As foreclosures continue to skyrocket, debt counselors have become a last resort—sometimes the only resort—for thousands of panicked homeowners who don’t know how they’re going to keep their homes. “I don’t think people fully appreciate the pressure that’s being put on those counselor organizations today,” says a Housing and Urban Development official. In addition to offering financial advice, the counselors try to help negotiate payment plans with lenders, stave off foreclosure notices, and even offer mental health support for people so distraught that they become depressed or suicidal. The average pay: $30-50,000 a year.
Two professors have released a paper branding adjustable rate mortgages, which are responsible for the subprime meltdown, as the optimal mortgage type for rational borrowers. As we know all too well, few borrowers are antiseptically rational. According to Columbia professor Tomasz Piskorski and NYU professor Alexei Tchistyi, ARMs hold several unrivaled advantages:
The continuing subprime meltdown is leading jittery creditors to reduce cardholder credit limits at the first sign of trouble. According to a recent survey, up to 75% of banks are cutting credit limits to minimize their exposure to risk. The move can adversely affect credit scores, which are determined by considering the percentage of available credit used. From the Chicago Tribune:
A change can stem from late payments of any kind, a drop in your credit score or the addition of new lines of credit. Bryan found out limits on three cards were actually cut after he took out a home equity loan to pay off some debt.
A reader pointed us to a recent article in the WSJ abut CarePayment, a new financing option that provides a way for the uninsured to pay off their hospital bills in monthly installments, without incurring interest rate charges or finance fees.
Now you can follow the subprime meltdown around the world with this handy interactive graphic from Financial Times. It’s grimly amusing to click the “show all” radio button and then drag the slider back and forth from “Pre-Jun 25″ to “Week of Aug 6″.
Panic! Burn down your house! Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, you shouldn’t let your mortgage lender’s death pangs interfere with your payments, says Gerri Willis of CNNMoney, because your loan will just be sold to another lender. However, make sure you review the details of your mortgage agreement; the terms should remain the same no matter who buys your loan, and you have a 60 day grace period to get your payments to your new mortgage lender.
It’s easy to manage your finances when you close unnecessary bank accounts and credit lines and chisel down to the bare essentials. Blueprint For Financial Prosperity has compiled an excellent list of accounts that you need, and accounts you should avoid.
Life as a Boomerang Kid [Kiplinger’s] “Dirt-cheap housing. Home-cooked meals. A full-time housekeeper. The catch: sleeping in your old room.”
All but the lowest earning men should have accumulated in a nest egg 12 times their income by the time they retire, EBRI estimates. That’s $900,000 for a man earning $75,000. A woman, because of a higher life expectancy, should have 14 times her income
Damn. Women live so long they can pull that “put one penny in a savings account and in the future you’ll be a zillionaire, but it’ll only pay for one dinner” thing from Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.—MEGHANN MARCO
Consumerism Commentary has an update on the current online checking and savings rates.
In this restive spot after Thanksgiving and before Christmas-time madness, why not start getting your taxes together? Blueprint For Financial Prosperity has a roundup of useful tax time articles. — BEN POPKEN
USATODAY research indicates banks typically process checks in order of highest balance, maximizing overdraft fees charged to the customer, critics contend.
Ok, so it’s pretty obvious that when picking a rewards card, you want one that gives you beer money, not free toasters. A toaster is a depreciating asset, which are for rappers, not smart persons like yourself.
• eLoan joins the high-yield online savings game with 5.5% interest. What are you getting on your brick and mortar bank savings now? 2%? 1? Point?
Unbelievably, there’s only so long you can draw out a career as a throat gobbling doofus in Hollywood. So it’s to Dustin Diamond’s credit that he somehow managed to stretch what should have been a two year stint as ‘Screech’ on Saturday Morning television into a career that spanned two decades. The man became the definitive television doofus in the minds of many Americans, a favorite subject of drunken conversations about what child actors had most likely gone on to become gay porn stars.