$88,000 Nightmare

Amy Nickson  |  Dec 13, 2017

THE YEAR 2011 WAS horrifying. I learned my mom had a life-threatening disease. She passed away six months later.
That forced me to confront the $88,000 of debt I had accumulated during college, including $51,000 in credit card debt. I was in grief, I had no idea what to do about the debt and my mom wasn’t there to advise me.
My friend John told me to seek professional help. A debt settlement company helped me get rid of $16,000 of higher-interest credit card debt,

Read More

So Rewarding

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 26, 2017

A FRIEND RECENTLY asked me the interest rate on my credit card. I admitted I had no idea. I pay off the balance in full every month and therefore don’t know, or care about, the interest rate.
I’m a minority in this regard. Only 35% of us pay off our credit card balance each month. We’re dismissed as “deadbeats” by profit-hungry credit card companies, perhaps with some justification: We reap the benefits of credit card rewards programs designed to lure the other 65% of the population into using their cards on a regular basis—and then foolishly carrying a balance.

Read More

Double Trouble

Jonathan Clements  |  Oct 14, 2017

PEOPLE OFTEN ACT foolishly and then desperately try to justify their financial sins. A case in point: Those who take on too much debt, can’t get it paid off by retirement—and end up servicing huge mortgages and other loans long after their paychecks have come to an end.
Cue the tap dancing. The indebted start waxing eloquent about the virtues of the mortgage-interest tax deduction and how it’s smart to pay the bank 4% while they invest the borrowed money at 10%.

Read More

Debt: 10 Questions

Jonathan Clements  |  Sep 21, 2017

GOT DEBT? TO GET a handle on the situation and figure out whether you’re handling your loans and credit cards properly, here are 10 questions to ask:

What’s your net worth? You might have a home and sizable financial accounts. But what are you worth once you subtract all your debts?
Are you taking the necessary steps to stop thieves from borrowing money using your identity? To protect yourself, regularly check your credit reports for errors and accounts you don’t recognize,

Read More

Getting Schooled

Anika Hedstrom  |  Jul 11, 2017

SETTING OUT INTO the business world, I was age 27 with a negative net worth. Among life lessons, there are many strong contenders, but nothing introduced me to “adulting” like debt. For that, I had undergraduate and graduate school expenses to thank.
Having secured a good job out of business school, I started to rebuild my finances. My grad loans had a relatively high principal amount and an interest rate of 6.8%, so I prioritized that debt over my undergrad loans,

Read More

Playing Your Cards

George Diaz  |  Jun 15, 2017

YOU’VE PROBABLY already asked yourself this question: Is it better for my credit score to have just one credit card—or many?
There’s no magic number, because it isn’t really about how many credit cards you have. Rather, what matters is your financial situation and how you handle your cards. For example, if you are just beginning to build a credit history, it’s best to have a single card. Try to follow three rules:

Pay your bills on time—and avoid late payments at all costs.

Read More

Losing Interest

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 4, 2016

“ONLY BORROW TO BUY things that’ll appreciate in value.” This was a popular piece of financial wisdom in the 1980s, when I started writing about personal finance. But I can’t recall anyone saying it in recent years. Does that mean this wisdom is no longer wise?
Financial habits have obviously changed. I might make just a single cash machine withdrawal each month, because I put almost every expenditure on my two credit cards, which I use to buy groceries,

Read More

Smarter But Homeless

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 5, 2015

SOARING STUDENT DEBT is putting the kibosh on another major financial goal: buying a home. According to a study by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 40% of those age 18 to 30 have student debt, up from 27% in 2005. For these borrowers, the debt burden is staggering, with student loan payments estimated to devour more than 20% of their income in 2015.
With so much of their income devoted to servicing student loans,

Read More

Keeping It Private

Jonathan Clements  |  Nov 8, 2015

FAMILY CAN BE A wonderful asset. Your parents, siblings and adult children might help with home repairs, offer free advice based on their professional expertise and take care of the dog while you’re on vacation.
When the circumstances are right, I think there’s an opportunity to take this even further. For instance, earlier this year, I provided my daughter with a private mortgage, which allowed her to purchase her first home. There aren’t many people I’d strike that deal with,

Read More