Friday Grab Bag – 9/4/2009

Suze Orman on Saturday Night Live

While the quality of Saturday Night Live is hit or miss these days, we thought this was a pretty solid spoof of everyone’s favorite (or most despised) personal finance guru. The snap-on collar bit is genius.

Suze Orman in real life

While not as funny as the skit above, Suze’s “Debt Loyalty List” offers some interesting advice about what to do when you can’t make all your payments. Which ones should you let slip? Her answers may surprise you (for instance, she suggests paying your credit cards down last). Thanks to Good Financial Cents for featuring the clip from the Suze Orman Show (in which Suze doesn’t appear to be wearing a snap-on collar, darn it!).

Ready to give up on paying down your debt?

Don’t! Instead, start by following You Have More Than You Think’s 5 tips for staying motivated and getting rid of debt, once and for all. The process goes something like this: develop a plan (a realistic one, not pie-in-the-sky), track your progress, and find a group of supportive friends (ditching—at least temporarily—those only interested in hanging out if it involves running up large bar tabs or dining at fancy restaurants).

How to do the credit card hop…without hurting yourself

While balance-transferring debt among credit cards can be a lot like passing a hot potato, PT Money shares his strategy for how to make it actually work for you. He tells how to effectively use 0% credit card offers to get rid of your debt (as long as you avoid the associated pitfalls).

Hook, line, and sinker…

…is usually how credit card companies get us. Fiscal Geek shares the top 10 forms of “debt bait” creditors and lenders use to hook us. Knowing their M.O. allows us to better protect ourselves from piling on more debt (no matter how good a deal it might seem). So don’t stop to investigate that tasty morsel of “Extra Rewards Points” or “Overdraft Credit Line Protection.” Just keep swimming.

Worst-case scenario warnings

I love it when people keep things simple. I’m much more likely to read a big fat warning label than I am to put on my glasses and stumble through the fine print in a 100-page manual. Just tell me everything I need to know in short, accurate segments and I can be on my way, thank you very much. Well, the Oblivious Investor serves up some crucial financial information in just this manner. Check out his post for five not-to-be-missed warnings about credit cards, mutual funds, and stock trades that could save you a ton.

New credit card legislation doesn’t protect the lazy

While the CARD Act goes a long ways in taming the big bad credit card industry, it doesn’t hand us perfectly fair credit terms on a silver platter. That’s right, those of us who are lazy or play fast and loose with credit can still screw it up. The Suburban Dollar provides insight on how not to let the advantages offered by the credit card bill of rights slip through our fingers.

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How happy are you with your credit card company?

8,000 consumers were asked how happy they are with their credit card companies, on a scale of 1 to 1000. No creditor earned higher than a 783, but no one earned less than a 667 either. The scores were based on how happy customers were with company interaction, billing processes, fees and rates, reward programs, and benefits and services. Thanks to Jim at Bargaineering for breaking it down for us.

HSBC extends helping hand to its disabled customers

The same bank that won the Customer Satisfaction Survey mentioned above also recently announced plans to make it easier for disabled customers to challenge credit card transactions. Granted, these changes were prescribed by the U.S. justice system as the result of a lawsuit from Barbara Ruel, an HSBC customer with vision and hearing loss. Ruel spent three months trying to remove a fraudulent charge from her card (HSBC customer service reps refused to fill out the fraudulent transaction form that her disabilities prevented her from filling out herself). Mandated or not, HSBC’s actions are still admirable. Hopefully other banks won’t be far behind in following suit.

New York CEO admits he stole his employees’ identities

Identity thieves comes in all shapes and sizes. Take, for example, this white-collar business owner who used his employees’ personal information to take out over $1 million in loans. (Granted, the money was used to try and save his failing computer firm, but still…) This is one form of identity theft that we are utterly powerless to prevent: Not much can be done to stop a sneaky employer from using all of that juicy personal info we hand over on a job application. The best strategy in this case is one of early detection.

The Red Flags Rules are coming! The Red Flags Rules are coming!

We’ve heard this one a few times, and then the FTC pushes the enforcement date back. The Red Flags Rules are the new identity theft prevention requirements the FTC is placing on businesses. But enforcement of the requirements are starting to feel a little bit like Boy Crying Wolf…I just can’t take the new November 1 deadline seriously. (The original deadline was November 1, 2008, and then May 1, 2009, and then August 1, 2009…). Ah well, businesses should probably start preparing just in case.


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