I may be a little late in posting this, but better late than never... :-)
Last week (on July 14th) Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed into law new legislation that will provide greater protection to Michigan consumers when it comes to using gift cards and gift certificates.
This new law will prohibit retailers from:
refusing to accept a gift card or certificate during a sale, closeout or liquidation
refusing to accept a gift card or certificate as a portion of the payment where the purchase is greater than the amount on the gift card/certificate
restricting the user of a gift card or certificate from using it in a manner that's consistent with it's stated terms and conditions
charging an inactivity fee, or any other type of service fee for using or possessing a gift card/certificate
selling a gift card/certificate that expires less than 5 years after it's issued
considering a gift card/certificate as abandoned property after 5 years
changing the terms or conditions of a gift card/certificate after it's been issued
failing to properly disclose the terms and conditions of a gift card/certificate
failing to disclose in advertising and promotions that a gift card/certificate is subject to terms and conditions, if indeed it is subject to certain terms and conditions
This new law goes into effect November 1, 2008. Just in time for the holiday shopping and gift-giving season!
Similar gift card and gift certificate laws are already in place in California and New York, and I'm sure it won't be long before more states jump on the bandwagon.
A lot of the people I work with are in some sort of financial trouble, or have had some sort of financial issues in the past.
After working with so many different people for so long, it's gotten pretty easy for me to identity when someone may be on shaky financial ground.
If you can identify with any one of the 15 signs listed below, you may be in financial trouble...
You have little or no savings and live "paycheck-to-paycheck."
You repeatedly go into your savings to pay your regular bills.
You borrow money to pay your bills and/or to pay off old debts.
You pay your bills late - when you can - and not when they're due.
You only pay the minimum balance due on your credit cards each month.
You maxed out all of your credit cards.
You have no idea how much debt you have or how much money you owe.
You spend frivolously on clothes and entertainment instead of paying your bills.
You bounce checks and overdraw your bank account.
You don't open mail that looks like it could be a bill or a collection notice.
You avoid answering the phone because you fear it will be a bill collector.
You hide your car so the "Repo Man" won't get it.
You are constantly worried, depressed or stressed about money and bills.
You argue with family and household members a lot about money and financial matters.
You find it hard to concentrate and/or sleep because of your financial circumstances.
By no means is this list all-inclusive. There are many different indicators that can signal financial trouble. These are just the ones I thought of first because these are the ones I've seen most often.
Don't ignore the signs.
You know when things are not right.
Don't get stuck in denial or blindly hope that things will just turn around quickly.
Take immediate action! Seek the assistance of a trusted professional ASAP...
On today's broadcast of Just Ask Nicole LIVE!, I discussed the top 10 resolutions you can make to help get your credit straight in 2008.
If you missed the show, you can catch the replay at your convenience 24-hours-a-day by clicking here.
If you don't have time to listen to the 30 minute segment, you're still in luck! A summary of the show is below.
The top 10 New Year's resolutions to make for your credit in 2008 are...
~~ drum roll please ~~
1.Obtain and review copies of your credit reports.
If you haven't checked your credit reports in a while, this is something you should do right away. Log on to www.annualcreditreport.com to request a free copy of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Don't wait... get them NOW!
2. Correct any errors in your credit reports.
Review your credit reports closely. If you find any errors in your credit reports, work diligently to have them corrected ASAP.
3. Pay down and pay off high-interest, revolving credit card accounts.
Don't carry high balances on high-interest revolving credit cards. That's a BIG no-no! Pay them down and pay them off!
4. Pay more than the minimum amount due on outstanding credit card accounts.
Paying more than the minimum amount due will help you pay your credit card bills off sooner and pay less in interest.
5. Pay all of your bills on time, all the time.
No excuses. Just do it! Create a pay-your-bills-on-time system that works for you and stick to it. And make sure to pay your bills a little early so you don't have to worry about last minute payments not posting to your accounts properly and in a timely fashion. No late fees and penalties in 2008 and beyond!
6. Ask for a credit line increase on your credit cards.
Not so you can shop or take a trip or party! But so you can help boost your credit. If you have a history of paying your credit cards on time, you are in a good position to ask for a credit line increase. The credit line increase will give some extra padding to your credit limit, which will make the amount you have outstanding seem smaller. The credit scoring system likes low balances and low credit utilization. So, having higher credit limits with a relatively low balances will help boost your credit scores.
7. Ask for an interest rate reduction on your credit cards.
An interest rate reduction will help you save money by paying less in interest, and will consequently help you pay off your outstanding balances quicker. Ask for an interest rate reduction on all of your credit cards - even the ones that don't have really hight interest rates.
8. Save some money and establish an emergency fund.
Lots of people have a hard time saving and run into financial trouble by not having a stash of cash to fall back on in case of an emergency or if unexpected expenses arise. So, in 2008, give it all you can to try to save some money and establish an emergency reserve fund. Start small if you have to, even if it's just a dollar month or a dollar a day. Just put some amount aside into your savings on a regular basis, and increase the amount as time goes on. It will add up and accumulate before you know it. Resolve to pay yourself first in 2008!
9.If you're planning on starting a business in 2008, don't use your personal credit to finance your business.
Ideally, you should establish corporate business credit to finance and run your business. Don't put your personal credit on the line, or max it out, for your business ventures. If at all possible, establish corporate business credit in the name of your business without using your personal credit.
[To join the wait-list for the class I teach to help entrepreneurs and small business owners establish and build corporate business credit, click here.]
10. Don't procrastinate.
If you have issues with your credit or finances, it's best to address them right away. Do not put it off. If you try to ignore the matter, you'll still have those same lingering issues later. Don't put off the inevitable, or risk the situation getting worse. Get started correcting your financial blunders NOW! The longer you wait to do something about your credit, the longer it'll be before you get to enjoy the financial benefits that come with having better credit.
[To join the wait-list for the class I teach to help consumers improve their personal credit, raise their credit scores, and correct errors on their credit reports, click here.]
If you resolve to do one, some, or all of these things in 2008, surely by the end of this new year, you'll be able to look back and reflect on the positive progress you've made with your credit and finances.
Make every effort to be in a stronger and better financial position in 2008.
Don't procrastinate... get your credit straight in 2008!
The card is biodegradable, so it helps the environment.
It's purchase supports any of more than 400 grassroots projects in over 60 countries.
It helps bring about real change in people's lives all over the world.
The recipient gets to choose the project they want to support with the gift card.
The recipient gets updates on the impact of their contribution and the progress of the project.
The purchase is 100% tax deductible as a charitable contribution.
It comes with a 100% donor satisfaction guarantee.
I really love the concept of this gift card. So much so, I think I'm going to give some as gifts. Especially to a couple of the teenagers in my life. I want to give them "the gift of giving." :)
I want to remind them how blessed they are to be living the lives they have here in the US. I want to give them this unique way to think beyond themselves, make a difference, and help others that are suffering in other parts of the world. And most of all, I want to give them something else to do other than text message on their cell phone and Crank That Soulja Boy. :)
I recently received an email from someone who listened to the replay of the Just Ask Nicole LIVE!show I did on holiday spending tips.
They very kindly thanked me for providing the information (...YOU'RE WELCOME!) and also asked if I was actually using any of those tips myself.
Well, the answer is... YES! You better know it!
I AM actually using my very own holiday spending tips and putting them into action. Most of them in fact.
One of the tips I mentioned that I'm not doing is nixing gift giving all together. This year, I am giving gifts. Some will be creative, some "special," but rest assured, all will be reasonably priced!
I like to think of myself as a "careful" spender who rarely pays full price for anything. I'm not cheap, but I love good deals and bargains just as much as the next person, and I absolutely despise "wasting" money. By that I mean what I consider to be wasting money for me.
Some of the things I'm doing this holiday season include:
using mostly cash, and planning to pay any credit card charges off in full when the bill comes
only buying things that are on sale
doing some shopping online and taking advantage of online sales and free shipping offers (prime example: my beautiful new Christmas tree that just arrived today from Balsam Hill!)
using the money in my PayPal account to pay for stuff online where PayPal is accepted (came from some items I sold on eBay earlier this year)
redeeming some of the points I've accumulated in my MyPoints account for gift cards to give to my newspaper carrier and handyman and a few others
redeeming some of the points I've accumulated in my MyPoints account for gift cards to stores where I plan to do some shopping (online and in-store)
using TreeGivers.com to have trees planted in honor of some loved ones I've lost
selling some stuff on CraigsList and using the money to cover some of my holiday expenses and make some charitable donations
And speaking of selling stuff... Isn't it amazing how easy it is to accumulate so much stuff???
Case in point, this never-opened combination TV/DVD. ====>>>
Why it's still around, I have no idea! But that's neither here nor there... I'm just excited to be unloading it as well as all of my other "extras" before the new year and creating myself a nice little pay day in the process! :)
What are some of the things you're doing during this holiday season to stay on track financially & resist the urge to splurge?
Have you checked your credit reports lately? If not, you should do so ASAP! Obtain and thoroughly review your credit reports at the very minimum of once per year. Don't delay, get your credit reports FREE from