IN THIS ISSUE #173
Larissa S. Bilker
Assistant Editor: Denise Troy
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Among the majority of Americans (61 percent) who
carry some sort of debt from month-to-month outside of mortgages, credit cards
are the most frequently cited form of debt (45 percent). One-third have car
loans; one-fifth have home equity loans or lines of credit, and 16 percent carry
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Letter from the Publisher
by Scott Bilker
Consumer reporter, Nydia Han, interviewed me for a
story that aired Monday night on ABC's Action News in Philadelphia, PA. You can
check out the video and story
here or by clicking on my picture on the right.
I ran across a great TV show called, BizKids.
It's focused on educating children about money. They cover everything from
credit to investing to achieving financial goals and becoming an
Check it out. It's very well done.
This is an email from a DebtSmart reader with
advice on forcing banks to reduce their rates:
Lower Interest Rate Success Story
I have been trying for I don't know how long
to get Bank of America to lower the rates on two cards. They were at 25.74%
and 22.49%. Every time I'd call, I'd get nowhere with the representative and
always ask for a supervisor. However, each time I would be told there was no
supervisor available to speak to me and they would be happy to take my
information and have a supervisor call me back.
This happened every time I called. The other
day was the last time. So I decided to lodge a complaint through the Better
Business Bureau about my situation. The very next day, I was contacted by
someone high enough up at BofA to apologize for the customer service I
received. Furthermore, he had lowered my rate to 17.99% fixed. Now this is
still a very high rate although it is much of an improvement over 22.49and
I consider this a success, and I think this
tactic should be part of the toolbox to use when you get nowhere with these
usurious bank charges.
Jeremy E. Portnoff
Nice job, Jeremy, and thanks for sharing your
PS: NEW READER COMMENTS--THANKS!!
"This is the first time I have received any
info about DebtSmart.com, and I am enjoying reading and reading and
"Scott--Great newsletter and website. Your
advice has already helped me, and I am looking for more great tips and
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think you do a great service to many people. It is disconcerting to me to
know that many people obviously need the advice you offer free each letter,
as it seems to me that more people should already know much of what you
offer. So please keep up the good work."--Jay Dussinger
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recently visited. I booked into my favorites."--Freddy
"Congrats on another outstanding newsletter,
Scott. You're truly a financial genius who is outstanding in your field. I
love all the meaningful, sensical, enlightening, meaningful & 'Cool Quotes'
you also provide. Keep up the great job and service you're providing, as
America needs it."--Barry Wainwright
"I love this site. It's helped me in getting
debt free. =)"--Joseph Quilantang
"Very informative and helpful. I'm glad I
stumbled upon it. Maybe it was faith."--Shelley
Will a debt settlement adversely affect our credit rating?
by Scott Bilker
We are drowning in debt--over $80,000 in
credit card debt, some at over 30 percent! We are taking a second mortgage
out on our house to pay it off. Should we ask the credit card companies to
lower our payoff amount for paying off the balance in cash? Will this
adversely affect our credit rating? Even a 10 percent reduction would pay
for a car for my son. Your advice is appreciated!
Finish Reading Article
Budgets and Credit Cards
by Gary Foreman
I was hoping you can help me solve a problem
I have encountered while trying to live on a budget. I have created a budget
with a fixed amount that can be spent on certain items, i.e. entertainment.
At times I go over this amount. I charge everything on my credit card, in
order to receive a cash back bonus. My bill arrives the month after I
overspend. That affects the cash flow for the next month, not the overspent
I can't figure out how to balance my budget,
because my statements do not run on the calendar month like my budget, but
it goes from the 11th to the 11th of every month. My problem is applying my
budget to real life, because I still want to use my charge card to pay for
everything. Can you please help me figure out this problem? I have tried
over and over to figure it out, and I'm stuck.
Finish Reading Article
"Your books should be required reading..."
"My nose has been stuck in your books! Not since
I read Victor Hugo have I carried a book everywhere I went, and I'm just now
returning to the rest of the world, armed and ready for battle. (Your books
should be required reading for anyone opening a credit account, if not a
prerequisite for high-school graduation.) I'm about to call Discover to try
to get a late fee canceled on my mother's account. Two months ago, she
realized--just as the clerk rang up her transaction--that she'd gone over
her limit by $6.00. She immediately drove to the nearby Sears and paid cash
to bring her account below the limit, but--surprise!--Discover charged the
overlimit fee anyway. Since she didn't realize this, her next minimum
payment left the balance still over the limit, and she was charged another
fee. I'm going to ask to have both fees waived (I'll be glad if they'll
waive at least one), and, while I'm talking with Ms. Katy Didd, I'll also
ask to have the interest rate reduced and the limit raised."
Read about special offer for all three of Scott Bilker's best-selling books
Household Math(tm): What Happened to the Other Dollar?
Three men checked into a hotel room and were charged
$30 for which they paid $10 each. The next day, the manager realized that the
men had been overcharged since the real price is $25 for the room. The manager
gave the bellhop $5 to return to the three men. On the way to their room, the
bellhop decided to keep $2 for himself so he wouldn't have to make change. The
bellhop gave $1 to each man. The three men had now paid $9 each, or a total of
$27. This, plus the $2 the bellhop kept for himself, makes a total of $29. What
happened to the other dollar?
Answer this problem
Just Say "No" to Spending Pressure
by Nancy Twigg
Imagine the scene: One
Sunday morning at church, you are approached by the child of a friend in
your Bible class. His school is selling "Pizza Heaven" coupon books to raise
money for the band. You don't frequent that restaurant, but the money seems
to be going to a good cause. After all, he is your friend's son. What do you
If that scenario isn't familiar to you, how
about this one: A friend from work sells kitchen gadgets and accessories on
the side. Because she's a single mom, you know she needs the extra money.
Yet, you feel the items are overpriced. She's invited you to several of her
home demonstration parties and you feel that you really should attend at
least one. What do you do?
Finish Reading Article
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