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IYD Ezine Archive

Investing In Your Debt For Fun and Profit

 SmartMoney/By Aleksandra Todorova

Look Out for Costly Credit-Card Trends

From fee hikes to new technologies that encourage spending, what credit-card companies have in store for you this year will improve their bottom line at your expense.

Here are five credit-card trends that could affect your wallet in 2007, and how to avoid getting burned.

1.  The $300 balance-transfer fee
Low-rate balance transfers can be a great money saver.  Consider this:  Transferring a $10,000 balance from an 18% APR credit card to one that comes with a 5.99% APR for the life of the loan - a common offer these days - will save you $6,253 in interest, assuming a $200 monthly payment.


But this doesn't factor in the balance-transfer fee.  And while no fee promotions were                 common in the past few years and balance-transfer fees were generally capped at $50 or $75, such offers are getting harder to come by, says Curtis Arnold, founder of the credit-card information Websitecardratings.com
Over the past few months, for example, Citibank and Bank of America have told some of their cardholders they are removing the cap on balance-transfer fees.  The result?  That $10,000 balance transfer would cost you $300 assuming a 3% fee.
Mr. Arnold's advice:  Before authorizing a balance transfer, know what you're paying.  "In your offer, if there's a reference to a minimum but no reference to a maximum charge, that should tip you off."


2.  Disappearing rewards?
Offers of bonus points, miles or cash back often determine which credit card we pull         and where we use it.  But as more consumers use credit cards in supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations, credit-card issuers have started pulling those offers back.
Why?  Now that they got you accustomed to using plastic at the supermarket or gas station, it's on to conquering other marketplaces, says David Robertson, publisher of the Nilsson Report, an industry newsletter.  To be sure says Mr. Robertson, rewards programs are so successful in attracting and retaining customers that they're not going anywhere.  "What's going to happen is that they're going to be fine-tuned," he says.
Bottom line:  Watch out for changes to your loyalty program, and if you don't like what you see, look for rewards elsewhere.  Keep up to date with credit card information Web sites like Cardratings.com and Cardweb.com


3.  To pay, wave here...and spend more than you planned

 An exciting new technology is gaining popularity in the credit-card world - paying by a wave of your card.  Here's the way it works:  A chip is embedded in your credit card that communicates wirelessly with a reader attached to the register.  You don't waste time by swiping your card or handing it to the cashier, and you typically don't have to sign for purchases of $25 or less.

And Citibank, MasterCard, Nokia and Singular just started testing technology that will let consumers shop by using their phones instead of a credit card.  (In essence, you'll be able to pay by touching the special reader with your phone instead of using a credit card.)
Here's why the credit-card companies love it:  It makes you spend more.  A solid 30% more, according to a MasterCard study.
The card issuers say this couldn't sink you into debt because contact less purchases tend to be for small-ticket items and are merely a substitute for cash.  But it's worth remembering that even small change adds up.
"There are two sides of the coin," says Linda Sherry, spokeswoman for advocacy group Consumer Action.  "You could be more organized in your spending because you have more records to look at (such as your card's monthly statement).  But on the other hand, you could buy things that not having cash in your pocket could stop you from buying."


4.  Hooking your kids on plastic

Teaching the kids about money is every parent's priority.  Now, Visa and MasterCard are promoting new products that claim to do just that.  MasterCard's Allow Card and Visa's Upside Card target teenagers and their parents alike.
To be fair these are not credit cards.  They're both prepaid, which means you preload them with cash from your bank account or credit card, so your child can't accumulate credit-card debt.  But look at the fees and you may reconsider.  The Allow Card has a $20 activation fee and a $3.50 monthly maintenance fee.  Reload fees range from 75 cents if you use a checking account to between $2.50 and $50 if you use a credit card.  The Upside card's fees are more reasonable - you can get a $24.95 a year plan and pay no reload fee from a checking account, 99 cents per reload from a credit card.
"It can be an educational tool, but overall, (the card companies) main motivating factor is to get your teen to spend as much money as they can on the card, and to get the parents to reload as much as they can," says Cardratings.com's Mr. Arnold.


5.  Getting creative with fee hikes

Credit-card companies are still finding ways to hike fees that can slip under the radar of even the savviest consumers.  A fresh example:  Within tiered-rate schedules, the card companies are hiking lower-tier fees without changing the top tier, says Consumer Action's Ms. Sherry.  The skinny:  Say a credit card charges a $15 late fee for balances up to $100; $29 for balances of $100 to $250; and $39 for balances of $250 and over.  It hikes the $15 and $29 fees, but not the $39 fee.  This way, Ms. Sherry says, fewer people are likely to notice.
Fee hikes aren't surprising, says Gwen Beard, research director for Aide Group, a financial-services research firm.  "The way (credit card companies) make money has been changing over the past few years," he says.  There used to be good profits in the interest paid on balances, but these revenues have now trickled down to the low single digits.  So the banks are returning to another revenue source: fees


Aleksandra Todorova is a writer for SmartMoney.com.


CREDIT:  Want a lower rate?  Try asking for it
Credit Card users find banks willing to cut their rates
By Ann Carns
The Wall Street Journal
If you're annoyed by rising interest rates on your credit cards, you may have more leverage to fight back than you think.


Heightened competition in the credit card industry is giving cardholders greater muscle to negotiate lower rates.  Although most credit card companies say little publicly about their willingness to negotiate sweeter deals, some are agreeing to cut interest rates by several percentage points for their best customers.  That can, add up to thousands of dollars in savings over a year.
Gay Watson, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Atlanta , called her local bank about six months ago after receiving notification that the interest rate on her MasterCard would climb to 14 percent from 12 percent.  She typically pays her monthly balance in full but was considering the purchase of a computer and wanted the option of spreading her payments over a few months.  The bank buckled, keeping the interest rate at 12 percent.  "It took only a few minutes," she says.  About a third of credit cards users have pressed for a lower interest rate, according to a September survey by Synergistic Research Corp.  More than 75 percent of those who asked to pay less said they got their rate reduced.


"Card issuers have few choices.  They either agree to lower rates or lose relationships, says Genie Distill chief operating officer of the Atlanta research firm.
The steep rise in interest rates led by the Federal Reserve over the past two years has been a boon to credit card companies and a nightmare to many consumers.   The average American adult carries more than three bank credit cards, according to CardWeb.com Inc., a research firm in Frederick , Md.   Issuers have been particularly aggressive in pushing variable-rate cards, which carry an average rate of 16.6 percent as of last month, up from 12.5 percent at the end of 2004.


In 2005, 11 percent of U.S. cardholders at major issuers were hit with interest rates of at least 25 percent, the Government Accountability Office found, compared with 5 percent in 2003.  According to the GAO report, at least half of cardholders carry a balance; the six major card issuers reported that about half of their active accounts paid no finance charges for most of 2005.
But the interest rate rise also coincided with a period of fierce competition among credit card issuers.  Last year, Card Web estimates, credit card loans reached $745 billion - an increase of 4.8 percent from 2005, but still far below the increases of five or six years ago.  Because it actually costs more to attract new accounts than to hold on to existing ones, many card issuers are willing to sacrifice some revenue to appease upset cardholders.


Lynn Murphy, who works with her husband in home construction and renovation in Little Rock , Ark. , says she was able to wrangle lower rates on two cards.  Once last year, she was late on a payment on her Citibank card.  She had a promotional APR at the time of no more than 1.9 percent on balances transferred from other card, but the late payment caused the rate to spike to about 19 percent.
When Murphy called to ask for leniency, she was transferred to a "retention" representative who declined to reduce the rate, but did offer her the 1.9 percent rate on new purchases.


I'm not afraid to ask for something - and they can always say no, she says.  But in my experience, they're very customer friendly.  If you're unhappy, they'll work with you.
Murphy encountered a similar situation last month with her Discover card.  She forgot to make a payment, which threatened her zero percent introductory rate.  But when she called to explain it was simply an oversight, the company reinstated the zero percent rate as a courtesy - along with a warning that it would not relent the second time.
Don't expect your bank to come to you with a cheaper deal or tell you how low it will go with its rates.  Bank of America Corp., the nation's largest credit card issuer, wouldn't specify how often customers seek lower rates or how often it agrees to them.  No. 2 issuer, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. declined to provide details of their policies on negotiating with existing customers.
Still, many credit card companies acknowledge that the cutthroat market is prodding them to consider trimming interest rates on a case-by-case basis.

J.P. Morgan, "always (welcomes) the opportunity for customers to call us and have a dialogue," a spokesman for the New York bank says, Capital one emphasizes "great rates" in its initial offer, but "cardholders certainly can call us to discuss their account terms," according to a spokesman.  American Express Co. will "listen to concerns about interest rates" spokeswoman Desiree Fish says, but relents "infrequently."

At Bank of America, cardholders who call seeking a lower rate or threatening to bolt are quickly transferred to retention specialists, who are trained in what the bank calls "judgmental lending," empowering them to consider more than credit scores and payment records.  For example, a higher interest rate triggered by a forgotten payment - not financial problems - might be lowered.

It is critically important to talk to these customers, says Matt Schlitz, head of customer retention for Bank of America's card-services business, adding that cardholders have become "much more savvy" about using their leverage.

Success in lowering the rate varies based on factors ranging from payment history to balance size.  Cardholders carrying balances from month to month are likely to have the best chance of winning lower interest rates because the balance generates a steady stream of revenue from interest charges.  Customers with missed payments typically have far less negotiating power.

If you can't get a lower rate, you might want to transfer your balance to a lower-rate card - but keep the original card account open says Curtis Arnold, found of the Web site CardRatings.com.  Closing an account can sometimes harm one's credit score, he says, by increasing the proportion of one's total available credit that is being used.



Investing In Your Debt For Fun and Profit

Happy New Year!!  We at IYD hope that you had a wonderful and safe holiday season.  With all the information we have sent you we also hope that you survived without going into debt any farther.  If you did and need help remember we are here to get you back on the right track.  If you just need a pep talk or the bills started coming in and you need more help you can call and get a free ADE Analysis. Right now we are overwhelmed with ASE request, but I'm Dave will figure a way to squeeze you in. Let us know what we can do for you.

Happy New Year! We at IYD hope that you had a wonderful and safe holiday season.With all the information we have sent you we also hope that you survived without going into debt any farther.If you did and need help remember we are here to get you back on the right track.If you just need a pep talk or the bills started coming in and you need more help you can call and get a free ADE Analysis. Right now we are overwhelmed with ASE request, but I'm Dave will figure a way to squeeze you in. Let us know what we can do for you.

Checking Accounts:

Checking accounts. We all have them, and they are at the forefront in terms of our daily spending. However, as checking accounts continue to change in structure, it's important to keep in mind a couple of basics about using them responsibly and efficiently.

Our generation probably doesn't really remember a time when checking accounts weren't entities that could be logged into and viewed on your computer. I think when I got my first checking account at age 18, the online banking phenomenon was really taking off, so it wasn't long before I was paying bills and checking my balances online. Back in the day, of course, people used to keep track of their spending using their checkbook ledger, or checking their balances at the bank or ATM. Times have changed - and banking is simpler - but that shouldn't mean you have a carte blanc to ignore your spending.

Here are a few of my pointers for managing your checking account(s) well:

- Multiple accounts: It may be easier for you to use two checking accounts, especially if you are married. A lot of people will disagree with me here, but I think it is the best way for me to keep my finances organized. I keep one checking account to myself that houses my personal spending money. No bills get paid from this account, it is simply for me to withdraw from and use as I see fit (Josh has a similar checking account of his own as well). I keep another checking account - a joint account with my husband - for paying bills from like rent, utilities, groceries, etc. We never withdraw money from this account.

This has really helped out for a number of reasons: 1) Since we both work and bring in proportionate income to our household, it is nice for us to have separate accounts for our spending money. This gives us a little independence and freedom to spend on the things we want without having to constantly check with one another. 2) I never have to worry about overdrawing because I mark down on our budget spreadsheet what bills have been paid and make sure checking account #2 covers everything. Whatever is in my personal spending account is there for me to spend.

- Try to go check-free. If you are still paying bills through the mail with checks, you may want to look into paying all your bills online. You don't have to make them automatic, you can still manually pay them, but clicking a button saves you a stamp and a check, in addition to processing faster than the old snail mail method.

- Watch out for withdrawal fees. It's important to remember that you should withdraw your funds from one of your own banks ATMs. Most people don't know that you are likely to get hit with multiple fees for using an ATM not of your own bank (one charge from the ATM's bank, and one charge from your bank). If you absolutely  must use an ATM that is not your bank, at least take out enough money to make it worth it.

- Don't use your debit card as a debit card. Use your debit card, but select Credit when prompted at the store. 1) Your payment processes immediately, rather than at the end of the day and 2) you'll save yourself from getting charged any processing fees by your bank.

- Keep a cushion in all of your accounts. It doesn't have to be big, just enough to ensure you don't get hit with hefty overdraft fees, should you miss calculate your balance. Even a $50-$100 cushion helps, especially when you realize that your overdraft fee could be anywhere from $30 - $80, depending...


Money Magazine in the fall of 2002 had a 30 question quiz you could take to see where you financial life stood. I am going to highlight some key points along with my comments.

"Do you have a plan? Achieving wealth does not happen by accident.

You need a strategy, not to mention plenty of patience and discipline."


BW-If you have the discipline the Invest In Your Debt(tm) system will eliminate all of your debt. If you lack discipline, the Automatic Debt Elimi.nation program is the way to go.


"Are you in love with plastic? There is no bigger wealth killer than debts. Even if you meet your monthly obligations, paying the minimum on your plastic, you may be sabotaging your future."


BW-I suggest "plastic surgery." Cut up your cards. Also prepare to pay larger minimum payments this fall.


"Do you have a budget? Who needs a budget? Unfortunately, those who are most repulsed by the idea - people who see budgeting as a drag on their lifestyle."


BW-I can suggest a budgeting program to will help you get your spending under control. Go to http://tinyurl.com/bkd9g


"Do you own your own home? Owning a home is quite different from owning a stock or bond. 'A home is a use asset,' says Ron Roge of Bohemia , N.Y.  'You shouldn't count on it to get you through retirement'. "


BW-For more on why your home is a liability not an asset, read Robert Kiyosaki's book Rich Dad Poor Dad.


"Is it better to save well or invest well ? Both are important, but if we had to chose, we'd pick saving."


BW-Here is where I deviate from conventional  wisdom. Your very best first investment is inves.ting in your debt. Paying down on 15% credit card is the same as getting a 15% return in the stock market.



Investing In Your Debt For Fun and Profit

Avoid the Holiday Hangover
4 Ideas to Cut Stress and Save Money this Holiday Season

By Steven B. Smith

The holiday season is in full swing: busy parking lots, crowded stores, countless parties and get-togethers, visits to distant relatives, and trips to every retail outlet known to man looking for just the perfect gift for everyone on your list. It can all get pretty hectic and can quickly drain your bank account - or run up your credit card balance.

At the end of it all, far too many of us find ourselves exhausted and frazzled as we hold a credit card bill that we will be paying off until well into next year.

Here are four tips to help save money and cut the stress during the holiday season:

1. Set a budget and stay on track.Nothing can sour the season like knowing that you'll still be paying for the eggnog and wrapping paper as you watch the fireworks next July. If you haven't built up a balance in your Holiday envelope, take a look at your finances and decide how much you can really afford to spend, and then, using that amount, decide how much you will spend on each person on your list - not the other way around. As you start your shopping, be sure to check Mvelopes often to stay on track with your budget. Once you reach your spending limit, stay away from the mall and other places that may tempt you to buy 'just one more thing'.

2. Trim the list along with the tree.In addition to trimming the tree this year, trim your gift list. Instead of sending knick-knacks to everyone you know, send a thoughtful note expressing your appreciation for their friendship. Your sincerity and kind thoughts will mean so much more than that nifty travel mug with the flashing lights that say "Merry X-mas!" that looked like such a steal on the discount rack.

3. Shop online.You'll save time, money and possibly your sanity as you avoid the crowded parking lots and long lines. Even if you don't actually make your purchases online, the Internet can help you easily find the best prices, read customer reviews and compare products. Plus, you can sit back and sip some hot cocoa while you shop. Check out Overstock.com, Shopzilla or PriceGrabber.com to find good deals. Make sure to shop early, though, to avoid expensive overnight shipping costs.

4. Donate to charity.It's easy to get caught up in the consumerism and craziness of the holidays. The remedy? Give to those less fortunate. Giving to charity helps keep needs and wants in perspective during the holiday frenzy. Give gently used clothing and blankets to a local shelter or the Salvation Army, or donate some time wrapping and distributing gifts for Toys for Tots or another organization. You may just rediscover the magic of the season.

Contrary to what Madison Avenue says, the holiday spirit really isn't about shopping and expensive parties and gifts; it's about giving of yourself, which although certainly not free, doesn't cost a dime.

Set a Holiday Budget... And Stick to It by Kimberly Danger

Do you know how much you spent on Christmas gifts last year? Chances are you don't. Too many people shop without a budget and are shocked when the credit card bills start rolling in come January. It is important to set a budget for your Christmas spending before you even begin to shop.

How do you determine how much you should spend? There is no clear-cut answer that works for everyone. The most important thing to consider is what your own family's pocketbook can handle, not what you think others expect of you. If your family gives extravagant gifts, that doesn't mean you have to do the same. A good guideline is to only spend what you can pay cash for; so you don't fall into the credit card trap. If you do get out the plastic, make sure that you will be able to pay your bill in full when it arrives.

Now that you know how much you will be spending on gifts this year, your next step is to write down everyone you plan on buying a gift for. This includes everyone -- from your friends and family to the tip for the paper boy. Now, you should allocate a part of your holiday budget to each person. This number will serve as a guideline as you begin to shop. You may be able to stay under your per-person budget on some gifts, and on some you're bound to spend more. But the important principle is to stick to the overall budget.

Here are some tips on sticking to your budget:

·         Give handmade gifts. This can also be a great way to get your kids involved. What would grandparents love more than a gift their grandchild made just for them? If you are crafty yourself, get out the sewing machine, your paint set, or that cross-stitch you never finished. Friends and family will appreciate the investment of your time.

·         If you have a lot of family members to buy gifts for, suggest trading names. Chances are you'll spend less on that one person than you would for the entire family, but they'll get a nicer gift.

·         Suggest a "creative" gift exchange. I know a family that sets a $5 limit on the gifts they give each other. Most of the gifts they find are great -- thrift store finds, garage sale bargains or items from clearance racks.

·         Host a party for Pampered Chef, Discovery Toys, Creative Memories, Tupperware, Premiere Design Jewelry ... You earn FREE products with each of these.  Consider doing a party by e-mail!

·         Check out book, CD, and DVD clubs that offer free gifts as a sign-up bonus.  They can be a great way to shop for gifts.  You often get several free choices with your initial shipment, with only a few more items to fulfill your commitment over the course of a couple of years.  Here are a few:  QPB, Columbia House, Disney Movie Club, and The Good Cook

·         Give a magazine subscription.  Best Deal Magazines offers hot titles for less than $5/year.  Buy an issue off the newsstand to wrap up to give the recipient.

·         Shop throughout the year. Begin on December 26th when all the Christmas merchandise is marked down! That is an especially good time to get your gift wrapping and ribbons for next year. If you see a great sweater for your mother-in-law in February, buy it! That's one less gift to look for when the rush is on, plus you'll spread out your spending.

·         Buy sets that can be broken apart. A set of 8 dessert plates and coffee mugs can be separated into sets of two. Fill a plate with home-made holiday goodies and each cup with a baggie of cocoa mix. Great as a hostess gift!

·         Shop online. Web shopping can be a huge time saver. Not only do you avoid the crowds and waiting in line, you can also avoid sales tax. Plus, many sites are offering free shipping on orders more than $100 this season.  Be sure to visit our online deals forum for valuable online coupons to help you save even more on your order.

·         Shop early. The more pressure you are under to find the perfect gift, the more likely you are to spend more. So, get going now!

IYD would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season.


Investing In Your Debt For Fun and Profit

Preparing Your Holiday Budget Before It's Too Late
By Jennifer Streiff

How is that the holidays always seem to sneak up on me? One day it's August and I am enjoying a day on the boat at the lake; the next thing I know it's December and I am surrounded by holiday decorations and not prepared at all!

Not this year, or at least that's what I thought. I made a vow last year to be better prepared this year when the holidays hit. As I close in on October, I wonder if it's actually the road to holiday financial fitness that is paved with good intentions. I haven't quite reached my goals of having all the money I need set aside. However, I am so much closer than in any year past and that, at the very least, is huge progress!

Along this journey to holiday financial fitness I learned a few things, made plenty of mistakes and found some great advice. I figure that I may as well let others learn from my experiences; hopefully, that way you won't make the same mistakes! Below you will find a compiled list of some of the things that I discovered or came across.

The lessons I learned on the sometimes very bumpy road to a financially fit holiday season...

The first thing I had to teach myself was that even if the holiday envelope had money in it, I wasn't really setting aside money for the holidays if other envelopes were in the red. Sure, I had $100 in my envelope by April but I had also overspent in my grocery and clothing envelopes by about the same amount. Obviously, it doesn't really work like that. So, I had to get my other spending in control and get those envelopes back in the black. Only then would I really be able to set aside money for the holidays, not to mention all the other things I was trying to save for.

The second lesson learned was about credit card debt. I was carrying a balance on my credit card, and while it wasn't large, it was still accumulating interest at astronomical rates. I needed to get rid of that so that I could stop wasting that extra money on interest! That money could be going into my holiday fund, my vacation fund, my new car fund, or any other place where it would go to far better use. So... I needed to pay that off and make sure that if I used the card, it was paid off every month from then on.

As Steven B Smith, author of Money for Life, advised, "Credit cards should only be used when you know that you can fully pay them off during the next month, with money that is already set aside for this purpose. Otherwise, when you calculate the finance charges, you practically double the cost of each item." (It's Better to Give Than to Receive... That is Until you Receive the Credit Card Bill - Smart Tips for Achieving a Debt-Free Holiday. Steven B. Smith. November 2005).

Third, and perhaps the most important for me, was figuring what exactly my holiday budget needed to be. Setting aside $10 a month wasn't going to get me anywhere near the budget for presents for my husband, mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law, brother and sister-in-law, 3 nephews, 1 niece... and I haven't even started on the in-laws yet! I needed to know the total I would need and how many months I had left to save. I divided the amount by that number of months, and voila - the amount I needed to set aside each month to reach that goal before December. Bear in mind that this figure was much higher than $10 per month, much to my chagrin, but I had to find a way. Either that or I had to cut the gift giving list down... perhaps a little bit of both will happen as December nears.

Fourth, and this was a big one for me last year, know when to stop shopping! I overspent the budget I had set because I didn't stop shopping. I bought extra little stocking stuffers here, one more little gift there, and all of a sudden my budget was in the red, yet again.

As Mary Hunt, author of Everyday Cheapskate, put it, "Know when to quit. We've all been there: One more trinket for a child's stocking, an extra gadget for your hubby. Once you have purchased items for everyone on your gift list, stop shopping and stop surfing the Internet. Trust yourself and the wisdom you showed in finishing your shopping early."(18 Ways to have a more joyful Christmas. Mary Hunt. December 2001).

And last but not least, Shop Early! I always find as I close in on the holidays and see my deadlines getting closer and closer I get panicked and buy the item I had in mind wherever I find it first. Unfortunately that often means that I didn't get the best deal, it wasn't exactly right, and/or I just overspent my budget. This of course, is very counterproductive to my goal of not overspending during the holidays.

Steven B. Smith said in a recent article, "Start early on your shopping list to avoid the last minute panic attack that often has us all overspending our budgets. If you decide early what you want to get each person on your list, you can take the time to shop for a good price on the item rather than making the close-at-hand, but all-too-expensive choice." (It's Better to Give Than to Receive... That is Until you Receive the Credit Card Bill - Smart Tips for Achieving a Debt-Free Holiday. Steven B. Smith. November 2005).

So by this point you are probably wondering if I actually applied these lessons and what progress I made? Well, let me just tell you... I have completely paid off the credit card (and wow, does that feel good!). I am putting that previously wasted interest charge money into my holiday envelope, and that feels really good too. I am getting close to having my complete holiday budget set aside but, in all honesty, I may end up slightly short. If I do, no worries, I will just have to make my own holiday cards (that's more personal anyway!). And I may need to lower the budget for each gift by a few dollars to make up the difference, but that's ok. I'll start shopping early to find better deals. My goal is still a debt free holiday season and I am well on my way there!

Jennifer Streiff is a personal finance writer, and advocate of the envelope method of budgeting. Jennifer is the Channel Marketing Manager for In2M, the developers of Mvelopes Personal. She has a Master's Degree in Business Administration and works with the local chapters of AmericaSaves (UtahSaves) and Jump$tart Coalition on Community Education Programs centered around Personal Finance.

Ideas for Saving:

First, check discount and bargain stores such as ALDI (www.aldi.com), Big Lots (www.biglots.com), Montgomery Wards (www.wards.com), Marshalls (www.marshallsonline.com), TJ Maxx (www.tjmaxx.com), Costco (www.costco.com), Schottenstein stores

(www.valuecity.com) and Gabriel Brothers (www.gabrielbrothers.com).

I'm sure there are others similar to these across the country; since I live in the mid-West, those are the ones I know about. These stores don't always carry the same brands or items, what's on their web site may not be in their stores (if you plan to buy in person, call first), but you can save some money buying name-brand products from them instead of major retail chains.

An example of how you can save (on a fairly unnecessary item, mind

you): I visited Costco's web site and found the Pioneer Inno Portable XM Satellite Radio, with a $50 mail-in rebate, at $229. At BestBuy's web site the same item was $299 (they do have a mail-in rebate offered as well, so it would be $249). You'd have to take into consideration shipping as well, but you can see the difference, in any case.

Use price comparison shopping methods offered on Yahoo Shopping (or Google). You can find good deals by comparing various prices and sellers online, but be careful of seller ratings and feedback -- some sellers may not be the best to buy from simply because they have your item for the least price if they have a poor service record!

Wendy Lomano is a wife and mom and now works part-time at her city's local library. Her site is www.AtHomeParent.com
Thank you for your time.

October 2006 IYD Newsletter

In the process of getting the Planet Debt Free, the people at
Invest in Your Debt(TM) have discovered that we need to educate our
children at an early age so that they can carry their knowledge
into adult life.  If we can teach the next generation about
finances maybe they will know how to control their spending and in
turn how to control their lives.  The following article is just one
way that we can our teach children about finances and still let
them be children.
Children's Collecting Yields Big Returns
       By Lynne Ticknor, M.A.

Those shoe boxes filled with rocks or stickers cluttering up your
child's already disorganized room are doing more than collecting
dust. They may also be giving your child a lesson in finance. 
Having a collection of something -- baseball cards, coins, comic
books or, yes, even rocks or stickers -- helps children and teens
learn important math and money skills. In a time when the financial
literacy of children is dangerously low, collecting is a hobby
worth encouraging.

Bryan Lee, a Certified Financial Planner in Plano, Texas, says that
going from collecting to understanding financial matters is
natural. "Things that were complicated to some people came easier
to me because of my experience collecting baseball cards," says Lee.
Lee quickly learned that the ups and downs of baseball-card pricing
were similar to the pricing movement in the stock market. "If it
wasn't for my hobby of collecting, I'm not sure I'd be a financial
planner today," he says.

Other financial experts agree with Lee that a child's treasured
collection can create a learning platform for financial skills. "I
strongly favor children starting their own business, and collecting
is a small business venture," says Peggy Houser, a Certified
Financial Planner in Denver. 

Houser, whose 15-year-old grandson has collected everything from
Pokemon cards to Beanie Babies, has learned good m.oney management
skills and now sells the guitars he collects. 
Sp.ending and saving

When children and teens use their allowance to buy collectibles,
they are learning valuable lessons in sp.ending and saving. They may
have to ask themselves if they should go to the movies tonight or
save their money for rare comic books that will build their

"One of the most important life skills is learning about choices
and consequences," says Jon Gallo, founder of the Gallo Institute
and co-author of "The Financially Intelligent Parent: 8 Steps to
Raising Successful, Generous, Responsible Children." 
When your son buys a movie ticket on Friday night, he is engaging
in short-term gratification, but, if he has a coin collection, he
might just be motivated to save his allowance to purchase a rare
coin he's had his sights on acquiring.   

Delaying gratification

With children being constantly bombarded with marketers seeking to
stimulate instant gratification, the concept of delaying
gratification for long-term benefit is a difficult one to impress
upon children and teenagers. Gallo agrees that being a collector
can help teach the value of delayed gratification. When children
can't afford their next collectible purchases, they have to wait
until they've saved enough allowance or earned the money. 
"Delayed gratification is an example of reflective thinking," Gallo
says. "And when a child has to think about whether she should s.pend
her money now or save it to buy another item to add to her
collection, she is engaging in reflective thinking." 
Studies have established a direct correlation between the ability
to delay gratification and a youngster's lifelong success.


Not only does collecting teach children about spending and saving,
it also teaches them about investing. "Children learn that
sometimes they will buy an item and it will grow in value over
time," says Gallo.

Children need to learn how to appreciate that growth in value by
keeping good records.

Parents can help children with record keeping and keeping track of
profits and losses or charting increases or decreases in value. 
Teaching children how to look up values is a great way for parents
to encourage and support their children's' hobbies. EBay and value
guides, such as Beckett magazines for cards or the "Red Book" for
coins, make it easy and fun.

When discussed in the abstract, supply and demand is a difficult
concept for youngsters to grasp, but when parents can help children
apply the theory in the context of their beloved collections,
children quickly understand the nuances. Having a collection is a
great forum for children to learn marketing skills.

"Deciding when to sell before a 'hot' items grows cold or deciding
if an item will be more valuable if it is held a little longer are
great skills to develop," says Houser. 

Buying, selling and trading

Lee, who started his baseball card collection when he was 11,
learned firsthand about buying, selling and trading when he was a
teenager. After studying multiple issues of Beckett, Lee began
selling and trading baseball cards at card shows. When he did his
homework to ensure that he wasn't taken advantage of by older or
more sophisticated hobbyists, he began turning a p.rofit. 
"I made mistakes along the way -- just like you do picking s.tocks
-- but it was a very good learning experience for me," Lee says. 
Although some experienced collectors such as Lee may trade and sell
for profit, it is more common for children to engage in casual
trade. Trading Pokemon cards ("I'll trade you my Metapod for your
Sealeo and Diglett") or seashells from vacation trips still teaches
children about the value of objects and what other people will pay
or trade for various items.

Don't worry if the items your child collects are rocks from the
driveway or stickers out of the bubble gum machine. They are still
sorting, categorizing and prioritizing items. They still learn math
skills and the values of items when they collect and care for them,
even if the items don't have strict f.inancial values. 

Let your child collect what she's passionate about or her interest
will wane. The items collected might not be worth a single penny,
but the activity of collecting is w.orth more than m.oney can buy.
Lee agrees and says, "If the collection is v.aluable in the future,
well, that's just icing on the cake

Another Way for Parents to use Mvelopes:

Are They Ready for the Real World?
            By Jennifer Streiff

It seems that parents go to great lengths to ensure that their
students are ready to go away to college - you help to research
schools, help with applications, buy books and even make sure they
have a suitable place to live. The one area that often seems to be
overlooked, however, is managing their p.ersonal f.inances and their

Statistics show that 83% of college students graduate with an
average of $2,300.00 in c.redit card d.ebt*. For graduate students
that number more than doubles, reaching $7,800. And that doesn't
even take into account their student loans! Why are these numbers
so high? Perhaps it's because they were never taught how to manage
their spending.

They definitely don't learn this stuff in Home E.conomics Class!
It's up to you, as parents, to teach them how to effectively manage
their s.pending. To set them up for success, set aside time together
to create a s.pending plan and to teach them the skills they need to
manage it. You just might save yourself a phone call or two asking
for e.xtra money, while you are at it!

Here are a few steps to help you get started:

1. Sit down with your student and layout a list of the e.xpenses
that they are likely to incur - doing this together will help them
to start taking o.wnership of their f.inancial future.
2. Together determine the amounts to b.udget for the various
sp.ending categories. When appropriate use your household e.xpenses
as examples so that your teen can get a better idea of what various
things cost.
3. Find a bank or credit union that has n.o-cost accounts that will
be easily accessible for both of you. You, of course, don't want to
pay any extra fees on the accounts, nor do you want large ATM f.ees
in case your student doesn't have a bank branch close by. Two other
things to consider - make sure the checking account comes with a
debit card and that all accounts have free online b.anking.
4. Set them up with their own subscription to Mvelopes Personal to
help them track and manage their day-to-day spending. Mvelopes also
helps them visually see the results of their s.pending and keep
track of how much is left and how long it has to last. And since
it's completely online, you can log in and see when you're going to
have to make that next d.eposit.
5. Talk about credit cards, high interest rates and what really
constitutes an emergency (this is critical if you are giving them a
credit card for emergency use). Another option to consider is a
fixed amount debit card. This allows them the convenience of a
c.redit card, without the risk of o.verspending and high-interest

With a little prep work before hand, you and your college student
can be ready for that first real world adventure!
*A 2002 study published by Nellie Mae
Featured Quotes:

"The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market. It depends
chiefly on two words, industry and frugality: that is, waste
neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without
industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them everything."
Benjamin Franklin

"The world has not yet learned the riches of frugality."

"Thrift is the best means of thriving."
Charles J. Hare
Invest in Your Debt(TM)  is always looking for ways to help you
realize your dream of becoming debt free.  If you have any ideas
for future newsletters or any questions that we can help you with
feel free to email us at iyd@investinyourdebt.com or call us at

IYD Feature Article

Avoiding Your Parent's Debts
                    by Gary Foreman

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Who's responsible for the debt after death?

I have been thinking about my parent's debts and what will happen when they die. They have no life insurance or savings, so I will have the responsibility of burying them. They have utility bills, criminal fines and hospital debts. These are the only types of debts that they have. Will I be made to pay these off once they are deceased? I was also thinking of buying life insurance on them to help with the funeral expenses. Do you think it is more likely that everyone who is owed money will try to take it from the insurance policy than if they died with no insurance or anything at all?

Ellen faces a common problem. Many of us will need to deal with our parent's estate. If we're fortunate, our parents will have accumulated more assets than debts during their lifetime.  Maybe even leave us a few dollars.

Sadly, that's not Ellen's situation. In fact, she needs to be careful that she doesn't accidentally "inherit" her parent's debts.

We'll begin with the second part of Ellen's question. She's correct to worry about funeral expenses. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral was $6,500 in July 2004, not including the cemetery plot and services.

If her parents have any savings at all, most states will allow some of it to be used for burial expenses even if there's not enough to repay debts. She's wise to consider buying life insurance in an amount sufficient to pay for her parent's funeral and burial. Remember that funeral costs could go up in the future. Buy a policy big enough to cover your needs.

The life insurance policy probably won't put cash into her hands in time for the funeral. Ellen can expect the cemetery to want payment before allowing interment. So she'll still need to have some cash or credit available for a short period.

The insurance should not attract creditors as long as the policy is payable to Ellen. And if she has not assumed responsibility for any of the debts, the insurance proceeds have nothing to do with them.

{Editor's Note}  Generally will concur with the tenor of this article. However, we believe a better solution to the funeral cost is not funeral insurance, but prepaying the funeral expenses in today's dollars. Many funeral homes have this as standard policy and it can be a lot cheaper than funeral insurance.

This leads us to the bigger question. Is Ellen responsible for any of her parent's debts?

First, parents can't just "leave" you debts in their will. It would be a neat way of repaying your kids for their rebellious teen years, but the law doesn't allow it. Debts that your parents owe at the time of their death will either be paid out of their estate, paid by other living people who have previously assumed a responsibility for the debt, or be written off as uncollectible by the creditor.

It is unlikely that Ellen is liable for her parent's legal or hospital debts. If she had been a party to the lawsuit or guaranteed the hospital bill, she would have known it. Same thing is true with utility bills. Unless her name is on the account or she supplied her credit card number, she should not have any responsibility for an unpaid bill.

The next question is how can Ellen make sure that she doesn't become responsible for any other debts that her parents might incur before death. If she's not careful, she could unwittingly assume them. Ellen will want to avoid any joint accounts with her parents. For instance, if she deposits money into a joint checking account, that money can be taken to pay her parent's debts.

Joint credit card accounts pose another danger. If you are named on the account, you will be responsible for all of the debt on that account even if you never used the card. You'll know if you're a joint account holder because you will have had to sign an application or apply online for the account. A call to the credit card company can verify your status.

A joint account is different than being an "authorized user." That's when you are allowed to use the credit card, but are not responsible for the debt. Although the authorized user is not required to make payments on the account, the account will be included in calculating the authorized user's credit score.  So if your parents are bad about paying their bills, do not become an authorized user on their account. In fact, even if they have a good credit history, as they get older, it's possible that Ellen's parents will forget a bill and send it in late. That would hurt Ellen's credit score as well as their own.

Finally, remember that creditors can try to collect from anyone. Ellen might get calls from her parent's creditors demanding payment. But, unless she's legally responsible for the debts, there's no reason to send them any money. Just tell them not to call and hang up.

This article appeared in The Dollar Stretcher.


The debt phenomenon in Canada and The States is exploding. We only have about 50 Seminar Leaders spread across North America and we need more. Whether you live in a city of five thousand or five million, We need your help. The ADE Program is exploding and D.ebt Elimination Seminar Leaders are in demand. You may want to supplement your retirement in come or work full time, either way, helping people get out of debt is extremely rewarding, both personally and financially. Working full time or part time, being a Professional Speaker or doing one on one consultation, the opportunity is available. IYD Inc is looking for you to help us on our mission to eliminate all the debt on Planet Earth.  IYD needs Seminar Leaders in almost every major City in the country. IYD is looking for Seminar Leaders to help us with our mission of getting the Planet Debt Free.  Most of you reading this newsletter have been to a seminar and have an understanding of the IYD process.  We are looking for people across the country to teach the Invest In Your Debt Course and/or do one on one consultations.  Being a Seminar Leader is a wonderful way to teach people the best way to get out of d.ebt.   One of the biggest problems in this country today is that people have more month than money.  IYD teaches people how to work with the money they already have coming in and p.aying off  all their debts including their mortgage in record time.  Whether you are interested in teaching seminars or working with people one on one IYD is the company that can help you.  IYD is offering Seminar Leader and ADE Consulting training programs to individuals that qualify.  We also need individuals that are interested in working one on one with clients and helping them to achieve their f.inancial goals.  We will train and mentor you on all aspects of the business from presentation to marketing and show you how to use the software that will be available to you when you j.oin our team.  For a limited time IYD is offering a 30% d.iscount for anyone that is interested in purchasing a seminar leader kit.  The kit includes enough merchandise to do your first seminar and you also get one on one training with an experienced seminar leader.  You can go to our website www.investinyourdebt.com and on the left look for career opportunities.  You can read more about our Mission and how we need your help.  If you have any questions please feel free to call the home office at 1-888-913-8786. 


With the Automatic D.ebt E.limination Program (ADE), IYD Inc. will manage all your l.iabilities (read "bills") for you. Your debts will be managed in a way that you will never need to write another check, stuff another envelope, and rush at the last moment to the post office to pay a late bill.

IYD Inc. can make the Automatic D.ebt Elimination program available to a limited number of people at no additional charge because they have figured out a way for the creditors to pay for its cost.  They will have to limit it so as not to overwhelm their staff, they will need to limit to the first 10 people that e-mail them at  IYD@InvestinyourDebt.com  and request a free analysis. Act now to find out if you qualify for the ADE Program. They will try to offer it again next month.

                        Why Is ADE So Effective?
ADE works like a 401k plan, except it works on your l.iabilities, not your assets. Just like a regular 401k, once the process is set up, it's automatic; you don't have to think about it. Everything happens automatically for you. Someone else manages it for you, providing the structure and discipline needed for success.  What could be better than that? 

If you have a 401k or similar savings plan at work, ask yourself this question:  Without your employer administering the plan on your behalf, would you have the discipline to save as much money from each   and every paycheck as you do with the 401k?  For most of us, the answer is a resounding "NO!" That is precisely why we created ADE, the "Liability 401k" plan.

The ADE Program will pay your bills and manage your liabilities in such a way that it optimizes YOUR C.ASH FLOW and not the creditors. Debts will be paid in the proper order and be paid on time so that you NEVER incur another late fee, while your debt just melts away. All monies will remain in your checking account and under your control. All we do is manage the process for you.

The ADE program will also dramatically improve your credit score by insuring that your bills are never late; while your high credit card balances and your debt to income ratio are reduced.

You have 24/7/365 online access to your own private ADE Progress Report. At anytime during the month you can see positive results developing:

> The date each debt will be paid
> The remaining balance of each debt
> When each debt will be eliminated
> The total debt eliminated to date
> How many months before you will be debt free

You can make changes to your plan (add debts, remove debts, change amounts or payment dates, etc) as often as you want and free of charge.
ADE is designed to s.ave you money, not c.ost you money. You s.ave thousands of dollars and your out-of-pocket expense is ZERO!   It costs you nothing. WHAT A CONCEPT!
If you would like IYD to do a free analysis for you to see if you qualify for the ADE Program, just email IYD at IYD@InvestinyourDebt.com , call 888 913 8786, or call Dave Ireland's direct line, 512 447 1990, if you have any questions.


IYD Ezine Issue # 8
The Path Least Traveled
Debt Problem or Debt Opportunity?

Do you have a debt problem?  Your answer is likely based on your perception.  When I ask my seminar students how they perceive debt in their lives, I invariably hear answers such as problem, burden, source of stress or ball and chain.
My response is that debt can be all of these things and can certainly remain all of these things, but virtually everyone can choose to transform their debt from a tremendous financial burden into a tremendous financial opportunity.  I then explain how the Invest in Your Debt process represents nothing less than the Great American Debt Opportunity (with apologies to our Canadian readers); the opportunity to achieve true financial security and turn debt into wealth.
Most folks are understandably confused when they encounter these concepts for the first time.  They don't understand what "investing" in debt means or how their present debt can possibly be the key to future wealth and financial security. 
If you are likewise confused, allow me to clarify by engaging your creative faculties.  Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you have your present income but you have no mortgage payments, no car payments, no credit card payments, and no debt whatsoever.  Can you feel how much easier it would be to maintain your standard of living?  How much less stress there would be in your life?  How much better off you would be?
Now answer this question.  What would you do with all the money you are presently spending making all those debt payments?  Oh the possibilities.
In truth, you could do whatever you wanted to do with that money because it would become your money again.  What do I mean by "again"?  It starts out being your money, doesn't it?  After all, you earn it.  But somewhere along the line didn't you start to feel like nothing more than the "middle man" of your paycheck?  Money comes in and goes out, magically slipping through your fingers despite your best intentions to hold onto some of it.
The Great American Debt Opportunity is about regaining ownership and control of your life by reclaiming the money you currently give away to your creditors each month, and then simply finding a better use for that money.  The IYD process allows you to reach this position in the shortest time possible.
Participation in this debt opportunity requires only that you are presently able to make your minimum payments each month.  If you are not presently able to make your minimum payments or are already 30 or more days behind, please consider the Do-it-Yourself Debt Negotiation program offered at www.investinyourdebt.com/creditnegotiate.htm  or call IYD immediately for assistance.  You can still participate in the Great American Debt Opportunity, but you will need to right your ship and achieve a positive cash flow first.  This may require professional help and will be discussed further in our next issue.
So, do you really have a debt problem or a tremendous debt opportunity?  The answer depends on whether you choose to "invest" in your debt or allow it to hang around.
With Debt Freedom in Mind,
Greg Frank
PS: Join us tonight, Sunday Evening, Oct 16, at 7pm for our second
special series of FREE continuing education classes facilitated by me,
IYD Senior Financial Coach Greg Frank. Each monthly 1 hour session
will focus very specifically on a unique aspect of the IYD or Spend
Smart processes and feature a mix of instruction and interactive
Questions and Answer periods.
These special FREE classes will be presented on the third Sunday of
each month from 7:00 - 8:00 PM, EST via our regular conference call
number 918 222 7109 x7299.
Dates & topics for the next six months are as follows:
  8/21  Conventional Financial Wisdom vs. the IYD Approach
        Archived on our website at www.InvestinyourDebt.com
  9/18  The Power of Focusing
        Archived on our website at www.InvestinyourDebt.com
 10/16  The Power of Daily Choice
 11/20  Christmas Debt - Requirement or Choice
 12/18  Financial Security has Nothing to do with Money
  1/15  Financial Success - Reality vs. Illusion
Please invite your family, friends and neighbors to these free
class. They are open to anyone who wants to achieve True Financial
Security and help us get this Planet Debt Free.
IYD Ezine Issue # 7
The Path Least Traveled
Manage Your Debt, or Eliminate It?

Whereas conventional financial wisdom encourages you to manage your
debt, we at IYD prefer that you instead eliminate your debt.  The
difference between these two approaches is significant, and sets
IYD apart from many other companies that may, on the surface, seem
What exactly does managing your debt mean anyway?  After nearly a
decade of teaching the IYD principles, I have come to the
conclusion that there really is no such thing.
Prior to discovering the IYD principles I was convinced that
managing my debt meant not exceeding my available balances, while
being (barely) able to make all my (minimum) payments on time each
month.  When a change in employment status caused my household
income to decline by nearly 50%, I soon found myself maxed out and
unable to make the payments at all.  Needless to say, I was forced
to rethink my definition of debt management.
Some define debt management in terms of keeping their total debt
within "acceptable" limits, usually based on a debt to income
ratio.  While there is no universally agreed upon standard as to
what the allowable percentage is, the real danger with this
approach is that an increase in income means that it's OK to
increase your debt load, as long as you remain within the allowed
percentage.  This still leaves you vulnerable to changes in
personal economic conditions and, just as in my story above, can
result in a debt crisis should income decline.
Others believe debt management involves keeping the cost of debt
under control by continually transferring balances in a never
ending quest to secure the lowest possible rates.  TV ads for the
Capital One "Prime Lock" card promote the notion that using credit
for everyday purchases is OK as long as the rate is low.  For many,
this approach turns into a game where the low rates become an end
unto themselves, often causing people to be in no particular hurry
to reduce their balances because they perceive that carrying debt
isn't costing too much.
When debt becomes unmanageable, people often seek relief in the
form of a debt management company like Consumer Credit Counseling
Services.  These companies serve as a liaison between the creditor
and the individual whose debt has become a problem and attempt to
secure a more manageable payment schedule.  Their services may
include counseling on how to better manage money in order to
prevent future debt.
While these companies may fill a need, IYD suggests you consider an
alternative approach.  Stop trying to manage your debt.  Instead,
eliminate it using the IYD linear math process.  Trade in your low
monthly payments and low interest rates for NO monthly payments and
NO compound interest working against you - ever again.  Consider
that the reason you continue to accumulate debt may simply be
because you already have debt.  Aren't the payments you make toward
your present debt actually keeping you from making new purchases
with cash?
We're taught that credit increases our purchasing power.  While
this may be true in the short term, in the long run having debt
decreases our purchasing power and often leads to credit
dependency.  Using the IYD process to eliminate your present debt
will not only restore real purchasing power in your life, it will
allow you to quickly reach a point where you will never need credit
With Debt Freedom in Mind,
Greg Frank
Please join me this Sunday Evening, Sept 18, at 7pm for our second
special series of FREE continuing education classes facilitated by me, Greg Frank, IYD Senior Financial Coach . Each monthly 1 hour session
will focus very specifically on a unique aspect of the IYD or Spend
Smart processes and feature a mix of instruction and interactive
Questions and Answer periods.
I will present these special FREE classes on the third Sunday of each
month from 7:00 - 8:00 PM, EST via our regular conference call
number 918 222 7109 x7299.
Dates & topics for the next six months are as follows:
   8/21  Conventional Financial Wisdom vs. the IYD Approach (Archived)
             on our website at www.InvestinyourDebt.com
   9/18  The Power of Focusing
 10/16  The Power of Daily Choice
 11/20  Christmas Debt - Requirement or Choice
 12/18  Financial Security has Nothing to do with Money
   1/15  Financial Success - Reality vs. Illusion
Please invite your family, friends and neighbors to these free
class. They are open to anyone who wants to achieve True Financial
Security and help us get the Planet Debt Free.

IYD Ezine Issue # 6
The Path Least Traveled
True Financial Security

You've likely seen dozens of