Posts by Mandi Woodruff
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance2 days ago
With the one-year anniversary of the federal health insurance marketplace nearing, the who signed up for coverage in its inaugural year have a crucial decision to make: Will they keep their current plan, for better or for worse, or shop around for a new one?
This time around, people will have have even less time to make up their minds. Open enrollment will last just three months this year (Nov. 15-Feb. 15), compared to the six months consumers were given in 2013 when the federal and state exchanges launched.
“Even if they’re deliriously happy with their plans, everyone who signed up needs to pay attention to the fact that open enrollment is coming,” says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This is the time to review your plan choices, make changes if you want or don’t if you’re happy.”
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance4 days ago
By the time she hit her late 40s, Toni Eugenia wasn’t sure she would ever be able to retire.
Eugenia, 56, a pharmacy technician who lived in Houston, was nearly $200,000 in debt and earned a little over $50,000 a year. She had barely contributed to her 401(k) in more than 15 years of working full time.
“I didn’t even know there was a word called budget,” she says. “I was living paycheck to paycheck. Whatever I wanted, I put it on a credit card.”
A few months shy of her 50th birthday, she decided to make a change. She enrolled in a 12-step personal finance course taught by Dave Ramsey, who preaches the value of a debt-free lifestyle.
“I took that course and my whole life changed,” she says. Within three years, she and her fiance managed to pay down all of her debt — including a $150,000 mortgage, a $19,000 timeshare and more than $30,000 worth of credit card debt. In 2013, they decided to move to Seattle, where they married. Eugenia’s wife, 11 years her junior, continued working, but Eugenia, they decided, could finally afford to retire — a decade sooner than most working Americans today.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance5 days ago
If only shopping around for routine medical procedures were as simple as booking a flight online or flipping through supermarket sales fliers.
The reality for millions of Americans couldn’t be more different. Employer-provided health plan deductibles have risen 47% since 2009 as companies try to keep their own health care costs down, leaving families to cope with higher out-of-pocket costs before their insurance kicks in. The average deductible for a family in the U.S. was $4,522 in 2013, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Meanwhile, copay-based plans have given way to plans that offer coinsurance — a percentage of costs that the individual must pay, even after they meet their deductible. (Monthly premiums are typically lower in high-deductible health plans.)
For people with high-deductible health plans, it makes sense to shop around to find the most affordable treatments. But it can be next to impossible to comparison shop.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance9 days ago
There’s a reason dread their 30s — it’s the decade when everything seems to finally get real. Careers are established (or at least that's the plan), homes are purchased, bills stack up, and wedding invitations flood mailboxes. Friends you once saw dancing on bar tops abruptly decide to “settle down” and all of a sudden, you realize there are fewer excuses for not having your own financial house in order.
Many of the choices you make in your 30s will determine what kind of life you'll be living when you hit your 60s. To help you along, here are a few common money mistakes you should try to avoid:
1. Getting married before you talk about the "F" word — finances.
Forget about the fact that an American wedding costs an average $30,000 today. The most expensive mistake you could make before walking down the aisle is not being open and honest with your partner about your financial affairs beforehand. Money is one of the most common causes of friction in marriages -- for good reason. By not making full disclosure about your debts or that impulsive shopping habit you picked up after college, you’re asking for trouble.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance11 days ago
When you’re in your 20s, it can be difficult to keep one eye on the future when the present already feels out of your control. More than 40% of young adults today are considered , working in jobs that hardly require a college degree. And college graduates face a crushing amount of student debt ($29,400 on average), while expenses like housing, transportation and health care are only getting more expensive. More than one-third of 18-to-31-year-olds .
But the good news is that a few key decisions you make in your 20s — from what you study and how much you save to what kind of car you drive and where you live — can drastically improve your chances of coming out on top later in life.
Here are common money mistakes you should avoid at all costs:
Choosing the wrong college — and major.
College is still the you could make in your earning potential. But it won’t come cheap: average tuition is $38,000 a year. If you’re about to pump that much capital into your education, make sure your future career will pay enough to make it worth your while.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance12 days ago
Credit cards are one of the most widely used — and abused — financial tools in the U.S. Among households with credit card debt, the average balance they’re carrying is more than $15,600, according to Nerdwallet, a figure that has barely budged since the recession.
The troubling part is that many Americans know very little about credit at all. A survey by the Consumer Federation of America found that 40% of Americans had no idea that their credit history played a role in determining whether they could qualify for new credit. And one in four consumers admitted they didn’t know how to effectively improve their credit scores. Millennials are so spooked by credit debt that a whopping 63% say they don’t carry a credit card at all, Bankrate found.
When used properly, credit can be a powerful tool to build up your finances. Here are a few ways you may be using plastic the wrong way:
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance16 days ago
As the number of available foreclosure properties dwindle and home values improve, house flipping in the U.S. is on the decline.
from RealtyTrac shows only 31,000 single-family homes were flipped in the second quarter of 2014, making up just 4.6% of all home sales — down from 5.9% in the first quarter and 6.2% in the last quarter of 2013 (house flipping is defined as buying and then selling a home within 12 months).
Lower-end house flipping has seen the steepest decline. While sales of homes flipped for $750,000 or more increased by 21% this year, homes sold for less than $100,000 dropped by 5%, according to RealtyTrac.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance18 days ago
Taking an extra year or two to complete a college degree is nothing out of the ordinary in the U.S. — as it happens, only 39% of four-year college students actually finish school in four years, while 59% of students take an extra year or two.
Research published Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows how costly it can be to stretch out your college years past the four-year mark— to the tune of $65,000 of lost lifetime earnings for every year you delay graduation. On Tuesday, the New York Fed released a report showing how valuable a college degree is.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance19 days ago
Despite falling wages and rising tuition costs, the value of a college degree is still unquestionably high, a new report shows.
A college degree today is worth $272,692 in lifetime wages — more than three times its value in the 1980s ($80,000) and more than double its value in the 1970s ($120,000), researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found. At its highest point, in 2001, the net value of a college degree was $338,000, according to raw data from the report.
But the Great Recession, which brought widespread underemployment and record-breaking student loan debt for college graduates, has greatly slowed that growth spurt. The value of a college degree has fallen 11% since 2007.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance23 days ago
The cost of college has more than tripled over the last three decades — annual tuition and fees now total $8,893 on average at four-year public institutions.
Private four-year students pay three times as much.
And looking at a state-by-state breakdown of tuition rates, East Coast students have it the worst. In-state tuition for New Hampshire residents is the highest in the nation, topping $12,000 per year, according to an independent study by research firm Wintergreen Orchard House.
Pennsyvania isn't far behind, with annual tuition costs averaging $12,193.
If you think of education as any other consumer good — groceries, gas, cars — price hikes are to be expected. But the problem with rising costs in the U.S. is that wage growth hasn't been able to keep up. As a result, more and more people have turned to student loans to finance their college degrees.