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DebtSmart    

ISSUE #187

Email Newsletter  

  October 15, 2008  


Scott Bilker
Signature
Scott Bilker, founder of DebtSmart
  

Hi,

Throughout history, those who have access to money have been able to get through tough times. Now, getting credit is getting tougher and tougher. Much of the problem is because of the mess on Wall Street. Banks are tightening the lending practices, and this is affecting everyone. The solution is to have credit options. That's why I've always said not to be hasty with closing credit card accounts. These accounts may be needed to weather the economic storm.

The key to success in managing credit cards is to avoid unnecessary spending, use credit cards against each other, and do not acquire new debt. Take a few minutes to review all your credit lines and interest rates. Browse my list of recommended credit cards if you find you are in need of new credit options.

Best,
Scott


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In This Issue

Cool Quote
Thanks! And A Question About FICO Scores
STATISTIC: Borrowing Boom
READER COMMENT: "Double my reward..."
Women Head of Households
Yard Sale Etiquette
"That saves me 7% on one account and 5% on the other..."
Trusted Information
Card Issuers Tighten The Screws
Household Math™: Biweekly Payments
What's Your #1 Excuse?
Dealing With Debt That Refuses to Die
 

Cool Quote

"I paid the bank note, the car note, an' yes, I paid the 'phone bill too. An' then I turned around an' I found that the house note's due. Well, I'd love to take you out like I said I would, honey, But there's too much month at the end of the money."
--Marty Stuart, Country Musician

More cool quotes from past issues


Thanks! And A Question About FICO Scores
by Scott Bilker

Hi, Scott.

First off, I want to thank you for your great book, Talk Your Way Out Of Credit Card Debt. I ordered it along with your two free books ($25.65 total) specifically because my credit card company had just charged me a $40 annual fee, and I didn't want to pay it. With a single phone call, they removed the annual fee PERMANENTLY. In one day you saved me $14.35, counting the cost of the book. (So I got the book for free and $14.35 in change!) If I keep this credit card for ANOTHER seven years, you will have saved me an additional $280, and that's assuming they don't raise the fee over that time. So, great job! Thanks for saving me my money. I told my wife about my success, and she's eager to replicate it. She has a card with a FIFTY-dollar annual fee!

Now for my question: FICO scores seem like the king of the credit world, and the scoring system is so secret and counterintuitive that it's frightening to me to make ANY changes with my credit card "portfolio." I'm eager to pursue more of your advice but am terrified of damaging my credit score (which is in the low-mid 700's). I know it hurts your score to close a long-standing account. Does it hurt your FICO score to increase the credit limits on your cards? Does it hurt your score to open new credit card accounts? Any proven, tested advice you can give on managing my FICO score would be much appreciated. Perhaps you have a special report on it? Also, what do you think of the idea of borrowing money from a 0% APR card, investing it for a return, and paying back the loan with no interest so you pocket the difference?

Thanks again! Love your stuff. I especially love your story about buying a car with 0% APR credit cards. What a gem!

Judd

Finish reading this article


STATISTIC: Borrowing Boom

Between 2002 and 2006, household borrowing grew at an average annual rate of 11%, far outpacing overall economic growth. Borrowing by financial institutions grew by a 10% annualized rate.

More credit card and debt statistics


READER COMMENT: "Double my reward..."

Scott,

I have been an email subscriber for years and purchased your books early on. Although I do not always read every article like I used to do--I do read every introductory paragraph that you write at the beginning.

Because of this practice--I immediately checked our Costco American Express Account after reading your comments last month. To my surprise (I consider myself to be VERY money savvy) the people at Costco told me within seconds of looking at my account that it would double my reward by changing from the Business level to the Executive level.

This email then, is just to let you know that on those days when you think you aren't making a difference--you are!

Sincerely,
Elaine


Women Head of Households

New study shows that women often make more family financial decisions than men.

See story here


Yard Sale Etiquette
by Nancy Twigg

Just call me the Miss Manners of garage sales.

You see, I believe there's a certain moral and ethical code governing the sacred act of selling and buying secondhand stuff. Contrary to popular belief, a yard sale is not an anything-goes, no-etiquette-needed free-for-all. As in any social situation, there are certain things you do or avoid doing in order to be polite.

Being avid yard sale shoppers, my husband, Michael and I often run across examples of bad manners, both by shoppers and by sellers. Here are a few of the faux pas we've seen that could have been easily avoided by the simple practice of good yard sale etiquette.

Finish reading the article


"That saves me 7% on one account and 5% on the other..."

Hi Scott,

This is my story for today, and I have you to thank for all the good information in your book, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt."

It is time again to call my banks to reduce credit card APR.

I have had a credit card account with BofA for 45 years (yes 45 years) and one would think that after all that time a bank might bend a little for an old customer (old in actual years and old as a customer).

I have 2 cards--one with an APR of 9.98% and the other 7.79%.

Called them in an effort to get a reduction, and the answer was a flat NO!

Step back to 1999--I had opened a credit card with Chase and never used the card or lost it--whatever.

About nine months ago, I received in the mail a coupon for $100 that they would deposit in an account if I opened a Chase checking account. Free money is always a good thing (of course it's not really free--it's advance interest on which income tax will be due). At about the same time, I was having problems with "what's in your wallet" so now was a good time to leave them, and I opened the Chase account.

Along with the checking account came their check (debit) card; a Freedom Card (a low rate rewards--cash back card) and a regular credit card. All well and good.

Then one day I to go to Chase online to look at my bank statement on line, and lo and behold, there is another credit card listed with a credit line of $15,000. I said to myself this must be a mistake and went over to the branch to inquire. It seems that Chase found this old credit card (last transaction in 1999) in their files and added it to my on line account. OK. No problem there.

I open the file and here's what I find--Chase will let me do a balance transfer for the life of the loan at the FIXED RATE of 2.99%. Today I am going down to the branch and transferring almost everything from the BofA accounts (I want to keep the credit cards open because one has a credit limit of $27,000 and the other $24,000) to Chase. Hey--that saves me 7% on one account and 5% on the other. Oh, yes there is a transfer fee of 3% not to exceed $190. The total of the transfers will be $8,000..

Later

Leon

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


Trusted Information

Here is a list of some of my favorite newsletters. Each one of these newsletters is published by an expert in the field of Personal Finance. You should consider subscribing to their newsletters because they provide excellent insight into managing your money:

(1) Mommysavers; (2) SavingAdvice; (3) Budget Stretcher; (4) Counting the Cost; (4) All Things Frugal; (5) Emerson Publications; (6) MomsMenu News


Card Issuers Tighten The Screws

Debra Tanner was thrilled earlier this year when her longtime credit-card issuer cut her interest rate nearly in half, from 16% to 9%. But a few months later, the thrill was gone. In August, Tanner discovered that the card issuer, HSBC Bank, had jacked up her rate to 30%. In fact, the rate hike had gone into effect several billing cycles earlier without Tanner noticing.

When she called to protest, a customer-service representative told Tanner that her rate was being raised because she had been two days late with a payment. The bank refused even to consider restoring her lower rate until at least November.

See story here


Household Math (TM): Biweekly Payments
by Scott Bilker

You borrow $25,000 at 8% for 5 years to remodel your kitchen and bathroom. Your loan requires 60 monthly payments to completely pay off the loan. After you get the loan, one of your friends tells you that you can save money by making payments more frequently. They tell you that this happens because you pay off some of the principal earlier and are not charged interest on that principal afterwards. Sounds good. Here's the question. If you convert that 5-year (60-month) loan into a loan that requires 130 biweekly payments (still 5 years) how much money will you save in overall bank payments?

Answer this math problem


What's Your #1 Excuse?
by Joe Vitale

My book, The Attractor Factor, became a #1 bestseller at Barnes and Noble online when it was released and people told me I was nuts to try to promote a book when Harry Potter was already in the top spot.

"You don't stand a chance," one author wrote. "Why don't you wait until Potter is off the list?"

After my book hit the streets, made all the lists, beat Trump, Da Vinci, and even Harry Potter, some people said, "Well, okay, but that only happened because the new Harry Potter book isn't in print yet."

Finish reading this article


Dealing With Debt That Refuses to Die

Court Ruling Requires Credit Bureaus To Wipe Away Bills Incurred Before Bankruptcy

A recent court order requires the three major credit-reporting bureaus -- Experian Group Ltd., Equifax Inc. and TransUnion LLC -- to clean up the credit files of millions of consumers who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The problem: Old debts, which are typically forgiven by the courts in a bankruptcy filing, are still being reported as active on many consumers' credit reports.

The judge for the case, David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, has given the bureaus until Oct. 1 to revamp their systems. Experian and TransUnion say they have already updated their credit files to be compliant with the court order, while Equifax declined to comment. TransUnion also sent notices to some customers saying they "may experience a slight change" to their credit scores if any of their accounts are updated because of a bankruptcy.

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 ©2008 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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