It's hard to make a plan until you know exactly where you stand. So, before you try to come up with a strategy, there's a crucial step you should take.
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.
You've made up your mind: It's time to tackle your debt. You have researched ways to get out of debt, perhaps weighing the pros and cons of snowballs over avalanches to pay off your debt faster. Maybe you've thought about calling a credit counseling or debt settlement agency, or even a bankruptcy attorney, to see what they can offer.
Before you decide on your plan of attack, though, there's one crucial step you won't want to miss. It can make or break your efforts to get out of debt: Get your credit reports and scores.
Here are three reasons why this step is so essential to your success.
A little education can go a long way to protecting yourself from an unscrupulous jeweler when you're looking to buy bling for the holidays.
This post comes from Susan Ladika at partner site Money Talks News.
Jewelry is a gift-giving favorite, and nearly one-quarter of shoppers plan to give a little bling this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
If you're planning to buy your loved ones jewelry, some simple knowledge will help you keep more gold in your pocket, and not in the pocket of some unscrupulous jeweler.
If you shopped at the store after Black Friday, your credit or debit card information may have been stolen. Here's what to do.
This post comes from Hayley Peterson at partner site Business Insider.
Shoppers who visited any of Target's U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 are at risk of having their credit and debit card information stolen.
Target provided us with some tips for what to do if you visited one of their stores during that timeframe:
Conventional wisdom has held that getting young people to sign up is the key. But a new study says that's not the case after all.
This post comes from Yuval Rosenberg at partner site The Fiscal Times.
Now a policy brief released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that those “young invincibles” are not quite as important as the conventional wisdom holds – and that, even if they enroll at relatively low levels, it’s highly unlikely that they will set off an Obamacare “death spiral.” The Kaiser analysis finds that, even in a likely worst-case scenario, premiums would only go up 1 to 2 percent in 2015, nowhere near the kind of spike that could send the reform law snowballing toward failure.
The oft-repeated actuarial analysis behind that “death spiral” prediction goes like this: Obamacare imposes limits on how much more insurers can charge older policyholders relative to younger ones. That means the young enrollees will be subsidizing coverage for older ones. If young, healthy people don’t sign up in sizable enough numbers, insurers would be left with a pool of customers that is disproportionately older and sicker (read: more expensive).
The insurance companies would adjust by hiking premiums the next year, making their plans even less appealing to the healthier young group and increasing the likelihood that only those who most need coverage would sign up. As the cycle continued, it could destroy the individual insurance market and doom Obamacare.
The reality isn’t quite that simple, Kaiser Family Foundation analysts Larry Levitt, Gary Claxton and Anthony Damico explain.
Money rules aren't one-size-fits all, and following them isn't always the prudent thing to do; it's better to consider individual circumstances and temperatments.
This post comes from Rob Berger at partner site Credit.com.
Most of us tend to like cut-and-dried answers to our financial questions. How much house can I afford? There’s a rule of thumb for that. From the order you pay off your debt to the amount you should withdraw in retirement, there are a number of financial guidelines available to help you make better financial decisions.
The problem with rules of thumb, though, is that they don’t ring true for every situation. Personal finance is, of course, personal. This means that, while a rule of thumb is a good starting point, it isn’t the final word for your finances.
With that in mind, here are five financial rules of thumb that can lead you astray if you follow them blindly.
Hint: It's not the mortgage, credit cards, or cable.
This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.
Americans tend to pay their car loans before their mortgages or credit cards each month, says Steve Chaouki, group vice president in credit bureau TransUnion's financial services business unit.
Consider: Among consumers with auto loans, mortgages and credit cards, the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was just 0.88 percent last year, while the rate for credit cards was 1.82 percent and the rate for mortgages was 1.91 percent. While overall, those rates have improved since 2009, when the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was 1.34 percent, credit cards 2.82 percent and mortgages 3.83 percent -- the priorities are still clear: cars, then credit cards, then mortgages. And, says, Chaouki, autos are likely to again lead the pack for 2013.
So what's behind the priority we give to our rides?
Low out-of-pocket costs may be appealing, but not everyone will save money.
This post comes from Jonelle Marte at partner site MarketWatch.
Some people shopping for health coverage on the new state and federally run insurance exchanges may be lucky enough to find themselves contemplating the potential value of an increasingly rare option: the zero-deductible plan.
Insurance plans that don't have a deductible -- that is, a certain dollar amount that consumers must pay before their coverage kicks in -- are becoming harder to find in workplace plans, as more employers move people onto high deductible plans in an effort to lower the company's health care costs. They are also a rare option on the public exchanges: Less than 5 percent of the plans offered on HealthCare.gov, the exchange site servicing 36 states, have no deductible, according to an analysis by HealthPocket, a company that compares health-insurance plans. Still, the plans are available in some areas, offering consumers who are willing to pay larger monthly premiums a way to reduce their out-of-pocket medical costs throughout the year.
Zero-deductible plans are most common at the platinum level, the highest tier of coverage. Some 41 percent of platinum plans charge no deductible, according to an analysis by HealthPocket of the plans offered in 34 of the 36 states that sell plans on HealthCare.gov. In contrast, only 6 percent of gold plans and 3 percent of silver plans have no deductible, and the option is available with few if any bronze-level plans.
A survey suggests that many Americans plan to use cash and debit cards for holiday purchases this year more than they did last.
This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.
The majority of Americans (56.4 percent) used cash for some of their holiday shopping last year, according to a survey of consumers conducted by Credit.com, and about 20 percent said they would use cash and debit cards more this year than they did in 2012.
People use a variety of payment methods throughout the season for different reasons — respondents were instructed to note all the ways they paid for gifts last year, the most common being credit cards, with 57.8 percent of shoppers using them. When asked why they prefer cash or debit cards, people who plan to use more cash this year most often said it’s because they’re trying to pay off debt.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Contributing more than permitted to a 401k can be a costly mistake. Here's what you need to know to avoid this potential problem.
- 10 tips to earn the most from your rewards credit card
- Many retailers change return policies for the holidays
- What's the big deal about tiny houses?
- Delta, United will lower value of frequent-flier miles
- Last-minute Obamacare enrollment proving a hard sell
- 10 last-minute, money-saving Christmas shopping tips
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: The next pastry mashup - The Cro-Knot
This twist on the croissant-doughnut craze is dipped in maple glaze.
- 15 cars that literally drive themselves
- 2013's good news stories
- Bing: Ancient DNA from human relative sets age record