Posts by Mandi Woodruff

  • Secret perks: Why department store clerks are so pushy about credit cards

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 15 hrs ago

    It’s become a familiar part of the department store checkout experience — you deliver your items to the nice cashier, and the nice cashier delivers you a sales pitch about the store’s credit card. As millions of shoppers descend upon retailers this holiday season, don’t be surprised if the folks behind the register seem a little pushier than usual. They’re likely being rewarded for their efforts.

    “Every day we’re asked ‘how many credit [cards] did you open?’ Pushing credit cards often seems like our number one priority,” said one Macy’s worker who asked not to be named because she is not allowed to speak about the policy publicly. Unbeknown to the customer on the other side of the counter, each time employee processed a new credit card application, they earn a coupon for $2 to $5 worth of “Macy’s Money” (a kind of gift certificate workers can put toward future purchases at the store).

    “I know that if they apply it can hurt their credit but [managers] make you push it and push it,” the Macy’s worker said. “I try to be honest with people. I tell them to make a payment as soon as they make a purchase.”

    Big business

    Resist the sales pitch

  • The FICO score is losing ground to a different credit score

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 19 hrs ago

    The FICO score has been the dominant marker of creditworthiness ever since it came on the scene a quarter century ago. Today, some 10 billion FICO scores are sold each year to lenders looking to vet potential customers for new credit, according to parent company Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO).

    But the FICO score is slowly losing ground to its closest competitor — the VantageScore . The VantageScore, launched in 2007, was the result of a joint effort by the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) to create an alternative to the traditional FICO score. FICO dragged the VantageScore maker to court in an effort to stop it from using its signature 300-850 credit score range, but the company lost the suit in 2010. VantageScore has been gaining ground ever since.

    David v. Goliath

    VantageScore may be gaining ground on FICO, but FICO certainly isn’t going anywhere.

    Read more: 

  • Money Minute: Why college graduates dread November

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    If you graduated from college in May, your 6-month student loan grace period officially ends right about now. I’ll tell you how to get on top of your student loan bills in this week’s Money Minute:

    Don't ignore them. Just because your loans are in a grace period (meaning no payments are required) for six months, that doesn’t mean interest is not accruing. So if you have the means to make payments before your grace period is over, don’t wait — it will help you reduce those interest charges in the long run.

    The longer you ignore those student loans, the worse it will be for your credit . Bad credit can hurt you in a couple of unexpected ways. Since some employers run background checks on job candidates, a bad credit history can hurt your chances at getting hired. Landlords also use credit checks to gauge whether you’re likely to pay your rent on time. Poor credit is a huge red flag to them.  

    Read more: 

  • The NFL's first female coach has a special message for men

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    Now that Welter has made her way into the NFL (though her position as an assistant coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals has since ended), she wants other young women to have the same opportunities. It’s a task she says can’t be accomplished unless men are willing to put some skin in the game, too. On Thursday, Welter addressed hundreds of female entrepreneurs at the United Nations on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day , a global event that celebrates women business owners. She spoke to Yahoo Finance a few days before taking the stage to discuss her ascent in the sports industry and what it will take to make the road easier for the women who come behind her.

    Even with her impressive resume and numerous accolades, Welter says it’s unlikely she could have cracked the NFL’s glass ceiling without support from men in the business.

    In the business world, men still hold the majority of the wealth, little of which finds its way into the hands of women-led enterprises.

    Read more:

  • Why ‘affordable’ healthcare is leaving some families with sticker shock

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 8 days ago

    And yet, Americans feel more squeezed by health care expenses than ever. The culprit? Higher costs in the form of deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.

    “We’ve seen relatively modest premium growth but higher deductibles is the trade-off there,” says Matthew Rae, a senior policy analyst for at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “If you’re an employer, there are only so many things you can do to reduce the cost of a plan. Many have chosen to increase cost sharing.”

    The share of workers enrolled in plans with an annual deductible — the amount they must pay before the insurer starts picking up at least part of the tab — increased from 55% in 2006 to 81% in 2015, according to Kaiser. Over that same period, the average deductible more than tripled from $303 to $1,077.

    Stuck in the middle

    Rising out-of-pocket expenses have proved challenging for middle-class workers who aren’t offered health plans through an employer and whose income is too high to qualify for tax subsidies.

    “You have to brace yourself knowing you could end up owing money back,” says Juliana, 65, who runs a graphic design firm.

    Read more:

  • RushCard fiasco one month later: What went wrong and how customers are coping

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    It's been a month since a botched systems upgrade left hundreds of thousands of RushCard customers locked out of their prepaid debit card accounts — some for a few days, others for several weeks. For a user base largely consisting of low-income minorities without savings to fall back on, the impact was devastating.

    RushCard, founded by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, is now in hot water with federal regulators and risks losing one of the most loyal customer bases in the prepaid debit card industry. Over the last two weeks, Yahoo Finance spoke to dozens of RushCard users to see how they are coping in the wake of the outage, as well as experts who helped us try to piece together what went wrong.


    What happened to hundreds of thousands of RushCard users last month – when a botched software upgrade and the ensuing customer service crisis blocked access to user funds – wasn’t a run-of-the-mill snafu, experts say.  



  • 3 signs you're ready to move in together

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 20 days ago


    How do you know you’re financially ready to move in with your partner? I’ll tell you in this week’s Money Minute.

    You know who’s paying for what

    Figuring out how to split the bills can get tricky, especially if one person earns more. Talk about how you’ll divvy up the rent, the gas and other bills so they’re split equitably. And establish whose names will go on them. Your partner may agree to pay the cable bill, but if your name’s on the account, you’re the one on the hook if they miss a payment.

    You’ve had “the numbers talk”

    Before you sign a lease, drag out all the financial skeletons you’ve got hiding in your closet. Do you have student loans? Terrible credit? A relative who’s constantly hitting you up for cash? These are the sorts of nasty surprises that could cause friction in your relationship — and derail your joint plans for the future.

    You’ve gotten clear about your goals

    More money questions? Ask me anything.

    Thousands lose access to their money in banking glitch


  • Here's proof the payday lending industry is paying for — and editing — favorable research studies

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 21 days ago

    In the world of academic research, savvy readers know when to look out for “industry-sponsored studies.” These are funded by third parties that may have a vested interest in promoting research that benefits their bottom line. The practice is prevalent in just about every industry, from food to environmental science and can be used as a way to influence policy makers.

    “What it needs is one or two solid paragraphs, right up front, that are devoted exclusively to discussion of the [cycle of debt],” Miller wrote in an email to Fusaro four months before the study was published. “You need to get this in (!).”

    Daniel Stevens, the CfA policy expert who uncovered the emails, says he was startled by how involved Miller was in the process. “The brazen part to me was the direct editing of the paper and just how hands on and involved the industry was in writing this paper,” Stevens says. “It certainly calls into question [Fusaro’s] research.”


  • Ready to sign up for Obamacare? Here's what not to do

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 26 days ago


    Nov. 1 marks the start of open enrollment season for 10.5 million Americans eligible for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

    I’ll tell you which mistakes to avoid in this week’s Money Minute.

    1. Missing the deadline. The last day you can enroll on the healthcare exchange for 2016 coverage is Jan. 31. But if you want coverage to begin on Jan. 1, the deadline you need to keep in mind is Dec. 15. People who sign up after Dec. 15 may be automatically re-enrolled in their existing plan on Jan. 1. This is the government’s way of making sure you don’t have a lapse in coverage. But if you’re eligible for a lower-cost plan in 2016, you could wind up paying more than you have to for the month of January. People who apply by Jan. 31 will have coverage beginning Feb. 1. If you miss the open enrollment period, you may qualify for an extension (for example, you’ve had a major life change like a new baby or you’ve lost a job).

  • RushCard creates multi-million dollar fund to compensate customers but frustrations linger

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 27 days ago

    RushCard, the prepaid debit card founded by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, announced Thursday it is earmarking millions of dollars to compensate thousands of customers who lost access to their money during a botched software upgrade earlier this month.

    In a statement, the company said it hoped to “restore the faith and trust of its customers who have been harmed” by providing enough funds to reimburse cardholders who experienced financial losses.

    A significant portion of their six-figure customer base was impacted by the outage, which blocked users from accessing their funds at ATMs, making transactions, or receiving funds by direct deposit. The company is under investigation by the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. Because of the ongoing investigation, the company says it can’t yet release details of how the fund will work and how customers can make a claim.  

    “I’ve been calling for 10 days. I have no money,” Carr says. “So what do I do now?”