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Michael Foster
Michael Foster earned a B.A. in English at UCLA and went on to travel around Europe and Asia for a decade before coming to NYC. At one point, he got a Ph.D. Nowadays, he thinks and writes a lot about personal finance and investing.

How People Use Credit Cards in Foreign Countries Other Than the U.S.

By Michael Foster

credit cardWhen it comes to economic issues, the media has a love affair with hyperbole. For instance, in 2010, CBS News ran a chilling report on American consumer debt. Entitled “Addicted to Debt,” the story gave detail about the state of American consumer debt. Among the data points, the piece reported that Americans owe $775 billion in total on their credit cards. Blaming impulsive shopping, experts pointed to an “unbelievable trend” that was making credit card debt the next crisis for the United States economy.

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Understanding the Cost of Living in Thailand – Rent, Food & Entertainment

By Michael Foster

thailandHow would you like to live in a tropical paradise where a meal at a restaurant costs $2, a taxi ride costs $3, and apartments rent for $200 per month?

For decades, Thailand has remained one of the most popular destinations for anyone looking for a tropical climate at a low cost. Just 20 years ago, Lonely Planet’s “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring” introduced millions of readers to Thailand’s oceanfront bungalows, many of which rent for $5 per day (or less for monthly rentals), the delicious street food that can be had for less than a dollar, and the motorbikes that rent for under $3 a day.

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Understanding How Student Loan Debt Affects Your Credit Score

By Michael Foster

examining your credit scoreIt can be hard for students and young people to build a good credit score. You need good credit to get a loan, but you need to get a loan to build up good credit. There are a few ways to escape this paradox, such as acquiring a secured credit card or getting a loan from a credit union. However, utilizing student loans is perhaps the easiest way for young people to build and establish a solid credit history.

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What Is a Mortgage REIT (mREIT) – Definition, Risks & Suitability

By Michael Foster

investing in mreitsPublicly traded REITs (real estate investment trusts) have attracted growing investor interest lately, thanks to their high dividends. While a large cap stock rarely pays a dividend yield above 5%, it is not uncommon for REITs to pay dividend yields of 10% or higher. In 2011, some REITs were paying dividends over 15%, and for the first half of 2012, many of these companies’ stocks also rose over 10%.

Recently, there has been growing interest in a class of REITs called mREITs, which also pay high dividends but pose a slightly different set of risks.

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Early Retirement Extreme: Can You Really Retire in 5 Years?

By Michael Foster

early retirementHow long do you need to work to retire? Fifty years? Forty? On the contrary, you may actually be able to retire in only five years.

This is the message of Jacob Lund Fisker, who wrote the book, Early Retirement Extreme (ERE). His self-styled movement began back in 2007, and some of its followers are already beginning to retire. It is an interesting concept – but not everyone buys into it. Before you start preparing for your early retirement, it’s important to understand the concept, the pros, and the cons.

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5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score After a Foreclosure

By Michael Foster

foreclosureForeclosure rates more than quadrupled from 2005 to 2010 as the subprime mortgage crisis affected every neighborhood, suburb, and urban area in America. In 2010, the number of loans in foreclosure spiked at 4.6% according to the U.S. Census, as millions of homeowners across the country faced enormous levels of negative equity and higher mortgage payments due to adjustable-rate mortgages. For thousands of Americans who weren’t underwater in their homes, layoffs, high unemployment, and falling wages meant that their dream home was no longer affordable.

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How Debt Management Affects Your Credit Score – 4 Tips for Improvement

By Michael Foster

building a solid credit scoreIn 2000, I left America to study abroad, and thought I was being responsible by closing a few credit card accounts that I wasn’t planning on using.

Big mistake.

Not only did closing credit accounts lower my credit score - and cost me thousands of dollars when I got a mortgage years later – but it also made it harder for me to get credit when I came back home. The experience was a costly lesson: Paying off credit cards is generally good, but closing accounts often isn’t. That’s why it’s important to know which strategies for paying off your debt can improve your credit score. By paying off card debt and managing how and when you get credit cards in the first place, you can lower your debt and boost your credit score at the same time.

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