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Debt Reduction

Changes to Student Loans Coming July 1

by Luke Landes

While it’s great to avoid debt whenever possible, if you have to deal with federal student loans, including Stafford and PLUS loans, you might qualify for some better deals starting July 1. Interest rates will be at the lowest rates in years. If you can consolidate, lock in rates after July 1. They will be ... Continue reading this article…

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When Going Into Debt is Worthwhile

by Luke Landes

On a macro level, debt was a force behind the incredible economic expansion over the past two centuries, and the availability of debt at the family level played a role as well. Despite all that debt has brought society, many financial gurus and authors vilify debt and explicitly call the idea of borrowing money “evil.” ... Continue reading this article…

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Majority of Bankruptcies Due to Medical Bills

by Luke Landes

Not only are most personal bankruptcies due to medical bills beyond the ability of the consumer to pay, but most of the households declaring bankruptcy for this reason do so despite having health insurance coverage. Researchers from Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Ohio University reported 60 percent of personal bankruptcies in the United ... Continue reading this article…

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Pros and Cons of Interest-Only Mortgage Payments

by Luke Landes

Yesterday, Consumerism Commentary reader Ryan suggested I write about interest-only mortgages. There is no such thing as an “interest-only mortgage.” Wouldn’t that be nice, though, to have a mortgage that did not require you to pay any principal back to the lender? Unfortunately, when you become a borrower, your lender will insist upon receiving interest ... Continue reading this article…

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Suze Orman Says Stop Paying Off Debt

by Luke Landes

Recently, famous finance guru Suze Orman, who usually doles out sensible advice even if in an disrespectful manner, has advised the public to stop paying off credit card debt any faster than minimum payments allow in order to shore up a savings account that could last eight months in an income emergency. According to this ... Continue reading this article…

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Number One Frugality Tip: Don’t Be a Woman

by Luke Landes

I will admit that the title of this post is a bit inflammatory. I should specify that the more accurate number one frugality tip should be “Don’t be a woman (or a man, but in our society, mostly a woman) obsessed with beauty.” Newsweek illustrates this by breaking down the cost of female beauty maintenance ... Continue reading this article…

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Passing 100,000 Miles on My Honda Civic

by Luke Landes

A few months short of five years ago, I purchased a new 2004 Honda Civic to replace a failing older model that had not been in my care. Today, this “new” car is passing 100,000 miles on the odometer, and it’s still running great. While I occasionally find my mind wandering towards the purchase of ... Continue reading this article…

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Reader Question: Find Better Loan to Pay Off Student Loan?

by Luke Landes

Occasionally, readers email me with questions about their own personal finances. Considering I share so much of my own, it’s always interesting to get a peek into the issues other people are concerned about. In fact, right now, I am actively seeking reader questions to serve as launching points for a discussion I plan to ... Continue reading this article…

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Which Comes First: Paying Off Debt or Starting Emergency Fund?

by Luke Landes

Taking the first few steps to ensure your future financial stability can be daunting. There is so much to do, trying to decide where to start can result in wasted time, and wasted time is wasted money. Eliminating debt is often the first priority, and rightly so. If debt is in the form of credit ... Continue reading this article…

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Tips for Auto Loan Refinancing, Add Yours

by Luke Landes

Occasionally, Consumerism Commentary readers email me with financial questions. If you want to see a topic discussed here, you can do this as well. Just email me at flexo or tips at this domain name. I can’t answer every email personally, but I’ll do my best to connect you with the resources you need. Last ... Continue reading this article…

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Publicly Shame a Deadbeat

by Luke Landes

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. That’s a well-known quotation from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Polonius was perhaps concerned about, among other things, the public shame that could come from being a deadbeat borrower. As he proferred this and other ... Continue reading this article…

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I am Debt Free as of Today!

by Luke Landes

For several years, interest rates on high-yield savings accounts were high enough to justify choosing to leave extra money in savings accounts rather than using that money to pay off certain debts faster. I was paying only the minimum payment on my consolidated student loan. The loan’s interest rate was 4.25 percent and I had been ... Continue reading this article…

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Take Control of Your Finances Part 6: Get Out of Debt

by Luke Landes

Debt is like indentured servitude. You work and earn income, but you hand over that income to someone else. With debt, your finances are controlled by someone else, not you. For example, credit card companies have the right to change your interest rate at almost any time with advance notice. In fact, CitiGroup recently raised ... Continue reading this article…

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Smithee Update: October 2008

by Smithee

I’ve been naughty. I went a little nuts a few weeks ago and bought a whole bunch of audio/visual equipment. I didn’t do this just for fun, though. It’ll probably end up looking like an investment someday. I got a mixer and a bunch of microphones that we’re going to use to create alternative movie ... Continue reading this article…

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The Correct Way to Pay Off Personal Debt: The Debt Avalanche

by Luke Landes

When it comes to mathematics, certain facts are universally agreed-upon. For example, regardless of your culture or educational system, you must agree that one plus one equals two unless you mistakenly fall for an invalid proof. When dealing with money, why are people inclined to believe that one plus one does not equal two? If ... Continue reading this article…

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Get Ready to Consolidate Your Student Loans

by Luke Landes

If you have variable rate student loans, mark July 1, 2008 on your calendar. After that date, you can lock in interest rates 3 percentage points lower than what’s available now. I’m not eligible for lowering the rates on my student loans because I’ve already consolidated and I have no new student loans to add ... Continue reading this article…

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Study: Payday Loans Cause More Bankruptcies

by Luke Landes

A new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Law School and University of Oxford reveals a strong correlation between approvals for payday loans and bankruptcy filings. Considering that people who are rejected for payday loans have other (limited) options for credit, it’s surprising that the rate of bankruptcy isn’t as high with this group. It’s ... Continue reading this article…

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The Case Against Mortgage Pre-Payment

by Guest Author

This article was written for Consumerism Commentary by Adfecto, a mid-20s guy with a masters degree in engineering. He aspires to be wealthy and writes frequently for his own blog, Adfecto Abundantia. When I purchased a home it was not a lifetime commitment. I view a person’s choice of housing first as a financial decision ... Continue reading this article…

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Countrywide to Bail Out Overextended Borrowers

by Luke Landes

Countrywide, the country’s largest mortgage lender, is stepping in to “rework” 82,000 loans totaling about $16 billion. I believe that the lenders and the borrowers are both partly to blame for the mess. Lenders offer risky loans, and customers, happy to hear they can afford more than they anticipated, sign up without realizing they can’t ... Continue reading this article…

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$52,050.74: A Farewell to Student Loans

by Sasha

Ah, student loans. The things that remember you long after you’ve completely forgotten the entire college experience. Although I finished college in 1997 and graduate school in 2000, loan payments to Sallie Mae have been a constant fixture ever since, like a little wound I’d nurse which just wouldn’t stop bleeding. Even when making double ... Continue reading this article…

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