Debt

No Fee No Interest Balance Transfers

Paying too much interest on your credit card debt? Could be any interest is too much interest.

When I had to replace the windows in my condo (thanks a whole lot, Hurricane Irma), I put the charge on my reward credit card, to get the points. After a while, I found a no-fee balance transfer through CreditKarma.com and moved the balance to a no-interest card. So for 18 months every payment I make really goes to pay down the balance.

When the 18 months are up, I’ll look for another no-fee, no-interest balance transfer offer. I may be paying for these windows for the rest of my life, but at least I won’t be throwing away money on interest charges.

Search on “no-fee no-interest balance transfer credit card 2018.”

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Temporary Fix

I forget now who it was, but someone I knew long ago had two TVs. One had no sound and one had no picture (this was in the olden days of CRT-style TVs.) They put one on top of the other, tuned them to the same channel, and had the full TV experience for a while instead of having to rush out and go into debt to buy a new TV.

To me, this is immensely smart. Certainly there comes a time when you need to buy a new (or new-to-you) whatever-it-is, but if there’s a temporary fix that prevents going into debt, why not?

 

Credit Score: It’s Not What You Make, It’s What You Do With It

Think about it–no matter how much you earn, it won’t make your credit score go up. No matter how little you earn, your score won’t go down (unless you fail to pay your bills).

A credit score reflects only how skillfully you manage debt. It doesn’t care if you’re The World’s Best Dad, have the strongest marriage, the most prestigious job, live in a lovely neighborhood, or are 20 years old or 120. It only cares how you manage debt.

The more available credit you have compared to how much you’ve used, the better. A credit limit of $3,000 with a balance owing of $25 is great. A limit of $3,000 with a balance owing of $2,900 lowers your score.

The more you don’t use what you have, the better your credit score. That may feel a bit contrary, like life is saying, “Here’s a bag of marshmallows, but if you don’t eat them you win!” Available credit isn’t like money, standing by for you to spend it. It’s more like those well-trained dogs that will sit with a treat on their nose and not eat it until allowed.

Easy Net Worth Calculation

The idea of computing your net worth can seem intimidating. It sounds awfully accounting-ish and formal. When it’s just for your own information, it’s easy.

Take a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Write down the value of your big stuff:

Home if you own it (https://www.zillow.com/how-much-is-my-home-worth/),

Other real estate,

Bank account balances,

Brokerage account, IRA, 401k, (just use the most recent statement. Doesn’t need to be exact to the penny.)

The amount you could get for your car, jewelry, and collectibles if you sold them, (If you guess, guess low.)

Anything else I haven’t thought of.

Add it up.

Write down everything you owe:

Mortgage,

Credit cards, personal loans, car loans, medical and dental bills, (this does not include current utility bills, only debts)

Anything else I haven’t thought of.

Add it up.

Subtract the amount owed from the total of assets.

If the amount is negative, it’s probably a good idea to work on reducing the amount of debt you have.

If it’s positive, you’re way ahead of many people, so keep on!

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/mariebrack

Focus and Goals

Years ago I knew someone who was intensely focussed on the goal of paying off his mortgage very early. This is an admirable goal, but he was so intense about it, his kids were doing without and the family didn’t have any fun.

Goals need to stay in balance. Sure, make advance principal payment on a debt, but also go to the discount movies once in a while.

If you hyper-focus on building up a savings account, there’s a risk you might spend more on the credit cards. If you have to put a bit less in savings to avoid accumulating consumer debt, so be it. Keep the balance.

 

 

When Exactly is the Last Minute?

When making a last-minute credit card payment by phone, the definition of “last minute” matters. Does the company consider the day to end when they close at five, or at midnight? Are they assuming Eastern time or some other time zone?

Even if you usually pay ahead of time, it couldn’t hurt to call and find out when their “last minute” is, and make a note of it. Things happen sometimes, and you may want to know at some point in the future.

If it happens that you miss the last minute and incur a late fee, it can’t hurt to call and explain what happened. Maybe they’ll reverse it, especially if you have a strong previous payment record.

 

Thinking of Co-Signing a Loan?

Think about this: three out of four co-signers end up paying the debt themselves.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/16/16sep26e.cfm?STT0928

Co-signing isn’t just a recommendation or a personal reference. It’s a financial obligation.

Even the most conscientious person can lose their job or get sick, and then you’re stuck with either paying their debt or taking the hit on your own credit report.