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DebtSmart® Email Newsletter
January 11, 2006

Tools for financial success! A Free Email Newsletter from DebtSmart Online and Press One Publishing.

Letter from the Publisher
by Scott Bilker


I do hope that you had a wonderful New Year's celebration!

That CNN interview I mentioned last email newsletter did run but just not when I thought it would. Don't worry, you didn't miss it! Actually, it works out well that I present it in this issue because I cover the topic, rising minimum payments, here as well. Miles O'Brien interviewed me on CNN's American Morning on 1/6/06. You can check out the video and/or photos.

Here are a few post-holiday tips:

  • After the holidays, credit card banks will send offers to skip payments. Of course, they're not going to skip charging you interest. But you can win if you skip payments on the low-rate credit cards and send that extra cash to higher-rate credit cards.

  • When the bills arrive, call your credit card banks and tell them, "you need to reduce my interest rate, otherwise I'll be transferring my balance to another card. If you want to keep my holiday spending balance at your bank, you're going to have to give me a reason."

  • There are many after-holiday sales as merchants liquidate their inventory to make way for the next selling season. This is a good time to shop for upcoming gifts for occasions throughout the year or even for next year's holiday season. Carefully planning and purchasing at this time will enable you to get high-quality gifts at rock-bottom prices.

NEW FOR 2006: For those of you who are interested in advertising here in the email newsletter or at DebtSmart.com, I have started a text-link program. It's very flexible, and affordable. You can see the new format in the right column and on nearly every page of the website. The two programs are for text links at the website and text links in the email newsletter.


Rising minimum payments
by Scott Bilker

Hi Scott!

I have really enjoyed reading all your great info about credit card debt. However, all this talk about rising minimum payments from 2 percent to 4 percent has got me worried. I'd like to plan for additional purchases like a new car before winter, but I am unsure of my financial situation if my payments jump to 4 percent. I've called my banks for an answer, but they have only told me they are in the process of determining whom these changes will affect. How can I find out what the future holds for me so I can move forward in my financial planning? Thanks so much far any assistance with this one!


Finish reading article

"Reduced the interest rate!"

"I just got your three books and was reading through Talk Your Way Out Of Credit Card Debt, when it dawned on me that I hadn't seen a statement from one of my banks for a while.

I remember making a $5 charge at Baskin Robbins because I had ordered ice cream for the kids before I realized I didn't have my wallet. The account had a 0 balance at that point and I knew I would pay it in full when the statement arrived. I checked the account online, and was floored to see the new balance at $102.38 because they charged me two months of late fees at $29 each plus a membership fee of $39.

I just called to let them know that I had not received a statement from them and would they please waive the late fees and membership fee. I got the standard 'we can't do that' but was told that they would make a $10 adjustment to one of the late fees. I then asked what the APR was at, and the rep told me to sit down before he gave me the figure. Because of the missed payments (because I got no statement), it had jumped from 14% to 27.74%.

He dropped it down to 9.9% fixed for two months then 9.9% variable after that. When I asked again about the membership fee being waived, he said he could waive it, but then would not be able to reduce the interest rate. I went for the reduced interest rate and the $10 adjustment to one of the late fees. I will pay the balance in full on the 15th and not use the card for a while. The call took me 12 minutes, and I was transferred once.

Thank you for all your information."

Tracy Mundy

Read about special offer for all three of Scott Bilker's best-selling books

Household Math™: Pizza deals
by Scott Bilker

Ann and Sharon are good friends. Each has a son with the same birthday. They're going to have a birthday party for both of them together and decide to serve pizza. There are three sizes available: small (11 inch) for $7.95, medium (15 inch) for $12.95, and jumbo (17 inch) for $16.95. Based solely on the size and price, which size pizza is the best deal?

Answer this problem

Why not lease?
Gary Foreman

Is it better financially to buy or lease an automobile since it's a depreciating asset? Thank you kindly. --Mark

Like most people, Mark is probably attracted to the lower monthly payments of an auto lease. But, even with the lower payments, it's usually better to buy. There are a couple of reasons that's true. You don't build up equity in a leased auto. You'll also be prone to trade cars more often, and you give up flexibility if you need to get rid of the car quickly.

Mark's question points to the main reason why leasing isn't the best deal. A car is a depreciating asset. And a car depreciates more quickly when it's newer. A $15,000 car will lose approximately 25% of it's value in the first year. From year two through year six, the car will lose between 6 and 9% each year with the bigger losses in the earlier years.

Finish reading article

DebtSmart® Help Center
by Scott Bilker


Helping you with your debt is very important to me personally! If you've been reading my articles, you know that I always encourage self-help as a first step. However, being buried in debt can be very overwhelming, which is why you may want to explore other options.

One of those options is professional, ongoing help with credit counselors. I've started to check out certain companies personally so I can recommend the ones that are worth considering!

If you would like to speak with a representative from a...

Read more at the DebtSmart Help Center

Cutting Food Costs: Saving Time vs. Money
by Rachael Paxton

When I first started consciously cutting back on my household expenses, reducing my grocery bill was one of my highest priorities. After I got married and started juggling my career, my marriage, and the responsibilities of being a parent, however, I had to rethink some of my ways of doing things.

You may think that if you make everything from scratch that you will save a lot of money at the grocery store every month. In a lot of cases, this may be true. When you prepare your own meals, you will often see an immediate cost savings per portion, and perhaps an overall increase in nutritional value as an added bonus. So what if you don't have the time to cook?

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Business owners have options when it comes to the business of credit cards
by Rebecca Lindsey

The freedom to be the boss is just one of the perks sought after by business owners. But along with this freedom comes the concern of fulfilling responsibilities to customers, employees and lenders. Chief concerns are usually those dealing with money.

Small business owners frequently borrow funds and often use credit cards to get their business off the ground. The most frequently used kinds of credit were personal and business credit cards, lines of credit and vehicle loans according to a study published in 2003 by the Small Business Administration. In fact, 46% percent of small firms used their personal credit cards and 34% used business credit cards to help in their business matters.

Finish Reading Article


" When you move beyond your fear, you feel free."--Dr. Spencer Johnson, page 56, Who Moved My Cheese?
Quotes from all previous newsletters


Cool Quote
Credit and Debt Statistics Database
Letter from the publisher
Rising minimum payments
"Reduced the interest rate!"
Household Math™: Pizza deals
Why not lease?
More credit, more options
DebtSmart® Help Center
Cutting food costs: Saving time vs. money
Voice Over IP Residential Plus Plan!
Rating your credit card
Business owners have options when it comes to the business of credit cards
DebtSmart® Resources
Subscribe/Disclaimer Information
Free DebtSmart® Column for in print publication, ezine, or web site
Publisher: Scott Bilker
Editor: Larissa S. Bilker
Assistant Editor: Denise Troy

ISSN 1538-6740


Household Finance Charges

Three out of five American families carry credit-card debt, and in 2002, the average household spent $1,700 per year on finance charges and late fees, according to one report.
Credit and Debt Statistics Database
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Rating your credit card
by CardRatings.com

"CardRatings.com has been offering ratings of credit cards since 1998 and has been featured by Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports®, NPR, PBS, etc. Thanks to consumers like you, CardRatings.com has become the most comprehensive free source for comparing credit card offers."

See how your credit cards are rated by CardRatings.com

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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 web site. 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 web site 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 ©2006 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.


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