Posts by Mandi Woodruff
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance4 hrs ago
Credit reporting bureaus started offering free annual credit reports to consumers more than a decade ago. But few consumers — 4% of Americans, to be exact — ever bother to take advantage of this financial resource.
Part of the problem is that credit reports were never designed with consumers in mind. From Day 1, credit bureaus have had one primary customer: experts at banks and credit lenders who have been trained to understand them.
Until now, the average Joe has pretty much been on his own.
“If you look at , these are reports that are made for banks, so it’s full of technical jargon,” says Ken Lin, CEO of consumer finance site . “These are the things a lot of consumers get frustrated with.”
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance1 day ago
If you’ve been on the receiving end of an unsolicited phone call from a debt collector, you’re far from alone.
More than one-third of Americans (35%) had debt in collections in 2013, putting their credit and job prospects at risk, according to by the Urban Institute, which analyzed credit reporting data for more than 7 million consumers. The report is based on data from TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
In order to be released to debt collectors, unpaid balances have to be more than 180 days past due. Of the 35% of Americans with non-mortgage debt in collections, the average amount owed was $5,178, according to the report. Although researchers weren’t able to break down the types of debt by category, they can include things like credit card balances, student loan debt, medical or utility bills, parking tickets and even gym membership fees.
Delinquent debts are prevalent across the country. Overall debt on things like credit cards, student loans and auto loans increased by $129 billion -- or 1.1% -- in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter, according to the
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance2 days ago
Debt can damage more than just our credit scores. More than one-third of Americans have an average of $5,200 worth of unpaid debt in collections, according to a new report by the Urban Institute. The stress caused by unfinished debt business can wreak havoc on our bodies and our minds.
Check out the infographic below to see how much damage debt can do:
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance4 days ago
(Warning: Video contains some adult language)
Just a spoonful of star power has brought new buzz to the ongoing minimum wage debate in the U.S.
In a posted Thursday, “Frozen” star Kristen Bell puts a modern-day spin on the Disney classic “Mary Poppins.” In her take, the iconic British nanny reimagines the classic tune “Just a Spoonful of Sugar” as a rallying cry for minimum wage workers.
“Just a $3 increase can make a living wage,” Bell trills, as her character packs up her things in protest of her low wages.
There are plenty of workers in the U.S. who would agree with her. For the last two years, minimum-wage workers have held protests and rallies in more than a dozen U.S. states.
On Friday, more than 1,000 for a two-day expo to discuss strategies that might help keep the minimum wage debate going strong. They’re calling for a hefty pay raise — from today’s $7.25 federal minimum wage to $15 — and a union.
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised , when workers got a 70-cent bump from $6.55 to $7.25. In his 2014 , President Barack Obama threw his hat into the ring, pushing lawmakers to raise the wage to $10.10.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance5 days ago
If you want to get better at managing your finances, stop fussing over dollars and cents — instead, take a good hard look at how you perceive time.
Philip Zimbardo, psychology professor at Stanford University, has long studied the link between how we perceive time and the choices we make in our daily lives. He literally wrote the book on it — called — in which he debuted his “Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory,” a 61-question quiz that measures the way in which people think about time differently.
In done in partnership with , a website that educates consumers about financial products, Zimbardo used his index to explore the link between our perception of time and its impact on how we manage our finances. He and MagnifyMoney.com co-founder Nick Clements asked more than 3,000 people in six different countries to take the quiz. Before doing so, each participant had to answer questions about their overall financial health (level of debt, bankruptcy history, etc.) and rate their financial knowledge on a scale of 1-7.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance6 days ago
If you’re thinking about switching banks, this summer may be a lucrative time to make the leap.
A by found that more than a dozen of the top 50 U.S. banks are offering free cash giveaways in an effort to attract new customers.
Fifth Third Bank is dangling a in front of new customers who open a new checking account and have at least $100 direct deposited. Not to be outdone, Chase is offering new customers a $150 bonus when they open a basic checking account and $250 for opting for their Premier Plus Checking account with a $100 direct deposit.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance7 days ago
Like a clingy ex lover, some businesses just don’t know when to let go when a customer wants to call it quits.
The experience of one whose attempt to cancel his subscription earlier this month went viral reminded us just how desperate businesses can be to hold us captive.
It’s easy to understand why. Sometimes companies need us more than we need them. That knowledge can certainly work in your favor, especially if you’re trying to negotiate better rates or service. But if you’re determined to break up with a company altogether, there’s a good chance they won’t make it easy.
Here are a few services that won’t let you go so easily — and tips on how to let them down, with minimal hurt feelings:
Cable and Internet providers
In 2013, ditched their cable providers, according to financial research firm SNL Kagan.And in a recent survey by , more than half of consumers said they would ditch their current cable company if they had a choice. Thanks to offerings from subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, and newer services like Verizon FiOS, Dish Network and DirecTV, they finally do.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance12 days ago
This week, Illinois became to sue companies that allegedly duped indebted college graduates into paying for student loan services they could have easily gotten for free.
It most certainly won’t be the last.
The business of bogus has been booming for years. With more than 40 million Americans collectively shouldering a $1.2 trillion student debt load, there is no shortage of customers willing to try anything to ease their burden. Capitalizing on borrower anxiety, these companies promise to either consolidate their loans or have their debt forgiven. They charge unknowing borrowers a hefty fee, and make off with the cash without ever doing anything. The phenomenon is much like the wave of predatory mortgage loan servicers that preyed on underwater homeowners in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis.
‘I knew I shouldn’t have listened’
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance12 days ago
One afternoon in early July, Nicole Dykstra made her usual commute to class at the Everest Institute in Kalamazoo, Mich. Dykstra, 43, is halfway through a nine-month massage therapy program at the school, which is owned by the for-profit university giant Corinthian Colleges International ( ), based in Santa Ana, Calif.
When she arrived on campus, she and her classmates were greeted by several unfamiliar faces — the campus president and both directors of career and student services.
“They said our campus would be closing,” Dykstra recalls. “They said they had saturated the market in that part of the state and enrollment was down.”
She wasn’t entirely surprised, but the gravity of Corinthian troubles had yet to fully sink in at the time.
Like many students at Everest Institute, Dykstra had been inundated by the school’s for years. Each time another commercial came on, she usually rolled her eyes and flipped the channel.
“I had heard negative things about Everest before,” she says.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance15 days ago
On paper, Luigi Galvan’s family looks better off than most. Together his parents earn about $120,000 per year — more than twice the current in the U.S.
That kind of paycheck may be plenty to support a standard family of four, but Galvan, 17, is one of seven children, including a younger brother who is disabled and requires expensive medical treatment. When he was accepted at the University of California, Berkeley earlier this year, his parents knew they would need help affording the $32,000/year it would cost him to attend.