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Money Talk Monday

Amarillo College associate professor of behavioral studies, Debra Avara is the author of "What We Should Have Learned in High School about Money, Sex and Marriage", 2009 and 2nd ed., 2010; "What I Need to Know About My Money, Money for the Challenged Individual", 2012, presents Money Talk Mondays. A weekly column to help the AC community with their monetary questions.

Money Talk Monday: What affects my credit?

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Deb Avara helps you decipher credit in the latest Money Talk Monday. Read more [...]

Money Talk Monday: Smart debt pays off

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Is there such a thing as "smart debt"? Is it really better to buy the big stuff on credit than to pay cash? If not, how do you build your credit without getting into massive debt? Yes, there is such a thing as smart debt. Most financial advisors say that smart debt is anything that can help you financially. Read more [...]

Money Talk Monday: Only take what you need

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If I've already taken out student loans, what can I do now to help me get ahead of the debt once I graduate? Very good question. The thing about student loans is that many students are taking them simply because they were told they qualify for them. Read more [...]

Money Talk Monday: Plan ahead for Christmas

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By Debra Avara


Christmas is coming……

Yes, Christmas is in the stores, I’ve already seen snowflakes, and commercials are telling us the Christmas movies countdown is about to begin! Augh!

A survey last year said 45 percent of us would prefer to skip Christmas due to the financial pressure it brings.

You can be prepared, and you don’t have to go into debt to give your gifts.

Step One: Make a list of who you must buy for.

Step Two: Make a list of those you’d like to buy for.

Step Three: Make a plan. Start thinking now and figure out what your budget is going to be.

Here’s some hints for gifts:

Do you have friends with children? Give them a $10 gift card to the movies and an IOU for a free night of babysitting.

For a female friend or sister, hit a garage sale and see if they have any baskets. I just bought 2 for $0.50. Or, buy one at the Dollar store, and add lotions, bath salts, and candles. $5.00, done.

Wal-Mart has wonderful blanket throws for $2.88; add some slippers that have lotion in them (under $3.), and a candle. Under $10.

If you have to buy for a bunch of friends, and you all get along, do a gift exchange. Make it fun, buy 1 gag gift, agree on the max price, and have a get together. Instead of buying for 6, you buy 1. Done.

Younger brothers or sisters? IOU for a date, just the 2 of you, movie, burgers or ice cream.

Children? Need clothes or toys?? Check the Children’s Exchange clearance store, or other thrift stores. I’ve found brand new items, still with tags, for $0.75  or less; $20 games unopened for $3.You just need a little bit of time to look.

Garage sales are also a great source for gifts. Many times you can find brand new games, trinkets, knick knacks..all new. Again – you just need a little time!

Good luck. And remember, start now and don’t go over your set budget.

Money Talk Monday: What you need to know about payday loans

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By Debra Avara   Payday loans are small loans, usually a few hundred dollars or less and are short term (two weeks or so). Basically, you are borrowing against your next paycheck. To get a payday loan, you typically write a check for the amount you are borrowing – plus a fee. You usually leave the check with the lender, and they cash it once you are ready to repay. If you can’t repay your payday loan when it comes due, you can “roll it over” so that the loan is extended. If you can’t repay it and don't roll it over, then the lender will cash your check and you may be facing bounced check fees now. And the lender may also sue you or send your account to collections, which will ding your credit. These loans usually carry a high price tag. Finance charges are from 15 to 30 percent of the amount being borrowed. Since it’s 15 to 30 percent on just a few weeks, it’s comparable to getting a loan with an annual percentage rate of nearly 800 percent. This means if you borrow $200, and you are paying 20 percent interest, you are paying $40.00 for the loan for the 2 weeks. Companies often prey on lower income neighborhoods. The down side to this is most of these people are already experiencing financial problems and borrowing money with such a high interest rate just makes matters worse. In addition, many of these people find themselves unable to repay the loan when it comes due. This situation leads to additional bank charges for bounced checks and the cost of the loan, or they have to extend the loan causing even more fees, ending up trapped in a vicious cycle. They pay the loan off on the next payday, but discover they do not have the funds needed to cover their expenses. They then find themselves going back for another payday loan. This cycle can continue indefinitely since there is no limit on how many times a person can get this type of loan. Best strategy, make a budget and stick to it. Get rid of expenses you can’t afford. Do your Read more [...]
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