#StartTODAY Is Back!

Happy 2016! I hope everyone had a fantastic (and safe) time ringing in the New Year. If you’re one of the 45% of Americans who made a resolution this year, then here’s some good news.

Whether you want to lose weight, get organized or – my personal favorite – spend less and save more in 2016, “The J Team” has you covered. For the entire month of January, I’m joining my pals – nutritionist Joy Bauer, organizing guru Jill Martin and new mom (who is looking to stop making excuses and start working out) Jenna Bush Hager – on the Today Show for our second annual #StartTODAY series, in which we offer advice and tips for starting and sticking to the changes you’d like to make for yourself.

We had the initial kick-off on Friday, and every Thursday, I’ll be on with segments devoted to earning more, spending less, investing what you can and protecting your financial life. Then, on Fridays, we’ll be on air answering questions on Facebook and Twitter. I hope you’ll join us!

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Make A Dent In Your Debt For A Hassle-Free Holiday

The average American household has roughly $7,500 in credit card debt, so how can you reel it in? See this morning’s segment for my tips on how to pay it down!

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Today’s Money: Student Loans? 5 Ways To Lower Your Payments

Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt — at interest rates, typically, of 3.4% to 6.8% on federal loans, and up to 14% on private loans. According to Sofi, a leader in the business of student loan refinancing, customers save an average $14,000 by refinancing their loans. So, how do you know if this route to free money is for you? Check out the segment below, and see the story on Today.com.

The #startTODAY 52-week Savings Challenge

photo-money-dietIs saving money one of your new year’s resolutions, or something you want to make a priority in 2015? Then keep reading!This month, as part of our #StartTODAY series, #TeamJean will take the 52-week Savings Challenge — and if you join us, you’ll end the year with $1378 to your name.

That’s a big deal. According to Bankrate.com, 26% of Americans have no emergency savings at all, and the number of those with enough to cover six months worth of expenses shrank from 45% a year ago to 40% today.

There are different ways to save — some people save their windfalls, like tax refunds or bonuses — but the very best way to do it is habitually (i.e. every week) and automatically (so that you don’t really have to think about it.)

Enter: the 52-week Savings Challenge. Here’s how it works:

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Money Sense on Fortune

gradShould you refinance your student loan? The answer has changed in recent months. In this week’s Fortune column I highlight the recent deals from both bank and non-bank lenders that can save both students (who hold Stafford loans with fixed rates ranging from 3.86% to 6.8%) and their parents (who hold PLUS loans with fixed rates between 6.41% and 8.5%) some decent money.

Read on here.

Money Sense on Fortune

XSmallToday’s Fortune column is based on an Arizona Pathways to Life Success (APLUS) study, which found that more than half of college graduates rely on their parents for financial support (that includes nearly half of those employed full-time). Additionally, these recent grads don’t seem to value the same things many of us did at their ages. Nearly 30% said marriage and having children wasn’t important — and roughly 20% don’t value owning a home. And 16% — gulp – said living on their own is unimportant. For more — and to see my take on the matter — head over to Fortune.com.

Mailbag Monday: Secured Credit Cards to Establish Credit

collegemoneyHi Jean,

I’m wondering — what is the best secured credit card I could open to reestablish my credit? Thank you.

-Karen
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Mailbag Monday: Home Equity Loans

suburbHi Jean!

Love catching your show at night, had a question: I have a home equity loan outstanding of $150,000. Interest rate is variable, but has remained at 2.24 percent over the last 6 years. No mortgage on the house just the equity loan. Would you suggest paying it off as I am now, at a rate of $1,000 a month or is there some kind of low fixed rate option I should be looking into? The Loan has 15 years to pay it off as it stands now. Other piece of info, I’d like to purchase a condo in Florida to have for when I retire in 15 years. Wait on that and pay off home equity loan or start a new mortgage for a Florida property while the market is still good? Thanks a ton for any advice you have, your simple THE BEST:)

-Jeff

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Mailbag Monday: Using The Fair Credit Reporting Act

debitcardHave you ever heard of a person being denied obtaining a credit card with a FICO score of 811? I pay my credit cards in full every month. This credit card offered two plane tickets. I really didn’t need the card, but I travel a lot and thought it was a nice benefit. What are your thoughts?

-Cheryl
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Jean on Morning Joe

Has it become impossible for America’s middle class families to save money? This morning I weighed in on Morning Joe. See my take below:

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