I just added a new store to the Money Hacks site. I know, I'm a little late to the party, but that's my MO! 🙂
It's hosted by Amazon and it's filled with hundreds of personal finance books from authors like Jim Cramer, Andrew Tobias, George Soros, Peter Lynch, and Jim Rogers.
Check it out. There's still time to order before Christmas (I can say that, right)!
Only 43% of consumers will cut back on holiday spending this year, compared to 55% in 2008, according to a Consumer Federation of America survey. While increased consumer optimism spells good news for retailers, for Americans planning to “stretch” the budget, the New Year could bring falling credit scores, and with it, serious consequences.
Here are some fail-safe tips from FICO Credit Guru Shon Dellinger to help enthusiastic shoppers stay financially sound:
1. Be Smart with Credit. Using a credit card is ok – experts agree having 3-5 credit cards helps your credit, if used responsibly. But carrying a balance on your credit card leaves you (1) stuck paying interest that could cost you, in some cases, double or triple the cost of those gifts in the long run and (2) with a much lower credit score, which could jack up interest rates on your credit cards and jeopardize your chance of getting lines of credit elsewhere (buying a house, a car, etc.). Services like FICO Score Watch combat this by providing emails or texts alerting you to any changes in your FICO score (either positive or negative), and notifying you when you’ve qualified for a better interest rate. A credit score increase of 30 points will save the average consumer $105 per year.
For more information on FICO Score Watch, go to: www.myfico.com/Products/
2. Resist “Short Savings.” The salesperson at your favorite department store offers you an instant 20% savings just for opening up a credit card in their name. While that $20 seems tempting at the time, it can quickly put you in debt if you’re not careful. The temptation of the deal is also one reason why the average consumer has a total of 13 credit cards. Opening new lines of credit can also hurt your credit score, so make sure the card meets your overall needs and not just your desire for quick savings.
3. Don’t Wait Till April! Many holiday shoppers use their Tax refund to pay off credit card balances left over from the holidays, which can be incredibly expensive, not to mention detrimental to your credit standing. A credit card balance of $500 dollars from January until April will cost you $237 dollars based on today’s average credit card interest rate.
4. Get Info on Your Credit. Go to the myFICO Forums, where you can connect with thousands of other people all in your same boat. Don’t wait til after the holidays, when the damage is done. FICO is offering 30% off all products on its web site if you enter the discount code MYFICO HOLIDAY.
A quartet of top U.S. bank stocks rose on Wednesday after J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. reported earnings that surpassed Wall Street estimates, and the insurance sector also weighed in with gains to lift financial stocks more than 2%.
I suggest that the management at JPM horde all that cash, as the next big mortgage resets occur in 2012 (5 years after the peak of 2007, when everybody and their mother, dog, parakeet, and gerbil bought houses with no money down, poor credit, and insufficient income).
Now that many of those same people are now either unemployed or still making less money than their mortgage payment, the pressure is going to be HUGE on the housing market, banking sector, and overall economy. Let’s hope the news that the economy and employment pictures are improving, else we fall into a really nasty tailspin. Let’s also hope I’m wrong about the resets (here’s the good personal news: my mortgage from 2004 reset at a lower interest rate).
While I don’t necessarily agree with the author on most things, this article is worth reading, if only to stimulate your “BS” signal reception. The gist of the story — preparing for the worst — however, rings true. Never a bad idea!
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
In spite of the more positive news that is coming out today, preparing for the worst is still a good idea. Read more.