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More Than 1/3 Of Americans Can't Afford A $100 Medical Bill

MoneyTipsIt's bad enough when your day is derailed by an unexpected trip to the doctor, but it's even worse when you can't afford to pay the bill. Unfortunately, too many Americans find themselves in this position, according to a recent survey conducted by Ipsos for the healthcare transparency group Amino. The survey found that 37% of Americans could not pay a medical bill of $100 or more without going into debt, and 19% of respondents could not pay anything at all towards a medical bill without incurring debt. In addition, 55% of respondents had received a medical bill that they could not pay with available funds. If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, try the free Debt Optimizer by MoneyTips. The current insurance situation does not help anxiety levels. Almost three-quarters of survey respondents reported higher out-of-pocket healthcare costs within the last year. Anxiety is likely to increase as insurance companies increasingly pull out of the existing healthcare exchanges. Further, it is not clear what, if anything, will replace the current Obamacare guidelines. Consider that 10% of respondents reported that a significant medical bill is worse than a life-threatening illness. What can you do to lower anxiety and increase your ability to handle an unexpected medical expense? Knowledge and prevention are the keys. Know what your insurance covers and does not cover, especially with respect to your co-pays and coverage limits. To assess correctly how much money you need to set aside for medical expenses, try to figure out the average cost of a likely visit. Granted, medical expenses are hard to decipher even after you have received your bill – but it's important to have some concept of how much money basic procedures cost versus your risk of needing those procedures. For example, the survey asked respondents to estimate the out-of-pocket medical costs associated with a broken arm. The median cost of $1,100 was widely underestimated. Only 7% guessed the amount correctly, while 46% of respondents underestimated the cost by at least half. If you have a suitable high-deductible healthcare plan, you may be able to pay into a health savings account (HSA) that allows you to put aside money for medical expenses on a tax-free basis. Only 32% of survey respondents currently contribute to an HSA. If an HSA is not an option for you, make some space in your budget for emergency medical expenses as if you were creating your own HSA. According to the survey, only 46% of Americans bother to budget $50 or more each month for healthcare purposes. Food, transportation, and debt payments all received higher priority among respondents. Without specifically dedicating funds to healthcare, you are very likely to find other uses for that cash – and even if you don't, $600 a year does not go very far in covering any medical emergency. Take advantage of all preventative medical care measures (checkups, etc.) that are covered by your employer and your insurance policy. People sometimes have a tendency to avoid doctors – 19% of survey respondents reported that their main method of avoiding high medical bills is to shun doctors altogether – but by not taking advantage of covered preventative care, you are asking for bigger expenses down the road. Don't be like the 54% of the survey respondents who had received an unexpected medical bill in the past and were more likely to budget for their healthcare as a result. Start by budgeting a certain amount for healthcare emergencies over and above your known expenses like insurance premiums. Stick with that budget, and resist the temptation to stretch the definition of "emergency." That way, if a medical event does occur, you can concentrate on healing your broken body instead of your broken wallet. Medical debt may be dragging down your credit score without your knowledge. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Photo © Originally Posted at: Warn Medical Debt Could Greatly Damage CreditStudy Shows Medical Debt Is Still A ConcernNew Survey Shows High-Deductible Health Plans Not Satisfying Customers

Entrepreneurship for military spouses


Video: You Have More Than One Credit Score

MoneyTipsExperian Director of Public Education Rod Griffin explains why we all have multiple credit scores as different lenders emphasize different parts of your history when assessing your creditworthiness. Learn how your different credit scores are compiled in our exclusive video above. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Originally Posted at: When To Build Credit For Your KidsVideo: The Many Ways Your Credit Score Matters5 Things Not To Do When You Want To Rebuild Your Credit

Costs of Being a Dad

MoneyTipsWelcome to parenthood! You are a proud new father, simultaneously overjoyed and terrified. Since you are now responsible for another human being, you should know that the estimate of what it will cost to raise your child is approximately a quarter of a million dollars, without accounting for inflation. If you would like to send him or her to college, you will probably need at least that much more. A report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 at $233,610 ($284,570 adjusted for inflation). That is for the average middle-income couple; costs ranged from families in the Northeast that will spend around $264,090 to residents in the urban Midwest and rural regions who will spend about $227,400 and $193,020, respectively. Unfortunately, that figure is not likely to drop, and inflation-adjusted wages are not filling the gap. Costs are up across the board, and certain areas are taking an increasingly large share of the costs – especially health care, childcare and education (pre-school through high school). That ratio will continue to climb based on recent trends, especially with respect to childcare. Child Care of America (CCA) has put out an extensive report breaking down the demographics of childcare costs by state and the variations with respect to income and style of child care. Combining their data with Department of Labor statistics, CCA estimated that just in the last year, childcare costs outpaced family income by up to a factor of eight. The CCA report shows that childcare costs and housing are the two largest components of household expenses by far – varying slightly by region, but each one is approximately twice the expenses of transportation and food, and around five times the expenses of utilities and health care. The percentages from the USDA report do not show childcare as quite as large of a component. Housing tops the percentages of child-raising costs at 29%, followed by food at 18%, childcare and education at 16%, transportation at 15%, health care at 9%, and clothing at 6%. Miscellaneous costs compose the remaining 7%. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sets 10% of family income as a general benchmark for affordable childcare – yet in the CCA study, only ten states averaged less than 10% of family income for child care – the Dakotas, plus the southern block of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. Unfortunately, the actual expenses of childcare are mostly independent of how much you earn. As a result, the disproportionate rise in childcare costs hurts low-income and single-parent families the most. It's no surprise that the steep bill that comes with raising a child can put a strain on your family's finances. If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, try the free Debt Optimizer by MoneyTips. Single dads have a difficult enough time handling childcare with a single income (as do single moms), because if they can't find affordable childcare or programs through their work, they have no choice but to rely on friends, relatives, or some form of unlicensed childcare. For married couples, there will be a threshold earnings value for the lower-earning spouse where it makes economic sense to stay home and care for children – but it may be hard for them to re-enter the workplace if they do. These are not always mothers, as there are increasing numbers of stay-at-home fathers with breadwinning mothers. It's okay to feel a little overwhelmed and terrified as a new father – there will be plenty more anxious moments along the way, but there will be even more moments filled with joy and wonder. Although it won't show up in your bank account, you are likely to get a great return on your investment of fatherhood. Have a happy Father's Day! Photo © Originally Posted at: of Raising a ChildSaving on the Costs of ChildrenThe Costs Of Raising Boys Vs. Girls (Infographic)

Women Dominate Student Loan Debt

MoneyTipsAmerica's student loan debt burden has reached a staggering $1.44 trillion, making it the second largest source of household debt in America – behind mortgages. According to a recent study, this growing loan burden is not equally shared between the sexes. The report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), titled "Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans," found that, as of fall 2016, women made up 56% of enrollees in America's colleges and universities but they accounted for almost two-thirds of aggregate student debt. The problem is evident at both ends of the collegiate experience. On average, women are more likely to take out student loans and to incur a larger debt in completing a bachelor's degree. Almost 44% of female undergraduates utilize student loans. Only 39% of male students take out loans, and women rack up an average student loan debt $1,500 greater than their male counterparts do. Once they graduate and enter the workforce, women earn less pay on average than men do. Thanks in large part to greater debt and a lower salary, it takes women approximately two years longer to pay off their student loan debt. Within four years after graduation, men had paid off 38% of their debt on average, compared to 31% for women. The gap in pay actually gets worse over time. The report found that for full-time workers with college degrees, the pay gap between men and women is less within the first year after graduation (18%) than it is at the four-year mark (20%). Over all ages, the discrepancy rises to 26%. African-American women with student loans face an even greater burden. With an average student loan debt of $30,000, the highest of any group reported in the study, 57% of African-American women with student loans reported an inability to meet essential expenses over the past twelve months. The AAUW report supports previous research from ORC International, showing that 42% of women have over $30,000 in student loan debt, compared to 27% of men. In the same study, women are two times more likely than men to think that it would take at least twenty years to pay off their student loans completely. The ORC study also noted that, compared to men, women are less likely to continue with their current employer because of their financial situations. Help for women with student loan debt does not appear imminent. While we may be working toward gender equality in pay, we are doing so very slowly. A separate AAUW analysis of U.S. Census data suggests that women will not see equal pay until the year 2152 – a ray of hope for our great-granddaughters, but not much help for the women of today. The combined AAUW studies show that women are likely to hold a disproportionate share of student loan debt for years to come, so it is even more important for today's female collegians (and those of the near future) to look at their college education with an eye towards a return on investment. While the AAUW report highlights the need for policymakers to assist in removing the need for student loans and devising alternate repayment methods, as a female student, it's up to you to assess whether your degree will be worth the money you borrow in order to pay for it. Do your homework on post-graduation options, make the connections you need to leverage your degree into the best job possible, and be confident that you will receive value for the money that you spend. Find out quickly at what rate you can refinance your student loan. Photo © Posted at:$30,000 Student Debt Results In Loss Of $325,000 Retirement SavingsWisconsin To Launch Student Loan Resource WebsiteShould Colleges Pay for Student Loan Defaults?

Today's Headlines: Consumer Credit Slows In April

MoneyTips Consumer Credit and Growth Hopes are high for strong economic growth in America's near future. President Trump's economic plan hinges on an economic growth rate near 4%, and markets so far are expecting him to be able to deliver at least partially on his promise. A 4% growth rate will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve without significant consumer spending and requisite consumer borrowing. Regardless of the tax rate, companies are not going to expand and grow without expecting a corresponding increase in consumer demand. So far, that demand does not seem to be sufficient to meet the President's goals. Federal Reserve data for April revealed the smallest increase in consumer borrowing in nearly six years. Total consumer credit reached $3.82 trillion in April after seasonal adjustment, for an annualized growth rate of 2.6%. April's consumer credit rise of $8.2 billion represents a significant drop from March's $19.5 billion increase. Combine this with the relatively stagnant growth in gross domestic product (estimated at 1.2% in Q1 of 2017) and a sharp drop in consumer spending (0.3% in Q1 2017, down from 3.5% in the previous quarter), and we get a potential recipe for growth that is far too slow to meet collective expectations. Credit Growth Slows Across the Board Rates of growth in consumer credit slowed across consumer credit categories (mortgages are excluded from the Fed data). The rise in revolving credit, which consists mostly of credit card debt, fell from 6.5% in March to 1.8% in April. Growth in non-revolving credit, covering installment loans such as student loans and auto loans, dropped from 6.1% in March to 2.9% in April. On one level, that's good news. It's important that consumer debt levels remain manageable to avoid future economic problems, and there have been some troubling signs in that regard. Collective household debt in the first quarter of 2017 passed the pre-recession peak of $12.68 trillion in Q3 of 2008 even with a $15 billion drop in credit card balances. Student loan debt is reaching dangerous levels, with $1.34 trillion in total outstanding debt in Q1 – surpassing all categories of consumer debt except mortgages – and total delinquency and default levels on student loan debt have reached 11%. Continued debt reduction in general would be good news, but not necessarily at the expense of economic growth. Are we looking at a temporary drop in consumer credit instead of the beginning of a trend? Economists seem to think so. Spending is widely expected to rebound in the next quarter, partially balancing out April's decline and positioning spending along the long-term trend line. Back to Normal? A single bad month, even if it is spread across multiple indicators, does not make a trend. It's insightful to look at the changes over time and remember that we are not talking about an overall reduction in consumer credit – just a slowing of the growth rate. The three-year period around the depths of the Great Recession (2008-2010) represented the only true reductions in consumer credit in the last 22 years. Since 2009, the rolling 12-month average of consumer credit growth has been on an atypically steady rise. April's drop appears to be simply leveling out the growth rate in the long term to pre-recession levels, and a tempered rise in May would bring the 12-month rolling average in line with typical patterns. Economists blame the weather and other transient factors such as delays in income tax refunds for the slowdown, and cite positive statistics like the increase in savings (from $778.9 billion in Q4 2016 to $814.2 billion in Q1 2017) in predicting that consumer spending – and therefore borrowing – will rebound in the next quarter. Is this wishful thinking or recognition of typical noise in the economy? We will find out soon enough. The Takeaway A temporary slowing of consumer credit may not be the best thing for the national economy, but it might be the best course of action for you on a personal level. Is your debt starting to rise without any obvious end in sight? If so, it's time to take action. Begin by making sure that you have a reasonable budget that results in a surplus – otherwise, you will not be able to pay down your debts. Examine your expenses to see where you can cut costs, but don't forget to look at potential income additions as well. Once that budget is in place, stick to it as best as you can. Devote your surplus to paying down debt with a small amount left over for emergency funds, and resist the urge to engage in impulse spending. As you start to pay down debts, positive momentum will increase and you will adjust to your new spending level. Responsible use of credit is always the right choice, whether it's on the national level or the personal level. You can do your part to propel America's growth without spending beyond your means. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Photo © Originally Posted at:'s Headlines: Frustrating GDP NumbersToday's Headlines: US Shows Economic Growth. How Are You Affected?Capital Goods Spending Increases

5 Mid-Year Tax Planning Strategies

For many small business owners, thinking about taxes occurs only twice a year … when returns are being prepared and perhaps at the end of the year. This is a mistake. With half of 2017 over, now...

These metro Atlanta employers are making big hires this June

If you're looking for a new job this summer, you'll find a number of metro Atlanta area companies and agencies adding new employees. A variety of jobs are open across many sectors, including law enforcement and sales.

Here's a brief look at some of the offerings this month:

»RELATED: Looking for a job? Atlanta's the place to be, study says

Fulton County Sheriff's Office

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office has 120 jobs available, including permanent and entry level positions. Some are law enforcement jobs, such as deputy sheriff and detention officer, but some civilian positions, such as administrative specialist, are also being filled. Benefits are described as being great.

To be considered for one of the jobs, apply online at

Sheltering Arms

Sheltering Arms, an early education and child care nonprofit, is looking to fill positions at its new center as well as its other locations. The agency may hire qualified candidates on the spot at a job fair held on June 10.

Positions include lead teachers, full- and part-time assistant teachers, substitute teachers and food service managers and assistants. Free medical insurance is provided for employees.

Emory Healthcare

Emory Healthcare is a consistently large employer, with large job openings this June in everything from development and fundraising to information technology to nursing.

A hiring event will be held on June 12 for RNs with at least two years of experience and LPNs in a variety of specialties, including primary care, cardiology, oncology and neurology.

»RELATED: 8 top health care jobs in Georgia that don't require a bachelor's degree


CarMax, the haggle-free used car seller, has openings for over 60 positions in the metro Atlanta area in June, including detailers, sales consultants and collection specialists.

The company was named one of the top large workplaces in a contest by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Workplace Dynamics that utilized employee surveys to determine the rankings.

DeKalb County School District

As the third largest school district in metro Atlanta, DeKalb County has over 15,500 employees. The district is currently hiring qualified certified teachers for the 2017-18 school year.

To be considered for a position, attend the district's career fair on June 13 or submit your application online.

10 Ways To Increase Your 401(k)

MoneyTipsAre you on track to meet your retirement goals? If not, now is the time to give your retirement account a little extra boost. Consider these 10 tips to increase your retirement savings and set you on track to a more comfortable retirement. 1. Start Early – If you don't already have a retirement account, April Lewis-Parks, Director of Education and Public Relations for Consolidated Credit, has excellent advice for you: "Start a retirement fund as soon as possible." Lewis-Parks suggests using online calculators to run scenarios of how different contribution levels add up over time, adding, "Once people are aware of how little changes have a huge impact, then they will start to make those changes." See for yourself how compounding can be your friend. 2. Use Catch-Up Contributions – Contributions to your 401(k) plan are limited to $18,000 in 2017, unless you happen to be age 50 or above. In that case, you can contribute up to an extra $6,000 as a "catch-up" contribution. Catch-up contributions allow late starters to contribute a greater share of their income — although you can never fully catch up from a late start. 3. Scale Your Contribution To Your Income – Instead of setting a dollar value to contribute to your income, choose to contribute a percentage of your income. You won't have to remember to increase your contribution as your income rises, and will not be tempted to use that portion of your raise for things other than your retirement. Of course, if you can reach the maximum contribution for the year, that's even better. 4. Take Full Advantage of Employer Matching – From your perspective, employer-matching funds are free money. It's always a good idea to place as much money in your 401(k) as you can reasonably afford, but when matching funds are involved, the benefits are multiplied. 5. Include Your Bonuses – Avoid the temptation to spend your bonus. By directing it to your 401(k), you'll enjoy the fruits of that bonus when you retire and will be able to get greater value for your money when you need it the most. 6. Check Your Account – By "setting and forgetting" your account, you may have no idea of the returns you are getting and whether they are worth the fees that you pay. Look over your quarterly statements, and don't be afraid to make adjustments in your fund allocations. Research the options that your employer provides to make the most informed decision. 7. Manage Your Risk – As you adjust your investment portfolio, make sure that you maintain the proper risk balance to meet your needs. Typically, accounts should contain less risk as you get closer to retirement — but your response should depend on your risk tolerance and whether you are on track to meet your goals. If you are behind, you may have to consider riskier investments or scale back your retirement plans. 8. Avoid Cashing Out – When you lose your job, do not cash out your 401(k) unless you absolutely must have that money to survive until the next job. Leave it where it is until you are able to roll it over into a suitable IRA or a 401(k) with a new employer. Make sure that the transfer is directly from one account to the other and not through you personally, or it will be treated like a taxable lump sum payment to you. 9. Investigate a Roth 401(k) – Roth 401(k) plans are funded with post-tax dollars. Withdrawals of contributions are tax-free, and withdrawals of earnings are also tax-free as long as you have held the account for a minimum of five years and you are at least age 59-1/2 (or become disabled). This is a great choice for those expecting to be in a higher tax bracket at retirement, since you can pay your taxes up front when you are in a lower bracket. 10. Don't Borrow Against your 401(k) – It is possible to borrow money against a 401(k), but it is usually not a good idea. "If you're considering borrowing from your retirement savings to pay off debt – DON'T!" cautions Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at "Here's the problem with that: too often people rob their future self to pay for things that their past self did. That's backwards." Borrowing against a 401(k) comes with great risk if you lose your job during the payback period, and your repayment amount is essentially taxed twice because you are replacing pre-tax dollars with post-tax dollars. "You're losing tax efficiency," explains McBride. "You're repaying that 401(k) loan with after-tax dollars, and then when you retire and make withdrawals, guess what? You get to pay taxes on it again!" Some consumers like to borrow against their 401(k) for the down payment on a house, but this is an indication that you are buying more home than you can afford. How will you pay back the loan and handle all the running expenses associated with homeownership? Are you without a 401(k)? You can easily set up your own IRA with minimal funds. Options are available for $1,000 or less, and most of the principles above apply to an IRA as well. It doesn't matter what type of retirement plan you have, as long as it meets your needs and you contribute to it on a regular basis. The one plan that is guaranteed not to work is ignoring your retirement accounts altogether. Let the free MoneyTips Retirement Planner help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle. Photo © Posted at: & Saving Advice For College GradsWhy Your Children Need Their Own Roth IRA Now Traditional vs. Roth IRAs and 401(k)s
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