One benefit of the financial crisis is that people have become more knowledgeable about credit reports and credit scores. But some false beliefs persist.
With the economy improving and consumer spending on the rise, I've been getting a lot of credit report- and credit score-related e-mails. With more people buying things, some of which will inevitably be on credit, folks are looking to make sure they don't make any mistakes that could jeopardize their good credit scores and increase their borrowing costs.
I like the fact that people are becoming more conscious of their behavior and how it affects their financial lives. It's one of the more positive side effects of the financial crisis.
Unfortunately, there are still a few ideas out there about credit that are flat-out wrong.
While overall inflation is expected to remain tame this year, one area where it might go wild is clothing, with overall prices expected to rise by 10% or more.
According to this recent article from The Associated Press, your clothing bill is about to go up by 10%, with some of the increase happening this spring and the rest by the end of the year.
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On an inflation-adjusted basis, overall clothing prices have declined over the past 10 years as lower-cost raw materials and goods from low-labor-cost countries such as China flooded the market. But in recent months, both material and labor costs have been escalating.
In this article from last September, we warned that higher cotton prices would probably start translating into steepening prices for T-shirts and jeans. Cotton has continued to climb since then, recently hitting $1.90 a pound, the highest price since the Civil War. Synthetic materials are also increasing in price.
Whether you're struggling with debt, making big plans or looking for a better quality of life, saving is essential.
Whether it's a New Year's resolution, a credit card you're trying to pay down or simply that you want more cash in your pocket, finding a little extra money is important.
- Calculator:Is your budget in balance?
But saving shouldn't be painful. If the steps you're taking negatively affect your quality of life, you probably won't be able to maintain them for long. So don't go on a "dollar diet." Instead, find ways to save that are simple and fast and that won't feel like deprivation.
The stock market -- or bonds or a money market -- cannot make your future secure unless you have money in them. So start saving.
"Wanna see something neat?" Kris asked recently. She was holding the year-end statement from her work-based retirement plan.
"Sure," I said. "Show me the money."
She handed the statement to me. "Look at my account balance," she said. "Look how it's grown. It went down a little bit in 2008 (10%), but because I kept contributing, the balance has gone crazy during the last two years."
Crazy good, she meant, as in up 280%.
Time's running out, but here are projects you can do at home in very short order.
There's very little time left to get your Valentine's Day gift plans in order. If you hope to hand out individual well-wishes today, your options are limited -- especially if you want to stick to a very small budget (and who wouldn't?).
Luckily, you may be able to solve this problem this afternoon and likely with supplies already in your house.
A 1990 law was intended to protect consumers' privacy, court rules.
Does it annoy you when a store cashier asks for your ZIP code? If so, and if you live in California, you'll be glad to learn the state Supreme Court has upheld a 1990 law that makes it illegal to do so.
The law prohibits merchants from requesting and recording a credit card holder's "personal identification information." The court ruled that such information can include not only a telephone number or street address but also a ZIP code.
Having a little ready cash at home means you're, well, ready -- no matter what happens. But where should you hide it?
For the past six years I've kept a stash of ones, fives, 10s and 20s hidden in my apartment. I believe in having legal tender on hand for emergencies.
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You should be ready. Uncle Sam says so.
High-fructose corn syrup could become 'corn sugar.'
What's in a name? The National Consumers League thinks quite a lot, when it comes to food ingredients.
The Washington-based consumer group is taking issue with a proposal before the Food and Drug Administration to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener commonly found in soft drinks and processed foods, to "corn sugar" on food labels. The group says consumers have begun to increase their awareness of HFCS and its possible effect on expanding waistlines.
Calling it something else, the group says, is confusing and misleading.
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