight. There are thousands of books out there and dozens of courses that all have “the secret”. But there are no secrets. Weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories than your burn. And you get out of debt when you spend less money than you earn.

Just like losing weight, a debt coach can help you to become debt free. A debt coach not only knows how to help you create a budget (which is probably 20% of the issue), but he also knows how to help you change your beliefs about yourself to help you stay on track when life gets tough.

Your self identity will support your plan or sabotage your plan. A debt coach will help you to develop a saver’s identity.

Your values about money will result in your choices to save money or spend it. A debt coach will help you to develop values that encourage you to choose to save some money and not spend it all.

You will face obstacles from your outside world and from inside your head. A debt coach will help you to fight through these obstacles, especially through the use of accountability. When you know your debt coach will ask if you made that $100 credit card payment like you planned, it makes it easier for you to not spend $50 of it at dinner.

If your health coach was obese, would you follow his advice? Heck no! You want a health coach who is in shape; an authority in being healthy. Likewise your debt coach needs to be someone who is 100% debt free, including having his mortgage paid off. You want help from someone who has “walked the walk”, not just “talks the talk”.


What to Look For With a Debt Collection Agency

f16As a business, you will have or already have unpaid invoices, whether they were for a service or a product. Recovering amounts owed can be a long and bumpy road for your business, unless you hire a collection agency to handle everything for you, including keeping you legal. So what should you look for in a collection agency? Here are some details.

Avoid Headaches and Wasted Valuable Time

Hiring a debt collection agency is perhaps the best decision you can make when it comes to collecting on old debts. You have other important business tasks to handle and doing the collecting yourself can consume a lot of your important time, as well as take away your focus from more other business-related things. In fact, it could become a royal headache as you find yourself rummaging around to find documents and checking legal laws, and even getting organized.

One Size Fits All Does Not Apply

Every debt collection agency is different and some may have the offered services you need while others may not be tailored to your situation. Some may send out collection letters and make a couple phone calls and call that collection services. Others may add other features, such as handling court processes, locating debtors, making payment offers, and more. Some debt collection agecies will provide you full services inclusing legal process. They will communicate with both party and try to make an acceptable ending. That is just a couple examples, but there are many other services to consider.

Types of Debt They Handle

Debt collectors focus on specific types of debt, which means that you need one who can handle your bad debts. For instance, some focus solely on medical bills and credit cards, while others add auto loans, personal loans, mortgages, lines of credit, etc.

Their Client Database

An important thing to consider when looking at hiring a debt collector is the type of clients they retain. Some collection agencies work with big corporations while others handle small business clients. Some handle both or are better with one or the other. Some work with franchises while others work with companies that provide services like home improvement companies and landscaping businesses. When prospecting for a debt collection agency, be sure to ask what type of clients businesses they serve. You wouldn’t go to a landscaper for new flooring in the house and you wouldn’t hire a doctor to provide dental procedures. It’s the same concept with debt collectors.


Type of Debts That Collection Agencies in Can Help With

f15As a business, debt is incurred by customers and clients, no matter what type of business it is. Every company will have uncollected debts and there is no way around that. It’s like knowing that every steel car will rust. It goes with the territory. Collection agencies help businesses like yours get some of that money back and this article discusses some on the types of debts you can collect on.

Credit and Personal Loans
For those of you that loan money to customers for personal loans or issue a line of credit for purchases; debt collectors can help attempt to get some of that incurred debt back to you, while staying within the local rules, terms, and laws. This type of debt can include any amount of debt, whether it is $100 or $10,000.

If your line of business involves loaning funds to customers for purchasing homes or other real estate in the form of a mortgage, then collection agencies can help attempt to retrieve past due amounts. In some situations, a repayment plan may be established while other times it can go through court.

Auto Loans
If you are a local bank or financial institution and you loan out money to purchase vehicles, you can retrieve bad debt through repayment plans, payoff discounts, or vehicle repossession. Oftentimes, garnishment can be another option. In many cases, debt collectors can make every attempt to help you get back the money that is owed.

Medical Bills
Medical charges are a very common form of debt for most people, mainly because they incur to a high amount and health insurance does not cover everything and also usually requires a deductible. Besides that, it often sits on the backburner by the medical facilities for some time before action is taken. This debt can usually be recovered through collections.

Banking Debts
With this category, it is not referring to bank loans, but balances owed own overdrawn accounts. Most of the time, an account receives several overdrafts and the owner cannot pay the negative balance to keep the account active. In these situations, the account usually gets closed and the debt awaits payments. Collection agencies can help you get that money back. This often happens through collection letters, followed by court action if the account is not repaid or paid back under a set agreement by the two parties involved. Collection agencies charge a fair commission to collect such debt.


Tips For Hiring A Debt Collector

It is good to look for alternative ways to collect debt from your customers. However, if all other avenues have failed, you may have to use debt collectors to get your cash. Every agency is different from the other and not every one that is right for your kind of business. Here are a few things to consider.

Some debt collectors specialize in dealing with large businesses while others deal with small businesses and households. Check in your locality for the collectors that target similar clients like the one that has defaulted. The method the agencies apply has a high likelihood of succeeding in your case.

Every state has its own regulations that cover how debt collection is done and how the agencies work. It is important to ensure that you select a firm that adheres to Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Moreover, the firm should be bonded and licensed to work in the locality.

Sometimes the firms use very uncouth means to collect the debts. This may raise legal cases if the debtor feels that the agency has acted in bad faith. The insurance ensures that you are not held liable for hiring the agency to collect the debts. Ensure you pick a firm that has a valid errors and omission insurance. It will act as your protection if you are dragged to court.

Once you have a list of a few companies, take time to compare their costs. Different agencies use different formulas to come up with their rates. Some charge a small flat rate mostly associated with pre-collection activities. You are then charged a contingency fee that is part of the amount collected. The charge is about 20% to 30% of the amount collected. Pick a company that offers a no collection no fee model.

Some debtors tend to run away with your cash and ignore your calls. Some even skip town. If this is your situation, ask if the agency you are using has a skip tracing service. This service enables the debt collector track the defaulting client even when they have not left any forwarding address.


Your Five Ways To Stay Credit Card Debt Free

f13Ways to Get Out of the Credit Card Quicksand

With the modern economic climate, there are a lot of women and men all over the world who are battling with consumer debt. It’s simple to end up getting stressed out because of financial debt, with bank plastic being the major element of personal debt. Bank plastic is usually appealing to many people for the reason that they virtually look at them as completely free dollars, until eventually they receive the billing statement.

If you ever currently have been dealing with financial debt, you are likely dreaming about the day when you can at last be devoid of your credit burdens. While many individuals stay ensnared in credit debt for years and maybe even dozens of years, there are uncomplicated methods that can help get you out of financial debt more quickly than you may think. Here I will discuss 5 various straightforward methods to get to be debt free.

1) Stay away from racking up any additional credit card debt. This might sound self-explanatory, nonetheless lots of people who are presently in personal financial difficulties continuously use their credit cards. An effective strategy may be to cut up all but one of your plastic cards, or at the minimum, hide them away so you won’t be toting them around with you.

2) Do not employ credit cards to pay for unsecured debt. It’s inviting to make use of a card or credit line to pay off another bank card, specifically when your new card comes along with a lower promotional monthly interest rate. This process basically delays the unavoidable end result, and can keep you locked in a cycle of individual debt.

3) Set-up a written strategy that prepares for paying off your credit card debts. This file really should paint a genuine frame up of your up-to-date budgeting situation, and lay out the exact strategies you are going to take advantage of to settle your charge cards. Writing your finances on paper will allow you to identify items of unnecessary spending, allowing you to maximize extra money for paying off your loan creditors. A written plan of action should really likewise contain a forecasted time frame of when you are likely to be out of debt, which may be an excellent motivator.

4) Learn how to just say “no”. Many of us pay out a lot more than necessary on restaurant meals, out shopping, and various other discretionary activities. Trimming just a just a handful of these bills each month will make it easy for you to put even more dollars towards repaying your credit card debt.

5) Any time you still cannot take care of your income problems, think about using the assistance of a credit card debt relief agency. These services provide loads of tools you’ll be able to take advantage of to work with your loan companies to help reduce your credit balances. None of us prefers to confess that their credit duties have actually spun out of control, but trying to get advice is going to put you once more on track to starting to become debt free.


You’ll Never Get Out Of Debt Until Your Heart Knowledge Supports Your Head Knowledge

f10When I designed my coaching website, I needed to create a tag line. A type of a one line description of what the site was all about. I wanted it to summarize how I felt about the process of getting out of debt and why so many people start at it but quickly give up.

Science was my first love as a career. I spent my first ten years of work life in the biotechnology world. So the idea of a math equation flashed into my mind.

There are thousands of websites and probably millions of blog posts and articles about how to get out of debt. “Seven methods to lower your credit card debt”. “Five tips to reduce your holiday spending”. Tons and tons of information out there.

So why do less than half of Americans pay off our credit card balances every month? Why do 35% of us have accounts in collections?

I reflected on my two journeys through debt. The first ended in credit counseling and bankruptcy. The second ended with everything paid off, including our home mortgage. What was the difference?

I “knew” that we had debt both times. In my head.

The difference was acknowledging my debt in my heart; my gut. The first time I did not do this. My “plan” to get out of debt was that my business would finally begin earning real money. My heart said everything would work out. My heart knowledge never supported my head knowledge. And I failed.

“Know Debt” was accomplished but nothing else.

In the second plan I got mad (as did my wife). We plugged into this anger and other emotions. We got our hearts involved. We “KNEW” our debt. 17 months later we had paid off our credit card, auto loan, department store card and orthodontist. And then 30 months later we paid off our home mortgage.

“KNOW Debt” was added to “Know Debt”. They added up to “NO DEBT”.

My math equation tag line crystallized. It explained why we want to get out of debt and have the best intentions to get out of debt. But we rarely get there.

We generally acknowledge that we have debt in our heads. We know we have three credit cards with balances on them. We know we have an auto loan that pays off in 2018. We know we have five student loans. And we might know the total debt that we owe. We have the head knowledge.

So we read posts, articles and forum advice that make logical sense on how to pay off our debts. Eliminate every expense that we can. No cable TV, no going out to a movie, etc. Live a spartan lifestyle.

And work three jobs.

Our heads can do this for 2-3 weeks. Maybe a month or two. But if our hearts do not support this lifestyle and behavior, something is going to cause us to quit this plan. Once the fun of the adventure dies off, the idea of living on dog food and replacing electricity with candles becomes so unappealing that we give up.

Once our hearts are out of the equation, our plans to get out of debt are dead in the water. Because there are no easy, pixie dust plans to get out of debt. It takes focus. It takes work. It may take some sacrifice. But your plan needs to be realistic; a plan that you can live with. Logically it may take longer. But emotionally you will stick with it all the way to the end and get to NO DEBT.

Take what you know in your head and get it into your heart. Then you will get out of debt.

“Know Debt + KNOW Debt = NO DEBT”


What It Means When a Credit Card Is Charged Off

f9You are late on a credit card. Months late. The bank which issued you the credit card is calling you every couple of days and sending you notice after notice in the mail to get you to send in a payment. But you can’t. Maybe you got laid off or lost your job. Or you have lots of other bills and you cannot afford to pay this bill.

After six months of no payments, the credit card issuer has to “clean up its books”. So it performs an accounting function and “charges off” your debt. The assumption is that, after six months of no payments, you are probably not going to pay this debt. So this loan needs to be removed from the bank’s assets. This is a charge off.

Charge off definitely does not mean that your debt has been wiped out, forgiven and no longer exists. To the contrary, it means your financial life is about to get worse.

Once the credit card issuer charges off your debt, it most likely will be transferred to a collection agency. It does not matter if the bank transferred the debt to the collection agency or sold it to the collection agency. In either case the collection agency is now in charge of your debt. Calling the bank to work something out is now a moot point. You no longer exist in the bank’s view!

The debt collector has to work within the law; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The debt collector is allowed to call you and write you to collect the debt. After all, you still owe it! You can tell the collector to stop calling and stop writing. But that does not mean the collection agency is not working behind the scenes to determine if you have a paycheck or assets to go after. Your charged off debt is always valid to purse until you pay it off.

Your credit report has already taken a hit. Your credit score dropped at 30 days late, 60 days, 90 days and 120 days. Once you reach the 180 day mark and your debt is charged off, the debt becomes reported as “Charged Off.” This notation remains on your credit report for seven years from the first missed payment’s due date.

According to MyFICO.com, approximately 35% of a credit score is based upon payment history. So having a charge off appear on our credit reports has a major impact on our credit score for years and years!

If you do pay off a charged off debt, your credit report will show “Charged Off – Paid”. Obviously this looks better than just showing as charged off. But this still remains on your credit report for seven years from the first delinquency.


You Can Spend Your Way Out of Debt

f8This headline has got to be a typo. How can you spend your way out of a money problem? Am I in charge of a federal government program?

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step to get out of the hole is to stop digging. So how can you spend your way out of debt? I will explain how.

Google “how do I get out of debt” and scroll down past the paid ads. Just about every result from your search will give you some iteration of the following advice items:

  • Get your bills organized so you can see what you are working with
  • Create a spreadsheet of your income and expenses (either on paper or using a computer program/app)
  • Add up your expenses and add up your income. Do you have more expenses than income?
  • Get another job.
  • Eliminate every expense that you can. You can keep electricity, housing and food but not much more.
  • Live this lifestyle until every debt is paid off.

Alright I am getting a little facetious here. But I do not believe that I am exaggerating much. The idea touted is to live as spartan a lifestyle as possible and maximize the amount of money that you pay towards your debts.

The common theme here is that to get out of debt, you must eliminate everything from your lifestyle and use that money to pay towards your debts.

How long do you think you can live like this? Two weeks? One month?

If you are single then this lifestyle may last longer because you have no one else to worry about. But when there is a spouse, the two of you must live like this. The plan just got much more complicated.

Add children to the scenario and the complication just increased exponentially. A five year old does not understand debt. All he knows is the cable TV is no longer there.

My suggestion is to build in some spending on some “unnecessary” expenses. Allow yourself to do something more than work, work and come home. This will be different for everyone. In my case, we went out to dinner once a week. A nice restaurant, not a fast food joint. It was something to look forward to each week.

We also maintained our Dish TV. No movie channels. This made staying at home instead of going out to restaurants and movies easier to do. We came out money ahead.

We began our plan in 2010. Our 25th wedding anniversary was in 2012 and we had talked about taking a cruise for years. So we also budgeted for this and saved a little every month.

In theory this “frivolous” spending makes the debt pay off slower. But if this tiny bit of fun keeps you on your payoff plan, then you will reach your goal. Living spartan for a month and then giving up does not get you to your goal!

Think of it like trying to lose weight. If your plan is to eliminate everything except kale and celery, you will probably lose a bunch of weight at first but give up in a week or two. The thought of a slice of pizza will become so overwhelming that you’ll go overboard and eat an entire pizza, then feel guilty and quit the plan. But if you eat in moderation through portion control and watching your calories, you will allow yourself to eat a little bit of pizza and still lose weight. It will be a slower weight loss but you will stick with your weight loss plan because you are not completely depriving yourself of “forbidden” foods.

Naturally your likes and budget will determine what you can do with your spending. Maybe you can only afford to go out for a meal once or twice a month. Will this “reward” keep you on your plan to get out of debt? It did for me!

Should you get out of debt? Absolutely! But in order to achieve success, I believe you must build some fun spending into your budget. This may postpone your end date on paper, but your chance of success will be infinitely better than living on dog food and reading by candles!