Do You Use Credit Card Rewards Programs?

May 2nd, 2011

There’s no shortage of credit card companies out there and the industry has evolved over the years in order to better compete for business. There was a time when placing a purchase on credit required a phone call to a representative and it took a long time. Of course this process has been sped to lightning speed. Credit cards are used all over the world for just about any purchase. From plane tickets to health insurance, or “seguro medico”, but rewards are the name of the game today.

Now the only way a credit card company is going survive is on interest rates. The only way they can do this is by getting your business so many credit companies have begun competing on the open market with different rewards programs intended to give consumers the added bonus of getting a little extra for their purchases.

Some of the plans in which many credit card companies include:

Frequent Flier Miles

This is a popular feature and has been employed by many different providers. With this program you can earn flier miles in a multitude of ways. Rack up miles with every purchase, flying around the country, and even when you simply sign up for the program. This might not be useful the vast majority of Americans given that not everyone needs to fly and if they do it’s not as frequent.

NOTE: It’s important to point out that you usually won’t be able to get reward miles on your card unless you’re purchasing a plane ticket through a sponsoring airline or at least an airline who’s participating in the program.

Gasoline Rewards Cards

This has been issued by many companies and has been one of the most successful campaigns in recent years. Gas prices have skyrocketed and they’re only getting higher.  Many people are struggling to fit their transportation needs into an already stretched budget.  This program rarely has an annual fee and you can usually earn a 5 percent rebate towards gas purchases at a sponsoring gas station and a 1 percent rebate at every gas station or purchases from anywhere else.

Cash Rebate Cards:

This is a newer plan on the market and offers participating customers to earn a percentage of their money back with a cash rebate. This percentage usually fluctuates concurrently with the price of the purchase. These cards, like most today, are protected from identity theft and there isn’t an annual fee for this program.

There are other programs out there but these are some of the most popular.  But it’s important to note that credit cards are a form of debt. They are often too easily relied upon in lieu of an emergency fund, or plain used to excess, and people end up losing a lot from the debt they’ve irresponsibly racked up. So if you’re not familiar with some of the rewards programs out there do a search on these, and others, to see if it might be beneficial towards your budget.

Do you use a credit card specifically for the rewards?  Why or why not?  What reward card do you have, and do you find your spending habits have changed as a result?

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How to Manage Your Credit Card Debt

April 13th, 2011

Living under debt isn’t fun for anyone, and unfortunately, it’s a yoke that most people have become uncomfortably used to in a society build upon credit debt. There are so many sources saying that this is good credit that is bad credit and it’s hard to know if you’re in a good or bad situation. The reality is, regardless of what kind of debt you have, it’s better not having it at all. Here are some quick ways you can begin paying down those bills and get you closer to a debt free life.

Pay More Than The Monthly Minimum:

Credit card companies thrive off of interest. They don’t want you to pay off your credit card. If you have a large balance and you’re only paying the minimum, it’s likely that you’ll never pay it off. Most of you money is going strictly towards interest. Looking at the balance every month and seeing the figures either staying stagnant or climbing higher, you should start paying far more. Whatever you can reasonably afford, do it, and pay it off. You actually end up saving money in interest alone.

Downsize Your Life:

If you own a home or rent a large apartment then consider downsizing. Moving to a smaller home or apartment will save you across the board. You won’t have to pay as much in utilities and you won’t need to fill your new home with as much stuff. Of course there is the initial cost of moving but in the long run you’ll save tons and get your debt under control at the same time. If you don’t think there’s room enough in your new place for all of your old stuff, use a StorageMart to safely and easily house your things while you’re getting your finances in order.

Filing For Bankruptcy:

This is for those who are in dire straits and don’t have any other alternatives. They debt may be simply too much to control and your head’s too far under water. This is a last resort only. The most common form of bankruptcy in the United States is Chapter 7 . This is when a person is discharged of all debts. Alimony, child support, some student loans, and others aren’t covered by Chapter 7. It will relive you of the responsibility of repaying most creditors but you’ll also have to give up much of your property in order to satisfy those who are owed. Your credit will be very poor for several years and creditors will be reluctant to work with you. If they do, you’ll likely face terribly high rates of interest. As stated before, this is a last resort option.

Though these are some of the most effective ways of paying down credit debt, there are many others. You might also want to speak with a financial advisor to attain an overview of your other options, if you’re finding yourself in need of assistance. There’s always an option but nothing prevents credit debt like good sound financial practices like paying off your full balance every month and using credit in times of emergency rather than as a means of buying things you can’t afford.

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Ensuring Your Family’s Security: Whole Life Vs. Term Based Policies

March 21st, 2011

For many people, family is the most important priority in their life, and it eventually they will have to make a plan in case of death or illness. With rising costs of living, mortgages, and so many are living on fixed budgets, it’s natural to try and take some of the guessing out of life. You can plan ahead, and minimize the risk to financial security by purchasing life insurance to compensate for unforeseen bills and other financial challenges, which may cause additional stress in a painful time.

There are many different types of policies that are designed to fit a wide range of needs and financial situations. When purchasing life insurance, it’s a good choice to understand most of the decision process is based on factors of need and income. There are traditionally two types of insurance: whole life and term based policies. It’s important to know the difference between the two, so you can pick the policy that best fits your needs. A whole life policy covers the holder and their beneficiaries over the entire life of the policy. Traditionally, whole life insurance is expensive, and the return is usually less than the investment. These estimates are produced by insurance companies and sometimes offer inflated rates due to industry assumptions. This doesn’t mean that whole life policies are a bad idea. They can be incredibly beneficial when individuals find themselves unprepared and underinsured.

For those planning ahead, Term Life Insurance policies offer holders more impact for a lower amount of money, which is the biggest difference between the two different types of policies. Term life policies provide coverage at a fixed rate of payment over a period of time, and in the event of a death, dependants and beneficiaries would receive payments from the insurance company. The amount paid and for how long is determinate on which policy you choose. This policy is the most popular form of life insurance, and the least costly way to provide substantial benefits in the event of death.

It’s important to consider your options before the insurance is necessary. You don’t want to put off making this choice, which may leave your family unprepared. It’s also important to realize that if you wait until there is an illness to buy insurance, the premiums are higher. This is a tough decision, but one should consider all these variables before making such a long-term investment.

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Can I get debt advice even if I’m not struggling?

December 22nd, 2010
Not all debt advice is for people with serious problems. Sometimes, some of us simply need advice on the best way to manage our debts – even if we’re dealing with the monthly payments well enough, there might be a better, cheaper, faster way of repaying the money.

The thing to remember about debt is that any debt can be a risk if it’s not watched carefully. Even if you think you’re managing now, a sudden change in your circumstances could make things a lot more difficult.

That can’t always be avoided, but it makes sense to get some debt advice and make sure you’re dealing with your debts in the best possible way to minimise the risk of problems in the future.

Debt advice for less serious debts

These days, the majority of us carry more than one debt, whether it’s mortgages, credit cards, overdrafts or personal loans. And it’s also true that most of us will manage those debts just fine.

However, to make the most of your finances you should try to make sure you’re repaying those debts in a safe, cost-effective way.

For example, it’s surprising how many people with multiple debts don’t keep to a budget. Even if your financial situation is very comfortable, it’s always worth ensuring you put enough aside for your essential costs before you spend money on non-essentials – just in case something unexpected crops up.

On another note, you could be paying more than necessary for your debts. For example, credit cards have one of the highest average interest rates of any type of credit – yet if you repay your balance on time every time, you’ll never pay any interest at all. It’s well worth getting some debt advice and finding out which kind of credit is most appropriate for you.

Similarly, if you have a number of high-interest debts, you might be able to save money by consolidating them with a debt consolidation loan with a lower rate.

Different approaches will work better or worse for different people, so you should speak to a debt adviser if you have any doubts about how you’re dealing with your debts.

For more information and advice on staying out of debt, contact www.dacscotland.co.uk

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Are Charge Cards Nothing But Hype?

December 6th, 2010

AMEX Black CardThe following post was written by Mike from CreditCardForum.com, which is a social media site for the discussion of credit card reviews. When it comes to credit cards, he has two primary goals: (1) to give people the knowledge they need to use them responsibly, and (2) to expose the truth about credit cards since the banks aren’t always forthcoming in explaining things.

During the recession, banks didn’t want to give credit to anyone. But now that the economy has [slightly] improved, they’re back with TV commercials and the whole nine yards, to try and convince you to apply for a new card that you probably don’t even need. One of the things they’re really pushing now is the charge card… but are they actually worth the cost?

Difference between charge card and credit card?
Some people use these terms interchangeably but they are actually two different things. A charge card requires you to pay your balance in full each month. Meanwhile a credit card allows you to carry a balance as long as you make the minimum payment.

Of course the advantage of a charge card is that it prevents you from getting in over your head, since you won’t have the option to rack up debt. But unfortunately, charge cards have annual fees since they can’t make money off the interest.

So when are they worth the fee and when should you avoid them? Here are 3 things to consider…

(1) They’re usually geared towards frequent travelers
I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials lately for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card which – according to AmEx – is “simply brilliant.” Now I’m not denying that claim, but I don’t think this card would make sense for most people.

For starters, it’s a $175 annual fee and largely what you’re paying for with that is travel benefits. If you don’t travel frequently, it’s probably not worth it. Not even the “3-2-1” rewards program will make up for the annual fee, unless you spend a lot of money!

(2) Business charge cards are geared towards big spenders
I noticed a commercial for the AmEx Plum Card (which is for businesses only) on CNBC the other day. It’s a card that’s actually been out since 2007 but they stopped marketing it during the recession. The commercial plays up the benefits big time, but the truth of the matter is that it will only make sense for businesses that charge a lot (like $5,000 to $10,000+ per month) because the AmEx Plum Card’s annual fee is $185.  Business charge cards from American Express Open can be a good match for businesses that travel extensively.  For a small business that’s a lot, considering that business debit cards can usually be attained for free.

(3) For many the best card is ironically the cheapest one
You would think the best highly advertised Premier Reward Gold card would be the best value, but ironically, AmEx’s $25 annual fee Zync card appears to make the most sense for the average person in my opinion. The Zync card has the Membership Rewards program and other AmEx benefits like purchase protection and extended warranty, but its annual fee is $70 less than the Green Card, $100 less than Gold, and $150 less than Premier Rewards Gold.

Conclusion?
I’m a huge fan of the charge card concept, because it gives you the benefits of a credit card, but without the temptation to go into debt. However I think it’s important to cut through the hype and review the benefits of all of the charge cards before you choose one. There’s simply no point in paying hundreds of dollars for benefits you will hardly ever use.

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Car Insurance and the Battle of the Sexes

December 1st, 2010

A guest post for my United Kingdom readers…

The age old argument of who are the better drivers: men or women, will never go away, but if car insurance costs and government statistics are anything to go by; then there’s only one winner.

Statistically; male drivers are responsible for the vast majority of driving offence convictions in the United Kingdom – in fact they are accountable for 92% of them, while 98% of all dangerous driving convictions can also be attributed to male drivers, so why should women bare the brunt of higher insurance costs as a result?

On average, men pay 71% more than women for their insurance policies; but there are reasons behind this, such as:

• According to the department of transport, men travel on average 4000 miles per year more than women
• 20% of the UK’s young male drivers are uninsured
• Men are more likely to be involved in expensive write offs rather than minor bumps and scrapes
• Male drivers are more likely to make fraudulent claims such as “crash for cash” scams
• Men under 21 are ten times more likely to be involved in a crash than those over 35
• Men under 21 are five times more likely to have an accident than women of the same age group
• Drivers under 25 are responsible for 20% of deaths from car accidents.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of specialist car insurance groups who offer cover specifically to women, however just because they offer cover to females this doesn’t mean they are always the best and cheapest options so follow these tips to save on your womens car insurance.

Find the right car for you

Generally, women don’t drive fast, petrol guzzling cars; they tend to opt for the sensible, fuel economical, small cars instead. Pick a car with a low insurance group, sites such as Parkers provide all kinds of information such as insurance groups, fuel consumption and tax bands so you can get a rough idea of what you’ll be looking to pay each year.

Use the competition to your advantage – shop around

As mentioned earlier; female specific insurance companies don’t always offer the best deals, so use comparison sites such as moneysupermarket to find the cheapest & most suitable option.

Comprehensive v TPFT cover

Third party, fire and theft used to be a lot cheaper than comprehensive cover, however now the tables have turned and you can usually get fully comprehensive insurance for a similar price or sometimes even cheaper than TPFT insurance. There are also shorter term policies available (usually 9 or 10 months) offering comprehensive cover in which you can build up your no claims bonus quicker.

Take a look at what extras are included in your policy; sometimes options such as car hire and breakdown cover are thrown in, so removing these can reduce the cost of your cover. Double check everything before you sign up to any insurance policy.

Parking & Security

If you park your car in the street at night, don’t tell your insurance company that you leave it in a locked garage, as should you have to make a claim your policy may be invalid and you may not be able to receive a payout. Always be honest about where you leave your car in the daytime and at night to ensure you are not liable for the full cost of repairs to a car that is stolen or damaged.

Don’t tempt thieves by leaving any valuables on display such as coats, phones, sat navs or laptops – and remember don’t leave them under your seat as this is the first place most thieves will look. If you have used a sat nav, remember to clear any smear marks off your windscreen – an opportunist may break in to your car just to check the glove box if there are marks on your window that indicate you use a sat nav.

Agree on mileage

Women make shorter journeys than men, so are deemed less of a risk to insurers as a result. Work out how many miles you do each year and let your insurer know; but try and keep the figure down. If you go do more miles than expected; call your insurance company and tell them to change your policy so it does not become invalid.

Drive safely!

If you commit a motoring offence that gives you points on your licence, you won’t just pay the fixed penalty – you’ll see your insurance costs rise year on year for the duration that the points are on your licence, so think twice before answering your mobile, speeding or skipping red lights that have just changed; it really isn’t worth the risk.

Insurance companies can charge more for those with points on their licence as they have shown that they are not sensible drivers; so stick to what you were taught when you were a learner driver and watch the cost of your insurance drop.

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Four Simple Steps to a Cheaper Car Insurance Premium. How Low can you Go?

October 26th, 2010

Figures published by the AA have shown a massive 40% rise in car insurance premiums, with young drivers baring the brunt of this increase. Why is this and what can you do about it?

The AA started compiling an index on car insurance rates 16 years ago. 2010 see’s the sharpest rises in its history. So what or who are to blame?

A number of factors have contributed to this hike in premiums. A surge in claims for injuries sustained in accidents, personal injury lawyers taking a 40% cut in those claims, un-insured drivers and probably the biggest contributor to these hikes, car insurance fraud.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) estimates around 30,000 accidents are staged each year, with the average claim totalling around £17,000. It cost insurers about £350million in 2009, adding £44 to the premium of every driver in the country.

Young male drivers, between the ages of 17 – 22 are paying the most, with the average of the three cheapest quotes they get being £2,457. That is nearly double the premiums offered to young women. In the insurers eyes, the reason for this is simple, young men are twice as likely to be involved in car accidents than young women.

Annual Premium for less than one pound?

Yes it is possible. According to MoneySavingExpert.com, the cheapest car insurance premium paid for a full year fully comprehensive insurance policy is just 96p! That’s right, less than a pound, and these four simple steps will show you how to challenge that record.

Step 1 – Lower your Risk

Every application for car insurance is different. Each insurer’s price depend on two things, first the underwriters assessment of your particular risk focus and then the pricing model which dictates what type of customers the insurer wants to attract.

Park and drive carefully

Leave your car in a garage or driveway; this can result in a 3% – 7% drop in insurance costs. Also, points on your license can bump up your premium, so don’t speed or use your mobile phone whilst driving.

Add a second person to an under-25s / high risk drivers insurance

Add a second driver with a good record to the insurance, even if they won’t use the car often, it can smooth out the average risk and sometimes reduce the premium.

Pick a car

The combination of car, engine size and value all impact car insurance cost. It’s worth considering this when you buy; a big super-powerful sports car for a 17 year old would cost enough to make David Beckham’s eyes water.

Fit a security device

Any extra security will help, fitting an alarm or immobilizer will reduce the bill substantially.

Don’t modify your car

The more changes you make to your car, barring security ones, the more you’ll be charged. A modification is anything that is not part of the standard vehicle specification including factory fitted optional extras, such as alloy wheels.

Reduce your mileage

The less you drive, the cheaper your insurance will be. Where possible try and reduce your mileage.

Step 2 – Best Buy Comparison Sites

Comparison sites use the information you enter to get quotes from hundreds of insurers. In fact, just combining the top three comparison sites, GoCompare.com, Confused.com and http://www.moneysupermarket.com, will find you over 153 quotes from different providers.

However, two competitive insurers refuse to be included by any comparison site, and sometimes have special offers, so are worth checking separately. These are Direct Line and Aviva.

Once you have found the cheapest quote, double check them. Click through to the provider’s website as some comparison sites make assumptions, so double check the policy and what it includes. Do you need ‘free car hire’? If not, remove this to reduce the premium. Play around with some of the details to see if you can get it cheaper. For example, increase the excess amount, is fully comprehensive cover cheaper?

Step 3 – Grab hidden Cashback and Haggle

At this stage you will now know who the cheapest provider for you is, yet you may be able to reduce the cost even further. TopCashback.co.uk and Quidco.com are the top two cash back sites around offering up to £120 cash back for some providers.

So if the second and third cheapest quotes, offer a higher cashback amount then overall, they could be cheaper for you. These sites get paid by the providers and in turn they then give you some of this cash which means you get the same product, but a cut of its revenue.

Yet be warned, until it’s in your bank account, this cashback is never 100% guaranteed, and getting the right policy is always paramount. Therefore never simply choose based only on cashback, see it as a potential added bonus once you’ve picked the right cover.

Some comparison sites and providers offer their own cashback deals or offers such as a free MOT or vouchers. So factor these into your calculations.

And finally, haggle. The car insurance market is very competitive and companies are desperate to retain your business. Therefore once you’ve got your overall cheapest price get on the phone and try to haggle. The first port of call should be your existing insurer, after all if it can beat or even match the best quote it saves the hassle of switching policy.

Step 4 – Remember next Year

To avoid being forced to decide quickly, diarise a warning six weeks before your renewal date, so there’s plenty of time to sort out a new provider.

Renewal notifications are sent as near to renewal as possible as then you’re pressured for time and less likely to try and find a cheaper price. Apply for cover from your existing insurer as a new customer and it’s likely you’ll be given a cheaper price. Loyalty never pays so never just accept the renewal price. Motorists can typically save £233 a year by scouring the market for a better deal

You could also sign up to www.consumerintel.com, a consumer research company. They pay hundreds of people a month near their renewal date, up to £50 to carry out comparisons. What is even better is that you do not need to buy insurance from any of the companies you’ve contacted.

So there you have it, four simple steps to a cheaper car insurance premium. By spending an hour or two of your time searching for a cheap car insurance premium, you could save hundreds of pounds a year. How low can you go?  Can you beat 96p for an annual premium, or even go one better —  and actually get paid money to renew your car insurance?!?

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Don’t Give Up On The FHA Just Yet

July 27th, 2010

This is a guest post by David Ruiz from Lender411.com.

The much-talked-about $8,000 homebuyer credit is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the government is no longer supporting first-time homebuyers or potential owners and borrowers. The federal Housing Administration (FHA) enables thousands of prospective homebuyers to access loans that they wouldn’t otherwise qualify for. As a result of the recent economic downturn, FHA loans now make up nearly a third of all mortgage loans in the United States.

Initially, this may sound like more of the same irrationality that got us
into our current financial crisis-unqualified buyers buying homes that they
can’t afford with loans that they can’t pay off. Admittedly, there are some
risks and controversies surrounding the FHA.

It’s true that FHA loans require minimal down payments, and it’s true that
loans with minimal down payments are harder to pay off and easier to default on. It’s true that individuals with poor credit scores often turn to the FHA to finance their homes because conventional loans are unavailable to
them. It’s also true that the FHA has picked up where the now-defunct
subprime market left off by providing loans to many of the highest-risk
borrowers in the nation.

But that’s kind of the point. Originally, the FHA was intended to be a back
door into homeownership for individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have made it onto the playing field due to economic strife. This is the kind of social development that our government and our taxes are intended to support. And in the end, the FHA isn’t actually lending money at all. The FHA insures loans made by conventional mortgage brokers to qualified candidates. This sets the FHA up as a safety net for lenders in case things go awry. Under the FHA, the exchange of money back and forth is still happening primarily in the private sector.

When you compare mortgage rates you will find the they currently at record lows right now, but many potential buyers with steady incomes and the ability to pay for homes are being turned away by lenders out of reactionary fear. Banks don’t want to take risks because the nation is in crisis. But allowing more potential borrowers access to mortgages will help kick-start
the flow of money in the housing industry again, and this may ultimately set
the foundation for continued growth and recovery. The FHA helped get the
United States out of the Great Depression. It’s reasonable to conclude that
a similar strategy may be successful in our current financial situation.

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5 Key rules of the Roth IRA in 2010

July 15th, 2010

Jason Holmes is a regular writer with Debt Consolidation Care and is also a contributory writer with other financial sites. His expertise is woven around various aspects of the debt industry and with his e-books he tries to impart to people the different situations and simple solutions to get out of difficult situations. Some of his works include e-books like Credit Score The Quintessential Therapy for a Happy Pocket, Take Creditors and Collection Agencies to Small Claims Court and My Story- From Depression To a Smile.

Do you have a Roth IRA account? If yes, then you should know about Roth IRA rules for 2010 so that you can use your retirement funds effectively. Go through this article to know about the key rules of Roth IRA in 2010.

Rules of the Roth IRA in 2010

Here are 5 key rules of the Roth IRA in 2010:

1. Maximum contribution limit: Roth IRAs have an annual contribution limit. In 2010, you can contribute $5,000 to a Roth IRA account. If you are above 50 years, then you can contribute an additional $1,000 for a total of $6,000. You can own both a Roth IRA and Traditional IRA. However, you should know that the maximum IRA contribution limit is $5,000 including both Traditional and Roth IRAs. This implies that if you contribute $2,000 to a Traditional IRA, then you can only contribute $3,000 to a Roth IRA.

2. Easier to convert 401k into Roth IRA: Before 2010, it was very difficult to convert a 401k into a Roth IRA. Previously you had to establish a Traditional IRA and then roll the 401k into a Traditional IRA. Next you had to open a Roth IRA account and then complete the conversion formalities. When the conversion was complete, you had to close the Traditional IRA account as it was no longer required. But in 2010, you can directly rollover your 401k into a Roth IRA.

3. Income limits: There are some income limits that restrict your capability to contribute to a Roth IRA. The income limits are based on your adjusted gross income and federal income tax filing status.

* Single filers: If you are “single” or “head of the household” and “married filing separately” and your adjusted gross income is $105,000, then you can contribute the full $5000 to a Roth IRA account. You can make partial contribution when your adjusted gross income is between $105,000 and $120,000. And in case your adjusted gross income exceeds $120,000 then you will not be able to make contribution to a Roth IRA.

* Joint filers: Joint filers with adjusted gross income between $167,000 and $177,000 can make a full contribution to their Roth IRA account.

* Married filing separately: If you are married and filing separately and your adjusted gross income exceeds $10,000, then you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA account.

4. Withdrawal rules: Under certain circumstances, you can withdraw funds from your Roth IRA account without paying a penalty. You will have to pay 10% early withdrawal penalty as well income taxes (on the amount withdrawn) if you take out funds from the account before you reach 591/2 age.

5. Save tax: In 2010, taxpayers with adjusted gross income higher than $100,000 can directly convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Usually a tax is imposed on the conversion amount. But according to the new rule, you can report 50% of the IRA conversion amount as taxable income in 2011. The remaining 50% of the conversion amount can be reported in 2012. This implies that the income taxes payable on the 2010 conversion amount can be spread over 2011 and 2012.

Finally, you have the option to withdraw from your Roth IRA account to make payments for qualified higher education fees while escaping the 10% early withdraw penalty.

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Americans Could Lose Unemployment Benefits Soon

July 8th, 2010

Americans Could Lose Unemployment Benefits Soon
Americans in Debt Face Additional Hurdle

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL – On June 24th the U.S. Senate failed for the third time to act on extending unemployment benefits, which are currently set to expire in November. Although more than 1.2 million Americans will exhaust their unemployment benefits by the end of June, senators are struggling to reach a compromise. A New Horizon Credit Counseling, a nonprofit credit counseling organization, noted that those who are unemployed and in debt face an even tougher challenge with the loss of this important resource.

According to Stephen Marcus, president of A New Horizon, “Many people relying upon unemployment benefits often find that the majority of their check is spent on making minimum payments towards existing debt, such as credit card bills.” When unemployment benefits end, said Marcus, people find that they quickly become delinquent on their bills. With the unemployment rate hovering just below 10 percent, the number of Americans facing potential financial peril is staggering.

Many experts predict that the bankruptcy rate will continue to climb as jobless Americans become unable to meet their debt obligations. According to Marcus, “A New Horizon has already experienced an influx of clients who turn to their debt management services, which help consumers avoid delinquency or bankruptcy”. While A New Horizon can help its clients reduce their debt, those consumers facing bankruptcy are not alone; the number of bankruptcy filings virtually doubled between 2006 and 2009, totaling nearly 1.4 million.

Senate Democrats calling for an extension of benefits have faced tough opposition from Republicans, citing the rising national debt. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine may be the first link to a bipartisan agreement. Snowe has asked the democrats to propose a standalone bill, rather than the previous package deals they have offered. As the end of June approaches, however, many unemployed Americans with debt will likely face a tough road.

A New Horizon Credit Counseling Services is a nonprofit credit counseling organization that has been helping consumers with credit card debt since 1978. For more information about their programs, contact 1-800-556-1548. They can also be found on the web at http://www.anewhorizon.org, or reached via email at slieberman@anewhorizon.org

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