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DebtSmart® Email Newsletter
March 8, 2006

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

Letter from the Publisher
by Scott Bilker


We went to see The Pink Panther on Sunday. Great movie--I think it's Steve Martin's best! The best part is that it didn't cost one cent. In fact, they paid me!

That's 2 adults, 3 kids, 2 pretzels with cheese, 4 drinks, 2 bags of popcorn AND they gave ME $15 and said, "Enjoy the show." We've also seen Flight Plan, Harry Potter, King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia, and several others that I can't remember at the moment.

How you ask?

Rewards credit cards! The one that works for me is the Regal Entertainment Card (since we have a theater in town, of course). The key is that I can use the rewards. I don't travel much so I can't use the frequent-flyer mile cards.

I've also been able to get movie rentals, free cordless phones, even a Samsonite computer case (valued at $150) from using different reward cards over the years.

One caveat is to avoid buying extra stuff just because you get rewards. You want to use the card for purchases you were going to make anyway.

I have organized many recommended reward cards. You can check them out here.

I do hope you profit as much as I have using them.

Scott out

Car financing smarts
by Scott Bilker

This column is an excerpt from my best-selling book, Credit Card and Debt Management (ISBN 0964840197). It's the beginning of Chapter 5: Math and Money. Enjoy!

I want to begin this chapter with a personal story. My father asked me to help him pick out a new car. After visiting several new car dealers in the area, we finally found one with a car that had the price and features we were looking for. Once the negotiations were complete, and the price was agreed upon, it was time for the dealership to add in those extras such as; tags, processing fees and anything else they could.

Finally, the balance due for the car was presented and we decided to finance it. The salesman told me the length of the loan and the interest rate. I already knew the amount to be financed so it was easy to calculate the monthly payments. It was at this time that we were instructed to go into a separate office to read and sign the loan agreement.

Finish reading article

"0% for 4 months"

Hi Scott,

Your books arrived and I didn't even get to read them all before I called my first credit card company. I just briefly glanced at the variety of scripts under calling credit card companies, and then I called.

I mentioned to the first operator that I received an offer for 5.9%, and that I would like to have my interest rate lowered.

She came back with "the only special I have right now is 0% for 4 months." I said, "I'll take it." That's $107.00 a month saving for 4 months.

My second call, I was transferred to the "Account Specialist" (it helped knowing from the scripts in your book this could happen!).

This gentleman was a very fast, smooth talker. I told him about the 5.9% offer and he came back with yes I paid promptly, on time, but I hadn't used the account often enough. So I only got 2 out of 3--not enough to get the interest lowered. He did offer to reimburse the annual fee of $49.00, which I did take. He said I would now be included for upcoming special offers.

Not bad for a 1/2 hours work!

Thanks Scott. I look forward to reading the rest of the books for more great ideas.

Judy Davidson, Ontario

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

Household Math™: Average rate of return
by Scott Bilker

You haven't touched the money in your investment account for the past three years. The effective annual rate of return (how much the amount has changed over the entire year) has varied from year to year. The returns were: 7 percent gain in the first year, one percent gain in the second, and a 7.47 percent loss in the third. What is your average effective annual rate of return over that three-year period?

Answer this problem

Get rich quick by auto-surfing leaves my friend in the red
by Denise R. Troy

Having grown up surrounded by extended family, I spent many a Sunday dinner listening to my grandmother recount stories about her life in which hackneyed expressions such as "look before you leap" and "if it's too good to be true, it probably is" were the moral lessons of that day. Some may say these seemingly trite expressions should be dismissed as old-fashioned. I say they have survived this long because they are as relevant today as they were in the past. Recently, I was reminded just how relevant due to a bad financial decision of a friend. I'll call him Frank.

Perhaps you have a friend like Frank who has made the same mistake. According to accounts of national and local news agencies, an estimated 300,000 people worldwide were seduced by the same "get rich quick" investment.

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

Book Review: "Good Debt, Bad Debt"
by Scott Bilker

Good debt, bad debt.  Or, as I prefer to call them, good spending decisions and bad spending decisions. Debt itself is only bad when you have less expensive debt options that you’re not taking advantage of. That said, it might be easier to keep in mind the quality of your spending decisions based on the type of debt it incurs.

Jon Hanson, recognizing this important psychological factor, has dedicated his book, Good Debt, Bad Debt to explaining these differences and he’s right about them. For example, he explains that mortgages are “good debt” (or a good spending decision), whereas a loan for a wedding would be considered a "bad debt" (or a bad spending decision). Jon’s approach to explaining these differences is compelling and helpful.

Finish reading article

Card registration services
by Rebecca Lindsey

Take a moment and think about what you would do if your wallet was ever misplaced or stolen. Do you know what steps you should take to protect yourself from fraudulent charges made on your credit or debit cards? If not, check out what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends in such an event. Knowing exactly what to do can help you prepare for the worst.

Finish Reading Article


" Living modestly and being happy with what you have--therein lies the success of saving."--Scott Bilker
Quotes from all previous newsletters


Cool Quote
Credit and Debt Statistics Database
Letter from the publisher
Car financing smarts
"0% for 4 months"
Household Math™: Average rate of return
Get rich quick by auto-surfing leaves my friend in the red
More credit, more options
DebtSmart® Help Center
Book Review: "Good Debt, Bad Debt"
Stop Debt Collectors Cold!
Card registration services
DebtSmart® Resources
Subscribe/Disclaimer Information
Free DebtSmart® Column for in print publication, ezine, or web site
Hire Scott Bilker to speak
Publisher: Scott Bilker
Editor: Larissa S. Bilker
Assistant Editor: Denise Troy

ISSN 1538-6740


Households with Debt

A new federal report says that 76.4 percent of all American households carry some sort of debt. 46.2 percent of households have some credit card debt.
Credit and Debt Statistics Database
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Stop Debt Collectors Cold!

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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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