Blog Posts by InvestingAnswers

  • 8 Crazy Ways People Ruined Their Foreclosed Homes

    Homeowners gone wild.Homeowners gone wild.With the foreclosure market what it has been in recent years, we kept hearing horror stories about the insane things people do to their homes when they face eviction.
    So we decided to ask: What are the craziest things people have done to destroy their homes?

    A hint: Not even the kitchen sink is safe.

    Rich Urban of South Florida Investors buys damaged homes and flips them for a profit. He's seen some wacky stuff, and even offered a tenant $500 to leave a property before completely destroying it. (The tenant, who was living rent-free for more than two years after the landlord defaulted on the mortgage, hired a handyman to remove the kitchen cabinets and countertops so he could sell them, and sold the home's appliances on Craigslist. ... He saved a microwave so he could cook.)

    Urban recalls another disgruntled homeowner in a gated community in West Palm Beach who threw his front door on the roof and hung a sign inviting squatters. The neighbors were not amused. But those aren't the

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  • 5 Ways Collectibles Can Make You Money

    An An There's nothing like lackluster savings rates and a bear market to drive investors into thinking creatively about ways to grow their money. From wine futures to pottery, there are numerous places to stash your cash.
    But are there any surefire strategies for making sure your investment is profitable?


    We asked "Antiques Roadshow" appraiser David Rago to share his expertise. Rago has been a leading dealer in American arts and crafts for more than 40 years. Here are a few of his key guidelines for people who want to profit (hopefully) from their passion for antiques or artwork.

    1. Don't Do It.

    Probably not what you wanted to hear, but Rago's first piece of advice for investing in antiques is "Don't do it." At least not if you're getting into it purely as an investment.

    He said people who get into antiques for financial profit will be shocked by the costs involved with purchasing, insuring and selling the piece -- all of which may lead to breaking even (or even losing money, if you're

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  • For Same-Sex Couples, This Increasingly Popular Financial Move Can Really Backfire

    Is this really the last resort for same-sex couples to protect their assets?Is this really the last resort for same-sex couples to protect their assets?Normally, when a person dies, her assets get passed to her spouse and children, even when she doesn't have a will. It's the natural progression of things. But what happens if you can't marry your partner?

    Estate planning creates a special challenge for gay and lesbian couples. The federal government doesn't recognize gay marriages and civil unions, so the couples have to get creative to avoid a serious obstacle to inheritance. But one solution could be construed as no solution at all, because it is fraught with complications.

    When it comes to inheritance, spouses and children have the advantage. Maryland, for example, charges an inheritance tax of 10% on property passing to people other than a child, spouse, parent, grandparent or sibling.

    Another problem? If there's no recognized spouse or child to inherit, everything could go to probate, a process that drags your will or your assets through the court system after you die to make sure that all of your debts are paid and all of your

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  • 5 Items You're Wasting Money on at the Grocery Store

    Bottled water is one of a few grocery store products that you might want to skip.Bottled water is one of a few grocery store products that you might want to skip.Make a list and stick to it. That's one of the best ways to be kind to a budget at the grocery store. You avoid impulse purchases because of hunger or tempting specialty items.

    But even the most prudent listmaker might not be protected from paying too much at the grocery store.
    That's because manufacturers know which favorite products can fetch higher prices -- and they don't shy away from marking them up tremendously.

    To keep from paying more than you have to next time you're shopping, think twice about tossing any of these five most marked-up items into your cart.

    Bottled Water: 4,000% Average Markup


    Gulp! Sure, it's handy, but the manufacturing costs of producing plastic for the convenient containers make bottled water one of the worst values at the supermarket, said Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at online coupon site couponcabin.com.

    You can save big bucks by investing in a filter for your home faucet (most are under $100) or a pitcher that filters water

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  • This Theft is Worse Than a Stolen Credit Card

    How to protect yourself when your debit card is stolen. How to protect yourself when your debit card is stolen. The news reports have been terrifying. Credit card numbers were stolen from University of Southern California dining halls in May and June, it was recently announced. Although no other personal information was accessed, these types of reports give rise to mass panic, as people envision thousands of dollars being racked up in their name.

    In this unpredictable economy, credit card thefts have continued to be an easy target for fast cash. But the panic isn't necessarily warranted. Actually, there is another payment type that you should be worrying about instead.

    That's not to say credit card theft isn't inconvenient. You've got to notify companies that are automatically debiting from your card, change how you shop online and carry extra cash for the things you'd normally just slide onto your card. If you're traveling, you may have to wait for the bank to deliver a new card to you.

    But your credit card is backed by a federal law that limits how much cash you're responsible for if it's

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  • 6 Insanely Stupid Things People Do with Their Money Online

    You wouldn't believe how some people become the victims of identity theft.You wouldn't believe how some people become the victims of identity theft.Earlier this summer, two armed men broke into the home of a 17-year-old Australian girl, tipped off that she had a large amount of cash stashed there. The source of the tip? The girl had posted on Facebook a photo of a large sum of money that she was helping her grandmother count.

    You might forgive the occasional incident of naivete involving a young person being careless with personal information online. But mix a tell-all Internet culture with a growing population of identity thieves and you have a dangerous combination that makes it far too easy to take advantage of people who, well, probably should know better.

    "I've seen some people do some dumb things, including posting a photo of a check online with the routing and account numbers visible," said Craig Guillot, author of Stuff About Money: No BS Financial Advice for Regular People.

    We're hoping you know better, but just in case you need a refresher on what to avoid, here are a few online ways to open yourself up to theft -- or

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  • Were You One of the Millions Deceived by This Credit Card Bank?

    This credit card bank must refund 2 million cardholders. This credit card bank must refund 2 million cardholders. The ads have been inescapable. There's late-night funnyman Jimmy Fallon trying to convince a baby that getting cash back from your credit card is a great thing, and the baby just won't hear of it.

    Credit card giant Capital One (NYSE: COF) created the spots, hawking the fact that one of its cards gives its users a 50% cash-back bonus each year on top of its normal cash rebate.

    Now, fast forward to July 18. Capital One is giving some of its cardholders cash back again -- but this time for a different reason.

    The bank has been ordered by federal banking regulators to pay $210 million in fines and refunds to customers for deceptive marketing practices.

    What Capital One Reportedly Did, And What It Means For You


    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- the consumer watchdog agency that oversees credit card banks -- and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency -- which also oversees Capital One -- said the bank had been deceptive in selling what the agency called "add-on"

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  • Slash Your Interest Rates with These Magic Words

    Credit CardsCredit CardsNo one likes to spend more money than they have to -- whether it's for a snazzy new pair of shoes or an everyday purchase such as gasoline.
    While you can't make an offer at the mall or haggle at the pump, there is room for negotiation when it comes to the interest rate on the credit card you might be using to make those purchases.

    You can dramatically lower your credit card's annual percentage rate, or APR, with a single phone call. But first, you'll have to do a bit of prep work and know the right words to use.

    Credit card companies generally aren't looking for ways to do you any favors, but pulling your phone out of your pocket, dialing an 800 number and asking the right questions could be all it takes to convince the company to slash your high rate. If you carry a balance from month to month, that decrease will save you some serious cash.

    Let's say you owe $5,000 on a credit card with an 18.9% APR and you make monthly payments of $150. Assuming you don't add to the balance, you

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  • How to Avoid This $31 Billion Health Insurance Mistake

    More than one million Americans made this costly mistake last year. More than one million Americans made this costly mistake last year. You see your health insurance as a safety net that's there in case you need to go to the ER or fill a prescription, have strep throat or develop a life-threatening condition. You rely on it to keep you healthy and protect your wallet in the event of a health crisis. But experts say not safeguarding your healthcare insurance information is one of the worst mistakes you can make.

    That mistake can cost you dearly because identity thieves who rely on your medical and health insurance information for their livelihood see your life insurance as a way to make big bucks.

    According to a 2011 study by the Ponemon Institute a whopping 1.42 million Americans fell victim to medical identity thieves; the annual economic impact of that medical identity theft was $30.9 billion, or more than $217 per victim.

    [Medical Identity Theft: Five Ways to Protect Yourself]

    It's no wonder that healthcare-related fraud is on the rise. According to the World Privacy Forum, a stolen Social Security number has a

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  • This Common Mistake Can Cost You 40% on Your Car Insurance


    Avoid this mistake to keep your rates low. Avoid this mistake to keep your rates low. Whether you're hitting the road on a holiday weekend or logging miles commuting to and from work, be sure to pay close attention to the posted speed limit signs. Otherwise, a rear view mirror filled with flashing red and blue headlights could lead to more than having to dig out your license and registration.

    Get handed a ticket for speeding, and you won't just have to shell out a few hundred dollars for fines and court costs. According to data compiled by Coverhound.com, a speeding ticket can be devastating to your car insurance rates, and the effects can linger for several years after the incident.

    Coverhound's data says that a driver with a clean driving history -- no accidents, claims or moving violations for at least five years -- that gets nabbed for speeding will pay dearly. In addition to the fines and fees associated with the ticket, speeding tickets drove up the rates of Coverhound's clients by a whopping 40.23% the first year following the ticket.

    And those steep rates

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