Monday, February 1, 2010
Tips for Starting Over Financially,
Beware: Credit Companies Find Ways
Around CARD Act of 2009,
Monthly Contest Winner,
New Year's Resolutions for your Career,
Network with Orion
Tips for a Starting Over Financially
The recession has made an impact on almost everyone’s financial health. For those still reeling from the financial chaos there are ways to start over financially.
• Rebuild and/or protect your nest egg: It is recommended that every family have a savings account that would sustain them in the event of job loss/tragedy for at least eight months. Be sure to place your savings in an FDIC insured bank, so that you are protected.
• Know where you stand: It is important to know your credit score, so that you can work towards improving it. Make your payments on time, and work towards lowering your balances. Try in earnest to pay off your highest interest rate card first.
• Be Diverse: If there is one thing we have learned over the past decade, it is not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Remember the tech bubble burst? Many people lost significant money in their portfolio because they only invested in a few tech companies and didn’t diversify their investments.
• Evaluate Retirement Plans: If you lost a significant amount of retirement savings and are ten or more years away from retirement, financial experts are recommending doing exactly what you are doing…investing and staying in the stock market game. There have been so many bear markets since the mid 1900s and the majority of investors regained their losses after the markets improved. However, the closer you get to retirement, the more you should move away from riskier investments (i.e. stocks) and move towards less risky investments, such as bonds. If you are closer to retirement and lost money, it might be worth delaying retirement just a few short years.
Finally, financial experts agree that first and foremost you should have a “can do” attitude. You won’t succeed if you start out thinking you will fail. Be positive, stay the course, and, even in these hard times, financial stability can be yours again.
Beware: Credit Companies Find Ways Around CARD Act of 2009
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 was introduced by the federal government in February 2009 to help put an end to abusive practices by credit issuing companies. Its regulations include terms such as freezes on interest rate terms and fees on canceled cards; limits on fees and interest charges; requirements for prompt and fair crediting of card payments; prohibitions on universal default except in certain circumstances; and increases in the length of the billing period for imposition of the finance charge in credit statements from 14 to 21 days, among many other provisions. The Act is currently awaiting Senate vote.
Many credit card companies, however, are contending with these new terms by instituting new fees and policy changes to avoid losses in revenue. Here are a few examples of possible changes cardholders should be aware of:
• Annual Percentage Rates (APRs): Many fixed rate APRs have been changed to variable APRs. Be sure to call your credit card and find out if any changes have been made to your APR.
• Dormancy or Inactivity Fees: Some companies are charging fees for not using credit cards for a set period of time. One bank introduced a $19 inactivity fee, and others are following suit.
• Overdraft Fees: After the act goes into effect, which is expected to be around February 22, 2010, nine months after its enactment, consumers will have to electively sign up for overdraft fee protection. If a cardholder “opts out” of this service and goes over the limit, the transaction will be declined.
• Reward Programs: Some credit cards have rewards programs in which consumers can earn “reward points” for spending a certain amount during a given period. These reward points can be traded in for various gift cards and special offers. Unfortunately, these programs can expect to see increases in annual fees, a reduction in reward amounts, and increased levels of spending to earn points.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 is designed to protect cardholders. However, consumers should be vigilant of the card issuer’s response. If you see any changes in terms of service, be sure to scrutinize and understand them to avoid costly fees.
Congratulations to this Month's Winner
New Year’s Resolutions for your Career
• Join an association: Or if you are already in one, become active in it. Associations force you to network, which is great for your career.
• Use your talents: Think of unconventional ways to use talents that are not directly tied to your job description.
• Write a list of 20 professional successes you had in 2009: Creating a “success database” will not only be a confidence booster but can help when writing a resume.
• Continue to re-think your goals: Your goals should evolve as your career progresses.
• Focus on the important things, not just the expedient: Just because something can be done quickly, does not make it a priority.
• Talk to your manager: Discuss your career and where your manager sees you heading professionally.
• Embrace change: Change can be a good thing, so try and be enthusiastic.
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