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Can I Invest in Trump's Companies?

Q. Is there a way to capitalize on all of Donald Trump’s businesses? I expect he will make policies more favorable for his companies. I want in! — I want in!

A. President-elect Trump is expected to have a huge impact on the economy.

Before we discuss his businesses, let’s look at the big picture.

In general, investors should expect volatility in the markets.

“While he has Republican majorities in the Senate and House to support him, there is enough disagreement even within Republican ranks that sweeping policy change may not be easy,” Gerry Papetti, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield, New Jersey, said.

In addition to immigration and trade reform, we should expect some form of legislation centered on corporate and individual income tax cuts coupled with increases in infrastructure and defense spending, Papetti said.

Deficits and debt may also take center stage, which has implications for inflation, interest rates and bonds, he said. Based upon current economic data, the U.S economy is fundamentally sound, according to Papetti.

“Unemployment is below 5%, real estate prices have recovered for the most part and have posted year-over-year gains,” he said. “Energy costs remain low and interest rates, even with the recent Federal Reserve action to increase short-term rates, are still low for borrowers.”

He said a pro-growth agenda, combined with lower regulation, should be supportive of the economy and the stock market longer term.

As far as trying to capitalize on Trump’s businesses, most of his direct investments are in private companies.

Without the release of his tax returns or a new disclosure, it is difficult to know what public companies he may have direct investments in, Papetti said.

Trump also claimed that he sold all of his publicly traded stock investments in June 2016, news reports said, but this is difficult to verify because Trump’s last financial disclosure came in May 2016 — a month before he claims he sold all of his stocks.

Papetti said Trump’s May disclosure listed individual stock holdings totaling $10 million, which is a relatively small percent of his overall wealth. Trump also reported in this disclosure that he had more than $80 million in hedge fund investments, and Trump’s transition team did not respond to inquiries about whether he also sold these holdings in June.

Despite all of that, Papetti said there are opportunities to invest in certain sectors of the stock market that could benefit from Trump’s expected policies. Here are six of those sectors:

  1. Energy: In addition to oil, MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships), nuclear energy and related uranium investments and mining stocks.
  2. Transportation: These stocks benefit from lower oil prices as well as overall growth in the U.S. economy, Papetti said.
  3. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS): These would benefit from what Trump policies could do to fuel inflation.
  4. Financials: Although there’s been a strong rally since the election, decreases in regulation could lead to increased profits and growth, particularly in the regional bank sector, Papetti said.
  5. Small-Cap Stocks: These would have less exposure to a possible protectionist agenda leading to more restrictive trade, Papetti said.
  6. High-Yield Bonds: These will perform better in a rising interest rate environment.

So while you can’t necessarily buy into Trump’s hotels, steaks, water or whatever, you can position your portfolio to benefit from the policies the market is expecting from the new president.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Should You Sell Your Trusty Old Car?

MoneyTips

According to a survey from AutoMD.com, 64 percent of American drivers are riding in cars with more than 100,000 miles on the clock. The reason so many odometers are rolling into triple digits is simple – saving money. According to 81 percent of the drivers surveyed, the ideal lifespan of a car is ten years or more — or until the car dies. While driving an older set of wheels spares you from a monthly car payment, it raises the conundrum of when to fix a mechanical problem and when you should decide to part ways with your faithful ride. As your car ages, you are naturally going to have to spend some money on maintenance. Beyond simple things such as oil changes, you will have tires, brakes and more, including flushing the cooling system every occasionally. But once a vehicle edges up beyond 70,000 miles, recommended maintenance can stretch to include replacing the timing belt and perhaps the water pump, too. That is a job that can run up to $1,000, but it is still less than the interest that you would have to pay on a new car loan, and far less than a new car itself. You can get a good gauge of typical maintenance costs by checking out the True Cost to Own Calculator at Edmunds.com, which estimates all expenses associated with the first five years of owning a car, broken down by make and model. Then you can budget an auto maintenance fund based on those figures. On average, maintenance and repairs account for four percent of total ownership costs, and budget experts recommend setting aside $75 to $100 a month as a starting point. You will not spend that money every month, so let it build up enough cash on hand to cover repair bills, instead of putting them on credit and adding to your debt. Another option is that, once you have paid off the car, direct the money you were sending to the finance company to a savings account to establish a kind of automotive emergency fund to cover more expensive repairs as the car ages. Once the odometer rolls past 100,000 miles and your car is getting as old as a premium bottle of Scotch, you are going to start to wonder if the money spent on a major repair is just being thrown away. Nobody wants to be in the position of spending thousands on replacing a transmission, only to be stranded when the head gasket blows a month later. Two rules of thumb can be applied. The first is that if the repair is less than half the value of the car, you are better off fixing it. Another benchmark is that if the repairs are expected to cost more than a year's worth of car payments, it is time to find a new set of wheels. For a detailed analysis that can take into account higher insurance payments for a new car and depreciation, plug your numbers into the Replace or Keep calculator. Other factors you want to consider are whether the car is still safe to drive, and just how reliable you need your transportation to be. If you can take the bus to work or carpool when your car is in the shop, getting it fixed is a minor inconvenience, but if you drive 150 miles a day for a sales job, having a car that needs constant repairs is a major problem. One more thing: Before shelling out big bucks for a major auto repair, check to see if the problem might be covered by a recall or by a manufacturer's technical service bulletin, which covers persistent problems with a specific model and will get you a free repair if the car still is under warranty. The best repairs are the ones that are free. This article was provided by our partners at moneytips.com. To Read More From MoneyTips: Save Thousands through the Slightly Used Car Market That Used Car You're Eyeing May Already Be Recalled 7 Keys to Buying a Used Car Photo ©iStockphoto.com/londoneye

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/should-you-sell-your-trusty-old-car

Save Thousands Through the Slightly-Used Car Market

2 More Keys To Buying A Used Car

That Used Car You're Eyeing May Already Be Recalled

Should You Sell Your Trusty Old Car?

MoneyTips

According to a survey from AutoMD.com, 64 percent of American drivers are riding in cars with more than 100,000 miles on the clock. The reason so many odometers are rolling into triple digits is simple – saving money. According to 81 percent of the drivers surveyed, the ideal lifespan of a car is ten years or more — or until the car dies. While driving an older set of wheels spares you from a monthly car payment, it raises the conundrum of when to fix a mechanical problem and when you should decide to part ways with your faithful ride. As your car ages, you are naturally going to have to spend some money on maintenance. Beyond simple things such as oil changes, you will have tires, brakes and more, including flushing the cooling system every occasionally. But once a vehicle edges up beyond 70,000 miles, recommended maintenance can str...

Hate Tax Season? These 4 Tips Will Help You Get It Over With

While getting a tax refund is fun, preparing and filing your taxes rarely is as fun.

As you think about how much you pay in taxes, consider this – in 1944 to 1945, the highest marginal tax rate was 94% and applied to any income more than $200,000 — or about $2.7 million today, given inflation. While I wouldn’t mind making $2.7 million a year, giving almost all of it back would make me want to delay filing as long as possible. (If you do owe, make sure you pay on time or work out a payment plan so you don’t hurt your credit. Want to see if your taxes have affected your credit at some point? Take a look at your free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)

Fortunately, our tax rates aren’t that high anymore and almost 73% of tax filers get a tax refund. So, this year, why not go for the quick financial win and get your taxes done early? And if you end up finding out you owe, knowing sooner can help you budget to have money to make that payment.

1. Wait Until the Season Starts

If I’ve done my job convincing you to get your taxes done early, you may be eager to file so you can get your return as quickly as possible, thinking the first of the year is the day to start (so you may feel like you’re already behind).

While I appreciate the enthusiasm, wait a moment — the IRS doesn’t start processing returns until the start of the “tax filing season.”

The tax filing season for 2017 doesn’t start until January 23. You can prepare and file before the 23rd, but tax preparation software (and an accountant) will hold returns until the start of the season.

You can start getting everything you need together now, but don’t rush to file until after the tax filing season starts.

2. Keep Track of Outstanding Documents

Keep a checklist of all the outstanding documents you need to prepare your taxes. As documents come in, put them in a special folder and mark them off your list.

The typical taxpayer will have a W-2 from their employer and 1099 Forms from banks, brokerages and other income sources. Issuers need to get those forms in the mail by January 31, so you should have them all by early February. The only exception is a Form 1099-B (Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions), which has a mailing deadline of February 15. Many institutions now issue these forms electronically, so if you haven’t received any of yours in the mail, you may opt to check your account online.

If you have a mortgage, look for a Form 1098 from your mortgage company because that will indicate how much mortgage interest you paid that year. If you have student loans, be on the lookout for a 1098-E from your loan servicer(s). Companies are required by law to have these in the mail by February 15.

If it’s mid-February and you’re missing a form, contact the institutions responsible for mailing it to you.

Once it’s officially tax filing season and you have all your documents, you can start filing.

3. Consider Using Tax Preparation Software

Tax software is probably the quickest way to complete your taxes because the software is designed to be as easy to use as possible. If you have a very simple tax situation, many tax software companies have programs that allow you to file for free. (If you’ve never used this type of software before, the first step is to compare your options and decide which one is best for you.)

Most tax preparation software uses simple questions to walk you through complicated tax forms step by step. The software can help you maximize deductions and find any tax credits you qualify for. Your tax situation may seem tricky to you, especially if you’ve tried to decipher everything on Form 1040, but the companies behind tax preparation software have seen millions of returns, which makes your situation easier for them.

Many of the tax prep software systems also integrate with payroll providers and banks, so if you give them access, they can import a lot of your information automatically. This cuts down on the data entry you’ll need to do and can help reduce errors. In some cases, they can use this integration to get information off a form you haven’t received a hard copy of yet.

4. E-File

This tip won’t get your taxes finished earlier, but can help you get a refund faster.

When you e-file, your return gets to the IRS faster. With that, you bump up your odds of having your return getting processed faster, which means your refund is sent to you sooner. If you elect to get a direct deposit, the refund gets to you even faster. Typically, the slowest way is to file by paper, mailing in your return and requesting a check in the mail.

So, if speed is of the essence, e-filing your return is the quickest by far.

After you’ve filed, you can check the IRS Where’s My Refund tool to see where your return is in the process. You must wait 24 hours after you e-filed or four weeks after mailing a paper return (see what I mean about mailing being incredibly slow?) to check the status.

 

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

10 Great Companies That Came Back from the Brink of Death

Macy’s is closing stores. The Limited is bankrupt and shuttering locations around the country. Long-suffering Sears may not be able to last until 2018. Theranos, the disgraced blood testing company once valued at $9 billion, is as good as dead. Every year, American companies large and small succumb to bankruptcy or disappear when they’re swallowed up by larger rivals. While it’s sometimes sad to see a favorite brand go, these failures are a normal part of the business cycle, and experts love to predict which will be next to go.

But sometimes, the corporate deathwatch crowd gets it wrong. Just as history is littered with examples of once dominant businesses that failed, such as Kodak and PanAm, there are also plenty of companies that teetered on the edge of disaster and somehow recovered.

Corporate turnarounds are the dramatic comeback victories of the business world. Just when you’re ready to count a company (or a team) out, they manage to pull it together and eke out a victory. And as with sports, those come-from-behind successes are often engineered by an inspired coach-slash-CEO. Apple likely never would have become the powerhouse it is today without the visionary leadership of Steve Jobs, nor would have Starbucks survived its growing pains if former CEO Howard Schultz hadn’t returned to address the company’s problems.

Of course, a genius CEO isn’t the only thing you need to engineer a turnaround. Great products, smart marketing, talented employees, and, in some cases, a little help from the government, are important too. Fortunately, all of the 10 great companies on this list had those things, allowing them to stage some of the most dramatic corporate comebacks in history.

1. Apple

When it comes to corporate turnaround stories, there may be none more famous than Apple’s. It’s easy to forget now that Apple is the most valuable company in the world, but there was a time when the tech giant was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Twenty years ago, the media was predicting the death of the company and it was losing $1 billion a year. All that changed when founder Steve Jobs returned to the fold, launching revolutionary products like the iMac and, eventually, the iPod. Now, Apple products are ubiquitous, from iPhones to iTunes, and people are wishing they’d picked up some of the company’s stock when it was at bargain-basement prices.

2. Best Buy

Best Buy is the world’s largest brick-and-mortar electronics store, but a few years ago, it looked like it might join former competitors like Circuit City in the retail graveyard. In 2010, sales and profits were way down, and a scandal involving the then-CEO in 2012 only made things worse, as Salon reported. Remarkably, the company managed to turn itself around. The new CEO cleaned up disorganized stores, shuttered failing locations, brought in exclusive products, and improved service. Most important, the chain integrated the online and in-store experiences, making it easy to research products online and staffing stores with employees who were experts in popular brands like Samsung and Apple. Customers returned, and by 2016, both profits and the company’s stock price were up.

3. Marvel

These days, it’s not summer (or, really, any other time of the year) without a big-budget superhero flick from Marvel. But 20 years ago, Marvel was bankrupt and casting about for a new direction, as ScreenCrush reported. The company had a huge stable of comic book properties, but it didn’t seem to know what to do with them. While rival DC Comics had managed to turn iconic characters like Batman and Superman into blockbuster movie franchises, Marvel’s attempts to turn its superheroes into silver screen stars failed miserably, such as the infamous 1986 flop Howard the Duck.

Starting in the late ‘90s, licensing deals brought some of Marvel’s characters, like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Blade, to theaters in successful films. But the company still wasn’t making much money. So, it decided to start its own studio. The ambitious gambit worked. The company was eventually acquired by Disney and now Marvel regularly churns out movies that make money hand-over-fist.

4. GM

GM, one of America’s biggest automakers, nearly ended up in the junkyard following the 2008 financial crisis. Only a $50 million government bailout saved the car company, but with the infusion of cash, GM was able to turn itself around. That’s not to say there haven’t been problems since, particularly several big recalls involving faulty ignition switches and airbag glitches. But people kept buying their cars and trucks anyway, and earnings in the third quarter of 2016 were much higher than expected and sales were up 10% in December 2016.

5. AIG

Big automakers weren’t the only businesses the government bailed out during the financial crisis. Insurer AIG was also propped up by the government, which at one point owned virtually all of the company, but the company came through the dark times. AIG bought back its stock and is now the leading seller of fixed and variable annuities in the United States, according to InsuranceNewsNet.

6. IBM

IBM is one of just a handful of companies that has managed to keep its spot on the Fortune 500 list for more than half a century. Yet in the early 1990s, “Big Blue” nearly went the way of the dodo. In 1992, it lost $5 billion – more than any other American company ever had at the time. New CEO Lou Gerstner succeeded in turning things around, though at a cost. He fired close to 100,000 people, loosened up the famously stodgy corporate culture, and changed IBM’s marketing strategy. The shake-up worked. Though the intervening years haven’t been without their challenges and profits have been falling, IBM still generated more than $81 billion in revenue in 2015 by making mainframes, providing business services, and producing software.

7. Starbucks

Like several other business on this list, Starbucks struggled during the 2008 financial meltdown. Unlike some companies, though, it didn’t require government intervention to right the ship. But things were so dire in 2008 that former CEO Howard Schultz returned to the company to set things straight. The company had grown too fast, as Business Insider explained, and was stumbling under its own weight. Once he returned to the helm, Schultz quickly set about changing things, inviting people to email him with suggestions for improving the stores, briefly closing all locations for retraining, rethinking the company’s advertising campaign, and getting serious about social media, among other changes. Though the chain did close several hundred under-performing locations in 2009, it emerged from the rough patch stronger than ever.

8. Jack in the Box

In 1993, an E. coli outbreak at dozens of Jack in the Box restaurants set off a major crisis for the fast food chain. After eating contaminated hamburgers, four children died and more than 175 people were hospitalized (some suffered permanent kidney and brain damage). The scandal put expansion plans on hold and led to layoffs. But implementing stringent food safety standards, along with a clever marketing campaign, helped the chain recover. Today, Americans can’t get enough of Jack in the Box’s food, including its “vile and amazing” tacos, of which it sells 554 million every year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

9. Chrysler

The 2008 financial meltdown wasn’t the first time the government stepped in to save a struggling U.S. automaker. In 1979, Chrysler was in bad shape due to the 1970s oil crisis, falling sales, and rising pressure from foreign competitors. The fed stepped in and loaned the company $1.5 billion to help it stay afloat. That money, along with leadership from Lee Iacocca, pulled Chrysler back from the brink. In the ‘80s, it introduced new, inexpensive compact cars as well as minivans, which consumers eagerly snapped up.

10. Lego

Lego has earned high praise for its toys, which encourage creative play for kids, but a little over 10 years ago, the Danish company’s foundation was shaky. It was unwittingly selling some products for less than they cost to manufacture, while new toy sets failed to impress fans young and old. So, the company streamlined operations and set about recruiting designers who loved the product. The new approach worked. New sets proved popular (especially those tied to hit franchises like Harry Potter), and a blockbuster movie also helped the brand. Now, two years after become the world’s largest toy company, Lego is so successful it’s struggling to keep up with demand.

[Editor’s Note: You can see how your loyalty to certain companies, e.g., everyday spending, is affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. Your scores are updated every 14 days, and checking your scores will not harm them in any way.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Amazon's Got a New 5% Cash Back Credit Card. Should You Apply?

Retail Giant Amazon.com has teamed up with Chase to release the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. The new card combines the best features of the Amazon Prime store card with the original Amazon Rewards Visa credit card — most notably, a whopping 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases for — you guessed it — Prime members.

Five percent is pretty much tops as far as credit card rewards go, but that doesn’t mean the new card is right for everyone. Here’s what to know if you’re thinking about signing up for Amazon Prime and/or its new credit card.

What Are the Benefits of the New Amazon Prime Card?

Once you are approved for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, you will instantly receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card. When you use the card on Amazon.com, you will receive 5% cash back with your Prime membership. In addition, you will receive 2% back when you use your card at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores, and 1% back on all other purchases. (For a quick comparison, the original Amazon Rewards Visa credit card offers 3% cash back on Amazon.com purchases, 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. You can find a full review of that card here.)

When you are ready to redeem your rewards, you can do so easily on Amazon.com. Each point that you have is worth one cent. When you head to checkout, you will see your available cash back balance. There is no minimum amount needed for redemption. You can pay for part or all of your purchase using your available points. You can also redeem your rewards for cash, gift cards, or travel expenses.

While this card is best-suited to the frequent Amazon.com shopper, it’s also a good fit for the frequent traveler. It comes with no foreign transaction fees, plus you will receive travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance, and lost luggage assistance.

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card offers shopping benefits as well. You will receive purchase protection, where you will be covered up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account, against theft or damage for the first 120 days. You will also receive extended warranty protection, which will extend any warranty of three years or less by an additional year. If you are a current Amazon Prime member and have the standard Amazon Rewards Visa Rewards card, you will be automatically upgraded for free.

What Are the Costs of the New Amazon Prime Card?

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card does not come with an annual fee, but you will be required to have a $99 Amazon Prime membership. With your membership, you will receive free two-day shipping and access to Amazon Prime Video.

The card comes with a standard variable annual percentage rate (APR) of 14.74% to 22.74%, depending on your creditworthiness. (You can get an idea of whether you could qualify for the card — and at what APR — by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days on Credit.com.) If you are planning a balance transfer, there is a fee of either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater.

I Have Amazon Prime. Should I Apply for the Card?

If you are an existing Amazon Prime member who has the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card, this card would be an excellent addition to your wallet. The ability to earn 5% back instead of 3% on purchases from Amazon.com adds a lot of value. Of course, you’ll want to use the card carefully so you don’t lose your hard-earned rewards to high interest or debt. That means, if you’re prone to carrying a balance or the allure of 5% cash back will lead to one-click orders you can’t really afford, you’re better off looking into a low-interest credit card.

I Don’t Have Amazon Prime. Is the Card Worth an Upgrade?

If you have been considering an Amazon Prime membership, this might be incentive to sign up. Depending on how much shopping you do from Amazon, the free two-day shipping can help you save a significant amount of money. Combine that with the 2% increase in earnings, and you could potentially justify the $99 Amazon Prime membership fee pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you don’t shop at Amazon often, the rewards might not justify that defacto $99 annual fee. And, of course, the same rule about carrying a balance applies: If you’re prone to doing so, a rewards credit card isn’t really your best recourse. They tend to tout higher APRs and you’ll just be losing cash back points of miles to interest.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

 

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Seniors Forced To Pay For Old Student Loans

MoneyTips

Social Security provides an important safety net for America's seniors and the disabled, but for many recipients, that safety net is being degraded by an unlikely source — unpaid student loans. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that approximately 114,000 Americans have had their Social Security benefits reduced via seizure for failure to pay student loan debt. While the maximum monthly reduction is 15% of Social Security benefits, the typical reduction is $140 per month — which can still make a huge difference in the standard of living for those affected. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security represents just over one-third of income for the elderly and makes up 90% or more of the total income for 21% of elderly married couples and 43% of unmarried seniors. Many disabled workers are equally dependent on their Social Security income. The reductions, known as offsets, affected almost 70,000 recipients that are at or below the federal poverty guideline. Approximately one-quarter of those recipients were dropped below the poverty line by the offset; the remainder of the 70,000 were already below the poverty level and pushed even further into poverty by the offset. Unpaid student loan debt is particularly difficult to deal with, because it cannot usually be discharged through bankruptcy like other debts and there is no statute of limitations on the liability for federal student loans. (State laws cover the statutes of limitations on private student loans.) Under the restrictions, what can seniors do given their limited resources? There are a few avenues of relief available. If you are receiving disability benefits under a condition that is not expected to improve, you may qualify for a total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge of your debt. The qualification criteria and application process are available on the Federal Student Aid website. Annual verification and documentation of the condition is required to maintain the TPD waiver. Financial burdens are not completely removed with a TPD discharge, because the amount of forgiven debt is considered to be taxable income. While debt is still decreased, the tax bill can be significant. Another path is to apply for financial hardship with the Department of Education citing exceptional circumstances. You will need to supply financial information as well as an explanation of the exceptional circumstances. The forms required can vary depending on the type of student loan involved. Click here for details. Other specialized methods of debt removal are available, such as public service loan forgiveness and closed school discharge. Details on debt removal types may be found on the Federal Student Aid website. If forgiveness is not an option, you can consider loan modification to reduce the burden. Loan consolidation is available through the Department of Education, and loan terms may be modified through income-based repayment plans that can scale your monthly payment to your discretionary income. Make sure that you fully understand the tradeoffs for each of these programs — typically, you will end up paying more over the long run through increased interest charges, and other downsides may apply. Congress is set to consider measures to stop Social Security garnishments or limit them in some fashion (reduced garnishment amounts, time limits, inflation indexing, etc.), but any such actions will take time that you may not have. If you are in this situation, see if you qualify for any of the possible forms of relief. If not, your best hope may be to seek some form of loan modification or to refinance your student loan. Finally, remember that garnishment only occurs once your student loan goes into default. Your best course of action is to attack the debt before it reaches the default stage. Preventing a default is far easier than dealing with the aftermath, and that is especially true for seniors. Find out quickly at what rate you can refinance your student loan. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/NathanMarx

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/seniors-forced-to-pay-for-old-student-loans

How Student Loans are Hurting Seniors

Report Finds Federal Student Loan Services Need Improvements

How the New Government Spending Bill Will Affect Student Loans

Seniors Forced To Pay For Old Student Loans

MoneyTips

Social Security provides an important safety net for America's seniors and the disabled, but for many recipients, that safety net is being degraded by an unlikely source — unpaid student loans. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that approximately 114,000 Americans have had their Social Security benefits reduced via seizure for failure to pay student loan debt. While the maximum monthly reduction is 15% of Social Security benefits, the typical reduction is $140 per month — which can still make a huge difference in the standard of living for those affected. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security represents just over one-third of incom...

6 Tools Every Small Business Owner Needs to Succeed in 2017

The dawn of 2017 likely brings with it new optimism — not just in your personal life, but for your business as well. But are you ready to take on this new year wisely?

Before you start...

Paying Your Mortgage With A Credit Card

MoneyTips

Most credit cards have rewards programs or sign-up bonuses these days, and many of those rewards increase with your level of spending. Doesn't it make sense to funnel your large regular expenses, such as mortgage payments, through your credit card to reap those rewards? Paying your mortgage with a credit card may be a reasonable option for you, but it requires planning and care — as well as a willing mortgage company and credit card issuer. First, verify with your mortgage lender that they will accept payments by credit card and understand how to execute those payments. Typically, a lender that allows credit card payments will accept those payments online. Check the lender's website for an online payment section, and put in the information necessary to set up payment via credit card. Verify with your lender when the payment will take effect to avoid any potential gap in your mortgage payments. Next, search for a credit card that will allow you to make mortgage payments without incurring excessive fees in the process. Regular large payments of this type are often frowned upon by credit card issuers, and not just because of the amount of rewards — illegal activities are processed in the same fashion. To discourage the practice, credit card companies may apply a "convenience fee" to such transactions and make the fee high enough that the benefits of paying your mortgage via credit is wiped out. You may have better success if the lender and the credit card issuer are part of the same financial group. The best option, if available in your area, is a mortgage lender that can also issue a corresponding cash-back rewards card that will automatically apply your cash rewards to the mortgage principal. If you can't find a suitable credit card company or lender, third-party services are available that can pay your mortgage via your credit card, but that also comes at a price and with risks. Unless you have an outstanding rewards program, the third-party fees are likely to be greater than the rewards you receive. Further, by adding another step in your payment process, you increase the possibility of a transaction going awry, and also increase the chance that you do not notice the missed payment until it is too late. Even if your credit card company is willing to accept mortgage payments, you must be very careful and diligent with your planning. You may have enough money to make the mortgage payment, but if you let other spending rise beyond what you can pay off each month, you can wipe out your rewards with the collective interest charges from carrying a balance. Consider your credit limit as well — if you are running close to your credit limit on a regular basis, you can damage your credit score with high credit utilization (using most of your total available credit). You can see your credit report and credit score within minutes for free with Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Remember that if you end up switching cards or canceling the credit card account that you will need to notify the lender of the change in payment method. Add the mortgage lender to the list of auto-payment creditors that you need to notify in the case of a change (and if you do not have such a list, make one immediately). Options for paying your mortgage via credit card are dwindling, but if you are fortunate enough to find a mortgage lender that will accept credit cards and a credit card issuer that allows rewards for mortgage payments, why not take advantage of your good fortune? If you want more credit, check out MoneyTips' list of credit card offers. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/PickStock

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/paying-your-mortgage-with-a-credit-card

Hidden Costs Of Paying Taxes by Credit Card

Should You Pay Your Taxes With A Credit Card?

When Should You Pay An Annual Credit Card Fee?

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