Monday, January 3, 2011

Name that Phone Number! Find the Address!

Dec 30, 2010 Jerome Niemi

Reverse phone service is very handy. - Simon Howden

Reverse phone service is very handy. - Simon Howden

Needless to say, there are a number of pack rats and clutter freaks that accumulate things like papers and various other similar tidbits that they just hate to throw away. Many people are disorganized and find themselves frantically searching through their purses or piles of clutter to find that particular paper with the important information. While sorting through their mess, they find post-it notes and scraps of paper with a phone number jotted down, but no name. Then they ask themselves the big question: Whose number is this?

Why do some have a tendency to jot down phone numbers without names? Most likely we tell ourselves we were in a hurry and didn’t bother writing down the name. Possibly we insisted that we would remember who the number belonged to just by glancing at it. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Reverse Phone Search

By now we’re all accustomed to the convenience of locating the telephone number of a person or business, just by doing a search by name online, but what if all one has to go by is a phone number? How do he or she go about finding out whom that number belongs to? It’s easy!

There are sites as Dex Knows and White Pages that allow you to find one’s name and address by looking up their phone number. Simply look for a box labeled “Reverse Phone”, type in the area code and phone number then click the adjacent search button. Best of all, these are free sites. Likewise, there are sites that charge, so unless you don’t mind paying a monthly fee for the privilege to seek out background information on a regular basis, it’s best to avoid them.

Why Use Reverse Phone Search?

Not only is reverse phone search great for sorting out your clutter of phone numbers, but great when responding to classified ads. It is useful when looking for a job, dating, looking for an apartment, or purchasing an item listed in the newspaper. Ads are typically short and often lack information about the party who placed them. Of course you want to find out more as much as possible before you call them.

Knowing the address to the person or business ahead of time is helpful. Once the location is known, one can determine if they’re conveniently located or not. Likewise, a potential customer can decide whether this is a desirable location to do business in or not. Most of all, knowing the address can save a great deal of unnecessary driving.

Copyright Jerome Niemi. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Credit Counseling's Debt Management Plan May Hurt Credit Scores

Jan 1, 2011 Candice Gillingwater

A Reputable Credit Counselor Helps You Manage Debt - Mikecco

A Reputable Credit Counselor Helps You Manage Debt - Mikecco

If you’re struggling to pay off your creditors and get out of debt, credit counseling may seem like a viable solution. Consumers are continually bombarded with ads for nonprofit credit counseling agencies on television, in magazines, newspapers and on the radio. Even the federal government recommends credit counseling as a debt management solution. Unfortunately, while a qualified counselor may help you escape your debts, your credit score could suffer in the process.

How Debt Management Plans Work

After a credit counselor reviews your debts and income, you will be enrolled in the company’s program via a debt management plan. Agreeing to a debt management plan gives the credit counseling agency the right to accept payments from you on a periodic basis and distribute those payments to your creditors. Debt management programs reduce your total debt load in one of the following ways:

  • Debt settlement
  • Reduced interest rates
  • Reduced fees
  • Lower payments

Credit Counseling Does Not Directly Affect Your Credit Score

A common misconception about credit counseling is that it damages your credit rating. In reality, credit counseling itself is not responsible for any damage your credit score may incur by enrolling in a debt management program. While some creditors will update your credit report to reflect the fact that you are paying your debts via a credit counseling program, others will not. Regardless of whether your participation in the program appears on your credit report, this fact does not in any way impact your FICO scores.

See: How Debt Management and Credit Counseling Affects Credit Score

Debt Management Plans and Debt Settlement

Although your participation in a credit counseling program does not impact your credit scores, the methods credit counseling agencies use when negotiating your debts can hurt your credit.

Debt settlement, for example, is a particular danger. Unless your creditor agrees to report the settled debt as “paid in full” rather than “settled,” your credit score will drop as soon as you settle the debt. This is because the credit scoring system serves as a risk indicator for lenders. Settling a debt for less than you originally agreed upon indicates that you will be likely to do so again in the future – making you a higher lending risk and adversely impacting your credit score. Settling a debt with a third-party creditor, such as a collection agency, however, does not have the same negative credit impact.

Missed Payments Impact FICO Scores

No law requires your creditors to cooperate with a credit counseling agency. Because of this, a credit counseling agency you have authorized to manage your account payments for you via a debt management plan may withhold payments from your creditors and allow your account to fall into default.

Once a debt you owe falls into default, the company will be more open to negotiating a favorable payment plan simply to receive payment. The downside to this is that your payment history significantly impacts your FICO scores. Each missed payment further damages your credit rating – even if, due to your enrollment in a debt management plan, you are not aware that your payments aren’t arriving at their intended destination.

Reputable Credit Counseling Programs

You can avoid the damaging consequences of some debt management plans by choosing a reputable credit counseling agency and asking the right questions beforehand. Some questions you may want to pose to your credit counselor are:

  • How do you negotiate with my creditors?
  • When do you send payments to my creditors?
  • Do you ever withhold payments?
  • Is debt settlement a goal of this program?

Obtaining the credit counseling agency’s guidelines and regulations in writing before signing a contract helps you avoid signing up for a service that may reduce your debts but decimate your credit scores in the process. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that all consumers considering credit counseling contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for a list of licensed professionals in their area.

See: Government Approved Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Services


Federal Trade Commission: Knee Deep in Debt

  • A Reputable Credit Counselor Helps You Manage Debt - Mikecco

    A Reputable Credit Counselor Helps You Manage Debt - Mikecco

  • A Debt Management Plan Can Lower Credit Scores - Ambrozio

    A Debt Management Plan Can Lower Credit Scores - Ambrozio

  • Watch Out for Credit Counseling's High Fees - TALUDA

    Watch Out for Credit Counseling's High Fees - TALUDA

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Friday, December 24, 2010

How to Barter: 3 Thoughtful Gifts You Can Get Bartering

Dec 22, 2010 Jennifer Silva

Learn how to barter & show you care with your time - bobrus

Learn how to barter & show you care with your time - bobrus

Bartering for gifts is a great way to show you’re willing to put time and effort into finding thoughtful gifts for friends and family. So just because you’re broke (or like to live like it) doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to barter for meaningful presents that will be loved. Swapping for gifts isn't only a great way to save money, it's a smart, low-rent way to show you care.

Swap the Past for a Present: Bartering for Gift Scrapbooks

A lovely, heart-felt way to catalog family events and friendships is a custom scrapbook. Bartering for a scrapbook shows how much an event or person means to you, and it makes a beautiful gift laden with sentiment and emotional value. Not only is scrapbooking a popular hobby with young and old alike (so it's relatively easy to find everyday people open to bartering), there are small businesses that specialize in scrapbooking who are probably open to a barter exchange too.

When bartering for presents like scrapbooks, you'll need to take the time to gather photos and small souvenirs, and be willing to share a bit of information about friends, family and events with your scrapbooker. This will help her put more meaning and "story" in your gift, making it the unique and special gift you want it to be and a memorable gift that is sure to be enjoyed for years (if not decades) after you've given it.

Creative Gift Bartering: How to Barter for Custom Art

There's a reason they're called "starving artists." As unfair as it may seem, there are plenty of talented, skilled and hard-working artists out there who are willing (or forced) to barter their talent and time. So, if you're willing to fairly compensate them, bartering for custom art objects is a brilliant way to give friends and family one-of-a-kind gifts that could even appreciate in value over time.

Not sure what sort of art to swap for? Think about the person you're bartering for: Do they enjoy gardening? You could barter with an artist who works in metals for a unique garden sculpture or lawn ornament. Are you bartering for gifts for a new mother, grandmother or father? Then consider swapping for a gift portrait from a painter or skilled sketch artist. Or maybe you know someone who just bought a home or moved. Swap for a wall hanging or painting that matches their new decor. Not sure what present to barter for? Start off your bartering by asking the artist for suggestions: Artists are creative folks to begin with, so they're sure to give a few thoughtful gift suggestions.

When swapping for gifts of custom art, you'll need to find swap-friendly artists to choose from and, more importantly, you'll need to have an idea of the fair value of that artist's time and materials. Expect a wide range of values when bartering for art, depending on an artist's medium and popularity. Sure, you're probably looking for a bargain (who isn't?) but it's important that you still respect the artist's training and craft.

Picture This: How to Barter for Photographic Gifts

Who wouldn't love to have a family portrait done by a professional photographer? Or to have a special event filmed or photographed? The nice thing about swapping for gifts like photography and videography is that it's an adaptable present that lends itself to a seemingly endless number of life events. Whether you have friends getting married, celebrating their 50th anniversary, or graduating from high school, swapping for this gift gives your friends a way to remember their special moments (and you at the same time). Barter for photography and you're sure to give a one-of-a-kind present that will be remembered for years to come, especially if you also barter for an accompanying photograph album.

How to Barter: Learning the Fine Art of Bartering

Whether or not you’re short on money, swapping for gifts is a wonderful way to find thoughtful gifts year round. Worried you don’t have any skills worth bartering for or don't know how to barter to begin with? You shouldn't. Everyone has a skill worth bartering. Can you do taxes, give a car a tune up, or give a great hair cut? Then you've got a skill a worth bartering. Can you walk a dog, run errands, or keep a clean house? Then you do too. Remember, bartering is less about things and more about people: just find swap-friendly websites, businesses and people open to bartering and you're sure to work out a deal from there. And the more you barter, the better you'll get at it. So just learn how to barter from swap-friendly pros and you'll be a master barterer in no time.

Copyright Jennifer Silva. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

  • Learn how to barter & show you care with your time - bobrus

    Learn how to barter & show you care with your time - bobrus

  • Barter for a gift scrapbook & share memories - ba1969

    Barter for a gift scrapbook & share memories - ba1969

  • Learn how to barter for art for valuable gifts - elisafox

    Learn how to barter for art for valuable gifts - elisafox

  • Learning how to barter for custom art takes time - pale

    Learning how to barter for custom art takes time - pale

  • Bartering for gifts show time and effort - rosym

    Bartering for gifts show time and effort - rosym

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best-Selling Christmas Gifts

Dec 21, 2010 Kerry Gallagher

iPod Touch, popular Christmas gift - IPod_touch_2G.png: Kyro

iPod Touch, popular Christmas gift - IPod_touch_2G.png: Kyro

Amid the recent focus on electronic gadgets, several sources are reporting a comeback for the likes of Lego and collectable toys as Christmas gifts this year.

Budget Constraints mean Simple Gifts

British newspaper The Telegraph reports that budget constraints have meant parents have cut back on fancy electronic gifts and opted for more ‘traditional’ toys instead. These include games, such as Monopoly, or stuffed toys such as Sylvanian Families.

Overall, the average price of the projected most-popular toys has fallen, with The Telegraph citing British retalier Sainsbury's as cutting the price of all toys by 50 percent.

CNBC reports that lower-priced toys are popular this year. It also states that a trend is toward buying collectable items, such as Zoobles, Squinkies and Sing-A-Ma-Jigs.

Lego, a best-seller

But Lego seems to be the big winner as a result of this year’s trend.

Walmart reports that a relatively cheap Lego set is the number one selling toy for online shoppers.

This claim has been backed by Amazon.coms rankings, in which Lego is excelling.

In their best-sellers list, in the toys and games category, Lego products are first and second, with the “Sigma 3 Remote Controlled Helicopter” in third place.

Amazon's Best-Sellers

Further examination of Amazons best-sellers list is revealing.

In electronics, the “Kindle” is number one and two, with the “iPod Touch” third.

In movies, “Inception” comes in first and third, with its box-set and DVD editions respectively. The “Despicable Me” DVD is third.

The “Canon EOS Rebel T2i” is the best selling camera. The “Flip Ultra HD” video camera is third and Canon is also third in this category with the “Powershot SD 1300”.

The top three video games are “Just Dance 2” for the Wii, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” for the X-Box, and “Donkey Kong Country Returns” – also for the Wii.

Most Popular Books

The George W. Bush penned “Decision Point” is the hottest selling book on Amazon, with the “Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1” second and “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption” third.

USA Today also ranks “Decision Point” as the top-selling book, with other top-sellers being “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth” and the Tom Clancy, Grant Blackwood novel “Dead or Alive” also high on the list.

Meanwhile, KTXS News reports that the hottest selling toy is the "Kinect" game system. Walmart also reports this is the second-most popular selling toy, behind the Lego set.

Consumer Spending

Overall, according to Gallup, consumer spending in the USA is about on-par with that of a year ago., but that level of spending has been relatively lower in the past few years. However, this data considers overall spending, not just Christmas purchases.

Copyright Kerry Gallagher. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

  • iPod Touch, popular Christmas gift - IPod_touch_2G.png: Kyro

    iPod Touch, popular Christmas gift - IPod_touch_2G.png: Kyro

  • Lego, a popular low-tech Christmas gift - de:Benutzer:Priwo

    Lego, a popular low-tech Christmas gift - de:Benutzer:Priwo

  • Traditional toys are making a comeback - Husky (talk | contribs)

    Traditional toys are making a comeback - Husky (talk | contribs)

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How and Why the Titles of Financial Salesmen Have Changed

Dec 21, 2010 Peter Owen

Remember back 20 years when the telephone would ring during dinner and the caller would say "Hi, my name is John Doe and I’m your new local Met Life Representative calling to welcome you to the neighborhood". You immediately knew he was an insurance salesman who was trying to get in the door to sell you insurance. Or the caller might have been a stockbroker calling to sell his newest stock pick. The same went for Accountants, Financial Planners, and Investment Advisers. The financial landscape was easier back then since you knew who the players were, exactly what they did, and why they were calling. The financial landscape changed in 1999. The players and their motivation are essentially the same, however, each of them now sell more varied products. When they call during dinner they now introduce themselves as Financial Advisors or Financial Consultants or a myriad of other general financial titles. Even after listening to them for 5 minutes on the telephone, you still cannot be sure exactly what they want to sell you. What changed to make the financial landscape so confusing?

Financial deregulation in 1999 expanded the salesman's product line

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999,(Pub.L. 106-102, 113 Stat. 1338), was enacted on November 12, 1999). It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and it repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, opening up the market among Banks, Security Companies and Insurance Companies. The Glass-Steagall Act had prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company. Previously, an insurance salesman could only sell insurance, your banker handled only your bank accounts and loans, your accountant kept the books and did your tax returns.

The 1999 Act allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate. For example, Citicorp(a commercial bank holding company) merged with Travelers Group(an insurance company) in 1998, in anticipation of the new law, to form the conglomerate Citigroup, a corporation combining banking, securities and insurance services under one company. Citicorp After the merger, Citigroup included Citibank, Smith Barney, Primarica , and Travelers.

The Financial Superstore comes to Mainstreet

In the 1990’s, Americans were becoming familiar with the concept of the Superstore and loved the convenience of one-stop shopping. Companies such as COSTCO, STAPLES, and Home Depot were all thriving. The financial community began following all the other industries by creating the Financial Superstore. Once the financial superstore concept was born, the financial landscape began to change.

Starting in 1999, insurance companies formed or bought banks. Banks formed or bought insurance companies. Most financial institutions began selling all products. Now, when you walk into your local bank branch, you deposit your money and are asked if you would like to speak to a representative to review your insurance, or mutual funds, or credit cards, or loans. If you encounter an insurance salesman, he asks you about where you have your investments and starts talking about mutual funds. Your accountant wants you to hold the phone so that his insurance team member can talk to you.

The New Financial Players

Since the financial salesman had the ability to sell a number of products, they all change their titles. The new titles became financial consultant, financial advisor, financial representative, or a host of other titles. Now when the call comes in during dinner, the person introduces himself as a financial advisor and you cannot be sure of the caller’s motivation in making the call. Is he selling mutual funds, or insurance policies, or wanting you to hire him for investment advice?

Essentially the deregulation of the financial community served to confuse the general public. Now we just do not know who the players are. We do not know their strengths, weaknesses, background and we do not know if the person is a specialist in any one area.

What is the motivation of the financial salesman?

While the titles have changed, the players still remain basically the same, though with some additional capabilities. A salesman who starts out at an insurance company is still taught insurance principles and how to sell insurance. Even though he may have additional products, his specialty is still insurance products. If a person from one of the insurance companies calls and wants to talk about a myriad of products, you can be fairly sure in the end that is he is going to try to sell you an insurance policy. Likewise when a person calls from one of the financial companies and wants to talk about a number of products, you can be fairly sure that the subject will turn to the selling of mutual funds for your portfolio. The point is a salesperson's background and the company they work for still determine the person's motivation in what they want to sell. It is important to get at the person's background and motivation so you know what danger signals to look for while listening to the sales pitch.

The other danger with the financial superstore is the knowledge of the salesman concerning specific products. A person who spends his entire life selling insurance understands these products and understands what is best for the buyer. The financial superstore concept reduces the knowledge of the salesman. A general salesman who attempts to sell many different types of products cannot be expert in each one of those products. The average citizen may end up buying an insurance policy that does not suit his objectives or mutual funds which are not totally understood by either the seller or the buyer.

How to deal with the Superstore salesman

When the call comes in from the financial advisor, the first thing to ask is what company he works for now. This will give an indication of the salesman’s motivation. Then ask about the salesman's credentials. If the person states that he has a Chartered Life Underwriter Designation (CLU) you can be assured that this person is an insurance salesman. Ask about which companies the person has worked for in the past. You will probably find that he has worked for either all insurance companies or all financial companies or all banks during his career. Normally people do not start at an insurance company, move to a bank. Ask about his specialty if you cannot determine this from his professional designations. People start off with a specialty and become an expert in that specialty. If the person states that he is expert in all areas of investments, life insurance, and banking, you may want to be quite skeptical.

Essentially the financial landscape has changed, but the players have not changed. Salesmen are still salesmen.

Copyright Peter Owen. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Do Herbalife Products Cause Hepatitis?

Dec 21, 2010 Christopher Pascale

Are Your Vitamins Making you Sick? - Julie Elliott-Abshire

Are Your Vitamins Making you Sick? - Julie Elliott-Abshire

Herbalife is a publicly traded company based out of Los Angeles, California. Since 1980 it has allowed people the opportunity to become independent sales reps with the opportunity to lead others to do the same in the form of multi-level marketing, or network marketing.

Like any large organization with several decades of experience, there are some controversies behind this one. For example, in 1986, the state of California claimed that the company made inflated claims regarding income potential for which Herbalife settled for $850,000, and in 2004 thousands of current and former distributors took the company to court on the grounds of running a pyramid scheme. Herbalife settled the latter case for $6,000,000 (less than $700 each).

Along with these legal matters are much more pressing health concerns. Several medical resources have found that Herbalife products may actually cause hepatitis.

What is Hepatitis and how is it Caused?

Hepatitis can be characterized as an inflammation of the liver. One visible symptom is jaundice, and less visible ones are lack of appetite and a feeling of overall discomfort.

Hepetitis is typically caused by a virus, but it can also be caused by toxins when taken regularly, such as alcohol or an infection that is already present. The question on many people's minds regarding Herbalife products would be, how could these products be linked to infecting those who take them?

The answer is in the ingredients. There has to be something toxic in some or all of the products released by the company, but it is hard to know which ones because the FDA does not regulate herbal supplements the same way they do medicine. This is why athletes find out via heart attack that ephedrine is not so great, and how health conscious people discover that they may be poisoning themselves the hard way, as reported in a 2007 article published in The Journal of Hepatology titled "Herbal Does not Mean Innocuous."

Countries That Have Reported Illness Links to Herbalife

It is important to note where the sources are that have reported on Herbalife. This is because some people go on the attack against networking companies because they think they are dangerous or terrible, and some governments are anti-capitalistic, so they would be against a company like Herbalife because they do not want their people to have too much freedom and control.

In 2004, 12 patients in Israeli hospitals with severe liver problems had one thing in common. They were taking an Herbalife supplement that aided digestion. When their liver enzymes normalized, they resumed their normal regimen of the product and were sick again.

The 2007 article noted from the European Journal of Hepatology had several sources, one of which was medical professionals from Switzerland. In it, the ten most severe cases covered showed two patients with "certain causality" while the other eight had "probable causality." The duration of the illness ranged from two months to twelve years.

The objective here is not to demonize a company or industry, but to alert consumers that when a Herbalife distributor pitches the quality of their products, they may be pitching high end hepatitis. And while the ingredients linked to causing disease in the past may have been rid of, it does not mean that today's products are safe.

Without FDA interaction, humans are the test subjects for herbal supplements. The best way to go when it comes to supplements is to use one with a long track record of not hurting its users.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

But I Have a Zero Balance! Residual Interest on Credit Cards

Dec 16, 2010 Evan Dicken

Credit card debt is a growing problem in America. Last year, the Obama administration passed sweeping reforms that limited various fees, and required banks to be more upfront about payment schedules and interest. One factor that was not addressed in the 2009 Credit Card Act was the interest rate structure itself. Additionally, many consumers remain unfamiliar with the methods banks use to calculate interest on their credit balance. This information is no "magic bullet" for debt relief. However, a basic of how credit card interest "works" is a fundamental step towards planning for financial independence.

One of the most common credit card misunderstandings involves Residual Interest. Residual Interest occurs when a cardholder who usually carries a balance from month to month pays off the entire amount in full. Unfortunately, just because the balance has been reduced to zero does not mean that there are no more interest charges to pay. Many consumers are surprised the month after paying down a large balance by a letter from the bank saying that they still owe several hundred dollars (or more) in interest. If left unpaid, residual interest can even form a new balance on the card which can in turn create more interest, restarting the cycle of debt.

Residual charges are a function of how most banks assess interest rates. Although charges are compiled monthly, they are actually assessed daily. Basically, at the end of the billing cycle the bank takes the balance the account held at the close of every business day, adds them together, divides them by the amount of days in the cycle, and then assesses interest on each day to produce a monthly bill. The simplest way to represent this is:

(D1 + D2 + D3…) x (APR/365) = Interest Charge

D = Balance at the close of a particular day

APR = Annual percentage rate on a credit card

365 = The number of days in the year (remember the 'A' in APR stands for 'Annual.')

Because most consumers get a bill at the end of the month, they assume the charges are monthly, when in reality the bank only does the math at the end of the month. Since charges accrue daily, even if a consumer pays his or her balance down to zero he or she is still responsible for the interest that accrued for that portion of the billing cycle that he or she carried the balance. These leftover daily charges are what are known as "Residual Interest." If it sounds a bit confusing, that's because it is. Let's plug some numbers into our formula to represent a normal billing cycle.

For simplicity's sake, let us say the cycle is only five days long and the interest rate is 20%. The customer carried a $10,000 balance from last month. On day one $200 in purchases are made, on day two $300 are made, day three $100, day four nothing, and day five $400. So the customer's balance would look like this:

Initial = $10,000

D1 = $10,200

D2 = $10,500

D3 = $10,600

D4 = $10,600

D5 = $11,000

So our formula would be:

(10,200 + 10,500 + 10,600 +10,600 + 11,000) x (.20/365)

52,900 x .000548 = $28.98

$28.98 may seem like a small amount of interest on over $10,000, but remember that our imaginary billing cycle is only five days long. If the customer made no more purchases for the rest of the month and we assume a normal billing cycle of around 30 days, the interest actually charged would be around $175.00!

Now that we understand how interest is assessed, it's time to tackle residual finance charges. The example above assumes that the consumer is making no payments on the card during the billing cycle, but what if he or she pays off the balance in full mid-way through the cycle? Let's increase the number of days in the cycle to 30, and say that the customer pays off the total balance on day six. So our balance would look like:

D1 = $10,200

D2 = $10,500

D3 = $10,600

D4 = $10,600

D5 = $11,000

D6 = $0

D7 = $0


…and our formula would be:

(10,200 + 10,500 + 10,600 +10,600 + 11,000 + 0 + 0 + 0 etc.) x (.20/365)

52,900 x .000548 = $28.98

Since the interest is charged daily, the customer is still responsible for those five days in the billing cycle that he or she carried the balance, even though it was paid in full on day six. No interest is charged from the day the balance was paid onward, but the customer is still going to get a bill for $28.98 for the first five days when he or she did have a balance. That is a residual interest charge.

There is no way to avoid residual interest except to pay your bill, in full, on the day that it is calculated. This is not possible through traditional mail (as it takes several days for the credit card bill to reach a consumer's home…several days you are being charged interest), but can be done online if a consumer is aware of his or her cycle dates, or sets up some sort of direct payment.

Fees and interest charges represent the credit card companies' largest single source of income. Some are inescapable, but the vast majority can be lessened or avoided entirely by simply understanding how and when they are assessed, and making sure that you do not run afoul of any credit card pitfalls.

Copyright Evan Dicken. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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