Friday, July 18, 2008

8 Tips to Help You Fight Foreclosure

I started this blog in May to help me track and make some sense of my financial situation. What can I say? I have a mortgage I can't afford. If I could sell the house, I would, but it just won't sell in this market. My goal for Fighting Foreclosure was to document my own struggles as I pull myself out of my own "pit of despair." I know I am not alone out there, there are so, so many people dealing with the same thing I am. In fact, just recently I saw foreclosure rates are up 74.1% in my area!

Here are Eight Tips to Help Fight Foreclosure:

1. Track all your expenses.
Tracking every penny isn't easy (I still struggle with it,) but it can really help you see where your money is going. See if you are spending small amounts on frivolous purchases. I know sometimes it seems silly to save $1 here and $.50 there - and it is hard to see how that can make your house payment, but from pennies, dollars are made. Track everything - food, gas, cable, entertainment expenses, utilities, car payments - whatever you spend money on. Then look for ways to decrease these costs.

2. Use your assets.
Look around you - what do you have that can earn you extra income? Both your physical assets and your intellectual assets can earn you money.

Physical assets - the first question is, is there anything you can sell? I've been able to earn a bit each month by selling books on Amazon, Half and eBay. I am also having a garage sale in a week. But think outside the box - look for things that can give you a stream of money each month. For example, do you have a spare bedroom? I noticed on Craig's List lots of people, particularly college students, looking for rooms to rent. Not all of them needed a place for a full year, some just needed a place for a few months while they were between home and college. I really don't want roommates, but if I get to that point, these are the kinds I will be looking for. I have an extra garage stall I don't need, so I am looking to rent that out.

Intellectual assets - are there other things you can do? Can you earn extra money babysitting, tutoring, landscaping, sewing, cleaning, ghost writing? What do you know how to do that other people will pay you for? This may mean freelancing or perhaps getting a second job.

3. Make a To-Do List
Sit down in a quiet place with a piece of paper and pen and write down any way possible you can make money or save money - no matter how crazy, or how distasteful, it might be. Following up on that $20 you loaned a buddy 15 years ago in college or having to borrow money from mom may not actually make the cut, but write them down anyway. Then go through and rank them from easiest to do to least likely to do. For example, one of the easiest and "no-brainer" things for me was to simply follow up on a rebates I was owed but hadn't received. On the bottom of my list? Borrowing from relatives. Once you have made your list - go to it! Once you start you will be surprised at how fast things start to come together.

4. Get Informed
There are lots and lots of great Personal Finance blogs out there. Start reading them - many have great tips on subjects like earning extra income, frugal living and dealing with debt. I read the folks on my blog roll and I also check out the ones on pfbuzz. Reading personal finance blogs has given me tons of great ideas as well inspiration to keep going.

5. Speak to Your Other Billing Companies

I took a look at some of my bills and was able to reduce my insurance costs considerably. If you are already over your head and it looks like you can't make your payments - call them. Talk to your utility companies and credit card companies and explain the situation. Keep in contact with them. Explain this is a temporary situation and tell them what you are planning to do about it. This is why having The List is important.

6. Call Your Lender/s
Don't wait for them to visit you! Foreclosures aren't good for anyone - banks included. It is in their best interest to help you stay in your home, but not if you don't make the effort. Call them and tell them the situation and keep them informed every step of the way.

7. Consider getting a HUD Counselor to Help
I am not a financial expert, if I was, I wouldn't be in this situation myself! Get help from a pro. There is a map of HUD Approved Counseling Centers here.

8. Breathe
No one wants to go into foreclosure or lose their home. It is a horrible thing. Keep in mind though, it is happening to Americans everywhere - you are not alone. This will not kill you. It may make things harder for awhile, but it isn't the end of the world. You will survive even this!


Additional Reading:
For more tips and ideas, check these other reasources -

The Simple Dollar's Exploring The Latte Factor: What a Latte Really Costs You
Save, You Fool's 101 Ways I Saved Money This Year
Passive Family Income's New Ideas for Reducing Our Monthly Food Budget
Master Your Card's Do It Yourself Debt Settlement Plan
www. HUD.gov's Help for Homeowners Facing the Loss of Their Home

If you have other articles that would make great reading, please add them in the comments!



1 comment:

Foreclosure Fight said...

Great list. I'd also recommend considering an audit of your mortgage file to see if rescission is available (cancellation of the debt and return of all money paid).

My book, 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure, available at http://www.foreclosure-fight.com shows a homeowner how to do a self-audit of loan documents.

Best,
Troy