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ISSUE #193

Email Newsletter  

  January 7, 2009  

Scott Bilker
Scott Bilker, founder of DebtSmart


I hope the New Year is going well for you!

Everyone hopes for a big economic turnaround soon. Keep looking up. I am optimistic that we will see positive economic changes sometime in 2009.

Oh yeah, Happy Birthday to me! :) Today is the 25th anniversary of my 18th birthday today.

I'd like to celebrate today by offering you a gift, well, at least a gift you can give a friend to help them out of the post-holiday spending blues.

FOR TWO DAYS (until midnight 1/9/09) if you buy one set of my books (which is already a great deal with the buy 1, get all 3 offer), I'll send another set to anyone else you'd like (in the continental U.S.). All you have to do is write "Please send 2nd set of books to: Name, Address, City, State, Zip," in the "Comments/Special Instructions" box at the bottom of the order form. Get two sets of my book right now here.



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In This Issue

Cool Quote
Refinancing your mortgage
STATISTIC: How Students Use Credit Cards
ID Theft Expert: A Consumer's Guide to ID Theft Awareness and Avoidance
Paying Your Bills On Time
"Citibank did try to up my rate by sneaking..."
You can make money on YouTube
Household Math™: Job Offers
Credit Card Minimum Payments
Ten Tips for Boosting Your Credit Score in 2009

Cool Quote

"You don't need no credit card to ride this train."
--Huey Lewis

More cool quotes from past issues

Refinancing your mortgage
by Scott Bilker

With the fed lowering rates, people are asking me about refinancing their mortgage. The decision is a math problem--it's that simple. I've included DebtSmart custom software to go along with this video/article...

You should always be thinking about refinancing because your mortgage is probably the most expensive purchase you'll ever make. Notice that I didn't say your house was the most expensive purchase. That's because when you took a mortgage, you purchased that money to pay for the house. The purchase of that money is paid by the interest charges.

You may have paid $150,000 for the house, but you purchased that $150,000 from a bank for, let's say, 7% APR over 30 years, with monthly payments of near $1,000 per month, costing you a total of $360,000.00. That's $150,000 for the house and $210,000 for the money to buy the house!

Watch video with high-speed connection (Cable Modem)

Watch video with low-speed connection (Dial-Up)

Transcript of article

STATISTIC: How Students Use Credit Cards

Nearly two-out-of-three (66%) students reporting having at least one credit card. Thirty percent (30%) reported that for their primary card, they were either a co-signer or their parents paid the bill.

Of remaining students paying their own bills, just over half of the remainder reporting (36% of the total) stated that they paid their own primary card bills in full each month. The other half of students paying their own bills, (34% of the total) stated that they carried a balance on their primary card.

When asked how they used their cards, a question for which multiple entries were allowed, more than half (55%) reported that they used them for "day-to-day-expenses. The same number (55%) reported using them for books. The next highest categories reported were "weekends and pizza" and "emergencies" but very few consumers limited their response to "emergencies." Nearly one-quarter (24%) reported that they had used their cards to pay for college tuition.

More credit card and debt statistics

ID Theft Expert: A Consumer's Guide to ID Theft Awareness and Avoidance

The FTC estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year, so chances are high that you or someone you know has fallen victim to what has become one of America's fastest-growing crimes. While there are no guarantees as far as prevention, there are certain steps every consumer can and should be taking – before and after the fact – to greatly reduce their potential risk.

See story here

Paying Your Bills On Time
by Terry Rigg

You've heard it before. "You always have to pay your bills on time or it will hurt your credit rating." The fact is that not paying your bills on time can also cost you a bunch of money.

The last time I checked, being late on a credit card payment can cost you as much as $29 each time. In some cases, this is more than the payment.

Most banks and loan companies also charge some sort of late fee. Even my electric company tacks on 10% if you don't pay on time.

The bad part of this is that most of the time, making late payments can be avoided. That's because they are simply a result of a lack of organization. If your bills and receipts aren't kept organized, there is a good chance you will eventually be late on a payment.

Finish reading the article

"Citibank did try to up my rate by sneaking..."

Hi Scott,

First of all, I just want to say that I think you are awesome! And I want to thank you for what you do. I look forward to your newsletters each month.

Secondly, I did buy your books and they have served me quite well over the past few years. I've gotten very good at negotiating with the credit card companies.

I thought I would mention to you that Citibank did try to up my rate by sneaking it onto my November statement. It's a good thing I've learned to look over my statements each month, or I may have missed this. I called Citibank immediately and got a not-so-friendly rep who threatened that if I opt-out, my rate could possibly go to the default rate. I told her that my understanding was they couldn't raise the rate THAT high without reason and that I pay on time every month so I doubted her story. She backed off but wouldn't budge when I tried to ask for a lower rate, and then a supervisor. So I got off the phone with her and decided to try later. I called today and the rep this time was very pleasant. She wouldn't help me with a lower rate so I asked to speak to a supervisor. She said she could transfer me, but she assured me that this increase was policy and nobody would be able to adjust the rate. The supervisor was rather friendly and proceeded to tell her that I am a longtime, satisfied (until now), loyal customer and that I would hate to have to close out my account over this. She agreed and mentioned that they (Citibank) have now given managers approval to negotiate rates (gee, what a surprise?!). I currently have a 4.97 rate, and she came back with a 8.96 rate to keep the account open saying that was they best she could do. I told her that I would really like to think that over and she said that would be fine and that the 8.96 should still be available when I call back. I still think they can do better, so I'm going to call again in a few days to see if I can get them down even lower.

I thought this might help for people who subscribe to your newsletter to know that Citibank is doing some negotiating (but then, you probably already knew that!) and that people could at least give that a try before opting out.

Thanks again for everything.

Jill Jensen

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

You can make money on YouTube

Making videos for YouTube--for three years, a pastime for millions of Web surfers--is now a way to make a living.

One year after YouTube, the online video powerhouse invited members to become "partners" and added advertising to their videos, the most successful users are earning six-figure incomes from the Web site. For some, like Michael Buckley, the self-taught host of a celebrity chatter show, filming funny videos is now a full-time job.

Mr. Buckley quit his day job in September after his online profits had greatly surpassed his salary as an administrative assistant for a music promotion company. His thrice-a-week online show "is silly," he said, but it has helped him escape his credit-card debt.

See story here

Household Math (TM): Job Offers
by Scott Bilker

This question is from my son's 3rd-grade, New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) sample test.

You have to choose between two different job offers for the same four-day period. The first job pays $5.00 each day for the four days. The second job pays $1.00 for the first day, and each day after the first, you will be paid twice the amount you received the previous day. Which job will pay you the greatest amount?

Answer this math problem

Credit Card Minimum Payments
by Gary Foreman


A couple of months ago I read an article about getting finances under control. According to the article, you can double the minimum monthly payment on a revolving charge and that account will be paid in full in 36 months regardless of the amount. How could that be possible? Especially considering how "minimum" most minimum monthly payments are.

Gail E.

Finish reading this article

Ten Tips for Boosting Your Credit Score in 2009

The worsening economic crisis has put more pressure on consumers and their credit than ever before. Credit scores should be a top priority for consumers because it is the most important factor in determining creditworthiness. Credit expert Kenneth Lin offers ten new tips for improving your score in 2009.

As 2008 draws to a close, consumers remain concerned about how larger economic issues are affecting them. Many are turning to their credit score as a barometer of their financial health because they understand that a higher score can save them thousands of dollars in credit card and loan interest.

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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