The best things in life are free or so they say, but yet people still pay for many things that are indeed free to all. There are many people who unfortunately are not savvy enough to know that some of the services they pay for today are indeed free in the business world. We compile 5 business items you should never pay for and provide you solutions on where to get them free so that perhaps you can save significant money over the course of 2011.
1. Credit reports – There are simply too many scams out there about getting a FREE credit score, many of which require you to sign up a bogus service that drains you monthly for things you will never use like magazine subscriptions or other dumb services. Instead of looking at those scams that tell you they will provide you a FREE service but instead steal your information and create headaches, seek out the simpler and more common alternative way of obtaining a credit report and score. According to the credit bureau agency, each consumer is allowed a free and penalty free copy of their credit report once a year from all three credit agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. These three agencies have official websites which can be accessed by clicking their respective names. On each of their site, you may click links that will instruct you on how you can request a copy of your latest report from them. Some may require you to do so in writing while others via email but the important part here is to remember to not go outside the box and look to alternative ways to get these reports, even if companies claim to give you this info for free. You should not have to pay to receive what you are entitled to, and should not expose such a high level of personal information to people who do not directly work for a credit agency.
2. Debt Consolidation – Debt consolidation is another great scam in America. You see those ads on TV all the time and see the testimonials that people are saving thousands and now living better. These are all scams folks, meaning that if you call you are more likely to end up in a worst situation than you were in before calling. For those that don’t know how this works, its very simple. A debt consolidation agency only calls the creditors and negotiates your debt on your behalf and often doesn’t care of the consequences it holds on your overall financial picture other than paying less monthly. The concept is simply a series of phone calls they make to creditors asking them to block your accounts that you cannot afford to pay then negotiate on your behalf a dollar amount that the creditor will take to settle your debt. They further buy out that debt from the creditor and make you pay them all your negotiated debts in one payment to them. They often make money as they buy your debt for even less than negotiated. The concept simply destroys your credit as it charges off all your accounts and makes you pay back more than you could have negotiated yourself. The best course of action is to take the phone and call each creditor you owe money to and tell them to freeze your accounts and allow you to make payments on your accounts at your pace. As long as you make your payments in the manner agreed, they will keep your accounts active and prevent you from charging off. This will spare your credit and enable you to lower the monthly payment obligations.
3. Budgeting tools – Many will sell you certain programs that help budget your pocket book, and many will actually buy them. Keep in mind that most budgeting tools are available on your bank’s website at no cost. There are many budgeting tools available on Google, as well as government websites and all are FREE. An alternative is to pick up a good book or eBook about strategies for savings that might be more indepth or creative and have helped others. Stay away from those programs that are available free elsewhere.
4. Credit Card Annual Fees – Credit cards are everywhere these days and special offers pop up in your email, mailbox or even as you visit your bank. Which you choose is up to you but remember that annual fees have been non-existent for a while. 90% of all credit cards offer no annual fees and so checking your existing statements and making sure you are not being charged for annual fees or irrelevant services is going to be the key.
5. Checking Accounts – So many banks and so many accounts out there to choose from. Just remember that most banks offer some sort of FREE checking option, and if they don’t you should seek another bank that does. You should not pay a monthly fee for keeping your money in a bank and should especially not pay for services like debit cards, online banking or bill pay which are now a FREE standard across the board in all major banks.
We hope you enjoyed these 5 different things we don’t think you should pay for. Be cautious to not fall for another scam that makes you pay for a service that is openly available for free elsewhere.
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