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Credit & Debt

There's no better symbol of our debt-addicted culture than the credit card. Businesses love them because studies show people spend 30% more when paying with plastic. The average U.S. household now sports 16 credit or charge cards, and carries $8,000 in balances, paying an average of roughly $1,000 per year just in credit card interest alone. If it seems like there must be a better way, there is.

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By Mark Biller
Whenever you apply for or use credit, your behavior is being watched and summarized, with all the details landing on your credit report. Reading your report may seem like a sure-fire way to cure insomnia. But there are important reasons to stay on top of the information in your credit report. We explain why it's important to periodically review your credit report and what to look for.
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By Matt Bell
Today, one in five adults has student debt, and that debt is proving to be too heavy a load for many to carry. Some 30% are either in default or are in a hardship program that allows them to temporarily suspend payments. Thankfully, with plenty of options available to struggling borrowers, there's no reason to default on a student loan.
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By Matt Bell
The 401(k) account is this generation's go-to method of saving for retirement. However, because it's so easy to borrow against the balance in a 401(k) account, it has also become a popular source of cash for short-term wants and needs. Here's why raiding your retirement account is not a good idea, and some better alternatives for those with immediate cash needs.
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By Ron Blue
Debt can be made to look harmless, even helpful. But watch out. It's often a financial wolf in sheep's clothing. Continuing his series on the deceptions of debt, personal finance author Ron Blue looks at three ways that debt is often sold as beneficial.
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By Ron Blue
There are four major deceptions regarding debt that are regularly repeated by the financial and business classes. Author Ron Blue unpacks the first of these this month.
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By Matt Bell
Few things have risen in cost as fast as college tuition. Even if you've been saving diligently, you or your kids may need to borrow to fill in the gaps. Here's what the college loan landscape looks like today.
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By Matt Bell
When you're deep in debt, giving money away can seem impossible or even foolish. Here's an encouraging story of one couple that put their commitments ahead of their circumstances, and the blessings they experienced as a result.
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By Matt Bell
Consumer debt is so common in our culture it can seem normal, even unavoidable. And once you build up a lot of debt, getting out can seem impossible. But as our new Associate Editor knows firsthand, it ­is possible to get out and stay out of debt. Here's his proven seven-step plan.
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By Matt Bell
It's tax time and, for whatever reason, you don't have the money to pay the amount owed on your return. What should you do? Here are seven specific recommendations to minimize any future problems with the government.
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By Matthew Pryor
How do online-only banks provide better yields for savers, and should you be concerned about safety risks when banking online?
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By Austin Pryor
Creating and following a spending plan is a crucial financial discipline, without which few people ever progress financially. But how do you implement a spending plan effectively? Austin delves into his personal experience to provide these six steps to budgeting success.
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By Austin Pryor
The vast majority of people will never progress financially without a spending plan. If you've resisted living on a budget, it's time you seriously considered the nine benefits of creating one.
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By Austin Pryor
Have you ever wished you could begin again — wipe the slate clean and start over? Many who are carrying heavy debt loads sure wish they could. If you're among them, the good news is that you can make great strides in the year to come. Here's a good way to start.
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By Andrew Pryor
Have you ever figured out what your holiday gift-giving actually costs you? We provide a few tried and true ideas to help keep the lid on your holiday expenses this season.
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By Norman W. Bunn
Chafing over the low yields available today on traditional savings products? If you have at least a three-year time horizon, you might want to consider Lending Club.
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By Joseph Slife
Modern life has convinced many people that cash is a pain and credit/debit cards are the way to go. Here are five reasons to reconsider your relationship with cash.
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By Joseph Slife
"God designed marriage to be a blessing. He intends married couples to use money — even challenges with money, even crises with money — to bring them closer together rather than separating them." So says Howard Dayton, founder of Compass — Finances God's Way, in describing the Money and Marriage God's Way small group study they've recently released.
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By Joseph Slife
Credit-card companies are ramping up efforts to find new customers by offering attractive sign-up perks. Just keep in mind that cards are set up to ultimately benefit the issuer, not you.
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By Randy Alcorn
We've heard the warnings for decades: At every level (personal, municipal, state, national), we are borrowing and spending too much. The financial crisis of 2008 showed how quickly things can turn ugly when the credit mechanisms of a deeply indebted world seize up. Many fear that by attempting to "fix" the problem with still more debt, we may have sown the seeds of an eventual repeat (or worse) of the recent crisis. Whether or not that ultimately happens, we need to examine our personal attitudes about debt and make sure they conform to the Bible's clear teaching on the subject.
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By Russ Crosson
Husbands and wives typically respond to debt in very different ways — sometimes creating serious conflict. Understanding these eight common reactions will help you understand your spouse better and guard your relationship against the dangers of debt.
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By Russ Crosson
In this conclusion of a two-part series, Russ suggests practical steps a husband and wife can take to minimize the potential for debt to harm their marriage.
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By Joseph Slife
Recognizing what went wrong last time may help you succeed in creating a new spending plan that really works.
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By Joseph Slife
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 prohibits issuance of a credit card to anyone under age 21 — unless the young person has an adult co-signer or an "independent means" of repayment. We explain what this means for young adults heading to campus this fall.
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By Joseph Slife with Austin Pryor
Because of the emphasis placed on credit scores by lenders, landlords, and employers, knowing your score — or at least one version of it — is a smart move. We explain the options for finding out how you rate.
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By Mary Hunt
Think you can't get into financial trouble if you use a debit card rather than a credit card? Think again. Debit cards carry plenty of risks too.
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By Matthew Pryor
A "smartphone" can be a terrific tool for tracking your spending and keep your finances up-to-date. We review several apps that can make it happen.
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By Jill Barville
Planning your wedding doesn't have to be an exercise in frayed nerves and busted budgets. With flexible strategies, savvy shopping, and creative approaches, planning a wedding can be a positive and educational experience — for both bride and groom.
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By Liz Pulliam Weston
Unable to make ends meet? You may not want to hear this, but the culprit may be sitting in your driveway.
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By Austin Pryor
"We'd like to start prepaying our mortgage, but we can't do that and invest for retirement. Which should have the priority?" Good question. Let's run the numbers.
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