National Debt Relief - BBB Accredited Business - Get Relief From Unsecured Credit Card Debt, Medical Bills And Student Loans

How To Improve Your Personal Wealth This 2015

piggy bank with moneyDo you think that you experienced any genuine financial improvement last year? As we start 2015, you may want to look back a little to figure out the right and wrong decisions that you made about your money. This is important if you want to improve your personal wealth by the end of this year.

In truth, improving one’s finances is not as hard as it used to be thanks to our rising economy. According to an article published on Bloomberg.com the US economy improved last year. The household net worth is actually $1.3. trillion higher than the peak before the recession – which was at $67.9 trillion in the second quarter of 2007. This is caused in part by the improving real estate market that grew by 4.9% by September of 2014. Not only that, the improving job market is also a factor in improving the net worth of Americans.

It was not all good news though. There was a damper in the household wealth improvement caused by a drop in the stock indexes. However, this should be easy to recover as long as consumers take extra care of how they manage their investments. Another thing that may be slowing the growth of household wealth is the rising consumer debt. Obviously, the growth in our personal wealth is making us confident when it comes to taking in more credit.

3 steps to improve your finances this year

If you want to take your wealth to the next level, you need to start planning how you can do that. As early as now, you should have plans in place that you can follow periodically this year. Without a strategy, you will just go around blindly, hoping that you will hit the jackpot. Obviously, this is not the best way to improve your personal finances this year.

If you really want to revolutionize how your money is spent, think about these three steps that you can work on this 2015.

Pay off your debts

The first thing that you should do is to pay off your debts. According to a speech delivered by William C. Dudley at the Bernard M. Baruch College in New York, when debt goes down, the net worth goes up. The speech titled “The 2015 Economic Outlook and the Implications for Monetary Policy” was published on FRB.org. While discussing how consumers are in better financial shape, the speaker revealed that the household liabilities have gone down by roughly $500 billion as compared to the peak debt amount in 2008. This is helped by the lower interest rates – which is a factor in increasing debt loads. With this decrease in debt, the household net worth was able to recover and increase – thanks to a higher asset value.

It seems to correlate with each other. The less debt you have, the more you have in your personal wealth. Even if you own a home that is valued at $500,000, if you still owe $400,000 in your mortgage, you only have $100,000 in your personal assets. The more you pay towards your mortgage, the more equity you own in your home. This concept can be applied to all your debts – whether it is credit card debt, auto loans or student loans. What you are paying towards your debts can be used to grow your savings or increase your investments.

Another way that paying off debts can improve your wealth is the money that you will save on interest. This is only making your creditors and lenders rich. Pay off what you owe as soon as possible to lower the money you waste on interest payments.

Increase your savings

Once you have paid off your debts or at least implemented a repayment plan, it is time for you to focus on your savings. Increasing your savings is the direct way for you to improve your personal wealth. When you spend, you are distributing what you earned and putting them in the pocket of other people. When you save your money, you are putting it in your pocket. Whether it is to be spent on something that will increase your net worth or saved for the rainy day, the bottom line is it will be an addition to your assets.

According to an article published on EquitableGrowth.org, wealth comes from two sources – your income and your savings. While wealth can be inherited, that is something that is beyond your control. Your income and savings, on the other hand, is something that you have full control over – more so with savings. Your income will still depend on your employer but the amount you save will entirely be based on your own discretion. So grow your savings and it will directly affect your wealth.

Map out your financial goals

After working on your debts and savings, the third step that you need to work on is mapping out your financial goals. In some cases, this should be the first on your list. But considering how debt is rising and savings are decreasing, it may be more prudent to work on the first two before adding more financial goals.

So what goals can you work on? That will depend on you. It can be a new home, a car, your child’s college fund, retirement, or a business. The important thing is to have a goal. When you have a goal, it gives you focus. It gives you motivation. It gives you something to reach for. In essence, it gives you something to live for in the future. Not only will it do all that, it can also grow your personal net worth – at least, if you choose the right financial goal.

Tips to make your wealth last long

Growing your personal wealth is only the first phase in achieving financial success. Make sure that after growing your wealth, you know how to make it last long. You may end up with a huge amount but if you do not know how to manage it, this will not last.

Here are some tips that can help you make your money last long.

  • Live below your means. One of the fastest way to deplete your wealth is by living beyond your means. This simply means you are spending more than what you are earning. Some people think that living within your means is the best way to go. While it will keep you in debt, it will only preserve your finances and keep you in the same financial state. The best way to make your wealth last long and increase it at the same time is to live below your means. This way, you can take care of all your expenses while having extra money to set aside for savings.
  • Think before you spend. Regardless of how much wealth you have, smart spending will always be important. Even if you can afford it, that does not mean you should buy it. Ideally, you want to buy things that are aligned to your financial goals. If not, then think carefully before you make the purchase.
  • Make investments. Like savings, this investing is another way to grow your personal wealth. think about where you can place your money and consider the risks that you will face. Without a little risk, growing your money will not be as rewarding as it should be. Investing the extra money you have is one of the best ways to make your finances work for you.
  • Be aware and educate yourself at all times. In the end, you can make better financial decisions if you are aware of your options. Always make time to educate yourself about something. Read about rules, laws and various techniques to manage your money. While hiring financial experts will work, it will serve you better if you know what is going on with your personal wealth.

Having Trouble Staying On Your Budget? Here’s 8 Tips That Could Help

budget on top of moneyYou do have a budget, right? No, you say. Well, then you need to develop one. There is not a successful business in this country that doesn’t run on a budget or what’s euphemistically called a business plan. Most “successful” families also run on budgets. If you don’t have a budget you should get started creating one. It’s not really all that tough. There are actually a couple of approaches to creating a budget. The simplest one is to get out your last month’s bank statement and all your credit card statements then sit down, add everything up and then compare this to your earnings. If you find you’re spending, say, 10% more than you earn you now know you need to cut your spending by at least 10%.

A second option

A second way to get to a budget is by tracking your spending for a month and by this we mean writing down everything you spend money on from your utility bills to that soda you had at work yesterday. This should give you a totally accurate picture of your spending.

Whichever you choose

Whether you choose the simple or more difficult way to learn where your money’s gone the next step is to divide your spending into categories. The most common categories are:

  • Home repair and maintenance
  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Health and medical
  • Transportation
  • Debt payments
  • Entertainment/Recreation
  • Pets
  • Clothing
  • Investments and savings
  • Miscellaneous

Of course, depending on your circumstances you may eliminate some of these categories or add others.

There’s yet another way to create a budget that’s called the shoebox method. Here, courtesy of National Debt Relief, is a video explaining it.

Tighten the screws

Now that you know where your money’s gone the next step is to determine what you want to do in the future, which is the budget. If you learn that you’ve been spending more than you earn or if you haven’t been able to save money you will need to tighten the screws by cutting your spending in some or all your categories. Most people find the best categories to reduce spending are clothing, entertainment/recreation and food. Your goal might be to reduce your overall spending by 10% or even more – depending on what you learned when you analyzed your spending.

Staying on a budget can be hardfrustrated woman with a paper and calculator

There’s no question that creating a budget can be hard and frustrating. And staying on that budget can be even harder and more frustrating. But once you have a budget it’s critical that you stay on it. Having and staying on a budget can mean fewer financial problems and much less stress. If you’re married then having a budget can even help your marriage. One of the biggest bones of contention between couples is money and when you have a budget to manage it this reduces a lot of the financial stress and the arguing that often accompanies it. So what can you do to stay on your budget?

1. Use cash for discretionary spending

Once a week take out the cash from your bank or an ATM that you need for that week to cover your discretionary expenses or those things that you could live without. You will probably find it easier to not buy those great shoes on sale for just $50 if it will take the majority of that week’s cash.

2. Cut out your bad habits

Stop and think for a minute about your bad habit. Is it smoking or alcohol? These are habits that can be very expensive. If you cut out a bad habit then you will have that money to put towards your other expenses. You should see your bills go down and your health get better. Down the road, you’ll also save on health care expenses and might even qualify for cheaper insurance premiums.

3. Share the obligation

One thing you don’t want to be for sure is the only person in your family that’s worrying about the budget and saving money. There’s no way you can win the battle if your partner is spending you into debt. The two of you need to make a plan as to how much spending money each of you will have. Sit down once a week and do a reality check to see how you’re doing. When the budget is everyone’s responsibility then everyone has a stake in things. This will ultimately make a big difference. It’s just not fair that one person has to shoulder the entire burden by him or herself.

4. Pay down your debts

Credit card debts especially can bog down your entire financial situation. If you don’t pay off your balances each month, the money will be added to next month’s balance as well as the additional interest. When one month’s interest rate is rolled into the next it’s “capitalized” and this means you end up paying interest on the interest. There are two ways to get debts under control. One is to put all of your efforts against paying off the debt with the highest interest rate, as this will save you the most money. Then go to work on paying off the debt with the second highest interest rate and so on.

The other way to get your debts under control is called the snowball method. This is where you concentrate first on paying off the debt with the lowest balance. You should be able to do this fairly quickly and will then have more money available to start paying off the debt with the second lowest balance, etc. In either case if you have other debts you must remember to continue making at least the minimum payments on them.

5. Keep all your receipts

Regardless of how you determined your spending you now have a budget and it can be very tempting to stop keeping up with every little expense. But if you do keep your receipts this can really help you stay on your budget. You should also write down the places where you spent money but didn’t get a receipt. You should find it more difficult to overspend when you can see how much money has actually gone through your hands.

6. Keep your checkbook balanced

If you don’t balance your checkbook regularly it’s important you start doing so. This is especially true if you’re on a tight budget. This is because just a few small mistakes could end up in overdraft charges or insufficient funds in your checking account. If every time you get a statement from your bank you balance your account, this can help you make sure you stay on your budget and in the black.

7. Continue to analyze your spending

Reducing your spending should be an ongoing process. Try to sit down at least once a month with your budget and your receipts. See if there are expenses you could cut. Do you go out for lunch every day? Maybe you could take your lunch to work a couple of days a week. If you have a fairly long drive to work you might be able to set up ridesharing with a co-worker or even take public transportation. Every cent you save by cutting gas costs and the cost of eating out will be money you will have available to save or for big purchases.

8. Stay the course

Life is full of unpredictable happenings. Your budget should include something for them as well as variable expenses. And be flexible. Don’t beat yourself up if you go over your budget occasionally. If you make a mistake or two, it can be frustrating and a bit difficult to get back on track. But it’s important that you do so because the longer you can stay on your budget the bigger the rewards you will earn in the years to come. The important thing to keep in mind is that budgeting is worth the effort and that staying on a budget will help your life run more smoothly, as your finances affect so many things.

Tips For Managing Your Finances When Unemployed

frustrated looking womanWe know from personal experience that there are worse things in life than losing your job but not many. It’s usually not just a blow to your finances but also to your ego. No matter whether you’re told, “you’re fired,” “sorry but were downsizing,” or it’s not your fault, it’s just corporate restructuring,” it still represents a rejection almost as bad as when the person you loved more than anything else in the world told you to get lost.

Being unemployed means having to search for a new job, which can also be very stressful. You will need to market yourself against competing candidates and try your best to keep up with all those daily job search tasks. It’s enough to make even the most jaundiced professional squirm. Add to this the fact that you now have another stressor and that is your personal finances. Of course, you’ll be in relatively good shape if you have built an emergency fund over the years, especially if it’s the equivalent of six months worth of your living expenses. However, if you are not able to do this, sit down, take a deep breath and as Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently said,
“R E L A X”. There are things you can definitely do to keep your personal finances under control and even get them back on track.

First, take an honest look at your finances

If you’re not careful it’s easy to start rationalizing. You could be telling yourself, “I can get an odd job if necessary” or “I can always borrow money from my IRA or 401(k)” or “I can hit up the relatives for a short-term loan.” But this is a case where it’s much better that while you’re hoping for the best you’re also preparing for the worst. It’s critical that you be realistic and truthful about your finances and face them head-on.

Make a budgetbudget and scissors

Sadly enough if you’re typical you’ve don’t have a budget. It’s probably just one of those things that you always planned to do but never did. The good news here is that making a budget is pretty simple. All you need to do is write down all your revenue sources and all of your expenses. Then do a quick add and subtract and presto! You will know how big is the gap between the money you have coming in and going out. This will help you determine how and where to allocate your money each month.

File for unemployment

If you were let go by your employer, which is probably the case, and you weren’t fired due to misconduct then you should file for unemployment insurance. If you believe you would be eligible, don’t procrastinate. Contact an unemployment office in your state immediately. While unemployment programs vary from state to state you can generally count on getting benefits for at least 26 weeks. In some states your benefits can extend up to 73 weeks. Do understand that how much you receive weekly will depend on your income and how long you have been unemployed.

Decide what’s most important

For the next 30 days write down everything you spend money on excluding your regular monthly bills. This would include movies, eating out, drinks with friends, clothes, food – everything. If you just buy a paperback or magazine or a soda at your favorite fast food restaurant, write it down. Do this and you may be shocked at how much money you’re spending. Next, consider the items that you’ve enjoyed in the past but may not be necessary until you again have a job. Be realistic. Decide what you absolutely need and what you can do without. Then eliminate those things you could do without until you get a job. We’d be willing to bet that if you really put a sharp pencil to those expenses you’ll be able to slash them by 20% or even better, which would make it a lot easier for you to meet your fixed obligations such as your mortgage payment, auto loan(s), student loans (if appropriate) and utilities.

Get started right away

When you first start thinking about your job search plan set aside some time to review your personal finances. If you take control of them early on in your job search, you can put the issue aside and keep focused on what is important, which is finding a job. Plus, if your finances are healthy this will give you much greater control over your job situation – meaning that you won’t have to take the first job that’s offered because you’re so worried about money

Treat credit cards like Ebola

The simple fact of the matter is that credit card debt is very destructive debt. This is because of their interest rates. Some credit cards have interest rates as high as 20%. It may not seem like a very big deal if you’re buying necessary items on a credit card while job searching but beware! You need to pay the full balance at the end of every month and not just the minimum amount required. If you make just those minimum payments, you’re most likely headed for a downward spiral in your finances. The best tactic is to treat those credit cards as if they had Ebola – except in case of an absolute emergency.

man and woman shaking handsGet some professional financial advice

Again if you’re typical you don’t have a financial advisor. You probably feel you can handle your money yourself or you may be worried that the advisor won’t be looking out for your best interests. While these justifications might be valid, your bank or other financial institution has a vested interest in making sure you don’t default on your payments. Check with your bank or brokerage as it might have a financial advisor you could talk with — free or at very low cost. If so, do it. That person could help you put together a financial plan that would work with your current situation. And when it comes to financial planning never be afraid to get a second or even third opinion.

Don’t clean off your financial slate

If you are lucky enough to receive a severance package or if you have other assets available you may be tempted to use the money to pay off your credit cards, your car loan or other debts. However, this is a case where you might be much better off if you pay just the required or minimal monthly payments. This will help you stretch out your cash and meet your living expenses in case you are unable to find a new job within the first several months.

Harm not your retirement

If you have a 401(k), an IRA or some other employer-sponsored retirement plan you might be tempted to cash it out and use the money to help cover your living expenses. There’s one word for this– don’t. If you do this you’ll not only jeopardize your retirement you’ll probably be required to pay a lot in penalties and income taxes. If you have money in a 401(k) a better option is to roll it over into an IRA or just leave it in your previous employer’s plan. Don’t tap any of your retirement funds except as a very last resort.

The Nasty Consequences Of Identity Theft And How To Prevent It From Happening To You

appearingIt seems that identity theft used to be a problem that just happened to isolated individuals from time to time. Well, that’s no longer the case. There’s an article almost every week revealing that hundreds of thousands or even millions of people have had their identity stolen through what’s called a data breach. One recent example of this is Target Stores where a data breach exposed more than 100 million customer records at US retailers, Internet companies and banks. Then, of course, there was Sony Pictures where the Social Security numbers and other personal details of nearly 50,000 former and current employees and film actors were stolen and posted online where anyone could view them.

When it comes to individuals, one company estimates that 33% of Americans were affected by a data breach and ultimately became the victims of data fraud just last year alone. This was up from one in nine in the year 2010.

You are protected — sort of

While the banks and credit card providers often absorb false charges, it’s up to you, the victim, to clean up your credit history and recover any stolen funds. Besides the lost money, time and emotional energy you also face the ongoing frustration of not seeing anyone pay for the crime. Identity theft cases are hardly ever prosecuted. This is because local police have limited resources, plus the fact that these criminals are often overseas making it very difficult to find and prosecute them.

Making things even more complicated

What makes catching these crooks even more difficult is that they often steal or buy consumer information from one or more sources and then combine the information to create a complete dossier on potential victims. This is probably why hackers last year were able to impersonate rich and famous people to get the credit reports of Michelle Obama, Paris Hilton and even Gen. Keith Alexander who, ironically enough, was then the head of the National Security Agency.

$24.7 billion in losses

Identity theft might be a global problem but it is very difficult to measure worldwide losses. However, a study done by the Department of Justice estimated that identity theft of all kinds was responsible for losses of $24.7 billion in 2012 just in the US. This is nearly twice the $14 billion that was lost from all other property crimes including burglary and theft. Another survey found that when a credit card is used for fraud the average loss is $1251. The average loss is $2330 when a Social Security number is exposed and then used to open new accounts. It is true that banks take the biggest financial hit in these cases but out-of-pocket losses for consumers can range from an average of $63 in the case of credit cards to $280 for fraud involving Social Security numbers.

Protecting yourself from identity fraud

It may be almost impossible for you to totally protect yourself from identity theft but there are things that you can do to protect yourself as much as possible. For example, guard your Social Security numbers very closely as well as your credit and debit card information and account passwords. You should also change your account passwords periodically and try to make them more secure. Passwords like 1-2-3-4, your birthday or A-B-C-1-2-3 just don’t do the job even though they may be easy to remember.

Shred them

cutting a credit cardYou should be sure to shred any unneeded financial records and credit offers you receive. Combination shredders-wastebaskets can be purchased these days for $30 or less and would be a great investment. While credit card statements rarely include your full credit card number anymore it certainly couldn’t hurt to shred them as well.
Get your free credit report

You’re entitled to get your credit report free from the three credit reporting bureaus annually. You could contact Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and get your credit reports from them or go to the site www.annualcreditreport.com and get all three simultaneously. Some people choose to get their credit reports one at a time at four-month intervals, as this is sort of a free way to monitor their credit on a continuing basis. When you get your credit report or reports read them carefully to see if there have been any unauthorized purchases or accounts opened. If you find one or more of these, you should dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau and ultimately have them removed.

Ignore those sales pitches

If you watch any television or are on your computer for an hour or so a day you’ve probably seen sales pitches for those companies that charge a fee for credit reports, for your credit score or to monitor your credit. We have two words for this. Ignore them. As noted above, you can get your credit reports free and if you order your report from one of the credit bureau every four months you could be basically monitoring your history year around. There are also websites such as www.CreditKarma.com and www.CreditSesame.com where you can get your credit score free. It won’t be your true FICO score, which is the one that most credit providers use, but it will be close enough to give you a good idea of how you stand – credit wise.

It couldn’t hurt

Most experts suggest that you not sign up for a paid credit monitoring service as you can basically monitor your credit yourself. However, if you are told that a company you do business with has suffered a data breach it couldn’t hurt to sign up for any free credit monitoring it offers.

If your identity is stolen

If you are hit by identity fraud or theft, the Federal Trade Commission suggests that you immediately notify one of the three credit reporting bureaus and ask for a 90-day credit alert. This alert will tell businesses that you need to be contacted before any new accounts can be opened in your name. You can renew that alert every three months or if you filed an identity theft report with the police you could keep it in effect for seven years. And if you are the victim of credit card fraud, you should contact whichever company issued the card to dispute the fraudulent charges and have any bogus accounts closed.

Keep good records

It’s important to keep good records of any correspondence between you, your bank or credit bureau. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence and reports. Whenever you send a letter to your bank, one of the credit bureaus or a credit card provider, be sure to use certified mail to get delivery receipts and when you make a phone call, keep good notes as to what was discussed and what, if anything was promised you.

14 Tricks And Tips For Turning Around Your Finances In 2015

Couple Using Laptop And Discussing Household Bills Sitting On Sofa At HomeThe end of 2014 is soon approaching and if you’re like most Americans there are a bunch of things you wish you had done differently especially in the area of personal finance. But if you’re coming to the end of the year and you feel your finances have become a jumbled mess, don’t despair. There are some very simple things you could do for turning around your finances next year. That way, when New Year’s Eve 2015 rolls around you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back and say about your finances, “job well done.”

1. Understand that you’re unemotional about your money

Whether we like to admit it or not we’re all pretty emotional about our money. As an example of this, if your desire is to pay off your mortgage so that you can live debt-free this might feel really good but it also might not be your best decision. The reason for this is that even with the tax break a 4% mortgage is really more like a 3% return on your investment. But if you were to put that $100,000 into an index fund with an 8% return you’d be way ahead of the game. The important thing is to understand that you have irrational feelings about your money and work to overcome them.

2. Don’t think bank balances. Think net worth

There are apps such Mint and Personal Capital where you can track your net worth. If it’s going up, things are great. If it’s going down, not so much. But by doing this instead of just checking your bank balances it will keep you accountable.

3. Create an emergency fund

It’s always best to have six months savings to get you through a period of unemployment, as this is the amount of time required to find a new job on the average. For that matter, you could suffer a disastrous medical emergency or the transmission could fall out of your car. In any event, if you have an emergency fund it will stave off having to borrow more money and keep you from going into debt.

Man counting money4. Try to negotiate everything

Don’t you just hate to haggle? Most of us do. But this is a big mistake. You should even try to negotiate all of your monthly bills and by this we mean all of them. There are states where you can choose which company generates your electricity, which could cut your bill dramatically. And, of course, be sure to haggle on your rent before you move in. If you can win a discount this will be multiplied across many months or years.

5. It isn’t savings until it’s in a savings account

Let’s say that you change to a new wireless plan and manage to cut your costs by $100 a month. Don’t think you’re really saving that money unless you put the $100 into a savings account every month. One good tip here is to open a separate account and then transfer the money each month. That way you can see your savings growing and growing.

6. Don’t be afraid to challenge everything

Sit yourself down on January first or second and go through your expenses line by line. Ask yourself in each case if you really need to spend the money on that item. For example, are you really using that gym membership? Or do you really need to spend $9.99 a month on Spotify. The important thing here is to challenge every one of your expenditures. Were willing to bet you will be able to find at least half a dozen that you could cut out and save money.

7. Sell your old stuff on Craigslist

The other side of the ledger to saving money is finding ways to earn extra cash. You should be able to earn that cash by selling all the junk you don’t use on Craigslist. We know of one person who sells just three items a month but has found that it definitely adds up. It’s also okay to sell stuff on eBay but with Craigslist you never have to worry about shipping the stuff.

8. Google the word “coupon” alongside whatever it is you’re planning to buycoupons and scissors

This is a great and simple trick especially when buying a big-ticket item. There are coupons available that will save you money on just about everything. Thinking about buying a bigger screen TV? Then try Googling “52 inch HDTV and coupon.” You might be amazed at what turns up.

9. Buy secondhand

There is no shame in buying stuff secondhand and it’s a great way to save money. If you’d rather not be seen shopping at Goodwill try one of the more upscale secondhand stores such as Plato’s Closet or Twice. For that matter you will also find really good deals on all kinds of things on Craigslist and eBay.

10. Buy everything with your credit cards to earn cash back

Try to put all of your purchases on credit cards to earn cash back. One of the best is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. If you put $3000 on that card within 30 days you can redeem the cash for a $400 statement credit or $500 in travel. This means it’s basically $400 in free money just by putting $3000 on the card. You could easily meet the sign-up requirements to earn your bonuses by using the card to buy gas, groceries, regular purchases and even health insurance.

11. Or put those cards away

The financial guru Dave Ramsey advocates paying cash for everything. He recommends what’s called the envelopes strategy if you find you’re having a hard time keeping your spending in check. This is where you divide up your money every two weeks into envelopes representing your spending categories such as groceries, clothing, entertainment, dining out and so on. Then when one of those envelopes is empty that’s it. You can’t spend any more money in that category.

12. Determine your limits

There have to be areas where you could cut back on your spending. For example, how many times do you eat out a week? If the answer is more than four this is certainly an area where you could cut back. Another area where you should be able to trim your spending is on clothes. You don’t have to think about giving up everything. You just need to look at every one of your expenditures as a choice and not as a mandatory cost.

13. Google everything and we mean everything

If it’s something you’ll be spending money on be sure to Google it. We recently heard one story where a person saved $700 by searching for a part that she needed to replace on her car. You can find virtually everything online these days and there’s a very good chance that it will be cheaper than the “retail” price.

happy family14. Make realistic goals

You undoubtedly know the old adage “never bite off more than you can chew.” When it comes to turning around your finances its easy to create huge goals. Anything that’s worth saving for probably requires a large amount of money. When February rolls around and the euphoria of that New Year’s Eve resolution begins to wear off it’s easy to lose steam and just quit saving for that goal. A better answer is to break your big goals into smaller more realistic ones. That way, you can feel good about reaching each of your benchmarks. But even if you don’t reach a benchmark on time, you can keep saving, as you will be able to see that you are actually making progress.

When To Use Your Credit Card And When To Use A Debit Card

thinking woman holding credit cardIf you’re like most Americans you carry both a credit and debit card. If you’re typical you probably carry multiple credit cards. One survey recently found that the average American carries between five and 10 credit cards. We also have an average of 11 “credit obligations,” including credit cards, department store charge cards, gas cards and, of course, a debit card. This makes it unsurprising that the average American household owes $15,611 just in credit card debts.

The pros to credit cards

When you stop to think about it, credit cards are a lot like drinking wine. Using them sensibly and in moderation can be good for you just as drinking red wine in moderation can be a good thing. But using them to excess can cause serious problems.

On the upside using a credit card limits your liability to $50 in the event your credit card number or your entire identity is stolen. If you are ripped off the odds are that even the $50 liability will be waived. You should always use a credit card when buying online even if it’s a site you seriously trust. The old adage that it’s better to be safe than sorry definitely holds true when buying online.

Do you have recurring monthly payments such as a membership to a health club? It’s much better to put that recurring payment on a credit card. This is so that if you were to ever get into a dispute with the club you’d find it much easier to have the charge removed from a credit card then a debit card.

Avoiding holds

If you were renting a car or something from a home improvement store you’d be smart to use your credit card rather than that debit card. This is because the car rental company or the store might put a hold on your funds. By using a credit card you would still be able to access all the money in your checking account instead of seeing some of it frozen until the hold is released.
Its also possible to see a hold put on checks you deposit in your checking account as explained in this video.

When you’re booking travel it’s also better to use a credit card. This is for the same reason. If you use a debit card the money will be instantly deducted from your checking account the minute you make a reservation, or the travel company might put a hold on a certain part of your funds. If you use a credit card then you still have access to all of the money in your checking account. If you do need to or want to use your debit card to make travel reservations, be sure to ask how much if any of your funds the hotel or reservations company will hold. For that matter, most gas stations will put a hold on your funds. You could buy $30 worth of gas but the hold will be for $100. So before you use your debit card to buy gas it would be a good idea to make sure you understand what the station’s policy is regarding holds or use a credit card so that you’ll still be able to access all the money in your checking account.

Rewards points and travel miles

If earning cash back, rewards points or travel miles is important to you it would be best to put all or at least your major purchases on a credit card that has a rewards program. After all, if you’re using the card and racking up some debt you might at least earn some rewards.

When to use your debit card

As you have read there are many occasions when it makes better sense to use your credit card than a debit card. But there are, of course, times when its better to use your debit card for purchases. For one thing, using your debit card will keep you from racking up debt. This might not be a real difference if you pay off your balances at the end of every month but if not then consider using your debit card more and your credit card less. The problem with a credit card is that it just makes it so darn easy to buy things when you don’t have the money to pay for them. It’s also better to use a debit card if your credit card has a very low limit. This is because if you’re not careful you could exceed your limit, which would have a very negative effect on your credit score.

Money coming out of computer like ATMIf you need cash

If you need to make a withdrawal from an ATM it’s always better to use a debit card – assuming you have the money in your account. The reason for this is simple. When you take cash using a credit card you’re borrowing money and probably at a much higher interest rate than when you’re just making purchases. Plus, you start paying interest on that money the minute you take it out of the ATM.

Give a small business a break

If you do business with a small, local merchant you could give it a break by using your debit card instead of a credit card. Most merchants hate credit cards because of the fees they are required to pay to accept then. Of course, debit cards also come with fees but they are much smaller. So if you have a favorite local merchant you could give it a break by always using your debit card. You might also use your debit card when negotiating big purchases as offering to use it would relieve the merchant from the need to process a credit card, which could save it money. In other words this could be a bargaining chip.

When paying taxes

Your local and state governments as well as the federal government are allowed to charge what’s called a credit card convenience fee. It is typically about 2% of what you are paying. But when you use a debit card, there is just a flat fee of about three dollars. So if you’re making a tax payment of $150 or more, it will cost less to use your debit card.
If you’re offered a cash discount

Did you know that sometimes there are discounts available if you pay cash or use your debit card? As an example of this, gas stations sometimes show two prices – one for credit cards and a lower one for cash or debit cards. However, remember what we said earlier on in this article, which is that most gas stations will place a hold on your debit card for $100 that can keep your cash tied up for several days.

Use your debit card to pay utility bills

Finally, it’s best to use your debit card when paying your electrical, gas or water bill. The reason for this is the same as when paying taxes. Many public utilities are allowed to charge an additional fee when you use a credit card. You may also be charged a fee if you use a debit card but it will be much less. Plus, when you use a credit card to pay for your utilities you’re basically borrowing money to pay for them, which in most cases just isn’t a good idea.

“Why Can’t I stay On My Budget?

We don’t know of a single financial expert that wouldn’t advise people to make a budget and stay on it – assuming you’re not one of that fortunate 1%. In that case you’re probably not reading this article anyway so it doesn’t matter.

Why is it important to have a personal budget?

It’s basically for the same reason that every successful business has a budget in the form of a business plan. It’s because without a budget, it’s practically impossible to know where you stand financially and what will happen to you and your family in the future.

How did you arrive at your budget?

One of the principle reasons why people fail to stay on their budgets is because they didn’t budget correctly. Maybe they tried to make a budget too hastily and without doing the homework first. The first rule of budgeting is that you must know where your money’s going so that you will know how to allocate it in the future. The only real way to do this is to track your spending for at least a month and by this we mean all of your spending – right down to that candy bar you bought at work. After those 30 days you will need to divide your spending into categories. There are a zillion online sites where you can find a list of these categories but the major ones all tend to be the same – food, clothing, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, debt payments, entertainment and so forth.

If you need help making a budget, watch this video from Bank of America …

Your budget is too inflexible

If you’re having a really hard time staying on your budget the reason may be that it’s too inflexible. The best way to think of a budget is like a football team’s game plan. While the team’s coach might have a complete game plan in mind, he will watch the game as it unfolds and then make changes accordingly. If you’ve become discouraged because you’ve “busted” your budget in several categories, don’t give up. Review the amount of money you’ve allocated to each category and then make adjustments. You’ll probably find a category or two where you didn’t spend as much money as you had anticipated. Take the money out of those categories and assign it to the ones where you were unable to stay within your budget. The important thing is to review your budget regularly and then make corrections just as a ship’s captain will tack and jibe as the winds change.

You failed to set goals

Your budget doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If you’re unable to stay on your budget the reason might be that it’s not linked to your goals. What are your goals? Is your goal to retire early, buy a second home, sail around the world or pay for your kids’ education? Since the real purpose of a budget is to save money you need to ask yourself why you’re saving it. When you have goals your budget will help you make progress towards achieving them, which can keep you motivated to stay on your budget. What’s best is to have both short- and long-term goals. You could then see you’re making progress towards realizing a short-term goal without becoming discouraged because you don’t see you’re making much progress towards achieving a long-term goal – especially when things get tough. As an example of this it can be discouraging if your only goal is early retirement and you suffer a setback in your career and feel you’re not saving enough money to achieve it. But if you also had a short-term goal of taking a nice two-week vacation next year and you see you have almost enough money saved to pay for it, you might feel less discouraged and more motivated.

Your partner isn’t onboard

There’s an old saying that it takes two to tango. It also takes two for a budget to work. If your spouse or partner isn’t interested in budgeting or consistently fails to stay within your budget for whatever reason, the two of you need to have a serious talk. You should sit down with your spouse or partner and try to determine what can be done to get them to buy in. You will need to discuss your financial philosophies and have all your numbers available. You might be able to show him or her that your budget isn’t terribly restrictive and that there is room to make changes. Try to get him or her to understand that your budget is a roadmap designed to get you to your important goals. If your spouse sees he or she won’t have to make drastic changes in their lifestyle you may get more cooperation. If you can stay calm during this discussion – without getting upset – you may find your spouse will be more willing to work with you.

There was no emergency fund

Every budget needs to include an emergency fund. This is so that when you run into an emergency and, trust us, you will eventually run into an emergency, you will have the money to pay for it without having to run up debt. Most financial experts say that you should have the equivalent of six months of living expenses in your emergency fund. If the idea of saving this much money seems too awful, try for at least three months worth. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, make it a line item in your budget so that you’re saving money for it every month. One easy way to do this is to have the money automatically withdrawn from your checking account and deposited into your savings account each month. You might think of your emergency fund as a personal life insurance policy but that the “premiums” are yours to keep.

You didn’t give it a sufficient amount of time

If you made your budget just a few months ago and feel it’s just not working then maybe it’s because you didn’t give it enough time. One way to overcome this is to consider those first few months to be a sort of beta test and now you’ve learned enough to make a real budget. It can take time to smooth out a budget and for you to make changes in your spending habits. Don’t beat up on yourself if you haven’t been able you stay on your budget for those first few months. Professional athletes didn’t get to be the way they are overnight so don’t get discouraged if you haven’t become a professional budgeter in just a few months.

You just hate budgeting

If you find you just hate budgeting what with all that software, columns and rows of numbers, you need to look at other ways to manage your money that would eliminate this. For example, you might withdraw the cash you need for a week or two weeks at a time with the idea that when it’s gone, it’s gone. Or you might try the program Mvelopes, which is based on the old envelopes strategy for budgeting. This is where you divide your paycheck into envelopes based on your categories. Then when that envelope is empty, that’s it. You can’t spend any more money in that category. Of course, with Mvelopes this all happens digitally on your computer and not in actual paper envelopes.

If neither of these options appeal to you and you just hate budgeting, what can you do? You will need to do some research to see if you can find a money management plan that would help you achieve your goals without that terrible demon called budgeting.

10 Little Marriage Secrets Your Friends Won’t Tell You

Couple Using Laptop And Discussing Household Bills Sitting On Sofa At HomeAre you and your significant other starting to use the “M” word? Are you asking questions like should we get married? Do you want to get married? When should we get married? Or what would your parents think if we got married?

There’s no question about the fact that marriage can be a wonderful thing. Your husband or wife can be your best friend, your partner, your confidant and, of course, your lover. These are the things your friends will emphasize if you’ve discussed marriage with them. “Oh, yes, marriage is great.” “Marriage is just the best thing we’ve ever done.” Or “you really should get married – it’s wonderful.”

But while your friends are telling you how great marriage is, there are things they’re just not telling you and if they did, you might give the idea of marriage a second or even third thought. Here are 10 of these nasty, little marriage secrets.

Marriage is going the way of the dodo bird

According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of American adults that have never been married has reached a new high. Two years ago, about 20% of American adults aged 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married. This compares with the 10% of those of that same age in 1960. There are several reasons for this. For one thing Americans are staying in school longer. They are also focusing more on their careers after they graduate and then getting married later in life. In fact, the median age for women getting married is now 27 and 29 for men, which is an increase from age 20 for women and 33 for man in 1960. But as you might guess there is one group of people where marriage is on the rise – same-sex couples. This has increased more than 50% to about 130,000 in 2012.

We’re into infidelity

Two years ago a research company affiliated with the University of Chicago found that some 12.3% of all married women and 19% of married men admitted that they’ve had extramarital affairs. While most Americans seem to favor monogamy, many of them would cheat if they thought they could get away with it. An interesting contradiction is that a survey done by the USA Network found that 82% of those that responded said they had “zero tolerance” for cheating but 81%, said they would cheat if they believed they wouldn’t get caught.

We planned our divorce before we planned our wedding

If you’re contemplating marriage have you thought about a prenuptial agreement? A recent survey done by the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers found that about 63% of the attorneys queried said they have seen an increase in the number of people requesting prenuptial agreements. The major reason for this is probably the fact that so many people are marrying later in life and have amassed a significant amount of assets by the time they get married. This makes the idea of a prenup more attractive.

The more money spent on the wedding, the shorter the marriage

Another interesting fact is that the more money that is spent on a wedding the shorter will be the marriage – at least according to a study done recently by economics professors at Emory University. What they found in surveying 3000 couples is that those who spent $20,000 or more on their weddings were 46% more likely to get divorced than the average couple. In comparison, couples that spent between $1000 and $5000 were 18% less likely to split up.

Social media can kill a marriage

In the survey done recently by the USA Network, 86% of those that responded said that it’s much easier to cheat thanks to social networking and almost 33% said they had had an emotional or romantic relationship online. How can you prevent this? One thing you might try is setting time limits and boundaries on social media usage. For example, you might agree that each of you will spend no more than one hour an evening on Facebook, Twitter or whatever. But don’t start spying on your spouse’s use of social networking. This not only signals a lack of trust in your partner but if you’re caught could actually get you kicked out of the house.

Money keeps us together

According to the Emory study quoted above, the more money you make the more likely it is that you will stay together. Couples making more than $125,000 a year are 51% less likely to divorce than those that earn less than $25,000 a year. Of course, there is a strong correlation between earnings and education and people with better educations appear to be more likely to stay married. People with a high school diploma have a divorce rate of 42.8% by the time they reach middle age while only 26.5% of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher split the blanket.

You can’t be too old to get a divorce

While you might think that by the time married couples reach their 50s they would’ve gotten past the idea of divorce but this is not necessarily true. Adults that are 50 or older accounted for more than 25% of divorces in 2010, which is up from less than 10% in 1990. The good news is that the national divorce and annulment rate fell from four per 1000 people in 2000 to 3.6 per 1000 people in 2011. So more people are staying together and for longer.

The cost of our wedding left us broke

Do you know the average cost of a wedding? In 2014 it was $29,858 according to a survey that was done by TheKnot.com of 20,000 brides. This includes an average of nearly $13,000 for a venue (including the necessary food), more than $5500 for the engagement ring and $2400 for a photographer – and this excludes the cost of a honeymoon. Why is this? Couples that marry later are more likely to be spending their own money. This means they no longer have to stick to a budget set by mom and dad.

It was her idea to split up

Women initiate two thirds of divorces according to the Marriage Project. This is because, for one thing, divorce laws tend to favor women with regards to child custody. A less kind hearted explanation is that women are more likely to have unfaithful husbands than husbands are to have unfaithful wives. In addition, women have become stronger and more independent over the past 30 years, and are more confident that they can stand on their own. Many of them have well paying jobs so that the idea of being on their own doesn’t seem as frightening as it might have 30 years ago.

We sort of screwed our guests

Finally, as our economy has improved there has been an increase in destination weddings that have more lavish ceremonies. This means that the poor folks on the guest lists are spending more money accordingly. In fact, this year guests were projected to spend about $592 per couple on the average per wedding. Plus, they were dropping another $109 on gifts per wedding. One of the results of this is about 43% of us say that we have declined attending a wedding for financial reasons. This is based on a poll done by the nonprofit organization American Consumer Credit Counseling.

Love conquers all?

There is the old saying that love conquers all but this may not necessarily be true. What conquers all in marriage is usually a combination of hard work and compatibility.  But then as Jenna McCarthy points out in the following video, for women the secret to staying married might be as simple as making sure you’re always thinner than your husband …

Personal Finance For Kids: Inspire Your Child To Value Money

family buying thingsPersonal finance for kids seem like an important topic nowadays. With the growing number of students graduating from college with huge amounts of debts, a lot of them and their parents are asking themselves: where did we go wrong? How did we get into such a dire financial situation so early in life.

Before the Great Recession, not everyone was convinced that you should tell your kids about your finances. It was a subject that most of them want to keep between parents while the kids go play in the other room.

Well now, that is not the wisest thing to do. While we do not want our kids to start earning their keep at an early age, we do know that they need to understand the value of money early on. After everything that we have been through, it is never too early for a child to start learning about financial matters.

This is the reason why personal finance for kids is such an important topic that you need to learn.

Truths about teaching personal finance to children

We came across an inspiring article on Newsweek.com about this 8 year old boy who is earning millions of dollars off Facebook. His name is Evan and he is the star of EvanTubeHD. It all started as a hobby between father and son. Evan’s father, Jared, runs a photography and video coverage and they decided to do stop-motion clay model videos of Angry Birds – complete with special effects. It was such a hit that viewers started to request that they review toys and video games. Soon, the channel racked up 272 million views from all over the world in a few years. The whole family is in on the project now, even Evan’s little sister and mom. However, Jared is saying that he and his wife are careful about how they will handle the money streaming from the YouTube videos. They said that they maintain their business and do not rely on the money they get from the advertisements on their channels. Instead, they make sure it goes to savings and investment accounts for the children’s future.

While this huge amount of money is primarily brought about by the little boy, you can see how the parents of Evan is playing a huge role in making sure that this money will be put into good use for the benefit of the child. It is not indicated in the article if Evan is aware of the small fortune that he and his sister has but it is important to note how the parents are automatically using it to invest in the children’s future. That is a great way to teach personal finance for kids. Because of what Evan’s parents are doing, the kids future will be more secure. They can go to college without going into debt and they have some capital saved up in case they want to set up their own business when they get older.

Teaching kids smart money management skills early on does not mean you have to turn them into Internet superstars. It simply means you have to let them know the basic concepts like saving, spending and earning. A lot of parents concentrate on saving – which is okay but it is a bit incomplete.

According to Investopedia.com, teaching personal finance for kids should include the relationships between saving, spending and earning. They have to know where the money is coming from. That is how they understand why they need to save and spend the right way. Without telling them about earning, they will not understand the value of money. After all, money becomes valuable because you work hard for it. When you work hard for something, it becomes more important to you. That is the important concept that your children should grasp as they learn about money.

Couple of tips about financial literacy for kids from parents

Of course, teaching personal finance for kids is easier as a theoretical lesson. However, that is not the best way for your kids to really grasp the concept. It all depends on the implementation and how you relate the financial concepts in the daily lives of the kids. The road towards financial literacy will only be successful if you include the practical applications of the concepts.

Each child is unique so there is no one formula in teaching kids about money. Parents should understand the mental capabilities of their children before finalizing how the financial lessons should be applied. But that does not mean you have to start from scratch when determining the activities that you will use to drive the lessons home.

We found a couple of suggestions from TheMint.org that you might find useful when it comes to teaching personal finance for kids. The site believes that learning about finances really begin at home and some parents have posted their suggestions in the Parent Blog page. Here are a couple of the suggestions you will find here – according to the seasons of the year.

  • The coming of fall means Halloween costs are around the corner. Encourage the kids to scout for candy and costume coupons online or in the local newspaper and tell them you will match the savings and put it in their accounts. Or, get them to create their own costumes from scratch and give a reward after.
  • Winter marks the start of the gift giving season. Teach the kids that giving is more important than receiving. Bring the kids to volunteer activities within the community. Ask them to come up with personalized gifts that the whole family can work on.
  • Spring does not really bring about too much expenses so saving lessons should be perfect during this time. Get them to save a part of their allowance so they can spend it during the summer break. Let them create a list of things they want to buy in the summer and activities they want to do and encourage them to save up for it. Give them rewards for chores they do around the house so their savings can pile up in time for summer.
  • In the summer, older kids should be encouraged to get summer jobs to help them save up for college. Talk to them about student loans and how you can both work on helping them avoid it. For smaller kids, let them come up with “staycation” ideas that can save you money on travel expenses. Camping in the backyard or sleepovers should be a fun activity.

The suggestions from the Mint website indicate that personal finance for kids can come in all forms depending on what the current season dictates. Make it timely activities so that the children will find it more interesting to work on. If they can relate to the activities, you can be sure that they will develop the interest to listen and participate in the lessons that you are trying to teach them.

Here is a video from the YouTube channel, Howdini, regarding teaching kids about money management. It features the thoughts of personal finance author David Bach about how he learned his first personal finance lesson from his grandmother. He also provided a couple of tips to encourage parents to seriously make their children great money managers.

17 Nuggets Of Wisdom That Could Help Improve Your Financial Life

Couple Using Laptop And Discussing Household Bills Sitting On Sofa At HomeLet’s face it. Thinking about personal finances isn’t much fun unless you’re a member of that fortunate 1%. Of course, if you’re a member of the 1%, you probably don’t have to think much about your financial life anyway. But if you’re like us and are a member of the other 99% then finances are something you think about a lot. You’ve probably read articles or even books about personal finance with advice about creating a budget, having an emergency fund, paying down your debt and so forth. Beyond this, there are some other things you could do that would help improve your finances and here are 17 of them.

Create a roadmap of your goals

Just sitting down and asking what are your goals can get you on the path to realizing them. Don’t be afraid to think big and pursue those really big dreams even if they don’t seem doable. If you want to increase the chances that you will succeed, create a spreadsheet and do some number crunching to make sure you will have enough money to fund those adventures.

Drive less

This may seem a bit radical but the less you can drive your car the better. While driving is very handy, it can also be incredibly expensive when you take into consideration the oil and gas, insurance and depreciation. Automobile accidents are very common these days and if you get into one – even if it’s not your fault – you would have to at least pay the deductible. If you do have to drive a lot, make sure you do regular oil changes and all of the maintenance recommended by your car’s manufacturer.Avoid products that could be dangerous

Avoid products that could be dangerous

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now issuing hundreds of product recalls a year. This makes it hard to keep track of all of them. It’s easier if you sign up for alerts from the Commission or download an app that will alert you when a recall occurs. Be particularly careful when it comes to used baby products, as there has been a number of crib, stroller and highchair recalls.

Cut your spending dramatically

If you focus your attention on monthly expenses such as cable, phone and Internet, you should be able to reduce them and your spending dramatically. Once you’ve done this, get to work on some of your variable expenses like groceries. We know of one person that did all of this and managed to cut his spending by $1000 a month.

Use the new online tools

There are a wide variety of web-based tools and apps available to help you manage your money. The company Corporate Insight recently found there are more than 100 new startups with apps or software that could help you manage your finances. In addition, there are apps such as Shopular, RetailMeNot and RedLaser that make it easy to use coupons and discounts when you’re making purchases.

Commit to earning more

If you’re one of the many Americans that are under-earners, commit yourself to earning more money. The best first step is to promise yourself to earn more and to make sure you say “yes” to any opportunities you come across that would allow you to do it.

Keep your finances off of Facebook

While it might be fun to brag about your high credit score on Facebook, it’s much better to keep that kind of information off the Internet. Facebook and other types of social media are very public and are places where the scam artists hang out and look for financial information they could use to defraud you. When it comes to your personal finances, a good rule is that less sharing is better.

Review your auto and life insurance policies

Automobile insurance policies can have different deductible amounts, coverage limits and important limitations. These are things that could surprise you if you’re in an accident. Review your policies and make sure you understand them including your life and disability insurance. If there is insurance available where you work think about supplementing it with your own policies.

Be ready for an increase in interest rates

Interest rates are now very low. However, most financial experts say they will eventually rise and possibly more sooner than later. To get ready for this, you need to pay off any debts where your interest rates could rise, and if you are a homeowner you should think about refinancing if you haven’t already done so. If you are a first-time buyer and are looking to buy a home, you might want to think about doing it very soon so that you could get rates that are still low.

Reduce your tax bill

The ugly fact is that many people pay more in taxes than they really should. If you put money into a retirement account that is pre-tax, buy some municipal bonds or start your own business, you will pay less in taxes. If you’re part of a gay couple you might also check to see what refunds you’re entitled to for the past two or three years as the Internal Revenue Service now recognizes same-sex marriages for income tax purposes.

Trade for or rent a high fashion dress

While you may not be aware of this, you can rent and trade for high-end clothes on the Internet. For example, Tradesy makes it very easy to sell and buy seldom-worn fashion items including designer dresses. This gives you the opportunity to wear fancy clothes without buying them. There is also a number of websites growing in popularity such as Bag Borrow or Steal and Lending Luxury where you can rent accessories and dresses for that big party. While it will cost you some money, you will spend a lot less than if you were to purchase the items and will still look like a million bucks.

Kick something off on Kickstarter

More than one hundred thousand projects have been launched on this site and about 44% achieved their goals as of December 2013. You don’t have to be a celebrity to use Kickstarter to fund that creative idea of yours. If you do go for it, promote your project first on Facebook and Twitter and to your friends. Make a great video and, above all, have a very appealing product like the Coolest Cooler that just raised millions of dollars.

man holding credit cardsGive gift cards

While gift cards might seem a little soulless, they really are an ideal gift in a lot of ways. And this reduces the time and strain of gift giving. The majority of people say they really like to get these cards. If you choose cards that are retailer specific (think Cabela’s or Ace Hardware), they generally don’t have fees or penalties for delayed use. Be careful about gift cards from the credit card companies as they generally come with fees that can range from $4 to $6.95. Also, you can get some additional protection by registering the card in the event it is stolen or lost.

Watch out for online scams

It’s easy to buy items on websites like Craigslist but there are fraudsters that prowl these sites. To make sure you’re safe, always arrange to meet the person face to face when paying cash for goods. Be sure to meet some place public and if possible bring along a friend for added protection. And under any circumstances do not wire money before you see the item, as this is how much fraud occurs

Talk to your honey about money

Finances are one of the biggest reasons why couples end up splitting. You should always be honest with your spouse or partner. One good idea is to make a periodic “money date” to review your finances, talk about the big decisions and consider each other’s financial mindset. Do this and you should be able to work together to set and reach big-money goals whether it’s buying a home or traveling to Europe.

Stop worrying and be happier

Finally, sitting around and worrying about money can waste a lot of time. One recent study found that 36% of the people queried said that they spent at least two hours a day worrying about their money or managing it. There are a number of free resources available that can help reduce some the strain of personal finances and save you time to boot. So get busy, find a few apps and stop worrying so much.

Mobile Menu
MENU