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Options When You Must Pay for Medical Care

Obtaining quality medical care sometimes comes with a high price that you must pay. Whether for an elective procedure such as cosmetic, bariatric or laser eye surgery, or medically necessary surgery that is out-of-network or exceeds your coverage limit, you may face thousands of dollars of medical debt. Although the thought of coming up with a pile of cash to pay off medical bills may seem daunting, you have choices when it comes to financing medical debt. There’s no need for you to postpone or refuse important medical care because of high costs. Here are a few financing options to consider: Medical Loan   A medical loan is a personal loan you apply toward healthcare expenses. You can consolidate your existing medical debt or to cover an emergency or planned procedure or pay for charges your insurance doesn’t cover. Here are key factors to consider in shopping for a medical…

Do I Need Debt to Boost My Credit?

Much like no news is good news, no debt is a good thing. But what happens to your credit score when you don’t have debt? The answer is complicated. The short version is no debt can pose a challenge to someone looking to land an excellent credit score. Credit scores are intended to report your credit risk. In other words, they reflect how you have handled debt in the past. But having a high credit score is more complex than simply carrying debt. Understanding the factors that impact your credit score are important. There are many different strategies you can use to increase your score. [Spoiler alert: Going into debt simply to boost your score should be your last resort.] What Factors Impact My Credit Score? A combination of factors creates your overall credit score. Payment history has the biggest impact on your score and recent credit has the smallest.…

Need to Control Your Spending? Try Zero-Sum Budgeting

Do you have a solid idea about where your money goes each month? You probably can list the big-ticket items – rent or mortgage, car payment, maybe even utilities or other fixed expenses. But hundreds of other dollars have a way of vanishing and you may wonder why your bank account looks a little thin by month’s end and why your savings don’t grow as much as you’d like. Some financial advisors recommend zero-sum budgeting as a way to track your money, resulting in finding big and little ways to cut expenses to a more reasonable level. This budgeting system is popular with millions of people. Zero-Sum Basics You assign a job to every dollar you make in order to prevent waste and maximize the use of your income. The premise of zero-sum budgeting is that you use your last month’s income to pay this month’s expenses. So, you probably…

Buying Life Insurance in Your 20s and 30s

If you’re part of the Millennial Generation, buying life insurance may be the furthest thing from your mind. You may feel you don’t need it because you’re young, healthy and have other financial priorities. But this is the best time of your life to think about life insurance. Here’s the bottom line: If someone depends on your income or would be stuck paying for your debts if you die, you need a life insurance policy. If you’re single and don’t have financial dependents or debt, you may not need life insurance right now. Prime reasons to buy life insurance are getting married, starting or adding to your family or buying a house. But those aren’t the only reasons to act now. Buying life insurance will never be easier and more affordable than when you’re young and healthy. Common Misconceptions About Life Insurance A survey by the insurance industry proves that…

A Debt-Free College Degree? Yes, It’s Still Possible

Chances are your Facebook feed is lined with cute pictures of the first day of school. And everywhere you turn, there’s a back-to-school promotion. Too bad there aren’t any sales on college education. Quite the opposite, in fact. The average cost of tuition, room and board at American four-year colleges has more than doubled in the past 20 years, while the Consumer Price Index rose only 35 percent. With average costs at $11,970 (public 2-year), $20,770 (in-state public 4-year), $36,420 (out-of-state public 4-year) and $46,950 (private 4-year) per year, it’s no wonder Americans carry a larger student loan debt burden than ever. About 44 million people are on the hook for over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. For perspective, total U.S. credit card debt is “only” $860 billion. If you or your college-bound child want to avoid the average $35,000-plus debt burden on graduation day, here are 10 ways…

7 Personal Finance Milestones in Your 30s

We recently discussed 5 Personal Finance Milestones in Your 20s, and today are following up with the next decade. Today we dive into the most important personal finance milestones of your 30s. Buy a Home While there are many circumstances where renting makes sense, owning your own home is a major milestone in your personal finances. When you buy a home, you stop paying someone else to live in their property and instead build equity in your own. On the 20s milestones list, an important item to help help you with this goal was noted: saving a down payment. If you are able to save 20 percent of the purchase price of your target home, you should be in good position to qualify for a mortgage. Keep in mind mortgage interest is an expense, just like rent, so if you are able to make extra or additional payments on your…

Exposing 7 Popular Money Myths

Myths about money are common. Just because you’ve heard a saying or two through the years doesn’t make it true. Take advice from financial experts and learn the facts rather than accepting these common money myths: Myth #1: All Debt Is Bad Carrying a huge balance on a credit card or taking out a high-interest loan to pay off other debt is not good financial management, but certain debts can help you move ahead and achieve your personal financial goals. Funding an investment – in your home or in your education – can be financially beneficial in the long run. The interest rates on those types of loans are typically much lower than rates on credit cards or personal loans; plus, the interest can be tax deductible. When you do need to fund a valuable investment in your future, be sure to research the best rates available from quality lenders…

5 Personal Finance Milestones in Your 20s

Your 20s is an amazing time of adventure, career building, self-discovery and building the foundation for a path to navigate your financial life. Reaching life’s biggest financial goals requires a plan that starts with a series of important financial milestones. Follow along to learn about five major personal finance milestones in your 20s and how to achieve those important goals. Building an Emergency Fund The first financial milestone of your 20s involves savings. Specifically, emergency savings. A GoBankingRates survey found nearly two thirds of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. That means they can’t afford to fix a broken car, cover a surprise medical bill or replace a dead furnace without dipping into credit cards or struggling to pay for other bills. At the bare minimum, you should have at least two weeks of cash or one paycheck in savings. This helps you avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Once…

10 Money Tips for New Grads

If you’re a new grad who’s feeling a little exhilarated, a little worn out and a little terrified about finding a job that pays the bills … take a deep breath. The great thing about this stage of your life is that while you have room to take your time, make mistakes and figure out what you want, you are also young enough to do a few key things right that will set you ahead of the crowd for years to come. Especially when it comes to money. Looking for financial advice after graduation? Here are ten tips to keep in mind: Follow Your Dreams … but Don’t Wait Around for Your Dream Job You’re smart, enthusiastic and ready to change the world – surely an employer will see that and offer you a job that pays well, has lots of vacation time and lets you make big decisions. Right?…

How to Face Off With Debt Before Retirement

As you enter your 50s and 60s, hopefully you find yourself coming face-to-face with retirement. You may also find yourself still in debt. You are not alone. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people over 55 are in debt. To really make the most of your retirement years, it is essential you do whatever you can to ditch your debt now. Still, it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin. Following these tips can help you pay down your debt before retirement. Reconsider Housing No one is saying you have to hole up in the wilderness or live in a tiny house. But what you do need to do is think about where you live and why. Give particular consideration to housing extras like property taxes and homeowners insurance. Typically, housing is the biggest expense in a budget, but people often only think mortgage payments when it comes…

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