Financial Advice

Get Rid of Unwanted Apps

Using your social media account to log into an app or website can be easier than creating a new user name and password. But, after a while, you can collect more apps and become registered on more websites than you really use. This can leave you open to cyberattacks, phishing, and scams.

When you use social media accounts to sign up for apps or websites, you may give the app or website permission to do things on your behalf, like post to your social media page. You’re also possibly saying it’s OK to access information like your name, birthdate, location, contacts, and even your messages. Over time, you may even forget which apps or sites have these permissions.

Here are three ways to help ensure you’re not granting permissions to sites and apps you no longer want to have this access:

  1. Ask yourself: “Why do they need this info?” When signing up for an app or website, pay attention to what permissions it’s asking for. If you’re not comfortable allowing access, select “deny “or “disagree” when you see the message asking for permissions. This typically stops the registration process.
  2. Purge your permissions list. Go to the settings on your social media site and follow the instructions that lead you to the list of sites and apps to which you’re granting access. Follow the instructions that tell you how to remove those apps or sites, click on one at a time and select the option that allows you to remove it.
  3. Make it a habit. Set a reminder on your calendar for at least every few months to check your permissions.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

What You Need to Know About Writing a Will

It’s a subject that none of us want to think about. Whether we’re young and just starting life or older and approaching the end, we don’t want to think about our own death. And, adding money to the mix only makes it worse.

But, the truth is that all adults need to think about what will happen to their financial affairs when they die. Failure to do so could leave a real mess for those who survive you. And could cost those survivors quite a bit of money.

So let’s do something today that we don’t want to do. Let’s evaluate your estate planning and see if it’s adequate for the job. For the record, I am not an attorney and this is not meant to be legal advice. I have been a financial planner and often referred clients to get competant legal advice. This is meant to do the same.

First, let’s create working definitions for a couple of commonly used terms. “Estate” refers to what financial and physical assets that you own (or partially own) at the time of your death. “Estate planning” is the planning that you do before your death to make sure that your wishes are followed after death. A “will” is the most commonly used document to make your wishes known to those who survive you and any appropriate government authorities.

We’ll begin with estate planning. You’ll need to decide what you want your estate plan to do. Someone will need to be named the “executor” or boss of your estate. They’ll assume the responsibility of executing your last wishes. That person does not need to be a lawyer. Any adult with good judgement will do. Often a family member is chosen. But, you may want someone from outside the family like a lawyer or bank to do the job.

You’ll want something that will provide instructions on how to distribute your financial assets and physical property. You may want specific items to go to designated persons. Or you may want to make it clear that certain persons are to be excluded from any inheritance.

If you have children you’ll want to specify who you want to raise your kids. Remember that they’ll need someone to take care of them both physically and to manage their finances until they reach adulthood. Quite often minor children are left financial assets in a parent’s estate.

You’ll also want to consider whether any estate taxes could apply. If so, you may be able to take steps to reduce the tax burden your heirs will face.

OK, now that we’ve spent some time thinking about what we want to happen after we’re gone, let’s talk about how we make sure that it does happen.

In most cases the primary document is a ‘will’ or ‘last will and testament.’ A will is a very specific document. It’s not a list of items with names next to them that you keep in your safe deposit box. Or post it notes pasted on a silver tea service that you want to go to little Sally.

A will is a legal document that contains certain elements that are required by state law. While none of these elements are difficult, failure to include them could invalidate the will. And, to complicate matters, each state has slightly different requirements. Make sure that your will is legal in your state of residence. And, have it rechecked if you’ve moved to a new state since it was written.

Many single adults think that they don’t need a will. Typically, they’re wrong. Without a will it could take months to have someone assigned to sell a car owned by the deceased or pay any bills. There could even be a problem finding someone to pay funeral expenses.

Another common misconception is that married couples can solve the problem by putting everything into joint accounts. Unfortunately not everything can be titled jointly (think of jewelry or home electronics). And, even if everything is held jointly, what happens if both spouses go in a joint accident?

Dying without a will can leave a real mess. State law will determine who is the executor and how your property will be distributed. That might not produce the results you want. For instance, in some cases law dictates that some inheritance goes to children before the surviving spouse.

It’s especially important for unmarried couples. State laws are a patchwork. In some places they recognize commonlaw marriage the same as one registered with the state. In other places, a life-long live-in partner is accorded no more rights that a complete stranger.

State laws are also problematic for couples in a second marriage. You may think that certain assets that you brought into a second marriage should go to the children of your first marriage. The state might think otherwise.

Bottom line? Just about everyone who has reached adulthood should have a will.

Being frugal, it’s tempting to want to write your own will or buy a form where you just fill in the blanks. Normally I encourage do-it-yourself efforts. But in this case that could be a mistake. Remember that if something isn’t done right no one will know until after you’re gone and can’t correct it. A small mistake could be very costly. This might be one of those cases where hiring a professional is good money management.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t shop around to save some money. And, if you’ve already thought about what you want your estate plan to accomplish you’ll reduce the number of hours the attorney will spend preparing your will. That will save you some money.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your executor has access to a copy of your will when you die. They will need it as proof that they can make decisions for you. Give them have a copy of the will, or, if you’d prefer that they not see it, give a copy to your lawyer and let the executor know who the lawyer is. Don’t put the only copy in your bank box. The bank will not let the executor enter just because they say they have a right. The bank will require proof. And that proof is locked in your box.

Planning for your estate does not need to be expensive. Unless your financial or personal affairs are complicated getting the documents prepared isn’t that expensive. But, it is important. Don’t leave a financial mess as a last memory of you for your loved ones.

This article by Gary Foreman first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

I’ve Got Credit Card Debt Has Built Up After Making Some Mistakes. What Should I Do?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I childishly made some large purchases using my credit, and couldn’t afford to complete the payments on a timely manner. Most of those accounts are closed.

Is it best to pay them off in full or with a settlement payment? Also, paying that amount (full or settlement amount) as a one time full payment or monthly amounts; will either help rebuild my credit?

MonieMoney

Answer:

Dear MonieMoney,

If you wanted to rate which efforts would help you the most, paying the accounts off in full would do the trick.

After that, settling the debt for less than you owe or bankruptcy can fall into the same general bucket.

When you settle a debt for less than the full balance the amount of debt forgiven will be reported as a bad debt and appear on your credit report for up to seven years from the start of the last stretch you went delinquent.

A bankruptcy will close the delinquent debt and a chapter 7 bankruptcy can be reported for up to ten years.

But the length of time it is reported is less important than how aggressively you work to rebuild your credit following either debt settlement or bankruptcy.

Once you settled all your debt debt or received your bankruptcy discharge, the ability to have good credit again is within your reach. Just read this guide.

Depending on how much debt you are talking about, it can be faster and less expensive to file bankruptcy, take what you learned from your mistakes, and start over.

If you want to compare the various get out of debt options then just use my online get out of debt calculator.

As far as I’m concerned, you screwed up, learned from the mistake, and now need to move forward in a rational and logical way. That means not making decisions based on emotion, but fact. You might want to read this and this to help you on your decision path.

Maybe this post will really hit home for you – How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth.

Steve Rhode
Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

How to Use Bitcoin to Get Out of Debt – Update #1

I previously wrote How to Use Bitcoin to Get Out of Debt or Build an Emergency Fund and need to get on a regular update schedule so Monday’s seem like a good day to do it.

On December 6, 2017 I purchased $100 worth of Bitcoin at $14,244.87 per coin and received +0.0067505 BTC. After transaction fees I received $96.16 worth of Bitcoin.

On December 7, 2017 I purchased $100 of Litecoin at $98.44 per coin and received +0.97684116 LTC. After transaction fees I received $96.16 of Litecoin.

Since that date I also received $20 in referral Bitcoins and the people who used the link also received $10 each in referral Bitcoins.

If You Love Charts

The arrows show the point at which I bought for each currency.

What’s It All Worth This Week?

Invested – $200
Referrals – $20
Value at This Moment – $312.38

How I Invested in Bitcoin and Litecoin

There are a ton of places you can use to purchase cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. If you decide to start a savings program using any cryptocurrency you should absolutely use the exchange you are most comfortable with.

When I started this experiment I used Coinbase. They are an often mentioned exchange that has been around a long time a good reputation. Coinbase has a nice dashboard and it worked smoothly for me. I have no complaints.

Get 10% Free if you invest $100. That’s a 10% immediate return on a $100 investment by using this referral link. If you use that link, Coinbase will give you $10 of free Bitcoin. And they will also give me some too. A win-win outcome.

Read This Disclaimer

I’m not an investment expert but Bitcoin caught my eye as an interesting way to get people excited about saving and hopefully to enjoy the current wave of explosive returns to help them to get out of debt or build an emergency fund they can use when they need it most. Rushing to invest in Bitcoin or other similar currencies is a risk and many people leaping for that risk will make an emotional rather than logical decision about what to do. Make an educated choice about what you should do, not an emotional one. And for God’s sake, never save money you don’t have.

Steve Rhode
Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Nearly 1 in 7 Admit Never Checking Credit Report in Exclusive MoneyTips Survey

How often do you look at your credit report? Not often enough, according to an exclusive MoneyTips survey. While 3 out of 10 Americans said they had looked at their credit history within the last month, nearly half (47.3%) hadn’t seen theirs in at least six months. Making matters worse, nearly 1 out of every 7 respondents admitted that they had never looked at their credit report at all!

MoneyTips conducted an exclusive online credit survey in June of 410 people. Besides the fact that nearly 3 in 10 admitted not knowing their credit score, we also asked:

Nearly 30% (29.8%) reported checking their credit report within the last month, and more than 50% (52.7%) within the last six months. But more than 14% (14.1%), nearly 1 out of 7, admitted never seeing their credit report in their entire lives!

“In order to raise your credit score you need to get a copy of your credit report; know what’s in it,” says Experian Director of Public Education Rod Griffin. “That credit report should be there to help you get the credit you need when you need it. It’s a good idea to check it 3 to 6 months in advance so that if there is any issue, you can get it resolved long before you apply.”

Griffin elaborates, “I check my credit scores periodically just to know where I stand and to make sure there are no signs of fraud or identity theft. I don’t worry about my credit scores, the numbers themselves too much; I worry a lot more about the credit report itself because that credit report is what’s used to calculate the scores. So, if you take care of your credit report, your scores will take care of themselves.”

Digging a little deeper, we found that nearly 30% of those adults under age 30 had never checked their credit report. The figure was 21.9% for those 18-39, but only 9.8% for those 40 and up. For our oldest age group, 70+, the percentage that never saw their credit report dropped to 2.4%.

“If you are planning to buy a car they are going to look at a credit score for auto lending. If you are going to get a cell phone they may look at a credit score as part of that new service, because they want to know you are going to be able to repay that cell phone bill. If you are going to rent an apartment they’ll look at your credit reports to determine if you qualify for that rental,” explains Griffin. “Taking care of that credit report and those credit scores are important throughout your life, because as you do business every day it can come into play.”

Income was also a factor. More than 1 in 4 (28.4%) of the lowest-income group, those earning less than $30,000 annually, had never looked over their credit report for accuracy or to find ways to improve their financial position. The ratio was nearly 1 out of 6 (16.1%) of those earning $100,000 or less annually, as compared to less than 1 out of 14 (6.9%) for those earning more than $100,000.

Warned National Financial Educators Founder and Chief Education Officer Adam Carroll, “With rampant credit card fraud schemes occurring today, the likelihood of something derogatory showing up on your credit report is significant. Even erroneous filings to your credit report can cause your score to plummet if left unchecked. Making sure your report is clean and clear from any errors could save you tens of thousands in the long run.”

This article by Jeff Hoyt first appeared on Moneytips and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Congress on the Brink of Making College Less Affordable for More People

There must be more to this story that I’m missing and if so, please chime in with a comment. But as it stands right now, Congress is on the verge of passing a “tax reform” bill that makes higher education and advanced education more expensive for students.

Where I’m stuck on the logic is how are we going to make America a world leading country without innovation and discovery through an educated workforce.

Granted, higher education debt is skyrocketing and student loan defaults are horrible but that’s a different issue to tackle.

Discouraging valid and potentially successful students from pursuing higher education and advanced degrees seems like trying to drive a nail with a screwdriver.

Blaming students alone for the exploding student loan debt misses the mark. A substantial assignment of blame also needs to be assigned to the for-profit schools who pushed enrollment with commissioned salespeople, jacked up tuition costs, and failed to perform. Non-profit and public schools don’t get a pass either in the blame game. They have not done an adequate job of matching potential degree programs to the debt students have to take out.

Former Bush administration Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said, “By 2020, two-thirds of the country’s jobs will require some level of education beyond high school. Our nation’s long-term health depends on more Americans’ finding a pathway to college. Anything that makes that goal harder to achieve is bad for the country, the economy, and our people.” – Source

She also said, “Policy makers are considering new taxes on graduate students, new obstacles to private philanthropy, and a larger burden on college graduates already struggling to pay off student-loan debt.”

According to Politico, “National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, who has broad bipartisan respect, on Thursday warned of negative consequences it could bring. “Anything that would diminish the interest in that talent of the next generation in joining that workforce is something we should be very cautious and careful about,” Collins said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. “I think we can all agree that given that science has driven our economy in this country by most estimates more than 50 percent of our growth since World War II, this is a very important issue for continued investment.”

But the biggest cheerleader for this education gutting tax reform changes appears to be the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. “Our nation’s broken tax system is well overdue for comprehensive reform,” she said. “And I am so encouraged that, with the president’s leadership, leaders in Congress are poised to finally do something about it. This administration believes America succeeds when American workers and job providers keep more of their hard-earned money.” – Source

Steve Rhode
Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

FTC Obtains Court Order: Debt Collector Banned from Debt Collection Business

The final defendant in a debt collection scheme that illegally threatened to arrest or sue consumers and harassed their friends, family members and employers is banned from debt collection activities under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The settlement resolves an FTC complaint filed in May 2015, alleging that Anthony Coppola and his co-defendants engaged in banned debt collection tactics – they made false threats, contacted third-parties to pressure debtors, charged made-up fees, sent deceptive text messages claiming that non-existent payments were declined, and failed to identify themselves as debt collectors. The other defendants – Audubon Financial Bureau LLC, Unified Global Group LLC, ARM WNY LLC and Domenico D’Angelo – were banned from the debt collection business under a settlement reached in September 2016.

Under the settlement order announced today, Coppola is banned from debt collection activities or otherwise trading in consumer information regarding debt. The order also prohibits him from profiting from consumers’ personal information and failing to dispose of it properly, and imposes a $9.39 million judgment that will be suspended due to his inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if Coppola is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated order was 2-0. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York entered the order on August 24, 2017.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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