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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Making Sense of the Health Care Debate

From The Wall Street Journal

Lawmakers are trying to crunch 2,079 pages of health-insurance overhaul proposals into a sweeping new law. As they do, some key decisions could impact your wallet and your coverage.

The three major bills now being debated have broadly similar outlines that probably won't change. They would expand the number of Americans with health insurance by requiring nearly everyone to have coverage and helping lower-income people purchase plans. All three would force insurers to sell to people even if they have health problems. And they would grandfather existing insurance so people can keep their current plans.

Eye on Health

Some key areas where consumers might see the impact of different overhaul proposals:

* Taxes: Some options would tax upper-income people or the richest health plans.
* Premiums: Proposals vary on how much insurers can raise rates based on age.
* Exemptions: Bills have different rules about who's required to have insurance.
* Medicare: A big difference is how the bills handle the drug-benefit 'doughnut hole.

But the bills also have important differences that can affect us as health-care consumers.
House leaders are trying to pull together a bill for a vote. In the Senate, the health committee passed a bill in July, and the Finance Committee is still working to finish its own. The two are then supposed to be merged into a final version. A bill that gets through the Senate is likely to be seen as the bellwether, at least on the most politically contentious provisions.

Here are five important consumer issues that will have to be resolved:

Taxes. Someone would have to pay new taxes if a bill passes, and the question is who. The House bill's levies are squarely aimed at wealthier Americans, with a surtax on married couples making more than $350,000 and individuals above $280,000. But House leaders have already signaled they're considering changes, including potentially bumping up those income levels.

The Senate Finance Committee bill includes taxes on some health-related companies. It also would add a tax on employer plans with premiums worth more than $8,000 a year for an individual or $21,000 for a family. The tax on health plans, levied on insurers, is set at 40% of the amount above the thresholds. The cutoffs are higher for retirees over 55, some high-cost states, and certain high-risk professions, such as firefighters.

Currently, the tax on health plans would affect only around 8% of taxpayers, according to a Senate Finance staffer. Tax experts say employers are likely to either pass along the tax to workers or trim benefit packages to keep their tab under the threshold.

The Senate Finance bill would also pinch flexible-spending accounts, which let people use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses, capping them at $2,500. That's well above the amount typically put in the accounts now, a Senate Finance staffer says. There is currently no legal cap on the amount that people can put in their flex-spend accounts. However, many employers limit the sums.

Setting a cap could hit people like Jon Steinberg, 52, of Birmingham, Mich., who recently used up the $3,360 in the account he shares with his wife. Next year, they plan to put around $1,000 more in the flex-spend account, in part to pay for prescription drugs they take regularly. Capping the contributions "could take a big chunk out of your pocket," says Mr. Steinberg, an insurance agent.

Premiums. One clear contrast between the bills is how much help the government would give people who have to buy coverage. The bills all include subsidies for people making up to 400% of the poverty level, or around $73,000 for a family of three. The measures are designed to cap the share of income people spend on premiums.
But the amounts vary. A family of three making around $55,000 would have to pay about $4,300 a year under the Senate health committee bill, $5,500 under the House bill, and around $6,600 under the Finance Committee bill, according to Edwin Park, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Coupons

You should also keep an eye on how widely premiums can vary based on age differences. The Senate Finance bill allows a range of much as 4 to 1. The other two bills say 2 to 1. The smaller the range, the cheaper plans become for older people and the more expensive for younger folks.

Exemptions. The bills will require almost everyone to buy health insurance, but they don't exactly agree on who can get out of that mandate. The Senate health committee bill says people who can't find coverage with premiums costing less than 12.5% of their annual income can be exempt, as well as those below 150% of the poverty level. The Finance Committee bill has a similar out, with a cutoff at 10%, as well as for those making less than 133% of poverty. The House bill says that the requirement can be waived based on "financial hardship."

People who violate the coverage requirement can be penalized under all three bills. The House proposal charges them 2.5% of their income annually, capped at the cost of premiums for a basic plan, an amount that isn't defined. The Senate health committee bill says no more than $750 penalty per person. And the Senate Finance Committee bill would charge $750 per person, capped at $1,500 per family, for those making between 100% and 300% of the poverty level. For people above that bracket, the penalty is $950 a person, or a maximum of $1,900 per family.

Such fines are likely to be an irritant for some people, as was seen in Massachusetts after the state enacted its own insurance mandate in 2006. Kristin Dube, of Andover, Mass., expects to pay a fine next year because she didn't buy an insurance plan that, at around $180 a month, cost more than she thought she could afford on her income as a free-lance television editor, which varies from week to week. But Ms. Dube, who is also trying to pay off credit-card debt and medical bills, says she makes too much to qualify for a subsidy.

"It's very frustrating," says Ms. Dube, 28. "I think that fining someone because they can't financially do something about it is wrong." She says she didn't know she could apply for an exemption from the mandate.

Plan Design. No matter where you get your insurance, all three congressional bills would require it to have certain minimum attributes, including coverage of hospital stays, and no annual or lifetime caps on how much an insurer will pay out.

But the House bill mandates that plans have a 70% minimum actuarial value, which means they cover an estimated 70% of health-care expenses on average for included benefits. The Senate Finance Committee's level is generally 65%, while the Senate health committee bill doesn't set a specific floor.

Among people with employer coverage today, just 2.6% have plans that aren't rich enough to meet the 65% standard, according to consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Around 10% of insured employees have coverage below the 70% level.

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The bills also don't have the same limits on what consumers could be forced to spend out of pocket each year. It's $5,000 per individual and $10,000 per family in the House bill, while both Senate bills set the individual amount at $5,950 and, for a family, $11,900.

Medicare. Some beneficiaries would likely be affected by the bills' cutbacks to private Medicare Advantage plans. On the upside, however, all Medicare beneficiaries would get new fully covered preventive care. Do It From Home Medical Billing Click Here!

But beneficiaries need to pay particularly close attention to the drug benefit. The House bill would provide a 50% discount on brand-name prescriptions during the gap in Part D drug coverage known as the doughnut hole. It also would phase out that gap, though not until 2023. The Senate Finance Committee proposal does less, particularly for upper-income people. The brand-name drug discount isn't available to individuals making more than $85,000 or couples making more than $170,000. Drug-benefit premiums also would increase for people in these income brackets.

Mr. Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for 11 years. He manages and is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" and co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing

Make the Most of Unused Vacation

 From The Wall Street Journal

Taking vacation pays dividends -- especially if your company allows you to put unused vacation or sick-leave days into your 401(k) or profit-sharing plan.
To encourage savings, the Obama administration recently blessed such transfers. While companies may have to amend their benefit plans to allow it, the administration hopes firms will do so. "We tried to build in as much flexibility as possible to make it attractive," says Mark Iwry, a senior Treasury official.

The techniques are available for use with all qualified plans, which include 401(k), Keogh and profit-sharing plans but not individual retirement accounts or SEP-IRAs. While the rules don't currently extend to the 403(b) plans used by nonprofit organizations, the Treasury is willing to consider expanding them to include such plans, Mr. Iwry says.
The rules apply to "cash-outs" of unused vacation, sick leave or personal days that occur either annually or when an employee leaves a job. If an employer pays for such leave either in whole or in part, the worker could contribute the entire payment to the company's plan, unless he or she has already maxed out the annual contribution limit. This year the limit for most workers is $16,500, or $22,000 for those over 50.

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Employers that don't currently pay workers for unused leave may want to reconsider their policies. The transfers compensate workers and encourage savings but don't increase base pay.
Companies can opt to pay workers for unused leave only if they bank the money in a 401(k) or other qualified plan -- in effect requiring employees to save or else forgo the money. A firm also may let employees decide whether to save or spend.
While firms that choose to pay for unused leave must offer it as an option to all plan participants, they don't have to offer it every year. They also can prorate or limit the amount of leave they are willing pay for.Book early and save! Find special deals in hot destinations only at!

Will payments for unused leave get an employer match? Unclear. The answer depends in part on how a firm's plan is written, says Cara Welch of World at Work, an association of human-resources professionals. What is clear is that the plan must remain nondiscriminatory. 120x120 Free Trial

Mr.Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for 11 years. He manages and is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" and co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing
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Bouncing Back From Bankruptcy

 Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy

Being consumed by thousands of dollars of debt can seem like an insurmountable challenge to overcome. The creditors are hounding you, you're having trouble even making minimum payments on your credit card bills, and you're facing the threat of foreclosure or repossession. Fortunately, you do have options to help you relieve your debt. While it isn't for everyone, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is one option that you may want to consider.

The Pros

One of the greatest advantages of bankruptcy over other debt relief methods is that it is relatively quick process that allows you to restart your finances. As soon as you file for bankruptcy, creditors are legally required to stop collection attempts. If they continue to harass you, they may be held in contempt of court and fined. If you file for bankruptcy through a lawyer, he or she will handle any further interaction with the creditors on your behalf.

Under bankruptcy you can have exemptions for repossession placed on all of your necessary property, such as your house and your car. Bankruptcy gives you the chance to start debt free, without the stress of paying off gigantic credit card debts, which allows you to get your finances back in order much faster.

The Cons

A recent bankruptcy on your credit record temporarily prevents you from qualifying for a mortgage, a car loan, and lines of credit. However, since overspending with credit is what caused you to file for bankruptcy, this temporary limit on spending could be viewed as a positive. Under most banks you will not be eligible for a mortgage until 5 years have passed since your bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy will remain on your credit record for 10 years, but many creditors will grant limited lines of credit to past debtors. Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

One negative aspect of filing for bankruptcy is that you may feel embarrassed or feel that you are a disappointment to your family. However, filing for bankruptcy and saving your home and your car may be less embarrassing than having your home foreclosed on and your personal property repossessed.

Filing for bankruptcy isn't for everyone, but if you are overwhelmed with debt and calls from creditors, it is an option that you may want to consider. If you are in debt, a bankruptcy lawyer can review your financial situation and help you decide which debt relief strategy is best for you.

You may be stuck with feeling that you cannot recover from having to file bankruptcy.


The first thing that you need to do after filing bankruptcy is to develop an improved credit score. Here are a few ways to go about increasing your credit score:

- Credit counselors and debt counselors are different. You don't need to get into another program that could harm your already diminished score. Credit counselors are professionals and they can help you to learn the art of being able to manage your resources so that you don't find yourself stuck again financially. They have dealt with many people in your situation and they can help to give you information to get you on the right track.

- Continually get a copy of your FICO credit score. Make sure that you read over your credit report in order check for anything that may be hindering you that shouldn't be on there. You don't need anything else in addition to the bankruptcy bringing you down.

- Tightly budget and plan your income and what you plan to spend. You will have to look into what caused you to have to file bankruptcy and then work to fix that problem so that it doesn't bring you down again. Many people don't like making budgets but this is almost a necessity for getting your finances back on track.

- Use your credit cards sensibly. You need to slowly build credit and credit cards are definitely one way to do that. But, you should hold-off on having to use your credit cards unless you need to. If you do find it necessary to use your credit cards while you are recovering from bankruptcy, then be sure to use pay them off on time and regularly and to use them sparingly. Do not quickly decrease or increase the amount of credit cards you have. Do it slowly or it could affect your score in a negative way.

- Be careful on the loans you take out. Some financial institutions have loans setup for people who are fresh out of filing for bankruptcy. Banks are in the business of making money, and they feel that they can make a lot of money by taking advantage of you by offering these loans.

If you have school loans which probably didn't get discharged in the bankruptcy, pay those back diligently, and do double or triple the payments if you can and this will help your credit score greatly. 

- Start Small

If you are looking to rebuild your credit rating as fast as possible, and want to wait a little on the big loans, then here is a way to do it. While it is possible to get a loan for something like a house, you will still have to pay a rather high interest on the loan. The fact that you declared bankruptcy earlier will remain on your credit rating for 10 full years, and every potential lender will know about it. By waiting a little, and building your credit rating, you could become eligible once again for a more attractive loan with a lower interest rate.

An easy way to build your credit up again is by getting a secure credit card. By making all your payments on time, and in full each month, your credit rating will get better before long. Having a second credit card that is wisely used can even speed up the process a little more. Then add a small loan that you are sure to be able to pay off in a short period of time.

- Use a savings account. You can start by putting just a small amount in each month, and over time, not only will this help to improve your credit score, it will also set you up with some emergency cash, just in case.

It is horrible to have to file bankruptcy. But, bad things don't last forever on your credit score. A bankruptcy can only legally stay for up to ten years on your credit score. You can get through this, and the more you are diligent in following these tips and most importantly paying your bills on time, you will be able to recover from bankruptcy and hopefully live to enjoy a successful financially sound future.

Mr. Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for over a decade. He manages and is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" and co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing
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Addicted To Shopping?

 Are you addicted to shopping?

According to the dictionary addiction means:-

1. Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit forming (especially alcohol and narcotic drugs).

2. An abnormally strong craving.

3. (Roman Law) a formal award by a court sentence of a thing or person to another (as of a debtor to his creditor), a surrender to a master; "under Roman law, addiction was the justification for slavery".

The Chinese have a saying about heroin 'You begin chasing the dragon but then it jumps on your back and begins chasing you'. Jackie Pullinger, the British woman who set up a ministry in Hong Kong , wrote a book about her experiences there in 'Chasing the Dragon'.Want to get PAID for shopping? Click Here!

This expression relates to smoking heroin, but it could be applied for all mood altering drugs, alcohol, painkillers, tranquillisers, speed, solvents, LSD, cocaine, heroin, crack, ecstasy, barbiturates, and cannabis. It can apply to adrenalin based addictions like gambling, sex, shopping, people (co-dependency) and eating disorders.

Addiction doesn't just happen. There is a progression towards chemical dependency, or any other addiction. It passes through four main stages.

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1. Experimental Stage of Addiction

The Experimental Stage could happen out of curiosity or peer pressure. The user may say "I'll just try it I don't have to use it again" The user may experience pleasure or mood swings. The outcome may be intoxication or being stoned, or a 'rush' of some sort. Many who experiment with drugs do not progress to the next stage of addiction.

This may start in early teens (sometimes younger) with trying alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. It is easy to get high because of the body's low tolerance. Often done with their peers away from a parent or guardian. It may be seen as acting grown up, or a simple act of rebellion.

2. The Recreational Stage of Addiction

During the recreational stage the user may use at the weekends with friends, just to unwind from a stressful week. Looking for relief. Tolerance increases and more substances may be used, amphetamines (speed), larger quantities of alcohol. Symptoms may include stopping out late, suffering hangovers.

The user is by now starting to plan for use. Waiting for the weekend to be with friends, but also risk taking may increase by smoking on the way to school. Starting to lie about how much, and what is being used. Parents may react at this stage by grounding their child.

3. The Early Dependency Stage

During this stage, the regular user becomes an abuser. Now maintaining an addictive lifestyle that starts to affect others. The young user may be missing school and stealing money to feed the habit. Older users may be struggling to keep their job and running up debts. There is a daily preoccupation to source drugs and this often leads to meeting dealers.
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4. The Full Dependency Stage

During this stage of addiction, there is a self destructive and compulsive desire to escape to oblivion, or escape from reality. Sobriety is too difficult to face. If left untreated, the addict may now face despair and risks premature death through overdose, suicide, accidents or side effects. Many end up with legal problems, imprisonment and family breakdown.

Addiction causes two main problems, a chemical (or an adrenalin) dependency problem, and a lifestyle problem. These are explored within the framework of other articles. Has addiction faced you or your family?

Well did you know.....

Shopping addiction is a disorder that our culture has largely seen fit to smile upon. Feelings of emptiness, low self-esteem, insecurity, boredom, loneliness--or the pursuit of ideal image--can lead people to shopping addictions. But managing these feelings and mood states by becoming a shopaholic can have extremely serious consequences and significantly erode quality of life. Coupon

Individual therapy for shopaholics runs the gamut from traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy, with an almost exclusive focus on the underlying dynamics within a historical context, to a very strict focus on the here and now of the problem, with little attention to underlying dynamics. Most people suffering from a shopping addiction need the addition of other specific tools for changing the behavior, including a shopping diary and a spending plan. Some people will need to participate in Debtors Anonymous or group therapy for shopaholics, and/or have counseling specifically geared toward shopping addiction. This is particularly likely if the individual therapist has little experience with the tools of shopping addiction counseling.

Group therapy for shopaholics has been reported since the late 1980s. At least five different forms of group therapy have been utilized with this population.

Couples therapy for shopaholics is an extremely important treatment modality, because couples act as a financial unit and generally blend income as well as spending. Money issues are an intrinsic part of marriage and are often a source of intense and pervasive friction that can seep into other aspects of the relationship. Couples therapy is indicated when the shopping addiction can't be dealt with adequately on an individual basis.

Counseling for shopaholics targets the specific problem and creates an action plan to stop the behavior. Targeted counseling for this problem alters the negative actions of compulsive shopping and concurrently works toward healing the underlying emotions, although less emphasis is placed on exploring the emotional significance of the shopping addiction than in traditional individual psychotherapy. The major premise of counseling for shopaholics is the idea that insight alone will not stop the behavior. All stages in the shopping addiction cycle must be identified: the triggers, the feelings, the dysfunctional thoughts, the behaviors, the consequences of the behavior, as well as the meaning of the shopping addiction. Creating and using a spending plan is a cornerstone of shopping addiction counseling.

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Debtors Anonymous (D.A.) can be a powerful tool in recovery from shopping addiction, especially for shopaholics who have problems with debt. D.A. sees debting as a disease similar to alcoholism that can be cured with solvency, which means abstinence from any new debt. Since individuals are trying to control their lives with addictive debting, D.A. offers a regimented program of surrender and recovery, a program with a spiritual emphasis. Individual debtors work through the steps of the program with a sponsor, a more experienced member of the group, using newly acquired tools in conjunction with the steps.

Simplicity circles can be a helpful support to shopaholics, although the shopping addiction problems are not dealt with as directly as in the various therapies for shopping addiction or Debtors Anonymous. What simplicity circles do have to offer is a forum: a place to gather with others to discuss personal transformation and the satisfactions of living a simpler life. The caring atmosphere and the discussion of how to create a more fulfilling life is a healthy way to meet some of the principal needs that a shopaholic seeks to meet in shopping.

Shopping addiction
treatment is still very much in a formative stage. Society, advertising, and the media all conspire against the cultivation of true wealth, which cannot be quantified in a financial balance sheet but must instead be felt and sensed: self-esteem, family, friendships, a sense of community, health, education, creative pursuits, communion with nature. It is inner poverty, both emotional and spiritual, that is at the core of most shopping addictions. The acquisition of truth wealth is crucial to recovery.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Credit problems? Fix them yourself!!

No Need to worry...
You can do it yourself!!

Credit repair kits reveal an easy way on how to repair your credit and they make easier to learn how to manage your personal finances. The repair kit is a step by step consumer guide to restoring the financial soundness of your credit accounts. It contains detailed information on the importance of your credit stability and how to understand your credit history. Consequently, once you understood the process you should be able to fix any records on your credit files.
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These kind of kits has been designed to give you the knowledge on how to obtain copies of your credit reports which you are required to present to credit repair agencies in case of any inaccurate and wrong information to be removed. Also, professionally composed letters that aid in clarification of credit reports. Moreover, It discloses how to make a good an efficient budget, and last but not least, how to establish new credit terms and ways of paying off all debts and avoiding damning bankruptcy.

However, obtaining financial leverage cannot be achieved overnight, therefore the step by step guide has to be implemented for a certain period of time. You will have to be patient, organized and the expected results will be achieved. It's all a do it yourself program and so setting achievable goals and objectives is also an essential requirement.

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Overtime, these credit repair kits have been used and it's the most employed repairing system in the market today. Most legal issues on the financial services have not been yet exposed and many agencies have made money by offering services in this field. In order to be fair enough, there are certain items that probably you good be right going with credit repair services because of their complexity.

All in all,  magazines have reported the effectiveness of the credit repair kit. However, professional advice is always suggested.

The Credit Repair Organizations Act

Credit repair organizations must give you a copy of the “Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law” before you sign a contract. They also must give you a written contract that spells out your rights and obligations. Read these documents before you sign anything. And before signing, know that a credit repair company cannot:

* make false claims about their services
* charge you until they have completed the promised services
* perform any services until they have your signature on a written contract and have completed a three-day waiting period. During this time, you can cancel the contract without paying any fees.

Before you sign a contract, be sure it specifies:

* the payment terms for services, including the total cost
* a detailed description of the services the company will perform
* how long it will take to achieve the result
* any guarantees the company offer
* the company’s name and business address

Mr. Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for over a decade. He manages and is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" and co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you look like an ATM to your kids?

Do your kids sound like a begging machine?
Ideas on money making ideas for kids

Recently I sent my son to work for himself, I told him," I can no longer afford to take care of your weekly dates, hanging out with friends, and skateboard equipment." Times are tough out there for all of us and as much as I want for Lil Dangerfield to have fun, I noticed that he was spending in excess of 40-60 dollars a week. Not including money to eat and get back and forth to school. So I decided...Boy you are going to work.

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It's tough on all of us, even those who have not been laid off, the rising cost of living without the increase of pay has added stress. Our kids are just being exactly what they are, kids. We want to help them out but I feel maybe the best wy to help them out is by teaching them how to make money on there own. This will encourage Independence that they will need to use later in life.

Most kids are quite happy when they get some pocket money. They feel like a part of the adult world since they can make decisions on their own. However, parents are not there to give all the pocket money kids would like to spend. Kids also have to learn how to deal with money. Money is not for free and kids can learn a lot when they have to earn their own pocket money. Here are some money making ideas for kids.

Organize a flea market or swap meets. Many people have lots of stuff that they want to get rid of - some even have a whole basement full of stuff that can be sold elsewhere. It can be organized indoors or in front of your house. Smaller kids will need assistance from their parents. Bigger kids will be happy taking responsibility and doing everything on their own. You can give unwanted household items away and help your child "start" their business.

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Gather and sell collectibles. There are hundreds of types of collectibles. You will be amazed to know what strange stuff people collect. Kids, who can research the Internet like no one else, can find places where they can find and sell collectibles. eBay is a good place to start with. This money making idea won't cost you more than a couple of dollars and can bring a pretty decent revenue if you have a good source for collectibles.

Being a tutor. Kids can tutor smaller children. If your kid is good in a field like math, for example, he can teach lower grades. At least for math, there is always some other kid who needs a good tutor. This is also a boast for his self-esteem.

Whatever your kid chooses to do, be sure to support him or her in it. There are many more ideas, this is just a brief overview of different ideas for kids to start to become entrepreneurs.

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Mr. Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for over a decade. He manages and is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" and co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Are You Planned For A Break up?

Manage your money, survive divorce or widowhood, and plan for retirement.

Though men and women are more similar than different when it comes to managing money, there are a handful  of personal finance challenges that are unique to women. From staying on top of your personal finance situation (whether you are single or partnered) to surviving a divorce or the death of your spouse to planning for a longer life, women should learn how to prepare for a financially secure future.
Be Actively Involved in Your Finances

Studies reveal that many women are insecure about managing money. Many others are too willing to take a backseat approach to their finances, allowing someone else -- a husband, partner, or parent -- to take control. Whatever your age, marital status, or level of financial knowledge, you can't afford to remain in the dark about your money.
Here's how to take charge.

Take a Hands-on Approach

One of the greatest threats to your financial well being, particularly when you are part of a couple, is not being directly involved in financial tasks and the decision-making process. Some of the things that can happen when a woman is uninvolved in the couple's finances include finding out after her partner leaves or dies that she is deeply in debt or that savings are inadequate to sustain her in retirement. In an acrimonious split, an estranged spouse or partner could drain accounts before you could find them.

It's crucial that all women who are part of a couple know at least:

* what your joint assets are and where you have accounts
* what your joint debts are
* whether or not bills are current (being paid on time)
* whether or not you are behind on filing your tax returns or paying taxes
* what insurance policies you have
* where important financial records are kept
* where your safe deposit box and key are, and
* the usernames and passwords for online or phone access to accounts.

If someone is currently managing your money, insist on being included in all financial activities and decisions.
Expand Your Knowledge

If you're avoiding the things you should be doing -- budgeting, shopping for better interest rates, and investing, for example -- because you don't feel like you know how to manage your money, make it your goal to learn.

Here are some ways to gain financial planning knowledge:

Read articles and books.

There are enough books on personal finance to fill a small library. Make your first books ones that give a broad overview of personal finance, such as Personal Finance for Dummies, by Eric Tyson (Wiley), and The Busy Family's Guide to Money , by Sandra Block, Kathy Chu, and John Waggoner (Nolo).

Include in your reading list some books that are both informative and inspirational, such as Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny, by Suze Orman (Spiegel & Grau)Suze Orman's FICO® Kit Platinum. Once you have an understanding of the basics of personal finance, move on to books devoted to a single topic, such as insurance, investing, or retirement planning.

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Reputable personal finance and investing sites typically provide free information. Sites such as , offer visitors a huge collection of information, much of it geared toward those new to personal finance and investing., at, links visitors to hundreds of finance-related sites. There are also a number of personal finance blogs, whose authors give the subject a personal touch. Find them by doing an online search for "personal finance blogs."

Request free information.

All or most credit unions and investment companies offer members and prospective investors educational materials. Nonprofit credit counseling services also provide materials on budgeting, debt management, and saving. (Counseling is typically free. Visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, at, to find a counseling agency.) If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, the plan administrator should be able to provide you with information on investing and retirement planning.

Take a class.

Community colleges and university extensions sometimes offer personal finance classes. Credit counseling agencies typically offer free money management classes; if the agency is also a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, they are likely to offer first-time homebuyer classes, too.

Plan for Break-up,Divorce and Widowhood Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Depending on which statistics you read, approximately 50% of couples divorce and the average age of widowhood is 56. If you are part of a couple, you need to prepare for life without your partner.

Know your finances.

Do not wait until you are a widow or in the middle of a divorce or break up to figure out what you have, what you owe, and where everything is.

Establish a credit history in your own name.

Establish credit accounts and loans jointly, or open some individual accounts in your own name. If you divorce and resume using your maiden name, and you and your husband had a good credit rating, notify creditors and the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Get Equifax Credit Watch Gold 3-in-1 Now!, Experian, at, and Transunion, at of the change.

Check your credit reports each year for mistakes or unusual activity; you're entitled to a free one from each credit reporting agency every 12 months. (To learn more about credit reports, how to get them, and how to establish good credit, read Mr. Dangerfield's article about Credit Scoring.)

Make sure assets are in your name, too.

Your home, investments, and other assets should be in both names. This is particularly important if you don't live in a community property state, or if there might be a question about whose money purchased the asset.

Know what policies and accounts name you as beneficiary.

This would include, among other things, life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Not knowing who to notify if your mate dies could mean losing out on significant income or benefits.

Discuss life insurance.

An adequate policy could allow you to keep your home and maintain your lifestyle if your partner dies. A "term" life insurance policy (one that provides protection for a specified period of time -- say, ten years) can provide a lot of coverage for a relatively low premium -- if it is purchased while the insured is still relatively young and healthy. (To learn more about life insurance, Read Mr. Dangerfield's article "Are You Taking Care of your children?Aboujt insurance policies here.)

Have an emergency fund.

Some experts advise women to put away some cash in their name only. Whether or not you let your partner know about it is up to you.

Remain employable.

Women who become divorced or widowed often have to reenter the workforce, but their prospects and income may be limited if they don't have marketable skills and experience. To remain employable, keep up with advances in workplace technology. And consider working part-time, even if you don't have to.

As uncomfortable as it may be to think about divorce, breakup or the death of a mate while you are still happily joined, doing so can help you avoid a dramatic change in lifestyle after your partner is gone.

Plan for Longevity

On average, women outlive men by six to eight years, and many women live decades longer than their mate. But rather than planning for longer life, many women are not saving enough. According to a recent study, women invest more conservatively, start saving later, are more likely to be in and out of the workforce, and on average earn less than men -- all factors that reduce retirement income.

To avoid outliving their money, women must manage their finances with a longer life expectancy and perhaps lower earnings in mind.

Establish Your Own Retirement Plan

Even if you have a partner who assures you that he or she is saving enough for both of you, implement your own retirement plan. Depending on your employment situation, do one or more of the following:

* Invest earlier. Start investing as soon as you can. If you begin investing just 2 years earlier, you will increase your nest egg by 18%.

* Max out contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k). At the very least, invest more than you currently do.

* Don't cash out your 401(k) when you leave a job. Doing so forfeits 20% or more of the account's value in taxes and another 10% in an early withdrawal fee.

* Establish a Keogh, solo 401(k), or SEP IRA if you are self-employed. Contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA, if you qualify. Establish a spousal IRA if you do not have earned income and meet other qualifications.

* Take advantage of catch-up provisions that allow you to save more than the usual maximum if you are age 50 or older.

* Delay retirement. Working two more years can increase projected retirement income by 135%.

Consult a financial adviser for help choosing the best retirement plan for your situation.

Mr. Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for over a decade. He manages and is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" and co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Do You Feel Money Is Shortening Your Life?

 Need A Change In Life?

Yesterday I had a conversation with a good friend of mine in which I realized the impact of stress has on our life. The responsibility when you are the sole financial provider, the impact of being there for our close ones in need, and when you finally snap, because you are unable to be everything for everybody all the time, the guilt causes a reaction that are accented by the high stress level you are feeling. Being pulled in too many directions continuously.

Stress is normal. Everyone feels stress related to work, family, decisions, your future, and more. Stress is both physical and mental. It is caused by major life events such as illness, the death of a loved one, a change in responsibilities or expectations at work, and job promotions, loss, or changes. Flight DealsSmaller, daily events also cause stress, for example a colleague who mutters 'negatives' under their breath or a team member late each day. This stress is not as apparent to us, but it can 'irk' us and the the constant and cumulative impact of small stressors can add up to a big impact.

When it comes to your health, you probably focus a lot on eating correctly and getting exercise.
But what you may not realize is that your daily stress can seriously affect the way your body functions. 

Problems such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke are brought on more seriously when you undergo frequent stress.

Stress causes several things to happen in the body.  It can increase your heart rate and your blood pressure.  This causes stress on your heart – the body’s hardest working muscle.  Stress can also alter the levels of hormones in your body.

The hormone cortisol is increased when you undergo stress.  Cortisol can cause problems such as increased weight gain and weight gain around the midsection of your body.  This type of weight gain can cause problems by putting even more physical stress on your heart and make you feel uncomfortable joint pain.

Stress can also give you sleepless nights.  Instead of falling gently into a restful sleep, you may find yourself tossing and turning all night long.  When you finally do fall asleep, you may have problems staying that way.

When your body is sleep deprived, you’re more like to gain weight, have difficulty concentrating, and reduce the success with which you complete daily tasks such as driving.

And while you have physical symptoms from stress that can lead you to have physical health problems, stress is even more noticeable when it comes to your mental and social health.  Stress can cause problems such as anxiety and depression that prevent you from taking charge of a situation and improving your health.

You can also have problems with money stress interfering with your friendships and family relationships.  This is sometimes a result of irritability that causes discord in your relationships.  But stress can also cause you to withdraw yourself and become more isolated.

All in all, stress from money problems has a debilitating effect on your health.  Wellness takes place when you are physically, mentally, and socially healthy.  And when any one of those areas is affected, your overall health decreases.  Money stress is one of those problems that can affect all three types of health and really put you at risk for major problems.

If money stress is affecting your health, it’s not a good idea to ignore it.  In fact, the more you let it go the bigger your problems will be.  When you have stress, you need to address it as soon as possible.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do you have trouble staying within your budget?

Living For Today...But What About Tomorrow?
We spend alot of time living for today, and with the stress of life, sometimes it feels impossible to get ahead and plan.
Do you feel hopless, Do you know that you can plan but it's a pain to write down a BUDGET? I'm the same way and that is why I started using software to keep track for me.

Nolo’s Financial First Aid Kit 2009 is an all-in-one personal finance resource that includes 10 personal finance tools you can start using immediately. It will help you solve urgent debt and credit problems, reach your money goals and generate more income. 

Here’s what you get inside: Credit Repair ebook, The New Bankruptcy ebook, Foreclosure Survival Guide ebook, Money Coach personal financial education software, The Small Business Start-Up Kit ebook, the eBay Business Kit ebook, Home Business Tax Deductions ebook, Stopping Identity Theft ebook, The Busy Family’s Guide to Money ebook, Your Little Legal Companion book and audio excerpts from The Busy Family’s Guide to Money audio book and audio excerpts from Stopping Identity Theft audio book.

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  • Financial Fist-Aid Kit 2009

  • A Personal Finance Resource

  • Nolo

  • Solve urgent debt and credit problems

  • Get out of debt now

  • Save money on taxes

  • Know your options

  • Get a bank loan

  • Learn how bankruptcy wipes out debt

  • Keep your job, freedom and self respect

  • Negotiate a workout

  • Create a personalized money plan and learn to:
  • Successfully manage your money

  • Pay for education

  • Plan for major life changes

  • Save for an enjoyable retirement

  • Use forms and calculators

  • Increase your income

  • Launch a business with confidence

  • Write an effective business plan

  • Reduce taxes by knowing and taking all the deductions you deserve

  • Live links to resources on eBay and related sites

  • Write off health insurance and medical bills

  • Stay on good terms with the IRS

  • Simple Budget Software Coupled with a Powerful Money Management Methodology 

    The You Need Budget Software


    Rule One: Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

    We want you to work toward living on last month’s income. Both the software and methodology will help you do just that.
    Why? You’ll find breathing room. You’ll stop wasting time by timing paychecks with bills, and if you’re on a variable income, your budgeting “problem” will be eliminated.


    Rule Two: Give Every Dollar a Job

    Each month you assign your Available dollars to spending/savings categories. This process takes 20 minutes and revolutionizes the way you think about your money.
    Why? Dollars need to be told what to do. Your awareness will increase tremendously and you’ll find contentment as your spending aligns itself with your core values. Communication between spouses is restored. Redeem Coupon LASTMIN10-Save up to 50% plus a $10 off on all Last Minute Hotel bookings on


    Rule Three: Save for a Rainy Day

    You’ll anticipate larger, less-frequent expenses and will be ready for them. Insurance premium due in six months for $600? Save $100 each month and watch the Car Insurance balance grow.
    Why? Eliminate the crazy ups and downs in your life. Gain a true picture of your discretionary income. Enjoy opening the mail again (the money will be there waiting to pay that bill).


    Rule Four: Roll with the Punches

    The key is to keep moving even when you fail (you will). YNAB will make small adjustments when you overspend, ensuring that you fix those mistakes before you go to the next month.
    Why? It keeps you on your budgeting feet, so when you fail, you don’t quit. You start each month with a clean slate–a huge psychological boost. Shop Today for Special Online Exclusive Offers from Rocawear!

    I feel that these are both good choices for those of us who can't spend 500 dollars on Software for the household budget


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    The Film Every High School Student Should See...

    Maxed Out....The book and film discusses the role of banks, of government, and of consumers in creating an industry that is, in the words of Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, “obscenely profitable”.

    Credit Card Debt-It is affecting and some would say vexing the lives of multitudes of U.S. consumers during this economic downturn. Surely the country as a whole will pull out of this slump and rebound strongly as it always does. Yet in the meantime, credit card debt and the ways and means of debt relief are understandably on the minds of many.

    How did we arrive at this juncture? There is much blame to be spread around. One could make the argument that the state of the economy in recession is to blame for the scenario. One could make the argument that the credit card issuers share much of the blame for the rise in credit card debt today. And one could also make the argument that the consumers themselves need to shoulder much of if not most of the blame for credit card debt becoming the issue that it has. In any case, we should look for solutions to the problem.

    Maxed Out peeks into all corners of the credit industry. It shows us borrowers and lenders, payday lenders and pawnbrokers, commentators and collection agents.

    We meet Chris and Bob, for example, the owners of People First, a Minneapolis debt collection agency. They claim their company takes a kinder, gentler approach, but then gleefully compare their tactics to those used by pirates. We also meet Lynn Stavert, a California woman whose husband recently died, leaving her unable to make the $4,000/month mortgage payment. (She used credit card cash advances for a while before giving up.) The various stories illustrate how our lifestyles have become thickly entangled with easy credit.

    The film notes that lenders make money from poor credit risks. Banks don’t give you credit because they think you can repay it — they give you credit because they think you can’t. The film-makers follow an investigative reporter as he visits the Browns, a poor family in Aberdeen, Mississippi. John, the eldest son in the family, is 44 and severely retarded. The Browns had a low-interest government subsidized mortgage. A saleswoman from CitiFinancial convinced John to replace that loan with a longer, higher-interest product the family cannot afford. She led John to believe that the loan would benefit the family. She then helped him to sign his name to the contract in big block letters.

    Maxed Out should be required viewing for young adults. People often complain about the lack of financial education in our schools — this film would be enlightening for many high school and college students. After watching it several times, I’m more convinced than ever to avoid credit. When I’ve paid off my debt a year from now, I will carry my mortgage. That’s it. I’ll even try to purchase my next vehicle with cash.