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The horror stories about credit cards are real. Far too many people have used them irresponsibly and dug themselves a deep, deep financial hole that takes years or decades to get out of. But those unfortunate tales shouldnt overshadow the very real fact that credit cards have revolutionized how we live, arguably doing for commerce what the automobile did for travel and what the mobile phone has done for communications. Just imagine the pre-credit card days when travel, shopping or going to a restaurant meant carrying around a wallet full of cash or travelers checks.

These days, in the wake of the financial crisis – which both spawned tougher regulations and prompted banks to be circumspect...

One of the most effective ways to rebuild your credit history is to establish good credit through the responsible use of a low-interest credit card. This is not to say that if you have a credit card and you pay what you owe promptly and consistently your credit will be rebuilt fast, its a gradual process.

There is no quick remedy for damaged credit. However, you can choose to commit to responsible personal-finance management to avoid or minimize your chances of being in the same situation again.

Much has been written about the effectiveness of secured credit cards to rebuild credit. A secured credit card has a fixed credit limit and is linked to a savings account. As financially...

Homeownership is unaffordable in some of the biggest and most popular US cities. So says the new edition of an annual study that looks at how the cost of buying a home stacks up against income and expenses in various metro areas.

The study by Interest.com looks at city-specific data on median home prices, incomes and expenses such as property taxes and insurance.

A median-income household can afford a median-priced home in only 10 of the 25 largest US metro areas, says Interest.com, which is owned by Bankrate.com (NYSE:RATE).

Swetz Clarence resident Darren M. Swetz has joined Tully Rinckey PLLC as a partner in the firms Buffalo office. He joins Tully Rinckey from Kelly amp; Swetz, LLP in Williamsville, where he was the managing partner.

Swetz will significantly expand Tully Rinckey PLLCs real estate and trusts and estates practice areas. He will be overseeing legal matters tied to these practice areas statewide for Tully Rinckey clients. Swetz will also manage business law, consumer bankruptcy and elder law legal matters for clients throughout Western New York.

In addition, Swetz is bringing to Tully Rinckey a number of staff members who have worked with him for many years.

Mathew B. Tully,...

Alston Bird partner Jason Watson and chair of the firm’s Bankruptcy, Workouts Reorganization Group has been selected as a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy.

Watson has more than 15 years of experience representing secured lenders in pre-bankruptcy workouts and Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. In addition to advising several food franchisors in the acquisition of additional stores out of bankruptcy, he has counseled numerous other companies spanning a broad range of industries, including real estate, manufacturing and telecommunications industries.

A frequent speaker and author on a variety of bankruptcy-related topics, Watson is a co-author of the Bankruptcy...

Confessions of an ex-car salesman

Im a disgruntled ex-car-sales guy. Which means I know all the gimmicks car-sales guys and dealerships use to increase their profits.

My intention here is to help people negotiate better car deals by having more tools available when they walk onto a dealership lot.

Here are the tricks of the trade that make it hard for consumers to negotiate the best price on a car; knowing how to counter them will give you the skills to win the game.

Car dealerships make their highest profit in five primary ways:

bull; by staying as close to the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) as possible;

bull; by under-allowing on the trade-in;

bull;...

How I Blew It When Buying a Second Home

ELEANOR BLAYNEY: Hindsight is always 20/20, whereas foresight can be pretty blurry.

Even certified financial planning professionals make financial blunders they wish they could do over.  In my case, I would have bought more Apple stock in 2003, and sold less of it in 2008.

I would have opted for a high-deductible health insurance policy five years earlier than I did and thereby accumulated $20,000 more in my health savings plan than I have now. I would have mortgaged my last home purchase instead of paying cash and put more money in stock investments.

But these are pretty trivial “woulda, coulda, shoudas” in the grand scheme of things. None of them represented...

How To Use A Secured Card To Rebuild Your Credit

Who among us hasn’t needed a second chance? Or a first opportunity? For the millions of Americans who were battered by the Great Recession and came out of it with a tattered credit score, plus the legions of young people who haven’t had a chance to earn and spend money wisely, these are not abstract questions.

Even though the emergence of financial products like prepaid debit cards have made it easier to get some of the ease and benefits of plastic, solid credit still matters. Try to buy a house or a car and you’ll quickly learn how important it is. If you have bad or no credit, you’ll be turned down for a loan or offered an ugly interest rate.

This is where...

Seek help early, unsecured credit borrowers urged

Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) is bracing itself for what could be a deluge of requests for help next June, when new rules on unsecured loans come into effect.

The organisation, which helps debtors come up with repayment plans, says it is planning to hire more staff and upgrade its IT systems for the potential influx.

New central bank rules state that if someone owes money on an unsecured loan, such as a credit card, and does not pay even the minimum sum for more than 60 days, he will not get further unsecured credit from that bank.

The minimum payment is normally $50 or 3 per cent of the amount owed, whichever is higher.

Other banks will also be barred from...

Take, for instance, recent research on Oregons Medicaid program. A team of researchers found that people given access to Medicaid were more likely to be diagnosed and treated for diabetes and depression. Or consider a recent study of the 2007 Massachusetts health care reform. Researchers found that being covered by Medicaid can lower the risk of dying.

But an expansion of Medicaid might do more than just improve health.  Medicaid coverage can have some surprising, positive side-effects. Along with another researcher, Matt Notowidigdo, I studied the effect of Medicaid on consumer bankruptcy. Families declare bankruptcy when they are overwhelmed with debt. In exchange for their assets, a bankruptcy...