Recent Entries

  • A Government Program That Pays Your Bills?

      courtesy of the FTC    Have you heard about a government program that will pay your monthly bills for an up-front payment or processing fee? Here's a short version of the rest of this post: It's a scam. Don't do it.   We've heard that this scam is happening in some Af...
  • Living on Social Security, On a Pension, and Deep in Debt

      Question:   Dear Steve, I am 72 and retired on Social Security and a teacher's pension. Over the last six to seven years, I have slowly built up around $40,000 in credit card debt. I have 20 to 25 separate accounts between $1,000 and $6,000 in debt.   Most are between $1,000 an...
  • How a Trump Presidency Could Affect Your Mortgage

      by Joseph Kelly   This is a guest post by Joseph Kelly, mortgage expert and president of ArcLoan Mortgage Management.   For most people, our home and mortgage are both our greatest asset and our greatest debt. And many mortgage-holders and homebuyers might be wondering what the...
  • Should We Get a Loan to Payoff Cards to Boost Credit Score?

      Question:   Dear Steve, Are fixed rate personal loans better than revolving credit (credit cards) for your credit report?   I've seen different opinions on this, so thought I'd ask the expert. Because of a business that failed, we ran up some hefty credit card debt ($15k+). Wou...
  • Things Get Real on Student Loan Elimination by Borrower Defense

     by Steve Rhode   The Department of Education has released a massive proposed rule that aims at finalizing a process to allow people who have been defrauded by their schools to eliminate their federal student loans. It also would create a process for student loan borrowers to seek to get...
  • ITT Tech Closes – How to Get Your Student Loan Debt Forgiven

      ITT Technical announced in September 5, 2016 they were closing their doors. "It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous s...
  • How Can I Avoid Paying Sallie Mae Loan as a Co-Signer?

      Question:   Dear Steve, My ex-fiance wanted to take an online business course and he needed to take a loan, so I cosigned for him and we got the loan through Sallie Mae. We ended breaking the engagement last year. Since the break of the engagement, I have reached out to him via email ...
  • Need Extra Cash? Get a Side Hustle

      by Donna Freedman   (Editor's note: This is an excerpt from Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul, a new book from personal finance/frugality expert Donna Freedman. It's designed to help both those having trouble making ends m...
  • How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

      by Andrew Walker   On July 28th, the FBI released a Flash Alert on a new ransomware variant called Locky. This variant uses spam campaigns to distribute malicious files that download and execute code capable of encrypting files on the local PC and network file stores. These encrypted ...
  • Can I Just Say Goodbye to My Private Student Loans?

      Question:   Dear Steve, Thank you for providing a resource like this. My situation is rather mild, but the numbers are rather extreme.   I have some federal student loans and two different companies for private student loans. I have $70,000 in student loans, and I am not able ...
  • I Can’t Afford to Finish My College Degree

      Question:   Dear Steve, I graduated with my bachelors degree in Studio Art with a concentration in digital imaging. I attended a religious institution for graduate school, hoping to obtain my master's, teach, and then my Ph.D. Due to life and my BA being useless, I had to take a lower...
  • I Can Barely Make Ends Meet With My Student Loans and Debt

      Question:   Dear Steve, I have two private student loans serviced by Navient ($15,000 and $16,000). I pay $262/month, which is almost interest only.   I also have several credit cards totaling $12,900 and a personal loan through Avant for $7,800. I make minimum payments on the ...
  • The Actual Costs of Pet Ownership

    Before you go out and buy that adorable little puppy or heart-melting kitten, it would be smart to actually take into consideration what that little furry animal is going to cost you. Time commitment aside, let’s take a look at the hard dollars you can expect to pay based on the type of pet yo...
  • What Are (Discount) Points and Lender Credits?

      Generally, points and lender credits let you make tradeoffs in how you pay for your mortgage and closing costs.   - Points, also known as discount points, lower your interest rate in exchange for an upfront fee.   - Lender credits lower your closing costs in exchange for a high...
  • Scammers Phish for Mortgage Closing Costs

      Buying a home is exciting. You saved for the down payment, scheduled the move, and are dreaming of planting new roots. Closing is right around the corner… unless a scammer gets your settlement fees first.   The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors&r...
  • Discharging Fraudulent Student Loans

      by Steve Rhode   The Department of Education is getting very serious about a process that would allow those with federal student loans to apply for a full discharge of their loans if the schools deceived them. It's an approach and subject I've talked about here.   Recently the ...
  • 6 Ways to Earn Extra Money with Swagbucks

      Sponsored post   Are you looking for a way to earn a little extra money or gift cards? Maybe you want to save up for some vacation spending money. Or maybe you're already started budgeting for the holidays.   Swagbucks is a fantastic, easy-to-use site that you can use every da...
  • Older Consumers Targeted By Fraudsters Not Once, But Twice!

      by Stacy Canan and Cora Hume     After reviewing complaints submitted by consumers, we have discovered a financial scam targeting older consumers who had previously been victims of fraudulent money-making schemes, such as bogus timeshare investments and in-home business opport...
  • My Business Failed and I’m a Disabled Veteran

      Question:   Dear Steve, We bought an existing business (a gym) with an SBA loan. Even though we grew the membership from 80 to 430 within two years, the overhead and servicing the loans were crushing us. Enter the $10 per month gym chains and we had no other option than to sell the gy...
  • Two Things to Do When You Are Asked if You Want a Store Credit

      by Steve Rhode   We've seen the situation a hundred times while standing in line to checkout at a store. The person in front is asked if they want to apply for a store credit card and get a fabulous discount on their purchase. And you know what happens next, you are going to be asked...
  • Credit Counseling Versus Debt Settlement

      Both offer services to help if you are having trouble making payments on your debts. Credit counseling services to help you deal with debt are different from debt settlement companies in a number of ways:   Credit counseling services that assist with debt Debt settlement compan...
  • Medicare Imposters Want to Steal Your Money. Don't Let Them.

      Pop quiz: If someone calls you asking for your bank account number, should you give it to them?   Answer: Never. Hang up. It's a scam.   We’ve heard about different kinds of imposter scams on the rise. In one scenario, scammers call, pretending to work for Medicare. They ...
  • I Heard if I Make Token Payments I Can’t Be Sued. Is That True?

      by Steve Rhode   Question: Dear Steve, I started a collision repair business in 2011 and it started off well but it started dying out slowly but surly, the area kept getting worse and worse not to mention my rent was $2500 per month not including all of my other bills.   So t...
  • 5 Ways to Make the Most of CSA

      by Leanne Ely   Another week, another CSA delivery! I look forward to my box of fresh local produce every week, but I am well aware that there are many of you out there who might not have had a chance to finish all of last week's veggies before getting your new load.   Today we...
  • Beware of Scams Targeting Older People During the Holidays

      by Jenefer Duane   Our Office for Older Americans is working to provide older consumers and their families with the tools and information they need to protect themselves from frauds and scams.   Scams that target older people occur every day, but you can count on scammers to ra...
  • Avoiding Student Loan Wage Garnishment

      by Steve Rhode, Get Out of Debt Guy   Steve, Help! My student loans are about to send me into financial ruin. In 1991 I took out a $12,000 loan to achieve a two-year degree in Electronic Engineering. The school I inquired with lied to me and told me that I could get a very low in...
  • To Daycare or Not? Our $150,000 Decision

      by Brian Feroldi   Mr. & Mrs. Long Term Mindset are the happy, proud parents of three beautiful children. They are a lot of work to raise, but it's hard to overstate just how much we love them.   We decided to have kids relatively young in our lives (we were 28 when our oldest ...
  • Father Forged Kids Names on Student Loans. Do They Owe Them?

      by Steve Rhode    Question:   Dear Steve, My ex husband left two of my children with over $100,000 each with student loan debt. He signed loans with their names without their knowledge, he missed months of payments which incurred high interest rates, and now these kids bot...
  • Teaching Children How to Manage Money

      by Chuck Donalies, CFP®   I think it's safe to say all parents want their children to possess financial skills that will allow them to be happy and successful in life. The problem is not every parent has strong personal financial skills to share with his or her child. That's under...
  • How Much is Your Time Really Worth?

      by Sherita J. Rankins   Time is our most valuable resource. Yet, we all are guilty of driving farther down the road to get gas priced $.05 cheaper, taking on a home improvement project ourselves which ended up doubling the time commitment, and going from store to store just to snag a ...
  • How Much Do We Need to Save For a Baby?

      by Elle Martinez   Having a baby girl has been a wonderful blessing for us. As we're settling into her third month, we're constantly surprised at how quickly she's growing.   When we found out we were expecting, my husband and I decided that we were going to set aside some mon...
  • Department of Education Tips Hand on Student Loan Defense

      by Steve Rhode   The Department of Education is scheduled to publish a request that seems to tip their hand about a borrower defense that could allow lots of students from having to repay their student loans.   Clever attorneys will find a way to confirm if schools have violate...
  • 6 Reasons Early Retirement Might Not Be Right for You

      by AJ Smith   While it isn't possible for everyone, some people are able (and even make it a priority) to quit the grind well ahead of schedule. They usually reach this early retirement with careful planning, perseverance and extra discipline.   Knowing how much savings you ne...
  • How to Use the GI Bill to Pay for Your Kid’s College

      by Gerri Detweiler   Ingrid Bruns admits that she and her husband, Arch, probably didn’t save as much for their two daughters’ college educations as they should have. Though the couple is careful with their money (Ingrid became an Accredited Financial Counselor while livi...
  • 37 Addendums That I Include in Every Lease

      by Elizabeth Colegrove   As an experienced (AKA jaded) landlord, I have learned over the years and MANY tenants that an explicit lease is the key to a reduction in stress induced moments. While everyone will have their own opinion and experience, this is coming from someone who has no...
  • Why Having Roommates Is Good for Your Taxes

     by Dinara Sharipova There is a time once a year that takes place in winter-early spring period, when adults of the United States talk nothing, but taxes. Yes, paying taxes is among few things that are certain to happen in our life, and of course we want to be smart when paying it.  ...
  • 5 Ways Having No Credit Score Can Hurt You

      by Gerri Detweiler   If you don't plan to borrow money, what difference does your credit score make? Why even sweat it?   As counterintuitive as it seems, you could end up spending more money because you don't have a credit history. (Though like any other tool, credit used irr...
  • Could Your Facebook Friends Impact Your Credit?

      by Christine DiGangi   The U.S. patent office granted Facebook an updated patent on technology that would allow lenders to evaluate loan applicants based on their social network connections, reports VentureBeat.   The technology tracks how closely (or not) people are connected...
  • Teacher Discharges Student Loans in Bankruptcy. ECMC Fights It.

      by Steve Rhode   Today I'm looking at another bankruptcy discharge case, see more here, where a bankruptcy judge felt it was appropriate to allow for a legal discharge of student loan debt. In this case, the consumer represented herself in the action and has fought a valiant battle. ...
  • 8 Quick Picks for Your Beach Picnic!

      by Leanne Ely   Oh lazy, hazy beach days. One of the most wonderful things about summer. And what’s a day at the beach without a cooler full of goodies?   But one must be strategic when it comes to packing food for the beach. Because at the beach, there is sand....
  • Poolside Snacks for the Kids

      by Leanne Ely   You get the towels ready, the sunscreen applied, and settle down to enjoy a few minutes of sun while the kids play in the pool only to hear, seconds later, the familiar refrain, "Can I have a snack?"   Swimming seems to make children hungrier than anything else,...
  • How to Buy a Used Car From a Private Seller

      by Bob Sullivan   One of the easiest ways to save money, and avoid debt, is to buy used cars instead of new. But once you decide that used is for you, there's a second way to potentially save thousands of dollars — buy privately instead of from a dealer. There are plenty of pote...
  • 5 of the Most Common Used Car Buying Scams

      by Christine DiGangi   Big-ticket purchases are always a battle between finding a great deal and a quality product, and buying a car is one of the few great expenses that consumers make over and over again throughout their lives. When you need to buy a car, there are a lot of priorit...
  • 4 Important Things You Need to Know About Social Security

      by AJ Smith   Retirement sounds exciting, but it can actually be a difficult landscape to understand and navigate. A retirement calculator can help guide your savings goals, both with a total target you are trying to hit and a monthly amount to include in your budget. But figuring out...
  • 4 Times You Can Sue a Debt Collector

      by Kali Geldis   It's every consumer's worst nightmare: You're busy at work, mired in debt, and your cellphone keeps ringing. You’re doing your best to pay off that bill, but the unknown number flashing on your phone's screen is a dismal reminder you haven't.   "Most peo...
  • Help! Someone Took Out a Student Loan in My Name

      by Gerri Detweiler   Some students worry about whether they'll get the financial aid they need to pay for the next semester of college. Others wonder why there is a record of them taking out student loans when they didn't apply — and now they can't get the loans they need. Cons...
  • How a Student Loan Bill Can Go From $97K to $236K

      by Christine DiGangi   There's been a lot of discussion lately about Americans deciding to not pay back their student loans. While the reasons for purposely defaulting on education debt vary, the consequences are invariably unpleasant: debt collection, wage garnishment, growing loan ...
  • Unlocking The Secret To Long-Term Potato Storage

      Several weeks back, a friend and I were talking about gardening. Her family had a huge garden when she was growing up and they relied on it to keep them all fed. But because she felt it was drudgery back then, she doesn't care to garden much these days. She was quizzing me on the different t...
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  • Throw a Birthday Cookie Decorating Party

      by Ranie Denver   If you're looking for something different but not really too crazy for your child's next birthday party, why not have a cookie decorating party? Sure, it makes a mess, but you can contain the mess to the kitchen and the kids will have a treat as well as a take-home f...
  • I Can’t Afford My Car Lease Anymore. What Do I Do?

      by Gerri Detweiler    Larry's car lease payment is killing his budget. His monthly payment on the four-year lease for his Hyundai Santa Fe is $725.49. It's too high, and he wants to know what his options are.   An increasing number of consumers are choosing to lease their ...
  • A 5-Minute Guide to Student Loans

      by AJ Smith   You may have heard that college in this country isn’t cheap. Maybe you’ve even encountered this firsthand for yourself, a child or another family member. But knowing that getting a degree is going to be expensive doesn’t mean you know how to pay for it....
  • 5 Upsides to Losing Your Job

      by AJ Smith   Being let go can be scary. Instead of focusing on the negative, you can turn your situation around by looking for the silver lining while staying on track financially.   You may need some time to accept it, but when you are ready to move on and make the best of a...
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  • How Much Does Divorce Really Cost?

      by Rebecca Zung   Fear is the universal emotion everyone starts off with in divorce, and one of the biggest and most scary fears, is “How much is this divorce going to cost me?” Divorce is already painful, so the financial costs involved in a divorce are really like salt i...
  • Why Lifestyle Inflation Is Killing Your Budget

      by AJ Smith   Congratulations! You got a raise, came into an inheritance or sold your home for a profit. No matter what has brought more money into your budget, it’s important to manage that money wisely. Just because you have greater access to money doesn’t mean...
  • 5 Ways to Keep Your Credit Cards Safe When You Travel

      by Jason Steele    Hitting the road soon? Your credit card can be one of the most valuable things you bring, but there are some risks as well.   If your credit card is lost, you could be left without a method of payment for critical services like a hotel room or a rental c...
  • 7 Deadly Student Loan Sins

      by AJ Smith    We all know that higher education is expensive, but we also know the professional and personal growth it can provide. For many people, going to college means taking out student loans, a serious credit product that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.   I...
  • 31 Best Websites for Free Stuff

      by Douglas Ehrman   As the world becomes even more commercialized, an increasing amount of free stuff can be had through discount offers, recycling efforts and internet loss leaders. Learning where to look for these deals and free samples can save you a significant amount of mo...
  • 5 Ways to Save on Summer Travel

      by AJ Smith    With the weather warming up and images of travel getaways looking even sweeter than before, you are probably looking forward to (or trying to figure out how to afford) getting some vacation time this summer. Even if your trip seems miles or months away, you can sta...
  • How Many FICO Scores Are There?

      by Christine DiGangi   There are hundreds of algorithms companies use to score consumers, and even the most common credit scoring company has dozens of models. Fair Isaac Corp., more commonly known as FICO, has about 50 scores (a 2012 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bure...
  • Women Aren’t Talking About Money. Here’s Why

      by Emily Guy Birken   A recent study by Fidelity Investments has uncovered some intriguing paradoxes about women’s relationship with money.   Despite the fact that 92 percent of the women involved in the study want to learn more about financial planning, and 83 percent wa...
  • Who is Right About Budgeting Our Money, My Wife or Myself?

      by Steve Rhode   Question:   Yo Steve, My wife and I fight, or shall I say disagree, all the time about spending and a budget. She has one opinion and I have another. She says we should not spend more than 25% of our income on housing but I say 33% is alright. Who is right? Jim...
  • Is There Hope for Us in Bankruptcy?

      by Steve Rhode   Dear Steve, We have roughly $80,000 in credit card debt. We have four children. Two are in college, and we have two yet to go. We own a small business that we run out of our home in addition to my being a teacher.   How much are we really going to lose through ...
  • Women's Confidence in Being Prepared for Retirement

      by Rick Kahler   When it comes to being financially prepared for retirement, Chinese women are the most confident women in the world. In fact, they are almost twice as confident as their US counterparts.   This conclusion comes from a 2014 global survey, the Aegon Retirement Re...
  • Being Chased for a Debt You Don't Owe

      by Steve Rhode   Dear Steve, I'm getting really tired of being hassled for an old debt I don't owe. I keep trying to explain to the debt collectors that I don't owe the bill, and they keep trying to say I need to pay. What can I do? Mary     Dear Mary, Being chased f...
  • Should We Rent or Buy a House?

      by Steve Rhode   Dear Steve, My wife and I are new to the area and wondering if we should jump right in and buy a house or rent. I hate to rent because I think we are throwing our money away. What do you think? David     Dear David, I can certainly understand the ide...
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  • How to Use Amazon Mechanical Turk to Make Extra Money Whenever

    by Steve Rhode   Over here at GetOutOfDebt.org, I recently read about a service Amazon provides called Mechanical Turk, which intrigued me. Unlike other online sites that look for contract help, the Amazon Mechanical Turk service seemed to offer easy to accomplish tasks that could be complete...
  • One Way to Eliminate Your Student Loans in Your Spare Time

    by Steve Rhode   We talk a lot about student loan debt and how to deal with it here at GetOutOfDebt.org. It is something that so many people are trapped under. How do you start a family, buy a home, or just live a comfortable life when your minimum monthly student loan payment is more th...
  • The Wisdom of Scrooge? - Part 2

    by Rick Kahler   Last week we discussed the most important step of changing a problematic financial behavior: becoming willing to admit that changing the behavior is important and to seriously contemplate the change. Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol took that step when he heeded a warnin...
  • The Wisdom of Scrooge?

    by Rick Kahler   For me, the Christmas season doesn't seem complete without Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I've long been captivated by the transformation of the cold-hearted and calculating Mr. Scrooge, the seemingly inherent goodness of Bob Cratchit, and the haunting visits of the Gho...
  • 10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

    by Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com There are always going to be people who try to steal your identity or credit cards. The key to protecting your critical financial and personal information is to be proactive in keeping them safe. While there are ways to limit your liability and stop identity f...