Nearly 1 In 4 Feel They’ll Never Escape From Significant Debt


According to the latest Household Debt and Credit Report from the New York Federal Reserve, America’s total household debt has surpassed $13.5 trillion. Do you sometimes feel like $13 trillion of that debt is yours?

Based on a recent survey by LightStream, almost one-quarter (23%) of Americans believe that it’s nearly impossible to climb out of significant debt once you acquire it. The sense of hopelessness can lead to bad decisions and a treadmill of running debt. In that harmful mindset, $13,000 might as well be $13 trillion – you’ll never pay it off anyway.

Don’t let despair blind you from alternatives. According to LightStream senior vice president Todd Nelson, “People who are carrying debt often overlook cost-reducing solutions.” Nelson adds that debt consolidation can be a smart strategy that can benefit Generation Xers (ages 36-51) with good credit.

Why does Nelson highlight Generation Xers? LightStream found that while large majorities of adult …

2019 Housing Market Predictions


Is 2019 the year you finally buy that starter home? Are you upgrading or downsizing to a new home? Are you interested in how your home value is likely to change over the next year? We offer these 2019 housing market predictions to consider as you review your housing plans for the year.

Inventory Will Ease a Bit, but for the Wrong Reason ­– Inventory is expected to increase slightly but that increase will stay below 7%, according to Unfortunately, that reflects people being priced out of the market as much as it reflects a supply of new homes. Growth in new home construction is expected to stay relatively flat, while overall demand is likely to decrease.

Inventory gains are concentrated in higher-priced homes and markets, implying that there are plenty of homes available for people who can’t afford them.

Talk of a recession starting as early as late 2019 may also scare off potential homebuyers who fear buying at the crest of…

How The Interest Rate Increase Affects You


Your Christmas gift from the Federal Reserve is here. Surprise! It’s another 0.25% hike in the Federal Funds rate. Sure, you’ve already gotten this same gift three other times in 2018, and nine times since late 2015 – but what else would you expect to receive from the Fed?

Interest rate hikes from the Fed really can be a positive gift to you, but it’s more likely to be a negative – depending on whether you’re a saver or a spender.

The Federal Funds rate is the benchmark rate used to transfer money between banks. This rate is generally passed on to consumers. Borrowers are charged higher interest rates on the money they borrow, while savers are eventually offered better interest rates on checking and savings accounts as well as certificates of deposit (CDs).

In some cases, the changes are passed on directly to consumers. For example, credit cards and adjust…

How To Protect Yourself From Mobile Malware


Do you take mobile device security as seriously as you should? You probably connect to the Internet more on mobile devices than you do on desktops – especially on smartphones, since you’re likely never far away from yours.

According to the 2018 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, newly discovered malware for mobile devices increased by 54% in 2017 compared to 2016. According to the report, over 26,000 mobile malware variations exist for your security system to fend off – and surely more appeared during 2018.

In 2017, malware was blocked from mobile devices nearly 24,000 times per day on average – and those are just known failed attempts. In addition, over 3,500 ransomware apps were blocked each month.

Even if your system successfully fends off malware, you could be plagued with “grayware” – programs that aren’t classified as malware but are annoying and potentially harmful. (Spyware and adware are prime examples.)

In 2017, 63% of graywar…

Consumer Credit And Blockchain


While you have plenty of tools to protect your personal information, your data is arguably in as much danger as it’s ever been. It’s not that you don’t take precautions (although many Americans don’t), it’s that your personal information is stored in so many places – some of which you can’t control.

“The challenge with identity theft in today’s day and age is we are an online culture,” says Adam Carroll, Founder and Chief Education Officer of National Financial Educators. “I think most Americans would be astonished to know how many places actually have their credit account and checking account numbers.”

Consider the Equifax data breach. Almost 148 million people were affected by a breach of their personal information at a company that many had no direct contact with – yet, without a credit file at Equifax and other credit reporting agencies, those people cou…

More Than Half Of Rewards Credit Cardholders Carry A Balance


Rewards cards can provide great benefits – but they can also tempt you to overspend. When that happens, you’re more likely to carry a balance and wipe out your rewards with interest charges.

According to a new survey by U.S. News, over half of America’s rewards cardholders have carried a balance at least once over the last twelve months. Only 46.6% of rewards cardholders never carried a balance, while 26.2% carried balances more than half of the time – and 19.1% carried a balance every month or every month but one.

What’s the effect of carrying a balance? Start by comparing interest rates with reward returns. lists the average rewards card annual percentage rate (APR) at 17.13%. Most rewards cards provide returns between 1% and 5%.

Consider this simple example – you have no previous balance and rack up $1,000 in rewards-eligible charges in a month, earning a healthy 5% rewards ($50). You pay off half the bill, carry the balance in…

Less Than 1 In 5 Of Us Change Passwords As Often As We Should


How often do you change passwords on all of your accounts? Or, are all of your passwords simply “password” or “123”?

Like most of us, you probably don’t change passwords very often or make them very challenging because you’re afraid you’ll forget them. As a result, we leave ourselves vulnerable to identity theft – yet we expect businesses to provide airtight security without inconvenience.

The 2018 Global Fraud and Identity Report from the credit reporting agency Experian assesses the balance between security and convenience for businesses and consumers. The report shows a clear discrepancy between our security expectations for businesses and our own security practices.

Over half of businesses (52%) still rely on passwords as the primary authentication method. Businesses may believe that consumers prefer the simplicity of password protection, but the Experian…

You Still Need A High Credit Score To Refinance


Times aren’t great in the mortgage refinancing market. According to the October 2018 Origination Insights Report from mortgage application software provider Ellie Mae, refinancing homes make up 32% of October’s closed mortgages – continuing a drop in refis that began five to six months prior.

It’s likely that mortgage rate increases are to blame for the decline in refis. The drop roughly corresponds to 30-year fixed mortgage rates breaking the 4.5% mark in May for the first time since January 2014.

Refinancing generally only makes sense when you can acquire a better interest rate than your current rate. After years of historically low interest rates, it’s less likely that you can find rates suitable for refinancing – unless you have improved your creditworthiness since taking out your original mortgage.

Lenders might be tempted to ease refinancing stand…

Now Is When People Fall Behind On Bills


Does your wallet take a bigger hit during the holiday season? If so, you aren’t alone. According to a recent study by LendingTree, more consumers fall behind on their bills in December than in any other month.

LendingTree reviewed anonymized credit report data from October 2017 through September 2018 and broke down the percentages of people who missed payments on any active account by month. December led the way with 7.5% of consumers missing at least one payment. October, November, and February were close behind with approximately 7.4% of consumers missing payments.

Note the correlation to holidays. October through December is the prime holiday shopping season (not everyone waits until December 24th to shop). Kali McFadden, Senior Research Analyst at