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This Week In Your Wallet: Free Freezes For Everybody

Happy Snow Day. Again. At least that’s how it feels in my little ‘burb, where despite the fact that spring is only about a week away, the white stuff continues to fall. Fortunately, a number of other things don’t seem like they’re on a permanent loop. Like the fact that Congress looks likely to pass a bill prohibiting credit reporting agencies from charging fees for credit freezes. (It feels a little like that day Oprah gave away cars to everyone in her audience. “YOU get free credit freezes, YOU get free credit freezes, EVERYBODY gets free credit freezes!”) Okay, it’s not a five-figure automobile, but being able to freeze your credit for free can save you about $10 to $30 every time you freeze or unfreeze. Over a lifetime, that adds up. Right now, 42 states allow credit reporting companies to charge consumers for blocking open access to their credit reports. Congress’s proposal, in response to the massive Equifax breach that happened last year, states that agencies will need to freeze reports within one to three days of a customer’s request. It will also require that agencies unfreeze reports within an hour if requested electronically. P.S. Even if this bill doesn’t pass, you should freeze your credit ASAP. The cost of dealing with identity theft makes the cost of freezing seem like almost nothing.

Bank of Bezos?

Is there an industry Amazon isn’t looking to disrupt? Last week we learned the mega-commerce company is looking to develop a checking account product. Ken Tumin, editor of The Bank Deals Blog, says that its target customers would be young consumers and those who have little or no credit. “Millennials out there probably have more trust in the Amazon brand than in the big banks, who they feel they aren’t well-served by,” says Tumin. Amazon is aiming to create a checking account that doesn’t charge overdraft fees or impose minimum balance requirements. Tumin says there could be other incentives like discounts and rewards when using your account to shop on Amazon. Alexa, where’s the nearest fee-free ATM?

Odds of Divorce

You’re a woman, you’re married and you just got promoted — you may have just doubled your odds of getting divorced, reports Fortune. A study by Swedish researchers found that women who start out their marriage earning less than their husband or not working at all are more likely to get divorced if they start climbing up the career ladder. The study — conducted over 30 years — looked at married couples in both the public and private sectors and found a similar pattern.

What’s behind the trend? The researchers point to the fact that a wife’s promotion can cause more perceived stress, as couples then often reallocate tasks at home due to changing schedules. Plus, some women leave relationships they feel don’t offer flexibility and stability for their career growth.

Price-Check That Prescription

Are you paying four times as much for your meds as you should be? Quite possibly. Many pharmacists have “gag clauses” that ban them from telling customers when paying for prescription drugs with health insurance is pricier than paying cash, reports Boston.com. Federal and state officials are making moves to block this clause that forces pharmacists to stay silent. And North Carolina, Georgia, Maine and North Dakota already have laws that allow pharmacists to let customers know when there’s a cheaper way to pay. For now, the solution is to ask: What’s the cash price of this prescription vs. my co-pay?

Tune Into You

Emotions can cloud your judgment — and empty your wallet. But there is hope of separating the two, as I wrote in this piece for NBC’s Know Your Value. The key is understanding what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it and what it’s triggering you to do in response. If a little retail therapy is your go-to solution, try padding the equation with time. Pick out whatever you want to buy, but force yourself to take a 24-hour purchasing pause before you pay for it. A day later, the feelings may have faded, and you may no longer need the pick-me-up.

Have a great week,


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