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Suze Orman Changes Her Mind

The Queen of Personal Finance or Ugly Vests, whichever you prefer, recently shocked followers when she announced on the Oprah Show that it's time for some people to finally give up on paying down nasty credit card debt and stash their cash instead. What? I'm sorry Suze, but you really blew it with this one. Paying the minimum balance on credit cards is now and always has been a poor financial decision.

Frugality Becomes Chic

Rise up all you frugalists and be heard! Now is your time to finally enjoy some bragging rights. While your friends bought multiple homes, boats, cars, and racked up some serious credit card debt to keep up with the latest trends, you quietly lived within your means and saved up a pile of cash for troubled times. It may not have been easy at first, but after awhile you found it became a natural part of your everyday life.

Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card for College Students

citimtvu

I wish credit issuers had been innovative enough to release credit cards like Citi's mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card when I was in undergraduate school. I don't even remember having access to rewards program as a first-time credit card holder, not to mention a program that would reward me well for the all things I did every day as as student.

Forgiven Debt Now Tax-Free for Many Homeowners

Under normal circumstances, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. Not a fun position to be in if you're the original debtor. However, in December 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act in an effort to provide tax relief for struggling homeowners by temporarily lifting this rule for debts forgiven on primary residences. More recently, in October 2008, Congress extended the relief to include debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012 as well. So, if you have restructured your home loan and reduced the amount owed, or had debt forgiven as part of a foreclosure during this time, it's important to remember that you may no longer owe taxes on that amount.

Citi Forward Card Rewards Financial Responsibility

Citi Forward Card

I've heard a lot of hype during the last few days about Citi's new Forward card, so I thought I would take a closer look at what benefits the card really offers to consumers. I must admit that after a quick review of the details, it seems as though the card can actually be quite rewarding. And it has no annual fee! I especially like that part of the deal.

Amex Offers Cash to Get Rid of Customers

American Express won't share the juicy details behind how it chose the select few, but Reuters recently reported that the credit card giant is actually offering some U.S. cardholders $300 to pay off balances and close their accounts. My, how things have changed, eh? A short time ago credit issuers were stepping all over each other trying to become the card of choice in everyone's wallet, and now they're willing to pay cash to just get out before the economy gets any worse.

Fannie and Freddie Twist the Knife in Our Backs

Operating under federal control and still burning through cash like it's going out of style, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have decided it's the perfect time to twist the knife in our backs and make it even more costly to get a home loan in this horrific lending environment. Effective April 1st, the dynamic duo plan to implement a new set of mandatory loan fees based on tighter down-payment and credit scoring rules.

Perfect timing guys! Just what our economy needs to pull itself out of this seemingly never-ending slump. And while I can understand their desperate need for additional revenue-generating fees, it just doesn't make any sense to penalize future buyers that come to the table with solid credit scores and sizable down payments for the sins of the past. That's not going to improve the situation for anyone but Fannie and Freddie.

Experian Ends Partnership with Fair Isaac

Unless Experian and Fair Isaac can figure out a way to reignite the fire in their marriage before Valentine's Day, we will no longer have the ability to access FICO scores based on Experian data. Creditnet.com received notice last week that Experian sent a termination letter to Fair Isaac in mid January that will apparently end the rocky relationship between the credit bureau and the developer of the 800-pound gorilla of credit scores. Equifax and TransUnion FICO scores will still be available at www.myfico.com; however, Experian FICO scores will no longer be accessible from myFICO or anywhere else for that matter.

Consumers Pay the Price of Loyalty

I confessed in an earlier post, "Use 'Em or Lose 'Em", my obsession with stockpiling reward points and airline miles. There's just something strangely comforting about hoarding hundreds of thousands of points and miles to redeem whenever the urge arises.

The problem is all these points seem to be losing value faster than my stock portfolio lately! And it looks like reward programs will continue to be a prime target for more aggressive cuts in 2009. So, if you've been hoarding points for years in preparation for that "big-ticket" purchase, it's time to rethink your strategy.

Hackers Outsmart Heartland

Heartland Payment Systems, one of the largest credit card processors, recently announced a security breach that may end up putting the TJX fiasco to shame.

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