Posts by Mandi Woodruff
In 2012, Jason Vitug quit his job in banking and went on a mission to better educate Americans about their finances. With help from a successful crowdfunding campaign, Vitug founded the personal finance question-and-answer site Phroogal.com. This summer, he’s taking his mission on the road, embarking on his second cross-country financial education tour , with plans to visit 50 states in 107 days.
Vitug joined us to chat about his latest road trip and his new book, “You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life. ”
Yahoo Finance: What made you want to give up a six-figure corporate job and launch your own business?
YF: You started with Phroogal.com, which is kind of like a Q&A forum for personal finance questions. Where did that idea come from?
YF: What gave you the idea to go on a cross-country tour?
YF: How do you fund the tour?
YF: You did a much shorter tour last year, which was your first time testing out the road trip idea. How do you avoid burnout on a 107-day road trip?
Your 20s are some of the most important years for your finances and your career. This week on The Payoff, I'll tell you the 5 best investment I made in my 20’s
My college degree. I know there’s room for debate on whether college is worth the investment. But it was the best thing I could have done for my career. I chose a state school that was not only affordable but also had one of the best programs in the country for my degree of choice. I moved off campus, worked part-time to pay the rent and graduated with just $7,000 in student debt. That’s a fraction of the $25,000-plus most graduates my age had to deal with.
An Oregon woman’s $40,000 payday loan nightmare may soon be over. After two years, hundreds of dollars in legal fees, and an ongoing court battle, the lender, Wichita, Kan.-based Rapid Cash, claims it was all a misunderstanding.
The mix-up, they say, all came down to a rather unfortunate typo.
Stephanie Banks, 64, took out a $300 loan from Rapid Cash in the fall of 2013. At the time, Banks had retired early from her job as a bookkeeper in order to undergo chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.
Without any income outside her monthly Social Security benefits and with medical bills stacking up, Banks found herself short on rent money. She drove to a Portland, Ore., Rapid Cash storefront and put up her car as collateral for a $300 title loan, just enough to pay her landlord. The loan came with a 153% interest rate, the legal maximum allowed by the state of Oregon.
“I got a letter saying I owed Rapid Cash $40,000,” Banks told Yahoo Finance. “The letter almost gave me a heart attack. How could a $300 loan turn into $40,000?” Calls from the company’s debt collection department followed. “They said they would destroy my credit if I did not pay them immediately,” she said.
It’s not always a good idea to pay off old debts. In fact, making even a small payment on an old debt can be the worst thing you could do for your finances.
Debt collectors can be aggressive, despite the laws that are in place to prevent them from hounding you. When you’re being pursued by a collector, your first instinct is probably to get rid of them as fast as you possibly can. The debt might be so old you don’t even remember where it came from, but you decide to make a payment anyway — a small one — just to appease them and buy yourself some time. Next thing you know, you’re getting hit with a lawsuit for the entire debt owed.
“Some collectors are pretty sneaky and will ask you to make or commit to making a ‘goodwill’ payment for some very modest amount of money, like $20,” says credit expert John Ulzheimer. “But their intention was to restart the clock so that it is no longer time barred.”
Know your rights
Green Dot ( GDOT ), the largest issuer of prepaid debit cards in the US, found itself in hot water this week after a system outage left some customers without full access to their accounts for several days. The complaints centered on Walmart’s ( WMT ) Green Dot-backed MoneyCard.
Customers said in posts on Facebook and Twitter that they logged onto their accounts only to find their balances had suddenly been zeroed out. Some users said they were unable to access their funds to make purchases or ATM withdrawals.
The reason behind the system outage appeared to be a technical glitch that occurred when the company converted its processing software to a new system run by MasterCard, a company spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.
“It wasn't until I started leaving comments on their social media that they responded to me and had everything fixed in less than 24 hours,” she said.
Green Dot has over 4.5 million active users in the US, according to SEC filings.
Weddings shouldn’t bankrupt the bride and groom. I’ve got some great tips on how to save on your big day this week on The Payoff.
Use a decoy cake. I’ve talked to a lot of brides about the cake. A lot. And they all tell me that at 6 bucks a slice, it’s a big waste of money. Instead, buy a smaller, fancy cake for cutting. Then order a large, no-frills sheet cake to cut up in the kitchen for guests.
Go digital. For $40, I signed up for an app called Appy Couple. It sounds corny, but it’s actually saving us a ton of cash. We don’t have to spend money on RSVP cards because people can RSVP directly on the app or the free website that comes with it. There is a bunch of other wedding planning apps and websites out there if you’re tech savvy.
Choose whatever flowers are in season. Getting married in October? Don’t go for June or blooms like daisies or orchids. You’ll save a lot by choosing flowers that are already in abundance during your wedding season.
Better yet, buy your flowers wholesale. Skip the florist.You can buy flowers in bulk from wholesale shops like Costco, BJs or even Walmart. Use them for bouquets, centerpieces or just about any other decor you need.
Robin Wright asked for more and she got it.
At a charity event earlier this week, the “House of Cards” actress told the story of how she negotiated a pay raise that would put her on equal footing with her co-star, Kevin Spacey. (Spacey is rumored to earn half a million dollars for each episode of the hit Netflix series.)
Wright saw her opportunity when “statistics” she was following showed that her character on the show was becoming more popular than Spacey’s character.
So she pounced.
“I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public.’ And they did, ” Wright told the audience to rapturous applause, later adding “You do have to shame and guilt them into it.”
And all at once, another equal pay “shero” was born. Wright joins a growing list of A-list Hollywood actresses like Jennifer Lawrence , Patricia Arquette and Emma Watson to publicly denounce the pay gap that has long plagued women in Hollywood on both sides of the camera.
Millions of workers will receive an early Christmas present this December — overtime pay. Under new rules announced by the Obama administration Wednesday, 4.2 million workers will become eligible for overtime pay in a move meant to correct a decades-long trend of declining overtime pay for American workers. Employers have until Dec. 1 to start complying.
Since 1975, the share of workers who qualify for overtime pay has plummeted from 62% to 7%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With the new rules, 35% of workers will be eligible.
Here’s everything you should know about the new rules — and what it might mean for your paycheck:
The salary cap for overtime pay will be doubled.
Expect many workers to get a nice raise.
But don't be surprised if companies respond by cutting hours.
The new regulations don’t solve all workers’ overtime problems.
Livingston points out that the new regulations only increase the salary threshold for overtime-eligible workers. But there’s another key component that determines whether workers are overtime-eligible that has nothing to do with their salary — it’s their job duties and how their employer classifies them.
New research from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows just how easy it is for cash-strapped borrowers to get sucked into a vehicle title loan debt trap.
Auto title loans share many of the same nefarious qualities that have made their cousin, the payday loan, such a hot target for regulators. Both products are fueled by triple-digit interest rates (except in states where they are either banned or have specific interest rate caps) and are issued without taking into account the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. While payday lenders use a borrower’s proof of income (like a pay stub) to underwrite their loan, auto title lenders use a borrower’s car as collateral.
Because the value of the title loan is based on the car’s value, title loans also tend to be much larger than the typical payday loan — $959 vs. $392. On average, a title loan consumes half of the average borrower’s paycheck, according to past research by Pew Charitable Trusts. If the loan isn’t repaid, the lender has the right to take ownership of the car.
Burlington College is the latest casualty in a growing list of private liberal arts colleges that have collapsed under financial struggles and lagging student enrollment. The school announced its closure in a statement Monday, blaming the move, in part, on the “crushing weight” of debt it incurred after a 2010 real estate purchase arranged by then-president Jane Sanders, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Jane Sanders served as president from 2004 to 2011 and left her post after a dispute with the college’s board over her decision to buy 30-plus acres of lakefront property from the Archdiocese of Burlington to expand the campus and attract new students. The move was unsuccessful.
Unlike public institutions, which are heavily subsidized by federal and state funding, and elite private schools, with billion-dollar endowment funds, small private schools depend almost exclusively on tuition and room and board fees for revenue.