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Personal Finance

    The BBB has issued a new scam warning. Historically, scams have most often come via phone. Now, the most common point of scam contact is on social media. The most common way people have money stolen from them is on social media. The second most common scam point of contact: websites, like Craigslist or eBay. People are more than 5 times more likely to get taken on social media than with a con artist on the phone – 4 times more likely on social vs. through the mail. Beware. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a “Clark Stinks” to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com Watch the video The post 10.18.19 Scammers are finding it easier to dupe people on internet marketplaces; Clark Stinks appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • The U.S. has lagged behind in ‘conversational commerce’ enjoyed elsewhere in the world, where texting meets commerce for AI customer service. We spend most of our online time now throughout smartphones. Unlike other countries, the U.S. lacks centralized portals from which to operate in multiple ways, including shops, email, social and news. Now Apple is working to set up and integrated hub to drive the brand. For example, through the Apple platform – Apple Business Chat – and Delta’s app, iPhone users have ease of communication for assistance from the airline. Emulating China’s WeChat, Apple platform AI will allow better customer service response. Innovation like this can have very positive, unforeseen benefits for consumers. Facebook tried this kind of commercial integration, but a loss of trust is an obstacle there. The first best thing we’ll see is perhaps the end of on-hold in-limbo no-customer service.   A ProPublica investigative report finds the health data of millions of Americans is completely exposed on the internet. They were able to find medical data on more than 16 million people online, including names, birthdays and where submitted, social security numbers. Security in the medical industry is pathetic. DO NOT FILL IN YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER at ANY medical facility. A recent Wallethub study weighed 31 happiness factors to rate U.S. states. Above an income level of around $70, money ceases to be a happiness factor. Factors include work environment, emotional and physical well-being. Hawaii comes out tops overall, followed by UT, MN, CA, NJ, ID, MASS, MD, NB, CT. Unhappiest: WVA, ARK, Alaska, MISS, LA, KY, AL, OK, TN, MO. ? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com Watch the video The post 10.17.19 Businesses want to use chat technology with you; Medical images leaked online; Happiest states in America appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • Of the 4 major cell carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint – all the growth over the past 4 years has gone to T-Mobile, steadily taking market share. But all 4 also have captive discount brands on their networks, at a lower cost. The price points have kept moving. Total Wireless is a joint venture on Verizon’s network, now offering a 4 line family plan for $95 a month – unlimited data – the 4 lines share 100 gigs of data per month. Available at Walmart and TotalWireless.com.  Verizon’s second discount brand, Visible is geared toward young adults, offering a single line at $40 a month – unlimited data – available only through Visible.com via their app. Metro PCS – now Metro by T-Mobile has gone up from 4 lines for $100 to $120 per month, including Amazon Prime and hotspot. Cricket Wireless – AT&T’s captive brand – offers 4 lines for $100 a month with speed limitations, but adequate for most basic surfing and video.  Starting in January, people with 401ks will have a much broader hardship latitude to make withdrawals under new regulations issued by the IRS. Clark HATES this. It’s very difficult to ever restore retirement money taken out of a 401k. Statistically, those who take out loans end up with way less than those who never do. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just say NO! Consider the money off-limits. Young adults now face more difficult money choices than prior generations. Over a full lifetime, 3/4 of kids end up more successful financially than their parents. That’s a slowdown from 90% historically. There’s a lot of uncertainty today and new challenges for young adults. Student loans are brutal for students and parents alike. Many in retirement are still burdened by parental loans. There are so many college choices, this can be avoided with planning and attending less expensive schools. Clark’s tuition per year was $2400 in the ’70s. Heavier burdens today require new decision making. Buying a home involves geographic considerations for affordability. Pensions no longer exist. Young adults are choosing no-car lifestyles in walkable communities. No car expense makes for a lot more financial breathing room.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com Watch the video The post 10.16.19 Cell phone plan deals; 401k early withdrawal changes; Financial advice for different generations appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • There are now more people working in wind / solar energy in the U.S. than in coal mining, which has become an industry in retreat. It’s now cheaper to generate power from wind or solar, depending on geography. The new energy outlook from Bloomberg reports that wind is THE cheapest way to generate power in the U.S. In 2/3 of the world, solar and wind are more economical than even natural gas. Power companies are fighting in state legislatures and with utility, regulators to prevent consumers from a cost-effective home solar option. They see the threat and want to own solar to continue to supply power. Regardless, the mix of power is changing and costs will be coming down. Traditionalists claim wind and solar are intermittent and therefore unreliable sources of power. But battery backup provides the solution there, and these batteries are also getting steadily cheaper, along with solar panels. Better and cheaper in a continuing cycle brings these technologies to bear. The benefit flows back to consumers. More states are passing laws infringing on First Amendment rights for food producers to name their food. Missouri cattlemen are threatened by plant-based meat substitutes. Other states have joined in passing label restrictions. They should not be permitted to interfere in the free market flow of information. The clarity for consumers, not confusion – should be the priority. Edmunds reveals that the average loan amount to buy a new vehicle is $32,590. AAA reports is costs $774 per month to operate a new vehicle: Depreciation, the loan, insurance, fuel & maintenance. Many would-be new buyers are opting for used for more affordability. Meanwhile, the average length of a vehicle loan is just under 70 months, almost 6 years, putting the buyer upside down for the duration. Many will tire of a vehicle before paying it off and create a negative mountain of debt by trading in before the loan is paid. The trade-in loan is rolled into the purchase, leaving the buyer even MORE upside down. STOP! 10K a year just for transportation calls for a rethink. Is your old car working fine? Do you REALLY need a new vehicle? 4-year-old vehicles are the sweet spot in the market now. AAA reports electric vehicles to cost half of what gas engines cost per mile to operate. Within 2 years the compelling price argument for buying electric will be overwhelming. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com Watch the video The post 10.15.19 Big strides in renewable energy; What to call fake meat?; Cost of cars over time appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • There’s  increased interest in protecting privacy. We forget how things we say aren’t private in this electronic era. Text messages aren’t really private. But there are things you can do to protect privacy. When both parties use an encrypted third-party texting app – only the recipients get your text. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook – is a secure texting app so far, used by ¼ of the world’s population. For business and other proprietary transactions and for consumers, Signal is used for privacy protection as well. ProtonMail is great for protecting email communications.  For Apple users, iOS 13 is coming with a variety of privacy improvements. Tech writers are recommending waiting a few weeks before download, as they’re still working out some bugs.  Apple’s iOS 13 will provide auto burner-email addresses when you sign up with a company to prevent email spam. This allows you to hide your real email address. Con artist Andres Fernandez has been convicted for wire fraud, after stealing $31M claiming he had an opportunity to produce and promote concerts. There were no concerts. This Ponzi type scheme has been around for a century, but there’s been a great acceleration recently. Be very skeptical when you’re promised a private opportunity to score big money.   Watch the video Police officers, fire fighters, teachers and other state and local government workers get ripped off on their retirement savings. It’s common that 403b and 457 plans these workers are shunted into, cost 100 times the cost of a corporate 401k plan. Inexcusable that those working for the public good are taken advantage of in their retirement plans. There’s no excuse for this. Federal workers enjoy the TSP, costing about 1/50th of what state and local gov workers pay. Thank Congress for not caring about workers who earn less by serving the public. FINALLY – the SEC has launched an investigation of the insurance companies that rip people off in these plans. For affected workers, instead of putting your money into these plans, fully fund a Roth IRA with an ultra-low-cost company. Only contribute to a 403b or 457 plan proven to be low cost, only up to the match. Past that, open a low-cost Roth. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 10.14.19 Is texting or email safer?; Concert promotion scam; SEC opens an investigation into 403b’s appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • The FCC doesn’t want states to be able to implement their own rules surrounding net neutrality. Clark explains what this court battle means for consumers and the future of our TV and internet usage. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a “Clark Stinks” to share you can leave it here. Watch the video Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 10.11.19 FCC battle vs states over net neutrality; Clark Stinks appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • New tariffs will protect Boeing and hurt Airbus. The new tariffs could also mean higher prices on food and drink.  AdvoCare has been fined $150 million for running a multi-level marketing scheme. The FTC has called it a pyramid scheme which means that AdvoCare pressures sellers to bring in new distributors. The emphasis is less on selling products and more on recruiting new people. Don’t sign up for an MLM. 99% of people lose money. Watch the video Clark discusses how to protect yourself if your luggage winds up missing or damaged while traveling. Stick up for yourself and push for a solution! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 10.10.19 How tariffs are playing out; Watch out for crafty MLM’s; What if your luggage gets damaged? appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • We have the lowest unemployment rate in years, while wages remain relatively static. Most aren’t seeing meaningful pay raises. Certain sectors of the economy are seeing layoffs, job losses, and closures. Many corporate sectors predict a recession or believe they’re already in one. For others, times are great. Manufacturing is suffering because of the trade wars, here and abroad. The greatest job growth is in education, healthcare, state, and local government and the hotel industry. College graduates are in demand. As for static wages – for the low to mid-income earners, in particular, better pay may be found by changing jobs. Get a better offer to negotiate with your current employer if you want to stay.  Until you have the confidence to shop what you’re worth in the marketplace, employers won’t pay more. Be your own advocate. Find better opportunities. You don’t ask, you don’t get.  The NFL season is underway and scams follow. The season is about 1/3 over now. A variety of scams pop up every season, most around PCH – a legit, high-interest organization and popular target for scammers. The Fraud Watch Bulletin reports 2 versions big right now. One comes as a phone call pretending to be from PCH saying you’ve won and need to wire fee money. The other is a small fake check, requesting you wire money to receive the big check. Both bogus. PCH reminds all they never ask winners to send fees, taxes or other money to collect a prize.  Watch the video Pre-teens and teens pretty much spend whatever money they get. For school-age kids, money burns a hole in their pocket and vanishes. The American Institute of CPAs does an annual survey of allowance and finds the average kid in the U.S. now receives a weekly allowance of $30. That’s doubled in just 3 years. Parents have lost their minds. Clark has recommended stepping up allowance yearly. The amount can match their age or grade and should be used to teach. The 3 jar system is a known method. Allowance is divided 3 ways: for spending, savings, and charity. Allowance should be in cash to teach the finiteness of money. And with an allowance comes responsibility. Parents give the money and should set ground rules about allocation – 3 jars or something similar. The savings can be for any specific goal chosen by the kid. Create a sense of purpose for money. If you just hand it out with no guidelines, they learn nothing and it disappears. Parents must teach the concept of spend and save.  Giving can be time or $  for charity.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 10.9.19 Low inflation creates job opportunities; Scam season is in full swing; How much allowance is good? appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • Follow-up: the financial industry continues its radical transformation. Technology has made it possible to invest at a lower cost. Last week Schwab announced no commission stock buying and selling. There are free and low-cost robo advisors and robo/human hybrids. Investing with high-cost companies could cause you to end up with 40% less money than investing the same amount with their low-cost rivals. Even Ally bank is offering a no-fee robo-advisory service. Vanguard will soon launch its low-cost Digital Advisor service too.  AT&T – get your act together.  A long-time DirecTV customer passed away at age 102 and AT&T went after the relatives for the early termination fee in strong terms. Only after the story went public did AT&T waive the termination fee, but didn’t apologize until they received more bad press. Where’s the heart and humanity? How stupid. Watch the video Roughly 1 in 4 American adults is extremely politically engaged. This past weekend, Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush enjoyed a football game together. As their pictures circulated, ugly reaction ensued, with some referring to Bush as the ‘enemy’.  After all the mean-spirited postings came an enlightened one which expressed that seeing Ellen and George Bush together restored their faith in America. When we lose sight of the fact that we’re all Americans in this together, we make our country weak. People we disagree with are still our fellow Americans.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 10.8.19 Low investing fees go lower; AT&T sends early termination bill to deceased family; Too much politics appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • Follow-up: the financial industry continues its radical transformation. Technology has made it possible to invest at a lower cost. Last week Schwab announced no commission stock buying and selling. There are free and low-cost robo advisors and robo/human hybrids. Investing with high-cost companies could cause you to end up with 40% less money than investing the same amount with their low-cost rivals. Even Ally bank is offering a no-fee robo-advisory service. Vanguard will soon launch its low-cost Digital Advisor service too.  AT&T – get your act together.  A long-time DirecTV customer passed away at age 102 and AT&T went after the relatives for the early termination fee in strong terms. Only after the story went public did AT&T waive the termination fee, but didn’t apologize until they received more bad press. Where’s the heart and humanity? How stupid. Watch the video Roughly 1 in 4 American adults is extremely politically engaged. This past weekend, Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush enjoyed a football game together. As their pictures circulated, ugly reaction ensued, with some referring to Bush as the ‘enemy’.  After all the mean-spirited postings came an enlightened one which expressed that seeing Ellen and George Bush together restored their faith in America. When we lose sight of the fact that we’re all Americans in this together, we make our country weak. People we disagree with are still our fellow Americans.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 10.8.19 Low investing fees go lower; AT&T sends early termination bill to deceased family; Too much politics appeared first on Clark Howard.