Archive for November, 2014

ID Thieves Love the Holidays Too

Posted on November 26, 2014 by Saldutti

Our shopping habits put us at greater risk for identity theft during the holidays. We’re doing more shopping online, using our debit cards more frequently, and even applying for new lines of credit to snap up special offers. This all leads to one thing: greater exposure to identity thieves.  We’re also busy – and distracted with the holiday hustle and bustle.  According to Alexis Moore, author of Cyber Self-Defense, “predators are hoping you do get sidetracked. That opens the door for them to steal your identity with the click of a mouse.”  The threat of identity theft is real, but…

Quick Ways to Make Some Extra Holiday Money

Posted on November 25, 2014 by Saldutti

We want the holidays to be as stress-free as possible, so the Penny Hoarder blog has put together a list of 10 ways you can bank some extra cash.  Just take 2 hours and complete everything on this list and you’ll be $628 richer. 1. Open A Bank Account at Nationwide (Earnings: $200) – The fine folks over at Nationwide bank are offering $200 in cash if you open a checking account with them today!  By opening a new checking account, you’ll not only make a little extra cash, but it will give you a separate place to save for…

Financial Firms Boost Cyber-Security Budgets

Posted on November 24, 2014 by Saldutti

Hundreds of U.S. financial companies are ramping up spending to combat hackers following attacks this summer on J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and at least a dozen other firms.  Financial-services companies plan to bolster their cybersecurity budgets by about $2 billion over the next two years, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.  Spending this year on protecting networks and other cybersecurity efforts will total $4.1 billion, according to PwC’s survey of banks, insurers, money managers and other companies. The spending increases represent accelerated efforts to keep hackers out and a realization that previous efforts haven’t been sufficient.  The increased…

Credit Score Measures More Than Your Financial Health

Posted on November 21, 2014 by Saldutti

Credit scores – those pesky 3-digit numbers that dictate where you can live, what job you can get, even what cellphone plan you can purchase – are so intimately intertwined with our lives.  A credit score can say a lot more about a person than just giving a snapshot of of their financial stability. The scores can even be used to describe how healthy a person is, according to a report published by the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers looked at a comprehensive study of more than 1,000 people in New Zealand, whose lives had been tracked from the time they were born,…

Bank Branches are Fading Away

Posted on November 20, 2014 by Saldutti

Bank branch closures are heading for a record year as the industry trims down and services get increasingly electronic.  Institutions have shut 2,599 branches in 2014 against 1,137 openings, a net loss of 1,462 that is just off 2013’s record full-year total of 1,487, according to SNL Financial. The move brings total U.S. branches down to 94,752, a decline of 1.5%. The trend, which has branches at their lowest aggregate level in at least 8 years, has come about due to a plethora of reasons: A surge in mergers and acquisitions, primarily concentrated in regional banks but recently spreading to…

On the Up and Up: Credit Scores are Rising

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Saldutti

The average U.S. consumer credit score increased 2 points from 2013, according to Experian’s Fifth Annual State of Credit study. Americans have an average 666 VantageScore 3.0, up from 664 last year, on a scale of 300 to 850. That’s generally considered fair credit. With this increase in score came an increase in consumer debt, up 2.3% to $28,496 per person (that’s credit card debt, auto loans, personal loans and student loans). On the flip side, mortgage originations are down 39% from last year, with only one in every 79 households getting new home loans. Experian also analyzed average credit…

'Twas the Fight Before Christmas …

Posted on November 17, 2014 by Saldutti

During the holidays, we want our families to get along, our gifts to impress, and our meals to amaze. In other words, our expectations soar to unrealistic heights.  That’s why it’s so easy to fall into family feuds and money fights this time of year. But what if you could stop the drama before it begins? Best-selling author and syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey suggests that families have these 5 conversations now, before they turn into full-blown money battles later on. 1. Family Visits and Travel Expenses – Everyone expects you to come for a visit. Yet they’ve all scheduled…

Debt Collectors Might Be Calling Your Nana

Posted on November 14, 2014 by Saldutti

Gripes about debt collectors are the most common complaint filed by older Americans, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  Collection gripes are roughly 1 out of every 3 complaints the bureau gets from seniors.  Confusion over medical bills, attempts to collect debts of deceased family members, and illegal threats of garnishing federal benefits like Social Security top the list. “It is increasingly common for older Americans to carry debts into their retirement years, and consumers living on fixed incomes often struggle to pay off these debts,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.  Unprofessional collectors badger consumers who are in…

The Rebirth of Big Banks

Posted on November 13, 2014 by Saldutti

It’s been nearly six years since the bankruptcy of financial giant Lehman Brothers, an event that triggered a chain reaction of Chapter 11 filings from some of the biggest banks on Wall Street and pulled the country into the Great Recession. More than half a decade out, as the country limps to recovery, it’s understandable that many are still wary of big banks. In spite of this, public opinion is shifting – particularly among the wealthy as we learned in yesterday’s post.  A recent Nielsen survey found that the reputation of big banks has improved significantly in the last several…