11/1/2007 - Are zero interest credit cards a good deal?
Competition among credit card companies is making zero interest credit cards commonplace. But are these cards always a good deal for consumers? Remember that credit card companies aren't in the business of offering something for nothing. Statistically speaking, they know they'll make money on such offers. So those who apply for zero-interest cards need to understand the details behind that great low rate.
10/1/2007 - Avoid these 401(k) mistakes
With traditional pensions going the way of typewriters and eight-track tape players, it’s more important than ever to take charge of your retirement savings. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you have a ready-made tool for arriving at a financially secure retirement. Unfortunately, many people don’t contribute even a little to their company’s 401(k) plan. Or if they do contribute, they make mistakes — easily avoided mistakes — that can diminish the potential of this great retirement vehicle.
9/1/2007 - What's smarter? A rent-to-own plan or using your credit card
Should you buy that new washing machine or sofa using a rent-to-own plan? Or should you pay with a credit card?
8/1/2007 - Develop three habits to stay out of debt
Staying out of debt is simple, but it’s not easy. It requires fortitude. It means foregoing impulsive purchases in exchange for long-term financial freedom. Staying out of debt requires that you deny cravings, at least temporarily, for the “must-have” stuff that beckons from every mall, television advertisement, and slick magazine.
7/1/2007 - What you need to know about private mortgage insurance
If you’re in the market for a home, you’ve probably heard of private mortgage insurance or PMI. It’s insurance that protects lenders — not borrowers — if the mortgage goes into default. Lenders generally require PMI if you’re unwilling or unable to make a down payment of at least 20% of the home’s purchase price. Depending on your credit history, your income, the size of your mortgage and other factors, PMI can run from $50 to several hundred dollars a month. After building up equity in your home (in technical terms, when your loan-to-value ratio drops below 78% of the original loan balance), your PMI policy can be cancelled. But building up that much equity, especially with a conventional long-term mortgage, can take a decade or longer.
5/1/2007 - Emergency savings — how much is enough?
We all need an emergency fund, but what’s considered “an emergency?” Any unexpected hit to your finances, including layoffs, unanticipated illnesses, and natural disasters. Car insurance premiums and regular home maintenance are (or should be) anticipated, so they’re not emergencies. The same is true of credit card bills for vacations and visits to the dentist’s office. An emergency fund is designed to keep your life intact during temporary setbacks and to help you avoid unnecessary debt.
4/1/2007 - Homeowners: Don't make these insurance mistakes
Catastrophes, thefts, natural disasters, accidents, fires — they happen. If such misfortunes strike, a well-researched and up-to-date homeowner’s insurance policy can keep your family’s finances afloat during trying times. Proceeds from a homeowner’s policy can provide necessary funds to replace your house and belongings. A good policy can also protect against unexpected liabilities. If you’re considering a new homeowner’s policy (or already have one), watch out for some common pitfalls, including the following:
2/1/2007 - How to maintain a high credit score
Having a high credit score can save you thousands of dollars in interest costs, and can provide bargaining power when you deal with landlords, insurance companies, cell-phone providers, utilities, and other businesses.
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