Cable TV and Cars – News to Go

personal finance news

This morning I had some time to catch up on the news and a few stories in the newspapers and online have caught my eye. Two fo them have to deal with the deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The other story is running the numbers on buying a new car or a used car in terms of maintenance.

Comcast’s Pricing personal finance news

We are currently Time Warner Cable customers, so  we’re watching the news to see what is going to happen with Comcast. This Sunday the NY Time’s Farhad Manjoo did an analysis of Comcast’s current services and speculated on how future customers would be affected.

Many families have dropped cable hoping to get big savings, but Comcast has priced their services so cord cutter aren’t really getting much of a discount. In fact, Manjoo found that it was just $10 more for a TV/Internet bundle that also included mobile service.

Time Warner Cable Got Its Price, for a Price

The Comcast deal is also on the news on the Wall Street Journal, with their story focused on the trade-off Time Warner Cable made to get the price they wanted. The deal is all stock and the price Time Warner’s CEO Rob Marcus wanted is $160/share.

The WSJ goes into details about some protections that are NOT included with the deal, such as a consolation fee if the deal is rejected by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.

Used Cars are Not Money Pits, New Cars Are

Jacob from I Heart Budgets shares how buying a reliable used car will put you financially ahead by going over the typical life of a car for one owner from purchasing it the car to selling it off. He examines the idea that buying a high mileage car leads to more money on repairs. He looks at some scenarios and shares his take on what kind of car works in the long run.

For us, we’ve found that buying our cars with no loans has made our monthly budget less stressful. After paying off our car loan years ago, we made it a goal to buy used cars (after thoroughly researching) and driving them until repairs are exceed savings or circumstances necessitate a different car.

Through the years, I’m happy to say that the older cars have done an incredible job holding up, allowing us to do minimal maintenance and still save money for the next time

 Thoughts on Money News That Matters to You

What money and personal finance stories are you following this week? How do you feel about the Comcast/Time Warner deal? What’s your take on buying cars – do you prefer new or used? Do you finance or buy with cash?

Watch Out for Tax Phishing Scams

1040 tax form

With many people filing their taxes now to get their refunds, con artists are eager to get their hands on your money. The IRS updates its site to include the latest tax scams and hoaxes. They are several, but I want to share two common ones that you should be aware of this tax season.

Identity Thieves Masquerading as the IRS1040 tax form

One popular way thieves get their hands on your money is phishing scams. For those unfamiliar, these scams involve someone impersonating a company or agency, like the IRS and contacting you with the hopes of tricking you into giving them personal and financial information.

Just know that the IRS does not ask for financial or personal information via email. The con artists can create very authentic looking emails and website, so please contact the IRS directly by phone at 1-800-829-1040 or search for your local office to get answers. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, DO NOT CLICK on any attachments. You may download a malicious virus onto your computer. You can forward the suspicious email to phishing@irs.gov.

Another elaborate scam that the IRS is warning about is  where people receive a phone call from a supposed IRS agent who is demanding an immediate payment on back taxes. Sometimes that masked their numbers and make it appear that the call is coming from the IRS, but it is a scam. Report the attempt to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

Please be aware the IRS only initiates taxpayer contact by mail and only accepts payment in check or bank transfer, traceable means. If the caller wants you to pay now with a debit or credit card, hang up.

Protect Yourself and Your Money

If you want to get more information, the IRS has a dedicated page on some of the more popular scams out there right now.

Travel Savvy: Knowing When to Vacation

travel to nc mountains

For some, a holiday is the chance to lie on a white, sandy beach, the wash of a turquoise ocean and a soul-soothing soundtrack as they absorb a UK summer’s worth of rays in a couple of days. 

travel to nc mountains

For others, a holiday is a voyage of discovery, exploring to-them-unknown territories, experiencing native cultures and standing in awe before both natural and man-made wonders. Some see their holidays as a two-week long party, broken only by bleary-eyed bouts of bathing in the hotel swimming pool.

Some party in a different way altogether, adrenaline rather than alcohol rushing their systems as they snowboard from perilous peaks, fling themselves from cliff edges or hunt the highest waves to ride.

Such different goals – the goal to escape the humdrum back home aside, of course – and yet they share a further factor. They’re largely dependent on the weather.

Find out the Best Time of Year to Travel

The right amount of sun, the right temperature, the right sort of snow, or the right amount of wind. Nature produces the world’s most breathtaking landscapes and enables some of mankind’s most absorbing pursuits. So choosing the right weather – the right season – for a holiday destination is of course essential.

Yet we all know someone who’s failed to find out the best time of year to travel to their preferred holiday destination; the couple honeymooning in the Maldives, packing solely beachwear, only to find themselves trapped in their admittedly luxury hotel by monsoon season deluges; the sun-seekers who, spying an irresistibly cheap holiday in Spain, pay little attention to geography and never check the annual climate charts – instead spending their holiday wrapped in a towel indoors, playing cards with a deck of 51.

It seems so obvious to check local weather conditions before you book a holiday, and when we hear of such ill-planned holiday perhaps some of us hide a little scorn behind our sympathy. But it could happen to anyone – you spot a last-minute holiday, bargain price, and leap before you look. Leaving aside those occasions when completely unforeseeable climatic conditions unhinge the best of plans, edge of season bookings always carry some risk. So it’s worth taking your time and doing your holiday weather research before you book.

Travel sites can help you find the best deals so you’re maximizing your savings and going at the best window for travel at your favorite destinations.

Imagine visiting New England during the fall, to see the leaves turn myriad colours as autumn progresses – but arriving mid-November when the spectrum has been exhausted.

Imagine booking a skiing holiday in the French Alps mid-spring, only to find that the best of the snow has begun to turn to slush.

Thoughts on Scheduling Travel

With the weather there are few cast iron guarantees, but by studying a holiday region’s historical weather reports – rather than just looking at the season’s average temperature – you can avoid booking a holiday that doesn’t deliver what you’re hoping for.

 

How to Rebuild your Credit after Divorce

Divorce wreaks havoc on both emotions and finances, but you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in a population of 1,000 people, 36 of the marriages will fail. Your financial troubles may or may not be your ex’s fault, but they are your problem once the divorce is final. The key to rebuilding that part of your life is creating new credit alliances that have nothing to do with your former spouse. Consider some ways you can rebuild your credit if divorce demolishes it:

Lay out some ground rulesW

Create rules that put you in charge of your personal credit. Start by settling what you can as part of the divorce agreement.

  • Close out checking accounts
  • Pay off loans and credit cards from the marriage

Ideally, the divorce proceeding will divide everything up, so there are no more shared credit issues. If there are, take charge of what remains such as mortgage. Finance site Bankrate.com points out that home lenders consider you married, whether divorced or not. The best solution is to refinance the home and pay off your spouse or sell the property. If you choose to keep the house in both names, take responsibility for making the mortgage payments and ask your spouse to pay you directly to avoid late charges that affect your credit score.

A little about credit cards

Closing low-balance credit card accounts obtained during your marriage may initially cause your credit score to drop, according to FICO, especially if the debt remains the same. For example, if you owe nothing on three cards and close them, you have fewer cards but the same amount of debt. Keep unused accounts open, but ask to have them put in your name.

If the debt on a joint account is solely your spouse’s responsibility, make taking your name off the account part of the divorce agreement. Ask lenders to freeze credit accounts with balances to keep either party from using them until they can be paid off and closed.

Go old-school to prevent identity theft

Revert to your maiden name after the divorce. This creates a timeline for separating credit issues and allows you to establish your own post-marriage identity. Making this change protects you from spousal sabotage if things should get ugly. Change all your personal accounts (or open new ones) to that name, as well. Make sure to adjust your passwords on everything from your computer network to your ATM to protect your new identity. Hiring a credit monitoring service such as Lifelock will alert you to any changes, too and protect your identity.

Get Copies of your Credit Report

The Federal Trade Commission notes you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every twelve months from AnnualCreditReport.com. Credit reporting agencies are not going to remove accurate information, whether it was your spouse’s fault or not. You can ask, however, for an investigation into anything posted after the divorce or anything that seems improper.

Go through the reports and identify joint debts prior to the signing the agreement to resolve them. Make sure all debts your spouse is responsible for are in just the one name, too. Analyzing your credit score once a year gives you perspective as you work to improve it and move forward with your new life.