warning signs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/19358/all en-US 9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/anonymus_with_laptop.jpg" alt="Anonymous with laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you get mugged, you know immediately that you're the victim of a crime. But with identity theft, you can be victimized for years before you realize what's happening. And the longer the criminal uses your name, Social Security number, and credit, the more damage is done. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a>)</p> <p>With the recent Equifax breach exposing the personal information of as many as half of Americans, we could be in for an identity theft epidemic. Keep alert for these signs that your identity has been stolen, so you can stop the damage before it goes too far. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <h2>1. Strange bills or statements arrive</h2> <p>It's very important to always open your mail, even if it doesn't look important. A bill or statement from an unfamiliar service provider or credit account can often be the first sign of identity theft.</p> <p>&quot;You may think it's just junk mail, but you might discover it's an invoice for a surgery in a state where you don't live,&quot; warns Ann Patterson, program director of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. &quot;That is a very good indication that you've been a victim.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Bills stop arriving</h2> <p>On the flip side, make sure you are receiving all bills and statements you normally receive. If one falls off, it could be that a criminal has changed the address on that account, which could help them establish other accounts going to a different address.</p> <p>If your mail dries up altogether, that's a sign that a thief may have filed a change of address request at the post office &mdash; they could be getting all your mail with all the sensitive information found there.</p> <h2>3. Odd charges on credit accounts and checking accounts</h2> <p>Credit card companies have gotten good at alerting customers to fraudulent attempts to make charges, but they can't catch 'em all. Keep a keen eye on your credit card and bank statements. The first charge an identity thief makes may be small, because they're testing to see whether the card is active. There are also scammers out there who make their money by processing many small charges on many credit accounts.</p> <h2>4. Your find yourself getting rejected for things</h2> <p>Your health insurance company rejects your claim because you're over your annual limit &mdash; but this was your first claim. You're turned down for a new credit card or your charges are denied at the store. You apply for life insurance and are charged a higher rate due to a pre-existing condition that you don't have. The ATM won't give you any money.</p> <p>Don't brush off any of these events. It could be a fluke, or it could be a sign that something sinister is going on.</p> <h2>5. You receive suspicious phone calls</h2> <p>A neighbor of mine recently received a phone call that purported to be from her bank. The caller read back a list of recent transactions, which set her mind at ease that the call was legit, even though she knew that caller ID numbers can be spoofed. She was then tricked into sharing a PIN with the caller.</p> <p>What might be happening if you get a call like that? You may already be a victim of identity theft, with the criminal already accessing your bank account. They may use the information they already know to trick you into giving them more information, or the access they need to start stealing money.</p> <h2>6. You receive strange texts or emails</h2> <p>If you are smart, you've set up two-factor authentication on important accounts. This means that you have asked your bank or other service providers to email or text you before allowing you to sign onto your account or take other actions, such as transferring out money. The text may provide you with a one-time code that you need to type into the website to log in, for example.</p> <p>If you receive a text or email with a PIN when you didn't request one, this is a big red flag that someone has your login credentials and is trying to take control of your account. Contact the company immediately through the phone number on your statement. And change your password.</p> <h2>7. Creditors and collections agencies start calling you</h2> <p>You got a call from a car dealership warning that your payment is late. The only problem is you didn't recently buy a car, and you have no current car payments. This is a huge red flag. Do not simply write off such calls as errors or wrong numbers.</p> <h2>8. You don't receive your tax refund, or the IRS notifies you that you filed two tax returns</h2> <p>The Department of Justice reports that people have stolen billions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury by filing tax returns using stolen identities, and pocketing the refunds. Just make sure it's really the IRS contacting you, instead of a scammer posing as the IRS. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>9. There are accounts you don't recognize on your credit report</h2> <p>If any of the above warning signs occur, you should definitely request a free copy of your credit report and study it carefully. If there are any credit accounts listed there that you didn't open, your suspicions will be confirmed.</p> <p>Even if you didn't experience any warning signs, you should check your report regularly, especially in light of the Equifax breach. You can request a free report from each of the three agencies once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, so if you request one every four months, you'll be able to stay pretty on top of things. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F9%2520Signs%2520Your%2520Identity%2520Was%2520Stolen.jpg&amp;description=9%20Signs%20Your%20Identity%20Was%20Stolen"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/9%20Signs%20Your%20Identity%20Was%20Stolen.jpg" alt="9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance banking breach Equifax fraud identity theft mail fraud protection scams stolen credit cards warning signs Tue, 03 Oct 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2029964 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-647168754.jpg" alt="Woman learning when to walk away from her dream home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You think you've found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn't meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.</p> <h2>1. You can't afford 20 percent down</h2> <p>The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn't beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> &mdash; which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.</p> <p>Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can't hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save</h2> <p>Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn't spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.</p> <p>You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don't use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your &quot;dream home&quot; could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor</a>)</p> <h2>3. You didn't get a favorable interest rate</h2> <p>There are two key things that impact how much you'll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if the interest rate is too high. A modest difference in interest rate can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs over the lifetime of a loan.</p> <p>Your past financial history, debt load, and credit score impacts the interest rate that banks are willing to offer. The worse your credit, the higher the rate will be. If your credit score is low, you may be better off in the long run financially if you take time to pay off debt and make yourself more attractive to lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>4. Your income situation may change for the worse</h2> <p>You may have found your dream home, but your ability to pay for that house may be based on income that's no longer a sure thing. Have you recently lost your job, or are you on the verge of a layoff? Were you counting on income from investments that have not performed as well as expected?</p> <p>If your income situation is unfavorable, consider waiting to buy a home. You don't want to exacerbate a difficult financial situation by taking on more expense than you can handle at that moment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>5. It's a money pit</h2> <p>You're not opposed to a fixer-upper, but this house has more needed repairs than you bargained for. You also learned that it's horribly inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling. On top of that, there are sizable homeowners association and community fees that you hadn't taken into account. All of this adds up to a house that busts through your budget, and it may be a good idea to walk away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</a>)</p> <h2>6. There are signs that housing prices may drop</h2> <p>It's hard to predict where housing prices will go, but if the market is inflated, you may be better off waiting to see if prices come down. There are countless people who purchased homes during the housing bubble around 2005, only to see home prices drop precipitously. Many of these homeowners ended up underwater on their loans, and some even ended up losing their homes altogether.</p> <p>If you feel like the housing market is overheated and you are willing to be patient, you may save money on the purchase price if you wait for prices to drop. One big caveat to this is that it's also important to pay attention to interest rates. If interest rates are on the rise, it may be better to buy sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>7. The seller wants you to waive an inspection</h2> <p>During the housing boom more than a decade ago, competition for homes was so fierce that sellers often viewed a request for an inspection as a deal breaker. No matter how desperate you may be to land that perfect home, waiving an inspection is a risky proposition that could backfire on you. Without an inspection, you have no way of knowing if a home will be in dire need of repairs, now or down the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You</a>)</p> <h2>8. The seller wants you to waive a title search</h2> <p>A search of a home's title is a crucial aspect of the homebuying process. This is where a buyer may uncover things about the history of the home, including when it was built, who has owned it, and whether there are any tax liens. It's extraordinarily risky to waive this contingency, so if a seller insists upon it, consider it a red flag and run. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-15-year-mortgage-a-good-idea">Is a 15-Year Mortgage a Good Idea?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home loans inspections interest rates mortgage private mortgage insurance red flags title search warning signs Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Tim Lemke 1931276 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Avoid a "Sweetheart Scam" http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-476845526.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to avoid a sweetheart scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The &quot;Sweetheart Scam&quot; is nothing new, but the internet and dating sites have made it much easier to pull off. Scammers scour online profiles and use their charm to convince the victim that it's love at first sight. Before they know it, they're handing over all their money and valuables. Then, the scammer moves on.</p> <p>The FBI reports that <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/audio-repository/news-podcasts-inside-sweetheart-scams.mp3/view" target="_blank">losses from sweetheart or dating scams</a> have doubled in the past 10 years to between $15,000 and $20,000 per victim.</p> <p>It's a horrible crime. But, you can use these tips to avoid it, or stop someone you know from getting taken in by this heinous con.</p> <h2>1. Try not to get involved with anyone right after a relationship</h2> <p>Be wary about getting involved with someone else soon after an ended relationship. The sweetheart scam preys especially on those who are divorced, widowed, or recently single.</p> <p>At this time, you're at your most vulnerable. You're emotionally unstable, and you may be craving the attention of a new partner. You are more likely to be open to suggestion. Scammers are superb at reading your emotional state and manipulating you. So, be aware of anyone who approaches you soon after a break up of any kind, and if money comes up, walk away.</p> <h2>2. Don't give money or valuables to anyone</h2> <p>You could have met the nicest person in the world. They seem kind and honest. They are charming. They tell you everything you want to hear. But, pretty soon after laying this groundwork, the requests come in for money and valuables.</p> <p>They're small at first. They may ask for a few bucks to help cover a phone bill until payday, and they promise to pay you back. However, the requests will only get bigger as they gain your trust. Before you know it, you're handing over hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to someone because you genuinely think they love you. All they love is your cash. Once they have bled you dry, they'll move on. Don't give anyone money until you have a long, proven relationship, and know everything about them.</p> <h2>3. Research your new sweetheart<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Never take anyone at face value. The internet has given scammers an incredible resource. They can find images of people they want to look like, create fake websites, steal personal videos, and even create hundreds of phony friends.</p> <p>Even if everything is going great, do some digging. It doesn't hurt to do a background check; they're inexpensive and can give you a great deal of information. If you discover they have horrible credit and a history of bad debts and dubious deals, you may want to ask them about it. Do a reverse image search on their photos. Are they who they say they are? Are they insanely good looking? Check phone numbers. Check places like LinkedIn and Google+ to see if the information they have told you checks out. It never hurts to be too careful. If they're too good to be true, they probably are.</p> <h2>4. Talking on the phone isn't enough</h2> <p>There's nothing wrong with beginning a long-distance relationship, and for thousands of people every year, it works. But scammers love to operate over phones and emails. They'll refuse to show their real face, or meet in person. You've probably seen Catfish, the MTV show, and know how this goes. Fake photos, fake Facebook and Twitter profiles, sometimes even phony voices. Although seeing someone's face over a video call like Skype won't automatically protect you from a scam, it's a step in the right direction.</p> <p>If you get resistance, and a bunch of excuses, block this person. There is no reason someone cannot video chat in this day and age. Technology is dirt cheap, and even libraries have computers with webcams.</p> <h2>5. Find a safe place to meet and talk</h2> <p>If you want to avoid a sweetheart scam, meeting someone in person is essential. You'll get a much better impression of them face to face. So if you've reached the point where you're ready to meet, do it in a safe place. That is not your home, and it's definitely not their home.</p> <p>You are looking for a place that is well known to you, is occupied by people and/or staff, and has an easy way for you to leave. A public park is fine if it's during the day and plenty of people are around. But your best bet is usually a busy coffee shop or restaurant. These days, many bars and restaurants are staffed with people who know about the dangers of meeting people online. They may have notices posted in the bathrooms, providing code words that you can use to get you out of the situation.</p> <h2>6. Be wary of an early &quot;I love you&quot;</h2> <p>Do lightning-fast romances happen? Of course. Are two people meant to be together, and feel it the second they meet? Yes, sometimes. But the vast majority of people fall in love over time. You get to know the person intimately. You find out their flaws, and love them for every single one. You meet their family and friends. It's a process. If someone you meet blurts this out after a week or two, alarm bells should be ringing.</p> <h2>7. How's their grammar?</h2> <p>Many sweetheart scams originate in places like Nigeria, where English is a second language. Although technology like Google Translate helps to disguise this, you should pick up on mistakes that feel weird. This is not to say you should become a grammar Nazi, but if the texts and emails you get are worded in an odd way, with spelling errors most people wouldn't make, you may want to do some digging. Of course, talking on the phone, video chatting, and meeting in person would easily clear up this particular point of contention.</p> <h2>8. Listen to your friends and family</h2> <p>There's an expression that directly applies to sweetheart scams; you can't see the forest for the trees. When you become involved with someone, the heart rules the head for a while. You can get caught up in the other person so much, you don't see the obvious; that they're taking you for a ride.</p> <p>So, during this time, listen to your friends and family. At first, they may just give you subtle hints. But as you begin handing over money, they will usually raise the red flags and tell you to get out of the relationship. Don't ignore them. If they suspect your new love is not all he or she appears to be, take a step back. Do the research. They may be wrong, but if enough of them raise concerns, you should be worried.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-sopa-and-how-will-it-affect-you-0">What Is SOPA, and How Will It Affect You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/uglify-your-stuff-to-keep-it-safe">Uglify Your Stuff To Keep It Safe</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Technology con artists Internet manipulation online dating online relationships sweetheart scams theft warning signs Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Paul Michael 1921002 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Warning Signs Your New Boss May Be a Bad Boss http://www.wisebread.com/10-warning-signs-your-new-boss-may-be-a-bad-boss <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-warning-signs-your-new-boss-may-be-a-bad-boss" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-465251909.jpg" alt="Man learning his new boss is a bad boss" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new boss can be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, you could be in dire need of great leadership, and a new hire could turn everything around. But, this boss could also take you out of the frying pan and into the fire. Here are 10 clear warning signs that your new boss could be trouble. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-types-of-horrible-bosses-and-how-to-manage-them?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 9 Types of Horrible Bosses</a>)</p> <h2>1. A resume filled with job hopping</h2> <p>Before the potential new boss even walks into the interview room, there can be a huge red flag glaring at you on their resume. Of course, if you're not involved in the interview process, you won't see it. But these days, LinkedIn can be a huge help.</p> <p>If you see a lot of jobs over the course of the last decade, lasting less than two years each, this is a potential bad sign. Sometimes this behavior is easy to explain away, such as bad luck from layoffs, headhunting, or ladder climbing. However, it can often be down to attitude and ability. Someone with five or six different companies on their resume in the space of a decade must explain why. If they say it was always due to poor working conditions, bad coworkers, or a toxic corporate environment, you could be in for a bumpy ride.</p> <h2>2. A bone-crushing handshake</h2> <p>Men are more likely to exhibit this behavior than women, but it applies across the board. A handshake should be firm, brief, and forgettable. If it's too limp, and clammy, that comes with its own issues. But the boss who shakes hands with a vice-like grip is telling you a lot without saying a word. This is meant to intimidate, showing dominance and superiority. In fact, some people say that this kind of handshake borders on physical assault. If the new boss shakes your hand and you need a painkiller afterward, you're dealing with someone who is way beyond alpha dog. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-body-language-mistakes-that-sabotage-most-interviews?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Body Language Mistakes That Sabotage Most Interviews</a>)</p> <h2>3. They constantly steer the conversation back to themselves</h2> <p>There's a word for this &mdash; narcissism. The new boss may do everything in their power to hide it, but this kind of vanity finds a way to ooze to the surface.</p> <p>At first, it's harmless, if not annoying. You mention your kids, and the next thing you know, you're listening to a half-hour diatribe on how awesome your new boss is as a parent. But, this behavior can soon deteriorate into stealing credit for work you have done. It's not that they think they are stealing anything, by the way. They simply believe that they are the center of attention, and everything good that happens in the company has to be because of them. Be warned &mdash; this kind of boss will suck your successes like a leech.</p> <h2>4. You can never get a definitive answer on anything</h2> <p>If you're faced with this kind of boss, you've got trouble. There are several reasons why they will avoid answering your questions, and none of them are good. First, they simply don't know the answers. There's nothing inherently wrong with that at first, this is a new environment and it takes time to learn. But a boss that will not admit to it has an ego problem. Second, they don't want to answer you honestly, and that means they're playing politics. Third, they are unsure of the parameters of the project, and want you to figure it out and potentially take the blame should it all go wrong. If you cannot get clear answers, you're being given a clear red flag.</p> <h2>5. They are way too nice</h2> <p>There's nice. There's &quot;I'm new here, I'm trying&quot; nice. And then there's &quot;I'm way too friendly all the time and I'm hiding something&quot; nice. The first two, no problem; especially the second, when the boss laughs at a bad joke you tell, or chipperly asks if anyone needs coffee. Those niceties fade after the first few weeks. It's the over-friendly boss you have to worry about.</p> <p>These are the bosses who will smile, praise you constantly to your face, and act like your best friend. Meanwhile, they're berating you to upper management, and are sharpening the knives before they stab you in the back. An example of this comes from the Kevin Spacey movie &quot;Swimming With Sharks.&quot; When he is first introduced to the new employee, he's the model of awesomeness. It doesn't take long for him to turn into the boss from hell.</p> <h2>6. Way too stressed, way too soon</h2> <p>Stress is common in the average workplace, and that can understandably escalate when first starting a new position. However, there is a big difference between anxiety brought on by obviously stressful situations, and falling to pieces over the smallest dilemmas. If your new boss is calling emergency meetings every hour, or pacing the floors biting his or her nails, you've got a worrywart on your hands. They will escalate every situation way beyond the usual level of importance, and will in turn make your life a living hell. You'll be jumping to attention for the most pedestrian of tasks, and will have to talk your new boss off the ledge (hopefully just a metaphorical one) on a weekly basis. Good luck with this one.</p> <h2>7. They are micromanaging from the get-go</h2> <p>A good boss knows when to step in, and when to let the employees do their jobs. When a new boss starts, they will want to get to know what you do, and how you do it. But they should be relying on you to do your job without their assistance.</p> <p>If the new boss wants to be hands-on, and asks for daily (or even hourly) updates, you're dealing with a potential micromanager. These bosses create a bottleneck, with everything in the department having to go through them before it can proceed. It makes for a slow, painful workday, and they usually don't do the job as well as the individual employees. Autonomy is essential for a business to function efficiently, and micromanaging kills that process.</p> <h2>8. They berate their old company and the staff</h2> <p>When someone starts talking trash about his or her current job in an interview, be afraid. Be very afraid. While it is OK to have issues with the company, the issues should be discussed professionally, and with respect; and only if the subject is raised by the interviewer. If the trash-talking session comes without being prompted, and turns into a blame game, you've got a problem. This kind of boss will not be one to take responsibility for their actions, and is looking everywhere else for the cause of problems. And remember &mdash; if it's so easy for them to rebuke their current employer, how quickly will you become the subject of scorn?</p> <h2>9. They are inappropriate</h2> <p>After a month or two on the job, when the new boss is comfortable with the crew, you can expect a little relaxation and occasional off-color comment. But during the interview, and the first few weeks of employment, the new boss should be a model of professionalism. If they are spouting foul language and telling offensive jokes, imagine how bad things are going to get when they settle in? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-never-say-to-your-boss?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss</a>)</p> <h2>10. You just know it the second you meet</h2> <p>You can't quite put your finger on it, but the new boss just doesn't seem like a good fit. Maybe it's the way they conduct themselves, or walk around the office. Perhaps it's a turn of phrase they use, or an unusual glance in your direction. It could simply be that you cannot put your finger on it, but your gut is telling you this will not work.</p> <p>Do not ignore these feelings. Your lizard brain is there for a reason, and it's telling you there is something wrong. Hopefully, it's a gut reaction that turns out to be incorrect. However, most of the time, people know in the first few minutes that this will be toxic. It's now up to you to do the best you can to deal with it, and hope that the new boss is not your manager for very long.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-warning-signs-your-new-boss-may-be-a-bad-boss">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can&#039;t Ignore</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-types-of-bad-bosses-and-how-to-survive-them">The 8 Types of Bad Bosses — And How to Survive Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-absolute-worst-ways-to-ask-for-a-raise">The Absolute Worst Ways to Ask for a Raise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-succeed-at-work-despite-your-lousy-boss">How to Succeed at Work Despite Your Lousy Boss</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-your-boss-wishes-you-knew">10 Things Your Boss Wishes You Knew</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income bad bosses employer manager new hires personalities red flags warning signs Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:00:11 +0000 Paul Michael 1914543 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to recognize predatory lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Predatory lending has long been a problem for consumers. There is no exact definition of a predatory lender, but in general, these lenders either try to overcharge consumers for loans, or talk them into riskier loans that come with higher interest rates. Predatory lenders have one goal: They want to make as much money as possible on their loans, regardless of whether the loan product actually makes financial sense for the consumers.</p> <p>How, exactly, do people fall for this? It's actually not surprising when you understand the degree of manipulation predatory lenders will use. By targeting mainly elderly, low-income, or simply uninformed victims, these financial predators bank on convincing folks with poor or no credit that they have no other options for obtaining financing.</p> <p>If you don't fit the above criteria, don't think you're completely off their radar, either. Should you ever lose your job, need cash for an emergency, or suddenly find yourself facing steep medical bills, you just might be the next target of a predatory lender.</p> <p>Worried that a predatory lender might have targeted you? Here are the warning signs.</p> <h2>The Lender Wants You to Sign Now</h2> <p>Honest lenders will never pressure you to sign loan documents before you are comfortable. Legitimate lenders give you time to study the paperwork and research the fees and rates associated with the loan.</p> <p>Predatory lenders want you to sign paperwork as quickly as possible. That way, they can stick you with their high-cost loans before you have the chance to research lower-cost alternatives. Never do business with a lender who pressures you to act quickly. The odds are high that such a lender is a predator.</p> <h2>The Interest Rate Suddenly Rises</h2> <p>Predatory lenders like to entice new customers by advertising below-market interest rates on their websites or print ads. But when you actually call these lenders, you're told that you don't qualify for these low rates. Once these lenders have you on the phone, they'll try to convince you to sign up for a loan with a far higher rate.</p> <p>Don't fall for this trick. Companies that advertise interest rates that are far lower than their competitors are usually not trustworthy. The odds are high that these are predatory lenders trying to trick gullible borrowers.</p> <h2>They Tell You Not to Worry About Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Legitimate lenders rely heavily on your FICO credit score to determine if you should qualify for a loan and at what interest rate. This score tells lenders how well you've paid your bills in the past.</p> <p>Beware of lenders who say that your credit score doesn't matter or that they can approve you for a loan no matter how low your score is. Lenders who make these promises will charge you sky-high interest rates because they know that you're desperate for a loan. You're much better off working to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">improve your credit score</a> than taking out a costly high-interest-rate loan. Pay all your bills on time and pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Slowly, but steadily, your credit score will start to rise, and you can avoid the high rates of predatory lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>The Lender Asks You to Lie</h2> <p>Making false claims about your income or debt on a loan application is a crime, and you could face significant fines if you do. Predatory lenders, though, might encourage you to inflate your income or provide other false information.</p> <p>Ignore this temptation. No legitimate lender will ask you to lie on an application. Instead, lenders will take extra steps to make sure that the information you do provide on an application is true. For instance, they'll ask you to provide copies of your most recent paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and tax returns to verify your income.</p> <h2>Your Lender Tries to Talk You Into a Riskier Loan</h2> <p>Be careful if your lender continues to push a loan that sounds risky. Maybe you want to apply for a fixed-rate loan with a term of 15 or 30 years. If your lender pressures you to instead apply for an interest-only loan with a balloon payment &mdash; or something equally as complicated or risky &mdash; walk away. Legitimate lenders will never try to talk you into a loan that you don't want.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Panic If Your Credit Score Drops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-surprise-credit-limit-increase-can-harm-you">How a Surprise Credit Limit Increase Can Harm You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit score interest rates lies loans manipulation predatory lending risk scams warning signs Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:31:34 +0000 Dan Rafter 1901334 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can't Ignore http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_mortgage_trap_63718741.jpg" alt="Learning house hunting red flags you can&#039;t ignore" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've found the home of your dreams. The price is right, the time is right, and you have the down payment ready to go. But before you get your heart set on the property, you need to be aware of some red flags that could make you change your mind. Here are 12 potential issues that should give you cause for concern.</p> <h2>1. Some Part of the Property Is Off-Limits</h2> <p>When you go to an open house, you expect it to be, well, open. The homeowner wants to sell the property quickly, and creating any kind of hurdle, be it locked doors or bolted sheds, is a warning that something may be wrong. It could be that the person showing the home simply wants to keep some valuables locked away. If you're interested in the home, ask to come back later to see what's behind those closed doors, with an escort. If they still say no, you've got your red flag. And if it remains locked during the inspection, run away. There could be anything waiting for you, including bugs, water damage, faulty electrics, or any number of hazards.</p> <h2>2. The Neighborhood Is a Ghost Town</h2> <p>Depending on when you visit the home, and where the home is, you will see various things happening in the streets &mdash; kids playing, people out mowing the lawns, and a general feeling of regular activity. If the neighborhood is deathly quiet, take a closer look. Why is it so quiet? If you start seeing a lot of &quot;For Sale&quot; signs, and see that some properties are in a state of disrepair, you could well be moving into a place that most people are trying to escape from. Ask around, and talk to neighbors if you can. It may just be it's a very quiet neighborhood. But it could also be a place that is quickly becoming abandoned.</p> <h2>3. Popcorn Ceilings</h2> <p>Used in homes between the late 1950s, through to the late 1980s, popcorn ceilings were a trend that thankfully died out. Aside from being horrendously ugly, and difficult to paint, they could also pose a serious health hazard. Many popcorn ceilings contain white asbestos fibers, and that is nothing you want to mess around with. It takes a professional crew hours to remove it, and the charge can be up to $3 per square foot. Multiply that by all the rooms in the house that have the tacky popcorn ceilings, and you could be looking at thousands of dollars in labor. If you see it, ask the seller if they can have the popcorn texture removed on their dime. Or, ask for a reduction in the house price to deal with the costs of removing it.</p> <h2>4. Strange Smells and Unusual Stains</h2> <p>Where there is a funky smell, there is usually an underlying cause. It could just be some weird cooking that happened the night before, but chances are, it's something ingrained in the home. You may be smelling mildew, mold, or water damage in the floors and ceilings. Get your nose inside areas where smells can be hiding, like closets, cabinets, and the corners of basements and attics. And if you smell nothing but air fresheners in every room, the seller may be trying to cover up an offending odor.</p> <h2>5. Recent Painting and Decorating</h2> <p>To be fair, some homeowners want to freshen the place up before selling it, to get a better price and a quicker sale. But look at the type of redecorating that has happened. If it looks consistent throughout the home, or one room has been completely redone, then that's probably fine. But if you're seeing little patches of new paint and paper, they may be covering something the seller wants to hide. If you see some major construction work has just happened, you must get it inspected thoroughly. If the renovations were done in a hurry, and didn't have permits, they could be dangerous, or even deadly. It's not unusual for load-bearing walls to be removed, to open up a layout, causing serious structural problems.</p> <h2>6. Poor Upkeep and Maintenance</h2> <p>Unless you're buying a brand-new home, you will be living in a house that has been lived in before. We all hope the current owner has done his or her best to keep the property in tiptop condition, but it's not always the case. So, look for signs of a lazy homeowner. Are several doors really tough to open and close? Are some of the light switches and sockets cracked or broken? Do you see wallpaper peeling at the corners, or burned out bulbs that haven't been replaced? All of these can signal a homeowner who didn't maintain the property, and could signal bigger issues that you will only find after moving in.</p> <h2>7. Faulty Wiring</h2> <p>It's not as easy to spot as a couple of dangerous loose wires sticking out of the wall; faulty wiring can be lurking behind switches and faceplates. When going through the home, check all of the switches, even on the garbage disposal. If there are issues, like flickering lights, circuits that buzz and hum, excessive heat, or just switches that do not work, it could be a sign of larger electrical issues. Old wiring that has to be brought up to code can be costly, and should be a burden on the seller, not you.</p> <h2>8. Signs of Pests</h2> <p>As you walk through the property, look for telltale signs of bugs and rodents. Are there mouse traps hiding in the corners of the garage? Do you see shelves full of pest control products? What about droppings? Do you see a lot of dead bugs on the window ledges and in the basement and attic? Any of these signs, and many more, can be an indication of a pest problem that could be costly. If it's termites&hellip;very costly.</p> <h2>9. Old Heating and Cooling Systems</h2> <p>When the house was built should help you figure out if the heating and cooling systems should have been replaced by now. In some cases, they should have been replaced multiple times. The average life span of a furnace and air conditioner is 13&ndash;20 years, depending on the make and model. If you're looking at a home that was built in the 1980s, those systems should have been replaced twice. So, take a close look at the age of the units, or ask the seller to tell you how old those items are. To replace them both can cost many thousands of dollars. Also, ask for them to be turned on. If you notice strange sounds, they may be in need of repair or full on replacement.</p> <h2>10. Heaving Closets and Storage Spaces</h2> <p>One of the big complaints many homeowners have is storage space, or the lack of it. If the home doesn't have a basement or attic, you should definitely check out the state of the cupboards, and the garage. Can they even get a car into the garage? If it's full of their things, chances are, you are going to have storage issues, too. If the cupboards are threatening to pour the contents all over you when you open the door, that's another big red flag. Of course, they may be hoarders, but if you see that it's just regular items that are jammed into every available corner, you have a storage problem on your hands.</p> <h2>11. Rugs and Wall Coverings Everywhere</h2> <p>Homeowners can get pretty creative when it comes to hiding stains, holes, and damage. If you notice area rugs in every room, lift them up. It could be that the rugs are disguising unsightly carpet stains, or damaged floor coverings. If you see walls covered in posters, frames, hangings, and even drapes, look behind them, too. They may be hiding a whole host of problems, including wet rot or dry rot.</p> <h2>12. Cracks</h2> <p>Most homes develop a few hairline cracks over the years, as the house settles on the foundation. But cracks in the walls and floors that are greater than a third of an inch wide are a cause for concern. It's highly possible the house has serious structural problems, and you may have to foot the bill for some very costly repairs and foundation work.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what">You&#039;re Ready to Make an Offer on a House: Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here&#039;s What It Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">What You Need to Know About Homeowners&#039; Associations</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a house damages decorating dishonesty house hunting maintenance neighborhoods red flags repairs warning signs Wed, 14 Sep 2016 09:30:27 +0000 Paul Michael 1792245 at http://www.wisebread.com How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_suit_thinking_53925384.jpg" alt="Man wondering if too much investment diversity can cost him" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial experts agree that you shouldn't to put all your eggs in one basket. But just like with everything else in life, moderation is essential to truly reap the benefits of diversification. Spread out your investment funds into too many funds and you'll end up with a subpar portfolio bogged down with excessive charges and, even worse, potentially more risk than you're willing to bear. Here are four warning signs that you may have your investments in too many baskets &mdash; and how to fix it.</p> <h2>1. Paying Too Much in Investment Fees</h2> <p>The more that you branch out of plain vanilla investments, the more likely that you'll end up paying more investment charges and fees. Take, for example, the portfolio that Warren Buffett has <a href="http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2013ltr.pdf">laid out in his will</a>: &quot;Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&amp;P 500 index fund.&quot;</p> <p>Let's take a look at the potential investment fees of such a portfolio.</p> <p>Since the Oracle of Omaha prefers Vanguard and chases low fees, let's assume that both investments are in index funds. It's safe to assume that he meets the $10,000 minimum investment required for the Vanguard Admiral index funds. So, he allocates 90% of his portfolio to the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VFIAX/?p=VFIAX">VFIAX</a>], which has a 0.05% expense ratio, and 10% of his portfolio into the Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond Index Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VSBSX?p=VSBSX">VSBSX</a>], which has a 0.10% expense ratio. For a $10,000 portfolio, Buffett would pay $55 in investment fees.</p> <p>If Buffett were to start diversifying into other types of investments, he would very likely run into higher expense ratios. For example, the Vanguard New York Long-Term Tax-Exempt Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VNYUX/?p=VNYUX">VNYUX</a>] has a 0.12% expense ratio (despite its $50,000 minimum investment requirement!) and the Vanguard Interm-Tm Corp Bd Index Admiral [Nasdaq:&nbsp;<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VICSX/?p=VICSX">VICSX</a>] has a 0.25% purchase fee on top of its 0.10% expense ratio. Assuming that he were to allocate 50%, 30%, 10%, and 10% to the New York muni bond fund, S&amp;P 500 index fund, short-term government bond index fund, and the intermediate-term corporate index fund, respectively, Buffet would pay $220 on investment fees!</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>Calculate your current total of investment fees across all your holdings. If the total is above what you're willing to pay (a useful rule of thumb is that anything beyond 1% of your total investment is too much), then it's time to focus your investments in lower-cost options.</p> <h2>2. Rebalancing Portfolio More Often</h2> <p>Speaking of fees, there is a higher chance that you'll run into more of them when you hold lots of investment categories. In the 90%-stocks-and-10%-bonds portfolio example, you only need to keep track of two funds. This means that figuring out when your portfolio is no longer meeting your target asset allocations is straightforward &mdash; and you may not need to do it as often. For example, you could set a target to rebalance when 80% of your portfolio is in stocks and 20% in bonds.</p> <p>On the other hand, spreading your money out too thin can complicate keeping track of asset allocations and make you trade more often. Here's an example: Assuming a target 3.5% allocation in an emerging markets index fund, big market swings could force you to buy or sell many times throughout the year, triggering many charges. From front-end loads to back-end loads, there are plenty of investments to keep an eye on. And yes this even applies to 401K accounts! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees?ref=seealso">Watch Out for These 5 Sneaky 401K Fees</a>)</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>Tabulate how much you're incurring in fees on top of the regular annual expense ratios of your portfolio holdings. If that percentage is too high, or consistently increasing throughout the years, you need to consolidate your portfolio into fewer holdings.</p> <h2>3. Experiencing Diminishing Returns</h2> <p>Of course, you might be thinking that the extra returns of a very diversified portfolio may more than compensate for those additional fees and charges.</p> <p>Let's bust that investment myth.</p> <p>In a joint-study by The Wall Street Journal and Morningstar, the portfolio that generated the highest return over a 20-year period was a 70-30 mix of U.S. stocks and bonds, yielding a <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/is-your-portfolio-too-diversified-1408032582">9.1% annualized return</a>. A portfolio with 40% in U.S. stocks, 20% in U.S. bonds, 10% in foreign developing market stocks, 10% in international bonds, and the rest in a mix of investments, including emerging market stocks, commodities, and hedge funds, yielded only an 8.8% annualized return.</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>Measure each of your funds against its respective benchmark. If an investment has been missing the benchmark for too many quarters or years, it may be time to cut that fund loose.</p> <h2>4. Owning Too Much of the Same or Wrong Type of Investments</h2> <p>Another issue with putting many eggs in many baskets is that you can unintentionally end up with more eggs than you thought in a particular basket or, worse, a wrong basket.</p> <p>Let's assume that you hold an index fund tracking the S&amp;P 500. As of August 8, 2016, that means that your portfolio would hold about 3.08% on Apple Inc, 2.40% on Microsoft Corporation, and 1.53% on Facebook Inc. Class A shares. If you were to also hold an index fund on the technology sector, you'll probably end up increasing your holding on each one of those investments. For example, the Vanguard Information Technology Index Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VITAX/?p=VITAX">VITAX</a>] has those same three stocks among its top four largest holdings.</p> <p>Additionally, if you're open to throwing more money around investments, you could end up buying some investments that fail to meet your investment objectives. Remember the late 1990s dot-com bubble? How about 2008's housing bubble? During those times, too many individual and institutional investors were buying financial instruments that they shouldn't have been purchasing. If you force yourself to allocate 5% &quot;somewhere,&quot; then you could end up with the wrong type of investment.</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>First, read the prospectuses of your mutual funds and other accounts and understand their actual holdings. Using this information, you can spot whether or not you hold too much of the same investment. Second, review your investment objective (ie; income vs growth) and evaluate whether or not your current investment funds qualify for that objective.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Holding all of your money in a single stock is definitely not a good idea because it would have a 49.2% average standard deviation (a measure of risk). At 20 stocks, your portfolio risk is reduced to 20%. However, every additional stock added to your portfolio will only further decrease your portfolio risk by about 0.8%.</p> <p>The evidence suggests that due to greater returns, very marginal risk reductions, and lower fees over time, you would be better off with simpler diversification on stocks and bonds. Some financial advisers suggest that when you have more than <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/mutual-funds/articles/2011/02/17/diversification-can-you-have-too-much-of-a-good-thing">20 stocks or mutual funds</a>, you're actually minimizing returns instead of maximizing them. So, before adding that extra holding, keep in mind that an index fund tracking the S&amp;P 500 is already splitting your investment into 500 baskets!</p> <p><em>How many different types of investments is too many?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-types-of-investors-which-one-are-you">8 Types of Investors — Which One Are You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-mistakes-diy-investors-make">9 Costly Mistakes DIY Investors Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-an-investments-rate-of-return">Don&#039;t Be Fooled by an Investment&#039;s Rate of Return</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-risk-averse-can-get-into-the-stock-market">How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-outside-the-index-when-you-rebalance-your-investment-portfolio">Think Outside the Index When You Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment fees portfolio rebalancing returns risk stock market too diverse warning signs Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:30:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1778732 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Warning Signs That You Need to Stop Using Your Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cutting-credit-card-78725890-small.jpg" alt="cutting credit card" title="cutting credit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In romantic relationships, career choices, even struggles with drugs and alcohol, professionals often ask us to look out for warning signs. Well the same should be done with credit cards. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-habits-of-highly-responsible-credit-card-users?ref=seealso">12 Habits of Highly Responsible Credit Card Users</a>)</p> <p>According to the Federal Reserve, average household credit card debt in the U.S. is more than $15,000 in 2014. If you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-that-your-credit-card-spending-is-out-of-control?ref=inarticle">credit card debt</a> anywhere near that high, it's probably a sign that you should cut up your credit cards right this minute. But that kind of debt doesn't pile up overnight, and many of the warning signs are much more subtle.</p> <p>Here are six signs you should kill your credit card sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>1. You Shop When You're Sad</h2> <p>They don't call it &quot;retail therapy&quot; for nothing. Research has found that hauling something new home at the end of a hard day really does have a &quot;<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mar.20404/abstract">lasting positive impact on mood</a>.&quot; In this same study, 62% of respondents also admitted to buying things to cheer themselves up. But there's a catch.<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/08/the-loneliness-loop-why-feeling-sad-makes-us-shop-and-shopping-makes-us-sad/278443/"> It also makes you lonelier</a> and less able to form meaningful connections with the people around you. It's what economists call a &quot;loneliness loop.&quot; In other words, it's something you can get stuck in. If you're using your credit card to dig yourself out of an emotional hole, you may end up in a huge financial one instead.</p> <h2>2. You Spend More Than You Mean To</h2> <p>When you're faced with temptation while holding a card that can buy $10,000 worth of stuff in a single swipe, any budget you may have set for yourself can easily be &quot;forgotten.&quot; Research suggests that <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/retail-therapy/201306/why-we-overspend-credit">overcoming the urge to overspend on a credit card</a> is a tough hurdle for many psychological reasons, but they all boil down to the fact that it simply hurts less to pay with credit (at least in the short term.) If you are often shocked by the size of your credit card bill (even if you're still able to pay it or pay most of it), it may time to kill your credit card for a while and learn to shop on a budget.</p> <h2>3. You Don't Remember What You Bought</h2> <p>Have you ever had a look at your credit card bill and been totally baffled by several of the purchases? When did you spend $50 on a restaurant meal? What on earth is that $250 charge for? Did you really go out shopping three times in one month? Credit card bills tend to come well after we've enjoyed the goods they purchased, but if you can't remember much of what you've bought, you're probably spending on things that aren't that important to you. Over time, those kinds of shopping habits can lead to real financial trouble. If your credit card bill shocks you, it may be time to do away with that card before the balance does you in. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-your-credit-card-statement-is-keeping-you-in-debt?ref=seealso">How Your Credit Card Statement Keeps You in Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. You Shop for Points You Can't Afford</h2> <p>We've all heard stories about people who've scored 'round-the-world, all-expenses-paid vacations by racking up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">credit card rewards</a> and flight miles. It happens. Those people really do exist. But trying to emulate them is a bit like signing up for your first marathon and expecting to be in the lead; it isn't something that most people are able to achieve. And, what's much more common than people who get free stuff by using their credit cards are people who pay thousands and thousands of dollars in interest. If you can find a decent rewards card and pay it off in full every month, go ahead and rack up those points for a beach vacation. If you can't, you're more likely to end up broke, in debt, and at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-beginners-guide-to-miles-and-points?ref=seealso">Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points</a>)</p> <h2>5. You Often Use It to Buy the Basics</h2> <p>The golden rule of responsible credit card use is to avoid buying more than you can afford. If you often feel the need to use a credit card to buy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=inarticle">groceries</a>, gas, or other daily essentials, some part of your financial life is most likely off balance. Whether you need to earn more money or spend less of it on non-essentials, using a credit card to make up for shortfalls will only make the problem much worse. Credit cards are best used as a convenience, not a crutch. If you're using a card to prop yourself up and pay for everyday expenses, it may be time to kill it.</p> <h2>6. You Can't Bear the Thought of Putting It On Ice</h2> <p>Shopping &mdash; particularly when it's done using a credit card &mdash; can be addictive. If you're struggling to keep your debt under control and are making a bunch of disastrous financial decisions to do it, you probably know that your credit cards are a bad thing, that you should cut them up, throw them out, or at least shove them to the very back of the freezer where they won't tempt you as much. But, maybe, somehow, you just can't bear to do that. You don't want to go out without a credit card in your wallet. You don't want to remove the option. That sense of dependence is a serious red flag, and one that suggests that you should kill your credit cards before they snuff out any financial stability you may have left. If you can't do it alone, consider seeing a credit counselor for help.</p> <p>Killing your credit card can feel like a tough decision &mdash; until you consider the consequences. The real killer is the high-interest debt that credit cards can accumulate. If you're on a path toward financial destruction, it's time to wipe out those credit cards &mdash; before debt takes a swipe at your personal finances.</p> <p><em>How do you control credit card spending? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance">5 Strategies To Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reduce-your-credit-limits-to-manage-your-spending">Reduce Your Credit Limits to Manage Your Spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tricks-to-save-money-with-credit-cards">10 Tricks to Save Money with Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/worried-about-debt-tips-on-managing-your-loans">Worried About Debt? Tips On Managing Your Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-best-way-to-get-out-of-debt">What&#039;s the Best Way to Get out of Debt?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit credit card habits debt spending warning signs Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Tara Struyk 1195552 at http://www.wisebread.com