bills http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1800/all en-US How to Fix Your Finances After Missing a Payment http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/portrait_of_an_attractive_woman_at_table_grabbing_her_head.jpg" alt="Portrait of an attractive woman at table grabbing her head" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No matter how much you plan ahead with your finances, sometimes you'll mess up a payment. Whether you miss a due date or bounce a check, take a deep breath. It's not as bad as you think.</p> <p>Let's review what you can expect to happen, how to fix the problem, and how you can make sure this doesn't happen again.</p> <h2>Missing a credit card payment</h2> <p>According to research from the Urban Institute, one in every 20 Americans is at least 30 days behind on a credit card payment or other nonmortgage type of debt. But you don't have to be that late to suffer consequences. Simply forgetting about a due date by a few days can land you in trouble.</p> <h3>What you can expect</h3> <p>Miss a credit card payment by as little as one day and you can be hit with a penalty fee. Late fees are capped by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at $27 for the first time you miss a due date; $38 for subsequent late payments within a six-month period. Those caps are adjusted for inflation every year.</p> <p>But fees aren't the only penalty for late credit card payments. Most credit card issuers will also hike up your APR, typically to between 20 percent and 35 percent. The Credit Card Act of 2009 requires the issuer to send you a notice saying why it is increasing your rate 45 days in advance of the rate hike, and the issuer can only apply the penalty rate to purchases made 14 days after the notice was sent. However, if you don't make at least the minimum payment within 60 days of the due date, the penalty APR can be applied to your <em>existing</em> balance as well as any future transactions. There is a chance to reverse that, though, if you make the next six payments on time.</p> <p>One silver lining exists for late payers: If your payment is less than 30 days past due, it will not be reported late to the credit bureaus.</p> <h3>How to fix it</h3> <p>If you make at least your minimum payment within 48 hours past the due date, your credit card company may credit you back any late payment fees.</p> <p>Many credit card companies offer a 24-hour or after-hours customer service line to accept late payments, but you will most likely need the routing and account numbers of your bank account to make the payment immediately. If that's not an option, then make the payment through the credit card's website. A last resort is to use the mailing address for courier deliveries provided on your credit card statement, if available, and overnight a check to the card issuer.</p> <p>Once you make your payment, request your credit card company waive or credit back your late payment fee and keep your standard APR (don't forget about that second item!). If approved, most credits may take up to two business days to be reflected in your balance.</p> <h3>How to prevent it</h3> <p>Your best bet is to set up automatic, recurring payments by no later than the bill's monthly due date. You can do this through your online banking platform, but payments made that way can take longer and are not as flexible as payments made through the credit card website. When you set up autopay with the card issuer, you can choose whether you want to pay the balance in full every month, make the minimum payment, or pay some other amount.</p> <p>If your current due date is causing you problems, call your credit card company and request a new date that's a better match with the timing of your incoming cash flow. Just be aware that this change can take two to three business cycles to take effect. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <h2>Missing a utility payment</h2> <p>Forgetting to pay the electric, gas, or water bill can threaten your service and may even harm your credit score.</p> <h3>What you can expect</h3> <p>Utility companies don't typically report payments directly to the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). But there's a wrinkle: If the companies send unpaid bills to collection agencies, then those agencies will <em>definitely</em> report the debts to the credit bureaus. How badly a debt in collections will hurt your credit score depends on how high your credit score is when the collections agency reports it. If you have a higher credit score, you'll lose more points.</p> <p>Most utility companies won't turn off your service for one late payment within 30 days, but they may do so after several missed payments. Consult your service agreement for applicable late payment fines. Before a utility company can shut down your service, it must have attempted to reach you and provided a final termination notice several days (or even weeks, in some states) in advance.</p> <h3>How to fix it</h3> <p>Don't ignore the bill. Pay it in full right away, or at least ask if your service provider will agree to a payment plan. As long as you're making agreed minimum payments, you'll continue to have access to the service and prevent the company from turning your debt over to a collector. Utility companies are usually willing to work with you to arrive at a solution. Taking initiative will prevent further headaches (and fees!) and keep the utility company from demanding a security deposit from you to continue service.</p> <h3>How to prevent it</h3> <p>Set up a recurring, automatic payment either directly with your utility company or through your financial institution. It's best to pay with a bank account rather than a credit card because many utility companies charge a convenience fee for processing credit cards, if they allow it at all.</p> <p>When using your bank's bill payment service, check the processing time for payments. Some institutions mail out physical checks to your payees, so you may have to account for mailing times.</p> <p>Don't have access to either option? Then consider a third-party bill payment service, such as <a href="http://www.mint.com" target="_blank">Mint</a>, <a href="http://paytrust.quicken.com" target="_blank">PayTrust</a>, or <a href="http://www.billgo.com/" target="_blank">BillGO</a>.</p> <p>Last but not least, consider finding ways to limit your water and electricity use to give your budget some breathing room. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill?ref=seealso" target="_blank">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a>)</p> <h2>Bouncing a check</h2> <p>You wrote a check thinking you could cover it because a deposit you'd been waiting on had finally cleared your bank account, but it didn't. Now, your bank has sent you a notice that your check bounced.</p> <h3>What you can expect</h3> <p>First, let's talk about the actual payment: Your payee may or may not receive the money. Some banks won't process the payment at all. Other banks may ding your payee with an annoying fee. If the recipient of the check is a friend or family member, you may just get an earful. If it's a company or service provider, then you may have to pay them a fee.</p> <p>On top of that, your bank will charge you a fee. Depending on your type of account, you can expect one of these fees to kick in:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Overdraft fee: When your checking account comes with overdraft privilege, the charge is covered and your bank charges you an overdraft fee (average $32.13 in Q4 2016).</p> </li> <li> <p>Insufficient funds fee: When your checking account lacks overdraft protection, your check won't clear and your bank charges you an insufficient (or nonsufficient) funds fee (average $31.86 in Q4 2016).</p> </li> </ul> <h3>How to fix it</h3> <p>As soon as you notice the problem, make a deposit into your account to cover the amount of the bounced check and the applicable fee. If you have money in another account with the same bank, the fastest way to do this is by logging on to your bank's website or app and doing a transfer. If you don't have another account with the same bank, then head to your bank to make a cash deposit (a check deposit will take longer to clear).</p> <p>After making the deposit, contact your financial institution to request a one-time waiver of the overdraft or insufficient funds fee. Most banks are willing to credit back one of these charges to clients in good standing. Keep in mind, however, that they're under no obligation to do so.</p> <h3>How to prevent it</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Know the processing time for different types of deposits coming into your bank account. For example, some mobile check deposits can take up to three business days before they clear and the funds are available in your account.</p> </li> <li> <p>Keep track of your checks. Some checks, such as tax payment checks, are usually cashed after several days or even weeks. Forgetting about these may give you the illusion that you have a higher account balance than the one you actually have.</p> </li> <li> <p>Set up an emergency fund in a separate account with the same bank. That way you'll be able to tap into that account to cover that bad check right away.</p> </li> <li> <p>Sign up for mobile banking. This enables you to check and make transactions without stepping foot in a brick-and-mortar branch.</p> </li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score">How a Goodwill Letter Can Save Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills bounced checks collections credit report fees late payments missed payments past due penalties Tue, 30 May 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1955480 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Too Many Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit Score? http://www.wisebread.com/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/business_woman_with_credit_cards.jpg" alt="Business woman with credit cards" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're checking out at your favorite department store when the cashier asks if you'd like to apply for the store's credit card. Doing so will save you 10 percent on your purchase. Should you fill out the application? Or will having too many credit cards in your wallet ding your three-digit FICO credit score?</p> <p>According to myFICO.com, there is no &quot;golden number&quot; of credit cards that will hurt or help your credit score. What matters most is how you use those cards &mdash; namely, paying your bills on time. Still, there are a few important things to remember when you have multiple credit cards.</p> <h2>Inquiries ding your credit score</h2> <p>Whenever you apply for a new credit card, your FICO score will fall slightly. The creditor behind the plastic will order a copy of your credit report from one of the three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. This inquiry will then show up on your credit reports.</p> <p>An inquiry will temporarily drop your credit score because whenever you apply for new credit, there is a risk that you will borrow more money than you can afford to pay back. How much your score will drop varies, but myFICO says that for most people, a single inquiry will result in a drop of five points or less.</p> <p>The drop in your score might be steeper, however, if you apply for several credit cards in a short period of time. There's a statistical reason for this: myFICO says that people who have six or more hard inquiries on their credit reports &mdash; inquiries made by a lender with whom you've applied for credit &mdash; are up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than consumers who have no inquiries. Hard inquiries remain on your credit reports for 24 months before falling off.</p> <p>The smart move is to apply for new credit if you need it and plan to use it. Don't apply for new credit cards just to get a store discount you'll use a few times.</p> <h2>Use your cards wisely</h2> <p>What's more important than the number of cards you have is how you use them. Paying your credit card bill late will send your FICO score tumbling, usually by 100 points or more. Your creditor will report a payment as officially late to the three credit bureaus if you're more than 30 days past due. That shouldn't be an excuse to regularly miss your due date (especially because most cards will charge you a late fee if you're even one day late), but it does mean you don't need to panic if you're only a few days behind.</p> <p>Making credit card payments on time is one of the surest ways to boost your credit score. Use your credit cards sensibly throughout the month, and whenever possible, pay the balance in full by the due date. That way, you won't have to pay interest. If you can't pay off the entire balance, at least pay more than the minimum. You'll still pay interest, but it'll be much less than if you only made the minimum monthly payments.</p> <h2>Keep unused credit cards open</h2> <p>You might think that closing a credit card account you never use will help your credit score. It won't. Actually, it can cause your score to fall.</p> <p>It all comes down to your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a>. This measures how much available credit you are using by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit card limits. For example, if you have $12,000 of available credit and a balance of $3,000, your credit utilization ratio is 25 percent. Credit utilization accounts for approximately 30 percent of your credit score, and many experts agree that the ratio should not exceed 30 percent. The lower, the better.</p> <p>Using more than 30 percent of your available credit will hurt your credit score. By closing a card, you're removing that line of available credit &mdash; therefore increasing your credit utilization ratio.</p> <p>Say you have $30,000 of available credit and you owe $10,000 on your cards. If you close a credit card with a $10,000 credit limit, you'll lower your total available credit to $20,000. That will bump your credit utilization ratio from 33 percent to 50 percent. That doesn't look good on your credit reports.</p> <p>Don't close a credit card just because you think you have too many cards. Even if you never use it, you might inadvertently hurt your credit score.</p> <h2>Older credit is better for your score</h2> <p>When it comes to credit cards, the longer you've had them, the better. The length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your FICO score. The older your credit history &mdash; paired with a history of making on-time payments &mdash; the better your credit score will be.</p> <p>If you apply for several new credit cards at once, you'll lower the overall average age of your credit accounts. That could have a slight downward pull on your credit score.</p> <p>Again, though, what matters most is not how many cards you have, but whether you pay them on time each month. Don't overanalyze the number of cards you are carrying. Instead, concentrate on never missing a payment.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most">The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Your Bad Credit Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit">5 Steps to Getting Excellent Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance age of credit bills credit reports credit score credit utilization ratio monthly payments payment history too many credit cards Mon, 29 May 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1954617 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Biggest Ways Procrastination Hurts Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/7-biggest-ways-procrastination-hurts-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-biggest-ways-procrastination-hurts-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-621987808.jpg" alt="Woman learning biggest ways procrastination hurts her finances" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Remember those days in college when you'd put off studying until the night before a big exam? You'd stay up all night, desperately trying to cram everything in at the last minute. If only you'd taken the time earlier, you'd have walked into your test rested, calm, and most importantly, prepared.</p> <p>Those bad habits can cost you a lot more in real life if you carry them into the way you handle money. Here are seven situations when procrastination really hurts your bottom line.</p> <h2>1. Investing: Your money has less time to grow</h2> <p>It's one of the basic rules of smart investing: Invest as early as you can and for as long as you can. Some of the most successful investors are those who had relatively modest incomes, but started investing young and stayed in the markets for decades. Compounding interest worked in their favor, and they enjoyed a sizable nest egg later in life. Even a delay of five to 10 years can make a significant difference in how much money you have by retirement. Quite simply, the more you procrastinate, the less money you'll have.</p> <h2>2. Saving: You continue to spend more than you earn</h2> <p>You're aware that you're spending more money than you're bringing in, but you tell yourself that you'll start cutting back after the holidays. The holidays come and go, so then you tell yourself you'll start saving after your big spring break trip. After spring break, you promise you'll start after your cousin's wedding in July. There's always some reason to put off saving, but the best time to start tightening your belt is right away. Devising an arbitrary future start date for financial prudence only means you're spending money you shouldn't in the interim.</p> <h2>3. Debt payoff: Your balances balloon</h2> <p>That credit card bill keeps getting bigger, and it comes on top of your student loans and car payments. You're getting crushed by debt, but it's so overwhelming you can't bring yourself to come up with a plan to tackle it. Every moment you wait to address your debt problem is a moment that allows that debt to grow. Devise a repayment strategy now, before your debt ruins you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. Taxes: You might make a costly mistake</h2> <p>Tax Day seems so far away, but before you know it, it's the middle of April and you haven't even gotten started. You may think your taxes are simple, but rushing through the process increases your chances of forgetting income, missing out on deductions, or making a silly error.</p> <p>No one says you have to file your taxes immediately at the beginning of the year, but at least give yourself a few weeks to file your return carefully. A rush job could mean you pay too much, or you may end up with penalties due to mistakes.</p> <h2>5. Bills: You miss payment deadlines</h2> <p>There are consequences to paying bills late, usually in the form of fees and interest charges. If you're the type of person who doesn't even open a bill until it's nearly due, you're putting yourself at risk of extra expenses.</p> <p>Late fees and interest aren't merely one-time charges. Miss your payments by enough days and it can hurt your credit score, impacting your ability to borrow. It's best to pay bills right away when you get them &mdash; or put them on autopay &mdash; so they don't threaten your finances further. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <h2>6. Job applications: You don't get that better-paying position</h2> <p>You found a job that you think you'll like, and it pays considerably more than your current one. But instead of applying right away, you wait. And wait. And wait. Before you know it, the position is filled. This is a total wasted opportunity.</p> <p>Yes, applying for a job, reworking your resume, writing cover letters, and going through interviews are all tedious and time-consuming. But when you're stuck sitting at your current gig, underpaid and unhappy, you'll really be kicking yourself for not putting in the work to get yourself unstuck.</p> <h2>7. Raises and promotions: You miss out for another year</h2> <p>It's hard to know the precise time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-should-demand-a-raise" target="_blank">ask for a promotion or a raise</a>. Often, we wait until annual review season, but by then, personnel decisions may already have been made. The best thing is to approach the subject sooner rather than later. Your boss may not be in a position to respond right away, but you've planted the seed so they know your wishes.</p> <p>Besides, simply asking for a raise or promotion may force your employer to look more closely at your work, and hopefully recognize what you bring to the table each day. If you wait too long to ask, you may have to wait for an entire budget cycle to get another shot.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-biggest-ways-procrastination-hurts-your-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-emotions-costing-you-money-take-this-quiz">Are Your Emotions Costing You Money? Take This Quiz</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-a-promotion">8 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Get a Promotion</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-biggest-lies-we-tell-ourselves-about-money">The 10 Biggest Lies We Tell Ourselves About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance asking for raise bills debt investing jobs last minute procrastination promotions saving taxes Tue, 23 May 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1949205 at http://www.wisebread.com We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt? http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-514332608.jpg" alt="Couple wondering if they should save for retirement or pay off debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? If you're carrying a card balance, you may be wrestling with whether to put all your resources into attacking the debt, or start building your retirement nest egg while you slowly pay off debt.</p> <p>Which one will give you a better net worth? There's no simple answer. For some people the situation may warrant clearing credit card debt first; for others, it's better to start investing right away. To figure out which scenario is better in a given situation, we'll need to do some math. Don't worry, we'll show you how to do it in a few easy steps.</p> <h2>Step 1: Gather important numbers about your debt and your retirement plan</h2> <p>First, look through your credit card statements and accompanying information to pull up the following numbers:</p> <ul> <li>Credit card debt. You'll find this on the front of your credit card statement.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit card interest rate, or APR (Annual Percentage Rate). You'll find this further down on your statement, in a section labeled &quot;Interest Charged&quot; or something similar.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment. You'll find this in your card's terms and conditions, under a discussion about how minimum payments are calculated. It will probably be a percentage, but there may also be a flat sum.</li> </ul> <p>Next, consider any retirement plan you are enrolled in or have available. What is the average annual return? You can identify past returns by reviewing your retirement account statements. For example, your 401(k) plan account may list your annual return. Note that past returns don't guarantee or predict future returns, but we'll use the average annual return as a proxy for future returns in this case, knowing that if our portfolio takes a long-term downward turn, our calculations will change.</p> <p>Finally, how much extra do you have in your monthly budget that you could put toward credit card payments, retirement investments, or both?</p> <p>Follow along as we consider a hypothetical debt situation and retirement opportunity. Let's say there's $500 in our monthly budget, which equals $6,000 annually ($500 x 12 months = $6,000) to put toward debt or retirement.</p> <p>Currently, the balance on our credit card is $5,000. Our APR is 22%. Our minimum monthly payment is 3% of our outstanding balance or $25, whichever is greater.</p> <p>Our employer offers a 401(k) plan. For the sake of keeping this illustration simple, we'll say our employer doesn't match employee contributions and we choose to make taxable contributions with a Roth designated account within the 401(k).</p> <p>In reality, you might choose instead to make tax-deductible contributions to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-an-ira-to-build-wealth?ref=internal" target="_blank">traditional retirement account</a>. With a Roth 401(k) there are no immediate tax benefits, which makes our calculations simpler and therefore better suited for this purpose.</p> <p>We'll say the default investment in our 401(k) is a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-best-investments-for-lazy-investors?ref=internal" target="_blank">target-date mutual fund</a> with an average annual return of 6.3% since its inception. We know that future performance is unpredictable. But to run the numbers for the retirement vs. debt decision, we'll apply an annual return of 6% to our retirement account.</p> <p>We'll look at the retirement account and credit card balance after five years to compare the two choices: 1) making minimum payments on our card balance so we can start investing right away, or 2) putting all our extra money toward our credit card debt before we consider retirement investing.</p> <p>In both scenarios, we'll assume that we won't make additional charges on our credit card. In addition, we'll contribute to our retirement account when we have money available to invest.</p> <h2>Step 2: Calculate net worth if you prioritize retirement savings over paying off credit card debt quickly</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll see what happens if we only make minimum payments on our credit card so that we can get started investing for retirement right away. Your credit card statement should state very clearly how long it will take to pay off your balance if you make minimum payments.</p> <p>You can also find an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card" target="_blank">online calculator</a> to help you with these calculations. Here's the information we'll enter for our example (you can put in your own numbers from your real-life situation):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 3%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $25<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>Results indicate that we'll carry this debt for more than 17 years (205 months) and pay more than $7,000 in interest during this time. Click the button that says &quot;Detailed Results&quot; to see a breakdown of the payments. Make sure that under the Assumptions tab, you've asked for a monthly table display.</p> <p>In the first month, our payment is $150 and this amount slowly diminishes until we're paying the minimum amount of $25 for the last several years.</p> <p>Since we're making minimum payments on the credit card, we'll be able to put $350 of our total available $500 toward retirement in the first month ($500 - $150 = $350). The second month and subsequent months, we'll be able to increase the amount we invest, as our credit card balance dwindles. Every month we also earn some interest (6%/12 months), so our retirement account balance grows in that way, too.</p> <p>After five years (60 months), our credit card balance will be trimmed to less than $2,500.</p> <p>At the end of five years, our retirement account grows to just over $27,300. Considering our debt and retirement balances, our net worth is $24,800 ($27,300 in assets and $2,500 in liabilities). Note that investment returns are not guaranteed; the 6% rate is for illustration purposes only.</p> <p>You can&nbsp;<a href="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/Rains_We Do The Math Spreadsheet - Sheet1.pdf" target="_blank">download the spreadsheet</a> with these calculations.</p> <h2>Step 3: Calculate net worth if you pay off credit card debt completely before investing for retirement</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll apply all of our extra income to credit card debt first. When the debt is paid in full, we'll begin to contribute to the retirement account.</p> <p>We enter this information to learn how quickly we'll pay off the debt with $500 per month (again, enter your own information to get personalized results):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 0%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $500<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>To keep the credit card payment at $500 per month (and pay off credit card debt first), we'll enter the minimum payment percentage as 0% and the minimum payment amount as $0 &mdash; even though the actual terms of the credit card agreement will most likely specify a percentage of 2% or more and a minimum payment of $10 or more. When we view the results, we find that the payoff happens in 12 months. We'll make 11 payments of $500 and one payment of $74.</p> <p>After we finish paying off the credit card debt, we can begin investing. We'll invest $426 in the twelfth month ($500&ndash;$74) and $500 in subsequent months. Consider using a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calculator.net/future-value-calculator.html" target="_blank">Future Value calculator</a>, to determine how much your retirement account will be worth at the end of five years.</p> <p>Here's the information we entered into the Future Value calculator:</p> <ul> <li>Number of periods: 48. (We'll invest for four years, or 48 months.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start amount: $426. (We'll start with the first month's contribution as the balance in our account.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Interest rate: 0.5% (6% annual rate divided by 12 months).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Periodic deposit: $500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Deposit made at the beginning or end of the period: End.</li> </ul> <p>If we earn 6% annually on our investments, our retirement account grows to $27,590 in five years. In addition, our credit card debt is paid off. Our net worth is $27,590 &mdash; that's $2,790 <em>more </em>than if we had prioritized retirement savings first and stuck with only paying the minimum on our credit card debt each month.</p> <h2>What else to consider</h2> <p>These calculations are a starting place. Your situation may be similar to this scenario, but it might not be. For instance, if your APR is considerably lower and your retirement returns higher than in the scenarios above, you may very well find that you're better off investing in the market while reducing your credit card debt slowly. Changes in one or several of these factors could alter results:</p> <ul> <li>Larger or smaller credit card balances;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Higher or lower credit card APRs;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Better or worse investment performance;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Availability of a company match on your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Administrative fees associated with your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Choosing to invest in a traditional 401(k).</li> </ul> <p>If you opt for a traditional 401(k), your contributions come out of your pretax income, thereby reducing your taxable income, which could result in a lower tax liability and a higher tax refund. A tax refund could be applied to your credit card balance, allowing you to more easily pay off debt while also saving for retirement.</p> <p>To calculate the immediate tax benefit of saving within a traditional 401(k) account, multiply the contribution amount by your marginal tax rate. In addition, you could be eligible for a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-savings-contributions-savers-credit" target="_blank">saver's credit</a>, which further increases the benefit of retirement savings.</p> <h2>How to get started with either scenario</h2> <p>Whatever path you choose, you may need help taking first steps. Consider these ways to get started:</p> <h3>Debt payoff</h3> <ul> <li>Consider transferring or consolidating your balances on a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% balance transfer card</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Consider a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=internal" target="_blank">no-spend week or month</a> in which you don't spend on anything except essentials.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Apply cash gifts from family to credit card balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work a part-time job to pay down balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find ways to spend less on everyday expenditures and apply savings to debt payoff.</li> </ul> <h3>Retirement saving</h3> <ul> <li>Consider enrolling in your employer's retirement plan, if offered. You may have the opportunity to contribute to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/403b-vs-401k-how-are-they-different?ref=internal" target="_blank">401(k) or 403(b) account</a>, for example.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-retirement-account-whats-available-and-what-s-best-for-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">IRA</a> with a brokerage account or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-trust-your-money-with-these-4-popular-financial-robo-advisers?ref=internal" target="_blank">robo-adviser</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sep-ira-is-how-the-self-employed-do-retirement-like-a-boss?ref=internal" target="_blank">SEP-IRA</a> if you have self-employment income.</li> </ul> <p>When considering your choices, keep in mind that credit card interest rates are relatively fixed, whereas investment returns tend to be much more variable. The main instances in which credit card rates fluctuate these days are when the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, or when you make late payments and are charged a penalty interest rate.</p> <p>The point is, if your card's APR is 22%, you could be certain to save at least 22% of your balance by paying off credit card interest early. In contrast, the precise benefit of early investing is less certain.</p> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? Doing the math can help you make a decision.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning">How to Face 4 Ugly Truths About Retirement Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/half-of-americans-are-wrong-about-their-retirement-savings">Half of Americans Are Wrong About Their Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Retirement 401(k) APR bills calculating comparisons interest rates nest egg Paying Off Debt Thu, 18 May 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Julie Rains 1949201 at http://www.wisebread.com Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-503389404.jpg" alt="Man paying certain bills when money is tight" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Is your money situation a little tight this month? It happens to the best of us. What if you don't have enough money this month to pay every bill by its due date? For the time being, you might need to prioritize your payments.</p> <p>This isn't the ideal solution. Far from it &mdash; paying any bill late could result in a late fee. But thanks to a bit of leeway when it comes to credit reporting, paying bills <em>just a bit late </em>might not hurt your all-important FICO credit score.</p> <p>This makes it a bit easier to determine which bills you absolutely <em>must</em> pay on time, and which bills you can more easily tackle after their due dates pass.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage</h2> <p>It's important to keep the roof over your head. And not paying your mortgage payment on time can send your credit score plummeting by 100 points or more. Credit scores are important: Lenders rely on them to determine if you qualify for a loan and at what interest rate.</p> <p>There is some leeway, though, with mortgage payments. First, lenders can't report your payment as late to the credit bureaus until you're at least 30 days past due. This means that paying your bill one, two, or three weeks late won't hurt your credit score.</p> <p>Second, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, lenders usually won't start the foreclosure process until three to six months after your first missed mortgage payment.</p> <p>Even though these safeguards are built in, you don't ever want to take the chance of losing your home. Make sure to pay your mortgage as soon as you can.</p> <h2>2. Rent</h2> <p>If you're renting an apartment, do everything you can to pay this bill on time. Your landlord can send you an eviction notice if you're just one day late with your rent payment. Now, actually evicting you will take time, and most landlords probably won't file a notice that quickly. But you don't want to give your landlord any excuse to start this process in motion.</p> <h2>3. Car payment</h2> <p>As with your mortgage, there is a grace period before your late car payment starts to affect your credit score. Your auto lender can't officially report your payment as late to the credit bureaus until that payment is more than 30 days past due.</p> <p>However, you need to be aware that if you stop making car payments, your vehicle can be repossessed. If this happens, your credit <em>will </em>suffer the consequences &mdash; by up to 100 points. Auto lenders can repossess your vehicle quickly, too. In fact, in most states they have the legal right to repossess your car as soon as you miss a single payment. It's unlikely that your lender will move to take your car that quickly, but why take that risk? If you're prioritizing your bills, this is definitely one to move to the top of your list.</p> <h2>4. Utility bills</h2> <p>Typically, you'll receive plenty of advance warning before your utility providers shut off your services. But you will have to pay these bills eventually to keep them on. Put these bills at the top of your priorities list.</p> <p>If you are struggling to pay these bills, don't ignore them; call the utility company. Utilities will often work with homeowners who are struggling financially. They might lower your bill for a period of time or defer your payments for a few months to allow you to rebuild your finances.</p> <h2>5. Student loans</h2> <p>Student loan debt is a financial burden for many, but you might be able to work out a new repayment plan with your lender if you are struggling. This is usually easier to do with federal student loans. You might qualify for a deferment, depending on your financial situation. But even if you are struggling to pay private student loans, call your lender. The company issuing your loans might be willing to work with you to keep you from falling into default. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-loans?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2>6. Credit cards</h2> <p>Yes, your credit card issuer can hit you with a late fee if you miss a payment. And yes, your card's interest rate might then soar. But credit cards don't need to be at the very top of your priorities list if you are struggling with critical bills like your mortgage.</p> <p>Your credit card provider can't throw you in jail if you miss payments, and it can't take your house or car. So paying this provider <em>after</em> making your mortgage and car payments is OK in a financial pinch.</p> <p>It typically isn't a smart move to pay only the monthly minimum on a credit card, because it's often such a small amount. However, if you're really struggling with money, this is another temporary option you can take. This will keep you current on your bill, and you can always boost your payments back up again once you've regained financial footing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/prioritize-these-5-bills-when-youre-short-on-cash">Prioritize These 5 Bills When You&#039;re Short on Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/manage-your-fixed-expenses">Manage your fixed expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management bills car loan credit score late fees late payments mortgage rent repossession student loans utilities Fri, 31 Mar 2017 08:00:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1915858 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Financial Mistakes That Won't Hurt Your Credit Score http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-623515998.jpg" alt="Learning which financial mistakes won&#039;t hurt your credit score" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Certain financial mishaps can cost you dearly when it comes to your FICO credit score. Pay your credit card bill more than 30 days late, and your score can drop by 100 points. Declare bankruptcy or lose a home to foreclosure? Your score will fall by even more.</p> <p>In general, lenders today consider a FICO credit score of 740 or higher to be a very good score. They consider anything over 800 to be excellent. Keeping your score in these ranges requires that you pay your bills on time each month and keep your credit card debt low.</p> <p>But here's a secret about FICO scores: They don't measure all of your financial activity. It's possible to suffer a few financial setbacks, or make some money mistakes, without seeing your credit score take a dive.</p> <p>Here are five financial mishaps that, though they might cause problems in your daily life, won't hurt your credit score.</p> <h2>1. Paying your credit card bill just a little late</h2> <p>You should always <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay your credit card bills on time</a>. And ideally, you should pay off your cards in full each month. But if you miss your deadline by two days or three weeks, it won't impact your credit score.</p> <p>Your credit card provider will only report a payment as late to the three national credit bureaus &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; if you are at least 30 days late on it. As long as you pay before that 30-day deadline passes, your credit score will remain intact. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a>)</p> <p>Of course, this doesn't mean that you won't take a financial hit. Your credit card provider could raise your card's interest rate and levy a late fee &mdash; usually around $35 &mdash; against you.</p> <h2>2. Forgetting to pay your doctor's bill</h2> <p>Not all bills are equal in the eyes of your credit score. Pay your credit card or mortgage payment more than 30 days late, and you can expect your FICO score to plunge. Do the same with your doctor's or dentist's bill, and your credit score won't budge.</p> <p>That's because medical providers don't report late payments to the credit bureaus. So paying your dentist bill 40 days late won't hurt your credit score.</p> <p>Again, though, you need to be careful. Paying your medical bills late could have other financial consequences. Your medical provider might tack on additional fees to your bill if you don't pay on time. And if you put off paying that bill for too long, your medical provider might send a collections agency after you. This <em>will</em> be reported to the credit bureaus, and it will cause your credit score to fall.</p> <h2>3. Not paying your phone or utility bill on time</h2> <p>Your phone, electrical, gas, water, garbage, and cable bills are much like your medical ones: The providers of these services don't report to the credit bureaus. You can pay these bills late without suffering a hit to your credit score.</p> <p>Again, be careful. You don't want your utility company shutting off your service or sending your late bill into collections, something that will hurt your credit score.</p> <h2>4. Paying your apartment rent late (usually)</h2> <p>It used to be that apartment rent payments were never reported to the credit bureaus. Today, that is slowly beginning to change, with some services popping up that will report on-time, and late, rental payments to credit bureaus.</p> <p>But the majority of renters still don't see their monthly rent payments reported to the credit bureaus. That's bad news for renters who pay their rent on time each month; those on-time payments could boost their credit scores if they were reported. It's a better deal for those renters with a history of late payments, as these financial mistakes won't hurt their credit scores.</p> <h2>5. Losing a job</h2> <p>You might be surprised to learn that your annual income has no impact on your FICO credit score. Your credit score only tracks how well you pay your bills and manage your credit. It does not care whether you make a $1 million or $10,000 a year.</p> <p>If you lose your job and your income suddenly dips, your credit score won't budge.</p> <p>If your reduced income causes you to run up your credit card debt or start paying your bills late, though? That will hurt your credit score.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment">How to Fix Your Finances After Missing a Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills collections credit score fico financial mistakes late fees late payments utilities Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1911510 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Myths About Credit Cards That Won't Go Away http://www.wisebread.com/5-myths-about-credit-cards-that-wont-go-away <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-myths-about-credit-cards-that-wont-go-away" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-637754848.jpg" alt="Woman learning myths about credit cards that won&#039;t go away" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The idea of evaluating a person's creditworthiness goes back as early as 1899, when Equifax (originally called Retail Credit Company) would keep a list of consumers and a series of factors to determine their likelihood to pay back debts. However, credit cards didn't make an appearance until the 1950s, and the FICO score as we know it today wasn't introduced until 1989.</p> <p>Due to these timing differences, many U.S. consumers hold on to damaging myths about credit cards. Let's dispel five of these widely held but false beliefs and find out what to do to continue improving your credit score.</p> <h2>Myth #1: Closing unused cards is good for credit</h2> <p>Remember when United Colors of Benetton used to be all the rage and you shopped there all the time? Fast forward a decade; you don't shop there anymore, and you're thinking about shutting down that store credit card. Not so fast! Closing that old credit card may do more harm than good to your credit score.</p> <p>Your length of credit history contributes 15 percent of your FICO score. If that credit card is your oldest card, then closing it would bring down the average age of your accounts and hurt your score. This is particularly true when there is a gap of several years between your oldest and second-to-oldest card. Another point to consider is that when you close a credit card, you're reducing your amount of available credit. This drops your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a>, which makes up 30 percent of your FICO score.</p> <p><strong>What to do:</strong> Keep those old credit cards open, especially when they are the oldest ones that you have. Just make sure that you're keeping on top of any applicable annual fees and they're not tempting you to spend beyond your means.</p> <h2>Myth #2: Holding a credit card balance is good for credit</h2> <p>The amount you owe lenders accounts for 30 percent of your FICO score. The smaller your credit utilization ratio (the amount of debt you hold compared to your total available credit), the better your score. This means if you can avoid carrying a balance, you should do so. However, responsible use of a credit card allows you to buy big ticket items, such as a kitchen appliance or laptop, that you can't pay off all at once. So, sometimes you will have to carry a credit card balance. When you do, credit lenders recommend that you keep your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent -- the lower, the better. Keeping a low credit utilization ratio demonstrates that you're more likely to be able repay your debts, positively affecting your credit score.</p> <p><strong>What to do:</strong> Pay back your credit card balance in full every month as much as possible. When you're not able to do so, then seek to maintain a debt-to-credit ratio below 30 percent across all your credit card debts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>Myth #3: Paying the cellphone bill builds your score</h2> <p>Since some cellphone carriers may run a credit check to decide whether or not to approve you for financing, you may think that those cellphone carriers report your on-time payment history back to the credit bureaus. Payments to service companies, such as cellphone carriers, electricity providers, and natural gas providers, aren't reported back to the credit bureaus. (However, Experian does provide eligible renters the option to make their rent payments count toward their credit history.)</p> <p><strong>What to do:</strong> Don't sign up for a cellphone plan thinking you'll get a boost in your credit score. Do continue paying your cellphone bill (and all other bills!) regularly on-time. If your cellphone account were to be sent to collections, then the cellphone company would surely report that info to all credit bureaus.</p> <h2>Myth #4: Choosing a popular card will benefit you</h2> <p>A 2016 study of 20,206 credit card users by J.D. Power found that at least one in five credit card holders have a card which has fees or rewards not aligned with their actual purchase habits.</p> <p>In the hunt for bigger and better rewards, 20 percent of credit card holders end up with a card that doesn't match their needs and would be better served by a different rewards card, or even one without any without rewards at all and a lower interest rate. Here's an example from the study: One of the reasons that 44 percent of airline co-branded card holders appear to have the wrong card is that those individuals aren't spending at least the necessary $500 per month to gain enough rewards to cover the average annual fee of $75. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Cash Back vs Travel Rewards: Pick the Right Credit Card for You</a>)</p> <p><strong>What to do:</strong> You don't just want to follow the crowd when choosing a credit card. Stack up your current credit card against others and figure whether or not it's time to find a new card more suitable to your lifestyle. Check out our guides on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-rewards-credit-cards-really-work?ref=internal" target="_blank">how cash back cards really work</a> and choosing the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choose-the-best-travel-rewards-credit-card-with-this-guide?ref=internal" target="_blank">best travel rewards credit card</a> to find the card that fits your lifestyle.</p> <h2>Myth #5: Believing there's only one credit score</h2> <p>That <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal" target="_blank">free credit score</a> on your credit card statement may not be the same one used by a lending officer reviewing your application for a mortgage or car loan. Did you know that there more than 50 different types of FICO scores? Lenders have several options to choose from depending on their industry and preferred credit reporting agency.</p> <p><strong>What to do:</strong> If you get a free credit score through your card, check with the card issuer whether or not that score is a FICO score and what type of FICO score it is. This will help you know whether or not you can do an apples-to-apples comparison with the one used by your lender. Also, inquire with your lender if they can give you a target range for your loan to be approved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-or-fako-are-free-credit-scores-from-credit-cards-the-real-thing?ref=seealso" target="_blank">FICO or FAKO: Are Free Credit Scores From Credit Cards the Real Thing?</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-myths-about-credit-cards-that-wont-go-away">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores">The 5 Best Credit Cards That Offer Free Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/comparing-miles-which-airline-loyalty-program-is-better">Which Airline Loyalty Program Has the Best Value for Their Miles?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-turn-credit-card-rewards-into-real-wealth">5 Ways to Turn Credit Card Rewards Into Real Wealth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">The 5 Best Credit Cards With Annual Fees</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards bills credit history credit scores credit utilization ratio debts fico miles myths rewards Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:31:11 +0000 Damian Davila 1907103 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Money Moves to Make Before Moving Out on Your Own http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-before-moving-out-on-your-own <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-money-moves-to-make-before-moving-out-on-your-own" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-640229364.jpg" alt="Making money moves before moving out on her own" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today, it's not uncommon for young adults to continue living with their parents well into their 30s. A report released in 2015 by the Pew Research Center said that 32.1% of adults from the ages of 18 to 34 were living in their parents' home in 2014, the most common type of living arrangement for people in this age range.</p> <p>But there does come a day when it's finally time to leave the nest. And before you do that, you need to be financially healthy enough to make it on your own.</p> <p>Here are five money moves you need to make before you leave your parents' home.</p> <h2>1. Practice Paying Bills</h2> <p>Paying a mortgage or rent is an important financial responsibility, but it's not the only bill that adults face when moving out on their own. There are groceries to buy, car loans to pay off, utilities to cover, and transportation fees that eat into monthly budgets.</p> <p>To prepare for the rigors of paying these bills, you should practice being financially responsible before moving out of your parents' home. This might mean paying monthly rent to your parents while you continue to live in their home. You should also ask if you can contribute financially in other ways, perhaps by paying part of the monthly utility or garbage pickup bills.</p> <p>By paying at least some of the bills that your parents face each month, you'll get a much more accurate taste of what it's like to live on your own.</p> <h2>2. Create a Budget</h2> <p>No one enjoys making a household budget. But a budget serves as a blueprint that tells you how much you can spend each month. Without one, it's easy to run up debts as you spend more dollars than you can afford.</p> <p>Before you leave your parents' home, you need to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=internal" target="_blank">make a budget</a> of your own. This budget should include all the money you expect to make each month, along with a list of regular monthly expenses and bills, such as rent, utilities, transportation, phone bills, student loan payments, and car payments.</p> <p>A budget should also include guidelines for costs that vary each month. This includes everything from groceries to dining out to going to the movies.</p> <h2>3. Create an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Financial experts say that all adults should have six months' to a year's worth of daily living expenses saved in an emergency fund. You can then tap this fund if a financial crisis, such as a job loss, hits. An emergency fund can also be used to cover unexpected major expenses, such as the cost of replacing a car's transmission or a blown water heater.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">Starting an emergency fund</a> doesn't have to be painful. Simply set aside $100, $200, or more each month to slowly build that fund. Smart savers will have at least some money stashed in an emergency fund before they move out on their own.</p> <h2>4. Pay Off Those Debts</h2> <p>Moving out with loads of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit card debt</a>? That's not the smartest financial move. It can be hard to pay off this high-interest debt when you're saddled for the first time with monthly rent or mortgage payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>The smart move is to set aside as much extra money as you can to pay down your credit cards before moving. That way, you can start your independent life with a clean financial slate.</p> <h2>5. Build a Solid Credit Score</h2> <p>FICO credit scores matter today. Lenders use them to determine who qualifies for auto loans, mortgages, and other loans. Most lenders today consider a FICO credit score of 740 or higher to be a top-tier score. Scores under 640 give lenders pause.</p> <p>Before you head out, you should take steps to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly?ref=internal" target="_blank">build your credit score</a>. The best way to do this is to pay all your bills on time every month and to pay off as much of your credit card debt as possible. By making on-time payments on credit cards or auto loans, you'll steadily build your credit score. Then, when it's time to move, you'll be doing so with a healthy credit score attached to your name. This will help you whether you're looking for a place to rent or even getting a job. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-before-moving-out-on-your-own">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-never-too-late-to-fix-these-5-money-mistakes-from-your-past">It&#039;s Never Too Late to Fix These 5 Money Mistakes From Your Past</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-you-disrespect-your-money">10 Ways You Disrespect Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-money-moves-for-empty-nesters">7 Smart Money Moves for Empty Nesters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most">The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills budgeting credit score debt emergency funds living with parents millennials money lessons moving out young adults Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:30:40 +0000 Dan Rafter 1902840 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-620738574.jpg" alt="Man learning ways to never make a late credit card payment again" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever paid your credit card bill late, you've likely endured both hassle and expense. Not only are you charged $27&ndash;$37 for each late payment, but your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit score could take a hit</a>, too. If your payment is behind by 60 days or more, your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-didn-t-understand-about-credit-card-interest-grace-periods-and-penalty-aprs?ref=internal" target="_blank">penalty APR</a> might also kick in &mdash; causing your interest charges to skyrocket overnight.</p> <p>One way to avoid this mess is to shun credit completely and use debit or cash instead. The downside here is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit cards provide protections and conveniences</a> debit cards can't. Plus, you'll miss out on the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about?ref=internal" target="_blank">myriad perks only credit cards offer</a>, such as purchase protection, price matching, rental car insurance, and extended warranty programs.</p> <p>The better solution for most people is to find a way to pay all credit card bills early or on time. That way you can leverage credit for the perks and rewards without ever having to worry about fees, surging interest rates, or credit score dips.</p> <p>Often, this is a matter of getting organized and making payments automatic. Check out these five ways to foolproof your finances so you'll never pay late again.</p> <h2>1. Set Up Auto-Pay<strong> </strong></h2> <p>If you're worried you'll forget your payment due date altogether, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-automatic-payments?ref=internal" target="_blank">setting up automatic payments</a> is smart. Most credit card issuers offer this payment option, but you can also set up auto-pay through your bank. When you sign up with your card issuer, you'll get to decide when and how much you want to pay. For example, you can choose to have your checking account automatically debited on your due date, or on some day before then. You can also opt to pay the full bill amount, a fixed dollar amount, or only the minimum payment.</p> <p>Obviously, this strategy comes with huge advantages. Since your bill is paid automatically, you don't have to worry about remembering to pay it. That means you should never be charged a late fee or have a late payment show up on your credit report. Even if you set up the system to pay only the minimum payment, you can always log into your account and pay your full bill later.</p> <p>On the flip side, paying your credit card bill automatically does come with drawbacks. If you have a history of overdrafts on your bank account, for example, setting up automatic payments may be hazardous to your finances. For automatic payments to work, you need to have the money in the bank to cover your payments every time they're deducted from your bank account. Otherwise, you'll be hit with a fee from the bank for insufficient funds, a late fee from your credit card, and possibly an additional fee for a payment not going through from your credit card as well.</p> <p>Setting up auto-pay may also be a bad idea if it lulls you into not looking at your bill every month. Not only can you miss fraudulent charges on your account, but if you're struggling with debt, the last thing you need to do is avoid seeing your bill every month. If you set your account so the minimum payment is paid automatically, you may not even realize if your situation gets worse.</p> <h2>2. Pay Your Credit Card Bill Multiple Times Per Month</h2> <p>If you're fairly good at remembering your credit card bill but lax when it comes to your actual due date, paying your card off several times per month might be the answer. For some people, it's easier to get into the habit of paying their bill once a week, or whenever they think about it, rather than waiting for one due date at the end of the credit card billing period.</p> <p>The convenience of the Internet and mobile bill pay has made it possible to pay your bill at any time and any place of your choosing. By paying your balance every time you get the chance &mdash; and whether it's due or not &mdash; you can avoid late payments altogether. And since you're constantly aware of your growing balance this way, you might be more inclined to stay on budget as well.</p> <p>The downside to paying your bill several times per month comes when you get busy and forget. If you can't remember to pay your bill on your due date but still want to pay multiple times per month, it might be wise to set your account to pay your minimum payment automatically as a stopgap measure. Then, you can log into your account and pay your full bill each time you get the chance.</p> <h2>3. Change Your Due Date</h2> <p>If you have several bills and each has a random due date, it can be hard to stay organized and keep each bill on track. Fortunately, most credit card issuers will move your due date to any date of your choosing. Most of the time, all you have to do is ask.</p> <p>This strategy can come in handy if you have another major bill you can't afford to forget. If your rent payment or mortgage is due on the 4th of the month, for example, you could move your credit card bill to the same date and pay them simultaneously.</p> <p>The benefit of moving your due date is you're more likely to remember to pay if the due date coincides with other important bills. The downside, however, is that you will have to have funds to cover several payments at the same time. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, it may be hard to cover a large sum at one time.</p> <h2>4. Try Debitize</h2> <p><a href="http://www.debitize.com" target="_blank">Debitize</a> is a free service that helps consumers enjoy the benefits of credit without risking late payments or debt. It works by linking your checking account with your credit card accounts, and then automatically setting aside funds as you make purchases with credit.</p> <p>Once your accounts are linked and Debitize starts deducting amounts equal to your credit purchases from your bank, your credit card works more like a debit card. The fact that Debitize &quot;turns credit into debt&quot; in this fashion makes it immensely helpful for anyone who wants to avoid late payments and stay out of debt.</p> <p>Debitize also offers additional protections that can help consumers avoid an overdraft. For starters, you can set a minimum balance on your checking account so you always have enough money left to get by. Second, Debitize lets you set up custom notifications so you're alerted when you reach a certain spending threshold or if unusual activity is reported. Lastly, Debitize pays your bill automatically for you, leaving zero room for error on your part.</p> <p>The notable downside to using Debitize is the fact that you're surrendering some control. You may not like having a third party deduct money and pay bills on your behalf. If that's the case, you might be better off using one of the other recommendations on this list.</p> <h2>5. Sign Up for Payment Alerts</h2> <p>If you're afraid you'll forget about your credit card bill and need a reminder, consider setting up some automatic nudges. Through your bank &mdash; or through a service like Mint.com &mdash; you can get automatic payment alerts on certain dates of the month or when your payment is almost due.</p> <p>This strategy can be truly beneficial for someone who is financially responsible yet prone to forgetting their bills. Once they receive their automatic reminder via text or email, they can log into their account and pay their bill right away.</p> <p>Obviously, setting up payment alerts can only take you so far. If you're someone who forgets easily, even setting up a reminder may not be enough to help you foolproof your credit card bills. After all, you still have to physically log into your account and pay your bill yourself.</p> <p>In that case, you may be better off setting your bank account to pay your minimum monthly payment automatically as well. That way, you're covered even if you forget.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards alerts automatic payments bills due dates late fees reminders Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:31:29 +0000 Holly Johnson 1898300 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-635966758.jpg" alt="Woman wondering if she should pay bills with a credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the smartest &mdash; and easiest &mdash; ways to earn more credit card rewards is to charge as many regular bills as makes sense. By using credit instead of your checking account to pay bills you normally pay anyway, you can increase your rewards without spending money you don't have.</p> <p>First step: Get out your monthly bank statements and make a list of expenses you pay on a regular basis. These might include utility bills, insurance premiums, and even rent.</p> <p>Next, determine whether you can pay these bills with credit. Using a credit card to pay your bills allows you to rack up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards?ref=internal" target="_blank">hotel points</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">airline miles</a> a lot faster, but there are some downsides you need to consider, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a>)</p> <h2>Beware of Fees<strong> </strong></h2> <p>While some businesses let you use a credit card without an added fee, others might charge a fixed or percentage-based convenience fee for using credit. This is because companies are charged a fee for processing credit card payments.</p> <p>If a fee is involved, it's usually not worth it to put the payment on your credit card. That additional fee would cancel out (and sometimes be more than) any rewards you'd get for the charge.</p> <p>Let's say you want to pay your $100 cellphone bill with a credit card, but your service provider charges a flat $1.95 fee for doing so. If your credit card offers 1% back for each dollar you spend, you would earn $1.00 in rewards for a $1.95 fee. You'd clearly be better off using some other payment method.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you have a rewards card that offer 5% back on cellphone purchases, you'd earn $5.00 in rewards on that $100 cellphone bill in exchange for a $1.95 fee. That's still a pretty good deal.</p> <h2>Don't Get in Debt for Rewards</h2> <p>No matter what, you should never charge bills you can't afford to repay right away. There is no amount of rewards that would be worth the interest credit cards charge for carrying a balance. Before you charge any bill, you should make sure you have the cash to pay your bill in full when it's due.</p> <h2>Don't Use Convenience Checks</h2> <p>Don't think you can bypass the fees by using those convenience checks credit cards send you, either. Those are considered cash advances, and you will not only not earn rewards using them, but you will be assessed interest the moment they are cashed. The interest on cash advances are much, much higher than the standard APR, too. So never, ever use those checks to pay your bills!</p> <h2>Overlooked Bills You Can Pay With Credit</h2> <p>With all of those caveats in mind, consider this list of bills you might not currently be paying by credit card:</p> <ul> <li>Cable/Internet/cellphone bill &mdash; Depending on which telecommunications service providers you use, you may be able to charge these bills to a credit card online or over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Car/homeowners/renters insurance &mdash; Most providers of these types of insurance let you pay your premiums with a credit card, though you may have to pay a fee. This is true whether you pay your bill monthly or just once or twice a year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>College tuition &mdash; Not all schools accept credit cards for tuition, and many that do charge a fee. For all the rest, charging your bill to a credit card can help you earn points and miles quickly. Because this tends to be a large bill, it's especially important to point out that this only pays off if you can pay the credit card charges in full at the end of the month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Day care &mdash; Many larger daycare centers let patrons charge their weekly or monthly day care expenses. Smaller providers may also accept credit cards, though they are more likely to charge a convenience fee.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Electricity, gas, water &mdash; More and more utility companies let consumers charge their bill payments to a credit card.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Health insurance &mdash; If you buy your own insurance on the open market or through the exchanges, you may be able to pay for your premiums with a credit card. Although some large health insurance companies have dropped this option, there are still some providers who allow it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Income taxes &mdash; The Internal Revenue Service authorizes three providers to accept and process <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/pay-taxes-by-credit-or-debit-card" target="_blank">federal income tax payments by credit card</a>. All of them charge fees, but at least part of the fee may be tax deductible. If you want to charge state income taxes, you'll need to check with your state for rules and additional details. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-with-a-credit-card?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Ever Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card?</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Kids' sports and activities &mdash; If your children are in baseball, ballet, or any other activity, don't forget to charge their activity fees or dues. You may also be able to charge equipment rental and uniform fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Offerings at your house of worship &mdash; An increasing number of churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship accept credit card donations. If you tithe or regularly contribute to the offering plate, this is an expense to consider charging, keeping in mind that part of your donation will go to pay for credit card processing fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rent &mdash; For a few lucky tenants, paying rent with a credit card is an option. Some landlords provide this service for free. Otherwise, there are companies that will accept your credit card payment and then pay your rent or mortgage by check, but the fees are almost always greater than any rewards you could earn.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Subscriptions and membership dues &mdash; You can usually charge your fees for a gym, video streaming service, dating service, magazine, and other subscription services. Most large organizations will also let you pay for membership dues with a credit card.</li> </ul> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fshould-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FShould%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card-.jpg&amp;description=Should%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card%3F" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Should%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card-.jpg" alt="Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">The 5 Best Credit Cards With Annual Fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-back-on-track-when-youre-behind-on-your-bills">How to Get Back on Track When You&#039;re Behind on Your Bills</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-important-credit-card-lessons-your-parents-didnt-teach-you">6 Important Credit Card Lessons Your Parents Didn&#039;t Teach You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-save-loads-of-money-using-credit-cards">7 Ways to Save Loads of Money Using Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards autopay bill pay bills budgeting credit rewards utilities Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Holly Johnson 1893287 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Secrets to Mastering the Debt Snowball http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-109722901.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You probably already know it makes more financial sense to pay off debts with the highest interest rates first, a payment method known as the debt avalanche.</p> <p>But here's a surprise: A study published last year in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people were more likely to actually pay off their debts if they relied on the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0" target="_blank">debt snowball method</a>, instead. In this approach, you pay off your smallest debt first, followed by your next smallest, and so on &mdash; until you've paid off all of them. You take this approach without worrying about which debts have the highest interest rates.</p> <p>Why does this method seem to work better? Researchers say it's about that all-important feeling of accomplishment. You'll get a rush of good feelings when you pay off a credit card, even if the debt on that card isn't that high. Yes, you'll pay more in the long run by not targeting debt with the highest interest rates first. But if the snowball method works better, and if you've long struggled with your credit card and other debts, you might be better off taking this approach.</p> <p>So, if you're ready to give the debt snowball method a chance, here are some tricks to boost your chances of success.</p> <h2>1. Draft a Household Budget</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps" target="_blank">Creating a budget</a> doesn't sound like fun, but it's critical if you're ready to get serious about paying down your debt. Your household budget should include the money that flows into your home each month and the money you spend, including estimates for such discretionary expenses as eating out and entertainment.</p> <p>Once you have a budget, you'll better know how much money you can allocate to paying down that smallest debt each month. Without a budget? You might be paying too much, putting yourself at financial risk. Or you might pay too little, dragging out the process of paying down your debts.</p> <h2>2. Don't Use the Card You're Trying to Pay Off</h2> <p>It might sound obvious, but don't add to the debt you're trying to pay off first. Don't use your credit cards to pay for anything. Follow your budget and pay cash or check for your allocated expenses. If you have a balance already on the card from the previous month, using it will immediately start interest charges on that amount. Nothing stalls your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt elimination process</a> more than adding additional interest.</p> <h2>3. In Fact, Don't Purchase Anything You Can't Afford to Pay Off</h2> <p>You're going to have to get used to a different sort of lifestyle, and that means no longer buying things you can't pay off at the end of the month.</p> <h2>4. Automate It</h2> <p>When you're concentrating on paying off one debt quickly, it can be easy to overlook some of your other bills. You can avoid this, though, by turning to automated bill payment. If you find yourself overlooking your cellphone bill, create an automatic payment from your bank account to cover that bill each month. You can do the same thing with car payments, student loan payments, or utility bills. Do this, and you'll dramatically reduce the odds of paying one bill late while you're whittling down another.</p> <h2>5. Don't Waste Bonuses or Promotions</h2> <p>Are you in line for a bonus at work? Don't blow that money on a new laptop. Instead, funnel it toward the debt you are trying to pay off. There's no better feeling than lopping off a huge chunk of debt.</p> <p>Or, maybe you've earned a promotion and a nice pay raise. Don't think that this gives you more spending money each month. No &mdash; until you pay off your debts, spending extra on fun shouldn't be a consideration. Instead, take the extra money you earn each month and use it to pay down your debt even faster. And then when you eliminate a student loan, credit card bill, or car loan, keep using that extra money to help pay down your next largest debt.</p> <h2>6. Consider a Balance Transfer Carefully</h2> <p>This strategy is only for those who are diligent and committed to paying off a certain amount of debt within a specific period of time. Credit cards offer new cardholders various balance transfer offers. Some have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">longer promotional periods (18-21 months)</a>, while others will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">waive the balance transfer fee</a> (usually 3%-5%). Using a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">balance transfer to pay down credit card debt</a> can save you a lot of money in interest. However, if instead you misuse this opportunity, by not paying off the debt during the 0% promotional period, and continuing to rack up debt on the cards you transferred balances from, you will find yourself in a crisis dealing with more accumulated debt than you started with, and at an even higher APR. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Important Things You Should Know About Balance Transfers</a>)</p> <p>Paying down debt is never easy. But if you remain committed, and you need a series of smaller, but quicker, victories, the debt snowball method can work. Just make sure to remain focused on that goal of eliminating each debt one at a time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-debt-management-questions-youre-too-embarrassed-to-ask">5 Debt Management Questions You&#039;re Too Embarrassed to Ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-back-on-track-when-youre-behind-on-your-bills">How to Get Back on Track When You&#039;re Behind on Your Bills</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-debt-reduction-roadblocks-and-how-to-beat-them">6 Common Debt Reduction Roadblocks — And How to Beat Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-which-credit-card-to-pay-off-first">The Simple Way to Decide Which Credit Card to Pay Off First</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management automatic payments bills bonuses budgeting promotions repayment plans snowball method strategies Tue, 31 Jan 2017 10:00:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1877971 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glasses_smile_518885222.jpg" alt="Woman with good money habits staying out of debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Staying on the straight and narrow, especially when it comes to your finances, can feel like a struggle. Recreational activities, impulse buys, monthly bills, and unexpected expenses lurk around every corner, and if you're not careful, you can slide into debt without really trying.</p> <p>If you practice good money habits as a general life philosophy, however, you're giving yourself the best chance of staying in the black consistently &mdash; and perhaps even making those coveted savings gains. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Create a Budget Based on Life Goals &mdash; Not Numbers</h2> <p>Every article you read about how to improve your personal finances includes creating and maintaining a budget. That's because actively keeping track of what's coming and going helps you manage your money more responsibly than simply throwing caution (and cash) to the wind. But your budget is only serving a single purpose when it's strictly rooted in numbers opposed to relating to your personal activity and short- and long-term goals &mdash; like an upcoming vacation or contributions to your retirement fund, for instance.</p> <p>As such, instead of living your life around your budget, you'll find much more satisfaction in building your budget around your life. By planning ahead for expenses, even frivolous things, you can identify the areas where your budget is lacking and (hopefully) close those holes by either amending your plans to accommodate your cash flow or increasing your income to afford the things that make you happy.</p> <p>I recommend the latter, of course &mdash; because you only live once.</p> <h2>2. Charge Only What You Can Afford to Pay Off Every Month</h2> <p>Let's get something straight here: Credit is not as dastardly an institution as you've been led to believe. Yes, there are credit cards with astronomical APRs. And, yes, there are credit cards with ridiculous late fees. But at the end of the day, you're responsible for reading the fine print (you know it's there!), and nobody is forcing your hand in accepting an offer.</p> <p>Still, credit is attractive because it allows us the freedom to have more than we can afford. But whose problem is that when you can't pay the bill? All yours. Avoid this downward spiral by making your credit card payments top priority each cycle.</p> <p>&quot;Credit cards are not evil, but they can make a mess of your finances if used unwisely,&quot; says savings expert Kendal Perez. &quot;Ultimately, you should only charge what you can afford to pay off every month. Using your credit card to pay bills is a smart strategy since you have to pay these expenses anyway, and using credit means accruing points, rewards, or travel miles to offset future expenses.&quot;</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">12 Habits of Responsible Credit Card Users</a></p> <h2>3. Look for Savings on Everything You Buy</h2> <p>I personally save many thousands of dollars every year by being a smart shopper, because there are few things I buy for which I don't have a coupon or discount. From dining out to going to the movies to the clothes I wear to the gas I put in my vehicle &mdash; everything comes with savings.</p> <p>It's not hard to get into this habit, either. I save by using loyalty cards, clipping coupons, redeeming cash back deals, signing up for promotional emails, waiting for items I want to go on sale, shopping clearance sections, and buying secondhand, among a myriad of other strategies. It's like a game for me, and I hardly ever spend money on something for which there are no savings; I look for a cheaper alternative instead. It's a major reason why I always have enough money in the bank to cover my bills, plus add to savings while still doing the things I like to do every month.</p> <h2>4. Buy Groceries Based on What's on Sale and in Season</h2> <p>Groceries are one of the biggest spending categories for Americans, next to mortgages and insurance. Instead of buying what you're craving, buy groceries based on what's in season and what's on sale. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <p>&quot;This will require some meal planning, but you can craft similar meals based on what's on sale each week,&quot; explains Perez. &quot;Use a tool like Flipp.com to easily compare grocery sales and deals between stores in your area, and consider looking for grocery coupons for items on your list through CouponSherpa.com.&quot;</p> <p>Another trick I use to cut my grocery bill is to shop the clearance section. Most supermarkets have these sections with drastically reduced prices on damaged or about-to-expire food that's still perfectly good if you get to it in time. Ask your grocer where these items are located in your store.</p> <h2>5. Organize Your Bill Payments to Avoid Lateness</h2> <p>As soon as a bill arrives, I grab my checkbook (yep, I'm old school), write out the check, and prepare the envelope. On the back of the envelope I write the dollar amount that's inside as an at-a-glance reminder, and I organize the bill on my desk according to when it's due. Then I stagger the mailings &mdash; sending each payment out about five days before it's due &mdash; to ensure that I can reconcile all the bills with my bank account.</p> <p>Consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos offers more tips on how to avoid late payments.</p> <p>&quot;Open all mail &mdash; including bills &mdash; upon receipt, deposit all checks and cash immediately, and set up a system for payment that works for you and that you'll use consistently,&quot; he says. &quot;This might be automatic online payments, a spreadsheet, a reminder on your cell phone, or a list on the refrigerator.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Map Out Your Long-Term Financial Goals</h2> <p>The only way you'll get ahead in your finances is if you know where you're going. Take a look at what's coming up in terms of required expenses and also think about some of the things you'd like to do with your money. Do you want to go back to school, on vacation, or purchase a new car or home? Set these milestones as goals and calculate what it'll take financially to reach them, then start saving in increments along an established timeline.</p> <h2>7. Review Your Finances on a Regular Basis</h2> <p>Reviewing your finances on a &quot;regular basis&quot; is a relative term, but I typically suggest once a month. There's value in doing it more often, however &mdash; like once to twice a week &mdash; according to personal finance expert Larry Jacobson.</p> <p>&quot;You need to set regular intervals to stay on the right path,&quot; he says. &quot;That way, you can course correct, if necessary, before it's too late.&quot;</p> <p>When reviewing your finances, be sure to cover all your bases. Browse your credit score for any errors, review bank and credit card statements for inconsistencies, and make sure all checks have posted. It's also a good idea to call your service providers once a year to inquire about better deals, like cheaper mobile phone or cable plans.</p> <h2>8. Treat Savings Like One of Your Monthly Bills</h2> <p>Instead of regarding contributions to your savings as a chore, start considering it a requirement, says Gallegos. Treat your savings deposits like a monthly bill; find that extra money somewhere in your budget (a reasonable amount that you can handle) and tuck it away as if you'll be penalized if you don't. You may have to make a sacrifice somewhere else, like in your &quot;fun&quot; fund, but, well, that's life.</p> <h2>9. Learn to Live Below Your Means</h2> <p>If you're one of those people who responds well to logic, here's a pro tip on staying debt free: Live below your means.</p> <p>&quot;Know exactly what you have to spend each month &mdash; and spend less,&quot; says Gallegos. &quot;Living beneath your means goes further than living within your means. It means taking responsibility and choosing where your money goes instead of being influenced by whims, advertising, habits, or peer pressure.&quot;</p> <p>If this is a tactic you'd like to try, you'll need to re-evaluate your budget entirely. Find items you can reduce or eliminate altogether to free up funds, like subscriptions and memberships that you aren't using to their full potential, cutting back on dining out, and reducing your monthly fuel bill by carpooling with a coworker or using public transportation more often.</p> <h2>10. Switch to a Cash-Only System</h2> <p>Here's another piece of practical advice that leads your wallet away from debt: Only pay for things in cash.</p> <p>&quot;You can't go into debt if you don't borrow,&quot; says Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency.</p> <p>I recognize, of course, that that's easier said than done, so Sullivan offers a couple more strategies for holding yourself cash-accountable.</p> <p>&quot;Save with direct deposit at out of town banks,&quot; he says. &quot;You don't want your savings available on a whim; Internet banks are a good choice. And don't sign up for overdraft protection. That's agreeing in advance to spending more than you have and paying for the privilege.&quot;</p> <h2>11. Make More Money</h2> <p>One of my own personal money manifestos is to always have at least two sources of income. I'm self-employed, and I consider my media business my main source of income, but I supplement that with several side gigs, like renting out rooms in my homes on Airbnb, watching other people's pets through DogVacay, and driving for Lyft and Uber. That's three extra sources of income right there, but I'm always eager to find more ways to make money.</p> <p>I feel personally satisfied when all my bills are paid on time, money is consistently going to my savings account, and I'm cash-positive enough to enjoy life the way I want to. If you can't seem to get ahead, use your resources and carve out time to make more money. You'll achieve your financial goals and alleviate the burden of debt faster, and that can only lead to good things.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-dumb-ways-youre-going-to-waste-money-this-summer">9 Dumb Ways You&#039;re Going to Waste Money This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">A Comprehensive Guide to the Envelope System</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting bills cash extra income groceries live below your means money goals payments sales side jobs Tue, 24 Jan 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1870058 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_credit_card_635966732.jpg" alt="Woman meeting her credit card&#039;s minimum spending requirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're new to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips?ref=internal" target="_blank">chasing credit card rewards</a>, it can feel like there's a lot to learn at once. One of the fastest ways to earn credit card rewards points is through a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal">sign-up bonus</a>. This is a big slew of points you'll get from a new card if you spend a certain amount on that card within a specified period of time &mdash; often the first three months. The spending requirement could be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the card.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-redeemed-a-12000-family-vacation-with-credit-card-rewards-in-2-months?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">How I Redeemed a $12,000 Family Vacation With Credit Card Rewards in 2 Months</a></p> <p>Of course, the whole idea for earning points that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">translate into travel rewards</a> is to spend less. It's counterproductive to go into debt just to meet a minimum spending requirement. That's why the tips below relate to things you're likely <em>already </em>spending on, not additional expenses that will break your budget. You should never let a balance accrue on a credit card just to get rewards. You will never come out ahead. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less With Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start With Everyday Expenses</h2> <p>Chances are you can get a significant fraction of the way to meeting your minimum requirement just by putting your regular expenses on your credit card whenever you can.</p> <p>If you're conditioned to paying for things in cash, it's time to break that habit since you're missing out on tons of potential points-earning opportunities. This means putting all your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=internal" target="_blank">grocery purchases on your card</a>. Same for when you pay for gas, dry cleaning, prescriptions, or any of your other regular expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-everyday-purchases?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards to Use for Everyday Expenses</a>)</p> <h2>2. Pay Your Bills With Your Card</h2> <p>The same is true for monthly bills like your Internet, Netflix, cellphone, cable, etc. If you have automated payments set up, update them with your new card. For any other bills, see if there's an option to pay with a credit card instead of a checking account. Watch out for any fees charged for credit card payments, though. It's usually not worth it.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards</a></p> <h2>3. Let Little Things Add Up</h2> <p>If you use Uber or Lyft to get around, make sure you update your payment method so that it is linked to your new credit card. The same goes for other apps that you are using to make payments, as small as they may be. If you use Venmo to pay individuals or iTunes for the occasional song download, you'll want to link them to your new card, too, so you'll be earning points toward rewards even when you're not thinking about it.</p> <h2>4. Prepay Current Subscriptions</h2> <p>If you have the extra cash to pay for subscriptions up front, you'll not only help meet the spending requirement, but may score a discount in the process. Many services offer a discount for prepaying.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-free-or-almost-free-airline-tickets?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">10 Ways to Get Free or Almost Free Airline Tickets</a></p> <h2>5. Buy Gift Cards</h2> <p>Buying gift cards is a straightforward way to earn points toward reaching your minimum balance. You are spending money now by purchasing the card, which you can then use later. Due to fraud concerns, many brick-and-mortar retailers no longer take credit cards for gift card purchases, but many e-tailers, including Amazon, will.</p> <p>Again, the most important thing to remember is to only spend what you can pay off every month. Make your payments on time, so you don't accrue interest or late payment fees that will obliterate any rewards you get for your purchases. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-that-anyone-can-travel-for-free?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways Anyone Can Travel for Free</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-credit-card-should-you-use-to-get-free-hotel-stays">Which Credit Card Should You Use to Get Free Hotel Stays?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-credit-card-transactions-that-dont-earn-rewards">4 Credit Card Transactions That Don&#039;t Earn Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-apps-that-actually-pay-you-to-shop">8 Apps That Actually Pay You to Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-in-a-lifetime-experiences-ive-earned-with-credit-card-rewards">Once-In-A-Lifetime Experiences I&#039;ve Earned With Credit Card Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-frequent-flyer-miles-that-are-about-to-expire">How to Save Frequent Flyer Miles That Are About to Expire</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards bills free travel gift cards groceries hacks minimum spending requirement points rewards sign up bonuses subscriptions Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:00:13 +0000 Nick Wharton 1870054 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 After the Holidays Moves Your Credit Score Will Thank You For http://www.wisebread.com/5-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-619645214.jpg" alt="make these moves after the holidays to boost your credit score" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The fun part of the holidays is over. Now it's January, and your credit card bill has arrived. It's time for the dark side of the holiday season &mdash; paying for all that December cheer. If you shattered your holiday spending budget, don't panic: Now is the time to take the steps that will not only improve your finances, but boost your all-important credit score.</p> <p>Ready to put the overspending and impulse buying of the holidays behind you? Here are five post-holiday money moves that will give you a stronger credit score in 2017.</p> <h2>1. Pay on Time</h2> <p>You might not be able to pay off your entire holiday credit card bill at once. That's unfortunate, because credit card debt comes with high interest. But if you pay off a bit of the holiday debt every month on time, you will be helping your credit score.</p> <p>The three national credit bureaus of TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian track your on-time credit card payments. If you pay your credit card on time each month, your score will improve. If you are more than 30 days late on a payment, your score will plummet, usually by 100 points or more. And this missed payment will remain on your credit report for seven years.</p> <p>No one likes holiday debt. But look at it as a way to show the credit bureaus that you are responsible enough to make these payments on time. Doing so will do wonders for your credit score.</p> <h2>2. Do a Balance Transfer</h2> <p>Make a plan that will determine how long it will take you to pay down your current debt, and find a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% balance transfer credit card</a> that offers an intro APR for that amount of time. Some credit cards offer as much as 21 months at 0% financing. This can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">save you hundreds to thousands</a> of dollars in interest, and help you pay off the debt faster. Do this only if you have a plan to pay off your debt completely within the intro period. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What You Need to Know Before Doing a Balance Transfer</a>)</p> <h2>3. Don't Close Unused Credit Cards</h2> <p>If you do pay off a credit card, congratulations! That's a great feeling. But don't close that account, even if you never plan to use your card. Closing unused credit cards will hurt your credit score. That's because of something known as your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit-utilization ratio</a>. Your score will be higher if you are using less of your available credit. If you close a credit card, you will automatically be lowering the amount of credit available to you and increasing your credit-utilization ratio.</p> <h2>4. Order Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian each keep a credit report on you. These reports list your open credit accounts, including credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and auto loans. They also list how much you owe on these accounts and whether you have made any late payments. The reports also list any bankruptcies that are up to seven or 10 years old, and any foreclosures that are up to seven years old.</p> <p>You can order one report from each of the three credit bureaus at no charge from AnnualCreditReport.com. Do it. Then check over your report for any potential mistakes. If you find errors, notify the offending bureau by email. Correcting mistakes can provide an immediate boost to your credit score. And even if you don't find any errors, it's always good to know exactly what kind of information the bureaus have about you.</p> <h2>5. Make a Household Budget</h2> <p>If you want to avoid overspending again next year, and avoid running up the kind of credit card debt that can hurt your credit score, draft a household budget <em>this</em> year. A budget doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. List your monthly revenues and your monthly expenses. Be honest about what you typically spend on items that can fluctuate each month, such as groceries, dining out, and entertainment.</p> <p>Once you have these numbers, you can budget how much you want to spend throughout the year on gifts, decorations, and food for all of the big holidays, not just those that roll around each December. Armed with a budget, your odds of not overspending will increase.</p> <p>Now that the holiday season is over, it's time to change your charging habits. Only charge what you can pay off in full each month. If you want to charge a flat-screen TV, make sure you have enough money saved up to pay it off in full when your next credit card statement comes due.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Your Bad Credit Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-credit-without-using-credit-cards">How to Build Credit Without Using Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score">Can Too Many Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting back on track bills building credit credit history credit repair credit score debt repayment post holidays Thu, 22 Dec 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1859598 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Ways to Prevent Your Smartphone From Wasting Data http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-prevent-your-smartphone-from-wasting-data <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-ways-to-prevent-your-smartphone-from-wasting-data" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-502896132.jpg" alt="prevent your smartphone from wasting data" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you burn through your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-your-smartphone-saves-you-money">smartphone data</a> in the first week of the billing month? Are you constantly paying overage charges for additional data? We've got some tips to help prevent your smartphone from unnecessarily wasting data. This will save you money every billing cycle and ensure that you have the data you need to get you through the month.</p> <p>Unlimited data plans would be the ideal solution for many of us, but most phone companies just don't offer those types of plans anymore, unless you're willing to start a family plan. Even if your phone carrier does offer such a plan, they are usually very expensive. Instead, try some of the tips below to see if they can help you get the data you need, without going over your allowance.</p> <h2>1. Make Sure Your Wi-Fi Is On</h2> <p>Usually, the biggest problem is that a person has turned off their Wi-Fi and has just forgotten about it. Before we begin talking about ways to save data, make sure your Wi-Fi is turned on in the first place. Once your Wi-Fi is turned on, you should try leaving it on at all times, if possible.</p> <h2>2. Turn Off Cellular Data</h2> <p>Cellular data is used when there is no Wi-Fi connection. This will allow you to use the Internet wirelessly, but will eat into your monthly data allotment. Consider turning off your cellular data whenever you aren't using your phone.</p> <h2>3. Find Data-Hungry Apps and Services</h2> <p>While turning off cellular data is the best way to prevent unexpected data usage, it is usually a last resort for most people. That's because when cellular data is turned off, you can't use your personal hotspot or send and receive MMS text messages.</p> <p>Instead, you may want to disable cellular data only for certain apps and services. On an iOS device, visit Settings &gt; Cellular to determine which apps are using the most data, so you can turn off cellular data for those specific apps.</p> <h2>4. Turn Off Automatic Downloads</h2> <p>Your data may also be used for automatic downloads or for services like iBooks and Safari's reading list. On an iOS device, you can turn this off with Settings &gt; iTunes &amp; App Store &gt; Use Cellular Data for automatic downloads, Settings &gt; Safari &gt; Use Cellular Data for Safari's reading list, and Settings &gt; iBooks &gt; Use Cellular Data for iBooks.</p> <h2>5. Turn Off Wi-Fi Assist</h2> <p>Consider turning off your Wi-Fi assist whenever you aren't using your phone. Wi-Fi Assist automatically uses cellular data when the Wi-Fi connectivity is poor, which could be using up your data when you aren't expecting it.</p> <h2>6. Turn Off Background App Refresh</h2> <p>Your apps are automatically refreshing their content in the background. By turning off the refresh, you can preserve battery life and data. On an iOS device, you can do this under Settings &gt; General &gt; Background App Refresh.</p> <h2>7. Turn Off iCloud Drive</h2> <p>iCloud Drive can automatically upload backups of your apps, which can use up data when you're least expecting it. Consider turning off your iCloud drive altogether.</p> <h2>8. Turn Off iCloud Photos</h2> <p>When your iCloud photo library is turned on, your phone will automatically upload and store your entire photo library and iCloud. This can quickly eat away at your data, so consider turning it off.</p> <h2>9. Turn Off Data Roaming</h2> <p>To restrict all data to Wi-Fi, including email, web browsing, and push notifications while you're traveling, turn off data roaming. You can do this on an iOS device with Settings &gt; Cellular &gt; Data Roaming.</p> <h2>10. Use Low-Power Mode</h2> <p>If your phone offers a low power mode, it is best to leave this on whenever possible. This mode temporarily reduces power consumption until you have fully recharged your phone. When it is on, your phone won't refresh apps, fetch mail, or automatically download updates, which can save your battery and data.</p> <h2>11. Turn Off High-Quality Music Streaming</h2> <p>If you are listening to music without a Wi-Fi connection, you may be using up your data. With higher-quality music, more data is needed to stream it. You can shut off cellular data for your music altogether through Settings &gt; Music &gt; Use Cellular Data. This will only allow you to listen to music when Wi-Fi is available. You can also simply disable high-quality music.</p> <h2>12. Use Lower-Quality Video Streaming</h2> <p>When you're watching a YouTube video and don't have access to Wi-Fi, consider viewing the video at a lower resolution. Click on the three dots on the video and select a lower resolution, like 144p.</p> <h2>13. Listen to Spotify Offline</h2> <p>If you prefer to use Spotify, consider setting your favorite playlists to &quot;Available Offline.&quot; This will allow you to play your favorite songs without streaming.</p> <h2>14. Adjust Your App Settings</h2> <p>If you frequent social media apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, consider adjusting the settings on these apps. For instance, on all three social media apps, you can set it to auto-play videos only when you're connected to Wi-Fi (or not at all). Usually, these apps are set to auto-play videos using both Wi-Fi and data, which can use up your data to download the video, even if you weren't planning on playing it. On each of your social media pages, visit Settings to make the adjustments.</p> <h2>15. Call Your Cellular Provider</h2> <p>When all else fails, you can simply call your cellular provider for advice. There may be an error, which is no fault of yours. Otherwise, your provider can usually track down where most of your data was used, so you have an idea of which apps or services are draining your data. Sprint, AT&amp;T, and Verizon also offer a rough estimate of your data usage online.</p> <h2>How to Turn Off Apps and Services</h2> <p>If you aren't sure how to turn off cellular data, iCloud, or background app refresh, look under Settings. They are usually all under the General or iCloud sections. However, every phone is different, so if you are having trouble, ask your phone service provider or phone manufacturer for help.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-prevent-your-smartphone-from-wasting-data">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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