Plan 2010 Finances with Mellody Hobson

In the lead-up to the implementation of the new rules, Hobson said many credit card companies are increasing their rates and fees. Consumers need to know what those fees are now, instead of being caught by surprise later, she said.

"They are charging anything from inactivity fees for not using your card…to putting a floor, not a ceiling, on how much you are going to pay in fees," Hobson said.

You should also call your credit card company to get an understanding of what the changes will mean for you to decide whether you should keep the card or cancel it, she added.

Tip No. 4: Be prepared for rising minimum payments.

Because of the new legislation, credit card issuers are increasing the minimum payments, so cardholders should be ready for that as well, Hobson said.

For example, J.P. Morgan has raised its minimum payment to 5 percent, up from 2 percent, and MBNA, Citibank and Bank of America are raising their minimums from 2 to 4 percent, she said.

Tip No. 5: Make a will.

It's not a topic that many people like to think about, but Hobson said 58 percent of Americans haven't made a will.

If you do not have a will, someone else is going to decide how your estate should be divided. A will allows your loved ones to avoid the major headaches that could leave lasting negative financial effects, Hobson said.

Getting a will drawn up is easy. For simple estates, there are Web sites – for example, www.legalzoom.com -- that will help you to create a will for a small fee, she said.

If your estate is more complicated, though, Hobson recommends seeing an attorney.

Hobson's Web-Only Extra Tip: Teach your children about money.

Teaching your children financial responsibility is one of the most important things you can do as a parent.

Teaching them will force you to be more aware, and setting a good foundation early on will ensure that they have lasting good habits.

Your discussions with your children don't have to be very complex, she said.

You can start by talking to them about how much things cost, and how long it would take to earn that amount of money. You also can talk about basic expenses, such as electric and gas bills and their monthly cell phone bills.

There are tools available that can help you to craft these discussions with your children, Hobson added. One site, www.themint.org, is an interactive Web site that teaches your child about spending, investing and giving.

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