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Debt Reduction

The debt avalanche is the fastest and cheapest way to pay off you debts. But is it always the best way? Sometimes the debt snowball may be better.

debt avalanche

When it comes to math, things are pretty straightforward. No matter what language you speak, one and one always equals two. And, in theory, finances should work this way, too. After all, money is based on math.

Ah, but here is where we run into a problem. Because money isn’t just about math. It’s also about a host of human factors, including our emotions, unexpected circumstances, and even physical state. Have you ever tried to spend less at the grocery store when you’re hungry? You know what I mean!

This is why experts argue about the best way to pay off credit card and other debts. There is actually a mathematically correct way to pay off debt. It’s known, typically, as the debt avalanche. If you stick to it, the debt avalanche is definitely more efficient and fast than the debt snowball popularized by Dave Ramsey.

But following the debt avalanche, even though it’s the “correct” way to pay off debts, isn’t always the best option. First, let’s talk about what the debt avalanche actually is. Then, we’ll talk about when it might not be the best option.

What is a Debt Avalanche?

You probably have already heard about the debt snowball if you’ve read anything in the personal finance space. It’s the idea that when paying off your debts, you should start with the smallest balance debt first. Once you pay off that debt, you put extra money plus that debt’s monthly minimum payment towards your next smallest debt, and so on.

The idea here is that you get a quick win up front by paying off one or two of your smaller debts quickly. This approach doesn’t account for interest rates at all.

The debt avalanche, on the other hand, is all about interest rates. Here’s how to do it:

1. Order your debts from highest to lowest interest rate. Often times, your credit cards will be at the top of the list with their exorbitant interest rates. But you’re not worried about provider or loan servicer. Only the interest rate you’re currently paying counts.

What should you do about introductory rates? It depends. But you might decide to back burner these debts until the interest rate hikes.

For instance, say you’re currently paying 0% interest on a credit card. In 15 months, the interest rate will jump to 17.99%. Right now, just leave the card at the bottom of your to-be-paid list. That’s where it belongs with that introductory interest rate. Just pay attention to when the interest rate rises. Then, you may need to reorder your debt payoff plan to account for the card’s increased interest rate.

Resource: List of 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

2. Pay the minimums on all of your debts each month. This is essential. If you can’t pay more than the minimums, at least pay that.

3. Put any extra money towards highest interest debt first. Don’t think you can find any extra money? Check out this list of ways to start paying off debt today. Whatever extra you can scrape together or pull out of your budget goes towards this debt, even if it’s the largest balance debt on your list.

4. Repeat every month. Eventually, you’ll pay off that first debt. Once you do, move towards putting extra money–plus that first debt’s minimum payment–towards the second highest interest rate debt on your list.

It’s really pretty straightforward. The only thing that makes it different from the debt snowball is the order in which you pay off your debts.  So what’s the difference, mathematically, and why is the debt avalanche not always the best method to use, even though it’s the most efficient? First, the math.

How Does the Math Play Out?

If you know anything at all about basic math and interest rates, it’s not hard to surmise that the debt avalanche will be the more efficient option for paying off debts. When you pay down the principal on your highest-interest debts first, you pay less interest overall. And since you’re paying less overall interest, you’ll pay off your debts faster. Sometimes, the difference is significant, but sometimes it’s not.

To run the numbers, we’ll use this calculator.

Let’s say you have the following debts:

  • Credit Card one: $2,500 balance; $70 minimum payment; 18.99% interest rate
  • Credit Card two: $1,000 balance; $25 minimum payment; 10.00% interest rate
  • Student Loan: $15,000 balance; $150 minimum payment; 8.99% interest rate
  • Car Loan: $8,000 balance: $250 minimum payment; 10.00% interest rate

With a debt snowball, you’d pay off your debts in this order: Credit Card two, Credit Card one, Car Loan, Student Loan. With a debt avalanche, you’d paid them in this order: Credit Card 1, Credit Card 2/Car Loan (your choice!), Student Loan.

Since there’s not much difference in order, there’s also not much difference in outcome. It you pay $1,000 per month total towards your debts, you’ll pay them off in 30 months either way. You’ll pay $3,347 in interest with the debt snowball and $3,309 with the avalanche.

So the debt avalanche saves you money, but not a ton. This is generally going to be the case if the method you choose won’t dramatically alter the order in which you pay off your debts.

But what if the method did make a big difference? Let’s look at another scenario.

  • Credit Card one: $7,500 balance; $150 minimum payment; 18.99% interest rate
  • Credit Card two: $500 balance; $25 minimum payment; 9.99% interest rate
  • Student Loan: $15,000 balance; $150 minimum payment; 10.00% interest rate
  • Car Loan: $8,000 balance; $250 minimum payment; 12.o0% interest rate

So under a debt snowball, you’d pay them in this order: Credit Card two, Credit Card one, Car Loan, Student Loan. Under a debt avalanche, you use this order: Credit Card one, Car Loan, Credit Card two, Student Loan.

Let’s also say that money is tight, and you can only put $600 a month towards your debts. In this case, it would still take you the same amount of time to pay them off–74 months. But you’d pay $13,367 in interest with the debt snowball and just $13,143 in interest with the avalanche.

The bottom line here is that these differences will amplify with a bigger spread in interest rates, a larger overall balance, or a longer time taken to pay off your debts. But unless you have huge amounts of debt, the difference may not add up to more than a few hundred bucks in interest.

So is It Really Best?

Here’s the bottom line. The math will always come out in favor of the debt avalanche method. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best method for paying off your debts. In fact, research shows that for most people, the debt snowball method is more motivating and more effective. There’s a reason, after all, Dave Ramsey’s program has been so successful over the years!

With that said, there are some other important factors to consider when making this decision, including:

Whether or not you can refinance your debts. If you have a decent credit score, you may be able to move some of your debts around to much lower interest rates. This is a good move, as long as you don’t use those freed-up credit card limits to rack up even more debt. Refinancing through 0% introductory APR credit cards or personal loans can help even out the math with super high interest debt.

How you drive your financial decision making. If you’re like most people, your money decisions are driven more by emotions than you’d like to admit. Even if you consider yourself a logic-driven person, it’s hard to remove emotion completely from your spending and saving choices. So take this into account, and be honest with yourself. If small wins up front will keep you motivated to pay off your debts, use the debt snowball. If you can stay the course regardless, try the debt avalanche.

Your actual interest rate situation. If you have one debt that has an incredibly high interest rate, while the rest are more average, it’s probably best to pay off that debt first. If you can’t refinance it, just push through and pay it off–even if its balance isn’t as low as some of your other debts. This will free up more money to keep pushing on with getting out of debt, too

So remember, the debt avalanche is the mathematically correct way to pay off your debts. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only answer. The important thing is really that you continue making payments on your debts so that you work towards becoming debt free.

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Interest only mortgage payments appeal to many because of the low monthly payment. But are they a good way to go? We list the pros and cons.

interest only mortgage payments

A while back, a Consumerism Commentary reader named Ryan suggested I write about interest-only mortgages. I thought this was an interesting request. So I definitely wanted to address the topic.

First and foremost: there is no such thing as an “interest-only mortgage.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? To have a mortgage that did not require you to pay any principal back to the lender? Unfortunately, though, that’s not going to happen. When you become a borrower, your lender will insist that you pay both interest and, at some point, principal.

What does exist, however, is an interest-only payment option for mortgages.

What Is An Interest-Only Payment Option?

The interest-only option can apply to adjustable-rate mortgages and fixed-rate mortgages alike. The purpose is to allow borrowers to reduce monthly payments for a period of time, usually somewhere between three and seven years at the beginning of the mortgage term.

For example, let’s say that you buy a home with a monthly payment of $1,200. At first, $600 goes to interest, and $600 goes to the principal. If you use the interest-only payment option for a while, your monthly payment would start out at just $600. You would pay this interest-only amount for a predetermined number of years. During that time, the actual loan principal balance remained unchanged (unless you chose to pay extra). Then, at the end of the term, your payment would jump up to the original amount ($1,200). At this point, you would begin repaying the principal, as well.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.30% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.

Who Uses It?

There are many types of people who would likely consider interest-only loan terms. These include:

  • Those who want to buy a home, but want to buy more than they can actually afford right now.
  • Buyers who know they’ll sell the home quickly, and so don’t want to tie up extra funds in a higher monthly mortgage payment.
  • Buyers in a financial situation where they need lower payments now, but know that they’ll be able to afford higher payments later on.
  • Those who want to take invest the money saved each month, confident they can get a better rate of return this way than with paying down their mortgage principal. This could also apply to buyers who want to pay off high-interest debt with the money saved.

The lower monthly payments during the interest-only period are good for households with irregular income. This comes into play with those who receive commission payments less frequently than on a monthly basis. It’s also beneficial for households with unpredictable income, such as a business owner who is expecting low income while the business is in a period of growth.

Interest-only payment options also allow borrowers to “afford” a more expensive home than their bank account says they can. This can be important for an executive who needs to entertain clients at home. A home’s appearance can be crucial to success in these cases. Buyers may also want to buy a home that’s simply beyond their means for the time being. Perhaps parents want to get their children into a certain school district. They just can’t budget for a full mortgage payment but can afford interest-only payments.

Things to Consider

This repayment option is a dangerous prospect, especially in an environment where you can’t be sure whether the value of the house will rise in the short term.

While making interest-only payments, the borrower is not building equity in the house. If the borrower is not building equity, they are essentially renting their own home. This is especially true if home values are stagnant or falling. The borrower is never paying down what they ultimately owe on the home.

When house values are declining, this problem is compounded. Here, the borrower owes the full purchased value of the house while making the interest-only payments. And the house’s declining values means the borrower will quickly owe more than the home is worth.. Then, if the borrower has to sell, they could wind up owing the lender more than they get from the sale of the home.

In another negative situation, some interest-only payments don’t cover the full amount of interest due each month. This is especially true if the mortgage is at an adjustable rate (ARM), which may increase over time. The excess, non-paid interest is then tacked onto the principal. This means the buyer owes even more in principal than they did originally.

This is called negative amortization. Not only is the borrower not adding equity at that point, but they’re digging a hole even deeper. And they haven’t even reached the increased monthly payment period yet!

Another downside to utilizing this interest-only option is that many people are not disciplined enough to invest or save the difference each month. Instead, they spend it. This means that they put themselves in a tight position with their home for no reason. And they may have nothing to show for it in the end.

When the Interest-Only Period Ends

Interest-only payment options don’t last forever.

After the determined period of time ends, the lender will expect the borrower to start paying back the principal, as well. This usually means a significant increase in the monthly mortgage payment.

What if the borrower’s income hasn’t increased as expected or if their business has not moved past the “growth” stage? In this case, the new payment might simply be unaffordable. Plus, the payment will typically be even larger than it would have been had the buyer chosen a standard 30-year mortgage to begin with.

So, what’s a borrower to do? They have a few options.

The buyer can find a way to increase monthly payments. So they can pay down the mortgage principal and any negative amortization quickly. Then they can sell the home. Or if they want to keep the home, they can refinance the mortgage. They could check out a lower interest rate or do yet another interest-only payment period. Or they can stretch the balance back out over 30 years to make the payment more affordable.

The problem with selling or refinancing is that it’s largely contingent on the home’s value and equity at the time. If the mortgage is now upside down, it will be difficult to make either move. You’ll end up owing money to the lender if you sell. And in order to refinance, you may need to have extra cash on hand.

Is Interest-Only Right for You?

Determining whether an interest-only option is right for you can be tricky. After all, you’re playing a very risky numbers game that requires discipline.

Let’s take a look at just how different your situation will be if you go the interest-only route versus simply paying off your mortgage traditionally. To demonstrate this, the Federal Reserve Board has a helpful comparison chart outlining the differences in payments you might expect if you choose an interest-only payment option, reproduced below. Notice how low the equity is in the last column, identifying borrowers who opt for the interest-only method.

Interest-only mortgage payment comparison
You need to ask yourself a few important questions before deciding on this method.
  • If saving/investing the money–Am I disciplined enough to invest the difference each month? Am I also as certain as can be that I will earn a higher return on this money by putting it elsewhere than I would save by paying off my mortgage on a typical schedule?
  • If expecting income to increase–What is the likelihood that my income will increase as expected over time, so that I can meet my increased payments after the interest-only period ends? What are my options if this doesn’t happen?
  • If planning to sell soon–What is my reason for selling after a short period of time, and what are the odds that this could change? Can I still afford this home if I don’t sell or am unable to sell?
  • Do I have additional savings at the ready, so I am safe if I wind up underwater on my mortgage? In that case, I may need to put down an additional payment for a refinance or to close out with the lender if I sell.

Best Lenders for Interest-Only

Since interest-only mortgages played a role in the foreclosure crisis of a decade ago, banks don’t tend to offer them nearly as often. When they do, there are often high qualification requirements, usually in the form of excellent credit and high asset wealth. With the former, this ensures that the borrower can still afford the payments when they suddenly increase, avoiding the “payment shock” that has plagued many.

Some lenders do still offer these types of mortgages, but you’ll have to look a little harder. You can start by looking up basic mortgage rates through an online aggregator. Then request additional information from the lender regarding interest-only payment options. Be prepared for them to confirm your excellent credit and higher net worth before approval. And be ready for the loan to (likely) be an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Banks like Navy Federal Credit Union, Wells Fargo, and Bank of Internet USA still offer this option. You can also look into interest-only mortgage options through SoFi.

Do you have or have you had an interest-only payment option on a mortgage? Please share your experiences or opinions.

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Getting out of debt is key to financial freedom. Being debt free gives you great financial flexibility. Paying off those debts, however, can be a struggle. Here we provide a comprehensive guide on how to get out of debt for good.

CLIMB DEBT

Along with losing weight, getting out of debt is probably the most popular goal in the United States. It’s almost always one of the top three New Year’s resolutions made each year. In fact, 42% of people vow to make better money choices. With the average American’s credit card debt once again on the rise, debt freedom is surely on many of our minds.

This goal, though — like so many others — tends to be forgotten within weeks of New Year’s Day. We get overwhelmed with managing a bare bones budget. We have to field unexpected expenses. Or we simply lose motivation when it seems like there’s no way out.

It’s time to stop the cycle. If you have resolved to get out of debt this year — whether it was for New Year’s or because you simply got fed up on a random Tuesday– here is how to finally meet that challenge, once and for all. To help, here are some ideas for not losing sight of the goal.

Related: Which Comes First: Paying Down Debt or Building an Emergency Fund?

Financial Freedom > Zero Debt

At worst, debt is slavery. At best, it’s willful indentured servitude.

Say your family takes home $2,500 per month from your job after taxes. Now imagine your credit cards, loans, and rent/mortgage total $2,000 each month. This means that you work only one-fifth of your hours for yourself.

The remaining four-fifths of your time at your job is exclusively for your creditors. You might as well just hand your paycheck over or work off your debt directly for the credit card companies. Depressing, right?

Unlike slavery, though, you are free to leave this arrangement (your job) at any time. You just need to simply quit and look for another job with a pay increase. However, that is not always a simple or practical solution.

Learn More: My Two Best Financial Decisions: Leaving My Jobs

If it motivates you, think about what you would do with your freedom from debt. Without having to pay credit card companies, you would have the freedom to choose where your take-home pay goes. Then, use those dreams to fuel your motivation. For instance, if you want to save up for a vacation, place pictures of your favorite getaway spot around your house.

Replace Bad Habits

Excessive shopping can be a habit. Many compulsive shoppers find shopping helps them deal with difficult emotions like anger, frustration, and stress. The excitement of shopping helps to temporarily improve a person’s mood.

But you can replace this habit with healthier alternatives.

If starting a shopping trip helps you deal with difficult emotions, replace shopping with jogging, running, or another physical activity.

While the act of spending money improves the mood of habitual shoppers, physical activity improves anyone’s mood. This is due to endorphins — natural, mood-altering chemicals the body releases in both situations.

And what about the bad habit of wasting time watching television? This could be costing you actual money if you’re paying a fortune for cable. But you could also be missing major opportunities to make money. Instead of watching TV, spend time working on a side hustle or listening to podcasts to further your career (and make more money).

It may sound crazy, but just try to find a different habit that better serves your goals.

Make Getting Out of Debt Fun

The concept of “fun” is subjective. What one person finds fun, another might find mundane.

For example: when I was in debt, I liked watching the colorful monthly reporting graphs in Microsoft Money get close to crossing the x-axis of $0 net worth. I fully understand that might not motivate everyone the same way.

Related: How and Why to Track Your Net Worth

Rewards can be great motivators, too — just make sure they aren’t big rewards that will impact your finances negatively. Paying off a student loan and then blowing $200 on a steak and lobster dinner, for example, isn’t very smart.

Do something small, yet still enjoyable. You could treat yourself to a movie night every time you pay off a credit card, or plan that weekend hike that you’ve been meaning to do.

Celebrate at every possible milestone to keep up your motivation, but choose reasonable rewards.

Visualize Your Debt Reduction

Losing weight is easy to visualize. Improving finances? Not quite so easy.

I’ve seen videos posted online involving time-lapse photography to illustrate weight loss over time. The person takes a photograph each week in the same location and same position. When the photographs are laid side by side in a video, the change is apparent.

You may not realize it, but you can do the same with your debt.

Here are a few visualization tips:

  • When you pay off a credit card, cut it up using a shredder. Save the plastic confetti in a bag. Watch it expand as you blow through card after card.
  • Look at your credit card statements before you go to sleep each night. Your bad dreams will subside when your statements are small enough that they don’t cause anxiety.
  • Here is an extreme option, for those who REALLY need a motivator: If you’ve paid off 20% of your mortgage, paint 80% of your house in a color you don’t like. Once a year, determine how much more you’ve paid off, and paint the corresponding amount in a color you do like. You’ll be encouraged to pay off your mortgage in full just so you can live in a house painted the way you prefer.

Learn More: Should You Ever Cancel a Credit Card?

Need some other ways to boost your motivation? Try these tips:

Do something positive every day.

The key to making a resolution stick is to keep it in front of you every day. If you can do it without additional fees, make a small payment on your loan or credit card every day before you go to work. Look at your net worth in Mint if that reminds you of your goal. Work an extra hour if it means you’ll get more money for paying off your debt.

Recruit your family and friends.

Having a support system is vital, but many people don’t want to let people know about their financial troubles. It’s important to have at least one person you trust to talk to about financial issues. It helps to share goals like this because goals often don’t seem real until you speak them aloud to someone. Plus, you can add some accountability just by telling someone about your goals

Consider your financial options.

To truly get started, you need to make some financial decisions. It is true that anything you do is better than nothing, but you need to have a plan. First, can you consolidate your debt onto one low-rate card? Call your credit card issuers and ask. Do you qualify for a loan through a peer-to-peer network? If you have a good credit score, you might find favorable loan terms.

Decide how fast you want to get out of debt and how much you want to pay. If you want to pay the least and succeed the fastest, you’ll want to examine the Debt Avalanche method. If you believe that a small success earlier on the path is important to keep you motivated, check out the Debt Snowball. Research your options and give it thorough thought. And if you aren’t sure which approach to take, check out this debt snowball vs debt avalanche calculator.

What tips do you have for keeping a resolution to get out of debt?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard whisperings of the Federal Reserve’s rate hike last month. This is only the third time since the Great Recession that the Fed has increased rates… and, well, it’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

A Fed rate increase means that the economy is on the upswing. The Fed will only raise the benchmark rate when the economy no longer needs stimulus. Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Fed, said that her organization plans to go slowly with such rate increases. So, it’s best to assume that the Federal Reserve is cautiously optimistic about the economy and where we stand today.

The most recent benchmark increase was only a bump from .75 to 1 percent. It doesn’t seem like much, but even a tiny change in the benchmark rate can spell major changes for your personal financial situation. Let’s take a look at what the latest increase may mean for you.

How the Fed changes interest rates

The Federal Reserve doesn’t directly affect interest rates. Instead, its benchmark rate affects the federal funds rate — the rate that banks charge each other. The banks then pass those costs (or savings) on to consumers by changing the rates of short-term loans. Then, when short-term rates increase, long-term rates increase, as well.

In short, when the Fed increases its benchmark rate, you’ll first feel the pinch with your credit cards and other adjustable-rate or new shorter-term loans. But you’ll eventually feel the pinch if also you try to take out a longer-term loan, like a mortgage.

Here’s how the current rate increase is most likely going to impact your wallet:

If you have adjustable-rate debt

Variable- or adjustable-rate debts — like credit cards, HELOCs, and variable-rate mortgages — will likely be the first place to feel the difference, post-rate hike. A quarter-percentage interest hike doesn’t seem like much, but it can really add up over time. This is especially true if you’re carrying around a lot of credit card debt.

Let’s assume that you’re holding the average American family’s $16,000 worth of credit card debt. Depending on your terms, the rate increase could potentially cost you several hundred dollars per year.

Learn More: How Is the Nation REALLY Doing With Credit Card Debt?

Just how much more can you expect to pay on your variable rate loan? Dig into your statements to ensure you always know your rates, even as they change. Then, use an online calculator to see how much you’re going to pay in interest when your rate increases.

The best way to deal with this particular issue? Just pay off that debt as soon as you can. Right now, you may only be looking at a difference of $100 a year or less. But if the Fed continues to increase their benchmark rates, the interest rates on your already higher-interest debts are only going to increase.

Need a boost to get you started? Consider transferring some of your debt to a card with a 0% APR introductory period. Paying no interest for even 12 or 15 months can make it much easier to get that principal paid down before you end up paying through the nose because of rate increases.

If you have, or are in the market for, a mortgage

Fixed-rate mortgages, which remain the most popular option, may not skyrocket immediately. But the pinch will come.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage in January charged 4.15% interest. In March, that increased to 4.2%. That’s a fairly large increase from this time last year, when rates were more like 3.69%. But from February to March, that much of an increase would probably only make a few dollars’ worth of difference in your monthly payments.

With that said, even a point’s difference on a 30-year mortgage can have a big impact on your finances over time. That’s because you’re paying interest on this loan for so long. Even a few bucks a month will add up over the course of 30 years!

Read More: Can This Simple App Get You Out of Debt?

So, what should you do with all of this in mind? Well, if you’re in the market for a mortgage, you might try to buy sooner rather than later. But only if you have a sufficient down payment and good credit. It doesn’t make sense to pay more for a mortgage, simply because you’ve rushed in before you’re financially ready.

With the Fed’s cautious outlook, it doesn’t seem that interest rates are going to skyrocket any time soon. So, it doesn’t make sense to lock in a lower rate if you’re not financially prepared to buy yet.

What about those who already own a home? If you’re still paying pre-Great Recession interest rates of 5% or more, you might want to consider refinancing while the rates are still low. This is especially true if you’re also in a better credit and all-around financial situation now than you were last time you bought or refinanced your mortgage. If nothing else, it’s worth looking into your refinance options now, before rates increase any more.

In the Know: Can You Refinance Your Mortgage With Bad Credit?

If you have savings and investments

Just as interest rates on consumer debt are rising slowly, so will rates on savings products. Chances are you’ll see a slight increase on the rate on your interest-bearing accounts, including savings accounts. Other interest rates — like those on CDs — will also rise, albeit slowly.

Bottom line: now could be a good time to shop around, Make sure that you’re getting the best interest rate on your high-yield savings accounts and, if you’re not, think about switching.

What about your longer-term investments, including those in your retirement account? It’s much harder to predict a rate hike’s impact on savings vehicles like these. When it comes to long-term investing, just stay the course and keep paying attention to the basics, like asset allocation.

Related: The Perfect Asset Allocation Plan

So, what exact impact will the Fed’s rate increase have on you? It really depends on your current financial situation, especially your debt and savings account mix. Just be sure to pay attention to interest rates on both debt products and savings products, so you can take advantage of the best deals around.

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How is the Country REALLY Doing With Its Credit Card Debt?

by Abby Hayes

National averages for credit card and other consumer debt can be a good barometer of consumers’ financial capacity and goals. For instance, when debt decreases, Americans, as a whole, may be spending less and saving more. Of course, that’s a good thing. So, when SmartAsset released its average credit card debt study recently, we took […]

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How to Pay a Tax Bill You Can’t Afford

by Luke Landes

It’s a good thing I’ve been saving a good portion of my income for the past year. Even with making estimated tax payments — the last of which was due on January 16 — I still have a significant tax bill this year, thanks to increased income. Many taxpayers dread filing their taxes, even if […]

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Will P2P Platforms Continue to be Solid Investments?

by Kevin Mercadante

In your personal finance journey, you may or may not have come across peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms. The great news is, these have proven to be solid investments over the past few years, providing much higher returns than what you could earn on bank investments. But we have to wonder:  will P2P platforms continue to […]

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The Financial Checklist Manifesto

by Jeff

There are so many different ways to organize, prioritize, and classify your tasks and responsibilities. You’d probably need a couple years just to sort through all of them on your own. You can have an organizer on your computer, your phone, in your pocket, or a notebook. If you’re short of paper, you can just […]

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9 ways to reduce student loan debt before you owe

by Richard Barrington

It’s late May, and a new crop of students is preparing to go on to college. One of my less pleasant memories was the agonizing process of securing financing so I could pursue my degree. Though it’s many years later, I’d like to share what I learned that can make paying student loans more manageable […]

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Balance Transfer Cards for Fair, Average or Excellent Credit

by Richard Barrington

[Editorial note: This offer was last updated on July 13, 2016.] Are you still wrestling down holiday debt? Zero-interest balance transfer credit card offers can help you meet this challenge, but only if you know what to look for. Otherwise, you will end up paying interest anyway, which is exactly what the credit card companies […]

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