Posts by Mandi Woodruff

  • It's about to get much easier for consumers to sue big banks

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 1 day ago

    A consumer watchdog is one step closer to finally preventing big banks, payday lenders and other financial services from blocking class action lawsuits filed by disgruntled consumers. In a statement Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules that would prohibit some financial services companies from including a clause in customer agreements that forces class action legal claims to be handled in arbitration.  

    Arbitration is a way for corporations to make sure consumers keep their claims out of court and away from the public eye. As a consumer, it’s difficult to avoid agreeing to these clauses because they're used by the majority of financial products and services  — from checking accounts and prepaid debit cards to payday loans and student loan debt — and even if they aren’t, companies can add them to our contracts at any time.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]


  • New startup makes stocks as easy to buy as gift cards

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    From medical billing and investing to consumer banking and retirement saving, scrappy startups have managed flip just about every traditional financial service on its head. The latest innovation out of Silicon Valley is a company called SparkGift , which aims to make it as easy to gift someone shares of Apple or Tesla as it is to pick up a gift card.

    The company, founded by Peggy Mangot, began beta testing in March. Mangot, a former Visa product manager, spent four years at Google working primarily on Google Wallet, the company’s mobile payments app.

    Developing an easy-to-use platform for stock gifting was born out of a personal frustration, Mangot says: “We have all these occasions where we have this opportunity to give gifts to family and friends, and the only real options are things or gift cards. I’d rather give an investment, but it’s almost impossible to do easily.”

    Over time, family and friends can easily contribute funds to a kid’s SparkGift account through a registry parents set up on the site, which lets other potential gift-givers know which stocks or funds their child prefers.

    How it works:

    What it costs:

    Teaching kids about investing

  • The 3 things you should do first if you lose your job

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    Losing a job unexpectedly is bound to leave anyone in shock. Once you get over the initial feelings of stress or even panic, it’s important to take a few steps that will make sure you can get back on track – with life and with your finances. In this week’s Money Minute, I tell you three things to do if you ever get the boot.

    Sign up for unemployment benefits. If you’ve lost your job through no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Every state has its own eligibility requirements, so check your state’s labor department website first. Most states offer 26 weeks of benefits. The key is to apply as soon as you lose your job to ensure you get benefits for each week you’re out of work. Some states allow you to apply online, while others require an in-office visit.

    Another option is to leave the money in your old employer’s 401(k) and avoid fees and taxes as well, especially if you’re unsatisfied with the investment options in your new company’s plan.


    Have a money question? Ask me anything.

  • What SoFi's $1 billion news means for the student loan refi business

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    Student loan refinancing juggernaut SoFi announced Wednesday it has raised a whopping $1 billion in its latest round of fundraising.

    It’s a milestone for the San Francisco startup that nearly triples its haul from three previous funding rounds which altogether netted $365 million. CEO Mike Cagney says the influx of capital will help the company keep pace with its rapid rate of growth. Founded in 2011 by a group of Stanford Business School alumni, SoFi has funded more than $4 billion in loans and aims to top $6 billion by year end. Cagney says the company plans to grow its 400-member staff to 500.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    “The funding is great news for borrowers—it will enable us to lower rates, create new products, improve the overall SoFi experience and deepen community engagement among our members,” Macklin said in an email.

    Playing the long game

    In the meantime, we should expect to see continued growth from startups like SoFi, Riber says.


  • How to handle an enemy at the office

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 7 days ago

    What’s the right way to ask for a raise? And how do you deal with a coworker you just don’t get along with? Wharton and Columbia Business School Professors Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer sat down with Yahoo Finance recently to discuss strategies for better negotiating and conflict resolution from their new book “ Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both” .

    Dealing with a ‘foe’ at the office

    Office conflicts are bound to arise, especially in competitive work environments. The first step to sorting out a disagreement with a coworker is to back off for a while and try to identify the cause of the conflict, Galinsky says. Here’s his five-step process to diffuse the tension:

    Create some distance. The first step to resolving a conflict with a colleague is to create some distance. “Although face-to-face contact often increases rapport, when people are angry and competitive, face-to-face meetings can escalate conflict,” Galinsky says.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]


  • Meet the woman who turned a school bus into a mobile financial literacy hub

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 13 days ago

    Marsha Barnes has never been a fan of blending in, so when the Charlotte, N.C., native decided to start a financial coaching business, she knew leasing a standard office space was out of the question. With more than a decade of experience working as a corporate trainer for a major financial services company, she wanted to deliver personal finance advice to people somewhere they could feel immediately at ease.

    So she bought a school bus.

    “A school bus, to me, speaks to learning and being in a classroom environment,” says Barnes, 40. She originally thought of going for a food truck, a popular staple in the Charlotte food scene. But for practical reasons (like limited space and lack of windows), a school bus made more sense.

    TaLaya Brown, 30, a self-employed manicurist, first sought out Barnes for advice on how to budget for both business and personal expenses. Now she’s a member of The Finance Bar’s virtual members club.

    “Ever since I started to work with her, it put everything in perspective for me,” Brown says. “She told me how to get an accountant to set up an LLC for my business and how to start paying myself as opposed to putting all of my money into one personal account.”


  • Why making community college free won’t solve the student debt crisis

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 14 days ago

    Pursuing higher education in America today can feel something like a Catch-22 — with a college degree, graduates are more likely to be employed and earn more over their lifetime. But as the cost of college rises, so, too, does the amount of debt students have to take on to pay their way through school.

    But is it fair to expect community colleges to fill the gaps that exist in higher education today? After speaking with community college leaders and reviewing federal data on student outcomes, we found a host of challenges that may pose a big risk to the government’s ambitious plan to make community college free for all.

    Community college graduates take out less debt but have more trouble paying it off

    (Graphic provided by

    “The less you borrow, the likelier you are to default and that is very much a community college phenomenon,” says David Baime, a senior policy expert at the AACC, the American Association of Community Colleges.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    How to improve the community college system

    Vetting community colleges

  • The truth behind those ‘40%’ tuition discounts

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 17 days ago

    Two more colleges have slashed their tuition prices by a headline-grabbing margin. Officials from Utica College in New York and Rosemont College in Pennsylvania, both small, private liberal arts schools, announced cuts of more than 40% off the price of tuition. They join a growing roster of schools to cut tuition, including the University of Charleston in West Virginia, Ohio’s Ashland University, Converse College in South Carolina, and Concordia University-St. Paul, where similar discounts were announced with much fanfare over the last few years.

    Good news, right? As the nation’s student debt tally climbs ever higher, political leaders from both side of the aisle have called on schools to make college more affordable. Moves like these should elicit hope that, finally, colleges are getting the memo. But experts we spoke with say price cuts are typically more about drawing free publicity and driving up enrollment than giving students a meaningful deal.

    New bag, old tricks

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    The private school struggle


  • What a Fed rate hike will mean for your mortgage rate, savings, and credit cards

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 23 days ago

    Have burning money question? Ask me anything.

    With Federal Reserve officials gathering for a policy meeting this week, speculation as to whether the central bank will finally raise interest rates hasn’t let up. In the scope of the U.S. economy, tinkering with the federal funds rate is a big deal — the higher it goes, the more expensive borrowing becomes.

    That’s because many lending institutions look to the fed funds rate to determine where they should set their interest rates. To try to stabilize the economy in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, the Fed dropped the rate to rock-bottom lows of 0% to 0.25%. Now that the economy has essentially rebounded, experts have spent the last year trying to anticipate when the Fed might jack up the rate again.

    If you’ve stuck with us this long, you’re probably only wondering one thing: What would a rate hike mean for my wallet? We spoke with experts to get an idea of what everyday folks can expect.

    Mortgage rates

    Credit and savings

    Car loans



  • Inside the government's student loan problem

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 23 days ago

    Come January, dozens of private companies will bid to win lucrative government contracts to manage a chunk of the nation’s outstanding $1.3 trillion in federal student loan debt. At the forefront of that group will be Navient (NAVI) , one of the four largest companies currently contracted by the government to service student loan debt for millions of borrowers. Navient, which already services more than $300 billion worth of student loan debt, was spun off from consumer banking giant Sallie Mae (SLM) a little over a year ago. It’s been plagued by legal troubles ever since, spurring consumer advocates and lawmakers to pressure the government to cancel the company’s contract. But so far the government hasn’t cut Navient. In fact, it renewed the company’s contract earlier this year. To understand why, Yahoo Finance took a deeper look inside the student loan servicing business.

    Big bark, little bite

    Broken system, bad incentives