Borrowing

CREDIT CARDS

Credit cards a 27-year debt sentence

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon   The average bad marriage lasts 12 years, but the average bad debt on credit cards lasts 27 years.

UNIVERSITY COSTS

Student debt cheapest debt of all

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John Collett   There is not much point in repaying student debt early, especially after the removal of discounts at the end of this year.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Tackle bad debt before good debt

More Australians are worried about their finances than two years ago.

John Flavell   Australians are increasingly worried about their finances, but there is a simple technique that everyone can use to become debt free faster.

INSIGHT

Beware sting in zero per cent credit card deals

If you've racked up a large credit card debt, the zero per cent balance transfer deals look tempting.

Clancy Yeates   Here are some of the traps in banks' zero interest credit card offers.

MIND OVER MONEY

What The Big Short movie can teach ordinary people

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Caitlin Fitzsimmons   It's exciting watching the traders short the US mortgage market before the global financial crisis, but it's not something the rest of us can emulate.

INSIGHT

Debit cards more popular than ever but Aussies still hooked on credit

The abstract nature of credit means consumers feel less emotionally connected to the money and are more prone to the ...

Sally Rose   The use of a debit card to limit reliance on credit is being undermined by consumers keeping a credit card for 'emergencies'.

Aussies turning to fast cash this Christmas

Kim Kardashian is a role model for many.

Michelle Hutchison   At this time of year many Australians are taking out small loans in the lead-up to Christmas.

BASIC TRAINING

Credit cards that don't break the bank

If you are getting a credit card for the first time, tread carefully.

Larissa Ham   If you're disciplined, a credit card can be handy. But if you're not – and many millions of us aren't – it can be a fast track to an endless cycle of interest payments.

EXCLUSIVE

Credit card traps for zero-interest customers

December is a time when consumers are tempted to pile purchases on credit.

John Collett   Credit card providers are aggressively pushing balance-transfer deals by offering dramatically longer zero-interest periods, but creaming profits from higher fees.

INTEREST RATES

Time to fix your mortgage

The best deals on fixed interest rates are before the rate cycle hits the bottom.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon   It's time to fix your mortgage. Well, half of it. For three years only.

INSIGHT

Home buyers embrace benefits of bigger deposits

Home buyers are paying bigger deposits to get the best mortgage deals.

Clancy Yeates   Banks are becoming more picky about who they offer their lowest interest rates to.

HOME LOANS

Perfect time to refinance your mortgage

Janine Louden and her husband are returning to their original lender, so they won't have to set up new accounts.

John Collett   The big banks may be increasing their mortgage interest rates, but that's no reason for their mortgage customers to meekly accept higher repayments.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Pressure mounts for parents to go guarantor

Families are helping adult children into property.

Dianne Charman   Parents need to consider all the options before becoming property guarantors for their children. 

CREDIT TRAPS

New credit card traps

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon   ​We know about unconscionable credit card interest rates and unreasonable surcharges, but this is what you don't know.

Young Aussies out of financial control

Commerce graduate Daniel Wroby didn't hear the term "financial literacy" until he was 23.

Emily Chantiri   ​Twenty-three-year-old Daniel Wroby had never heard the term "financial literacy" until this year. He is not alone.

ASSET CHECK

The magic of the mortgage offset account

Mortgage offset accounts provide financial flexibility to homeowners.

Daryl Dixon   It's an excellent development for consumers that mortgage offset accounts are becoming more commonplace.

ASK NOEL

Age pensioners' guide to lending money

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Noel Whittaker   Noel Whittaker answers reader questions on loans from age pensioners, saving for funeral costs and possible changes to superannuation.

WELL-HEELED

From armchair activist to conscious consumer

Are you a conscious consumer or a sleepwalker? Illustration: Andrew Dyson

Melissa Browne   Clicking to support a cause is not enough; you need to consider your investing, spending and borrowing as well.

INSIGHT

Home buyers shun fixed interest rates

If you're feeling the pinch, it pays to have the certainty of a fixed interest rate.

Clancy Yeates   When interest rates are this low, it can make sense to fix part of your mortgage.

HIDDEN DISCOUNTS

Big 4 in surprise $400m loan giveaway

To get the best rate discounts, you need to pick up the phone to the banks and negotiate.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon   The Big 4 are secretly lopping a full 1 per cent on average off advertised rates for home loans.

Home owners go back to renting

Growing numbers of Australians are jumping out of home ownership and giving renting another whirl. Illustration: Michael ...

Christine Long   Growing numbers of Australians are leaving home ownership to return to renting.

What the Westpac loan hike could cost you

Westpac variable loan customers could pay $63 more a month.

Kate Cowling   Home owners with a Westpac variable loan have been encouraged to shop around after a surprise rate rise that could add more than $20,000 to a 30-year loan.

INSIGHT

The illusion of higher housing wealth

Consumer spending is up as house prices make owners feel wealthier.

Clancy Yeates   Higher house prices may make us feel richer, but it's not that simple.

GETTING AHEAD

Plan on interest rates staying low for longer

The dollar is competitive and there are signs of life for non-mining business investment, even if housing is finally slowing.

David Potts   Interest rates will hang around where they are for a long time yet even though the  market has booked a cut for March next year.

LOAN STARS

Lenders are taking too long to pass on rate cuts

While the cash rate has dropped, consumers are still paying a high price for credit card and personal debt.

John Collett   Despite two official reductions this year, lenders have hardly moved what they charge on credit cards and personal loans.

BOURIS ON MONEY

Give the mortgage a spring spruce-up

Clean up your mortgage ready for any interest-rate changes.

Mark Bouris   With interest rates stalled it's a good time to run the rule over your mortgage and make sure you can cope with any increase.

OFF THE CARDS

Five things you should never put on credit

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon   Some debt is good and other debt is very, very bad – especially when it is sitting on a piece of plastic with a high interest rate.

BASIC TRAINING

Basic Training: How to pay your mortgage off at speed

Paying off a mortgage takes planning and focus.

Larissa Ham   Just moved in? It's time to think about paying off your mortgage – as fast as you can.

BASIC TRAINING

Basic Training: How to have a second bite at your mortgage cherry

Cherries, like a better mortgage rate, are always good for the picking.

Larissa Ham   Getting a home loan is hard enough, so why waste time revisiting it? Simple - you could save yourself heaps each month.

CARD SHARPS

Hidden credit card fees paid by everyone

MasterCard is keen to see Interchange fees are not reduced.

John Collett   It is the credit card fee lurking in the background that just about all consumers, not just those paying by credit card, pay for.