bills http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1800/all en-US 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-5"> <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/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what">You Missed a Student Loan Payment. Now What?</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-7"> <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/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-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 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-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-to-ditch-a-credit-card-without-dinging-your-credit-score">How to Close a Credit Card Without Dinging 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/get-free-credit-score-monitoring-with-credit-karma">Get Your Free Credit Score from Credit Karma</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/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill">What to Expect When You&#039;re Expecting a Huge Credit Card Bill</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-do-with-your-travel-rewards-credit-cards">7 Things You Should Never Do With Your Travel Rewards Credit Cards</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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </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/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/5-myths-about-credit-cards-that-wont-go-away">5 Myths About Credit Cards That Won&#039;t Go Away</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/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill">What to Expect When You&#039;re Expecting a Huge Credit Card Bill</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-myths-about-credit-cards-that-wont-go-away">5 Myths About Credit Cards That Won&#039;t Go Away</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-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-4 views-row-even"> <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> <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-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> </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-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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</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/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> <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/6-common-debt-reduction-roadblocks-and-how-to-beat-them">6 Common Debt Reduction Roadblocks — And How to Beat Them</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/suze-orman-tells-us-to-pay-only-the-minimum-on-credit-cards-wait-what">Suze Orman Tells Us To Pay ONLY The Minimum On Credit Cards. Wait, What?!</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/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</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-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/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/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-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/5-myths-about-credit-cards-that-wont-go-away">5 Myths About Credit Cards That Won&#039;t Go Away</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-things-you-should-never-do-with-your-travel-rewards-credit-cards">7 Things You Should Never Do With Your Travel Rewards Credit Cards</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/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-2 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-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/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-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> 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. 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/the-smart-way-to-pay-for-cell-phone-service">The Smart Way to Pay for Cell Phone Service</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-save-on-smartphones">5 Smart Ways to Save on Smartphones</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/7-apps-for-the-tech-challenged-traveler">7 Apps for the Tech-Challenged Traveler</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/8-ways-to-save-on-smartphone-costs-while-traveling">8 Ways to Save on Smartphone Costs While Traveling</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-sites-that-will-pay-for-your-old-iphone">5 Sites That Will Pay for Your Old iPhone</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Technology bills data plan phone bill phone plan smartphone technology wasting data Mon, 19 Dec 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1855929 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_tsa_line_20741660.jpg" alt="Man making money moves in endless TSA line" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the airport closest to me, the TSA lines are legendary, especially during the holiday season. Last year, they were telling people to give themselves <em>an extra hour</em> before their flight, just to make sure they got through security on time. That's an extra hour on top of the usual hour or two recommended!</p> <p>I don't know about you, but I dread long lines. I spend the entire time thinking about what else I could be doing. Over the years, though, I've come up with ways to use my &quot;line time&quot; well. Here are a few things you can do to improve your financial life while waiting for TSA to get on the ball.</p> <h2>1. Start Using Mint</h2> <p><a href="http://mint.com">Mint</a> is a great way to track your finances. You sign up for an account, connect all of your bank, investment, and debt accounts, and it quietly tracks your overall financial situation. It allows you to look at spending, debt, and net worth automatically and with ease.</p> <p>This is a great thing to do if you're not really tracking your finances right now, or if you don't have a handle on your overall financial situation. Starting with the big picture is almost always a good idea, so that you know what is good and what is bad, right from the start.</p> <h2>2. Sign Up for Digit</h2> <p><a href="http://digit.co">Digit</a> is an online service that saves money for you. You connect the app to a bank account, and they track your spending. Based on what they find, they schedule automatic withdrawals to another account. They don't say much about their analysis algorithm, but people (myself included) claim that they don't notice or need the money that Digit removes from their accounts.</p> <p>If you're already saving, you probably don't need this tool. But if you forget to pay yourself first, this can be a great way to save without really thinking about it. And it's fun to watch your savings build up over time!</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit</h2> <p>If you haven't looked at your free credit report in the last 12 months, you should. <a href="http://annualcreditreport.com">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> is the place to start. From there, you can enter identification information and view a report from each of the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check for incorrect information or credit cards/lines of credit that may have been opened fraudulently.</p> <p>Do make sure that you have a secure Internet connection before you start sharing sensitive personal information. If you aren't sure, add this to your To Do list and work on something else while you're in line.</p> <h2>4. Set a Financial Goal</h2> <p>What would you like your money to do for you? Do you want to travel? Maybe you need to buy a new car. Think about your wants and needs, and choose one or two financial goals for the next few months. Having a goal will help you focus, and it will make you more likely to do things like curb spending or follow through on a savings plan.</p> <p>Don't set too many goals, though. Picking one or two things to save for &mdash; maybe one practical thing and one that's fun &mdash; will give you plenty of motivation without the stress of feeling like your money has to go in too many different directions.</p> <h2>5. Choose a Charity</h2> <p>If you're like me, giving often falls by the wayside. It's not that I don't want to do it, but that I want to be responsible with it. If you want to make sure that any charity that gets your money is actually using it for their stated purposes, do your research while you stand in line.</p> <p>Start by going to your intended charity's website. Most of them will offer some sort of fiscal documentation. If you want to give to a smaller charity, you may need to give them a call and ask for it, instead.</p> <p>If you don't even know where to start giving, start with a simple Google search. Pick an issue that is important to you, and look for charities that target it. You can even limit your search to charities in your local area, if you're interested in volunteering or getting more involved.</p> <h2>6. Check Your Bills</h2> <p>Not sure how long you'll be in line? Pull up your latest credit card bills and glance through them. Make sure that you recognize all the charges and that, to the best of your knowledge, they are for the right amount. Many people find mistakes on their credit card bills, and you can always contact the company to have them fixed. That usually means more money in your pocket.</p> <p>If you don't recognize a charge but you aren't sure, flag it for later, when you can go through your receipts and figure out if it's correct. If you find something very concerning, call your credit company from the line. The sooner you can get in touch with them, the sooner you'll have your money back where it belongs.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line.jpg&amp;description=6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line" 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/u5180/6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line.jpg" alt="6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line" 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/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line">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-7"> <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-travel-hacks-only-frequent-flyers-know">5 Smart Travel Hacks Only Frequent Flyers Know</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/10-ways-you-disrespect-your-money">10 Ways You Disrespect Your 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/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/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For</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/6-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast">6 Simple Financial Upgrades You Can Make During Breakfast</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Travel airports apps bills budgeting charity credit report digit free time mint money moves security tsa waiting in line Thu, 10 Nov 2016 10:30:29 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1830272 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Financial Gifts to Give Yourself This Holiday Season http://www.wisebread.com/13-financial-gifts-to-give-yourself-this-holiday-season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-financial-gifts-to-give-yourself-this-holiday-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_wrapped_gift_77878153.jpg" alt="Woman giving financial gifts to herself this holiday season" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The holiday shopping season is around the corner. And while the average holiday shopper will dole out more than $800 for gifts, about half will also spend an average of $132 on non-gift items for themselves. Hey &mdash; there's nothing wrong with treating yourself, especially when discounts are steep and shopping centers are extra cheery.</p> <p>But, you might want to consider putting that buck thirty toward something more substantial, such as your fiscal health. Read on for our guide to the top financial gifts you should consider giving yourself this holiday season. We promise, there will be no buyers remorse involved.</p> <h2>1. Boost Your Retirement Fund Contribution</h2> <p>The best time to start investing is now. Case in point: If you start maxing out your IRA contributions at age 25, you will have saved $1.6 million by the time you're 70. But if you were to start at 35, you'd save about half that sum. So whatever the form of your retirement savings, be it IRA, 401K, or 403(b), consider boosting your contribution this holiday season. Even a 1% increase can go a long way to making your golden years more comfortable.</p> <h2>2. Pay Down Your Debt</h2> <p>When it comes to personal debt, even $100 can make a sizable dent. Without a doubt, every little bit counts. Use a <a href="https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card">minimum payment calculator</a> to determine just how long it will take your to pay down your credit card debt &mdash; and precisely how much mileage that $100 can get you.</p> <h2>3. Reassess Your Investments</h2> <p>How are your investments faring? Are you on track to meet your earnings expectations? Or do you have too much riskily tied up in a single company's stock? Gift yourself an hour spent reassessing your investments. Rid yourself of risk you can't shoulder and sour gambles.</p> <h2>4. Invest in Professional Advice</h2> <p>In the Internet age, getting good investment advice is easy and affordable. <a href="https://www.wealthfront.com">Wealthfront</a>, which boasts a stable of world-class financial experts that excels in making small money grow, offers free accounts totaling $10,000 or less. And you can open an account with <a href="https://www.betterment.com/">Betterment</a> even if you have no money.</p> <h2>5. Deposit an Extra $100 Into Your Savings Account</h2> <p>It's simple enough: Rather than buy yourself a couple of new sweaters, take that holiday cash and stow it away as savings. And if you think $100 won't make much difference, think again: If you were to sack away an extra $100 quarterly for the next 10 years, you've have an extra $4,000 in your savings account. That's more than the average down payment for a new car.</p> <h2>6. Boost Your Emergency Fund</h2> <p>It's smart to have funds stowed away for the kinds of emergencies life sometimes throws at us. Natural disaster. Illness. Job loss. If you've got an emergency fund, consider funneling some more funds into it. And if you don't, consider setting one up, even if you inaugurate it with a modest $100 investment. It's far better to be prepared than dumbstruck by a bad set of circumstances.</p> <h2>7. Draft a Financial Plan</h2> <p>A third of Americans have taken no steps <a href="https://www.northwesternmutual.com/about-us/studies/planning-and-progress-2015-study">toward financial planning</a>. If you don't have a plan, invest a day to join yourself among the ranks of the minority of Americans who do. It can be as simple as stating your financial priorities and then mapping out what you need to do to achieve them. Yes, it's drudge work. But you stand to benefit greatly by slogging through.</p> <h2>8. Purchase a Book on Finance</h2> <p>Whether it's the stock market or saving for retirement or paying down debt, most of us have a weak spot in our financial literacy. Why not help yourself close that gap by purchasing a book on your weakest link? For inspiration, check out our list of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-classic-personal-finance-books-you-must-read">classic personal finance books</a>.</p> <h2>9. Write a Will</h2> <p>The hardest part about will-writing is getting yourself to actually sit down and write it. No one wants to rationalize their own death by taking time out of their life to plan for it. Nonetheless, it's an important tool that can help to ensure that your property and wishes are carried out according to your liking when you're no longer around to dictate. If your finances are uncomplicated, consider creating an online will, which is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to complete the process.</p> <h2>10. Review Your Credit Score</h2> <p>It costs nothing to check your credit score, but the price of ignoring it can be huge. Your credit score determines critical stuff such as your insurance premium rate and your ability to get a loan. If you're unfamiliar with your credit score, it's probably a good idea to take a pause and get acquainted with it &mdash; and then commit to reviewing it annually. (Be on the lookout for any errors, which could be preventing you from getting lower rates).</p> <h2>11. Donate to Charity</h2> <p>It pays to help others in need. Not only can making a charitable donation give you the feel-good fuzzies, it can also <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/eight-tips-for-deducting-charitable-contributions">lower your tax bill</a>. Just remember to keep good records.</p> <h2>12. Cash in on Your Credit Card Rewards</h2> <p>Airline miles, hotel rewards, and cash are just a few of the amazing incentives available to those who swipe responsibly. But if you don't use 'em, you lose 'em, so take a moment to assess what rewards you've got, when they expire, and whether now's a good time to cash in. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=internal">Cash Back vs Travel Rewards: Pick the Right Credit Card for You</a>)</p> <h2>13. Review Your Account Statements</h2> <p>Remember all those account statements you've been filing away? Now's the time to actually read and analyze the charges. A bogus charge is a tried and true sign of identity theft, so it'll serve you well to review all your statements thoroughly. Painstaking though it may be, giving your financial records a good read affords you the opportunity to correct any improper service fees that may have been mistakenly docked from your account. If you find a faulty charge, you can get reimbursed from your bank or credit card company. If you don't, then you can rest assured that all is in order. Think of it as a game with no chance to lose.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-financial-gifts-to-give-yourself-this-holiday-season">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/save-on-christmas-shopping-with-this-clever-gift-card-strategy">Save on Christmas Shopping With This Clever Gift Card Strategy</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-moments-that-should-be-on-everyones-bucket-list">8 Money Moments That Should Be On Everyone&#039;s Bucket List</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/unique-ways-to-save-money-in-december">Unique Ways to Save Money in December</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/many-happy-returns-5-tips-for-getting-what-you-really-want-this-holiday">Many Happy Returns: 5 Tips for Getting What You Really Want This Holiday</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/10-golden-rules-of-personal-finance-everyone-should-know">10 Golden Rules of Personal Finance Everyone Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills charity Christmas emergency funds estate planning gifts Holidays investments paying debt saving money Mon, 07 Nov 2016 09:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1827215 at http://www.wisebread.com Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_kitchen_dancing_76246703.jpg" alt="Woman learning easy budgeting for first time singles" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As many as 28% of Americans live by themselves. Whether you are venturing out on your own after college, or life circumstances have forced you to live alone (i.e. divorce, kids leaving the nest, etc.), it can be hard to switch your saving and spending mentality to &quot;party of one.&quot;</p> <p>Keep these budgeting tips in mind as you navigate the financial waters by yourself:</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-alone-without-going-broke?ref=seealso">How to Live Alone Without Going Broke</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start With an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Dave Ramsey likes to start with the emergency fund, and I wholeheartedly agree. In my own experience, it seemed as if costly instances were always popping up when I had zero emergency fund and was living paycheck to paycheck.</p> <p>I remember trying to reach that $1,000 saving mark for my emergency fund, thinking it was the most impossible thing ever (hey, I was only 21 making very little money). I remember when I finally reached that mark, the emergency fund stayed at $1,000 and life's little inconveniences seemed to be easier to handle.</p> <p>If you have no emergency fund, then your first financial goal should be a $1,000 fund. After that is established, you want to add a little bit of money to your account each month to save up one month of living expenses, then three months, then six months. This money will keep you protected against a job loss or unexpected medical emergency.</p> <h2>2. Budget for the Fun Stuff</h2> <p>When all of the financial responsibilities sit on your shoulders, it can become so easy to forget to treat yourself and to budget in the fun stuff. No matter how tight your budget is, you need to leave a little wiggle room for mental health. Living frugally and on a strict budget can be amazing, but it can also grow tiresome month after month. What is the point of cutting your grocery budget to less than $30 a week if you are just miserable?</p> <p>Dream big for a second. What would you do or where would you go this minute if you had the money? Perhaps you would buy yourself a fancy pair of shoes or take a weekend trip to Italy. Whatever it is, don't ignore this desire. Instead, research how much it will cost and create a financial road map to get there. Your dream vacation could only be a year or two away with a smart budgeting plan.</p> <h2>3. Evaluate What You Really Need to Buy</h2> <p>Before you get excited about being on your own and buy everything in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, think a moment. Most basic items, such as can openers, dishes, and other must-haves for the home can be found inexpensively. Many of your family members and friends have extra dishes or kitchen gear that they never use. Ask them to borrow it. You might be surprised how generous people are when it comes to getting rid of extra stuff.</p> <p>If you can't score any freebies, then check local thrift stores and yard sales. There is no reason to spend $50 on a plate set when you can score one at a thrift store or yard sale for $5 or less.</p> <p>Another tip is to buy as you realize the need. When I moved into my first place, I didn't realize how many items were needed to just make and eat a basic meal. However, I also realized that a lot of kitchen gadgets aren't necessities. For example, a pie server or salt and pepper shakers are nice to have, but you can easily make it work without them.</p> <h2>4. Budget Before You Move and After</h2> <p>Before you sign the lease on your apartment or rental, crunch the numbers. Is your budget going to be tight? You might have to rethink where you live to better fit your budget. After you move in, evaluate how you are doing with your budget. Are you struggling to stick with it a month or three after moving on your own? These are little red flags that signify a change is needed, either a decrease in expenses or an increase in income.</p> <h2>5. Control Groceries and Eating Out</h2> <p>One of the trickiest things to budget for when you are alone is food. This is especially true if you are used to shopping or cooking for more people. Start with a loose meal plan. This doesn't have to be anything fancy or time-consuming, just plan out what you are going to eat for the week. For example, on Monday, you will eat oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, a sandwich and chips for lunch, and pasta and meatballs for dinner.</p> <p>As you plan out each meal, coordinate your shopping list. As you cook for dinners, you can either cook enough to have lunch the next day, or you can freeze a portion of your meal for later use. This will save you time and prevent you from wasting food. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-eat-better-with-these-6-online-meal-planners?Ref=seealso">Save Money and Eat Better With These 6 Online Meal Planners</a>)</p> <h2>6. Automate Your Finances</h2> <p>Another way to make sure that you stay on top of your finances is to look for apps that will help you automate your finances. For example, <a href="https://www.acorns.com/">Acorns</a> helps you to invest automatically, and <a href="http://mint.com">Mint</a> and <a href="https://www.personalcapital.com/landing/registration/affiliate?utm_source=FlexOffers.com+LLC&amp;utm_medium=affiliate&amp;utm_campaign=Personal+Capital+%24100k+Aggregators&amp;utm_content=">Personal Capital</a> will help you budget with very little time and thinking. Schedule your bills to be paid after your payday to ensure your account does not go into overdraft.</p> <p>Some sites will even let you schedule monthly payments to landlords. Just be sure to still look over statements if you switch to automatic payments. You want to ensure that you are not overcharged for anything. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</a>)</p> <p>Like many things, living alone has a learning curve. Don't let a bad month have you running to credit cards or family for help.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">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-4"> <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/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt</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/suze-orman-tells-us-to-pay-only-the-minimum-on-credit-cards-wait-what">Suze Orman Tells Us To Pay ONLY The Minimum On Credit Cards. Wait, What?!</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/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You 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/10-frugal-hacks-for-single-living">10 Frugal Hacks for Single Living</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-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting automated payments bills emergency fund food costs groceries living alone moving savings single Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:31:03 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1812612 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Painless Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill http://www.wisebread.com/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_coffee_phone_90400295.jpg" alt="Woman finding painless ways to lower her cellphone bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The smartphone has become a necessity for many of us as we use them for work, to communicate with our kids, and to keep our lives organized. Unfortunately, with this amazing technology often comes an expensive monthly bill. But with just a little bit of effort, you can easily lower your cell phone bill to a more budgetable amount. Here are some important steps to get you moving in the right direction.</p> <h2>1. Find Cheaper Companies That Access the Same Towers</h2> <p>Are you aware that discount cell carriers like Republic Wireless and Straight Talk Wireless access the same cell towers as Verizon, AT&amp;T, and Sprint? As a matter of fact, the big carriers actually own the cell towers and sell access to the smaller players at a highly discounted rate and pass the savings along to you. For example, Republic Wireless uses T-Mobile towers, and Straight Talk taps into Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.</p> <p>Use this information to your advantage when deciding if one of the discount cell carriers is for you. Before you decide, be sure to analyze the cell coverage in your region before switching. For example, if your area has poor coverage with T-Mobile, but good with Verizon and Sprint, then Straight Talk might be a better option than Republic. You can save a lot of money every month if you do switch. For example, Straight Talk offers unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of data at 4G speed for only $45 per month. The same plan with Verizon will cost you over $70.</p> <h2>2. Learn to Negotiate a Deal</h2> <p>If you're happy with the carrier you currently have, but don't like how much you pay every month, consider calling them up to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-monthly-telecom-bills-you-can-negotiate">negotiate a better rate</a>. This is especially true if you're month-to-month with your carrier and aren't under a contract. Start by doing a few minutes of homework and check out what the competition is offering. Take note of plans similar to yours that are cheaper. Those less expensive plans are going to be your negotiating ammunition.</p> <p>When you call customer service, tell the first person you speak with that you want to cancel your service as it's too expensive. Without fail, they'll transfer you to the customer loyalty or retention department. These are the folks who have the authority to lower your bill. Keep in mind that cell companies spend a lot of money on new customer acquisition and are often willing to throw you a bone to keep you on as a loyal customer. Immediately tell them about your research and the cell carrier you're considering switching too.</p> <p>At this point, the retention specialist will either offer you a discount to stay on as a customer, or tell you they can't meet the competitor's lower rate. In my experience, it's typically the former. At the very least, most company reps can help you dissect your bill in order to cut out any add-on services you might pay for, but rarely use.</p> <h2>3. Always Look for Employer Discounts</h2> <p>Many employers work with cell phone companies to provide their employee with a discounted rate. Some of the more popular jobs that often qualify include teachers, state and local government jobs, military, and many corporate jobs. Each provider offers a little different discount so your best bet is to check the big four linked below to see if you're eligible for a discount. Most discounts are in the 10%&ndash;25% range. For example, my wife is a public school teacher and she gets a 15% monthly discount from Verizon. All she had to do to get her discount was walk into a Verizon Store and show them proof of her employment.</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://mysprint.sprint.com/verify/?ECID=vanity:verify">Sprint</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/employee/eleuLanding.jsp">Verizon</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/wireless/KM1001048">AT&amp;T</a></li> <li><a href="https://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-4791">T-Mobile</a></li> </ul> <h2>4. Analyze Your Monthly Usage</h2> <p>It's easy to fall into the trap of being happy with your cell phone service and ignore the small details. Like if you actually need everything on your plan that you pay for month-after-month. Pull out your bill and examine it with a fine tooth comb. Are you being charged for things like enhanced voicemail, a 411 service, phone insurance, or roadside assistance? If you don't need it, or rarely use it, cut it out of your plan and save some easy money on your monthly bill.</p> <p>Also, be sure to look for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-family-plans-can-save-you-tons">family share plans</a> that many cell phone providers offer these days. While not heavily advertised, they provide an excellent way to save if you need multiple lines. The more lines you add, the less you pay for each additional line.</p> <h2>5. Verizon Users: Deal Solely With Authorized Sellers</h2> <p>I recently had a former authorized Verizon seller inform me that unlike &quot;Verizon Store&quot; employees, they were not paid a commission when they increase a customer's data plan. She worked at a Verizon kiosk at Costco and she said it's the best place to go to get help understanding your bill and possibly get it lowered. They'll go through it with you, look for spots to save, and let you know about any special discounts they might have available. Actual Verizon Store employees? Not so much.</p> <p>While this is not necessarily a tip that will get your bill lowered, it's good information for Verizon loyalists. Always visit the authorized seller locations as they have employees who don't get paid for raising your bill.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill">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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