Personal Finance en-US This One Ratio Is the Key to a Good Credit Score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="credit score" title="credit score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A credit score is a bit like the Da Vinci Code; it's a serpentine web of myth and mystery that's hard to crack. But there is a Holy Grail of sorts here too. Of all the different factors that feed into your credit score, many experts believe that there is one factor that stands above the rest in keeping your score high. The fact that this one ratio is so important is a little counterintuitive, so simply understanding its importance can unlock the higher credit score you've been looking for. (See also: <a href="">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <p>So what is it? It's called the <em>credit utilization ratio</em>.</p> <h2>A Complicated Calculation</h2> <p>So what exactly is the credit utilization ratio? It's simply your total credit card balances divided by your total credit card limits. So, if you have, say, $15,000 of available credit on your credit card(s), and have an outstanding balance of $5,000, your credit utilization ratio is about 33%.</p> <p>Now, that isn't so complicated and mysterious, is it? But where things start getting a little weird is when you come to understand exactly how this ratio functions in terms of your credit score. As a financially literate person who handles debt with caution (you're reading Wise Bread, after all), you might assume that having no more available credit than is strictly necessary is a good thing. After all, why have more available credit to tempt you away from sticking to your budget and staying out of debt?</p> <p>Well, because it's important to maintaining your credit score, that's why.</p> <p>Credit utilization accounts for about 30% of your credit score. And while on a strictly practical basis having less credit available to you is probably a good idea, experts typically recommend that you never allow your credit utilization ratio to exceed 30%. What that means is that if you have only one credit card with a relatively low $5,000 limit, you should never allow the balance to exceed $1,500. Even if you're a person who conscientiously pays off that card each and every month, that can get tricky. Use your card to get a <a href="">great deal on a vacation</a> online and you could blow your credit utilization ratio.</p> <p>What it all means is that in order to have the best possible credit score, you need more available credit that you never use.</p> <h2>The Plot Thickens&hellip;</h2> <p>So let's dig a little deeper into how to get your credit utilization rate at an optimal level for your credit score.</p> <p>Now, I mentioned that experts typically recommend that it not exceed 30%. However,<a href=""> research conducted by Credit Karma</a> looked at 70,000 credit scores and their corresponding credit utilization rates and found that the lower your credit utilization rate, the higher your credit score &mdash; except if you have 0% utilization. In fact, those with the highest credit scores had a utilization rate of 1% to 10%.</p> <p>It is also important to note that in the FICO credit scoring model (the most common credit scoring model used in the U.S.), credit utilization is scored in two separate ways. First, the credit utilization for each of your credit cards is calculated separately. Then, the total of all your credit card balances is compared to your overall credit limit. What that means is that not only is more available credit important to achieving a higher credit score, but that available credit should be spread out over more than one credit card.</p> <p>Ideally, you should keep both your balance on each card and your overall balance across all cards as low as possible.</p> <h2>How to Beat the System</h2> <p>OK, so now that you've unlocked how the credit utilization ratio affects your credit score, it's time to look at exactly what you can do to keep your ratio at the most optimal level possible. Here are few key moves to make &mdash; without becoming a debt junkie.</p> <h3>Spend Less</h3> <p>One very simple way to improve your credit utilization ratio is to simply spend less on your credit cards. Work on converting to a cash budget and save up for big purchases in advance. It's as simple as that.</p> <h3>Expand Your Available Credit</h3> <p>When it comes to credit, less is definitely more, but it's better to use less than to have less available. So, if you're a person who regularly spends a lot on your credit card &mdash; whether for convenience or to <a href="">earn points</a> &mdash; it's best to make more credit available to keep your credit utilization ratio in the optimal zone.</p> <p>But no matter how much credit you use, just be sure to pay off your balance on time every month &mdash; the age of your debts and your payment history have a big impact your credit score, too. If you don't trust yourself, open a credit card, then cut it up. The credit's available, but you won't be using it.</p> <h3>Be Careful About Closing Credit Cards</h3> <p>Closing credit cards can be a good <a href="">debt reduction strategy</a>, but not if it pushes your credit utilization ratio up. If you want to reduce the amount of available credit you have, cut your spending and average monthly balance first.</p> <h3>Watch the Rest of Your Score, Too</h3> <p>Of course, credit utilization isn't the only factor in your credit score. Your payment history, age of credit, mix of credit, and credit inquiries all play a role. Improving your credit utilization ratio is a simple way to boost your credit score, but it isn't the only way. And, if you have bad credit as a result of past financial decisions, it shouldn't be the only way.</p> <h2>The Big Reveal</h2> <p>If you're feeling confused about why you would be rewarded for having more available credit, it's important to remember exactly who's in charge of the entire notion of a credit score: lenders.</p> <p>So, while having a good credit score can have a lot of financial benefits for you, the scoring itself isn't designed for your benefit; it's designed to help credit card companies and other lenders protect their interests. What that means for borrowers is that getting the best credit score isn't necessarily about making what appears to be the most logical financial choices; it's about playing the game. Just be sure you play it to win.</p> <p><em>What do you do to keep the best possible credit score? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="This One Ratio Is the Key to a Good Credit Score" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards credit cards credit history credit score credit utilization ratio Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Tara Struyk 1224394 at People Who Make a Lot of Money Do These 11 Things — Do You? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/people-who-make-a-lot-of-money-do-these-11-things-do-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="wealthy businessman" title="wealthy businessman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's not necessarily a trick to earning a lot.</p> <p>Despite what a number of scam artists and sketchy emails would lead you to believe, accumulating wealth is inherently time-consuming and difficult, taking most people years and decades to do. But that's not to say that there aren't qualities or traits that can be identified in those who are successful making a lot of money. If we can imitate them, we'll be better off when it comes to our own pursuit of wealth. (See also: <a href="">The 10 Kinds of People Who Get Rich &mdash; And How They Do It</a>)</p> <p>They say (or at least someone did) that if you want to be good at something, find somebody who already is good at that thing and imitate them. Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, it's as good a place to start as any. Let's dissect the rich.</p> <h2>1. They Learn How to Be Content While Staying Busy</h2> <p>How do you approach your work day or the hours that you put into making money? Do you count down the hours until it's time to go home?</p> <p>If you view your work day as a block of time where you engage and then get to punch out to go do whatever you want, you're not doing one of the most basic things that high earners do. Being content and excited about what you do means you're perfectly <a href="">fine to spend a lot of time on it</a>. It might even mean that you work long past 5 p.m. or whenever you &quot;punch out&quot; without even realizing it.</p> <h2>2. They Do What They Love</h2> <p>The late <a href="">Steve Jobs said</a>, &quot;The only way to do great work is to love what you do.&quot;</p> <p>It's perhaps one of the most easily identifiable attributes of those who earn a lot. Whatever they do, it's almost always easy to see that they love and are passionate about what they're doing. That's not to say that you can't or shouldn't do other work that helps lead to or sustain something you're passionate about. But if you don't ultimately pursue work in something that you love, the climb to wealth is always going to be uphill.</p> <h2>3. They Arrive Early and Stay Late</h2> <p>Regardless of your schedule, following the template of those who make a lot of money requires you to go in early and stay late. Especially if your work is measured in output instead of hours.</p> <h2>4. They Make Money Based on Work Output</h2> <p>While we're on the subject&hellip; Most jobs pay you based on the amount of hours you spend working, whatever type of work that might be. Not only can that be demotivating, but it actually gives people <a href="">the incentive to work less</a> since their pay per hour doesn't change. If you can be in a situation where your pay is more closely correlated with what you accomplish, instead of the amount of time you spend working it it, you'll be far more motivated and focused on that work &mdash; and you'll earn more as a result.</p> <h2>5. They Have a Path</h2> <p>Moving beyond your current constrictions requires that you take a step that isn't just theoretical. People who accumulate wealth are able to do this because they construct a practical and attainable list of goals that helps them get from where they are to where they want to go. Small <a href="">goals and practical steps will</a>, in a sense, create a road map that leads to your ultimate goal of a more well-funded bank account.</p> <h2>6. They Manage Their Personal Finances Well</h2> <p>Building wealth is as much related to what you save as it is to what you spend.</p> <p>Those who don't know how to manage the money they already have are going to have a difficult time using it to earn more. Take the time to educate yourself on personal finance or even go the extra mile and <a href="">take a class</a> so that you can learn how to handle the money you have coming in. In the long run, it's going to be more valuable to you than a bigger paycheck. (See also: <a href="">Saving Money Is Easy If You Set the Right Goals</a>)</p> <h2>7. They Focus on a Particular Skill or Niche</h2> <p>Those who are able to focus on getting good or experienced in something specific, that goes beyond broad categories like sales, education, or IT, are often going to be <a href="">more successful and sought out</a>. They've set themselves apart from the crowded realm of their profession and become a specialist with credentials that go beyond ambiguous titles.</p> <h2>8. They Learn to Be Self-Motivated</h2> <p>Self-motivation is one of the most important traits of wealth-building individuals. In fact, every job opening that exists is there because someone took the initiative to motivate themselves, <a href="">start a company</a>, and continue to work and push that company forward until they became big enough to hire someone. Be the self-motivator instead of the person sending in their resume hoping for a response.</p> <h2>9. They Push Through Disappointment and Boredom</h2> <p>In your pursuit of wealth, you're going to fall short and face setbacks. You're also going to face an incredible amount of boredom and mental exhaustion with what you're doing. Because if you're focused and committed to growing a business or pursuing a certain career path, chances are good that you're going to be doing a lot of the same thing every single day. That's going to get boring and tiring.</p> <p>People who can <a href="">push through the boredom</a> and avoid letting it impact the quality of their work or heaven forbid, cause them to switch career paths in the hope of finding something more exciting, have a better chance at making a lot of money.</p> <p>So while Steve Jobs above advised us to do what we love, he also advised us to stick with it: &quot;I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.&quot;</p> <h2>10. They Know When It Pays to Spend</h2> <p>You should always be aware that there are <a href="">situations where it's good to spend or invest</a> in what you're doing. Thus, it's not always wise to save your money and refuse to spend. If a business can spend several hundred dollars on computers that improve their productivity on a daily basis for the foreseeable future, that's a situation where they would lose money by not spending it. Avoid being penny wise and pound foolish to give your business, career, or idea a better chance at succeeding.</p> <h2>11. They Network</h2> <p>One of the best things you can do for yourself as both a person and a professional is to <a href="">network with people in your field</a>. It doesn't have to benefit you monetarily, because even a friendly acquaintance, email, Twitter follow, or business transaction can give you a lane into an area of opportunity that you would never have had otherwise. Take the time to network and get to know those working in the same field as you or even competing with you. It's almost always a good thing and a worthwhile use of your time.</p> <p><em>What are some traits you've identified in people who make a lot of money? Let me know in the comments section below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="People Who Make a Lot of Money Do These 11 Things — Do You?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance getting paid getting rich high earners wealth Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1222064 at 10 Signs You Ought to Get Another Credit Card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-signs-you-ought-to-get-another-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man choosing credit cards" title="man choosing credit cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Another credit card&hellip; what, are you nuts?</p> <p>Before you close this page, keep in mind that a properly managed credit card is a great way to build your credit history. For some, it may be the only way to build a credit history. There are <a href="">several Americans that cannot afford to buy a house</a> or qualify for a loan &mdash; because they don't have credit histories.</p> <p>This is why you need to recognize the 10 signs when you ought to sign up for a new credit card.</p> <h2>1. You Are Very Young</h2> <p>Starting out on your own can be tough. You're doing a lot of things for the very first time: paying bills, signing up for rental agreements, and building your credit history. It is a good strategy to manage more than one credit card. All things remaining equal over the same time period, responsible spending with <em>two</em> credit cards will build a better credit score than spending with just one. (See also: <a href="">Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your Only Card Is a Store Card</h2> <p>Variety is the spice of life. And credit scores are no exception. For example, <a href="">your credit mix determines 10% of your FICO score</a>. In the hierarchy of debt, store cards, such as a Macy's card, are at the bottom. While it is important to have a good standing on your store card(s), if those are your only sources of credit, then you're missing out on a potentially higher credit score. Credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages are more substantial forms of debt. In this scenario, by opening a credit card you're improving your credit mix. (See also: <a href="">Store Cards That Don't Suck</a>)</p> <h2>3. You Want Lower Interest Rates</h2> <p>This is self-explanatory. If you can find a credit card with a <a href="">lower interest rate</a>, you should evaluate whether or not it makes sense to transfer your balance. For example, credit unions offer friendly credit card terms, including attractive features such as no annual fees and lower rates than banks. (See also: <a href="">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</a>)</p> <p>Before transferring your balance, double check if the lower interest rate is only temporary. Often the lower interest rate may be valid only during a promotional period, before going up. Other companies offer only lower interest rates on <a href="">balance transfers</a>, but not on new transactions.</p> <h2>4. You Want to Consolidate Debt</h2> <p>If done properly, consolidating all of your credit cards into a single new one could help you manage debt better.</p> <ul> <li>Most credit cards punish you with a $25 to $35 late fee if you miss a due date. It is harder to miss a single payment than several payments with different due dates.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If your new card has a 10% interest rate and all your old cards had a 19% interest rate, then you would be to pay down an extra $9 of principal for every $100 monthly payment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't close your old credit cards because that lowers your average account age. The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO credit score.</li> </ul> <h2>5. You Can Improve Your Credit Payment History</h2> <p>If you are able to pay off your credit card balances every single month, then you can take advantage of the most important element of your credit score: payment history. <a href="">Your credit payment history determines 35% of your FICO score</a>. If you open a new card, use it for one and only one thing, such as paying for gas, and pay off the balance every month, and you will boost your credit payment history.</p> <h2>6. You Want to Rack Up Reward Points</h2> <p>When you are an active member of a rewards program, you could open a new credit card to give your points a major boost. For example, if you are an active flyer through the American Airlines AAdvantage program, and you are several miles short of your goal for a family vacation, you could close the gap with 30,000 bonus miles through the <a target="_blank" href=";fot=1147&amp;foc=1" rel="nofollow">Citi&reg; Platinum Select&reg; / AAdvantage&reg; World MasterCard&reg;</a>. Make sure to read the fine print to become eligible for the sign up offer. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>7. You Haven't Signed Up for New Cards in a Long Time</h2> <p>Extremes are bad. Just like opening too many cards in a short period of time would harm your credit score, not applying for new credit in a long time could keep your credit score flat. <a href="">New credit determines 10% of your FICO score</a>. If your credit score has remained the same for several years, the culprit may be that you haven't opened a new credit account for a long time. Think of this card as your opportunity to step up to the plate and show your credit management skills. Stay on the bench too long and credit agencies have no recent material to take a look at.</p> <h2>8. Your Only Card Is Maxed Out</h2> <p>Trying to pay off your maxed out card and improve your credit score at the same time may seem almost impossible. Juggling monthly payments and bills can be very stressful without the convenience of a credit card. At the same time, you don't want to fall into a vicious debt cycle.</p> <p>In this situation, one way to lessen the burden is to get a <a href="">secured credit card</a>. It works like a prepaid gift card: Your available balance is only what you deposit. While a secured credit card may not require a credit check, it still reports your credit management activity to the three credit bureaus. Not all secured credit cards are the same, so check the rules before signing up.</p> <h2>9. You Travel Internationally (a Lot!)</h2> <p>Your credit card may have great terms for domestic transactions but the minute that you spend abroad you may get dinged with one or more of these fees:</p> <ul> <li>Flat fee per foreign transaction;</li> <li>Percentage fee for total purchase amount (usually 1% to 3%);</li> <li>Foreign currency fee;</li> <li>ATM fee;</li> <li>Balance inquiry fee; and</li> <li>Penalty fee for failed transactions.</li> </ul> <p>On top of all of these charges, your domestic credit card may have a daily limit and require you to call in advance to prevent the card from being blocked when used abroad. This is why you need to get a new (and hassle free!) credit card that you can use on your international travel.</p> <h2>10. You've Been a Victim of Identity Theft</h2> <p>Victims of credit card hacks, such as those stung by the <a href="">Target hack in 2013</a> and <a href="">Home Depot in 2014</a>, may not only have to freeze their credit reports but also to shut down their compromised credit cards. (See also: <a href="">The World's 4 Biggest Credit Card Scams</a>)</p> <p>In the event of identify theft, shutting down compromised accounts is recommended by several financial institutions, such as <a href="">Capital One</a> and <a href="">Bank of America</a>.</p> <p>In this case, you would have no other option than to sign up for another credit card to prevent any further damage to your credit score and history.</p> <p><em>What are other signs you ought to get yourself another credit card? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Signs You Ought to Get Another Credit Card" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards credit cards credit history new credit new credit card Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Damian Davila 1221624 at The 8 Weirdest Cases of Credit Card Theft <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-8-weirdest-cases-of-credit-card-theft" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="credit card thief" title="credit card thief" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When someone robs your home, they're invading not just your property, but your privacy as well. No fun. But when someone steals and uses your credit cards, you at least get to spy on the perpetrator by reading on your credit card statement what he or she tried to buy with your good name. (See also: <a href="">How to Deal With Credit Card Fraud</a>)</p> <p>If you think your identity has been stolen and new accounts have been opened in your name, you won't have much time for idle reading, since you'll have to file a police report and jump through a lot more hoops to clear your name.</p> <p>But if it's a simple matter of a stolen card or card number, you probably don't have much to worry about. Since <a href="">federal law limits consumer liability</a> for credit card theft losses to $50 &mdash; and most card companies won't even hold you responsible for that &mdash; once you report the crime to your card company, you can afford to sit back and enjoy this peek into the life of a crook. You may not end up developing a relationship with your scammer and learning life lessons the way things worked out in the movie <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CCLPIAM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XOB56AQKCY4HGHBN">Identity Thief</a>, but you might at least have a laugh.</p> <p>Especially if your scammer's purchases are anything life these real-life examples of the weirdest cases of credit card theft.</p> <h2>1. Must Have Been a Really Nice Litter Box</h2> <p>Martin Bowling, who had been a well known success in the search marketing field, was <a href="">convicted of stealing a subscriber list from a former employer, Woodcraft Magazine</a>, and using the information to charge more than $4,000 worth of goods, including a home beer brewing kit and a self-cleaning cat litter box. In Bowling's defense, most cat owners have had moments when they would do almost anything to avoid having to scoop the litter box.</p> <h2>2. Unusual Wallet</h2> <p>For Pompano Beach, Fla., resident Ann Hernandez, it's not what she allegedly bought &mdash; power tools &mdash; but where she allegedly stashed the illicit credit cards and driver's license that was weird. I'm not going to say where, but police probably had to get her to squat and cough to <a href="">reveal the evidence</a>.</p> <h2>3. I Just Wanna Be Me</h2> <p>Graduate student Li Ming tried to commit credit card fraud by impersonating&hellip; himself. Confused? What happened was, Li (who is from China, where last names come first), ran up tons of charges on his cards. Instead of paying up, Li faked his own death, got an obituary printed in the paper, and then later quietly tried to use a copy of his birth certificate to apply for a new driver's license. He figured that because his surname is one of the most common in China, no one would notice. Unfortunately for him, the DMV did indeed notice, and Li was busted.</p> <h2>4. Weekend at Eunice's</h2> <p>In England, an <a href="">Afghan war widow received a bank statement</a> addressed to the former owner of her home. A little sleuthing told Nicola Marlton-Thomas that the accountholder, Eunice Lees, had died two years earlier, leaving no heirs. Marlton-Thomas cleaned out the woman's accounts and applied for credit cards in her name, buying business supplies, camping gear, and clothes before security monitors realized that these were not typical purchases for a 91-year-old woman.</p> <h2>5. The $9.84 Scam</h2> <p>Earlier this year, hundreds of consumers began complaining about <a href="">mysterious charges appearing on their bills</a>, always for $9.84. It was unclear who might be doing this or whether the victims had a common link, but one thing is apparent: Thieves are banking on the fact that most of us won't <a href="">check our statements</a> carefully enough to notice a random charge under $10.</p> <h2>6. Straight to the Top</h2> <p>The case of Abraham Abdallah is bizarre in its brazenness. The busboy picked up Forbes' list of richest Americans and went right to the top, gathering the luminaries' social security numbers, birthdates, home addresses, and even credit card numbers with a combination of Internet research and social engineering. Abdallah then attempted to use the credit card numbers of none other than Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Warren Buffett to purchase expensive goods, and may have even bought not one but two brownstones in Brooklyn, <a href="">according to the New York Post</a>. (See also: <a href="">Online Shopping Safety Tips</a>)</p> <h2>7. Spielberg Part Deux</h2> <p>Abdallah wasn't the only con artist to try and victimize Steven Spielberg. James Rinaldo Jackson managed to <a href="">tap into the director's American Express account from prison</a>, he says just to snoop on his idol's high-roller purchases. But Jackson pilfered other people's credit accounts to pay for pizzas, jewelry, and Nike shoes, which he used to pay off other inmates for standing guard duty while he dialed for dollars. He also sent a letter to then Hollywood director (later Yahoo! CEO) Terry Semel, containing account numbers and other personal data for dozens of Hollywood personalities, as part of an unsuccessful movie pitch. When he didn't get a picture deal, Jackson reportedly went ahead and used some of the listed figures' credit card numbers. Jackson brazenly stole the identities of more than 25 chief executives, using the cards and cash advances to buy all manner of luxury items.</p> <h2>8. Beyond the Pale</h2> <p>In one of the more egregious cases of identity theft I've heard of lately, it seems that the bodies and possessions strewn on the site of the<a href=""> Malaysia Airlines 17 crash have been plundered for credit cards</a> and other identifying documents, which are possibly being used for identity theft. Scam Facebook profiles have been opened in victims' names, and one journalist said that every bag he saw at the crash site appeared to have been opened and rummaged through.</p> <p><em>Heard of any crazy credit card or identity theft scams lately? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 8 Weirdest Cases of Credit Card Theft " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards credit card theft credit cards theft Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1221852 at 13 Things You Don't Know About Your Credit Report — But Should <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-things-you-dont-know-about-your-credit-report-but-should" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="credit report" title="credit report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody knows that their credit report matters. But beyond that, most people don't know much else.</p> <p>Here are 13 things you don't know about your credit report &mdash; but should.</p> <h2>1. Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</h2> <p>While many people use the terms &quot;credit report&quot; and &quot;credit score&quot; interchangeably, those two terms mean two completely different things.</p> <ul> <li>A credit report details your credit history, including personal data, detailed account information, inquiries into your credit history, and accounts turned over to collections.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A credit score is a number calculated by a financial institution to determine the your creditworthiness (or how likely you are to repay your debts).</li> </ul> <h2>2. There Are More Than 3 Credit Reporting Agencies</h2> <p>When talking about credit agencies or bureaus, you may think of Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. However, there are many other <a href="">consumer reporting agencies</a> out there gathering data about you to help institutions make decisions about credit, insurance, or employment, and for other purposes.</p> <h2>3. You May Not Have One</h2> <p><a href="">It is possible not to have a credit history</a>. If you have neither credit cards nor any type of loans, then you won't have a credit history. (See also: <a href="">How to Build Your Credit History</a>)</p> <h2>4. Agency Scores Aren't The Same</h2> <p>When talking about credit scores or reports, make sure that you're comparing apples to apples.</p> <p>For example, let's imagine that you have a credit score of 660. Now try to evaluate that number with the following ranges:</p> <ul> <li>FICO: 300 &ndash; 850</li> <li>Equifax: 280 &ndash; 850</li> <li>Experian: 330 &ndash; 830</li> <li>PLUS Score: 330 &ndash; 830</li> <li>TransUnion's TransRisk: 300 &ndash; 850</li> <li>VantageScore: 501 &ndash; 990 (versions 1.0 &amp; 2.0), 300 &ndash; 850 (version 3.0)</li> </ul> <p>Not so black and white, is it? Even when talking about a specific credit score you have to double check which one your lender is referring to. For example, there are <a href="">53 different FICO credit scores</a>.</p> <p>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau analyzed <a href="">200,000 files from all credit reporting agencies</a> and found that one out of every five Americans is likely to receive a score that is meaningfully different from the score used by a lender to make a credit decision.</p> <h2>5. You Are Entitled to Free Credit Reports</h2> <p>By <a href="">federal mandate</a>, you're entitled to a free annual credit report that includes all the information gathered by the three main credit bureaus. Every 12 months, you can request your free report by:</p> <ul> <li>Calling 1-877-322-8228;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mailing this <a href="">Annual Credit Report Request Form</a> and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281; or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Requesting it online at <a href=""></a>.</li> </ul> <p>Getting your own credit report doesn't hurt any of your credit scores.</p> <h2>6. The Unemployed Get an Extra Report</h2> <p>On top of your free annual credit report, you can get <a href="">another free report when you are unemployed</a>.</p> <p>Why?</p> <h2>7. Credit Reports Can Factor in Hiring Decisions</h2> <p>One in 10 Americans has been <a href="">denied a job due to information on their credit report</a>.</p> <p>The reasoning is that some employers may perform background checks, which include credit report information. So, to be on the same page as potential employers and to be able to dispute any inconsistencies, you are granted a second free report.</p> <p>The <a href="">7 occupations that regularly check an applicant's credit history</a>:</p> <ol> <li>parking booth operator</li> <li>the military</li> <li>accounting</li> <li>mortgage loan originator</li> <li>Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer</li> <li>law enforcement officer</li> <li>employment through temp agencies</li> </ol> <h2>8. You Can Get a Free Report After an Adverse Action</h2> <p>If you believe that a company has taken adverse action against you, such as dramatically increasing your home insurance or denying employment, then the relevant consumer reporting company is required to give you a free copy of your consumer report. Other times that you can get a free credit score report are in case of mortgage scoring and risk-based pricing.</p> <h2>9. Parking Tickets and Library Fines Appear on Your Report</h2> <p>Your credit report includes details of public record, which includes debts to any level of government. This is why ignoring that public library fine comes back with a vengeance by popping up on your credit report and staying there for the next three to seven years. The same applies to parking tickets. (See also: <a href="">10 Surprising Ways to Hurt Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>This is why it is important to always notify the U.S. Postal Service every time you move, so you never miss a bill from any city or state government.</p> <h2>10. Some Late Payments Are Not Reported</h2> <p>The industry standard for account delinquency starts 30 days after a due date.</p> <p>This means that any payment within 30 days of its respective due date won't be reported to any of the credit bureaus. While it is a bad idea to pay your bills late, if you already got hit with a late payment, then you can take advantage of your grace period before it affects your credit report.</p> <h2>11. Closing Accounts Hurts Your Credit Report</h2> <p>While it may sound like a good idea in theory, closing accounts negatively affects your credit history in two ways.</p> <p>First, it may lower your average account age, which is viewed negatively by credit reporting agencies. Generally, it is a <a href="">bad idea to close your oldest credit account</a> if you have no other account as old as that one. Second, closing accounts always decreases your <a href="">available credit</a>, which increases your credit utilization rate. The higher this rate, the more likely you are to fall behind on debt payments.</p> <h2>12. Time Heals All Credit Wounds</h2> <p>No matter what kind of credit <em>faux pas</em> you have committed, it will not haunt you forever. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, and other <a href="">negative financial information will generally disappear from your credit report after 7 years</a>.</p> <p>And finally...</p> <h2>13. Your Credit May Land You a Date</h2> <p>Turns out that some bachelors and bachelorettes enjoy deep conversations, long walks on the beach&hellip; and amazing credit histories. By submitting your credit score to <a href=""></a>, you may attract potential suitors and find the love of your life.</p> <p>There is one catch: The creators of the dating site are still looking for a third party to verify credit scores. This means that you have to trust what others tell you about their credit histories and scores. Good luck!</p> <p><em>Have you been surprised by what's in your credit report?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="13 Things You Don&#039;t Know About Your Credit Report — But Should" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance credit credit history credit report credit score Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1220790 at 12 Wacky (and Not-So-Wacky) Investment Strategies That Actually Work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-wacky-and-not-so-wacky-investment-strategies-that-actually-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple finances" title="couple finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's no single right or wrong way to invest. If there was, we'd all be insanely rich and would not need to read great websites like this one.</p> <p>The most tried-and-tested approach to investing is to buy and hold. In other words, get into the market as early as you can and don't exit until you absolutely need the money. (See also: <a href="">5 Investing Basics That Can Make You Rich</a>)</p> <p>But not everyone follows that approach. In fact, some people have some truly off-the-wall strategies for growing their portfolio. Here's a look at some of the most common investment approaches, plus a few other more unusual strategies.</p> <h2>Value Investing</h2> <p>In simple terms, this is all about finding stocks that you believe are underpriced. If you have faith in a company's underlying financial strength, you should not be overly worried about its stock price. In fact, you may view this as an opportunity to purchase shares of a great company at a bargain. The key to value investing is to have some understanding of a company's financials and the true reasons why Wall Street may be undervaluing it. Warren Buffett is a big proponent of value investing, and he's done pretty well for himself.</p> <h2>Dollar-Cost Averaging</h2> <p>This is a long-term approach to investing that is founded on the premise that it's foolish to try and time the market. If you invest a specific amount of money on a consistent basis &mdash; $200 per month, for example &mdash; you'll be able to buy more shares when the market goes down and fewer when it goes up. This makes your portfolio less vulnerable to major market drops, but perhaps it's biggest attribute is that it allows disciplined, steady savings.</p> <h2>Lump Sum Investing</h2> <p>This is the counterargument to dollar-cost averaging. A 2012 report from Vanguard suggested that placing a lump sum of money into the markets will result in a <a href="">higher return than dollar-cost averaging (DCA)</a> about two-thirds of the time. There are supporters in the lump sum and DCA camps, but both are based on three key principles: invest as much as you can, invest early, and invest for the long haul.</p> <h2>Contrarian Investing</h2> <p>This is very similar to value investing, but takes things a step further. Contrarian investors will not only look for value, but embrace stocks that are truly being beaten up by investors, analysts, and the financial media. In other words, if everyone else hates a stock, a contrarian investor will see it as an opportunity.</p> <h2>Top Down Investing</h2> <p>The premise behind this strategy is to look at the big picture of how the economy or overall markets will perform, then determine the sectors that should be expected to do well as a result. Then, you purchase shares in the best-performing companies in that sector. For example, let's assume that everyone is predicting mortgage rates to drop in the near future. A top down investor might then surmise that homebuilder stocks will benefit as a result. Thus, the investor will buy shares in the most well-regarded homebuilder.</p> <h2>Bottom Up Investing</h2> <p>This works in reverse to top down investing. Bottom up investors aren't too concerned with macroeconomic factors. Instead, they will perform rigorous research about individual companies, and will usually look for companies with specific criteria, such as a low price-to-earnings ratio or a certain rate of earnings growth. Bottom up investors generally believe that good companies are good investments, regardless of how the broader economy is faring.</p> <h2>Dogs of the Dow</h2> <p>In simple terms, this strategy calls for investors to find the 10 blue-chip stocks with the highest dividends relative to their stock prices. The theory is that dividends are a more reliable indicator of a company's true worth, and that companies with high dividends but low prices should be poised to rebound. There is some evidence to suggest this strategy can generate some nice returns, but it is not without its critics, who argue that it's no better than investing in the broader stock market. Moreover, this strategy can result in a lot of buying and selling of stocks, which may result in fees and taxes. (Forbes <a href="">published this takedown</a> of the strategy earlier this year.)</p> <h2>Reverse Glide</h2> <p>The conventional wisdom surrounding retirement planning is to gradually adjust your portfolio to be more conservative as you approach retirement age. This means moving away from stocks and into safer investments like bonds and cash. There is an inherent logic to this strategy, as no one wants to see their nest egg drop in value significantly just as they retire. But there are some advisors who say it's okay to stay aggressive with your investments even as you age. Rob Arnott of Research Associates claims that his analysis shows that someone starting in bonds and gradually moving into stocks <a href="">will end up with a greater sum of money</a> in the end.</p> <p>So who's right? Well, this is a source of considerable debate, but most advisors say it's best to take your own risk tolerance into account when choosing a strategy. And, ultimately the goal should be to put aside enough assets so that either strategy leaves you enough to retire comfortably.</p> <h2>Sell in May, Go Away</h2> <p>This investment approach is based on the idea that the bulk of the stock market's gains take place between the fall and spring. The strategy suggests exiting the markets (or at least taking a more conservative posture) in May, and then returning in October or November. The reviews on this approach are mixed, with advisors generally saying that the stock market is too unpredictable for this to work on a consistent basis. Some observers say it works, <a href="">but not in election years</a>. Advisors do agree that this strategy of exiting and reentering the market can result in capital gains taxes and fees. So it's worth analyzing your own portfolio to determine whether it makes sense.</p> <h2>Invest Like a Billionaire</h2> <p>If folks like Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn have made billions in the stock market, why don't people just do what they do? There's an argument to be made that an easy way to wealth is to simply have your portfolio mirror that of the world's wealthiest investors.</p> <p>Last year, Direxion created an exchange traded fund based on its &quot;iBillionaire Index,&quot; containing 30 of the S&amp;P 500 stocks most favored by billionaire investors. So, you can literally invest like a billionaire without a whole lot of effort.</p> <p>You may do well with this investment strategy. After all, billionaire investors are often quite skilled at finding solid, long-term investments. But it's important to remember that they may have access to investments not available to us mere mortals, and their goals, risk tolerances and time horizons may differ.</p> <h2>Astrological Investing</h2> <p>Do you make decisions based on complex planetary charts and the signs of the Zodiac? Then this investing strategy is for you! There is, believe it or not, a devoted following to this investment approach, which assumes that the movement of the solar system affects the movement of the markets. Is it possible to time the markets based on heavenly knowledge? There's not a lot of of evidence that this is an effective approach, though <a href="">the author of one astrological investing newsletter claims to have rightly predicted</a> when the market would bottom out in 2009, according to Forbes.</p> <h2>Collectibles</h2> <p>There's always a segment of the population that seeks to find wealth not from traditional markets, but the buying and selling of collectibles and other physical items. From autographed baseballs to Star Wars figurines, there are huge markets out there for all kinds of things. One person is now trying to sell a single card from Magic: The Gathering on eBay for $100,000.</p> <p>There's not a ton of evidence to show that investing in collectibles is any more lucrative than putting cash in the stock market, but we all seem to know of a guy who sold his comic book collection for a million bucks.</p> <p><em>Do you follow any of these investment strategies? Another? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Wacky (and Not-So-Wacky) Investment Strategies That Actually Work " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tim Lemke</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Investment buy and hold investing investment strategies Warren Buffett Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1220772 at Best Money Tips: Top 10 Retirement Planning Mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-top-10-retirement-planning-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="retirement planning stress" title="retirement planning stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some stellar articles on retirement planning mistakes, money rules that nobody will ever teach you, and budgeting on a variable income.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Top 10 Retirement Planning Mistakes &mdash; Are You Making Any of Them?</a> &mdash; Are you making the retirement planning mistake of not saving enough? What about waiting too long to start saving? [Christian PF]</p> <p><a href="">The Secret Money Rules That Nobody Will Ever Teach You</a> &mdash; Chances are, no one will teach you that you should always live within your means. [Studenomics]</p> <p><a href="">Budgeting on a Variable Income</a> &mdash; It is vital to gather all your bills and track your spending when you budget on a variable income. [Kylie Ofiu]</p> <p><a href="">The One Person Responsible for Your Financial Decisions</a> &mdash; Remember that financial advice, no matter how reasonable, is not one size fits all. [Mighty Bargain Hunter]</p> <p><a href="">6 Ways to Keep Your Top-Performing Millennials on Board</a> &mdash; Creating opportunities for international travel can help companies keep millennials on board. [Women &amp; Co]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">How to Get Off the Grid</a> &mdash; To get off the grid, consider trying to grow your own food. [NarrowBridge Finance]</p> <p><a href="">Getting Old Sucks. We Can't Stop Father Time, But We Can Prepare Physically, Emotionally and Financially</a> &mdash; Are you taking advantage of how the tax code can help you in retirement? [Don't Mess With Taxes]</p> <p><a href="">4 Ways to Reduce Financial Stress</a> &mdash; If you want to reduce financial stress, create a budget and earn more money. [Sweating the Big Stuff]</p> <p><a href="">37 Creative Uses for Your Magic Eraser</a> &mdash; Use your magic eraser to remove stains on dishes and clean the inside of your oven. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">20 Mostly Free Ways to Enjoy Fall With Your Family</a> &mdash; Enjoy fall with your family without breaking the bank by making hot apple cider and visiting a local farm. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Top 10 Retirement Planning Mistakes" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Retirement best money tips Mistakes retirement Wed, 24 Sep 2014 19:00:05 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1219314 at 4 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Every Major Purchase <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-questions-you-need-to-ask-yourself-before-every-major-purchase" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="car shopper thinking" title="car shopper thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A car. The wedding of your dreams. Your first house. These could be three of the most wonderful purchases of your life &mdash; or three of the worst. After all, the words &quot;regret car purchase&quot; generate 7.5 million Google search results, your wedding day will very likely be the most expensive day of your life, and <a href="">1 in 4 homeowners have buyer's remorse</a>. Better do it right. (See also: <a href="">The 7 Dumbest Purchases People Make</a>)</p> <p>But how does one keep far from catastrophe when making purchasing decisions about items that cost five figures or more? Purchases of this magnitude aren't run-of-the-mill for most of us. Well, lucky for you we've compiled a tidy list of questions to ask yourself before pulling the trigger on any major purchase.</p> <h2>1. Will I View This as a Good Purchase a Year From Now? Five Years From Now?</h2> <p>Buyer's remorse is a sneaky thing. At first, you're over-the-moon for your new Jeep. But will you still be pleased with your purchase once the newness wears off? Even our most prized possessions have a way of becoming just another thing in the pile of stuff that occupies so much of the space in our lives. We begin to compare it to other things like it that we don't yet have. Like a petite, red sports car. Or a Harley Davidson. And just like that our Jeep loses its luster.</p> <p>Besides, research shows <a href="">it's the experience of wanting</a> a luxury item and shopping around for it &mdash; not the purchase itself &mdash; that makes us happy. So, go ahead and research the heck out of that new Jeep. You can even take it for a test drive. Just don't buy the thing unless it passes our four-question vetting process.</p> <h2>2. How Secure Are My Finances?</h2> <p>How plausible is it that your income could drop off dramatically two years from now? Would you be left to drown in payments you can no longer afford? Imagine your worst-case financial scenario, and draft a plan for how you'd escape things like bankruptcy and foreclosure. Are you completely dependent on your income to cover your expenses and financial obligation, or do you have a sizable savings?</p> <p>If you don't seriously consider your financial forecast, even things widely considered as great investments can become regrettable. Exhibit A: A third of millennials say they would have been <a href="">better off working than going to college</a>. The reason? They're drowning in debt. More than half the 1,414 college grads surveyed by Wells Fargo said they afforded their education by taking out hefty student loans that has become the crux of their financial distress.</p> <h2>3. Am I Suffering From Stress, Duress, or Lack of Sleep?</h2> <p>Studies show that <a href="">we're more likely to make big, splurgy purchases</a> we'll later regret when we're mourning a death, dealing with a divorce, feeling depressed, experiencing stress at work, or otherwise emotional. That's because sadness often tricks us into thinking we can better ourselves and therefore our emotional state by making extravagant purchases. So steer clear of making any drastic financial decisions when experiencing any period of personal turmoil.</p> <h2>4. Am I Buying Because It's a Good Deal?</h2> <p>Make sure it's a good deal for <em>you</em> &mdash; your personal wants, needs, values, and financial standing &mdash; and not just &quot;a good deal,&quot; period. The boat may very well be &quot;the deal of a lifetime,&quot; but make sure it's <em>your</em> lifetime that you're considering. In fact, it doesn't really matter how good the deal is anyway. If you weren't planning on buying a boat until the good deal came along, then you're running the risk of throwing your money away on a luxury item you simply don't need. Now that's a recipe sure to do nothing more than worsen your financial position.</p> <p><em>What do you ask yourself before making a big purchase? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="4 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Every Major Purchase" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance big purchases budgeting purchases spending Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1219246 at Why One-Third of Americans Haven't Saved for Retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-one-third-of-americans-havent-saved-for-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="old man frustrated" title="old man frustrated" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>More than a third of <a href="">Americans haven't started saving for retirement</a>, according to a recent report by Interestingly, it's not just young workers who aren't banking their bucks. The survey found that more than a quarter of those aged 50 &ndash; 64 haven't started saving for retirement, either. (See also: <a href="">10 Easy Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement</a>)</p> <p>While it's true that the current generation of retirees and pre-retirees are more likely to have a pension plan to cushion their financial burden, the results point to a staggering conclusion. A large number of Americans &mdash; regardless of age &mdash; are unprepared to take financial responsibility for retirement. So, what's holding us back?</p> <h2>1. We're Living Paycheck to Paycheck</h2> <p>One-third of American households <a href="">live paycheck to paycheck</a>. Of those families, 66% are middle class and have a median income of $41,000.</p> <p>It's difficult to save for retirement when disposable income is limited, but if you manage to do it, most employers offer a match on your 401(k) contributions. An employer match can add a substantial boost to your retirement account balance. (See also: <a href="">Trick Yourself into Saving More of Your Biweekly Paychecks</a>)</p> <h2>2. We Procrastinate</h2> <p>It's tempting to put big decisions off and wait for the next big raise, until the next bill is paid off, or until the kids are through college. The problem, <a href="">as defined by one financial journalist</a>, is that savings levels aren't all that different between new workers and those already retired.</p> <p>Putting an end to procrastination can have a monumental effect on your end balance. According to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 401(k) participants who consistently contributed to their accounts over the five years ending in 2012<a href=""> saw a healthy 6.8% average annual uptick</a> in their collective balances, even despite a 34.7% drop during the financial crisis of 2008.</p> <p>Further, the earlier you start, the easier it is to build substantial savings. In his analysis of the poll results, Greg McBride, CFA and Bankrate's chief financial analyst says, &quot;the power of compounding is most evident over long periods of time, and having a longer period of time for your retirement savings to grow and compound makes today's contributions much more impactful.&quot; (See also: <a href="">This is Why You Can't Postpone Planning for Your Retirement</a>)</p> <h2>3. We Don't Have a Retirement Plan at Work</h2> <p>Even if you don't have access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings option, don't let that keep you from having a plan of your own. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute study noted above, those with a plan are 72% likely to feel very or somewhat confident about their prospects for retirement. Those without a plan, meanwhile, are 69% more likely to feel not at all or not too confident about retirement.</p> <p><a href="">Those without a plan</a> can benefit from several plans such as the traditional IRA, Roth IRA, MyRA, or a traditional brokerage account.</p> <h2>4. We're in Denial</h2> <p>Some workers assume they can maintain their current workload for the remainder of their lives and so choose to forego or limit retirement savings. While later-life retirements are increasing in frequency, the assumption that one can work until death doesn't account for uncontrollable factors like an unexpected job loss or medical issue.</p> <p>Even among those who are saving, many are not saving enough. In <a href="">a recent article</a>, one finance giant CEO tagged the average retirement contribution level at 6% while suggesting that 10% would be better. (See also: <a href="">6 Harmful Money Beliefs That Are Keeping You Poor</a>)</p> <p>Low or nonexistent contribution levels indicate that many workers aren't taking the time to figure out just <a href="">how much they'll need in retirement</a>. Being aware of your end goal number is the first step to getting financially prepared for retirement &mdash; at every age.</p> <p><em>Are you among the one-third of Americans who haven't saved for retirement?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Why One-Third of Americans Haven&#039;t Saved for Retirement" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Alaina Tweddale</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Debt Management Retirement 401(k) retirement saving Tue, 23 Sep 2014 13:00:06 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1218886 at Best Money Tips: The Investing Edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-investing-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple reading newspaper" title="couple reading newspaper" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some of the best articles from around the web on investing.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">What Grocery Shopping Can Teach You About Investing</a> &mdash; Did you know you can think of stocks, bonds, and cash as different investing groups? [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">How to Get into the Stock Market Safely</a> &mdash; To get into the stock market safely, spread your risk and manage your exposure to stocks. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="">How Investing Just $50 a Month Can Kick-start Your Retirement</a> &mdash; If you only have $50 a month to invest, remember that it can add up over time due to compoud interest. [Money Under 30]</p> <p><a href="">Kids and Money: Teach Your Teen About Investing</a> &mdash; It is important to share your investment philosophy with your teen so they can be better educated about investing. [Bargaineering]</p> <p><a href="">The Problem with &quot;Hot&quot; Investments</a> &mdash; Next time you read an article on &quot;hot&quot; investments, remember that it was probably written or influenced by a salesman. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">Investing for Beginners</a> &mdash; Beginning investors should remember that time is their biggest ally. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="">4 Crucial Strategies You Need When Investing for Retirement</a> &mdash; When investing for retirement, make minimizing your tax liabilities one of your strategies. [Money Crashers]</p> <p><a href="">7 Stocks to Buy and Hold for the Next 15 Years</a> &mdash; If you are looking into stocks for the long run, consider Netflix or Apple. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="">Should Parents Invest in Roth IRAs?</a> &mdash; While Roth IRAs enable your money to grow tax free, you do have to pay taxes upfront. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="">Growing Your Financial Portfolio: Are You Gluten-Free Investing?</a> &mdash; It is important to define your goals and time frame of your investments. [Credit Sesame]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Investing Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Investment best money tips investing Mon, 22 Sep 2014 19:00:06 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1205460 at The 7 Scariest Big Purchases People Make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-scariest-big-purchases-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple shocked bills" title="couple shocked bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Big ticket purchases are prone to freak us out. The stakes are higher. And when we do make a mistake, like signing a lease to rent an apartment we can't comfortably afford, psychologists say we're more apt to convince ourselves that we've made the right decision rather than work to find a way out. It's <a href="">a natural tendency toward self-sabatoge</a> that's difficult to shake.</p> <p>All this can be avoided, of course, if we do our homework, thoroughly explore our options, and stay alert for the tell-tale signs that we're being bamboozled. Yet even the smartest among us make large-scale investments that end in regret. Studies show <a href="">1 in 4 homeowners have buyer's remorse</a> about their current house, for example. (See also: <a href="">5 Sure-Fire Signs of an Investment Scam</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our list of the top seven purchasing decisions that are sure to keep you up at night.</p> <h2>1. A House</h2> <p>Shopping for a home is momentous, exhilarating &mdash; and downright frightening. A home is the most expensive purchase most of us will ever make and unfortunately it's easier to muck it up than it is to do it right. Exhibit A? <a href="">The subprime mortgage meltdown</a>. Lest we forget: What the bank says you can afford and what you actually can afford are not necessarily the same thing.</p> <h2>2. A Vacation Home</h2> <p>It's a dream come true, right? Well, yes, it can be &mdash; but it can just as easily be the stuff of nightmares. It's easy to be romanced by the mountain views so much so that you neglect to fully inspect the property itself or seriously consider the challenges of living in a seasonal locale once all the tourists have gone home.</p> <p>&quot;Many people love spending a week each summer at a particular beach,&quot; Jeff Haden, author of &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0910627746&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=RTWXZXWFTI7SSSI4">The Second Homeowner's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Vacation, Income, Retirement, and Investment</a>&quot; told the New York Times. &quot;But when they buy a home and start to spend several months a year in the area, they realize that <a href="">traffic is a mess, shopping is limited</a>, and seasonal factors like the influx of students at a nearby college change the feel of the area.&quot;</p> <h2>3. A College Education</h2> <p>A college degree is one of the most valuable things you can buy. But if you don't do it right, it can swiftly become one of your biggest regrets. A third of millennials say they would have been <a href="">better off working than going to college</a>, according to a Wells Fargo study. The reason? They're drowning in debt.</p> <p>More than half the 1,414 college grads surveyed by Wells Fargo said they afforded their education by taking out hefty student loans that are now the crux of their financial distress. If given the chance to do it again, many said that they'd choose a less expensive school so as to reduce their future debt.</p> <h2>4. A Business Franchise</h2> <p>You get to be your own boss making money off a proven brand. No business plan to write, no venture capital to raise. Sound too good to be true? Well, in some cases, it very well could be. Investing in a franchise is little more bullet proof than investing in a start-up. In either scenario, it's possible <a href="">you could lose out on your investment</a> &mdash; sometimes due to no fault of your own. What if the franchisor goes belly up? It's a possibility. And because franchises are so young, it's difficult to judge the likelihood of such a thing. There's just not much of a track record to go off of.</p> <h2>5. A Boat</h2> <p>From water skiing on the lake to deep sea fishing far out at sea, boating is one of the most enjoyable warm-weather pastimes. But it's a joy that comes with a big price tag, regular repair costs, and a lot of fancy options that can make or break your boat-owning experience. Perhaps the most important thing you need to figure out is how much time you want to invest in caring for your boat. There are lots of neat add-on features &mdash; swim platforms, entertainment consoles, removable carpeting &mdash; but many of them require work to stay up and running. What you don't pay for in money you pay for in time and maintenance.</p> <h2>6. A Wedding</h2> <p>From the ring to the cake, <a href="">the average American wedding</a> costs $29,858. That's five figures spent on one day of your life &mdash; honeymoon not included. With so many different facets to decide on &mdash; flowers, linens, photographers &mdash; odds are high that you'll misspend on something. Common blunders include splurging on the venue and skimping on everything else, over-spending on fancy save-the-date mailings, and blowing your fashion budget on the dress and tux before even thinking about the shoes. (See also: <a href="">How to Attend a Wedding for Cheap (Without Actually Looking Cheap)</a>)</p> <h2>7. A Gravesite and Funeral</h2> <p><a href="">It costs about $10,000 to bury the dead</a>. Casket, grave liner, and cemetery groundskeeping costs all contribute to the bottom line. But there's so much more than dollars at stake. The location of the grave in comparison to loved ones of the deceased and whether the cemetery meets the requirements of your family's religion are also important. And experts say it's difficult to make these decisions when we're under duress.</p> <p>&quot;In fact, <a href="">grief is, in many ways, similar to alcohol inebriation</a> when it comes to decision making,&quot; writes Caleb Wilde, a sixth generation licensed funeral home director. &quot;You can't and shouldn't make big decisions when you're grieving.&quot;</p> <p><em>Any other Big Scary Purchases that should've been on this list?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 7 Scariest Big Purchases People Make" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance big purchases expensive purchases spending Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1216061 at Best Money Tips: The Money and Relationships Edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-money-and-relationships-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple saving money" title="couple saving money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some of the best articles from around the web on money and relationships!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Eight Biggest Money Mistakes Newlyweds Make</a> &mdash; If you are a newlywed, don't make the mistake of harboring financial secrets. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">How Can I Be Frugal When My Significant Other Isn't?</a> &mdash; When your significant other isn't as frugal as you are, it is important to try to compromise and get creative on frugal entertainment options you can both enjoy. [Two Cents]</p> <p><a href="">How to Get Your Finances in Order as a Couple</a> &mdash; Planning your budget as a couple and discussing financial priorities are a couple things you should do with your partner to ensure financial success. [Ready for Zero Blog]</p> <p><a href="">5 Red Flag Money Questions From Your Significant Other</a> &mdash; It might be a red flag if your significant other asks if your parents pay any of your bills. [Credit Karma]</p> <p><a href="">Relationships &amp; Money: How Can They Work?</a> &mdash; Couples need to respect each other's financial decisions, otherwise it's tough to make a relationship work. [Phroogal Blog]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">How to Avoid Fighting About Your Finances</a> &mdash; Avoid fighting about your finances by keeping things in perspective and keeping the lines of communication open. [Make Love, Not Debt]</p> <p><a href="">Love Is Not All You Need &mdash; Money Talks Before Marriage Talks</a> &mdash; Before you start thinking about marriage, talk to your partner about financial goals and money issues. [MoMoneyMoHoues]</p> <p><a href="">Should You Share Your Income in Your Online Dating Profile?</a> &mdash; Money isn't always attractive, so you might want to leave it off your online dating profile. [The Good, the Bad, and the Money]</p> <p><a href="">3 Common Conflicts in Marriage and How to Squash 'Em</a> &mdash; Squash money problems in your marriage by taking time to meet with your partner weekly about money issues. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="">Don't Co-Sign a Lease With Your Lover</a> &mdash; There is a chance that if you co-sign a lease with a significant other, it could come back to bite you in the butt if you break up and they stop paying their half of the bills. [Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Money and Relationships Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance best money tips money relationships Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:00:05 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1205246 at 11 Tips and Tricks for Merging Finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-tips-and-tricks-for-merging-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple finances" title="couple finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting married can be a chaotic ordeal. It's one thing to combine household contents (which blender will you keep?) or decide which side of the bed you'll sleep on. It's quite another to go through the hard work of putting together money accounts and arranging for a single budget. (See also: <a href="">The 7 Worst Money Mistakes Married People Make</a>)</p> <p>As someone who has been happily married for 12 years, paid off a mound of consumer debt from before the marriage, and has kept an excellent credit score throughout, I've learned a thing or two about what I did right &mdash; and wished I had done right.</p> <h2>1. Take Inventory</h2> <p>This important step is sometimes painful for couples to do. It includes writing down every account you hold, including the balances, as well as all the debt and loan accounts that are owed on. It's best to do this before the marriage, as full disclosure is probably wise before that trip down the aisle.</p> <h2>2. Figure Out Your Net Worth</h2> <p>Next, it's probably a good idea to tally everything up and see what you'll be worth as a couple. Get it out of your mind that there are &quot;his&quot; and &quot;hers&quot; assets. You'll likely own everything together now. (Legally, this is also true in many states. With certain exceptions like trust fund payments and inheritances, some assets may be kept separate. Check with your CFP or attorney for details.)</p> <h2>3. Decide Which Accounts to Keep</h2> <p>Do you really need four checking accounts, 12 credit cards, or two car loans? If it's possible to combine some accounts, do so. Likewise, if credit card payments can be simplified by transferring balances and culling payments down to just four or five creditors, it might be the best solution for both of you. Note: Be mindful of closing any accounts right away. Scrapping lines of credit may be detrimental to your credit score, as it will lower your available credit amount by quite a bit. A more suitable option may be to agree to not use any cards from several accounts until they are paid off and then closed. Or you could choose to keep them all open, but not use them indefinitely.</p> <h2>4. Add Your Spouse to Keepers</h2> <p>Now comes the fun of getting a second credit card or debit card, adding a second name to the checkbook, and putting another authorized user on the online account access. This can take many days, as some banks still require both account holders to come in person with their documentation and papers to sign. Since banking must be done during &quot;bankers' hours,&quot; it may require taking time off of work. Get everything in order before your big day to ensure you don't run into any snags.</p> <h2>5. Pick a Payer</h2> <p>While you'll both be involved in the planning of finances, it is usually wise to pick one person to actually pay the bills. Setting your accounts up for automatic payments can cut down on some of the work, but someone will still need to follow up monthly to be sure payments were made. If you don't want to be saddled with the job for long, you can choose to switch off every few months or so, which is also a great way to ensure that there are no financial secrets between spouses.</p> <h2>6. Set a Budget</h2> <p>Now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty. What financial goals will you set as a couple? What can you expect to live on? What will you do with the extra money every month (if any)? A budget can be as simple as writing two columns for spending and income on a piece of paper, or it can be as complicated as a budgeting software program will allow. The important thing, however, is that you just do it!</p> <h2>7. Communicate</h2> <p>Things change daily in a marriage, and this includes the financial realm of it. A broken belt on the car or a change in work schedule can really throw your best-laid plans into turmoil, but most things can be overcome by talking it out early on. Remember that spouses hate to have things sprung on them suddenly, so pick a safe time to discuss these things each day. Don't have the talk right before bed.</p> <h2>8. Adjust as Necessary</h2> <p>Marriage is a funny thing in that it is never quite like you expect it to be. Personalities can cause conflict, and expectations will need to be lowered quite often. Finances reflect this in that your budget and plans won't be perfect, either. Learn to laugh at mistakes and do better next time.</p> <h2>9. Forgive</h2> <p>Your spouse will screw up royally at least once in your marriage. This will likely have financial consequences. You will, too. Forgive easily, and you'll find grace when it's your turn!</p> <h2>10. Ask for Advice</h2> <p>If all your best intentions have failed, and money merging is still a painful or aggravating part of your marriage, it may help to enlist a neutral third party to help you along. Financial planners can be a good source of common sense in an otherwise emotional conversation. Just avoid employing anyone you both knew well prior to the marriage; it will keep things professional and easy to agree with.</p> <h2>11. Remember What Money Means</h2> <p>Finances should be handled with sensitivity because money rarely just stands for money. Spending can mask hurts that your spouse is dealing with, and trying to solve money issues can be taken personally. If you find that after merging finances the advice of your professional goes unheeded, it may be time to take things to the next level with a marriage counselor that specializes in financial problems. Sometimes, there really is an underlying cause to the money woes.</p> <p>My marriage hasn't been perfect, but it has been one of the most enriching parts of my life. Having the money issues under control has allowed my husband and I to spend our energy on other, more pressing issues, like our six children!</p> <p><em>Did you merge finances when you tied the knot? How did it go? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Tips and Tricks for Merging Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance couples and money joint accounts marriage money Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1210858 at 8 Dark-Side Motivations to Start Saving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-dark-side-motivations-to-start-saving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="business couple flirting" title="business couple flirting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>From ruling the galaxy to getting out of debt, embracing the dark side can be a powerful tool. Sure, the motivations may be impure, but if it's monetary results you're after, maybe that's okay. (See also: <a href="">10 Dark Side Motivations to Getting Out of Debt</a>)</p> <p>So embrace your demons and get ready to stockpile some cash with these eight ways you can use the darker side of your nature as a driving force to save more money.</p> <h2>1. To Impress Someone</h2> <p>Whether it's a potential new partner, or just someone you really want to one-up, having a nice wad of cash in the bank can be a great way to get noticed. You can't just casually drop &quot;hey, I've got $30k in my savings account&quot; into conversation, though. You'll need to find more underhand ways to do it. You could check your balance, get a receipt, and just happen to leave it in a place someone else could see it. Or, you could ask about investment opportunities for your enormous rainy day fund. This works well at those high school reunions.</p> <h2>2. To Get Laid Off</h2> <p>Most people don't want to get fired. These days, jobs are tough to get in many industries, and just as tough to keep. Why on earth would anyone want to get laid off, or fired?</p> <p>Well, some people do have <a href="">reasons for wanting to leave a job</a>. They may genuinely hate it, but leaving is not as lucrative as being kicked out, with many companies offering handsome severance packages. If this is your plan, you need to have some savings as a safety net. When the time comes, you can use it as buffer until you find work. A word of warning though: be sure to check the redundancy policy of the job you plan to &quot;leave.&quot; Some companies are making cuts everywhere, and that includes termination benefits.</p> <h2>3. To Get Revenge</h2> <p>It may be a dish best served cold, but it can also be an expensive one. If you really want to hit someone where it hurts, you are going to have to put down some cash to make it happen. Revenge can be as simple as a college prank, or as complicated as the plot from a movie. It could be something that takes five minutes to plan or several months. Depending on the level of vengeance you're aiming for, you may need to put away a large sum of money to finance your cunning plan.</p> <h2>4. To Spy on Someone</h2> <p>Cheating spouse? Co-worker embezzling money? Neighbor's dog using your lawn as a toilet? Whatever your reason, you'll need a nice sum of money if you want to get hard evidence. This could involve hiring a private investigator, setting up a substantial hidden camera system, and even wearing recording devices (check the legality of this in your state first). However you plan to spy, you'll need to bankroll your operation. Start saving now &mdash; some of these people will only accept cold, hard cash.</p> <h2>5. To Get Plastic Surgery</h2> <p>Some would say that improving yourself is very worthwhile, and I tend to agree. Are breast implants, tummy tucks, and lip injections really that bad? Well, it all depends. If you're saving for those and letting your kids go hungry, then yes, that's bad. If everyone is taken care of, and this is something you'd rather do than buy a new car or go on vacation, then more power to you.</p> <h2>6. To Annoy Your Neighbor</h2> <p>Have you ever watched a show about battling neighbors? It happens often, and it can go from the silly to the downright bizarre. Case in point &mdash; the Bank of Manhattan and the Chrysler building. Both wanted to be taller than the Woolworth back in 1929. It looked like the Bank of Manhattan won the battle, but the war went to the Chrysler building a few months later, when a spire was secretly assembled on its roof. From building bigger fences, to painting houses brighter colors, suburban neighbors have also battled for years. If you want to get into it, you'll need the money to compete.</p> <h2>7. To Get Divorced</h2> <p>Maybe you're in a relationship that is just barely hanging on for life. You may be tied to the other person financially, and cannot separate until you have the money to do so. This is where saving money comes in, but you will have to be careful how you do it. You cannot just squirrel away money from your partner, and not declare it. But if you do it legally, and with full disclosure, saving money now is the best way to ensure you can finally start down the road to unwedded bliss. As Louis CK has so rightly said, don't commiserate with people going through this; no good marriage ended in divorce.</p> <h2>8. To Do Nothing</h2> <p>Some people have a dream that is neither productive, nor inspiring. They simply want to save enough money so that they don't have to work again. Or do anything else remotely connected to work, if truth be told. There's a famous quote from <a href="">Office Space</a> that sums it up, uttered by the protagonist Peter Gibbons, when asked what he'd do with a million dollars: &quot;I would relax&hellip; I would sit on my ass all day&hellip; I would do nothing.&quot;</p> <p>Of course, his friend Lawrence counters that with, &quot;Well, you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin; he's broke, don't do sh*t.&quot; Sorry, Lawrence, you do need money. A lot of money. Doing nothing may not cost a lot, but you still need to eat, pay bills, and live a somewhat comfortable existence. Start saving.</p> <p><em>So, those are eight dark side motivations, but what are yours? What dark things inspire you to save money? Let us know in comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Dark-Side Motivations to Start Saving" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Debt Management debt goals motivation saving Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Paul Michael 1209316 at 73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="buying medicine" title="buying medicine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The first step to saving dough is to have a go-to list of cost-cutting strategies in your pocket. Below are 73 ways to cut spending, some more orthodox than others. Find just a few that work for you and watch the savings add up. (See also: <a href="">The 10 Things Everyone Should Be Saving For</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cancel Cable TV</h2> <p>With so many streaming options like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, there's barely any reason to pay for cable TV. at all. Unless you watch a whole lot of new programming, it's even cheaper to buy your shows by the season through itunes.</p> <h2>2. Find a Cheaper Cell Plan</h2> <p>Don't overpay for minutes or data that you're not using. Likewise, be sure to shop carriers every time your contract is up to make sure you're buying from the cheapest service provider (assuming they also offer the best coverage, of course).</p> <h2>3. Shop for Groceries With a List</h2> <p>A list can help keep you from adding needless items in the shopping cart (chocolate chip cookies, anyone?) that can flatten your wallet while fattening your waistline.</p> <h2>4. Shop Your Home and Auto Insurance Policies</h2> <p>There are no discounts for loyalty these days. One expert I spoke with recently estimated a <a href="">$600 &ndash; $800 annual savings</a> by comparing insurance carriers every couple of years. That's a big bang for a couple of minutes worth of work.</p> <h2>5. Buy Discount Pharmaceuticals</h2> <p>Large retailers are increasingly offering discounted pharmaceuticals. <a href=""></a> compares prescription prices to help you find the lowest costs in your area. Both Target and Walmart have a large list of generics that are priced at $4 for a month's supply. <a href="">Shop Rite</a> also offers a discount generics program as well as free short-term supplies of prenatal vitamins and diabetes medication.</p> <h2>6. Throw a Potluck Party (Instead of Going Out)</h2> <p>Going out to eat is expensive. Why not have your friends over, instead? If everyone brings a dish or drink, you can all eat like royalty for the night &mdash; for next to nothing.</p> <h2>7. Learn to Sew</h2> <p>Taking your duds to the tailor for button and rip repairs can add up, not to mention the price of scrapping the item altogether and buying new. Why not learn to sew and make minor repairs on your own at the fraction of the price?</p> <h2>8. Ask Your Credit Card Company for a Rate Reduction</h2> <p>If you carry a <a href="">credit card balance</a>, any reduction in rate can help shave a couple of dollars off your costs. Before you call, be prepared with any offers you've received from competitors and come to the phone with a script, <a href="">like this one</a>. If you have a $5,000 balance, a 5% rate reduction could save you $250 over the course of a year.</p> <h2>9. Consign Clothes You Don't Wear Anymore</h2> <p>Clearing clutter not only saves space and time, but it can also pad your savings account, if you send your castoffs to your local consignment shop. Most consignors offer you a percentage of what the items sells for, keeping the remainder for themselves to pay for overhead and as profit. If you're not wearing the duds anymore, it can pay (literally) to clean house.</p> <h2>10. Learn to Cook</h2> <p>A recent study found that <a href="">it costs $12.28 per person to dine out</a>, on average. If you live in a major city or have champagne tastes (like me), it can cost substantially more. Cut your dining costs by at least half by cooking more of your meals at home.</p> <h2>11. Cook Meals in Batches</h2> <p>Save time and money by doubling or tripling recipes when you cook. It takes just as much effort to cook one meal but you'll end up with two or three nights worth of dinners (saving you time as well!) plus you can save cash by buying groceries in bulk. (See also: <a href="">Save Time and Money With a Bulk Cooking Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>12. Open Your Windows</h2> <p>Cooling costs add up in the summer. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, open up the windows. You'll save money and air out the house at the same time.</p> <h2>13. Turn Off the Lights</h2> <p>Don't let your electric bills get out of control. Listen to what dad always said and turn off lights when you leave a room.</p> <h2>14. Unplug Unused Appliances and Gadgets</h2> <p>Even if they're not in use, they're still draining electricity, so long as the plug is in the socket.</p> <h2>15. Borrow Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks From Your Local Library</h2> <p>Voracious readers know that book costs can add up quickly. Save yourself some dough and borrow from your local library instead. Most libraries have added e- and audio books to their catalogs, so you can borrow in your favorite format.</p> <h2>16. Declutter</h2> <p>Decluttering your home helps you find the things you already own &mdash; so you're less likely to make the mistake of buying items in duplicate or triplicate (of which I am guilty!). Bonus: You'll also save time because you'll know where everything is. (See also: <a href="">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <h2>17. Use LED lightbulbs</h2> <p>A household can <a href="">save over $6,000</a> by switching their home lighting from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. The bulbs cost substantially more up front, but they're extremely energy efficient. They can last between 11 and 17 years, even if used up to 12 hours a day. Over time, the higher up-front cost of the bulbs will pay you back in substantially lower energy and replacement costs.</p> <h2>18. Cancel Unused Subscriptions</h2> <p>Unread magazine subscriptions needlessly clutter your space and drain your wallet. If you're not reading the issues, let the subscription go.</p> <h2>19. Cancel Unused Memberships</h2> <p>It's easy to let memberships services like those to Netflix and your local gym run, even if you're not using them. Check out where you're being billed monthly for a service you don't utilize and get canceling.</p> <h2>20. Buy Used</h2> <p>Consignment stores are good for more than just selling. You can often buy high end brands at a fraction of the price at your local consignment shop, eBay, or from sporting goods resale shops. Great finds can also be found at yard sales and estate sales.</p> <h2>21. Set Up a Babysitting Co-Op With Friends</h2> <p>Long gone are the days when a local teen would watch your kids for $3 an hour. Today's babysitters charge anywhere between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on where in the country you live and how many kids you have. Instead of breaking the bank to get some much needed quality time with your partner, set up a babysitting co-op with other local parents.</p> <h2>22. Brown Bag Your Lunch</h2> <p>One <a href="">online calculator</a> estimates a New Yorker can save $31,200 over 10 years by packing a lunch instead of going out. Even workers in less pricy cities can see substantial savings from a homemade lunch. (See also: <a href="">25 Quick, Cheap Lunch Ideas</a>)</p> <h2>23. Perform Routine Maintenance on Your Car</h2> <p>Your car's regular service isn't the place to scrimp. Changing your car's oil and filter every 3,000 &ndash; 10,000 miles (depending on what your owner's manual recommends) is the best way to avoid engine failure, which can add up to thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs. That's just for starters. To avoid costly repairs, follow your auto manual's recommendations for air filter changes, tire rotations, brake checks and more.</p> <h2>24. Wear More Traditionally Styled Clothes</h2> <p>Following fashion trends can be expensive, particularly for women. Traditional or conservative style choices go out of fashion less often, meaning you can update your wardrobe less frequently.</p> <h2>25. Plant a Vegetable Garden</h2> <p>According to one blogger, the Burpee Seed Co. estimates a <a href="">$1250 produce yield</a> for every $50 a family spends on seeds and fertilizer.</p> <h2>26. Check Out Free or Cheap Community Events</h2> <p>Most communities offer free or inexpensive community events <a href="">like these</a>, found in New York City. Check out your local chamber of commerce or township website for what's available near you. Most often you can stay entertained without spending a dime.</p> <h2>27. Ditch Your Car</h2> <p>According to AAA, the <a href="">average annual cost of owning a car</a> is $8,876 per year. If you live in a walkable area or in a city with a good transportation system, you could easily forego that cost.</p> <h2>28. Pack Your Own Vacation Snacks</h2> <p>Most major theme parks will let you carry your own snacks through the gate and the savings can really add up. A snack-sized serving of <a href="about:blank">grapes costs $3.69</a> in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom while you can buy an entire bag at the grocery store for about the same amount. Pack a backpack on your next day trip and you can shave beaucoup bucks off your final day's tab.</p> <h2>29. Pack Snacks and Coffee for Your Car Trip</h2> <p>We all want to break up a long drive with a stop at Starbucks. In my area, a tall frappuccino costs over $4. Add in another for my spouse and some snacks for the kids and a little diversion can add up to over $20. Instead, bring some brew from home and pack kiddie snacks in a couple of ziplock bags.</p> <h2>30. Negotiate Fees With Service Providers</h2> <p>Everything is negotiable, so&hellip; negotiate!</p> <h2>31. Use Coupons</h2> <p>If you don't like the coupon clutter, check one of the latest coupon apps like <a href="">RetailMeNot</a> or <a href="">Favado</a>.</p> <h2>32. Vacation Within Driving Distance</h2> <p>Airfare rose 2% in 2013 and flyers coughed up <a href="">$3.4 billion in fees</a> last year. Bring down the cost of your vacation by going Griswold style and packing up the station wagon (or minivan).</p> <h2>33. Exercise at Home</h2> <p>According to one source, the <a href="">average cost of a gym membership</a> is $55 per month. Instead, check out these exercises that will give you a <a href="">gym-quality workout for free</a>.</p> <h2>34. Pay Off Your Debts</h2> <p>The average household owes in $7,221 in credit card debt at an average fixed rate<a href=""> APR of 13.02%</a>. All that interest adds up to money that's needlessly being paid out to credit card companies. Stop the cycle, pay in cash, and stash those payments in your own account. (See also: <a href="">How to Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</a>)</p> <h2>35. Save Your Loose Change</h2> <p>Put it in a jar at the end of each day and watch the pennies add up.</p> <h2>36. Quit Smoking</h2> <p>A <a href="">pack of cigarettes costs $5.51</a>, on average, and THEY KILL YOU.</p> <h2>37. Brew Your Own Coffee</h2> <p>One blogger estimates the cost of a cup of<a href=""> home brew at 16 cents per cup</a>. Compare that to your local coffee shop.</p> <h2>38. Use Fee-Free ATMs</h2> <p>Find one <a href="">here</a>.</p> <h2>39. Pay Extra Toward Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Calculate your<a href=""> potential annual savings</a> here.</p> <h2>40. Weatherproof Your Home</h2> <p>You'll save on energy and replacement costs by insulating pipes, installing storm doors and windows, and caulking cracks.</p> <h2>41. Buy Clothing on Sale</h2> <p>Retailers want to make room for new merchandise at the end of a season and usually slash prices to a fraction of what you'll find at high season. Take advantage of the savings by buying off season and preparing for the following year.</p> <h2>42. Buy Consigned Clothing Online</h2> <p>Consignment stores aren't just for selling your cast offs. Check your local options or check out some of the newer online consignors like <a href="">Twice</a>, <a href="">ThredUP</a>, or <a href="">Greene Street Consignment</a>.</p> <h2>43. Buy High Quality Clothing</h2> <p>Don't like to buy used? Invest in higher quality duds that will stand up to wear and tear over the years. The upfront cost may be higher but over time you'll be shopping far less often.</p> <h2>44. Learn to Iron</h2> <p>The average two-piece dress costs $12.47 to dry clean. Iron your pieces at home and you can stretch the time between dry cleanings.</p> <h2>45. Set Gift Price Limits</h2> <p>The <a href="">average cost of Christmas</a> for families in 2013 was $801. Birthdays and holidays don't have to be as expensive if you talk to your loved ones and set a price limit on gift giving. It's the thought that counts, anyway. Right?</p> <h2>46. Buy a Smaller Home</h2> <p>Because lower utility bills, lower maintenance costs, less to clean, less to furnish, and lower tax bills. Need I say more?</p> <h2>47. Live Close to Work</h2> <p>One blogger estimates <a href="">you can buy a house priced $15,900 more for each mile you live closer to work</a>.</p> <h2>48. Move to a Cheaper City</h2> <p>According to <a href="">one online calculator</a>, it costs half as much to live in Chapel Hill, NC as it does to live in New York City. Make your own comparisons.</p> <h2>49. Get a Roommate</h2> <p>Half the rent, half the utilities.</p> <h2>50. Pay Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>Chronic late credit card payers can <a href="">face a fee of $35 per month</a>, in some instances. That's an added expense with no included benefit. (See also: <a href="">How to Get Rid of and Avoid Late Fees</a>)</p> <h2>51. Downsize to One Car</h2> <p>Save on the added insurance and maintenance costs of the extra set of wheels.</p> <h2>52. Downsize to a Smaller Car</h2> <p>A sedan has a lower sticker price and also guzzles less gas than an SUV.</p> <h2>53. Skip the Credit Card With the Annual Fee</h2> <p>There are plenty of <a href="">reward cards</a> available that don't tack on an unnecessary annual fee.</p> <h2>54. Cancel Your Landline</h2> <p><a href="">91% of Americans carry a cell phone</a> so there's little reason to maintain the expense of an additional land line.</p> <h2>55. Send Your Kid to a Cheaper College</h2> <p>In his latest book <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0316204366&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=V7QLJKDKF4IT5UMS">David and Goliath</a>, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the academically gifted will rise to the top at a lower-tier school and that there are many esteem-boosting advantages to this education strategy. You and your kid can also save a whole heck of a lot of money in the process.</p> <h2>56. Keep Driving Your Beater</h2> <p>A paid off car has one major advantage over a new car: It's paid off. Think twice before you upgrade to a newer model with a hefty monthly price tag.</p> <h2>57. Create a Personal Waiting Period</h2> <p>One study found that <a href="">North Americans spend more than $4 billion per year in impulse buys</a>. Create a cooling off period for yourself and go home to think about a purchase, before you make it. You'll be surprised by how much you'll save.</p> <h2>58. Use Cloth Diapers</h2> <p>For new parents who can stomach the added responsibility, <a href="">cloth diapering can save a family several thousand dollars</a> by the time baby turns two and a half.</p> <h2>59. Skip Your Supermarket's Pre-cut Fruits and Vegetables</h2> <p>The markup is high and they expire faster. Cut your own and save.</p> <h2>60. Buy Generic Groceries</h2> <p>Generic groceries usually taste just as good as their more expensive brand-name counterparts. They're also cheaper.</p> <h2>61. Eat Homemade Soup</h2> <p>Invest in a $20 crock pot and throw all your leftovers in the pot. Dinner is made when you get home from work, it was cheap, and it's good for you. Triple win. (See also: <a href="">Thursday Night Soup: Delicious Soup From Leftovers</a>)</p> <h2>62. Make Your Own Bread</h2> <p><a href="">Baking bread</a> is easier than you think. A homemade loaf also costs a small fraction of a store-bought loaf.</p> <h2>63. Freecycle Your Castoffs</h2> <p>Declutter your life by taking advantage of your local <a href="">freecycle community</a>. You can also find a few new things for yourself, at zero added cost.</p> <h2>64. Mow Your Own Lawn</h2> <p>The <a href="">cost to hire a service</a> to mow your lawn averages between $0.06 and $0.31 per square foot. Mow your own and you can save a bundle over time.</p> <h2>65. Go to the Matinee</h2> <p>From the movie house to Broadway theater, matinee showings are substantially cheaper. If you're paying for a few friends or family members, the cost can be cut dramatically by watching a show in the afternoon instead of evening.</p> <h2>66. Make Frugal Friends</h2> <p>Frugal friends can help you keep your savings goals on track, inspire you with new ideas, and won't encourage you to break the bank on the newest trends.</p> <h2>67. Have Your Shoes Repaired</h2> <p>Repairing quality footwear is usually more cost effective than buying cheaper shoes more frequently. A quality pair of men's dress shoes can last for 10 years or more, particularly if they're resoled or re-crafted. A good cobbler can extend the life of your shoes for decades.</p> <h2>68. Buy Cheaper Wine</h2> <p>The research shows that <a href="">we really can't tell the difference</a> between an expensive bottle of French wine and a cheaper bottle of domestic swill. Save yourself the bucks and buy cheap. If you're serving guests and want to look upscale, invest in a decanter, just for show.</p> <h2>69. Shop Consignment Sales for Kids Clothes and Toys</h2> <p>There are consignment sales throughout the country where parents sell their castoff toys and clothes for a fraction of the cost of buying new. <a href="">Find one near you</a> and save big.</p> <h2>70. Dress for the Weather</h2> <p>Before you crank up the heat, grab a cardigan to stay warm. Offset the cost of high fuel costs with appropriate winter gear in the house. Sweaters, fingerless gloves, and fleece pants help keep you warm in cold weather.</p> <h2>71. Vacation in the Off Season</h2> <p>A September beach vacation can cost half of what it costs in July or August. (See also: <a href="">Top Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>72. Vacation Via a Houseshare Program</h2> <p>Services like Airbnb give you the opportunity to find unique vacation accommodations while you save a few bucks. You can also earn some cash by renting out your own place while you're out of town.</p> <h2>73. Drink at Home</h2> <p>Skip the expensive bar and have your nightcap at home with friends.</p> <p><em>Do you have an easy money-saver that isn't on the list? Share it below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Alaina Tweddale</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance budgeting credit cards debt saving spending Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1209317 at