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Some workers lose up to a quarter of their paychecks paying off old debt from credit cards, medical bills and student loans, as well as child support.

By MSN Money Partner 14 hours ago

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe recession and its financial impacts are still being felt -- and paid for -- by millions of Americans.


According to a new ADP report, 7.2 percent of U.S. workers had wages garnished in 2013 to pay off child support and other debt, including credit cards, medical bills and student loans.


Worried Man © CorbisOther report findings include:

  • Highest rate. Among employees ages 35 to 44, 10.5 percent of employees' wages were garnished, the highest rate of all ages. Half owed child support, but the rest mainly owed consumer debts. Also, the garnishment rate was highest (10 percent) among American workers earning $25,000 to $39,999 per year. More people were garnished for consumer debts in this group than child support, which marks a significant change from prior years. "In the past, the vast majority of wage garnishments went to secure child support payments or to collect on unpaid taxes," NPR said.
  • Different region, different rate. The Midwest had the highest percentage of garnishment at 8.9, and the Northeast region had the lowest at 4.9 percent.
  • Big hits. Forty-eight percent of manufacturing companies had at least one employee whose wages were being garnished. Transportation and utility companies ran a close second at 42 percent. The lowest percentage -- 23 percent -- were in professional and business services, financial activities, and education and health services. "This disparity suggests a possible relationship between garnishment and blue- and white-collar job categories," ADP said.

Garnishment can have a terrible impact on workers, especially those who are barely able to make ends meet.

 

If you think you're too smart to fall for cons and scams, you're setting yourself up to be a victim.

By MSN Money Partner 19 hours ago

This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyBack in 1996, it was pretty easy to steal money from people on the Internet. You put up an item for sale on a site like eBay.com, you took people's money, and you never sent the thing they bought. (Really, that’s the first Internet scam story I wrote almost 20 years ago).


A spam email message from Nigeria © Just One Film/Getty ImagesScams have become a lot more sophisticated since then, but two things have remained incredibly constant during these past two decades. First: Victims almost always send money using a method that offers no recourse, such as wiring the funds. And when I write the story, a chorus of too-clever-by-half people will scream, "That could never happen to me!"


For that second group, I will often quiz them on their extensive portfolio of overpriced extended warranties, time shares and underperforming mutual funds, and gently remind them that folks who think they are too smart to get cheated are often the easiest marks.


One of the first things a trained con man or woman will do to victims is lavish them with praise. ("I can’t believe this great deal I'm giving you," says the auto dealer as he walks away with your money.) So if you think you can’t be scammed, you are probably next in line.


And for that other group, I say simply, "Stop wiring money to people." Doesn't matter how elaborate the cover story is.


Because I've interviewed thousands of victims during the past two decades, I'm often asked why people fall for scams or corporate rip-offs. Here are my top five reasons.

 

A reader is starting a new job and won't have health insurance for three months. Will that result in an Obamacare penalty?

By MSN Money Partner 19 hours ago

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was the answer for many Americans, but left others with questions. For example, a reader asked this question:

If a person leaves their current job where they had company-based insurance to take another job where that insurance won't start for 90 days, will that person need to get insurance for that 90 days, or will it be OK not to have coverage for that period? Would they be in danger of getting a fine? -- Andrea

Medical doctor © CorbisThe short answer, Andrea, is: No, you won't face a fine for not having insurance for 90 days.


According to Donna M. Ballman, employment lawyer and author of "Stand Up for Yourself Without Getting Fired":

The Affordable Care Act website says that "If you're uninsured for just part of the year, one-twelfth of the yearly penalty applies to each month you're uninsured. If you're uninsured for less than three months, you don't have to make a payment."

The IRS backs her up. From its website:

 

Don't outsmart yourself with these money-saving methods.

By Credit.com 20 hours ago
This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyWhile reviewing your finances, you may struggle to find reasons why your budget isn’t working. Everyone loves saving money, but the way you cut back can make a big difference. In fact, certain budget habits can actually cost you dearly.


Piggy bank © Fancy, Veer, CorbisEven the best saving intentions can lead to financial flubs, it's all about executing them correctly. Here are a few ways you could sabotage your own budget.


1. Leaving no wiggle room

While it is likely you can stand to spend less each month, you don’t want to force yourself to stick to a budget that leaves no breathing room for special occasions, entertainment or indulgences. It’s important to make plans based on your real life and to create a budget you can stick to. A too-tight budget will often backfire as your desire to spend will catch up with your desire to save and leave you splurging.

 

State Farm says cost of deer-strike repairs up 14 percent, and drivers' odds of hitting one have increased as well.

By QuinStreet Mon 6:38 PM

This post comes from Michelle Megna at partner site CarInsurance.com.


Your chances of hitting a deer while driving are up 3 percent this year, and so is the cost – the average deer strike claim is $3,888, up 13.9 percent from last year, according to State Farm.


Nationwide, a typical driver’s odds of a Bambi collision are 1 in 169, the nation’s largest car insurance company said Monday, but that likelihood doubles during the upcoming deer season, from October to December.


© Craig Tuttle/Getty Images
Caption: A Deer On The Road In Mt. Rainier National Park
In West Virginia, the state where deer-car collisions are most likely, the odds are 1 in 39, up almost 5 percent from 2013, State Farm says.


The Mountain State, which has been No. 1 on the list of states most likely to have deer strikes for eight consecutive years, is followed this year by:

 

A new report from the Federal Reserve found that fewer people have retirement accounts, and the poor have been hit especially hard.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 5:35 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe percentage of Americans who are saving for retirement continues to drop.


In 2013, ownership of retirement accounts by U.S. households fell below 50 percent, continuing a downward trend. And if you're a lower-income individual, the retirement participation percentage was even lower, at 40 percent -- an eight percentage point decline since 2007.


401k © Photodisc, SuperStockThese startling facts are highlighted in a new report by the Federal Reserve (.pdf file).


"This overall decline was driven by declines in both IRA and DC (defined contribution) coverage, as there was little change in the fraction of families with a DB (defined benefit) plan," the report said.


Many retirement accounts took a huge hit during the recession, but for most people, balances bounced back. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for everyone. According to MarketWatch, retirement account balances declined for people at the high and low ends of the income scale.

The average balance in Americans' retirement accounts -- a category that includes individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as well as 401k's, 403b's and Keogh plans -- rose 10 percent over the past three years, from $183,400 in 2010 to $201,300 in 2013. The median balance, meanwhile, was up 25 percent, from $47,200 to $59,000.
 

Older Americans owe more than $18.2 billion in student loans, pushing some seniors into poverty.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 3:26 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyStudent loan debt may be as big a problem for Grandma as it is for her grandkids.


A new report from the Government Accountability Office (.pdf file) found that more U.S. seniors are swimming in student loan debt, and they're more likely than their younger counterparts to become unable to make their loan payments.


Graduation cap © Stockdisc/SuperStockThe report said:

The percentage of households headed by those aged 65 to 74 having student debt grew from about 1 percent in 2004 to about 4 percent in 2010. While those 65 and older account for a small fraction of the total amount of outstanding federal student debt, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group grew from about $2.8 billion in 2005 to about $18.2 billion in 2013.

Those seniors often struggle to find the money to cover their student loan payments. About 36,000 older Americans saw their Social Security benefits garnished in 2013 because of defaults on their loans, forcing many of them into poverty.


"At least 22,000 Americans aged 65 and older had a part of their Social Security benefits garnished last year to the point that their monthly benefits were below federal poverty thresholds," The Huffington Post said.

 

A new study indicates that Americans are actually pretty smart when it comes to managing credit cards.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 3:24 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou've probably seen headlines like this: Americans have an average of $15,000 in credit card debt!


Shopping online © Comstock, SuperStockThat's not the case. And now the Survey of Consumer Finances (.pdf file), a major report issued by the Federal Reserve every three years, gives a new in-depth look at how Americans have been handling their credit cards.


They've gotten much better with debt. In fact, most families don't carry a credit card balance from month to month.


The report says:

Between 2010 and 2013, the fraction of families with credit card debt … decreased. Median and mean balances for families with credit card debt fell 18 percent and 25 percent, respectively, and the fraction of families that pay off credit cards every month increased.

Some of the highlights from the report:

 

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