fees http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/253/all en-US 10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Credit Card Offer http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_credit_card_000069657419.jpg" alt="Woman asking questions before accepting credit card offer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Unsolicited credit card offers can flood your mailbox and email inbox, and in most cases, you may not give these offers a second glance. But once you're ready to add a new credit card to your financial portfolio, it's important to understand the basic features of these offers and choose the right card. Credit cards are not one and the same, so it's important to ask yourself these 10 questions before accepting an offer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pre-approved-for-credit-card-offers-are-you-pre-qualified?ref=seealso">How to Understand Pre-Approved and Pre-Qualified Credit Card Offers</a>)</p> <h2>1. Is This the Right Time to Apply for a Card?</h2> <p>You may not know this, but there are right and wrong times to apply for a credit card. Typically, you don't want to apply for new credit if you're in the process of or thinking about financing a home. Anytime you get a loan, lenders take your current debt load into consideration. If you get a new credit card and amass a large balance fairly quickly, this can increase your debt ratio and reduce purchasing power. There's nothing wrong with getting a new card, just make sure that the decision to accept an offer doesn't interfere with your ability to get financing in the near future.</p> <h2>2. Am I the Right Candidate?</h2> <p>There are credit cards for every type of borrower. Before accepting a credit card offer, read the fine print and know the qualifications for the card, or else you'll waste time applying for cards you're not eligible to receive. Some credit cards are designed specifically for people with excellent credit, whereas other cards are suited for people with low credit scores. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-fairaverage-credit?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for People with Fair or Average Credit</a>)</p> <p>Credit card companies typically prescreen and match recipients with the appropriate credit card offer. So if you receive an offer in the mail, you're more than likely a suitable candidate. But if you're researching offers on your own, be aware of basic qualifications.</p> <h2>3. What's the APR?</h2> <p>If you'll carry a balance from month to month, make sure you know the card's annual percentage rate (APR). This rate lets you know how much you'll pay in interest if you don't pay off the card in full every month. Interest rates vary and depend on your credit score. Ideally, you want the lowest rate so that you pay the least amount in finance fees.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Cards With the Lowest APRs</a></p> <p>Credit card applications feature the APR prominently. A credit card may offer interest rates ranging from 10.99% APR to 21.99% APR, in which case borrowers with the lowest scores pay the highest rates. Some cards also have low introductory rates, such as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">0% interest on balance transfers</a> and standard purchases for a certain number of months. The interest rate on a credit card can also be fixed or variable. A fixed rate remains the same, but a variable rate can move up or down based on the market.</p> <h2>4. Is There an Annual Fee?</h2> <p>Some credit cards charge an annual fee which can range from $50 to $450. The fee often depends on the number and level of cardmember perks. Make sure you read the fine print for information on annual fees. Not every credit card has an annual fee. If you're looking for a basic, no-frills credit card and you don't care about cardmember perks, it is possible to find <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-no-annual-fees">credit cards with no annual fees</a>.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-decide-if-an-annual-fee-credit-card-is-worth-it-for-you?ref=seealso">How to Decide if an Annual Fee Card Is Worth It for You</a></p> <h2>5. Is There a Rewards Program?</h2> <p>Many credit cards offer rewards, such as miles, points, or cashback for every dollar you spend. A rewards credit card can work if you use credit cards frequently. But it's important to find a credit card with rewards that fit your lifestyle. If you're a frequent traveler, you can search specifically for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards">airline credit cards</a> or a credit card that lets you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">earn miles or points redeemable for travel</a>. The point of the rewards is to get something back for spending (as an incentive for spending, too), so you might as well get something you want or need.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=seealso">Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards: Which Credit Card Is Right for You?</a></p> <h2>6. Does the Bank Report to the Bureaus?</h2> <p>Not every credit card company reports to the three major credit bureaus on a regular basis. Whether you want to build or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">improve your credit score</a>, choose a credit card company that will report your activity to the bureaus on a monthly basis. You can find credit bureau reporting information in the terms of agreement on the application, or you can call the bank for this information.</p> <h2>7. Do I Need Another Credit Card?</h2> <p>Getting a credit card offer in the mail doesn't mean you have to complete the offer. Consider whether you need another credit card. Will the new credit card offer you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about">additional perks and benefits</a>, or save you money by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">offering cash back</a>? Is there a card with an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">enticing sign up offer</a>? Then again, if you can't keep up with your current monthly payments, or if your current credit cards are maxed out, adding a new card may further complicate your finances.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year?ref=seealso">How to Save $1,094.86 a Year With Credit Cards</a></p> <h2>8. What Are the Credit Card Fees?</h2> <p>The cost of owning a credit card doesn't stop with the annual fee and APR. Credit cards include a variety of other fees, and it's important to count the cost before accepting an offer. You need to consider the late fee, the cash advance fee, and the balance transfer fee. Additionally, if you used the credit card in a foreign country, would you be charged a foreign transaction fee? Credit card fees add up quickly. You can save money by picking a card with the least amount of fees.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards With No Balance Transfer Fee</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/smarter-security-and-no-foreign-transaction-fees-the-best-credit-cards-to-use-while-on-vacation?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees</a></p> <h2>9. What Else Can the Card Offer Me?</h2> <p>Besides reward programs, credit cards include a host of other offers and incentives to lure customers. For example, some credit cards give cardholders <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores">free access to their credit scores</a> and the ability to download an app and manage their account from a mobile device. Other cards include <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-car-rental-insurance-really-cover-on-your-credit-card">car rental insurance</a>, trip cancellation insurance, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer">extended warranty protection</a>, price protection, and many other perks.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-card-perks-beyond-points-and-miles?ref=seealso">The Best Credit Card Perks Beyond Miles and Points</a></p> <h2>10. How Does the Offer Compare to Other Offers?</h2> <p>It isn't enough to review the specifics of a particular credit card offer, you should also determine how this offer compares with other offers. The truth is, you can't truly identify a good credit card offer until you make comparisons. After receiving an offer, the fees and interest rate may seem fair and reasonable. But shopping around may open your eyes to something better. This doesn't mean you have to spend weeks comparing different credit cards, but you should compare at least three cards before making a decision.</p> <p><em>What do you consider before accepting a credit card offer?</em></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/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer">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/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards">7 Important Things You Should Know About Balance Transfer 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/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</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/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">When to Do a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards">6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel With 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/citi-double-cash-rewards-card-pays-you-to-pay-off-your-debt">Citi Double Cash Rewards Card Pays You to Pay Off Your Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards applying for credit APR balance transfers cashback fees rewards Wed, 20 Apr 2016 10:30:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1690617 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Important Things You Should Know About Balance Transfer Cards http://www.wisebread.com/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards" 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_tablet_000089260129_0.jpg" alt="Woman considering things before transferring credit card balance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Zero-interest credit cards can provide a valuable solution for anyone who is attempting to pay off a card with a high interest rate. They can help you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">pay off debt faster</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">save money on interest</a>, help consolidate your monthly card payments, or increase your available credit, thereby improving your credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso">How to Raise Your Credit Score with Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>However, there are also a number of reasons you may want to avoid a zero-interest credit card altogether. Consider these potential pitfalls before making the switch.</p> <h2>1. Balance Transfer Fees</h2> <p>Usually when you execute a balance transfer, you will be subject to a transfer fee, which can be between 3%&ndash;5% of the total amount transferred. This can be a hefty amount added to your total balance due. But, in comparison to a high interest rate card, you might still end up saving money. You'll have to calculate your monthly interest, how much you would save with an interest free credit card, and whether that is more than the balance transfer fee.</p> <p>There are some cards, however, that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees">don't have a balance transfer fee</a>. For example, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chase-slate-visa-review">Chase Slate</a> offers a 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, and no intro balance transfer fee if you transfer a balance within the first 60 days of account opening. As long as you can pay off your debt within the intro period, you will save a load of money on interest, and pay no fees on it, either.</p> <h2>2. It Might Hurt Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Applying for any credit card will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report whether you are approved for it or not, which can result in your credit score taking a hit of somewhere between three and five points. This means that even if you aren't approved for the new credit card, your credit score could decline.</p> <p>If you close the original credit card after making the balance transfer, the average age of your accounts will drop. It will also cause your total available credit to decrease. These factors will negatively affect your credit score. To combat these problems, simply keep the original credit card open (with a $0 balance), even after transferring the balance out of it. However, if you will be tempted to spend money on the old credit card, then it is best to just close it.</p> <h2>3. It's Only Temporary</h2> <p>Zero-interest offers are temporary and usually last between six to 24 months. You shouldn't get comfortable with this low APR because it will revert to a higher APR once the intro period is up. When making a balance transfer, it is most important to commit to paying off the balance within the intro period. Otherwise, the interest will start accruing again and it would be a waste of an opportunity to get rid of your debt completely.</p> <h2>4. You Might Not Qualify for 0%</h2> <p>Keep in mind that you don't have a 0% promotional interest rate until you are approved for it. Receiving an application or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pre-approved-for-credit-card-offers-are-you-pre-qualified">pre-approval in the mail</a> does not guarantee that you will get it. Also, a 0% balance transfer credit card can't help you if you get approved, but the credit limit on it is so low that it can't cover the amount you want. You'll just end up having two payments every month instead of one.</p> <p>Always be sure to read carefully what you are applying for. Balance transfers aren't always included in promotional APR offers, so read the offer to see if the 0% applies to <em>purchases</em> and/or <em>balance transfers</em>. Sometimes they only offer 0% for one, not the other.</p> <h2>5. You May Not Be Able to Transfer the Balance at All</h2> <p>Most issuers won't allow a balance transfer from another one of their cards. You'll need to get a card that isn't issued by the same bank as the card you want to transfer the balance from. Here's a list of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">best promotional balance transfer offers available</a>.</p> <h2>6. You May Be Tempted to Only Pay the Minimum</h2> <p>Many borrowers who open a new zero-interest credit card will be tempted to only pay the minimum amount due, rather than what they were paying on their original credit card. Just because you have a lower intro APR doesn't mean you should be paying any less than you were before. In fact, now is the time to pay off the credit card, when you don't need to worry about interest, so make sure to pay at least as much as you were paying on the original credit card.</p> <h2>7. You May Be Tempted to Spend More</h2> <p>If you have a hard time keeping credit cards open without spending, you may not want to open another card. Adding more debt defeats the whole purpose of opening a card for a balance transfer, and will put you in an even worse position than when you started. And sometimes the 0% doesn't apply to new purchases, which means you'd immediately start accruing interest on any new purchase you make. So the best thing you should do when opening a card for a balance transfer is to not add any new purchases on that card.</p> <h2>How to Make the Most of the Card</h2> <p>If you decide to pursue a balance transfer offer, make sure you are fully aware of the terms beforehand. You'll want to know when the intro APR is up, what the intro APR will be, what the APR will be after the intro rate expires, the minimum monthly payment, and how much the balance transfer fee is. To make the most of the offer, pay off your balance before the 0% intro APR offer ends. Otherwise, you will end up wasting more on the balance transfer fee and the new credit card go-to APR.</p> <p>The key is to use this card strategically to decrease your debt. If you don't use it for any other purchases and keep your eye on the intro APR expiration date, you should be fine.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any other pros and cons associated with opening a zero-interest credit card? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></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/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards">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-6"> <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/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer">10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Credit Card Offer</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/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</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-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">When to Do a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards APR balance transfers credit score fees zero interest Tue, 19 Apr 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1691579 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Make Sure You Never Pay an ATM Fee http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-make-sure-you-never-pay-an-atm-fee <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-make-sure-you-never-pay-an-atm-fee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_atm_transaction_000076345273.jpg" alt="Man finding ways to never pay an atm fee" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>That little fee tacked onto your withdrawal when you use an automatic teller machine outside your bank network is not only annoying &mdash; it's a terrible financial move. Just a few dollars might seem insignificant at the time, but what you may not think about is that ATM fees can make up an obscenely high percentage of the money you're withdrawing. For instance, if you are taking out $50 and you pay a $2.50 fee to the bank whose machine you are using, plus a $2 fee to your own bank, you just paid an additional 9% to access your own money. You wouldn't take out a mortgage at that rate, so don't pay that rate for your own cash!</p> <p>My husband used to be a serial out-of-network ATM user. I formulated this list of tips to help him avoid the insidious habit.</p> <h2>1. Fill Up at 50%</h2> <p>Just like driving mountain roads with the empty tank light blazing, walking around town with an empty wallet is tempting fate. Set an optimal amount of cash to carry at all times &mdash; say, $50 &mdash; and when your wallet dips below $25, plan a stop at your bank's ATM to refill.</p> <p>If you tend to spend cash just because it's in your wallet, be craftier about your emergency reserve. Keep it in your car glove compartment, zipped into an inside pocket of your jacket, or in some other out-of-sight place. And if you don't like stopping at the bank when your backup runs out, keep a <em>backup </em>backup, like a drawer at home with $100 for replenishing.</p> <h2>2. Carry a Checkbook</h2> <p>Sure, it's super dorky to have to ask an establishment if they'll take a check. But it's better than paying high rates to access your own money. Stash a checkbook in your bag or the glove compartment.</p> <h2>3. Get Cash Back Instead</h2> <p>This is my favorite move in a cash emergency: I stop in a drugstore or grocery store, make a purchase, pay with my debit card, and ask for cash back, which is usually provided with no fee. I try to pick up something I needed anyway &mdash; say, envelopes. But even if I just buy myself a small treat, like a candy bar, as long as it's under $2, I still come out ahead.</p> <h2>4. Check Your Bank's Online Location Finder</h2> <p>Just because you're in an unfamiliar area doesn't mean you have to go to the first ATM you see. If you use a large bank, and you need cash while traveling, a few clicks can let you know where the nearest in-network cash machine is.</p> <h2>5. Find Out if Your Bank Has Partners</h2> <p>One reason I have kept my checking account with Citi through several moves is that they have a deal with 7-Eleven, so that I can use the machines inside the stores without paying a fee.</p> <h2>6. Change Banks or Get an Additional Checking Account</h2> <p>If your current bank lacks ATMs near your work or home, maybe it's time for a switch. You could pick a bank that has ATMs convenient to you, or choose one of the institutions that reimburses you for other banks' fees so that you can use any ATM for free. A lot of online-only banks do this. But read the fine print: Many require you to maintain a minimum balance or meet other criteria in order to get the fees reimbursed.</p> <h2>7. Do Your Homework Before Traveling Abroad</h2> <p>If you thought a few dollars in out-of-network fees were bad, wait until you get back from a European vacation and read your bank statement. You will probably find an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-re-overpaying-for-on-your-vacation">international transaction fee</a> and possibly also a currency exchange fee tacked on &mdash; in addition to the normal fees from your bank and the bank that owns the ATM. Ouch.</p> <p>Before leaving on a trip, you can open a checking account with one of the rare banks that reimburses these foreign fees.</p> <h2>8. Don't Be Shy About Your Predicament</h2> <p>My husband is a lot better about avoiding ATM fees now, but when he pays one, it's often because he was meeting a friend at a cash-only establishment and was too embarrassed to make the friend wait while he solved his cash problem. I say, let friends know that you don't want to pay an ATM fee. Borrow the $10 you need from your friend and pay him back tomorrow, or PayPal or Venmo him the money on the spot, or just ask to switch to the restaurant next door that accepts credit cards. After all, if you raise your friend's ATM fee awareness, you'll be doing him a favor in the long run.</p> <p><em>What do you do to avoid ATM fees?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-make-sure-you-never-pay-an-atm-fee">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-paper-checks-are-still-relevant">5 Reasons Paper Checks Are Still Relevant</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-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</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/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</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-your-savings-account-may-be-costing-you">8 Ways Your Savings Account May Be Costing 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/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer">10 Tips to Save You from an ATM Skimmer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking ATM cash checkbooks fees withdrawals Wed, 13 Apr 2016 09:00:18 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1687114 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Steps to Take When Bankruptcy Is Your Only Option http://www.wisebread.com/11-steps-to-take-when-bankruptcy-is-your-only-option <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-steps-to-take-when-bankruptcy-is-your-only-option" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000021941715.jpg" alt="Learning steps to take when bankruptcy is the only option" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Filing for bankruptcy can provide a welcome solution for anyone who simply cannot keep up with their debts and credit obligations. But it's never something that should be taken lightly. Bankruptcy can remain on your credit for up to 10 years, making it nearly impossible to apply for credit in the meantime. Having a bankruptcy on your record can even affect your ability to get a job.</p> <p>That's why we've covered the main steps you'll need to take if you're filing for bankruptcy. Consider them before deciding whether bankruptcy is right for your situation.</p> <h2>1. Get Serious About What Bankruptcy Means</h2> <p>Before making the decision to file for bankruptcy, make sure you've explored all other options, like debt consolidation or credit counseling. You will also need to determine if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you (as opposed to Chapter 11, 12, 13, or 15). Most individuals choose Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which will release the debtor from some, or all, financial obligations.</p> <p>According to LegalZoom, the entire bankruptcy process should take four to six months to complete. However, keep in mind that a discharge is not guaranteed. Even after filing your petition in bankruptcy court and going through all the motions, your creditors can still object to your discharge. You might also not receive a discharge if you don't fill out all the necessary documents correctly and on time, if you fail to attend any required credit counseling courses, or if you did not fill out the paperwork truthfully.</p> <h2>2. Complete the Means Test</h2> <p>It is important that you complete what's known as the <a href="http://www.uscourts.gov/forms/means-test-forms/chapter-7-means-test-calculation">means test</a>. This standard test will compare your income to your debts to help you determine if you should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.</p> <h2>3. Hire an Attorney, if Necessary</h2> <p>A bankruptcy lawyer can be invaluable when you're filing your case. A lawyer can explain your options, answer your questions, make informed recommendations, and even fill out the forms for you and make sure they are filed before the court deadlines. At the very least, call a bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation. You will definitely have questions throughout the process and probably need some form of advice.</p> <p>But you don't necessarily need a bankruptcy attorney for the entire process, and many people are able to successfully file for bankruptcy on their own. Filing on your own can save money on attorney's fees, but first consider whether it's the best course of action in your case.</p> <p>Filing for bankruptcy on your own can be very difficult and confusing. There are a number of complicated legal concepts and terms, as well as regular court requirements that you need to keep up with. A bankruptcy attorney can help you get through the process in far less time and stress. Use a free consultation to determine whether you'd benefit from hiring a bankruptcy attorney.</p> <h2>4. Pay the Fees</h2> <p>While bankruptcy can help to eliminate your debt, it can be an expensive process in and of itself. For starters, you'll be responsible for filing the application fees. On average, debtors who file for bankruptcy on their own can expect to spend approximately $300&ndash;$500 filing for bankruptcy. On the other hand, debtors who file for bankruptcy with an attorney usually spend around $2,000 total. Once you schedule your free initial consultation, you can get more information on the fees and when you would be responsible for paying them.</p> <h2>5. Assemble Your Information</h2> <p>Regardless of whether or not you hire an attorney, you'll need to have all of your financial information gathered and organized. You need to analyze your income, expenses, assets, and debts, and determine your property exemptions. You will also need to have basic information like your average monthly income during the previous six months.</p> <p>In order to have a debt discharged, it needs to be listed on your bankruptcy forms. If it is not listed, you may still be responsible for it after the bankruptcy. This is why it's so important to carefully assemble your financial information before you ever file paperwork or attend any credit counseling programs.</p> <h2>6. Determine Which Debts Are Excusable</h2> <p>Bankruptcy can wipe the slate clean when there is simply no way you can pay off your obligations. However, there are still some debts you may be responsible for, such as student loans, child support, and tax debt. It is also important to keep in mind that anyone who cosigned or guaranteed a loan for you will still be obligated to pay.</p> <h2>7. Attend a Credit Counseling Program</h2> <p>Within six months before filing your petition, you will need to attend a credit counseling program at a court-approved agency. The counseling can usually be completed online or over the phone and will only take about an hour or so. There is a fee for credit counseling, but it is usually under $100. When you file your petition, you will need to provide proof that you have completed this program.</p> <h2>8. File the Forms</h2> <p>There are a number of <a href="http://www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms">bankruptcy forms</a> that need to be correctly filled out and filed on time. Once the packet of forms (also known as a bankruptcy petition) has been filled out, the debtor will normally receive a discharge of their debts approximately a few months later (if your petition is accepted).</p> <h2>9. Automatic Stay</h2> <p>Once you have filed all the necessary paperwork, an automatic stay will go into effect. This prohibits almost all creditors from continuing collection actions against you.</p> <h2>10. Attend the Meeting</h2> <p>Chapter 7 bankruptcies rarely go to court. However, you will need to attend a mandatory meeting (also known as a 341 meeting) with the creditors and court-appointed trustee. During this meeting, your trustee will ask questions pertaining to your bankruptcy petition and finances. Your creditors may also choose to attend the meeting to question you or the trustee, but this usually doesn't happen. If all goes well, you can expect a bankruptcy discharge within approximately 60 days after the meeting.</p> <h2>11. Post-Bankruptcy Obligations</h2> <p>Once you have successfully filed for bankruptcy, you will need to attend post-bankruptcy credit counseling. This is to help you more successfully manage your debts going forward so that you are not in the same position again. They can also help you rebuild a healthy credit history. Once you have completed the debtor's education course, you will get your discharge. At this time, the automatic stay will end and your case will be closed.</p> <p><em>Do you have any other advice for debtors considering filing for bankruptcy? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></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/11-steps-to-take-when-bankruptcy-is-your-only-option">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/3-times-bankruptcy-is-the-right-move">3 Times Bankruptcy Is the Right Move</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/peak-debt">Peak Debt</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/whats-the-best-way-to-get-out-of-debt">What&#039;s the Best Way to Get out of Debt?</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/recession-journal-part-i-fast-money-in-the-09">Recession Journal Part I: &#039;Fast&#039; Money in the &#039;09</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/uk-banks-are-blocking-customers-credit-cards-will-the-usa-be-next">UK banks are blocking customers&#039; credit cards. Will the USA be next?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bankruptcy chapter 13 chapter 7 credit debt fees means test Fri, 11 Mar 2016 10:30:33 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1660233 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Ever Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-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-ever-pay-your-taxes-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/credit_cards_calculator_000079053127.jpg" alt="Woman wondering if she should pay taxes with a credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a perfect world, you'd never owe the IRS a cent on tax day. But what if your world isn't perfect and you owe the IRS a lot of money on April 15? You might be tempted to simply pay your debt to the IRS with your credit card.</p> <p>Resist that temptation. Paying your taxes with a credit card is almost always a bad financial move. You'll not only have to pay a convenience fee for using plastic, but you'll also face high interest rates on your debt. You might even hurt your credit score, depending on how much tax debt you place on your credit card.</p> <p>&quot;It just doesn't make sense to pay your taxes with your credit card,&quot; said Jim Torgerson, owner of Consolidated Financial Solutions in Palatine, Illinois.&nbsp;&quot;You are defeating yourself when you do this.&quot;</p> <h2>Why You Shouldn't Pay Your Taxes With Your Credit Card</h2> <p>The problem with paying your taxes with your credit card? It's expensive.</p> <p>First, the IRS will charge you a convenience fee for paying with plastic. Depending on your unpaid balance, that fee will range from 1.87% to 2.25% of what you owe.</p> <p>Then there's the interest that your credit card provider charges. Credit cards come with interest rates of 18%, 20%, or more. If you put $5,000 of unpaid taxes on your credit cards, you'll face a big hit in interest payments if you aren't able to pay all that you owe on your cards' due dates.</p> <p>&quot;Say you put $4,000 on your tax bill and you have an interest rate of 20%. Just think of how much you will pay in interest if you can only pay the minimum required payment each month,&quot; Torgerson said. &quot;It could take you years to pay that off, and you'll be paying interest all that time.&quot;</p> <h2>A Credit Score Hit</h2> <p>Putting your taxes on your credit card can also damage your FICO score. This is a problem today: Lenders rely on this score to determine who qualifies for loans and what interest rates they pay on the money they borrow.</p> <p>Putting too much debt on your credit cards will immediately hurt your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit-utilization ratio</a>, an important number for the health of your credit score. If you are using too much of your available credit, your credit score will drop. It will rise if you are using less of your available credit.</p> <h2>Better Options</h2> <p>Torgerson suggests that you search for better options than a credit card if you owe the IRS a large sum of money.</p> <h3>A Loan</h3> <p>The best choice might be to get a personal loan to pay off the IRS debt. You'll probably struggle to get one from a bank, but you might be able to convince a family member to loan you the money. Just make sure that you pay back the dollars according to your agreement. If you don't, you could seriously damage your relationship with whoever loaned you the money.</p> <h3>An Installment Plan</h3> <p>Your next best choice? You can sign up for an installment agreement with the IRS. Under such agreements, the IRS allows you to pay back what you owe in monthly installment payments. Yes, this method will cost you in fees and interest. But the IRS charges <em>far </em>lower interest rates than do the providers of credit cards. Even with the IRS fees, the odds are high that you'll pay less through an IRS installment fee than you would by putting your debt on your credit card.</p> <p>If you do plan on setting up an installment plan, be sure to file your income taxes on time. By doing this, you won't have to pay the IRS' failure-to-file penalty. That penalty can be hefty; The IRS will charge you 5% of your outstanding balance every month in which you don't file your taxes.</p> <p>Once you do set up an installment plan, you'll still have to pay a monthly penalty of 0.5% of your outstanding balance until you pay off all of your taxes. You'll also have to pay interest on your balance each month. This interest rate is set each quarter, and equals the federal short-term interest rate plus 3% &mdash; much lower than the 12% or higher interest rate on most credit cards.</p> <p>You'll also have a setup fee to start an installment agreement. That fee is $120 unless you agree to have your installment payments made by a direct debit from your bank account. If you agree to the direct-debit option, your setup fee falls to $52.</p> <p>To request an installment agreement, you have two options. If you owe more than $50,000, you will have to fill out IRS Form 9465 and attach it with your tax return. If you owe less than $50,000, you don't have to fill out this form. Instead, you can request an installment agreement online at the IRS' website.</p> <p>If you owe less than $10,000, the IRS will automatically accept your request for an installment plan if you meet certain guidelines: If during the previous five tax years you filed all your income tax returns on time, paid the income taxes that you owed, and did not request a different installment agreement.</p> <p>If the IRS does accept your request for an installment agreement, the agency will usually require monthly payments that allow you to pay back what you owe during a 10-year period. It makes financial sense, though, for you to pay as much as possible each month to cut down on late fees and interest.</p> <p>&quot;The IRS is not a bad person to owe,&quot; Torgerson said. &quot;They want their money and they'll work with you to get it.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you ever paid your taxes with a credit card?</em></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/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-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-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/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes">Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes</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/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do">Can&#039;t Pay Your Taxes? Here&#039;s What to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</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-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</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-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes credit reports fees FICO score IRS payment options tax deadlines tax extensions Fri, 11 Mar 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1670330 at http://www.wisebread.com Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal? http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal" 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_000030704826.jpg" alt="Woman learning if balance transfer is a good deal" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A credit card balance transfer is a practical way to consolidate debt, save money, and ditch a high-rate credit card. This involves transferring the balance from a higher-interest credit card to another, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards">lower-interest credit card</a>.</p> <p>There are various balance transfer offers, but unfortunately, not every offer is financially rewarding. To know whether you're getting a solid deal, you have to consider the costs associated with a particular offer.</p> <h2>Balance Transfer Fee</h2> <p>In a perfect world, there wouldn't be any fees to transfer a balance &mdash; or at the very least we would pay a low, flat fee &mdash; but this is rarely the case. The typical fee is $10 or 3% of the transferred balance, whichever is higher. Some balance transfer credit cards charge a 5% fee.</p> <p>Balance transfer fees are charged directly to the card balance and reduce the actual savings of switching to a low-rate card. For example, if transferring your balance to a low-rate card saves $900 in interest, but you paid a $200 balance transfer fee, you actually only saved $700.</p> <p>Since nearly all cards have no cap on how much you pay, the bigger your transfer, the bigger the fee &mdash; hence the importance of comparing different balance transfer offers to make sure you're getting a deal. Shopping around can be the difference between paying $300 and $500 for a $10,000 balance transfer.</p> <p>There are, however, a few cards that don't charge a balance transfer fee. These can include cards offered by smaller banks and credit unions, as well as bigger financial institutions. Here are two cards from major issuers that do not charge a balance transfer fee:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chase-slate-visa-review">Chase Slate</a>&nbsp;doesn't charge a balance transfer fee, but only if you transfer balances within the first 60 days of opening an account. Transfers made after that introductory period are charged 3% or $5.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cash-back-card-for-average-credit-capital-one-quicksilverone-cash-rewards-credit-card">Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards credit card</a>&nbsp;also doesn't charge a balance transfer fee, but there is a $39 annual fee. That amount is pretty much the equivalent of paying a fee if you're transferring a balance of $1,000 or less (so it's still a better deal than most cards if you're transferring more than $1,000).</li> </ul> <h2>Longest 0% APR vs Low Standard APR</h2> <p>For a balance transfer offer to make sense, the interest savings should be significantly greater than any fees paid to transfer your balance. To win your business, many cards offer an introductory 0% interest for a set period.</p> <p>There are currently <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">offers of 0% APR up to 21 months</a>. This teaser rate eventually disappears, but if you pay off your credit card balance before the regular interest rate kicks in, you don't pay a penny of interest.</p> <p>However, some people make the mistake of only looking at the introductory rate when selecting a card, and they forget to consider the ongoing or regular APR once the promotional period ends.</p> <p>When you don't compare rates, you could unknowingly apply for a card with a regular APR that's higher than what you're currently paying. Which isn't that awful if you pay off the card during the introductory rate period. But if you don't pay off the entire balance before the end of the 0% APR period, the new interest charges might cancel out some of the potential savings.</p> <p>Let's say you have a credit card with a $2,000 balance and a 20% interest rate. If you transfer the balance to a card with 0% interest for 12 months and a balance transfer fee of 3%. You'll save about $340 over the introductory rate period.</p> <p>If the card had a 16% regular APR, you'd save about $7 per month after the intro 12 months. But if you qualify for a card with a regular interest rate of 10%, you would save $17 per month.</p> <p>Ideally, you want to find a card that has both a long intro 0% APR period <em>and</em> a low regular APR afterwards. Here's are two good choices:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bankamericard-credit-card-review">BankAmericard Credit Card</a>&nbsp;gets you 18 billing cycles of 0% APR on balance transfers made within the first 60 days. Afterwards, the regular APR is 11.24%-21.24%.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-discover-it-card-attractive-cash-back-awards-for-shoppers">Discover it</a>&nbsp;also offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers (6 months for purchases), followed by a regular APR of 11.24%-23.24%.</li> </ul> <h2>The Low Rate May Not Apply to New Purchases</h2> <p>The rules regarding interest and balance transfers vary, so it's important to read the fine print and understand an offer before you apply &mdash; or else you could end up paying interest unexpectedly.</p> <p>Some credit cards have 0% introductory rates that apply to both new purchases and balance transfers, whereas other cards only apply the teaser rate to balance transfers. So if you transfer a balance to a card, and you also use this card for new purchases, you'll have dual interest rates and you'll pay regular interest on all new purchases.</p> <p>To keep it simple, choose a card that offers a promotional rate on both purchases and balance transfers.</p> <h2>Protect Your Credit When Transferring a Balance</h2> <p>Applying for a new credit card and transferring your balance can potentially harm your credit score &mdash; but only if you do it the wrong way.</p> <p>A new card triggers an inquiry on your credit report, and each inquiry can drop your credit score by a few points. This isn't the best news, but at the end of the day, it isn't a big deal as long as you don't apply for too many new accounts in a short span of time.</p> <p>As mentioned, a balance transfer is one way to simplify your finances. You can transfer all your balances to a new card and only worry about one monthly payment. The problem, however, is that a balance transfer could throw off your credit utilization ratio if you cancel the old card that no longer has a balance on it.</p> <p>Credit utilization is your percentage of outstanding balances compared to your total credit limit. This ratio should never exceed 30%, and if your ratio is higher than this percentage, your credit score suffers.</p> <p>The way you approach a balance transfer can either help or hurt your credit score. To illustrate, imagine you have two credit cards:</p> <ul> <li>Credit card #1: $1,000 balance with a $2,000 credit limit<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit card #2: $4,000 balance with a $5,000 credit limit</li> </ul> <p>In this example, you owe a total balance of $5,000 with a total credit limit of $7,000, resulting in a total credit utilization ratio of 71%, which is more than doubled the recommended max percentage of 30%.</p> <p>Let's say you then get a new credit card with a credit limit of $10,000 and transfer both balances to this card, this new card increases your total available credit to $17,000, which drops your credit utilization ratio to 29% &mdash; but only if you keep the old paid-off accounts open!</p> <p>If you're going to open a new account and transfer balances, don't immediately start closing accounts. Run the numbers first, and only close accounts if your credit usage is no more than 30%.</p> <p><em>Have you transferred a balance? How did you make out? Let's discuss in the comments below.</em></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/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">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/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer">10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Credit Card Offer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</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-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards">7 Important Things You Should Know About Balance Transfer Cards</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-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer 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-much-does-your-credit-card-debt-cost-you">How Much Does Your Credit Card Debt Cost You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Debt Management APR balance transfers credit utilization ratios debt reduction fees interest rates Wed, 09 Mar 2016 11:30:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1669479 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Investing Tips You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self http://www.wisebread.com/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/child_money_bags_000035094952.jpg" alt="Investing tips you wish you could tell your younger self" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes I look back on my past as a young investor and want to kick myself. I didn't really know what I was doing back then, and made a number of mistakes that cost me money in the long run.</p> <p>I did learn a lot and truly enjoy investing and saving now. But I wish I could go back in time and offer my younger self a few bits of advice. Here's <em>my </em>list of investing tips to the &quot;young me&quot; that'll hopefully spare you the same mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Understand the Value of Compound Returns</h2> <p>Retirement is one of the last things you're going to think about when you've had hardly any time in the workforce. &quot;What? Retirement? I'm only 22!&quot; As crazy as it sounds, investing money in these early years is a crucial part of having a large nest egg upon retirement. The earlier you start investing, the more time that money has to grow. And with a long time horizon, you don't have to be overly concerned about the ups and downs of the market.</p> <h2>2. Familiarize Yourself With Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>If you have some money, it may be tempting as a young person to simply open a brokerage account and begin buying and selling. But it's important first to understand the basics of retirement accounts and the advantages they offer to investors. Individual Retirement Accounts (or IRAs), along with 401K plans can allow you to save for retirement and get great tax benefits along the way.</p> <h2>3. Don't Buy That Thing &mdash; Invest Your Money Instead</h2> <p>I cringe when I think about the useless stuff I bought when I was in my teens and twenties. Articles of clothing, music, movies, computer games, expensive meals with friends... I had a lot of fun, but I could have had as much fun living more frugally, and I think about how much money I'd have now if I'd bought stocks, instead. Even a small amount of money placed in an index fund at age 18 has the potential to grow into a substantial sum. I wish I could go back and tell my young self to put at least <em>some </em>of my spending money in an account that would build value for my future self.</p> <h2>4. Reinvest Those Dividends</h2> <p>As a young investor, I used to get dividend checks from companies that I owned shares of. And frequently, I would use that money to go and treat myself: a movie, a dinner out, a trip to a ballgame, a new pair of jeans. Little did I know that I could have used those dividends to easily buy more shares of a stock. Imagine the growth in a portfolio that is not only seeing share price growth, but an increase in the number of shares. This is also a great way to practice dollar cost averaging, because you are using dividends to buy more shares as prices fall and fewer shares as prices increase.</p> <h2>5. Don't Panic</h2> <p>When you are a new investor, it can be a startling thing to see stock values drop. It's very tempting to pull your money out of the markets when you see your investments lose value quickly. But I look back now on stocks that I sold in a panic, and really wish I had held onto them, as they all would have quickly rebounded in value and made me money over time.</p> <h2>6. Stop Checking Your Investments Every Day</h2> <p>Investments go up. They go down. They go up again. Tracking them each day really serves no purpose, and will only stress you out. By checking your portfolio only once a week or so, you'll be less tempted to buy or sell based on an emotional reaction to the market movements.</p> <h2>7. Don't Try to Pick Stocks</h2> <p>Admittedly, it's fun at first to pick a company you are familiar with, buy some shares of stock, and watch how they perform. It's actually not a bad way to get comfortable with how the stock market works. But if you want to make money long-term, trying to create a portfolio of individual stocks will ultimately be ineffective and perhaps even frustrating. You're much better off as a young person placing the bulk of your money into an index fund that tracks the S&amp;P 500 or total stock market. This will generate solid returns for years to come, and will require a lot less work.</p> <h2>8. Know What You're Investing In</h2> <p>I remember when I first began putting money in a 401K, and had the option to invest in a number of different mutual funds. I spread my money evenly across most of them, believing that it was a path to diversification. After some time, I began to research the holdings of each fund, and realized that many of them invested in the same big companies. It turns out that I wasn't &quot;diversifying&quot; at all. The lesson I learned is that before you invest your money, have a good idea of what you are investing in. Learn how to read mutual fund prospectuses and earnings reports.</p> <h2>9. Learn About Commissions, Fees, and Taxes</h2> <p>When I first began investing, I opened an eTrade account, invested in a few stocks, and left the account alone. About a year later, I got $50 deducted from my account for &quot;inactivity.&quot; Then I exacerbated the problem by selling the stocks in a panic and then incurring short-term capital gains taxes. Brokerage companies try to be transparent about fees and expenses, but it's up to the investor to understand that it costs money to buy and sell stocks. Mutual fund managers will take a cut of every dollar you invest, and there are tax implications every time you sell. None of this should be a deterrent to investing, but young people must have a good grasp of how it impacts the performance of their investment portfolio.</p> <h2>10. Take All of the Company Match</h2> <p>At my very first job, I invested money in the company 401K plan, but didn't feel like I was earning enough to reach a full company match. (The company matched contributions of up to 5% of salaries at the time.) Looking back, I realize that I probably left thousands of dollars on the table because I was too conservative. A company match is <em>free money </em>&mdash; you should always take it if you can. Those extra dollars could add up to a significant amount of money in your retirement account over time. Plus, the match encourages you to save more of your own money, and that's never a bad thing.</p> <h2>11. Don't Get Too Excited About Company Stock</h2> <p>Many companies offer company stock as part of their retirement plans. This is a nice perk, but young people in particular must understand that it's dangerous to put too much stock in their portfolio. Consider the plight of many Enron employees who lost nearly all of their retirement savings when the company went bankrupt in 2001. It's okay to keep some company stock, particularly if it's provided to you for free or you are allowed to buy it at at a discount. But make sure it comprises just a fraction of your overall portfolio. Having too much of your savings tied up in one stock &mdash; particularly one that is already responsible for your financial wellbeing &mdash; is dangerous.</p> <p><em>What investing lessons would you tell your younger self?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">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/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for">4 Sneaky Investment Fees to Watch For</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/7-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</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/11-investment-mistakes-we-all-make">11 Investment Mistakes We All Make</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-things-your-financial-advisor-wishes-you-knew">7 Things Your Financial Advisor Wishes You Knew</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-best-ways-to-invest-50-500-or-5000">The Best Ways to Invest $50, $500, or $5000</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment advice fees mutual funds returns stocks younger self Tue, 16 Feb 2016 11:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1654016 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Things Your Financial Advisor Wishes You Knew http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-financial-advisor-wishes-you-knew <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-your-financial-advisor-wishes-you-knew" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_thinking_money_000035721100.jpg" alt="Woman realizing what her financial advisor wished she knew" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The cat's out of the bag: You don't need boatloads of money to invest like the super rich &mdash; you just need to understand the ins-and-outs of investing well enough. And who better than financial advisors to share the secrets that can help you succeed as an investor? Read on for the coveted tricks of the trade that your financial advisor wishes you already knew. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/investment-advice-you-should-never-hear-from-your-financial-advisor">Investment Advice You Should Never Hear From Your Financial Advisor</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start Early and Stick With It</h2> <p>Believe it or not, the best time to start investing is during your 20s. Yes, it's true that you probably won't have much money to speak of during these years, as you're just getting your feet wet. Nonetheless, your 20s are the ideal decade to start building your wealth, because the compounding power of time is on your side. You may not have access to much in terms of disposable income during these years, but odds are that you have access to something. Even if the spare change you have to work with totals no more than $100 a month, invest it. By the time you're ready to retire, you well may have racked up close to $200,000, assuming a 6% return.</p> <h2>2. Think Long-Term</h2> <p>Generally speaking, wealth generates slowly. So don't pass up opportunities to win small gains. The road to riches will have ups and downs, but there will always be ways to turn around your losses. The trick is to create and maintain a financial safety net, and play within those means. It will take time to build. But your safety net should ultimately be large enough to cover the risk you take on. It's true that big risk leads to big rewards. But it's important to refrain from taking on any risk that's bigger than your safety net. As your safety net grows, you'll be able to shoulder increasingly bigger risks responsibly.</p> <h2>3. Don't Panic</h2> <p>You're playing the long game, remember? Ignore Wall Street's daily temper tantrums. Avoid knee-jerk investments. And, above all, know your risk tolerance. The market recovers from even the biggest of crashes. Just keep your eye on the end game, and don't put all your eggs in one basket. Selling during a market panic is a financial mistake most advisors warn against.</p> <h2>4. Watch Out for Fees</h2> <p>There are few certainties in the world of investment &mdash; one of them is fees. Brokerage fees. Financial advisory fees. Investment service fees. Think of them as money out the window. And, while largely unavoidable, it is indeed within your power to monitor the fees you're paying for investment products and services and make sound decisions based on them. A good advisor will help you minimize these, by selecting low-fee investments and avoiding trading too frequently. The less you spend on fees, the more money you'll have invested that's actually working for you.</p> <h2>5. Don't Get Suckered by Big Names</h2> <p>Don't invest in companies simply because they are well-known as great companies. Invest in those that are great companies and also have stock shares selling at a great price. A good advisor knows that ideally, you want the stocks you buy to be under-priced &mdash; or at least priced fairly. This will give you the leeway you need to actually turn a profit.</p> <h2>6. Max Out Your Retirement Contribution</h2> <p>You can now invest more money into your 401K than ever. The IRS last year raised the maximum limit to $18,000, plus another $6,000 in annual catch-up contributions if you're older than 50. That means you could save for retirement while saving thousands on federal income taxes. But most Americans won't take advantage of it. In 2013, just 12% of folks with 401K plans contributed up to <a href="https://pressroom.vanguard.com/content/nonindexed/How_America_Saves_2014.pdf">the maximum limit</a>. Even if you can't afford to make the maximum contribution, you can still reduce your taxes by boosting your contribution by any amount. Investing in your 401K may not be sexy. But it's smart. And if your employer matches your contribution, you've just doubled your money.</p> <h2>7. Bolster Your Investment Income</h2> <p>The average American worker pays $16,000 a year in federal and state <a href="http://taxfoundation.org/blog/average-us-worker-pays-over-16000-income-and-payroll-taxes">income and payroll taxes</a>. That's a huge and (largely) unavoidable tax burden of 31%! But there's another type of income &mdash; investment income &mdash; that's generally taxed at a lower rate than employment income. Investment income is also exempt from state and local taxes, which means you can rack up significant savings if you live in a high-tax state or municipality. It can be intimidating to think that a significant portion of your total income can be derived from investments. But even if you start small, over time, it can.</p> <p><em>How many of these truths do you stick to?</em></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/7-things-your-financial-advisor-wishes-you-knew">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/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">11 Investing Tips You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</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-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-down-debt-first-or-invest">Should You Pay Down Debt First or Invest?</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/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</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-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment 401k advice contributions fees financial advisors Secrets wealth building Tue, 02 Feb 2016 14:00:15 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1649367 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware of These Common Debt Consolidation Traps http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_concerned_paperwork_000082590043.jpg" alt="Man learning to beware of common debt consolidation traps" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've vowed to eliminate your credit card debt, but your bills are too overwhelming. You're ready to consider a final option: debt consolidation.</p> <p>It's true that consolidating your debts can make it easier to eliminate them. But debt consolidation can come with its own financial traps. Because of these potential pitfalls, consumers should be wary before signing up for debt consolidation. Bruce McClary, vice president of external affairs and public relations for the Washington D.C.-based National Foundation for Credit Counseling, says that sometimes, it makes more sense to consider other options.</p> <p>&quot;Debt consolidation is not always the right choice,&quot; McClary explains. &quot;It is not a free service. And often, you can take care of your debt on your own, if you change your spending habits and take a more disciplined approach to paying off your existing debt.&quot; (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money">5 Tricks to Consolidating Your Debt and Saving Money</a>)</p> <p>Here are the most common debt consolidation traps to avoid.</p> <h2>1. A Sky-High Interest Rate</h2> <p>In debt consolidation, a company will combine your debts into one single monthly payment that you can afford. In theory, it's a low-stress way to tackle what would otherwise be overwhelming.</p> <p>But even if your monthly payment is lower, this doesn't mean that you won't be spending too much. Some debt consolidation companies charge high interest rates to go along with the new monthly payment plans they set up for their clients. Make sure you ask your debt consolidation company what interest rate they'll charge you. If it seems too high, look elsewhere.</p> <h2>2. High Fees</h2> <p>Debt consolidation isn't free. But some debt consolidation firms soak their clients with especially high fees, either in the form of monthly or upfront charges.</p> <p>Again, make sure you know exactly what fees your debt consolidation company plans to charge you. Request a list of these fees in writing so that there's no confusion. If the firm won't provide this information to you, don't work with it. You want to work with a company that is clear about how much it charges.</p> <h2>3. Consolidating the Wrong Debt</h2> <p>Some forms of debt are worse than others. Credit card debt with high interest rates, for instance, is the bad kind of debt. But debts with low interest rates, such as auto loans or student loans, are generally considered good debt.</p> <p>You might be tempted to consolidate all of your debts into a single monthly payment. But rolling low-interest-rate debts into your monthly payment might be a poor financial decision depending on the interest rate of your new debt consolidation loan.</p> <p>When taking out a debt consolidation loan, focus on your debts with the highest interest rates. Pay off your low-interest-rate debt on your own.</p> <h2>4. Running Up Your Debt Again</h2> <p>Taking out one debt consolidation loan is bad enough. But if you don't change your spending habits, you might find yourself facing overwhelming debt again, even after paying off a debt consolidation loan.</p> <p>Consolidating your debt is treating the results of your bad spending habits. This isn't the same as treating the reasons for your bad spending.</p> <p>Once you've entered debt consolidation, it's time to determine why you ran up your debt in the first place. Maybe you spend when you are anxious. Maybe you overspend in an effort to keep up with your neighbors. Maybe you've never learned how to make and stick to a budget. If you don't address the reasons behind your overspending, you run the real risk of piling up debt yet again.</p> <p><em>Have you tried debt consolidation to eliminate debt? Did it work?</em></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/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps">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-11"> <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/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</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-debt-reduction-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Debt Reduction Mistakes Even Smart People Make</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/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0">A Comprehensive Guide to the Debt Snowball Method</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-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management consolidation fees interest rates spending habits traps Wed, 20 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1638728 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 New Car Costs the Dealer Is Hiding From You http://www.wisebread.com/10-new-car-costs-the-dealer-is-hiding-from-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-new-car-costs-the-dealer-is-hiding-from-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buying_a_car_000033988744.jpg" alt="Learning new car buying costs that the dealer is hiding" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Car dealers are experts at extracting as much money as possible from buyers. Of course, the dealer will try to get the highest price they can on the cars they sell, but there are many other sneaky costs involved. Here are some of these hidden new car costs and how to avoid them.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-car-salesmen-dont-want-you-to-know?ref=seeals">17 Things Cars Salesmen Don't Want You to Know</a></p> <h2>1. Tax, Title, and License</h2> <p>You may think you've finished negotiating the price down to a level you can afford, but wait &mdash; there's more! When you see the final cost for your vehicle, you will be hit with tax, title, and license fees on top of the price you negotiated. This can add up to thousands of dollars on your new car.</p> <p>Save by keeping these costs in mind when selecting a vehicle (less expensive vehicles have lower tax and title fees). Here is a calculator you can use to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.carmax.com/enus/tax-title-tags-fees-calculator/default.html">estimate tax, title, and license </a>costs in your state. Negotiate the vehicle price considering the full cost including these fees, so you can end up closer to the total you had in mind.</p> <h2>2. Splash Guards and Bug Shields</h2> <p>Since you are spending so much to buy a new car, why not spend a few hundred dollars more to protect it? The dealer may offer to install splash guards and bug shields to help protect your new vehicle from damage. These items are very profitable for the dealer.</p> <p>Save by having accessories installed elsewhere for much less if you decide you still want them.</p> <h2>3. Extended Warranty Coverage</h2> <p>New cars come with warranty coverage, but you can extend the length of the warranty or add additional items to be covered for an additional price. Are extended warranties a good deal? Not according to Consumer Reports. On average, you will pay <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/04/extended-warranties-for-cars-are-an-expensive-game/index.htm">more for the extended warranty</a> coverage than you will gain from having it.</p> <p>Save time and money by skipping the extended warranty coverage offered on your new car.</p> <h2>4. Oil Change Packages</h2> <p>Your dealer may offer you a chance to pre-pay for a number of oil changes. This special offer may make the cost of the dealer shop competitive with your regular shop. This is a good deal only if the dealer is in a convenient location, and only if you stick to just getting the discount oil changes. Service is typically more expensive at dealer shops.</p> <p>Only buy the oil change package if the dealership is in a convenient location. Otherwise, you will spend more time and money getting there, or may not get around to using it at all.</p> <h2>5. Gap Insurance</h2> <p>If you are financing your vehicle, you may be offered gap insurance from your dealer. This protects you from the depreciation of your vehicle if it is involved in an accident and is a total loss. Your comprehensive and collision coverage will only pay for the current value of the vehicle, which can be less than amount you would need to pay off your entire car loan balance. Buying gap coverage at the dealer is typically much more expensive than adding this coverage with your insurance agency.</p> <p>Save on gap insurance by purchasing this from your insurance agent instead of the dealer.</p> <h2>6. Rustproofing</h2> <p>Unlike the bad old days, new cars now come with efficient rustproofing. There is no need to add anything else to improve the rust protection of your vehicle.</p> <p>Save hundreds of dollars by skipping the rustproofing offered at the dealer.</p> <h2>7. Fabric Protection</h2> <p>You may be offered impressive-sounding fabric treatment to protect your car's interior from stains. Modern car interior materials are already stain-resistant if you wipe up spills promptly, so there's really no need for this add-on.</p> <p>If you have kids or pets and are especially worried about protecting your fabric, get a can of Scotchguard and apply it yourself. You'll save tons of money.</p> <h2>8. Paint Protection</h2> <p>It is a good idea to wash and wax your new car regularly, but it is not necessary to pay a lot of money for paint protection. Modern auto finishes do not require a paint sealant, and applying anything to the paint of a brand new car is typically not recommended for a few months to allow the paint to fully cure.</p> <p>Skip the paint protection and get some synthetic car wax instead for much less.</p> <h2>9. VIN Etching</h2> <p>You will want to do everything you can to protect your new car from being stolen, and your dealer may offer to help with this by suggesting VIN etching. Etching your vehicle's VIN number in the windshield can be useful as a deterrent to theft, but having this done at the dealership may cost hundreds of dollars versus doing it yourself with a kit for less than $50.</p> <p>If you have never heard of anyone getting a car stolen where you live or work, you may not need to bother with VIN etching.</p> <h2>10. Higher Interest Rates With Dealer Financing</h2> <p>If you sign up for financing from the dealer, you may be paying a higher interest rate than if you secure financing directly from a bank. Some dealers will give you the best rate they can find for you, but others will mark up the interest rate and keep the difference.</p> <p>Shop for financing at banks and credit unions to find the best rates before you go car shopping and avoid giving extra money to the dealer.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been surprised by hidden car buying fees?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-new-car-costs-the-dealer-is-hiding-from-you">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/10-magic-words-to-say-to-get-the-best-new-car-price">10 Magic Words to Say to Get the Best New Car Price</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/should-you-buy-your-leased-car">Should You Buy Your Leased Car?</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/this-is-how-the-high-cost-of-cheap-gas-hurts-you">This Is How the High Cost of Cheap Gas Hurts 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/my-car-payments-are-too-much-what-should-i-do">My car payments are too much! What should I do?</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/is-this-the-best-search-engine-ever-for-new-used-cars">Is This the Best Search Engine Ever for New &amp; Used Cars?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation dealerships fees hidden costs new car salesman Wed, 02 Dec 2015 16:00:34 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1617393 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Signs It's Time to Find a New Bank http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_frowning_smartphone_000047173988.jpg" alt="Woman learning signs it&#039;s time to find a new bank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one likes switching to a new bank. After all, it takes effort to close one account and create another. But if your bank is nickel-and-diming you with fees, or if it's closing so many locations that banking is becoming inconvenient, it might be time to make the switch.</p> <p>&quot;To me, it's all about convenience when it comes to switching banks,&quot; said Wade Barnes, senior vice president and director of retail banking with Baltimore-based 1st Mariner Bank. &quot;Maybe just 10 years ago, we'd be talking about how many brick-and-mortar locations a bank has near you. Now, it's more about online banking and having connectivity to your bank 24 hours a day. But you want your banking relationship to be an easy, convenient one. If it's not, then you might consider making a move.&quot;</p> <p>Here are five signs that it's time to find a new bank.</p> <h2>1. Maintenance Fees</h2> <p>Some banks will charge your checking account a monthly fee if you don't make a certain number of payments or withdrawals per month. That fee might only be $10. But if you don't use your checking account often, you could pay $100 or more each year in fees.</p> <p>The better choice? Find a bank that doesn't charge such a fee. You want your free checking account to be <em>really</em> free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates">Banks Still Offering Free Checking</a>)</p> <h2>2. ATM Fees</h2> <p>Using an out-of-network ATM can add up, with the fees charged by these cash machines coming in at $2, $3, or more. You can avoid these fees by only withdrawing cash from ATMs affiliated with your bank. But if you do take out money from an out-of-network ATM, your bank should refund you this fee.</p> <p>Many banks reimburse customers for all the out-of-network ATM withdrawals they make, basically making all ATMs free. If your bank doesn't offer this service, it's time to make a move.</p> <h2>3. Paper Statement Fees</h2> <p>Most banks will provide your banking statements online. It's a great way to reduce paper. But maybe you're old-fashioned, and you want your bank to send you a paper statement each month. That's fine. Just make sure that your bank doesn't charge you for this service.</p> <p>Many banks, in an effort to persuade consumers to receive their statements online, are charging customers $1 or $2 every time they send them a paper statement. If you insist on a paper statement, there's no reason to pay this fee. Find a bank that doesn't charge you for this service.</p> <h2>4. Inconvenience</h2> <p>Maybe your bank was just bought up by another financial institution. That's usually fine, unless the new bank institutes changes that make being a customer there less convenient for you.</p> <p>Maybe your newly acquired bank is closing all the brick-and-mortar branches near you. That can be a hassle, even if you do most of your banking online. Maybe the bank is reconfiguring its ATMs, making it so you can only withdraw cash from them but can't make deposits into them. Or maybe your bank decides to reduce some of the services it offers online.</p> <p>Banking shouldn't be a hassle. If your bank is becoming one, you need to start looking for a replacement.</p> <h2>5. Bad Customer Service</h2> <p>What if you have questions about your mortgage loan, but your bank's home loan experts are never available to speak with you by phone? What if you call your bank and the phone just rings forever, with no one picking up? Maybe your bank doesn't hire enough tellers, and every time you need to see one, you have to wait in line 20 minutes?</p> <p>These are all examples of the bad customer service some banks provide. If you're not satisfied with the service your bank is providing you, you're ready to move on to a new financial institution.</p> <p><em>Have you switched banks recently? Tell us why in the comments section below.</em></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-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-your-savings-account-may-be-costing-you">8 Ways Your Savings Account May Be Costing 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/think-twice-before-ditching-your-current-bank">Think Twice Before Ditching Your Current Bank</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-ways-to-make-sure-you-never-pay-an-atm-fee">8 Ways to Make Sure You Never Pay an ATM Fee</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-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</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-ways-to-get-paid-for-saving-money">6 Ways to Get Paid for Saving Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking atms customer service fees mobile banking savings accounts statements Wed, 02 Dec 2015 14:00:28 +0000 Dan Rafter 1617391 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways Your Savings Account May Be Costing You http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-your-savings-account-may-be-costing-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-your-savings-account-may-be-costing-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_stressed_bills_000039190056.jpg" alt="Woman learning ways her savings account is costing her" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A savings account is an essential tool of money management. It'll enable you to save for emergencies and financial goals, and you might even get a little bit of interest income along the way. But not all savings accounts are the same. Some are extra-stingy on interest. Some have high fees. And some are just terrible all around.</p> <p>Here's a look at some ways your savings account may actually be making your financial situation worse, and how to find the best savings account for you.</p> <h2>1. Terrible Interest Rates</h2> <p>No bank has high rates these days. But some are offering practically no interest at all. Don't hesitate to shop around for higher rates; it's still possible to get rates higher than 1%, especially on the Internet. Online savings accounts such as Discover Bank&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review?ref=internal">CapitalOne360</a> offer some of the best rates around, so look there first. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=seealso">5 Best Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <h2>2. Fees</h2> <p>Many banks charge fees for a wide range of things, from low balances and overdrafts, to frequent deposits or withdrawals. You might even get dinged if you want a paper statement, or want to use an ATM from another bank. If your bank seems to be bleeding you dry with fees, find a different place to put your money. Many online savings accounts offer no fees or minimums.</p> <h2>3. You're Putting Too Much Into It</h2> <p>Let's be clear: There's nothing wrong with saving. We love saving! But if you are placing virtually every dollar of surplus cash in a normal savings account, you're hurting your future self financially. That's because it's also important to put as much money as you can retirement accounts, such as your 401(k) or Roth IRA. Putting some money in stocks and other investments will lead to higher returns and more cash in the long run, and these accounts have great tax advantages. Even taxable brokerage accounts are fine if you're investing in things that generate a higher return than your savings account.</p> <h2>4. A Lack of Sub-Accounts</h2> <p>A savings account is good, but when it's just a pile of money without a designated purpose, it's not as effective as it could be in helping you reach your goals. If you have the ability to open sub-accounts for specific purposes, such as a new car, home repairs, or vacation, you'll find that it's much easier to be disciplined. If you have an account labeled &quot;new car fund,&quot; for example, you'll be less tempted to dip into that account until absolutely necessary. Many online savings accounts offer sub-accounts free of charge, so take advantage of them if you can.</p> <h2>5. The Online Security Stinks</h2> <p>It seems like every day, we're hearing about a company suffering from a major data breach, potentially placing customers' personal and financial information at risk. Credit card users are often the most vulnerable, but be aware if your bank has also had issues protecting the information of account holders. Be sure you're comfortable with the security measures in place to prevent criminals from logging in to your accounts. Loyalty to a bank isn't going to mean much if you spend thousands of dollars getting a case of identity theft resolved.</p> <h2>6. Poor Access to Good CDs</h2> <p>CDs offer terms of varying lengths; the longer the term, the better the rate. But not all banks allow you to easily move cash from a savings account to CDs. And many that do offer them don't have a great selection. When researching a savings account, also research the CD offerings from the same bank.</p> <h2>7. A Dearth of Online and Mobile Services</h2> <p>In this day and age, you need a bank that allows you to save and manage your money in the same way you live your life. This means having access to online banking and mobile apps that let you check balances, pay bills, and move money around when necessary. It means mobile check cashing. It may even mean the ability to make payments to other people from your account, when necessary. If you are still relying on visits to physical banks and monthly paper statements, you're wasting time and money.</p> <h2>8. It's Not Even Your Account</h2> <p>Imagine having an account in which a bank takes your money and places it in its own savings account. Imagine having to ask the bank to transfer money back to you when you need it. Seems absurd, right? But that's exactly what happens if you sign on with the online banking service known as Digit. The service is designed to move money from your checking account to savings when money is available, theoretically encouraging people to save. But the customer doesn't actually own the savings account, and worst of all, Digit offers absolutely no interest to customers, but it makes money by generating interest on your savings. Get it? Me neither. Stay away from banks and services like this one.</p> <p><em>How is your savings account holding you back?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-your-savings-account-may-be-costing-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</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/score-240-a-year-doing-this-one-thing">Score $240 a Year Doing This One Thing</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/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank">6 Reasons to Love Your Bank</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-types-of-savings-accounts-which-is-right-for-you">The Types of Savings Accounts: Which Is Right For 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/4-things-to-consider-before-you-open-an-online-savings-account">4 Things to Consider Before You Open an Online Savings Account</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking CDs fees interest online banking savings accounts Mon, 17 Aug 2015 09:00:17 +0000 Tim Lemke 1523215 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Easy Ways to Save on Your Gym Membership http://www.wisebread.com/13-easy-ways-to-save-on-your-gym-membership <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-easy-ways-to-save-on-your-gym-membership" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cycling_class_000014641903.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to save on gym membership" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gym memberships can be really expensive. While the average monthly gym fee comes in around $60, fitness centers in large cities like NYC can charge closer to $130 per month just to use their facilities (and that doesn't count the exorbitant initiation fees). And with so many great ways to get a full workout at home, it poses the question &mdash; is a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-a-gym-membership-isnt-worth-it">gym membership really worth it</a>?</p> <p>Along with saving money, you can also save time by achieving your fitness goals at home. So, stop spending an hour at the gym and start living more frugally. By following the tips below, you can get more from your membership, or find out why it might be time to break up with your gym altogether.</p> <h2>1. Shop Around</h2> <p>Find out how much each gym charges in your local area. You can check Yelp to find out which gyms are nearby and start your search from there. Compare prices, perks, and gym availability to find the one that works best for your needs.</p> <h2>2. Take Advantage of Free Trials</h2> <p>Ask your local gyms if they offer free trials. Often, they will offer free classes or membership options (such as a free day or week) so that you can test out the gym before starting a membership. Adding these various trial offers back-to-back can amount to a month of free gym memberships, and in the end, you can really decide if it's worth it to join.</p> <h2>3. Look for Deals or Coupons</h2> <p>Sites like <a href="https://www.groupon.com/">Groupon</a> and <a href="https://www.livingsocial.com/">LivingSocial</a> can help save you a lot on a gym membership. In fact, you may be able to save up to 85% on your membership with one of these deals. It's worth a look to see what's available in your area. You can also visit your local gym's website and social media pages to see if they are offering any coupons or discounts at the moment.</p> <h2>4. Inquire About Discounts</h2> <p>Often, fitness centers offer discounts that aren't clearly displayed for everyone, so you will need to ask about what deals they are currently offering. If you are a student, senior, or work for a large corporation that may have a deal with your local gym, make sure to mention that to see if there are any discounts available to you. Some gyms even offer discounts for members who exercise on off-peak hours (such as late at night).</p> <h2>5. Join With Your Spouse or a Group</h2> <p>Most gyms offer a group discount. If you can sign up with a friend, your spouse, or a group from work, you might be able to save big bucks. If you have a friend or family member that subscribes to your gym, make sure to mention that they referred you. You both might be eligible for perks or a discount thanks to the referral. Some of these discounts can save you 10%&ndash;30% off your membership, so it's definitely worth inquiring about.</p> <h2>6. Inquire About Corporate Memberships</h2> <p>Ask your employer if they offer any deals with a local gym or fitness chain. Your local gym may even have corporate membership options. Joining with some of your coworkers at the same time can also lead to group rates and discounts.</p> <h2>7. Check Your Health Insurance for Deals</h2> <p>Some health insurance plans offer discounts on gym memberships. You may also be eligible for a reimbursement from your insurance company if you join a participating gym or fitness center. Call your health insurance representative to see what's available to you.</p> <h2>8. Sign Up During the Slow Season or End of Month</h2> <p>Gym membership prices tend to drop during the slow season, which takes place in the summer and toward the end of the year. If you can wait until this time, you will find better rates, or you will be more likely to negotiate a discounted rate. At the end of the month, many gyms are also trying to meet their monthly sales goals, so if you can't wait until the slow season, at least wait until the end of the month to see if there any good deals.</p> <h2>9. Negotiate</h2> <p>If you find the perfect gym, but it isn't in your budget, see if you can negotiate with the membership associate. They may be able to provide discounts or other suggestions on how you can save money on your gym pass, training sessions, guest passes, or other items that come with your gym membership. Many gyms are also willing to drop the initiation fee if you pay upfront, which can save you hundreds of dollars. If they can't save you money, maybe they can throw in some free classes, training sessions, gym passes, or other freebies.</p> <h2>10. Don't Splurge on Extras</h2> <p>Stripping away extra amenities and options you don't need (such as group classes you won't use, water bottles, and other small bonuses) will save you money and ensure you get exactly what you need from your membership. Many gyms also offer a la carte pricing.</p> <h2>11. Don't Sign a Contract</h2> <p>Once you sign a contract at a gym, you are locked into that contract for up to a year. If possible, choose a month-to-month agreement or a shorter-term agreement so that you don't end up paying for a gym membership that you may not use.</p> <h2>12. Put Your Membership on Hold</h2> <p>If you are planning a vacation or business trip, make sure to put your membership on hold. Your gym will not refund you for time that you don't spend in the gym, so make sure to let them know when you're out of town so that you aren't paying for days you can't use.</p> <h2>13. Skip the Gym Altogether</h2> <p>The best way to save money on a gym membership is to skip it altogether. After all, statistics show that approximately 2/3 of people who join a gym don't even use their memberships. We've included some ideas below on what you can do instead of spending an hour at the gym.</p> <h3>Exercise at Home</h3> <p>Exercising at home can provide the same results that you can expect from the gym. A healthy at-home workout plan can also help you avoid bad weather and lazy days when you simply just don't want to travel to the gym. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/36-workouts-you-can-do-in-your-living-room-while-its-cold-out?ref=seealso">36 Workouts You Can Do in Your Living Room While It's Cold Out</a>)</p> <h3>Try an Exercise DVD</h3> <p>Exercise videos aren't what they used to be. Nowadays, if you put in the time and effort that the exercise video or program requires, you will absolutely see results. The trick is to find the right video or program that can provide the results you want, using a style that keeps you interested and motivated. Invest in some dependable gear, such as quality running shoes, an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IIQUBY8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00IIQUBY8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=UCEQZ7WMM2LI4P5X">exercise mat</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-resistance-bands">resistance bands</a>, a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008R6WRFU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008R6WRFU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=UZWPU3IH4JF3MQS7">yoga block</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003P90K58/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003P90K58&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=GTCCTEFJWBD2DSXE">free weights</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0061ZLTYY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0061ZLTYY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=VKIFMPX56LXJYUPD">kettlebells</a>, and whatever else you need to successfully complete your at-home workout program. This will help you get the most from your workout DVDs.</p> <h3>Take Up Running, Hiking, or Biking</h3> <p>Running, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities are completely free and are extremely effective at burning fat and calories. Make sure to invest in quality running shoes, customized to fit your running style. If you aren't sure which ones are right for you, go to a running store near you and ask them to evaluate your running style and challenges. They can help you choose the right shoes to help you go further, faster.</p> <h3>Download Free Workout Apps</h3> <p>There are thousands of free workout apps available to you. All you need to do is download the app and follow the instructions. You can find complete workout regimens, customizable programs that are designed for your particular fitness level, or apps like Couch to 5K, which can help you meet your goals of running a marathon faster. Some other popular free fitness apps include 7 Minute Workout, Simply Yoga, DailyBurn, Nike Training Club, GymPact, Fleetly, JEFIT, and RunKeeper.</p> <p><em>Do you have any other tips for ways you can save money on a gym membership, or avoid having one altogether? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></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/13-easy-ways-to-save-on-your-gym-membership">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/get-a-great-workout-for-free-with-11-simple-moves">Get a Great Workout for Free With 11 Simple Moves</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-times-a-gym-membership-isnt-worth-it">5 Times a Gym Membership Isn&#039;t Worth It</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/5-ways-to-work-out-when-its-hot-outside">5 Ways to Work Out When It&#039;s Hot Outside</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/12-cheap-home-workout-hacks-for-people-with-no-equipment-and-no-room">12 Cheap Home Workout Hacks for People With No Equipment and No Room</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-tricks-to-avoid-workout-burnout">10 Tricks to Avoid Workout Burnout</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty exercise fees fitness gym membership working out Thu, 06 Aug 2015 11:00:15 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1510354 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Sneaky Investment Fees to Watch For http://www.wisebread.com/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_magnifying_glass_000036490728.jpg" alt="Man finding sneaky investment fees to look out for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody is looking for the next hot stock or mutual fund.</p> <p>But we should be paying closer attention to the fees of the investments that we already own. For example, nine in 10 Americans underestimate the fees of their 401(k) plans. This means that many of us are paying too much for our investments and undermining our financial goals.</p> <p>To keep your investments on target, take notice of these four <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-investing-sucks-and-why-you-should-do-it-anyway">investment fees</a>.</p> <h2>1. Front-End Load</h2> <p>A front-end load is a sales charge on purchases that effectively reduces your investment. This investment fee is a commission or sales charge applied at the time of your initial purchase of an investment, such as a mutual fund or insurance policy. Financial planners, investment advisors, and other types of investment intermediaries are the main beneficiaries of front-end loads.</p> <p>Let's assume that you want to invest $5,000 into a mutual fund with a 5% front-end load. That would mean that $250 would go to middlemen and only $4,750 of your original investment actually lands in the mutual fund.</p> <p>Some mutual fund managers claim that the front-end load is necessary to cover the extra services offered in a load fund. However, a study showed that mutual funds without front-end loads <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mutualfund/07/no-load.asp">significantly outperformed</a> those with front-end loads during the turbulent financial period of 2000 to 2002.</p> <p>Still, some novice investors may still profit from the additional benefits that come from a load fund. Just make sure that you don't pay more than you have to.</p> <ul> <li>According to FINRA Conduct Rule 2830, a front-end load <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/exam-guide/finra-series-6/finra-rules/finra-conduct-rule-2830-investment-company-securities.asp">can't exceed 8.5%</a> of your investment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If a mutual fund charges a front-end load of 8.5%, then it must offer a breakpoint schedule, rights of accumulation, and reinvestment of dividends and capital gains at net asset value.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Most 401(k) plans allow you to waive the front-end load of a mutual fund.</li> </ul> <h2>2. &quot;Breakpoint&quot; Cost</h2> <p>There is no specific breakpoint cost. Think of this investment fee as the extra money that you're paying to your investment manager by failing to meet a required investment level to obtain a reduced fee. For example, if you were to invest just $2,000 you would pay a 6% sales charge to invest in A-shares of a mutual fund, but if you were to invest $50,000 you would pay a lower 4.75% sales charge for the same share.</p> <p>While diversification is a useful tool to minimize investment risk, too much diversification within the same mutual fund may be increasing your investment expenses.</p> <ul> <li>The larger your investment, the lower your applicable fees. By having $100,000 in investable assets within the same mutual fund family, you can often get some breaks on investment fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Immediate family members investing in the same mutual fund company can pool their individual accounts to qualify for lower costs.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>When you meet pre-determined total purchase thresholds, certain mutual funds provide rights of accumulation, which qualify you for a reduced sales charge for any additional purchases.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Some mutual funds may allow you to still qualify for a breakpoint benefit when you sign a letter of intent to meet purchase thresholds within a mutually agreed time frame.</li> </ul> <h2>3. Operating Expense</h2> <p>Large companies have more leverage than small ones in driving down the operational costs of a 401(k) plan. That's why large companies are able to pick up the operating expense tab on behalf of their employees.</p> <p>On the other hand, employees participating in the 401(k) of small businesses may be forking out the cash to cover that expense. To determine whether you're paying for your plan's operating expenses, you can check with the manager of your 401(k) plan. Another option is to find how much you're paying for your plan's operating expense by yourself:</p> <ol> <li>Grab a copy of your plan's summary annual report;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to the &quot;Basic financial statement&quot; section;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Subtract the amount of benefits paid from the total plan expense;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Divide the amount from step #3 by the total value of the plan; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take the percentage from step #4 and multiply it by your total account balance.</li> </ol> <p>If the amount that you're paying seems too high, you have a valid case for asking your employer to consider lower-cost options. When it comes to 401(k) plans, small business owners are receptive to reasonable requests from their employees. A survey found that 32% of small business owners consider requests to <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2014/04/14/how-to-pay-lower-fees-on-your-retirement-investments">switch 401(k) providers</a>, and 30% of those business owners choose lower-cost investment options within a plan.</p> <h2>4. Total Expense Ratio Above 1%</h2> <p>Everybody has to make a living, even investment managers. However, you need to be wary of any investment account that has a total expense ratio above 1%. They'd better be delivering some extraordinary profits year after year to warrant the cost!</p> <p>Let's assume that you have a $10,000 starting balance, a 6% average annual rate of return for your investment account, and a holding period of 10 years. Here are several scenarios for your final balance after 10 years at different total expense ratios.</p> <ul> <li>Expense ratio of 0.30% = $17,408</li> <li>Expense ratio of 0.40% = $17,244</li> <li>Expense ratio of 0.50% = $17,081</li> <li>Expense ratio of 0.60% = $16,920</li> <li>Expense ratio of 0.70% = $16,760</li> <li>Expense ratio of 0.80% = $16,602</li> </ul> <p>The lower the total expense ratio, the more money in your pocket. A useful rule of thumb is to keep the total expense ratio of an actively managed fund below 1%. There are several investment options out there, so look for the ones that meet your target rate of return at competitively priced expense ratios.</p> <p>Remember that most investment managers make no guarantee for returns, but they surely are committed to picking up their fees. Only <a href="http://www.spindices.com/documents/spiva/spiva-us-mid-year-2014.pdf">20% to 35% of portfolio managers</a> beat the benchmark for their category. With total expense ratios as low as 0.17% for some index funds, it's easy to see why more and more investors are shifting their dollars to passive funds.</p> <p><em>What are other investment fees to beware of?</em></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/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-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-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/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">11 Investing Tips You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</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/7-investment-accounts-all-30-somethings-should-have">7 Investment Accounts All 30-Somethings Should Have</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/11-investment-mistakes-we-all-make">11 Investment Mistakes We All Make</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-best-ways-to-invest-50-500-or-5000">The Best Ways to Invest $50, $500, or $5000</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-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing">5 Easy Ways to Start Green Investing</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment charges expenses fees hidden costs mutual funds stocks Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1499531 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Sneaky Fees That Are Costing You Thousands http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-sneaky-fees-that-are-costing-you-thousands <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-sneaky-fees-that-are-costing-you-thousands" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-bills-shocked-84465921-small.jpg" alt="shocked at bills" title="shocked at bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on sneaky fees that are costing you thousands, things to do before you refinance, and companies to email for coupons.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://sheandmoney.com/2014/04/how-to-fix-billing-errors/">5 Sneaky Fees That Are Costing You Thousands</a> &mdash; Overdraft coverage and gym fees may be costing you tons of extra money. [She &amp; Money Financial Planning]</p> <p><a href="http://www.loans101.com/2128/9-things-refinance/">9 Things to Do Before You Refinance</a> &mdash; Before you refinance, build your cash reserves and document your home improvement projects. [Loans101]</p> <p><a href="http://www.couponersunited.com/list-companies-email-coupons/">List Of Companies to Email for Coupons</a> &mdash; If you are a coupon fanatic, try emailing the companies on this list to get coupons! [Couponers United]</p> <p><a href="http://atlantafinancialpsychology.com/2013/06/6-tips-for-talking-to-your-grandkids-about-money/">6 Tips for Talking to Your Grandkids About Money</a> &mdash; When talking to your grandkids about money, share your failures and impart information as opposed to judgement. [Atlanta Financial Psychology]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Stay-Awake-Class-34151477">13 Tips to Keep You Awake in Class (and at Work!)</a> &mdash; Chewing gum and eating a snack can help you stay awake at work or in class. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://moneyning.com/philanthropy/3-fun-ways-to-support-your-favorite-charity/">3 Fun Ways to Support Your Favorite Charity</a> &mdash; Support your favorite charity by buying raffle tickets or getting active. [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="http://iquantifi.com/get-more-out-of-your-college-savings-strategy/">Get More Out of Your College Savings Strategy</a> &mdash; To save more money for college, opt for a 529 plan or an Education IRA. [iQuantifi]</p> <p><a href="http://sophisticatedspender.com/5-things-to-do-to-your-cellphone-asap/">5 Things to Do to Your Cellphone ASAP</a> &mdash; It is important to back up everything on your cell phone and have a tracking app on it. [SophisticatedSpender.com]</p> <p><a href="http://www.1500days.com/an-open-letter-to-all-college-students/">An Open Letter to All College Students</a> &mdash; If you are a college student, try to stay far away from credit cards. [1500 Days]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/5-good-places-to-find-educational-apps-for-kids">5 Good Places to Find Educational Apps for Kids</a> &mdash; KinderTown and Geeks with Juniors are a couple places to go to check out educational apps for kids. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-sneaky-fees-that-are-costing-you-thousands">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-6"> <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-steps-to-take-when-bankruptcy-is-your-only-option">11 Steps to Take When Bankruptcy Is Your Only Option</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</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/avoid-bank-fees">Avoid Bank 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/best-of-personal-finance-41-financial-calculators-for-major-life-decisions">Best Money Tip: 41 Financial Calculators for Major Life Decisions</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-easy-ways-to-get-your-finances-fit-for-summer">10 Easy Ways to Get Your Finances Fit For Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance best money tips fees Tue, 09 Sep 2014 19:00:03 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1205462 at http://www.wisebread.com