Category Archives: Finance

Refinancing: Is it Right for You in 2010?

Your home is your castle, and probably your biggest investment. Thinking of refinancing the castle? Refinancing simply means having a mortgage on a home and applying for a second loan to pay off the first. This new mortgage might be attractive to a homeowner if he is going to end up with lower monthly expenses or extra money in his pocket. Refinancing runs parallel to applying for a home loan. Credit is checked and debt ratio is examined. According to Chris George, CEO and founder of CMG Mortgage, $2.1 trillion in mortgages originated in 2009 with that number expected to fall to about $1.35 trillion in 2010. 45% of that share will go to refinancing. There are several reasons why a person might choose to refinance in 2010.

Lower Payments

Interest rates are historically low right now, and Mr. George affirms that the vast majority of refinancing in 2009 was specifically targeted toward the acquisition of lower payments. He set up this scenario for a conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an average $300,000 balance. A typical interest rate reduction would be 7.5% to 5%. Such a cutback would lower a mortgage payment from $2097.64 to $1610.46.

Tap Home Equity

Chris says that approximately one-third of the refinances in 2009 were cash-outs, nowhere near levels reached when property values rose. Yet many clients still want to extract money for home improvements, especially energy efficient ones. More often than not, however, mortgagees are seeking debt consolidation.

Change Mortgage Products

Ethan Ewing, president of believes that refinancing from an adjustable rate loan and locking into a fixed rate in this interest environment makes sense. He says that even though the adjustable mortgage rates may well be lower right now, they will rise again and A.R.M.’s will quickly leapfrog the low fixed rates.

Shorten Loan Length

Chris George maintains that home equity has shrunk considerably with falling property values; therefore, borrowers are looking for unique ways to build equity. Paying down mortgages more quickly could be an alternate solution. Refinancing your mortgage from 30 to 15 years can eliminate thousands of interest dollars, making you a homeowner sooner rather than later. Not many occasions are as invigorating as a mortgage burning party!

Leigh Lester Holmes, Housing Program Manager of CESI Debt Solutions tells me, “This is a great time to refinance because rates are low and lenders are hungry for the business. Refinance before rates go back up…but be sure to negotiate!”

Tackling Finances After Christmas: A Game Plan for Getting on Track

Christmas will come and go. It’s a reality. If you’ve spent the holiday running up your credit card bill, pay day is coming. Maybe you’re just in a financial mess altogether, and you know it’s time to make a change. Starting the new year off right could mean all the difference in the world. Here are some tips to getting your money right after Christmas.

Determine what your debts are. This is probably the first and most important thing you should do after Christmas. If you’ve been using your credit cards during the holiday your balances have increased. Your minimum payments have also increased. It’s time to sit down and figure out exactly what you owe. Make a list of all your debts. I like the idea of listing them from smallest to largest. Determine what your total debt is and then post your list somewhere where it will be visible.

Establish an emergency fund. Many people struggle because they have no savings. Now that Christmas has passed save up a nest egg for a rainy day. Even if it’s just a few hundred dollars, having an emergency fund will give you some space between you and ‘life.’ If an emergency comes up, and they will, you won’t have to rely on your credit card to get you though. Add to you fund as you began to see traction on your goal of getting out of debt.

Stop using credit cards. If you want to get your finances together, you’ve got to commit yourself to stop using credit cards. At least for a period of time you’ve got to stop buying things on credit. When your money is ‘right’ then you may be able to use credit again moderation. But if you want to get your finances together, you’ve got to stop using credit for a period of time.

Start paying off your debts. Now that you have some money saved up, and you’ve committed to stop using credit, lets start paying off your debts. There are lots of ways to approach this. One theory says pay off the smallest debts first. Another theory says pay off the card with the highest interest rate first. As long as you are paying something off, who really cares? Just get busy getting rid of the debts!

Begin thinking long term. You’ve got to think about more than just the immediate future. How will you develop bigger savings? What are your plans for retirement savings? What will you do for making major purchases like cars, houses and major household items. You’ve got to think into the future to avoid reverting back to your old and bad habits. A lack of a plan for the future, could send you back into a land of debt.

Make this the year that you get your money together after Christmas. Don’t let your new year continue on a downward financial spiral.

How to Look Rich When Leading a Paycheck-to-Paycheck Lifestyle

The economy is crashing with lightning speed, and your bills are overwhelming with shut-off notices every few days. You juggle the finances as fast as you can to keep everything running smoothly. You live paycheck to paycheck while trying to keep up with the Joneses, and little do you know it probably means they are about to file for bankruptcy!

But do not fret for there are ways to appear in a class of your own, living the life of the rich and silent with a few well placed stories and good front. Like putting lipstick on a pig, you are going to look a lot better than you truly are! No one will realize the trouble you have at night when you try to fall asleep. The bills will fly through the air mocking you only in your dreams while neighbors and friends will envy your smart investments.

Your home, your car and your appearance will appearance will mask the poverty under the cushions and the car the barely keeps going. They will never know how close you are to becoming homeless because you carry yourself with confidence, a winners smile and the greatest fantasy of all time. You are a credit to all who walk the line of defeat against the odds and just keep walking no matter what.

Your fa├žade help you to face each new money crisis and as you watch your savings very slowly grow until one day you can finally move to easy street. But first you present fantasy of wealth, happiness and good taste in the face of financial ruin. Never show the stress and never admit failure!

  1. If you drive an older car and it’s paid off you have already won half the battle! How? No car payment and for the little extra you can change it’s appearance and history. No matter what kind of car you drive make sure you have a decent paint job on it and a high polish. Invest in some nice hub caps to make it a beautiful “vintage” auto.

Brag to everyone you just love the year and make of your car and it was a great find at the right time. If you appear to love the car for it’s year, make and model and it’s well cared for you are creating a history for it and yourself without anyone knowing you couldn’t afford a new car if it fell out of the sky! Adorn the inside with nice seat covers and hand made pillows to match . Shine every part you can. What a beauty it will be as your neighbors envy your good taste.

  1. Get a good hair cut. A good current style and a little hair gel goes a long way in convincing someone you only settle for the very best. Can’t afford to color your hair? You will let everyone know you believe in the wonderful and natural “you”! No amount of money or riches can make you better than you already are!
  2. Learn to sew! Make most of your own clothes with a touch here and there for a change in the pattern. Your story is you never buy off the rack unless it is very special or an emergency. YOUR clothes are all custom made by a new designer that will one day rule the walks of high end modeling. It’s your secret and you just cannot give the name for now. After all you will own the original designs of a future king or queen.
  3. Your home needs to be very well cared for even if it is a basic lawn front yard. Use a few well placed decorations, a rock collection and a few solar lights for effect. Make sure the outside front of the house has a nice paint job and good trim. Your story is this is just your little investment until you decide where you want to build your “dream” home. Keep it simple and keep it trimmed.
  4. Make your decoration simple and few. This is the least expensive way to decorate and looks the most elegant. Buy a few nice pieces of glass from retail outlet stores at a low price, but make sure you always relay they were purchased at full price. Add a few plants, candles and mirrors, family pictures in nice frames you can get at thrift stores and resale shops. Always decorate in groupings.
  5. If your furniture is on the older side this is where learning to sew will come in really handy. A couch cushion can have stuffing or foam added to it for extra firmness. Cover all your basic pieces with good, matching cloth. Sew it to custom fit each piece and add several large, overstuffed matching pillows in the same color and a few complimentary colors.

While at the machine make decorations for your home with small amounts of finer cloth such as small pillows and stuffed animals. Place on various pieces of furniture. Even lampshades can be made to match the rest of the room for that designer touch. Very chic, very modern and very cost worthy to those living a on a non-exsistent budget.

  1. Eat cheap when dining with just the family. But when you serve company and need to keep up appearances buy chicken and inexpensive white wine to cook it in. Serve with very little fresh vegetables and an unusual bread you can get from any deli or bakery section of your grocery store. Serve any left over wine from an inexpensive decanter you pick up at an under price store or thrift shop. For desert serve slices of frozen pound cake with strawberries and a good coffee. The effect is to look rich without spending a lot of money.
  2. Now you must be wondering how to serve such fine fare on your plain everyday dishes. You can’t afford a set of good china, but you can buy pieces of good china cheaply at thrift stores. The trick is to make sure every piece is different and tell your guest you planned it that way. It makes a beautiful setting on china most people will never eat off of again anywhere in there simple lives! Make sure your table is covered with a light weight table cloth and one single flower in the center. The vase can be from a dollar store or an empty, but well labeled perfume bottle you have found on your search through antique shops.
  3. Do not be afraid to go to consignment shops and look for labels or good quality items for much less money than new. It is good for appearances and for the budget. If you like jewelry choose costume pieces from an earlier era. Make sure they are clean because it is another one of your collections you are willing to share the beauty of with the common people. Following these simple suggestions will make you feel rich and prepare you for the day you are in a class of wealth like no other.
  4. If you work a job that cannot be disguised from others then you are only working in the position because you are a silent partner in the corporation and this is your way of making sure your investment is safe and know what makes the employee’s and customer’s happy. You must stay connected with the classes that spend the money for maximum profit and future improvements. Sounds good doesn’t it!

If the day never comes and your dreams are in a small neighborhood of a small but fine home, then at least you will have lived the fantasy just for the fun of it. So many of us do not live a life of luxury, but sometimes just a few fine items or the appearance of good taste gets us through the day and to the next paycheck. If you feel truly poor just remember you are not alone.

The next time one of your neighbors look like they are able to afford the very best while you try to figure out how to keep the power on, remember they may have read this article. Have fun, appear rich, enjoy the fantasy, but always be nice to those less fortunate. Because they may one day be nice to you when you need a shoulder to cry on or a hug to face the rest of the day.

Tips on Auto Finance

If you must finance your next vehicle, here are some tips.

You will want to find the lowest interest rate possible. This research can easily be done online faster than making the phone calls to different banks.

Auto dealers can provide financing for you, this way you can do all of the paperwork in one place. Keep in mind they receive a commission for this, so it may help in your negotiation process.

There are different finance programs for different credit categories.

Put as much money down on the vehicle as possible. This will help keep your payment low. Also keep in mind, if the vehicle happens to be in an accident and is not repairable, the lower your balance the more likely to have the loan paid in full by your insurance company.

If you have bad credit or no credit at all, you will want to shop around to maximize your options. A special finance company may be willing to finance the vehicle for you if you have at least 10% down. If you do not have a very large down payment, you may need to seek out financing at a buy here pay here auto dealership. Ask and make sure they report to the credit bureau. If so, this will help you re-establish or establish credit. If you must go this route, it is a good idea to purchase gap insurance.

Keep in mind automobiles depreciate. So as time goes by you want the value of your vehicle to be more than the balance on your auto loan. Any extra payment you can make toward your balance will help the principal decrease.

If you miss a payment on your vehicle you will end up paying more interest in the long run, because interest is accrued daily. Therefore, you will not have your loan paid in full by the end of the term. Most finance companies also charge a late fee if you go beyond a grace period of usually 10 to 15 days. If you must pay late, pay within the grace period.

To calculate your daily interest, take your loan balance, multiply by your interest rate and divide by 365 days. For example, if your loan balance is $10,000 and your interest rate is 10 percent, you would multiply 10,000 x .10 = 1000. Then divide 1000 by 365 days, which is $2.74. This gives you a much better idea of how much of your payment is going to interest and how much interest you will be paying over the term of an auto loan. So any additional payment you can make toward principal really helps.

The New Income Tax Slabs for the Financial Year 2008-2009 in India

The financial year in India starts from 1st April every year in India. The finance minister of India presents the budget for the next fiscal year on every last day of February. The budget for the financial year 2008-2009 was accordingly presented by the finance minister of India on 29th February, 2008, applicable for the financial year 2008-2009. Each and every Indian had his eyes riveted on this budget as it was very likely that the income tax slabs would be reduced considerably, thus, helping the poor and middle class people of India. This expectation proved very right and lot of relief was offered in the income tax slabs. We would discuss this relief in details but prior to that, it is perhaps mandatory to know the past rates of the income tax and then, compare it with the new rates of the next financial year.

The earlier tax structure was nil income tax till the annual taxable income as Rs.110,000, 10% income tax between the income slab of Rs.1,10,000 and Rs.1,50,000, 20% income tax between the income slab of Rs.1,50,000 and Rs. 2,50,000, and finally, 30% income tax between the income range of Rs.2,50,000 and above. The additional education tax of 3% of the tax payable was also levied. Some selected investments like PPF, govt. mutual funds, bonds of some special types etc. were considered tax free up to Rs.1,00,000. The senior citizens above the age of 65 years were allowed tax free income up to Rs.150000. The women were offered the tax free income up to Rs.175000. This was the existing scenario of the income tax structure for the financial year 2007-2008.

The new budget presented pleasant surprise to one and all as the income tax structure was changed drastically. The new income tax slabs applicable to financial year 2008-2009 are as narrated. There will be no income tax up to the income of Rs.150000. 10% income tax shall be payable between the income slab of Rs.150000 to Rs.250000, 20% income tax payable between the income slab of Rs.250000 to Rs.500000, and, finally, 30% income tax shall be payable above the income of Rs.500000. The 3% education tax on the income tax amount is kept unchanged by the finance minister. The tax free income limit is raised to Rs.210000 for all the senior citizens above the age of 65 years. The tax free limit of the income has been raised to Rs.225000 for all the women for the upcoming year. This new structure was welcomed very warmly by one and all as it would result in to financial benefits ranging from Rs.4000 to Rs.45000 annually in various income slabs. For example, the persons having annual income of Rs.150000 would have the yearly benefit of Rs.4000. Accordingly, the persons having annual income of Rs.300000 would be benefited by Rs.19000 yearly. The persons having annual income of Rs.500000 would derive yearly benefit of Rs.39000. You can work out your own financial benefits based on these new income tax slabs. The additional education tax of 3% on the income tax payable is kept unchanged for this year also. Some selected investments like PPF, some mutual funds approved by govt., and various govt. bonds up to Rs.100000 are also considered tax free, same as per previous year. That means that if a person invests Rs.100000 in such funds, he would not be liable for any income tax payment till his annual income reaches Rs.250000.

This change is definitely considered very positive and would bring benefit to almost all the tax paying persons in India. Though, it is believed that these benefits are given due to the fourth coming elections in 2009 in India. Whatever may be the reasons, most of the people of India shall be benefited by this new tax structure and would certainly give their blessings to the present ruling government, particularly to Mr.Chindambaram, the finance minister of India.

Braces Cost and How to Finance Orthodontia

For kids and adults with crooked teeth or crowded jaws, orthodontics is a medical procedure that corrects misaligned teeth. Orthodontics and braces can be quite expensive and while many dental plans do have a lifetime limit of $1000 for orthodontics, this sum barely covers the cost of the initial work. With braces and orthodontia averaging anywhere from $3500 to $6000 depending on the type of work needed, families have to find some way of financing the difference.

Fortunately, there are several different ways that a family can finance the costs of braces and orthodontia. Here’s what we discovered over 11 years (and three kids) worth of orthodontic work.

In-house finance plan. Many orthodontists will let families set up some kind of monthly payment plan. How this usually works is that the office will bill the dental insurance for the $1000 lifetime limit, and then divide the remaining payments over the estimated term of the treatment. To use as an example, for a treatment that will span three years, the payments will be calculated over the three years.

What’s important to note is that some orthodontists will charge interest on the balance owed while others have interest free plans. If your orthodontist’s office charges interest, then consider shopping the competition for better terms.

Finance company. We also discovered that some orthodontists won’t take payments at all, and ask that families finance the treatment through a finance company of the orthodontist’s choosing. The downside of this plan is the high interest rates (usually 18-23%) and having to qualify for the plan. If your credit is shaky, then this option probably won’t work.

Credit card. Some orthodontic offices will accept common credit cards such as Visa or Master Card. While charging braces on a credit card isn’t interest free, it’s a great way to rack up some frequent flier miles or coupons for merchandise. If this option works for you, be sure to ask first if the office accepts credit cards since many do not.

Home equity loan. If you have a home equity line of credit in place, this is a fantastic way of financing braces at a low interest rate. Home equity lines of credit are secured against your home and are ideal for small short term loans.

Start saving. While saving up for braces may seem like a wise move, your child’s teeth will continue to shift out of position and may cost more to repair in the long run. Waiting until enough money has been saved is an option that should be discussed with your child’s orthodontist first, since you may be doing more harm than good in delaying treatment.

How to Deal with Financial Stress in Your Life

Every month you tell yourself things will get better, but after a certain amount of time has passed you realize it may not. If your family or you are experiencing a downturn in your financial picture, it may time to decide to make some serious changes. Studies have showed that in the last recession of the 90’s a huge majority of those that got laid off, did not recover financially to what they made. By being proactive you may save yourself a serious financial crisis down the road.

Should You Stay or Go: If you have found yourself trying to find a job in the area you live in with little to no success, it may be time to relocate. Many families are finding themselves leaving cities they grew up in because jobs in their fields are just not readily available. Do some research regarding where the hot spots are right now for your type of employment. You may just have to move to keep a roof over your head.

Sell The House: We may be in the worst housing recession this country has ever seen, but there are still people buying homes everyday. You may have purchased your home based on how well you were doing in the past years, but now as the decrease or lack of income may be playing a role, selling that house may be a smart move. Many people try to hold onto their home hoping things will be ok. But there has to be a point agreed upon by all parties, that if things do not improve selling the home and renting something cheaper may be a good idea. Check out the surrounding area you live in for rentals and their rates. If you have a family, keeping your children in the same school district may be your goal. Minimizing the expense of maintaining a residence can help stretch the income even more. Remember, in the future you can always purchase a home again.

Discuss the Finances: Hiding the finances from the family is the worst thing you can do. By discussing it and letting everyone know that it is group effort, things much less stressful in the house. This is a time to teach your children a valuable lesson about the real world. Life is all about ups and downs.

Look at Cost Cutting: Major corporations do it everyday and even have whole departments devoted to reducing costs and expenses. The same should go for your household. Do the kids really need all those channels on cable? Can you do without the land line at home? Can cellphone costs be cut? How about combining trips with the car for errands or places the kids want to go? Less buying out lunch and more bagging? Let teens get a part time job for their extra money. They are less likely to spend it on impulse items when they know its money they earned. Forget the housekeeper and let everyone pitch in. Make a list of all the items you spend money on each month and cut it down. Try using online coupon websites for savings.

Seek Counseling: For some people, who examine their finances, they may find that trouble is a lot closer to their door than they realize. Counseling about your finances may be a good decision. A counselor may decide that you are too deep into a financial position to be able to pull out. They may recommend credit counseling to try and consolidate your bills or even bankruptcy in a worse case scenario.

Examine your financial situation immediately, so you can make clearer decisions without the emotional turmoil than can happen as things get worse. Attacking it as a unit makes the decisions that have to be made much easier on all those involved. Your not facing this alone, as many other people around you, even some you know are dealing with it. Starting on this today, can prevent heartache and stress for tomorrow.


Financial Advice for College Students or Recent Graduates

With today’s increasing cost of tuition, housing and food for the average college student, funding the college experience can be challenging. If you’re like most college students, you’ll be turning to financial aid, personal loans and even credit cards to keep up. However, four years of building up those debts can mean years – even decades – of credit issues after graduation.

Saving money before and during college is one of the best strategies for protecting your credit and staying one step ahead of the financial game. Here are some tips on saving money, finding resources for funding and dealing with finances after you graduate:

Tips for Saving Money Before and During College

Most college students don’t even begin to think about saving money during college – until they deplete their savings account completely. Staying ahead of your finances may involve creating a budget and really taking a close look at your expenses. Keeping tabs on your expenses each week can help you manage your money so you don’t become just another ‘broke college student’ as you move through your educational career. After you narrow down your real ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’ you can create a workable plan by:

-Cooking at home vs. eating out

-Carpooling to save on gas

-Sharing a vehicle with a roommate or friend

-Living with roommates to save on rent

-Limiting social activities to the weekends

-Shopping at thrift stores and discount shopping outlets for clothing and accessories

Saving money from a part-time job during high school is one of the easiest ways to build up some financial strength for those college years, and you can set these funds aside in a money market or other high-interest investment account to earn as you go.

Still, even the most frugal budget can leave you short of funds when it comes to paying for books and that upcoming semester. If that’s the case, you’ll need to secure other sources of funding such as scholarships, grants and possibly a part-time job.

Other Sources of Funding for College Students

If you want to avoid interest-bearing student loans and personal loans to get you through college, there are additional resources available. Some of the best ways to fly through college without damaging your finances include:

-Securing local and national scholarships

-Working on the weekends or around your class schedule

-Applying for grants and work-study programs where you earn both college credit and a (modest) wage

-Having your employer sponsor you (if you work full time)

Dealing with Finances After Graduation

Making the shift from the college lifestyle to the ‘real world’ can be tough, and very few college students head to the working world completely debt free. Student loans and credit card debt often accompany that degree in hand, and you will be paying off these debts for years to come. Still, there are ways to take control of your finances as soon as you take off the cap and gown.

You can:

-Set up an investment savings account and make monthly deposits.

-Keep up with a monthly budget

-Live with a roommate to save on rent costs

-Take a second job to pay down student loan debt faster

Managing your finances during or after college requires a diligent commitment to stay ahead. It’s easy to fall into the trap of credit cards and overspending when you’re busy studying and socializing, but creating a budget and maximizing your resources can help you enjoy the college experience without the financial burden.

How to Evaluate Mortgage Reduction

If you have a mortgage you may want to consider a mortgage reduction plan. When you pay off your principal balance faster you will save yourself money in finance charges. The longer your loan term is the more money you pay in finance charges. A mortgage reduction plan can help you achieve your financial goals and objectives.

When you add additional principal payments to your mortgage you are able to pay it down faster, which increase the amount of equity in your home. Equity if determined by taking the value of your home and subtracting the outstanding balance. If your home is valued at $100,000 and your balance is $65,000 you have $35,000 of equity. Any additional principal payments should be sent to your mortgage company with written instruction, to your mortgage lender, explaining how the funds should be applied.

The price of your home can be reduced substantially if the economy is facing a recession, but adding additional payments to your loan can help counter the effects of having the value of your home reduced. When you get ready to sell your home the extra payments will help you realize more of a profit as the balance is lowered.

An amortization schedule or table will let you know exactly how much more money should be added to your standard payment if you want your mortgage paid off by a particular year. You can change up the amounts of money added to your payment to see how much time is cut from your term. A new amortization schedule can be run every time an extra payment is made to see how much time has been cut from the original mortgage loan. You also get a run down on the amount of money you save with finance charges.

Once your mortgage is paid off you have a number of things the extra money can be used for such as investments, credit card debt, home improvements, or even tuition. Having a home that is paid in full can go a long way towards helping you achieve your financial goals and objectives. If you need to borrow additional money you can even use your home, which is free and clear for that purpose.

There are a number of companies that will do a free mortgage reduction analysis which allows you to see how much is needed to get your home paid off on a particular date. Using an amortization schedule and mortgage calculator can give you the mechanisms needed to perform this task yourself.

Five Recession Traps to Avoid

A sluggish economy brings out more than just long unemployment lines and frustrated citizens. It brings with it a host of predators who seek out individuals who are at the end of their rope. It can be really tempting to buy into some of the options that are often marketed to the average consumer. In order to get through tough economic times, you’ll need to be even more diligent in weeding out those opportunities that seem a bit too good to be true. Here are some common recession “traps” that make their way into the media (and even your neighborhoods)-ideas that seem logical, but may end up costing you money (or much more) in the long run.

Car Title Pawns

No one can tell you how to feed your family when your back is up against the wall. But it seems that everywhere you turn, there are car title pawn commercials beckoning you to ease your financial woes. Companies like TitleMax can be a bonus for emergencies (especially minor household “catastrophes.”) But it is extremely important to evaluate your financial situation before entering into this kind of agreement. Be sure that you completely understand the terms of your agreement, and will be able to handle the payments. These kinds of companies have the right to repossess your vehicle if you are seriously delinquent, but would actually prefer not to. In short, these commercials run day and night, hoping that frantic consumers will take the bait. Be certain that your needs actually warrant this kind of financing option.

Loan Modification Scams

Those who have managed to hold onto their homes in the face of job loss are typically concerned with keeping their homes. You’ll probably also see many more “loan modification” ads (in print and on TV) than you might imagine. These companies know that people are seeking out all sorts of survival options during the recession. As such, many of these options are scams. If a company seems to good to be true, it probably is. Do your homework before signing any paperwork, or making any arrangements. You should also never offer any money upfront to an organization that claims it could help you reduce mortgage payments or erase debt in any way. In fact, you may even want to attempt renegotiating with your lender. This is always the best place to start to avoid getting into a position where you could be evicted for failing to meet “new loan” agreements.

Grocery Store “Sales”

For the most part, you can easily tell when you’re being “taken” at the supermarket. But lately, you might find that some supermarkets offer sales on certain items after you have spent a particular amount of money. For those who are already in the store, spending their unemployment checks on a huge basket of items, this might be beneficial. But some who don’t read the fine print on the labels in the store might not realize that the items they’re picking up will not be reduced unless the spend say, $25 or more. Always read the fine print when a sale seems exceptionally juicy. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t always check out his grocery receipts, you’ll return home to find that you’ve spent more than you planned on items that you don’t really need.

Credit Cards (Pre-paid or otherwise)

One might think that offering credit cards to consumers during a recession isn’t a smart move. But you would be surprised by the number of people who lean toward this option as a way of paying off debts or surviving during a slow economy. Some companies offering pre-paid credit/debit cards are completely legitimate. But there are so many organizations in existence that you’ll really need to do your homework. For instance, you may find one Visa card option that seems great for your budget and financial situation. But in the fine print, you may have failed to realize that the card holds a $10 monthly fee that you’ll be responsible for–whether you use the card or not. Thus, you have just created a new bill for yourself where there was none before. These kinds of cards can really help to improve your credit score if they are used properly. But if you’re seeking out one of them merely to get through a financial crunch, you may want to re-evaluate your application.

Job Offers

There are millions of scam artists who supply people with fraudulent checks to cash, in exchange for returning a small portion of “lottery winnings.” In the same vein, beware of those predators who rely on distraught job seekers to become unwilling participants in their money scams. Those using the Internet to find employment are particularly susceptible. The scammers place ads placed on various career websites, hoping to reel people in. They provide information that looks legitimate, and will ask for typical contact information, including an email address. But the ad (with contact request) is merely a ploy to get your email information. They will then send to you correspondence that looks like a job offer, but is in actuality-an advertisement for their business. Some scammers will even ask for money for “training programs”, etc. These are usually easy to spot. But with a flimsy economy, the scammers are becoming savvier in concealing their true intent. Some of them seem like real companies.

Basically, you should be wary of any job offer that has arrived too quickly after contacting the “employer.” A good rule of thumb is to investigate every single company that you’re considering for employment. Do so before providing any contact information. Check career forums and blogs; you may be surprised that there are other people who have fallen prey and are willing to share their experiences with others.