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ISSUE #198

Email Newsletter  

  March 18, 2009  


Scott Bilker
Signature
Scott Bilker, founder of DebtSmart
  

Hi,

Two quick items...

1) Well, I finally started a Twitter account. If you want to follow me, just look me up.

2) Tis' the tax season again. You may be able to complete your taxes for free at TurboTax--check it out here.

Have a great day!

Best,
Scott


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In This Issue

Cool Quote
Living above my means for years--what now?
STATISTIC: Consumers Cut Food Spending
6 Fields That Stand to Benefit From the Stimulus Plan
Pay It Off Or Keep It?
"The rates dropped back down to acceptable levels."
Credit Card Companies Go to War Against Losses
Household Math™: LTV
Trimming the Fat From Your Budget
Don't Believe These 7 Credit Card Myths
 

Cool Quote

"When my girlfriend asks for a bracelet made out of paper, I'll know paper is as good as gold!"

--James Dines

More cool quotes from past issues


Living above my means for years--what now?
by Scott Bilker

Scott,

I've been living above my means for years, using credit cards to pay for the difference from what I make and what I spend. I can't be in denial much longer as the cards are getting to their max. I currently don't have any past-due payments since I still use the credit cards to offset what I can't pay. What do you recommend I do?

I was thinking of going to the credit card companies, and letting them know that I'm struggling, to see if they would stop charging me interest, but I'm afraid of losing a good interest rate or the payments going up as they'll mark me as high risk. I just don't want to go through the harassment I've heard other people have gone through with them calling or trying to go after what you own or your paycheck.

I have 2 homes. I downsized with the second one, but that backfired when I couldn't get rid of the first one. So it's renting right now for the majority of the payment, and I have no equity in any of them.

Please let me know ASAP what you think, as I need to do something before it's too late. : (

Kate

Finish reading the article


STATISTIC: Consumers Cut Food Spending

In 2008's fourth quarter, consumer spending on food fell at an inflation-adjusted 3.7% from the third quarter, according to data from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. That is the steepest decline in the 62 years the government has compiled the figure. The report is based on receipts from a sampling of food-oriented businesses across the country.

More credit card and debt statistics


6 Fields That Stand to Benefit From the Stimulus Plan

President Obama has promised the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- commonly known as the stimulus plan -- will boost to the flagging economy by creating jobs in a variety of sectors.

Though it will take a while before federal, state, and local governments determine how exactly to allocate the funds, economists agree that six sectors are poised to see a boost as a direct or indirect result of the stimulus. These include...

See story here


Pay It Off Or Keep It?
by Doris Dobkins

Many people are refinancing their home mortgages. When you refinance, it's important to make decisions based on your personal and financial goals in life.

In this article, we are going to discuss the topic of paying off your mortgage early and why you might or might not want to.

So, what about you? Where do you stand on this issue, or are you as confused as many of us?

Finish reading the article


"The rates dropped back down to acceptable levels."

Scott,

I enjoy your site and find the information invaluable. My credit cards are at a manageable level and would have been paid off if we weren't socked with almost $10,000 in unexpected medical debt last year (which we paid off - it was incurred in January, and my goal was to pay it all off by December). The one credit card I have left is at 0% for the life of the balance, so I am fortunate. We have no car loans and the only other balance we owe is our mortgage, which is about 1/3 of what our house is worth. We both save regularly for retirement and are working on our emergency fund. Getting our finances in order is a wonderful feeling. It's like having a weight lifted off your back.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I both got socked with interest rate hikes on our Citibank credit cards (he has one and I have two different Citibank cards). The interest rates were under 10% but jumped to 14.99%, 16.99% and 19.99% - for no reason at all. We have always paid our bills on time. I have been paying off anything I charged and haven't incurred interest charges in quite some time, so perhaps they weren't making enough money off me? Even though I wasn't paying interest, I wanted it fixed regardless. From your site, I learned that many credit card companies were doing the same thing. Basically, they give you two options - accept the new rate or keep the same rate and have your account closed. That was unacceptable to me. I have had these accounts for 20 years and I was irate. I called Citibank's customer service department and they basically told me that if I didn't like it, I could use the card until the expiration date and then they'd close it, so I escalated the call to the customer retention department. After explaining the situation and reiterating that they were alienating their good customers - the ones that pay their bills - and threatened that I would never giving them any of my future financial business (mortgages, car loans etc.) unless they fixed this - they did. The rates dropped back down to acceptable levels. They still aren't as low as they were but they were within 1% of where they were before they slammed us.

My advice to your readers is to go beyond a standard customer service person and insist to speak to the customer retention department. Never take no for an answer. It's true - where there is a will, there is a way.

Dawn S

Learn how to "Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt"


Credit Card Companies Go to War Against Losses

The suffering credit card industry wants some of you to help bail it out.

In the last year or so, card issuers have raised interest rates, added new fees, lowered credit limits and even shut down accounts altogether. As unemployment has risen, so have the number of people who are paying their credit card bills late or not paying them at all. So the companies are deploying every weapon they have to shield themselves from further losses.

They're also scaling back their offers to...

See story here


Household Math (TM): LTV
by Scott Bilker

A lender agreed to make a loan based on a purchase price of $250,000 with a 90% LTV. If the property appraises for $250,000, what is the mortgage amount?

Answer this math problem


Trimming the Fat From Your Budget
by Nancy Twigg

When my husband, Michael and I decided it was time for me to quit my full-time job, the first thing we did was pull out our family budget and go over it with a fine tooth comb. If I was going to quit, we knew we had to cut our expenses to the bare minimum until his then-new business was up and running.

People trim fat from their budgets for various reasons. Sometimes after the birth of a child, the new mother just can't face putting her baby in daycare as she originally planned. Maybe a family car dies an untimely death and payments on a newer car are higher than expected.

Finish reading this article


Don't Believe These 7 Credit Card Myths

They sound sensible, but acting on them can cost you.

We've all heard some of them, and we've probably believed more than a few, but living by a credit card myth can cost you a lot of money in fees and hurt your credit rating.

Here are seven of the most pervasive credit card myths to watch out for:

Myth No. 1: Writing 'See ID' on the signature line on the back of your cards will stop a credit card thief cold and absolve you of any liability if a thief...

See story here



The author(s), Press One Publishing, and DebtSmart.com shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly by the information contained in this email newsletter and/or at the DebtSmart.com website. The information, methods and techniques described may not work for you and no recommendation is made to follow the same course of action. Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of all content contained herein. However, there may be mistakes; typographical, mathematical, or in content. This email newsletter and the DebtSmart.com website have been created for your entertainment only. You must always seek the proper professional advice before taking any financial or legal action. You have been warned. Copyright ©2009 Press One Publishing. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint, or host on your web site, without explicit permission. However, if you found this newsletter helpful, we grant you permission, and strongly encourage you, to e-mail it to a business associate or a friend. Thank you.

The DebtSmart Email Newsletter, ISSN 1538-6740, is written and published by Scott Bilker and edited by Larissa Bilker and Denise Troy. Please contact comments@debtsmart.com with any comments, problems, or concerns. (See the very bottom of the email to make changes to your subscription.)

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