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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 Tue 12:31 PM

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 Tue 11:43 AM
This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site 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

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:


How many "official" notices and sweepstakes entries did you receive in the mail last week? Read this to find out what is allowed and what to do about lawbreakers.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 3:21 PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyI don't know about you, but I have a 79-year-old mom who seems to be on every political and religious mailing list known to man. Every day, she gets a new batch of letters emblazoned with words like "special notice," "official survey due" and "final attempt: invoice enclosed."

User name field on computer screen © William Andrew, PhotographerOf course, the special notice is simply an appeal for money, the official survey asks a few questions from a partisan group (and by the way, can you send a donation to support the cause?) and the invoice is actually a sales pitch. Other mail may have sticky notes, fonts that look handwritten or return addresses that fail to disclose the business. Check out this inventive junk mail sent to a Maine woman in 2012.

Today's seniors can be vulnerable to all sorts of confusing direct mail. Marketers are counting on them not to realize that the survey didn't come from the Census Bureau and the invoice isn't for something they agreed to purchase.

Even those of us in a younger generation can be a target. Anyone who's purchased a vehicle can attest to the onslaught of official-looking mail that arrives trying to sell extended warranties. It has become so bad that we no longer trust legitimate notices  when they do arrive.


The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will investigate claims of mail fraud, but first you need to know what's allowed. While the information below doesn't cover all of the different types of mail you may receive, here are three of the major categories:


The perks and protections of using plastic come in handy when you're buying tickets to the game.

By Mon 2:21 PM
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site on MSN MoneyThis is an exciting time of year for sports fans. Football season has just begun, hockey season is around the corner and the baseball playoffs begin next month. At the same time, busy sports fans have scheduling conflicts, and there will always be frugal fans on the sidelines hoping to get a good deal on the tickets on the secondary market, or just find any seat to a sold-out game.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) drops back to pass against the Tennessee Titans, Sep 14, 2014 © Don McPeak/Newscom/Reuters
Yet this secondary market for sports tickets can be a very dangerous place. Last year, the AARP estimated that nearly 5 million people paid for fake tickets to concerts, sporting events and theme parks. It's as if thieves have found a way to print money.

Since it can be nearly impossible to distinguish these fake tickets from the real ones, how can fans protect themselves when buying on the secondary market. The key lies with their credit cards.



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