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New Credit Card Changes Take Effect

February 28th, 2010

credit-card-bill-of-rightsLast year I wrote about the Credit Card Bill of Rights, and what it really meant for you.  This law went into effect last Monday, so here is a reminder about the key points of the new law and how it affects you.

Overdraft Fees. Overdraft fees can only be charged if you have positively “opted in” and accepted the option to have overdraft protection for a fee.  If your credit card company has not already contacted you, they may contact you very soon.  Declining the option will prevent you from incurring any overdraft fees in the future, but it will also cause your credit card to be denied if you reach your credit limit.

Order of Balances Paid. Previously credit card companies applied any payments (continue reading…)

Still Time for the $8000 Homebuyer Tax Credit

September 20th, 2009

homebuyer_tax_creditThe deadline is quickly approaching but there’s still time to take advantage of the “First-Time” Homebuyer Tax Credit.  The rules are simple, here’s what you need to know:

  • Anyone who has not owned a home in the past 3 years is eligible
  • Purchase a home between January 1 and November 30, 2009
  • Receive a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price, up to $8000, on your 2009 tax return

For example, with a home purchase of $65000, you would receive (continue reading…)

Don’t Get Burned When Buying a New or Used Car

June 8th, 2009

auto-dealerIf you’ve been thinking about buying a new or used car, be very careful or you may be getting yourself into deep trouble.  With the state of the auto market there are many great deals out there, whether you are looking for used or new cars, so the last thing you are expecting is to get ripped off.  So beware, some buyers are ending up in a huge mess that they never bargained for.

Some car buyers when purchasing a new (or “new” to them) car, have traded in their old car which they were still making payments on.  After all the paperwork is signed and the financing arranged, the buyer drives their new car home and the dealer keeps their trade in. Normally the dealership then pays off their old car, receives the title, and resells the car or sends it to auction.
(continue reading…)

Interest Rates Spike: Should You Act?

June 4th, 2009

rising-ratesInterest rates began rising a few weeks ago, but rose very sharply last week.  Interest rates on 30 year fixed mortgages have rise over 1/3 point in the past week and the national average is now 5.36% (up from 5.00%), reported.  The primary reason rates have begun to rise is due to the concern over how much money the U.S. Treasury is printing.  Nevertheless, rates are on the rise, and most economic indicators suggest they will continue to rise in the coming months.  What does this mean for you?  It could be good news or bad news for you, depending on your current financial plans and goals, but here’s how you can make the best decisions in the coming weeks and months while facing rising interest rates. (continue reading…)

Start Saving Money and Your Health on World No Tobacco Day

May 31st, 2009

world-no-tobacco-dayToday is “World No Tobacco Day” as designated by the World Heath Organization (WHO).  The focus of the day is highlighting the health hazards caused by the use of tobacco products.  The health concerns of using tobacco products are widely known, so on “World No Tobacco Day” I would like to encourage those who smoke or use tobacco products to quit for another reason: your wallet.
(continue reading…)

What the Credit Card Bill of Rights Means for You

May 24th, 2009

credit-cardsLast Friday Barack Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 (aka “Credit Card Bill of Rights Act”) into law.  The law does not go into effect until February of 2010, but there has been lots of talk about this bill already.  Let’s talk about what is really in this bill and what this bill really means for you and your wallet.

Interest Rate Increase Limitations. Companies cannot increase your interest rates on existing balances unless you are (continue reading…)

The Dollar Bill Savings Plan

May 22nd, 2009

onedollarbillsAre you living paycheck to paycheck?  Do you find it impossible to save any money for a rainy day?  If you answered yes to either question, the dollar savings plan is for you.  This plan isn’t new, but its very simple and sure to help you save money here and there, and before you know it you will have saved more than you thought you could.

The prerequisite for the plan is that you actually make some purchases with cash; if you only use credit cards then you will not be able to implement the plan.  All of your purchases do not have to be made in cash, but the more purchases you make in cash, the more effective the plan will be. (continue reading…)

Listen to Free Music, Legally

May 16th, 2009

pandoraInternet radio has been around for awhile, and I used to listen to internet radio while at work or while surfing the web at home but now I’ve found something better and still free.  I’ve been using Pandora for about a year now, have probably listened for hundreds of cumulative hours over that time, and in my opinion Pandora beats all internet radio competitors, hands down.  The reason Pandora is so much better is because intelligent internet radio that only plays music that you want to hear. (continue reading…)

How to Rent a Moving Truck

April 30th, 2009

movingtruckhouseI have moved many times, and at one point at the end of college/beginning of my career I was averaging one move every 9 months!  Needless to say, I have rented quite a few moving trucks and getting good deal is easier than you may think.  Last time I moved, I took the following steps to find a moving truck and ended up saving $120 off of a $700 rental (17% off).

There are 4 national moving truck rental companies for those movers who wish to move themselves, U-Haul, Budget, Penske, and Ryder.  Of course there might also be local or regional companies in your area for local moves, which I also recommend you consider as they maybe able to make you a better offer than the national chains.  Simply follow these steps to get the best deal (continue reading…)

80/20 Mortgages: Good Riddance?

April 24th, 2009

mortgagepaperworkNot long ago, 80/20 mortgages were so commonplace and many home buyers were using them to buy homes with no money down.  Today 80/20 are essentially so nonexistent that is does not matter if you have a perfect 850 FICO score, you still will not be able to find an 80/20 mortgage.  For better or for worse, these loans are no longer being offer to any type of borrower.

If you are wondering “What is an 80/20 mortgage?” let me explain.  An 80/20 mortgage (also called piggyback loans, tandem loans, nothing down mortgage, etc.) is (was) a mortgage for 80% of the (continue reading…)

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