Emily Guy Birken's blog

A Brief History of Credit Card Marketing Tactics

Credit card companies have been trying to part us from our money for years — and their techniques are only getting more sophisticated.

The Presenter’s Paradox: Why Less Really Is More

Whether you're getting something for free from a company or giving your significant other a gift, discover how our minds assign less value to more stuff.

Mental Accounting: Why You Blow Your Tax Refund but Not Your Raise

Learn why we treat some money differently from other money — and how to get a better overall grip on your finances.

Why Superstition Makes You Buy Insurance

Our illogical brains lead us to buy insurance when we need it the least and forget about it when we need it the most. Here's how to change the cycle.

The Paradox of Choice and the Mortgage Crisis

We often think that having more choices is better. But in reality, having more options might cause us to make bad decisions — like getting risky mortgages.

How Credit Card Companies Prey on Your Basic Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs helps explain why humans react the way they do. And for credit card companies, it helps explain how to get more of your money.

How Retailers Manipulate You Into Spending

Whether you're at the mall or online, retailers have plenty of tricks to help separate you from your cash. Learn what they are so you can shop smarter.

How to Trick Yourself Into Better Credit Card Behavior

By making a few key moves before you shop, you can easily trick your brain into better credit card use. Here's how.

How Your Credit Card Statement Is Keeping You in Debt

Your credit card company uses all sorts of sneaky statement tricks to keep you in debt. Learn what to look out for.

How to Escape Reward Card Spending Traps

Even savvy shoppers can get sucked into credit card traps. Get the benefits of a rewards card and avoid the pitfalls by developing these habits.

Weight Watchers for Your Wallet

There are a lot of parallels between losing weight and saving money — in fact, some of the best financial advice comes from dieting.

How Traditional Banking Practices Can Make You Poor

Traditional banking practices benefit the banks, not the customer. Discover how, if you're not careful, banks can hurt your finances.

Why We Take on Credit Card Debt

Why some of us take on so much debt — and how others manage to avoid it so well — can seem mysterious. Discover some of the reasons.

The Power of the Customer in Banking

When big banks make big changes we don't like, it's easy to feel helpless. But the truth is that raising your voice can make a real difference.

Arguing Over Money Drives Your Kids to Credit Card Debt

Discover how your relationship with money can affect your kids' relationship with money — and how to make positive changes for you and them.

Why People Go Crazy on Black Friday

From buying unplanned items to straight-up attacking other customers, people can go a little wild on Black Friday. Discover the reasons why.

How Rewards Cards Make Money

If you think you're gaming your credit card company, think again — you might be one of its biggest money makers. Learn how to avoid the trap.

Open Secrets: Surprising Things Your Spending Reveals

Credit card companies, banks, retailers, and insurers may know more about who you are than your parents do. A lot more.

Why We Spend More When We Pay With Credit Cards

It's true — people spend more with credit cards than cash. Learn the psychological reasons why we tend to pay more when we use plastic.

4 Ways Credit Cards Manipulate You Into More Debt

We humans aren't always rational. Learn four psychological tricks credit card companies use to capitalize on your irrationality and maximize your debt.