Monday, April 30, 2007

One Day Blog Silence

One Day Blog Silence

Friday, April 27, 2007

United States National Debt

Thought you would find this interresting... we Americans really do have an affection for overspending. I'm not in it for the "who's the worst president" part, just the gross mismanagement by all really.

Steve McGourty - United States National Debt

Are You Debt Free?

You'll find out quickly that I am a fan of Dave Ramsey. While he may not use the best mathematics to determine what your best option, he knows people, he helps you pick the best option for YOUR life. If you haven't had a chance to listen to him on the radio, pick up one of his books, attend one of his classes, or see him live you really should do so.

My wife and I took the class as a recommendation from our Financial Advisor. I was talking to him one day and explaining my money problems and housing arrangement. I told him that my wife and I were wanting to purchase a house but our money was dictating what we could afford. (A very real statement.)

He said, "have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?" He explained that he is actually one of Ramsey's "Endorsed Local Providers" and that people come to him for financial advise by referral from Ramsey, a radio money guru. He suggested I pick up his book or CDs and give him a try.

Shortly after that my wife and I took a trip to Iowa and listened to the first 4 CDs during the trip. We were amazed at how real Ramsey is and how much we were doing wrong. We decided then that starting September 1 our life was going to be on purpose. Today, we are not out of debt, but we have a fire in us to do so. Since that date we attend the Financial Peace University class at a local church and we have really come to love sharing the program.

Try listening to him free online, listen to him on the radio, read a book (you haven't done that in a while), attend a class, or go see him LIVE... it's a life changing experience.

If you have taken the class you might enjoy this link, a summary of his investing class.

PS. While it seems like I'm trying to sell you something here, you should know that I do not have advertisers and I am only posting this with your best interest in mind. In the interest of full disclosure, I do receive a gift card when you purchase books from through this site. I plan to use those gift cards to buy more books to evaluate for future posts. Thanks for your support.

Do Stores "Trick" You Into Spending?

I've worked in the Sales, inside/outside and retail, for over 10 years. There is no doubt that there are tricks into making customers purchase things they wouldn't have otherwise. The upsale is the biggest trick, getting you to spend additional dollars for a better product or an accessory.

MSN money did this article, "15 ways stores trick you into spending" where they describe the many ways you are "tricked". Very interresting as many do not realize how easy it is to manipulate the human mind.

Studies show that most customer's desire to turn right as they enter the store. So most stores will make you enter on the right side so you are forced to turn left causing you to be out of sync before you even get started.

2. Desirable departments are far away from the entrance. Most of the items I go to a department store to buy, such as light bulbs and laundry detergent, are located many, many aisles from the entrance. This means I spend my time walking by a lot of consumer goods on my way to find the item I want. Because these consumer goods are effectively marketed to me, there's a good likelihood that I'll spy something that I don't necessarily need and toss it in the cart.

6. Items that aren't on sale are sometimes placed as though they are on sale, without using the word "sale." I noticed this over and over with diapers; the department store would display a rack of them with a huge sign above them displaying the price, but it would be the same price I paid for them a week ago. Unsurprisingly, the diapers displayed like that were always the most expensive kind.
Just remember, it's their goal to get you to go past items many, many times because the more you pass them the more likely you are to "remember" it was something you "needed."

MSN Money - "15 ways stores trick you into spending"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rising Credit Card Fees

Do you know what percent you pay on your credit card? Have you ever wondered why your APR is larger than the rate they show monthly? The APR is figured including all [well most] of the hidden fees that are also charged to you.

Not only is your monthly interest rate going up, your fees have doubled over the past 10+ years...

This article from MSN Moeny describes the different charges and the changes that have happened.

MSN Money - "Bank fees are more outrageous than ever"

Monday, April 16, 2007

Deleting Info From Your Credit Bureau

The fair credit reporting act gives specific measurements for how long a NEGATIVE item can stay on your credit report. Additionally, they leave POSITIVE items on indefinately. So through time is is possible to fix your credit yourself, as long as you don't keep messing up! (I'm working on posts on how to stop messing up.)

It is NOT true that a credit item can be "reactivated". A debt might be able to be "reactivated" with a court action, but the credit bureaus are a reporting agency and must abilde by the law. But that's the catch, the law says how and what they can report, unless you fix mistakes (50% of Americans have them) then items could stay on your credit forever!

Cleaning your credit...
  1. Change your bad habits, start paying on time. Fixing your credit is a waste if you are going to mess it up again. There should be a brightline where you move forward to fix your debt.

  2. Get your credit report. Why guess where you stand, when you can see the major reports completely free? DO NOT GO ANYWHERE ELSE, THERE ARE MANY FRAUDLENT PLACES.

  3. Look for simple mistakes, dispute them. If the charge doesn't belong to you, dispute it, they will have to prove it does. Follow dispute information on the bureau website, they make it pretty easy to do now.

  4. Look for big mistakes. Put all of your negative items in a piece of paper. Calculate when the debt was FIRST deliquent.... use this list to determine what is out of "range". If it shouldn't be on there dispute it. In the credit world, you have the beneift of the doubt, they have to prove you are wrong.

    Delinquencies (30 – 180 days): Can remain seven years from the date of the initial missed payment.
    Collection accounts: Remain seven years from the date of the initial missed payment that led to the collection (the original delinquency date). When a collection account is paid in full, it will be marked "paid collection" on the credit report.
    Charged-off accounts: Remain seven years from the date of the initial missed payment that led to the charge off (the original delinquency date), even if payments are later made on the charged-off account.
    Closed accounts: Closed accounts are accounts that are no longer available for further use. Closed accounts may or may not have a zero balance. Closed accounts with delinquencies remain seven years from the date they are reported closed, whether closed by the creditor or by the consumer. Positive closed accounts remain 10 years.
    Lost credit card: If there are no delinquencies, credit cards that are reported lost will continue to be listed for two years from the date the card is reported lost. Delinquent payments that occurred before the card was lost are reported for seven years.
    Bankruptcy: Chapters 7, 11, and 12 remain for 10 years from the filing date. Chapter 13 remains seven years from the filing date. Accounts included in bankruptcy will remain seven years from the date they were reported as included in the bankruptcy.
    Child support judgments: Remain seven years from the date the judgment is filed.
    Civil and small claim judgments: Remain seven years from the date the judgment is filed.
    City, county, state, and federal tax liens: Unpaid tax liens remain 15 years from the filing date. Paid tax liens remain seven years from the paid date of the lien.
    Inquiries: Most inquiries listed on your credit report will remain for two years. All inquiries must remain for a minimum of one year from the date the inquiry was made. Some inquiries, such as employment or pre-approved offers of credit, will show only to you.

  5. Make a list of the items that should drop off of your credit over the next year. A year later, pull your credit report again (for free) and compare it making sure that the new items came off.

  6. While your past is important, the last 2 years is the most. Keep your credit clean and wipe off the old stuff... before you know it you'll be setting pretty to buy that house. (You don't need credit for anything else.)

As a final note, just because an item is no longer appearing on your credit report, you are responsible to pay it! It is only right to pay it, otherwise it is theft. But as a side note, an item may no longer be legally collectable if you have not had a court judgement within a certain period of time depending on what state you are in. (Statute Of Limitations) I'm not a lawyer, you'll have to investigate this yourself.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Junk Mail and Telemarketer Call Reduction

Do-Not-Call Registry
Telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. You must enter each phone number you do not want to receive calls, recommend your office, home, fax, and each mobile number in your household. Your registration will be effective for five years.

  • Or Call 888-382-1222
  • The do not call registry does not [technically] work for businesses; however, it is still recommended you put your office phone in because it will likely help to reduce calls anyway since most telemarketers want to clear themselves of all liability by clearing their call lists of the do not call phone numbers regularly.
  • Politicians are exempt from this program; they do not define themselves at telemarketers.
  • Companies you actively do business with can still call as well.

Credit Card Pre-approved Offers
Direct mail and credit companies generate mail based on demographics including zip code, income band and credit payment patterns. Credit bureaus make big money selling this information, information from your PRIVATE credit report without your direct consent. One call does it all for agencies Equifax, Trans Union, Experian and Innovis.

  • Or Call 888-567-8688
  • You just need your address, former address within two years, and social security number. Each adult in the house will need to call.
  • You will be given a choice to opt out for five years or permanently. If you elect to opt out permanently, you will be mailed a Notice of Election from each credit bureau to Opt Out Permanently, which you must sign and return to activate your permanent opt-out. Even though your request becomes effective with within five days of your notification, it may take several months before you see a reduction in the amount of solicitations.
  • If you have a 17-18 year old in your home or someone underage who is already receiving credit solicitations, consider doing this with them also. Perhaps they will be less tempted to get credit cards their first few years of college if they do not get pre-approval letters.

Combat Your Creditors Directly

  • Be sure to READ the privacy statement you receive annually from each creditor. In this statement they will explain what they plan to do with your information and what you can do to limit them. READ this statement and follow the instructions. This will keep your information from being spread to “subsidiaries” and “partners” of your credit card company; apparently they have a lot of “friends.”
  • Here's an Example for you, you'll have to look up the rest on your own: Discover Card. In order to provide you with access to these products and services, we may share the information we collect about you with other members of our corporate family. (The ENTIRE Morgan Stanley Corporation) We may share the information we collect about you with non-affiliated third parties, including those that accept the Discover Card. To indicate your preferences, call Discover Card at 1-800-225-5202 or write to Discover Card, PO Box 30961, Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0961.
  • Write any credit card company that sends you courtesy checks, request for them to not send them at all. These checks are extremely dangerous from a temptation standpoint and even worse from a fraud standpoint. They usually have an extremely high interest rate when you write one. It is very simple for a thief to pass these checks and very difficult for you to get cleared from them… much more difficult than a credit card dispute.

Stop Junk Mail
The Direct Marketing Association estimates that listing with their mail preference service will stop 75% of all national mailings. Requests are kept active for five years. It can take up to six months for your request to be fully processed. You can also opt-out online or mail them your request, this service is $1 per person, but it’s worth it!

  • Mail Preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    PO Box 643
    Carmel, NY 15012-0643
  • Include your complete name, address, zip code and a request to "activate the preference service". And… a check for $1.

To stop mail addressed to former residents, or a former spouse
If the former residents neglected to fill out a Post Office change of address card, or it expired, you can fill one out for them. You must fill out one card for each unique last name. Write "Moved, Left No Forwarding Address" as the new address. Sign your own name and write "Form filled in by current resident of the house, [Your Name], agent for the above". You must write "agent for the above". Hand this form directly to your carrier, if possible, as your carrier must approve the form and see that it gets entered into the post service National Change of Address (NCOA) database. This is very effective.

Mail From Any Source
Start with the Direct Marketing Association. But, if that doesn’t work you’ll need to go directly to the source. Look for the return mailing address or phone number of the company. Call or write asking to be removed immediately, request written confirmation of your removal.

Phone Calls From Any Source
Request to be put on the “Do Not Call List” but don’t make the mistake of hanging up! Ask them for their company name, address and phone number. Get their verbal confirmation that you are now on the do not call list. Ask them how long it will take for your request to become effective. Keep a record of the call, call the Federal Trade Commission if it doesn’t stop.

Be careful not to search for these web sites as you could come upon a phishing site, a fraudulent site designed to look legitimate and obtain your info. Type these web addresses directly in the Address Entry box on your browser. Oh and I took some of this information from a web site long before I started this blog.. don't remember who.