Posts Tagged ‘interest’

Is a Debt Relief Service For You?

More than ever, people are feeling money-crunched. The holiday season brings additional challenges and stress, and the new year traditionally is a time to re-examine one’s financial situation and debts. Many people are, for the first time, facing difficulties in critical areas such as managing loan payments and dealing with home foreclosures and bankruptcy. A growing number of people are seeking professional help in navigating the management of their credit and debt. The decision to enter into a debt relief program can be a stressful one in itself. How do you decide if a debt relief program is the right solution for you? How do you decide where to go?

If you have been gathering advice and sifting through personal finance educational material, you know there are more points of view and theories on growing your savings, money-saving and managing credit and debt than one can count. You hear everything from… the ultra-frugal approach to take care of the pennies and the dollars will follow, cut back on everything, bypass that morning cup of coffee purchase, sweat over every penny at every turn, be vigilant with clipping coupons and bargain hunting, and whenever possible do-it-yourself…. to…  those who say forget the pennies; save on the big-ticket items like interest rates and insurance premiums… to.. focus on growing your income… to… recognize your motivations and plan your budget to include goal-related items that you consider to be fulfilling and enjoyable and saving will be practically effortless. How do you know which approach is right?

In addition to the multiple personal finance approaches, there is an onslaught of questions to navigate through, like… which credit cards should I pay off first? Should I act on a zero-interest credit card offer? Should I consolidate my debt? Close credit accounts? Re-finance my loan? How do I effectively negotiate with my debtors and get my credit rating back in good standing? What are the differences between the various debt relief options? What are the right answers?

The truth is, what will work for you is relative to your particular situation and your abilities at any given time. So, how do you know which answer is best for you, now?

The internet, television, radio, magazines and newspapers are full of resources that provide answers; advice is everywhere – including here. has an inventory full of helpful videos with pointers from experts that address dozens of personal finance and budgeting questions. You may be able to tackle debt management and negotiation yourself. Many people have been able to achieve this. But, perhaps you have been utilizing the many available resources in an effort to self-manage your debt, and still you feel unsettled. How do you decide if the time is right to enroll in a debt relief program?

If you answer “yes” to the following questions, a debt relief program may be for you:

  • Is all the information you’ve gathered starting to seem contradictory?
  • Do you feel the need for more clarity and direction?
  • Even after trying, are you still living paycheck to paycheck?
  • Have your savings dwindled?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel an urgent need for immediate assistance?

Should you determine that the time is right to consider a program, how do you choose where to go and who to listen to?

Here is important information from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that you can use to help you evaluate and choose a debt relief counseling service:

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the organization you are considering is positively rated or if there is a history of complaint against it.
  • Are they willing to provide informative insights and educational material up front, at no charge?
  • Are they willing to answer questions and discuss your personal situation with you, disclose what they might or might not be able to do for you, before you enroll?
  • Are they available in person or by phone, as well as online?
  • What services do they offer? Do they offer ongoing support?
  • What are the qualifications of their counselors? Are they accredited or certified? By whom? If not, how were they trained?
  • What are their fees?
  • How are their employees compensated? Are they paid more if you sign up? If so, consider this a red flag and look elsewhere.
  • How can you be assured your private information will be kept confidential and secure?
  • Read everything, and ask questions before signing anything or enrolling… even online.
  • More tips on selecting a credit or debt relief service at Federal Trade Commission.

There are many qualified and reputable debt relief agencies out there. While we cannot provide input on every one, we would like to draw your attention to one group we feel clearly meets this FTC criteria and more, CareOne Debt Relief. CareOne Debt Relief Services have helped over 5 million people, providing resources to help customers be financially fit. often makes use of the CareOne Debt Relief’s easily accessible and valuable educational online resources.  Their budging tools, articles, forums and blog posts are free to everyone and require no sign-up to access. We’ve gained a lot of knowledge from reading their blog posts (which we share here from time to time), and we are impressed that their founder, Bernie Dancel, their own counselors, and many of their clients readily share their own personal stories of both the challenges and successes they’ve experienced in managing debt. Here are a few blog posts offered by CareOne Debt Relief which you may find helpful:

With any financial resource you work with, monitoring your account, staying up-to-date on the progress, and making sure any of your concerns are addressed as quickly as possible remains your responsibility. It’s important to stay in touch and stay connected with whatever resource you choose.

As with any challenge, the key is to take the first step. And in the case of searching for a debt relief program, that first step is just a simple online inquiry or phone call. If you are considering a professional debt counseling service, shop around and ask questions to find a program that you feel comfortable with, and step-by-step, you will succeed.

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We only recommend brands we respect, and we are proud to be a compensated affiliate of the CareOne brand of debt relief services.

The Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2011 on

The Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2011 on

Another year has passed, and we’re once again pleased that we were able to bring you helpful content from so many clever and wise money-savers from around the world who are committed to helping others achieve personal financial success, and we appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge and videos.

We also give a very special shout of appreciation to all the contributors in our Originals Channel, who generously gave their skill, time, and their professional wisdom in creating videos exclusively for viewers. It just so happens that, with the exception of only one, the remarkable Steve Martin, the Originals contributors comprise the top ten most viewed videos this year, they are: Daniel DelaneyThe DolansMarie ForleoGarrett B. GundersonRyan LeeAlexis NeelyJoe Polish, Ramit SethiSean Stephenson, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Here is the List of  The Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2011:

10. Street Food Smart – Daniel Delaney (an SLTV Original)

Vendor street food: to taste or not to taste? Curbside cuisine expert Daniel Delaney shares his wisdom on how to get the most for your vendor buck.

9. How to Avoid Money Panic – Sean Stephenson & Garrett B. Gunderson (an SLTV Original)

Therapist Sean Stephenson and personal finance advisor Garrett B. Gunderson discuss an approach that helps to reduce feelings of money panic, and increase your ability to actually grow your wealth and savings, and be more productive even during stressful times.

8. Cost Effective Marketing for Small Business – Joe Polish (an SLTV Original)

President of Piranha Marketing, Joe Polish, reveals three invaluable top techniques to market your business more effectively, efficiently, and do it without spending a fortune.

7. Avoid These 8 Retirement Mistakes! – The Dolans, Ken and Daria (an SLTV Original)

Trusted personal finance advisors Ken and Daria Dolan give straight talk – great for all age groups – about saving money, planning for retirement, 401-k’s, and how to avoid costly retirement investment mistakes.

6. Money Myth: Cut Back on Everything! – Ramit Sethi (an SLTV Original)

Part of an SLTV Original series of three money myth-busting tips from personal finance author Ramit Sethi. Ramit chimes in on the idea that to save money, you should just cut back on everything… well maybe not…

5. Money Myth: Spend Less Than You Earn – Ramit Sethi (an SLTV Original)

Another in the SLTV Original series of three money myth-busting tips from author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi. Here Ramit gives his take on the idea that to grow your savings, just spend less than you earn… or…

4. Maintain a Mindset of Abundance – Marie Forleo  (an SLTV Original)

Best-selling author, speaker and one of the most diversely successful entrepreneurs today, Marie Forleo, shares 3 easy things you can do to feel abundant, attract success, avoid money stress and feel great about your potential.

3. Steve Martin, SNL – Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford – Steve Martin on SNL

A comedy classic: Saturday Night Live features Steve Martin and Amy Poehler, a couple needing personal finance budgeting help, which they find with Chris Parnell’s unique approach to debt and money-management.

2. Money Myth: Willpower – Ramit Sethi (an SLTV Original)

A part of the three-part series on growing your wealth from personal finance author and blogger Ramit Sethi. In this clip, Ramit claims that the idea of personal finance success being about more and more willpower may not necessarily be so.

1. Be a Customer Who Gets What You Want! – Gary Vaynerchuk (an SLTV Original)

Entrepreneur, speaker, author, and co-founder of Vayner Media, Gary Vaynerchuk, discusses the Thank You Economy: how customers have more power than ever and how being an engaged consumer gets you more of what you want from brands: better service, prices and experiences.

Moe you’ll like:

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New Credit Card Rules – A Better Game?

Credit cards are tricky enough, but now new rules have gone into effect that will impact your credit card use, billing dates, fees, fines, spending limits, and interest rates. Our Finance, Credit, Budgeting channel has among it’s inventory, the six short videos featured below that give great pointers on how these changes affect you and what you need to know to stay on top of the game. There is controversy over the effectiveness of these new rules and whether they provide more protection to consumers or not. We’ll be interested to hear your experiences with the new changes.

Credit Cards: The New Rules – CBS Early Show

New Credit Card Bill, What it Means for You – Money Talks

New Credit Card Rules – What to Do BEFORE they take effect – Laura Rowley

New Credit Card Rules Guide – Ron Lieber, NY Times

And for more in-depth information on credit, we’ve made available  in it’s entirety PBS’ FRONTLINE TV special: The Card Game: Wizards of Consumer Lending

And also a re-posting of their associated blog post, We Bring You: FRONTLINE’s “The Card Game”.

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We Bring You: FRONTLINE’S “The Card Game” is pleased to be bringing our viewers “The Card Game” Wizards of Consumer Lending” which originally aired, on PBS,on Novebmer 24, 2009.

FRONTLINE and The New York Times have teamed up to create a program covering the consumer credit business . New government regulations and new guidelines are coming, and along with those, banks will offer customers new incentives, terms, and products. From exploring the evolution of the business, to exposing their manipulative tactics, to arming consumers with insight to avoid potential new credit pitfalls, this program is not-to-be missed.

“Investigating the massive consumer loan industry and what’s ahead for consumers and banks — a FRONTLINE-New York Times co-production.”

View the video: The Card Game: Wizards of Consumer Lending

Below is a re-print of  PBS followup pointers: Seven Things To KNow About “The Card Game”.  We are bringing this to you here for your convenience, and because we feel the information is so vital. For further information, interviews and background analysis, visit The Card Game website.

Seven Things To Know About “The Card Game”

1. Cardholders Have New Protections

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 curtails many of the most abusive practices. New rules must take effect by February 2010:

• no retroactive rate hikes;

• statements must be mailed 21 days before payment due date;

• payment dates can’t suddenly be shifted;

• statements must say how long it will take to pay off balances and the total interest costs if paying just the monthly minimum;

• 45 days notice required for changes in terms and conditions.

For debit cards — now more popular than credit cards — the Federal Reserve issued new rules (effective summer 2010) on overdraft fees. So have some large banks:

• card issuers can’t charge fees for debit card overdrafts at stores and ATMs unless the cardholder has agreed;

• some large banks (see list) are limiting the number of debit card overdraft fees that can be charged in a day, and changing other policies.

2. Fee Traps Are Still Out There

The new rules and policies do not cover

• the tricks in late fees;

• fees involving prepaid debit cards;

• inactivity fees, foreign exchange fees, gift cards, etc. Read the full list.

In addition, there’s no ceiling on interest rates nor on penalty/service fees for debit, credit and prepaid cards. And small business credit cards aren’t covered by the new regulations; their credit limits are being slashed.

Warning to consumers: Stay vigilant. The banks are scrambling to get ahead of the new regulations coming in 2010. Watch out for higher interest rates, old annual fees returning and other tactics.

3. Credit Unions — A Better Borrowing Option?

Here’s a Q&A on how they work and pros and cons in turning to them for credit/debit cards. One “pro”– a 18 percent interest rate cap at credit unions that are federally chartered.

You might want to check out the credit unions near you, and read some helpful tips about them from New York Times reporter Ron Lieber.

4. Be Careful About Those “Free” Credit Scores

It sounds like a good idea, but you could be signing up to get a monthly bill.

5. Interchange Fees Are Part of “The Card Game,” Too

Merchants say they’re hurting because of the 1.8 percent they must pay on every credit/debit card transaction in order to have payments cleared by the bank. The issue is pitting retailers against banks and interchange fees could be facing tougher regulation.

6. Compare Cards/Best Terms

The New York Times’ Ron Lieber offers advice if you’re interested in changing credit cards in these tough times. And a good site for comparing benefits, particularly for reward cards, is

7. More Changes Are Coming and There Will Be Winners and Losers

Pending federal legislation could put far more regulation on consumer credit. The hottest debate is over a new consumer protection agency.

Meanwhile, the landscape for the consumer has fundamentally changed — it’s simply harder to get a loan of any kind of loan and consumers are being called on to be more responsible in making financial decisions.

As for the banks, experts like Shailesh Mehta, who as CEO of Providian helped turn the card business into a multibillion-dollar bonanza, believes banks will always figure out how to comply with the new rules and yet still outsmart the regulators.

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