What Do You Do If You Can’t Return a Gift?

What Do You Do If You Can’t Return a Gift?

Inevitably a good percentage of us will return a gift that we have received at Christmas. Most of the time, returns are pretty easy. However, there are the times when it doesn’t work out. Do you have any recourse? Wallethub.com who we get a lot of our credit card research from just issued a report that I thought was useful to share with you.

They state that many credit cards offer a return extension service. This card benefit allows you to get reimbursed for an item that you were trying to return but couldn’t. The report details out how this benefit works and what cards have the best benefit. For more information, click here.

Are Emergency Funds a Bad Idea?

Are Emergency Funds a Bad Idea?

I came across an article today that I had to comment on.  It was about Emergency Funds.  The Title was Emergency Funds Are a Bad Idea.  Here are some excerpts.

 “If the experts are going to issue a blanket recommendation to millions of people that they should all create a buffer to tie them over in unforeseen circumstances, it would make far more sense to say, “Instead of amassing an account that pays you 0%, or a few basis points above that, maybe you should focus on closing out an account or two that’s costing you 15%.”
Even for a person who has amassed debt, it still makes sense to build an emergency account. At some point, you have to be able to stop accumulating debt and stop the bleeding. After all, debt is often the result of unforeseen expenses that an emergency fund would have handled.
“But this is where the irony lies. Because, as a rule, the folks who are diligent enough to live without consumer debt usually pay their bills on time. They do not impoverish themselves so they or their offspring can attend college, and they do not spend extravagantly. They are also the ones who are going to be least prone to emergencies, and thus least in need of any emergency fund.”
Well I can’t say that I follow that logic. They are also the ones who are going to be least prone to emergencies? The last time I checked unforeseen problems can happen to anyone.
“Worried about a debilitating illness or injury? We have health insurance for that.”
I don’t know about you but my health insurance doesn’t always cover everything and I am looking at a $6,000 deductible before they start paying.  I would like to know that I have at least $6,000 handy in the event that life happens.
“Well what if I loose my job?  Well, what if you do? There’s this thing called unemployment insurance. Your employers pay into it and it’s for your benefit. We also have a workforce in which (overall, if not in every individual case) 95% of those who want jobs have them.”

Ask the high percentage of unemployed people if they agree with that 95% number.
Then my favorite piece of advice as an alternative to funding a savings account with your emergency fund.
“You can also pick a higher-risk blue chip stock or bond fund – which adds to your risk, but gives you instant access to your funds if you need them. Either way, you’d be building wealth instead of watching it methodically diminish.”
After all, you can’t lose money in a stock or bond fund – right? Why would you utilize a long-term investment for a short term problem? Instant access? What if you are down -10% in that stock?  Would you want to be liquidating it for an emergency?
Bottom Line – Emergency funds help keep you out of debt because the credit card is where we go when we can’t pay with real money. They are not designed to increase your net worth. They pay nothing because risk free earns nothing these days. Emergency funds are designed to be risk free because you don’t take risk on something that needs to remain liquid. Finally, emergencies will happen unless you are immune to change.
Tomorrow  – Some creative ways to create emergency funds.

Merry Christmas

christmas-xmas-christmas-tree-decorationMerry Christmas

This will be my last note of 2016. I want to encourage you in this great Christmas season to focus on the Present. The past is gone and the future is unknown. The Present is the only thing that is real. The Present is God’s Gift to us. There is a tendency to let the past create regret and the future to create stress when the past is nothing but a memory and the future is under God’s control. I would encourage everyone to take some time and reflect in gratitude on the Present all of God’s blessings and reflect on that Holy Night when God gave us the greatest Present of all. May each of you have a wonderful and Merry Christmas!

The Case for Being Uninsured – Dr. Jane Orient

Healthcare Financial 1The Case for Being Uninsured 
I had Dr. Orient on the radio show yesterday to discuss this article. She makes a pretty good case for going without insurance.  

December 6th, 2016
The Case for Being Uninsured
Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Republicans say they are going to “replace” ObamaCare, but they will come up with something very similar and at least as bad if they start with the same misguided objective: “universal coverage.”
There are necessities of life, but insurance is not one of them.
Just what good is that little card in your wallet? Once it has expired, it is good for absolutely nothing, even if you have paid $100,000 or more for it over a period of years.
It might be a ticket to get you into certain medical facilities, but in these days of narrow networks, it will keep you out of others. It by no means guarantees that the facility will provide you with the care you need or want—or even that you won’t get an outrageous bill, especially before you meet the deductible.  It will guarantee that you will be paying for a lot of things you don’t need or want. Some will be other people’s medical care, or anti-tobacco lectures, or alcohol rehab (even if you are a teetotaler). You’ll pay for some things just because they are “quality” metrics—hospice evaluation is a newly proposed one. And you will definitely pay for administrators, managers, monitors, clerks, claims processors and re-processors, etc., all of whom get their paycheck or their pension even if your doctor doesn’t.
Many people choose to be uninsured, even if they are a good risk and can afford insurance, and more end up uninsured because they are a bad risk or can’t afford it, or simply choose to use their money for something else. In 1940, less than 10% of the population had health insurance.
You could go your whole life, and never miss that insurance card.
Most people, of course, do need medical care at some point. If they are uninsured, they can go to the doctor and whip out their checkbook, just like your mother or grandmother did, and just like you probably do at the veterinarian’s, the dentist’s, the massage therapist’s, or the mechanic’s.
The best reason for having insurance of course is the unexpected accident or catastrophic illness. Oh how I miss my AAA catastrophic policy that I had for years. It cost about $250/year and had a $25,000 deductible but promised to pay about $1,000,000 above that. They changed the rules and started requiring a “basic” (or “comprehensive” policy), which would cost about $10,000. So I said no thanks, and increased my automobile policy to the maximum medical coverage.
There’s still the risk of an expensive medical illness. What then?
I have actually bought quite a lot of medical care and paid out of pocket, although I have never filed a medical insurance claim. For one reason or another, insurance probably wouldn’t have paid anyway. And if you ask, the cash price is often quite reasonable, and the service prompt and courteous.
But what about something really expensive, like surgery or cancer therapy? Options include medical “tourism” abroad or in the U.S. Look for a price online, for example on MediBid.com or Surgery Center of Oklahoma (surgerycenterok.com), or ask in advance at facilities of your choice.
One option is to do without. Sound terrible? Well, it would be the patient’s choice, not President Obama’s deciding the patient would be better off with the “pain pill.” Nor would it be the insurer’s decision that the care was “unnecessary,” “inappropriate,” “not prudent,” or “experimental.” And of course if you decided to do without, you’d still have your money, not having paid it to the insurer in advance in exchange for a worthless promise.
There’s the risk of a bona fide emergency, with no time to think about the cost. Fortunately, these days you’ll still get the care in the U.S. If you have assets, you might have to sell them to settle your hospital bill. But consider this: would you rather buy a nice car and risk having to sell it to pay a bill, or pay the insurance company the same amount and never get to drive the car? If you have to borrow money to pay a bill, the interest is likely less than the amount it costs to funnel the money through a third party. And charity or cost-sharing ministries help a lot.
If most bills were paid directly instead of through a third party, medical care would cost far less. Wouldn’t that be better for everybody?
Everybody—except those who profit from gaming the system.
Cancer patients’ stories are featured. But they would probably be worse off with universal third-party payment.
Too much “insurance” (third-party payment) is the problem—not the solution.
The right to be uninsured is a necessary safeguard—not a threat to the system.
 Jane M. Orient, M.D.obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Since 1988, she has been chairman of the Public Health Committee of the Pima County (Arizona) Medical Society. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fourth editions of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosispublished by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf’s Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf’s Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, NeomortsandMoonshine. More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, theDoctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

An App That Will Help You Get the Best Deals This Christmas

Money In A LineAn App That Will Help You Get the Best Deals This Christmas

I get all types of press releases sent to me during the week. When I come across something worthwhile, I want to pass it on to you.

Have you ever bought something at full price and then find out it went on sale? Well, there is a new app by Slice called Slice Drops that gets shoppers money back when items they have previously bought go on sale.

Slice Drops cashes in on a little secret savvy shoppers know: many merchants will refund you the difference if something you bought goes on sale after you bought it. This new free app scans billions of online purchases, and once it sees that an item you bought is on sale, it not only tells you about it, but will send an e-mail on your behalf to get you your refund. It is that easy.

Slice has been helping online shoppers keep track of their online purchases with its indispensable Slice shopping app, which tracks packages, spending, and sales to save shoppers time and money, for years. The price drops function was a favorite feature, so they decided it deserved its own app that tracked price drops better than ever – including offering price protection on Amazon purchases – and called it Slice Drops.

Slice saves the average user more than $30, but we’ve heard from people who have gotten hundreds of dollars refunded on purchases.

Newest Credit Cards Are Consumer Traps – Be Careful

credit-cards11-lgNewest Credit Cards Are Consumer Traps – Be Careful

They tempt you with 0% balance transfers for long periods of time. They try to attract you by offering rich rewards programs. The reality is today’s credit card offers are more abusive than ever and are nothing more than a trap.

When applying for a credit card, most consumers read the one page terms and conditions. However, that is not where the real details lie. The real details are in the cardmember agreements. This is a much larger document. However, the credit card companies don’t make these readily available. They send this to you in the mail after you already have the card. If you use the card once, you have agreed to the terms of the contract. I can sum it up this way.

If you make one mistake, you can actually ruin your credit and have legal action taken against you. Here is a sampling from one of the Citi-cards cardmember agreements.

Penalty APR. If you have a Late or a Returned Payment, we may apply a penalty APR to your account. We determine your penalty APR based on your creditworthiness.  (That is pretty standard.)

Closing or Suspending Your Account. We may close or suspend your Account if any of the events listed above occur, or for any reason, or for no reason. We may do this at any time, without notifying you, as allowed by law. We may cancel your current card and issue you a substitute card at any time. If we close or suspend your account, or if you close your account, you must pay us all amounts you owe on the account, even if they post to your account after it’s closed or suspended (my underlining for emphasis).

This section provides that disputes may be resolved by binding arbitration. Arbitration replaces the right to go to court, have a jury trial or initiate or participate in a class action. In arbitration, disputes are resolved by an arbitrator, not a judge or jury. Arbitration procedures are simpler and more limited than in court (this protects the credit card company – the consumer rarely wins in arbitration cases).

Collection Costs. To the extent allowed by law, you’re liable to us for our legal costs if we refer collection of your account to a lawyer who isn’t our salaried employee. These costs may include reasonable attorneys’ fees, as well as costs and expenses of any legal action.

So, let me get this right. A credit card company can close your account at any time without even a reason, charge you penalty rates if you are late with your payment, demand that you pay in full at any time, and then if you have a complaint against them take away your right to try your case in a court of law. Oh and if they declare you in default and demand payment and you cannot pay, they will put you into collections and you will be responsible for all of the attorney fees that occur while trying to collect your account.

Credit card agreements are the only consumer contract where the deal can change at the whim of the credit card company. Is it any wonder they don’t make the details readily available?

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