Brandon Ballenger

Brandon Ballenger

Having more than $10,000 in student loan debt has a way of piquing your interest in personal finance. And because my degree was in English and public communication, I get to share that interest with you. My wide-ranging stories on money and business have run on Business Insider, the Christian Science Monitor, Reader’s Digest, the front pages of MSN.com and Yahoo! Finance, Money Talks News, and the South Florida Business Journal. In my free time, I like to jump off skyscrapers and play video games.

How Well Does Your State Manage Money?

July 20, 2017

A close look at state balance sheets shows that “fiscally conservative” doesn’t mean financially healthy — but neither does “lots of taxes.”

cfpb helps you sue your bank again

Thanks to the CFPB, We Can Sue Banks Again

July 13, 2017

For years, credit card companies and banks have avoided class-action lawsuits by writing rules prohibiting them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just snapped those rules.

Is It the CFPB Versus the Education Department?

July 6, 2017

Looks like Richard Cordray and Betsy DeVos are going to fight over student loan forgiveness.

Why Do Trump Voters Have Worse Credit Than Democrats?

June 29, 2017

States that voted for Trump have fewer credit cards, lower balances, and a worse understanding of money.

Trump and the Congressional Review Act

Time’s Up on Trump’s Undo Button

June 22, 2017

the law he used to cancel last-minute Obama regulations won’t prevent changes to prepaid cards and other improvements.

Is Neil Gorsuch an anti-liberal villain like Scalia?

Neil Gorsuch Sides with Debt Collectors in His First Ruling

June 15, 2017

That sucks in the short-term, but it’s good for consumers in the long-term.

financial choice act

Where Does Trump Stand on Financial Reform?

June 8, 2017

He wants the CFPB gutted, but also is “looking at” busting up big banks.

Student Loans: Too Big to Fail? Or Too Much to Succeed?

June 1, 2017

The “student loan crisis” is so massive, we can’t even comprehend it anymore.

Trump circus

Donald Trump’s Student Loan Circus

May 25, 2017

He wants to ditch almost everything that helps students save money and manage debt in order to “prioritize students” and “empower parents.”

Neil Gorsuch

Is Neil Gorsuch Good or Bad for Your Wallet?

May 11, 2017

One month into his new job, here’s a quick look at how Trump’s Justice weighs in. It’s way too early for a verdict.

Trump's tax plans

Who Is Going to Get a Big Trump Tax Cut?

May 4, 2017

Hint: His name starts with T and ends with rump. But at least it’s not Paul Ryan’s plan, and maybe if he gets a big break he’ll leave us all alone.

Donald Trump 100 days victory dance

All the Great Things Trump Did for Me In 100 Days

May 1, 2017

No, I’m not joking.

Trump Can’t Ruin America

April 27, 2017

No matter what you think about Donald Trump, there are hard limits to how much he can reshape politics and the economy. Look no further than the crisis in Venezuela.

Uncle Sam turns nasty with IRS debt collection practices

Want to Collect Debts for the IRS? The Bar Is Pretty Low

April 21, 2017

The IRS will use private debt collectors who have failed before, including one the federal government is already suing for ripping consumers off.

Trump Is Stealing Your Internet Privacy

April 20, 2017

Deregulating for its own sake is incredibly stupid — but potentially profitable for internet companies and identity thieves.

trump student loan forgiveness

Could Donald Trump Snatch Away Student Loan Forgiveness?

April 13, 2017

Everybody wants their debt forgiven, but the people actually promised it could be screwed.

tax fraud

Waiting Until Tax Day to File Is How You Get Ripped Off

April 13, 2017

Tax-related identity theft is increasing, and experts say we ignore easy ways to protect ourselves by stressing about filing.

Are Immigrants Actually Stealing Our Jobs?

April 6, 2017

Trump thinks so, but research shows they do far more good than harm.

rising interest rates

Interest Rates Are Going Up. Should You Be Worried?

March 30, 2017

It depends on whether you have debt, and what kind. If you’re rich, it’s strictly good news.

Donald Trump budget

Can Trump Keep His Promise To Leave Social Security Alone?

March 23, 2017

He campaigned on not cutting entitlements, but conservatives think he has to.

Why the CFPB Still Has a Fighting Chance

March 16, 2017

Republicans may hate it, but the courts — and even Mike Pence’s economist — don’t.

Trump jobs record

God’s Gift to Jobs? Time to Prove It

March 9, 2017

Here’s a quick look at employment stats to put the first jobs numbers of the Trump administration into context — and what we can expect.

Trump's speech to Congress

State of the Dystopia

March 2, 2017

Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress Tuesday night was a nice change of pace. But actually doing stuff would be better.

5 Smart Pieces of State Debt Legislation

February 23, 2017

If Congress needs help helping people, it should look to these state legislators.

petition donald trump

Financial Issues Real Americans Want Trump to Solve

February 16, 2017

These desperate White House petitions aren’t getting much attention. Some of them deserve it.

Betsy DeVos

25 Things I Learned About Betsy DeVos By Reading Her Own Words

February 9, 2017

Secretary of Education responded (sort of) to more than 140 Congressional questions beyond her confirmation hearing. But nobody talked about it.

Is Neil Gorsuch an anti-liberal villain like Scalia?

What Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Mean for Your Finances

February 2, 2017

Neil M. Gorsuch is a lot like Justice Antonin Scalia — except for one big thing.

Will Trump Wreck the Greatest Federal Agency?

January 26, 2017

He’s hiring people that hate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and pledged to tear up post-recession banking regulations

Trump student loan plan

Trump Could Be Great for Your Student Loan Debt

January 19, 2017

Or he could be horrible. That’s why I just applied for a new repayment plan while I still can.

The Trump Effect

3 Weird Markets Trump Has Already Changed

January 12, 2017

The Donald’s business ties, Twitter tantrums and fickle personality will shake up a lot of markets — but I bet you didn’t expect these

negotiate your credit card debt

We’re Getting Squeezed By Credit Card Debt — But Acting Smarter

December 15, 2016

Our expenses keep going up, but our credit card debt is lower than it was a decade ago

The first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency

What will President Trump do to our finances?

November 9, 2016

It’s finally over. But what now? Here’s a quick look at some of the things Trump has promised to achieve that’ll change your bottom line — if they get past Congress.

All these election polls show a clear loser — Americans

November 8, 2016

They’re not about who becomes president, they’re about everything else.

Life insurance for Trump

Presidential Politics Might Scare People Into Buying More Insurance

November 7, 2016

Political decisions impact most businesses, but here’s a surprising one getting a boost: life insurance.

Still Haven’t Got A Costume? Try These Popular Picks

October 26, 2016

This year’s Halloween spending is expected to top a ghastly $8.4 billion, the highest figure since the National Retail Federation began surveying consumers about their holiday spending. The biggest chunk of that is on costumes: $1.5 billion on costumes for adults — $1.17 billion for kids, and even $420 million on pet costumes. Candy is […]

What About the Financial Issues the Candidates Aren’t Debating?

October 19, 2016

Americans, like always, care most about the economy and how it helps or hurts them. Why aren’t we hearing more about it?

What Would It Cost to Forgive Everybody’s Debt?

August 17, 2016

Here are 10 ways American could come up with the money to pay off everybody’s debt in collections… not that we recommend doing that.

When Your State Has A Sales Tax Holiday in 2016

August 5, 2016

Find out when your state has a back-to-school sales tax holiday this year!

Campaign debt can outlast a presidency

May 11, 2016

Would you believe that President Obama’s campaign committee is still in debt? If a president can’t pay off his debts in a timely fashion, what about all the other could-have-beens?

student loan deferment

A New Way to Figure Out How To Pay Less on Your Student Loans?

May 10, 2016

The federal government tries something novel: clarity.

Trump’s supporters have better credit than Clinton’s

May 6, 2016

Give credit where it’s due. Two surveys show people voting for Trump aren’t stupid — at least when it comes to money.

Where you should move when Trump wins

April 13, 2016

We’re not saying it will happen. We’re just saying you should be ready.

Nobody's fixing Obamacare

Obamacare sucks and nobody wants to fix it

April 6, 2016

If you were fine before Obamacare, you’re probably fine now. If not, you may be even worse off.

The first 100 days of the 2016 presidency

How will the first 100 days of the next presidency affect you?

March 5, 2016

Using things the candidates have actually said or promised, we can peer into the future of domestic policy and how it could affect your wallet.

money in politics

On financial issues, your party matters less

February 2, 2016

The top issue for voter of all stripes is putting the “me” back in economy

Which candidate will improve your finances the most?

January 29, 2016

Which presidential candidate has the best policy ideas for your bottom line? Here’s who Americans think will benefit their personal economy in 2016.

This map shows state by state personal debt

Mapping America’s personal debt

January 22, 2016

Here’s an in-depth, interactive look at the personal debt loads of every state — plus how it tends to vote in state and national elections. How does your state compare?

40-hour work week? Try 60

10 Reasons You Never Get Anything Done at Work

June 16, 2015

A new study highlights the most popular ways to slack — and we’ve got the remedies.

save for retirement before college

Forget Your Kids’ College, Save For Retirement

March 24, 2015

Parents are making sure their kids don’t learn the best lesson college can teach — financial independence.

You don't have to pay dumb banking fees.

6 ways to beat dumb banking fees

March 17, 2015

Why pay a bank to use your money? Avoiding fees involves some simple tech and even simpler questions.