fees http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/253/all en-US How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_suit_thinking_53925384.jpg" alt="Man wondering if too much investment diversity can cost him" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial experts agree that you shouldn't to put all your eggs in one basket. But just like with everything else in life, moderation is essential to truly reap the benefits of diversification. Spread out your investment funds into too many funds and you'll end up with a subpar portfolio bogged down with excessive charges and, even worse, potentially more risk than you're willing to bear. Here are four warning signs that you may have your investments in too many baskets &mdash; and how to fix it.</p> <h2>1. Paying Too Much in Investment Fees</h2> <p>The more that you branch out of plain vanilla investments, the more likely that you'll end up paying more investment charges and fees. Take, for example, the portfolio that Warren Buffett has <a href="http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2013ltr.pdf">laid out in his will</a>: &quot;Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&amp;P 500 index fund.&quot;</p> <p>Let's take a look at the potential investment fees of such a portfolio.</p> <p>Since the Oracle of Omaha prefers Vanguard and chases low fees, let's assume that both investments are in index funds. It's safe to assume that he meets the $10,000 minimum investment required for the Vanguard Admiral index funds. So, he allocates of 90% of his portfolio to the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VFIAX/?p=VFIAX">VFIAX</a>], which has a 0.05% expense ratio, and 10% of his portfolio into the Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond Index Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VSBSX?p=VSBSX">VSBSX</a>], which has a 0.10% expense ratio. For a $100,000 portfolio, Buffett would pay $55 in investment fees.</p> <p>If Buffett were to start diversifying into other types of investments, he would very likely run into higher expense ratios. For example, the Vanguard New York Long-Term Tax-Exempt Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VNYUX/?p=VNYUX">VNYUX</a>] has a 0.12% expense ratio (despite its $50,000 minimum investment requirement!) and the Vanguard Interm-Tm Corp Bd Index Admiral [Nasdaq:&nbsp;<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VICSX/?p=VICSX">VICSX</a>] has a 0.25% purchase fee on top of its 0.10% expense ratio. Assuming that he were to allocate 50%, 30%, 10%, and 10% to the New York muni bond fund, S&amp;P 500 index fund, short-term government bond index fund, and the intermediate-term corporate index fund, respectively, Buffet would pay $220 on investment fees!</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>Calculate your current total of investment fees across all your holdings. If the total is above what you're willing to pay (a useful rule of thumb is that anything beyond 1% of your total investment is too much), then it's time to focus your investments in lower-cost options.</p> <h2>2. Rebalancing Portfolio More Often</h2> <p>Speaking of fees, there is a higher chance that you'll run into more of them when you hold lots of investment categories. In the 90%-stocks-and-10%-bonds portfolio example, you only need to keep track of two funds. This means that figuring out when your portfolio is no longer meeting your target asset allocations is straightforward &mdash; and you may not need to do it as often. For example, you could set a target to rebalance when 80% of your portfolio is in stocks and 20% in bonds.</p> <p>On the other hand, spreading your money out too thin can complicate keeping track of asset allocations and make you trade more often. Here's an example: Assuming a target 3.5% allocation in an emerging markets index fund, big market swings could force you to buy or sell many times throughout the year, triggering many charges. From front-end loads to back-end loads, there are plenty of investments to keep an eye on. And yes this even applies to 401K accounts! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees?ref=seealso">Watch Out for These 5 Sneaky 401K Fees</a>)</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>Tabulate how much you're incurring in fees on top of the regular annual expense ratios of your portfolio holdings. If that percentage is too high, or consistently increasing throughout the years, you need to consolidate your portfolio into fewer holdings.</p> <h2>3. Experiencing Diminishing Returns</h2> <p>Of course, you might be thinking that the extra returns of a very diversified portfolio may more than compensate for those additional fees and charges.</p> <p>Let's bust that investment myth.</p> <p>In a joint-study by The Wall Street Journal and Morningstar, the portfolio that generated the highest return over a 20-year period was a 70-30 mix of U.S. stocks and bonds, yielding a <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/is-your-portfolio-too-diversified-1408032582">9.1% annualized return</a>. A portfolio with 40% in U.S. stocks, 20% in U.S. bonds, 10% in foreign developing market stocks, 10% in international bonds, and the rest in a mix of investments, including emerging market stocks, commodities, and hedge funds, yielded only an 8.8% annualized return.</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>Measure each of your funds against its respective benchmark. If an investment has been missing the benchmark for too many quarters or years, it may be time to cut that fund loose.</p> <h2>4. Owning Too Much of the Same or Wrong Type of Investments</h2> <p>Another issue with putting many eggs in many baskets is that you can unintentionally end up with more eggs than you thought in a particular basket or, worse, a wrong basket.</p> <p>Let's assume that you hold an index fund tracking the S&amp;P 500. As of August 8, 2016, that means that your portfolio would hold about 3.08% on Apple Inc, 2.40% on Microsoft Corporation, and 1.53% on Facebook Inc. Class A shares. If you were to also hold an index fund on the technology sector, you'll probably end up increasing your holding on each one of those investments. For example, the Vanguard Information Technology Index Fund Admiral Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VITAX/?p=VITAX">VITAX</a>] has those same three stocks among its top four largest holdings.</p> <p>Additionally, if you're open to throwing more money around investments, you could end up buying some investments that fail to meet your investment objectives. Remember the late 1990s dot-com bubble? How about 2008's housing bubble? During those times, too many individual and institutional investors were buying financial instruments that they shouldn't have been purchasing. If you force yourself to allocate 5% &quot;somewhere,&quot; then you could end up with the wrong type of investment.</p> <p><strong>How to Fix It: </strong>First, read the prospectuses of your mutual funds and other accounts and understand their actual holdings. Using this information, you can spot whether or not you hold too much of the same investment. Second, review your investment objective (ie; income vs growth) and evaluate whether or not your current investment funds qualify for that objective.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Holding all of your money in a single stock is definitely not a good idea because it would have a 49.2% average standard deviation (a measure of risk). At 20 stocks, your portfolio risk is reduced to 20%. However, every additional stock added to your portfolio will only further decrease your portfolio risk by about 0.8%.</p> <p>The evidence suggests that due to greater returns, very marginal risk reductions, and lower fees over time, you would be better off with simpler diversification on stocks and bonds. Some financial advisers suggest that when you have more than <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/mutual-funds/articles/2011/02/17/diversification-can-you-have-too-much-of-a-good-thing">20 stocks or mutual funds</a>, you're actually minimizing returns instead of maximizing them. So, before adding that extra holding, keep in mind that an index fund tracking the S&amp;P 500 is already splitting your investment into 500 baskets!</p> <p><em>How many different types of investments is too many?</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/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-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/8-money-moves-to-make-before-you-start-investing">8 Money Moves to Make Before You Start Investing</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/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</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-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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-boring-investments-that-are-surprisingly-profitable">10 Boring Investments That Are Surprisingly Profitable</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/are-you-choosing-the-right-fund-for-your-portfolio">Are You Choosing the Right Fund for Your Portfolio?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment fees portfolio rebalancing returns risk stock market too diverse warning signs Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:30:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1778732 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About HOAs http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_family_house_80411637.jpg" alt="Family learning what they need to know about HOAs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're buying into a residential community &mdash; made up of condominiums or single-family homes &mdash; that is governed by a homeowners association. Is that a good thing? Or should having to deal with an HOA make you nervous?</p> <p>The answer, unfortunately, isn't simple. Homeowners associations, better known as HOAs, do come with some significant pros, including giving you access to community amenities such as swimming pools, parks, and fitness centers. But when you live in a community run by a HOA, you'll also have to follow the association's rules, which could limit everything from how many pets you can have in your condo or home to what type of alterations you can make to your property. You'll also have to pay an extra monthly fee to support the association.</p> <p>Before you move into a residential community governed by an HOA, make sure you do your research: Find out exactly how much it costs to be a part of the HOA and what benefits the association brings to its member-owners.</p> <h2>What You'll Pay and Why You'll Pay It</h2> <p>When most owners think of HOAs, they think of that extra monthly fee they'll pay. And it's true &mdash; HOAs can be expensive. Fees can vary widely, but you'll usually pay somewhere between $100 to $600 a month, though condos and housing developments with more amenities will typically charge more.</p> <p>There's a reason for this monthly fee, though: It's what you pay to make sure that the common areas of your community, whether it's the lobby or parking lot in a condominium, or the swimming pool and community center in a housing subdivision, are maintained and repaired. The fees that homeowners associations receive each month from residents go into a fund. The officers running the HOA &mdash; who are typically residents of the community itself &mdash; use this money to fund landscaping, mowing, cleaning services, maintenance, and any repair jobs that come up.</p> <h2>A Special Assessment Can Hurt</h2> <p>There might come a time when your HOA votes for a special assessment. This can be a big hurt to your finances. Say your condo building's roof needs to be replaced. Instead of paying for this big expense from the pool of money collected each month from HOA fees, the association might vote to levy a special assessment to cover the replacement costs.</p> <p>In an assessment, each household in the community will pay an extra fee to fund the repair job. These extra financial hits can be steep. Make sure, then, that your HOA has plenty of money in its coffers to tap when an emergency repair comes up. You don't want to be subject to a hefty assessment every time something goes wrong in your condo building or subdivision.</p> <h2>The Amenities Can Make a HOA Worth It</h2> <p>There is a big positive that comes with HOAs: They make the amenities in subdivisions and condo complexes possible. You might not be able to afford an in-ground swimming pool or on-site fitness center on your own. But if you buy into a condo development or residential subdivision, the fees collected by the HOA give you the chance to enjoy these amenities.</p> <p>Just make sure that the amenities themselves are important to you. Otherwise, you'll be paying a monthly fee for swimming pools, clubhouses, and business centers that you never use.</p> <h2>HOAs Do Place Limits on What You Can Do</h2> <p>Every homeowners association publishes its own set of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, better known as its CC&amp;R. These rules can severely restrict your activities while living in the community. Your association's rules might restrict you to just two dogs, for instance. They might prevent you from painting the exterior of your home your favorite color. The rules might forbid you from making certain exterior improvements to your home, too.</p> <p>Again, it's important to read a copy of an association's CC&amp;R documents before you make an offer on a residence.</p> <h2>You Can Serve on the HOA Board</h2> <p>HOAs are governed by a board usually made up of residents of the housing community. If you want to have a say on how your association operates, run for office. Yes, HOAs run regular elections. Sitting on a HOA can give you more power over how your condo development or subdivision is operated. But it also comes with significant responsibility; you are, after all, responsible for determining how to spend the money of your fellow residents.</p> <p><em>Do you live in a community with an HOA? How's it been for you?</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/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-second-home-in-retirement">5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Second Home in Retirement</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/6-health-insurance-benefits-youre-probably-not-using">6 Health Insurance Benefits You&#039;re Probably Not Using</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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you">How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-employee-perks-are-good-for-business">5 Ways Employee Perks Are Good for Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing amenities benefits condos elections fees hoas homeowners associations housing communities restrictions subdivisions Wed, 17 Aug 2016 10:00:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1773245 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Sneaky Vacation Costs That Add Up Quickly http://www.wisebread.com/10-sneaky-vacation-costs-that-add-up-quickly <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-sneaky-vacation-costs-that-add-up-quickly" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_75848571_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="sneaky vacation costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all love going away on vacation, but we don't love the costs associated with it. Usually, the big costs are taken into account before leaving the house &mdash; the hotel, the flight, the attractions, even the rental car. But what we often forget about are the little costs that can eat into the budget before your plane even takes off. Here are 10 of the biggest offenders, with a little advice on cutting down these last-minute expenses.</p> <h2>1. Check-In Fees</h2> <p>Most of us check-in way ahead of time to avoid lines at the airport. However, more airlines are starting to charge for different aspects of this service, knowing that you would rather pay a fee than leave it to the last minute. In some instances, you will be charged for the convenience of checking-in online. Amazingly, there may even be a cost for printing a boarding pass (currently Spirit charges $10 if you have one printed at the check-in counter), so look for options that are free (like printing yours at home, or using an app). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-airline-miles-secrets-only-frequent-flyers-know?ref=seealso">5 Airline Miles Secrets Only Frequent Flyers Know</a>)</p> <h2>2. Checked or Carry-On Luggage Fees</h2> <p>If you've flown anywhere in the last few years, you probably noticed how insanely full the overhead luggage compartments were. That's because people got wise to the checked baggage fees, and started bringing even more carry-on luggage instead. In fact, you'd often see flight attendants asking for carry-on bags to be checked free, due to space issues. However, recent carry-on fees (which are usually more than checked baggage fees) have reversed that trend. Now, there's plenty of room in the cabin, because once again, people are looking for the cheapest option. So, even if you have a bag that's carry-on-sized, look at the prices. It may be cheaper to check it.</p> <h2>3. Overweight Luggage Charges</h2> <p>This one can really bite you at the last minute. If your bag weighs more than 50 pounds, you will pay a penalty, and this can vary depending on the airline. For instance, Frontier will charge you $75, whereas American Airlines tacks on a whopping $200! Sometimes, you can do some quick swapping between bags to get them all under 50 pounds, but if that's not an option, you may find it cheaper to leave some items at the airport (give them away, trash them) rather than pay the hefty fee.</p> <p>A good way to avoid this is to buy a luggage scale and weigh your luggage before you ever get to the airport. Bring it with you, too. You may also want to pack a light extra bag that you can use in an emergency. Usually, the additional bag fee is cheaper than the overweight bag charge. Or, try <a href="https://www.luggageforward.com/excess-baggage-fees/">Luggage Forward,</a> which ships your bags to and from your destination.</p> <h2>4. Seat Selection</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5170/seat_selection.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're happy with any old seat on the plane, you usually don't have to worry. But if you would like to choose your seat (and if you're not traveling alone, you will most likely want to sit next to the person you're flying with), you'll be faced with a variety of costs. These costs get much higher as you move toward the front of the plane, where there is extra legroom, or if you want to sit in an exit row. Some airlines, like Spirit, will charge you for an advanced seat assignment, no matter where it is on the plane, so you may want to wait until you get to the check-in counter.</p> <h2>5. Food</h2> <p>When you're on vacation, you don't think much about food on the way to your destination. But remember, you're a captive audience in an airport. And when you're hungry or thirsty, you'll pay big bucks. Airport food is always more expensive than it is elsewhere, and when you're traveling as a family, those costs add up quickly. On the plane, it's even worse, with in-flight meals now costing upward of $10 for something quite meager. So before you leave, try and eat a good meal to keep you going through the airport and flight.</p> <h2>6. Parking</h2> <p>If you park at the airport, you won't be paying for this until you return. But make sure you budget for it, because it can really add up (especially at a garage parking, which can run over $20 a day). Instead, look at off-airport parking, which is cheaper and can be paid for in advance. These places offer valet, and covered and uncovered parking, with free shuttles to and from the airport. Most offer coupons and discounts as well, so do a little research before you book. You can get your parking down to $5 a day if you're smart.</p> <h2>7. Car Transportation</h2> <p>If you decide to take a taxi to the airport, you will save on parking fees, but you'll replace them with cab fares. An airport run is often a standard fee for most cab companies, and usually comes with the &quot;airport access fee&quot; tacked on. Depending on where you live in relation to the airport, you can easily spend $75 on a one-way trip, and that does not include the tip. Services like Lyft and Uber are cheaper (although watch out for the surge pricing with Uber), and you can also find car services that specialize in airport runs.</p> <h2>8. Currency Exchange</h2> <p>If you're traveling out of the country, you'll want to turn your dollars into cash you can use when you arrive. And that costs money. Depending where and when you do it, the service fee and poor exchange rate could really cost you. <em>Do not</em> exchange your money at the airport. It's the worst place to do it because it's the most convenient. Instead, order the cash from your own bank way ahead of time, or use a reputable online service. If you can, bring a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/smarter-security-and-no-foreign-transaction-fees-the-best-credit-cards-to-use-while-on-vacation?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=travel">credit card with no foreign transaction fees</a> with you. It'll really help.</p> <h2>9. Visa Fees</h2> <p>Depending on your destination, you will have to purchase visas to enter the country. For instance, right now U.S. passport holders are required to pay a <a href="http://www.mychinavisa.com/rates/">$140 fee per visa to enter China</a>. That's almost $600 for a family of four, which really adds a lot onto the cost of the vacation. You could choose to visit a country that does not require a visa. There are currently 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, so if you pick one of those, you don't have to worry about this fee.</p> <h2>10. Carry-On Friendly Items</h2> <p>If you're planning to bring toiletries and similar personal items on the plane with you, get ready to go shopping. The restrictions are quite clear: You can bring a quart-sized bag of essentials, but each liquid, aerosol or gel is <a href="https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule">restricted to just 3.4 ounces</a>. If you bring expensive perfume or cologne, and it's bigger than 3.4 ounces, it will be confiscated.</p> <p><em>What are some other sneaky vacation fees to look out for? Share with us!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F10-sneaky-vacation-costs-that-add-up-quickly&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%20Sneaky%20Vacation%20Costs%20That%20Add%20Up%20Quickly.jpg&amp;description=10%20Sneaky%20Vacation%20Costs%20That%20Add%20Up%20Quickly" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/10%20Sneaky%20Vacation%20Costs%20That%20Add%20Up%20Quickly.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sneaky-vacation-costs-that-add-up-quickly">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-travel-hacks-only-frequent-flyers-know">5 Smart Travel Hacks Only Frequent Flyers Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-fool-proof-ways-to-stay-within-your-travel-budget">7 Fool-Proof Ways to Stay Within Your Travel Budget</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-reasons-you-should-check-your-luggage">7 Reasons You Should Check Your Luggage</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-easy-ways-to-budget-for-summer-vacation">7 Easy Ways to Budget for Summer Vacation</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-flight-booking-hacks-to-save-you-hundreds">10 Flight Booking Hacks to Save You Hundreds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Travel air travel expenses fees flying Food luggage parking travel budget vacation vacation costs Tue, 16 Aug 2016 10:30:12 +0000 Paul Michael 1773244 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/john_oliver_12450865504_98a7a40631_z.jpg" alt="Learning money lessons from John Oliver" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don't often admit to it, but I have a little crush on comedian and <em>Last Week Tonight</em> host, John Oliver. I mean, what's not to like? There's his adorable British accent, his hilarious takes on the modern world, his dimples, his sound money advice&hellip;</p> <p>No, really. John Oliver is actually a pretty solid source for financial tips. Over the past few years, he has cemented his place in my heart by using his comedic platform to educate his audience on everything from credit scores to debt management and retirement savings</p> <p>If you haven't had a chance to watch all of John Oliver's money-related episodes, here are my favorite financial funnyman's seven best money management tips:</p> <h2>1. Before Taking a Payday Loan, Be Absolutely Sure There Are NO Other Options</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PDylgzybWAw" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_959988635&amp;feature=iv&amp;src_vid=aRrDsbUdY_k&amp;v=PDylgzybWAw" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Predatory Lending</a></p> <p>Wise Bread readers are likely very well aware of the predatory nature of payday loans. Taking a short-term loan can kick off a terrible cycle of debt with annual interest rates as high as 700%. But, as John Oliver points out in his rant, a Pew survey found that &quot;a majority of borrowers say payday loans take advantage of them, [but] a majority also say they provide relief.&quot;</p> <p>The point is that there will be times when people need money in a hurry and feel that their choices are limited. However, most borrowers have more choices than they think they do. Prospective payday loan customers could always borrow from a family member or friend, pawn or sell an item, or even sell blood or plasma. In other words, it's a better idea to do almost <em>anything </em>else to generate some quick cash than visit a payday loan store. (Although some of the ideas suggested by Sarah Silverman, the official spokesperson for <em>doing anything else</em>, are clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)</p> <p>Many payday loan borrowers end up turning to these anything else options in order to get out of the cycle of payday loan debt, so it would be better to just start there.</p> <h2>2. Start Saving for Retirement Now &mdash; And Build a Time Machine and Start Saving 10 Years Ago If Possible</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvZSpET11ZY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1249&amp;v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>We all need to be saving more money for retirement, and the earlier you start, the more time compound interest has to work its magic. According to a 2014 study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a 25-year-old would only need to set aside <a href="http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IB_14-111.pdf">15% of her income</a> each year to adequately replace her income as of retirement at age 62 &mdash; but if she started at age 35 she would need to save 24%, and 44% if she waited until age 45.</p> <p>While I have no issue with encouraging people to save more (really &mdash; save more!), I do have a quibble with the slight whiff of shame clinging to the build-a-time-machine portion of this advice. We can't change our past financial behavior, but we can feel bad about it and let it affect our present behavior &mdash; which too many people tend to do. There's no point in offering coulda-shoulda-woulda advice when time machine technology is still a couple of thousand decades away from reality.</p> <p>However, the basis of this advice is more than sound. Don't waste your money on Elf School in Reykjavik. Put it in your retirement account where it can do you some real good.</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit Report Every Year</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aRrDsbUdY_k" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRrDsbUdY_k" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Credit Reports</a></p> <p>Your credit history can affect everything from whether you qualify to make large purchases, to your ability to land a job or rent an apartment. Unfortunately, credit reports are not always accurate, even if you have been a boy scout when it comes to your responsible credit usage.</p> <p>As John Oliver reports, the credit reporting bureaus make major mistakes in one out of every 20 credit histories. That may be a 95% accuracy rate, but it does leave 10 million consumers to deal with critical mistakes on their credit reports.</p> <p>The only thing we can do to fight mistakes (and identity theft, which <em>Last Week Tonight</em> did not even get into) is to regularly check our credit reports. We are legally allowed free access to a credit report from each of the major reporting agencies &mdash; TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax &mdash; once per year. You can access that information at annualcreditreport.com.</p> <p>If you're particularly organized, you can keep an eye on your credit on a rolling basis by checking one of the three agencies every four months.</p> <h2>4. Invest in Low Cost Index Funds</h2> <p>As seen on: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>Seeing this particular piece of advice had me standing up and cheering in front of my laptop. The financial industry likes to tout the superiority of actively managed funds since there is an individual making decisions for your investments &mdash; which has got to be better than doing nothing.</p> <p>Except the active managers who are tinkering with investments have a couple of big detractions. First, they are human, which means they are subject to emotional reactions to market volatility. It is very hard to stick to a plan when ego, panic, or greed is driving the train. According to research by Nobel laureate William Sharpe, you would have to be correct about timing the market (that is consistently buying low and selling high) 82% of the time in order to match the returns you will get with a buy-and-hold strategy. To put that in perspective, Warren Buffett aims for accurate market timing about 2/3 of the time.</p> <p>In addition to the difficulty of market timing, an actively managed fund will have higher transaction costs because of all the active buying and selling (each of which generates a fee) going on. Even if you have the world's most accurate active manager, a great deal of your returns will be eaten up by your transaction costs.</p> <p>Low cost index funds, on other hand, keep their costs low by having fewer managers to pay, and they tend to outperform actively managed funds because they are simply set to mimic a certain index. The majority of consumers will not beat low cost index funds for satisfactory retirement investment growth.</p> <h2>5. If You Have a Financial Adviser, Ask if They're a Fiduciary</h2> <p>As seen on: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>A financial adviser is a fiduciary if he or she is legally required to put your economic interests ahead of their own. This is an important distinction because the terms financial adviser, financial planner, financial analyst, financial consultant, wealth manager, and investment consultant are unregulated &mdash; which means someone introducing himself by any of these titles might not have the expertise to back it up.</p> <p>But even if your financial adviser does have the credentials necessary to help you manage your money, she might be paid via commission, which could mean she recommends products to you that help her bottom line more than your retirement.</p> <p>Since a fiduciary is legally obligated to put your interests above their own, you are more likely to get objective advice from them.</p> <p>While John Oliver recommends running the other direction if you find that your financial adviser is not a fiduciary, that may not be necessary as long as you understand how your adviser is paid and you are willing to commit to due diligence in double-checking your adviser's recommendations.</p> <h2>6. Gradually Shift From Stocks to Bonds As You Get Older</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvZSpET11ZY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>This advice is part of target-date retirement planning. The thinking behind it is that you need to be invested in riskier (and therefore higher-earning) investments like stocks when you are young, because you have the time to ride out the volatility and reap the returns. But as you age, you need to be sure your principal is protected, which means gradually shifting more of your investments into bonds, which are more stable but have lower returns.</p> <p>This is pretty good general advice, and I love the show's take on when to remind yourself to shift more to bonds &mdash; whenever a new James Bond actor is chosen. (I'm team Gillian Anderson!)</p> <p>The only nuance I would like to add to this piece of advice is to remind investors that retirement does not mark the end of your investing days &mdash; and you should not be entirely invested in bonds by then. Theoretically, you still have 25 to 40 years ahead of you as of the day you retire, and you will still need to be partially invested in aggressive assets like stocks in order to make sure your money keeps growing.</p> <h2>7. Keep Your Fees, Like Your Milk, Under 1%</h2> <p>As seen on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>Except for the fact that skim milk is a watery horror I would not wish on my worst enemy's morning Wheaties, this is probably my favorite of John Oliver's money tips.</p> <p>Fees on your investments work a lot like interest &mdash; in that they compound quickly. <em>Last Week Tonight</em> showed a clip from the 2013 PBS documentary The<a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/retirement-gamble/"> Retirement Gamble</a>, which illustrated how compounding interest would eat up 2/3 of your investment growth over 50 years, assuming a 7% annual return and a 2% annual fee.</p> <p>The only way to combat such termite-like destruction of your investment growth is to keep your fees low &mdash; under 1%. And the lower you can get your fees under 1%, the better you are. As John Oliver's segment points out, &quot;Even 1/10 of 1% can really [bleep] you.&quot;</p> <h2>Money With a Side of Funny</h2> <p>The majority of financial information is not exactly fun to read through. That's why it's so important for a satirist and comedian to take on these vitally important issues and make them entertaining. I'm thankful that John Oliver has decided to make money one of the issues he illuminates for his audience.</p> <p><em>Are you a regular watcher of Last Week Tonight? What valuable advice have you gleaned?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-a-promotion">8 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Get a Promotion</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-your-401k-is-a-good-or-a-bad-one">How to Tell if Your 401K Is a Good or a Bad One</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/4-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-win-the-lotto">4 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Win the Lotto</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-financial-moves-you-will-always-regret">9 Financial Moves You Will Always Regret</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-12-month-get-richer-plan">The 12-Month Get-Richer Plan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Entertainment bonds credit reports fees index funds investing john oliver money advice payday loans retirement stock market Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1766934 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Rent-to-Own Is a Bad Idea http://www.wisebread.com/why-rent-to-own-is-a-bad-idea <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-rent-to-own-is-a-bad-idea" 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_computers_84494997.jpg" alt="Woman learning why rent-to-own is a bad idea" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Rent-to-own plans may seem like a good idea at first. But once you look into the total cost, it is apparent that these plans are just too good to be true. In fact, according to Dave Ramsey, it is &quot;one of the worst moves you can make with your money.&quot;</p> <h2>How the Plan Works</h2> <p>With a rent-to-own plan, you can enjoy the freedom of making a large purchase with smaller weekly or monthly payments, over a prolonged period of time. The payments include the interest charged and a portion of the principal. Repaying this obligation is similar to repaying a credit card obligation.</p> <h2>It'll Cost You in the End</h2> <p>The problem with these programs is the finance charge. Even using a credit card with a 20% APR would save you money compared to a rent-to-own program, which you will need to pay off over a significant amount of time (on a weekly, semimonthly, or monthly basis). The longer your contract is, the more you will pay in finance charges.</p> <p>Rent-to-own plans are significantly more expensive than outright purchases. By paying the purchase cost and effective interest rate over time, you can expect to spend significantly more than the retail price. In fact, according to Consumer Affairs, &quot;Even in the best-case scenario, you'll pay at least <a href="https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/rent-to-own-is-an-expensive-way-to-do-either-110613.html">twice the standard retail price</a>.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-much-a-rent-to-own-tv-really-costs?ref=seealso">This Is How Much a &quot;Rent-to-Own&quot; TV Really Costs</a>)</p> <h2>Rent-to-Own Programs Are Unregulated</h2> <p>Rent-to-own programs do not require credit and are not a form of credit, so they are <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/reports/survey-rent-own-customers">excluded from regulation</a> by federal law. While some states do effectively regulate the purchase agreements, there are other states that have no regulations at all, which means that the buyer is taking on all the risk.</p> <h2>What About Missed Payments?</h2> <p>Some rental centers are lenient about missed payments and might just charge a late payment fee, but will allow you to keep the item. However, there are some rental centers that will repossess the item should you miss a payment. In this case, you will experience the worst of both worlds. You will lose the money that you invested toward the purchase of the item, and the item will be repossessed.</p> <h2>Unexpected Additional Fees</h2> <p>If you will only be using the item for a short amount of time, such as for a prolonged business trip, make sure the rental center you choose offers free repairs, delivery, pick up, and set up. This should be standard because the last thing you want is to be paying additional fees on top of the already exorbitant prices. These unexpected additional fees can really add up, so make sure to inquire about them before signing any agreements.</p> <h2>Is It Ever a Good Idea?</h2> <p>The only time rent-to-own may be a good idea (for the short-term) is in the following situations:</p> <ul> <li>You are traveling for business and need furniture and appliances for a short period of time. The benefit of rent-to-own programs is you only pay for the item as long as you need it, and you can stop making payments once you are ready to return the item.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You need appliances or furniture right away and you can't wait until you have the money to purchase them.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You frequently get bored with your appliances and like to upgrade often. Some rental centers will allow you to upgrade to newer products and technologies at no extra cost, as often as you want. In this case, you can think of it almost like leasing a car.</li> </ul> <h2>Bad Credit or No Credit?</h2> <p>Rent-to-own will allow you to buy items without credit, so if you have bad credit or no credit, it will be much easier to sign up for a rent-to-own program rather than trying to get your new TV financed. With a rental center, they will not check your credit or base their decision on mistakes you've made in the past. This also means that it won't show up on your credit, so the plan won't hurt or help your current situation.</p> <p>Certain rental centers, like Rent-A-Center, will allow you to purchase the item within 90 days or less with no interest charges. This means you can purchase an item with 0% APR over three months. If you can pay off the item within three months, then this may be a good idea for you.</p> <h2>What About Large Purchases?</h2> <p>If you can't qualify for a mortgage loan, a rent-to-own agreement will allow you to live in your dream home today, with the option to purchase it down the road. However, this can be a pitfall for renters and may end up costing you more in the end. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home?ref=seealso">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a>)</p> <p>Rent-to-own can apply to vehicles as well. The agreement is similar to a leasing agreement, except the money you pay every week or month will go toward the eventual purchase price of the vehicle. Whereas with a leasing agreement, your payment does not go toward the purchase price and you need to return the vehicle at the end of the term.</p> <h2>Consider Layaway Plans Instead</h2> <p>Instead of signing on to a rent-to-own agreement, consider a layaway plan. With a layaway plan, you can split the cost up into payments that meet your budget until it is paid off. Generally, you will need to make a down payment (usually 10%&ndash;20% of the purchase price) and can then arrange payments on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.</p> <p>A layaway plan is almost identical to a rent-to-own plan, except you won't have to worry about the high finance charges, and with layaway, your item will stay in the store until you have paid it off. There is generally a small service fee involved, but it is nothing compared to the finance charges you would face with rent-to-own.</p> <p><em>Do you have any positive or negative experiences with rent-to-own programs? 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/why-rent-to-own-is-a-bad-idea">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-everyday-products-with-the-biggest-markups">The 9 Everyday Products With the Biggest Markups</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-much-a-rent-to-own-tv-really-costs">This Is How Much a &quot;Rent-to-Own&quot; TV Really Costs</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-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards">7 Important Things You Should Know About Balance Transfer Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping APR bad credit fees monthly payments rent a center rent to own rip-offs waste of money Mon, 08 Aug 2016 09:30:33 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1767116 at http://www.wisebread.com Still Without Health Insurance? Here’s How Much the Penalties Will Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy_bank_medical_74187691.jpg" alt="Here&#039;s what it will cost you to live without health insurance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Health insurance is something we all need. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense at times, not being prepared for a medical disaster can completely devastate your finances. In fact, being plagued by enormous medical bills is the number one cause of bankruptcy filings. There are financial, medical, and psychological costs associated with having no health insurance. Here are just a few:</p> <h2>Steep Penalties</h2> <p>If you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-when-you-should-switch-to-your-partners-health-insurance" target="_blank">don't have health insurance</a>, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dictates that you pay a fee or penalty called the &quot;individual shared responsibility payment.&quot; Any Americans who fail to have <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/fees/plans-that-count-as-coverage/">minimum essential coverage</a> will be charged this penalty.</p> <p>The penalty is <a href="http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-individual-mandate/">calculated in two ways</a>, and you will pay whichever of the figures is higher: It amounts to either 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, to a maximum of $2,085. This fee has steadily risen since 2014, so it only makes sense to remain covered. For 2017 and beyond, the percentage will remain at 2.5%, but the flat fee will be adjusted for inflation. If you have health coverage for part of the year, you will only need to pay 1/12 of the annual fee for each month you weren't insured.</p> <p>The penalty is equivalent to the national average cost for a bronze-level health plan, so you would be paying the same amount whether you have health insurance or not. Therefore, it likely won't save you any money to avoid getting health insurance.</p> <h2>What If You Don't Pay the Penalty?</h2> <p>If you don't pay the penalty during tax time, you will not be subject to jail time or any additional fines. However, the IRS can withhold money from your tax refund at the end of the year.</p> <h2>Possible Exemptions</h2> <p>There are <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/">certain health coverage exemptions</a> to the individual mandate charged when you file your federal tax return. For instance, certain life events or financial status may qualify you for an exemption.</p> <p>With the <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/results/2015/details/short-gap">short gap exemption</a>, if you have health insurance throughout the year, but neglected to have coverage for only one or two months, you may be exempt from the fee. However, even if you only missed one day of coverage in a month, the government will deem that you did not have coverage for that whole month. For instance, if you are insured all year, but didn't have coverage June 30 through July 1, the government declares that you missed two months of coverage.</p> <h2>The Statistics</h2> <p>According to the NY Times, a person between the ages of 25 and 34 has a 5% chance of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/your-money/weighing-the-risks-of-going-without-health-insurance.html?_r=2">incurring medical bills</a> of at least $27,000 and a 10% chance of incurring medical bills that exceed $13,000. For Americans under the age of 65, there is approximately a 10% chance of incurring more than $30,000 in medical bills in only one year. A very unfortunate 1% of the population incurs more than $115,000 in medical bills in a single year.</p> <p>This is a significant risk and can spell financial ruin and a potential bankruptcy filing. According to the Harvard Medical School, &quot;Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country.&quot; Having health insurance will not necessarily prevent these startling statistics, but they can help protect you from certain catastrophic medical events.</p> <h2>The Psychological Aspect</h2> <p>There is a very defined psychological benefit of having health insurance. Dan Bailey, a consulting health care actuary and a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, found that people who have health insurance are more likely to pursue necessary services than those who don't have health insurance.</p> <p>You are also more likely to take advantage of preventative medical services if you have health insurance. After all, if you're already paying for it, why not take advantage of the free annual physical? In fact, most people don't have health insurance because they can't afford it, not because they think they're invincible.</p> <h2>Cost vs. Value</h2> <p>The <a href="http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/">Kaiser Family Foundation</a> found that a young man between the ages of 28 and 32 can buy a typical silver plan for about $2,800 in annual premiums. While this may end up costing you more than the penalty would, it's not by much. When you consider how much you may end up spending out-of-pocket for something as simple as a back injury, you can clearly see how imperative health insurance really is.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any other monetary or psychological costs of not having health insurance? 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/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-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-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/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</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/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new">Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here&#039;s What&#039;s New</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-time-short-term-health-insurance-makes-sense">The One Time Short-Term Health Insurance Makes Sense</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-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance">5 Vital Things to Remember When Buying Health Insurance</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/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance affordable care act bankruptcy fees health care health insurance medical bills obamacare Mon, 11 Jul 2016 09:30:35 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1746124 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Reasons Your Card Got Declined (And How to Fix It) http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-your-card-got-declined-and-how-to-fix-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-reasons-your-card-got-declined-and-how-to-fix-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_card_declined_000045578530.jpg" alt="Woman learning reasons her cars got declined" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting your card &quot;declined&quot; at the checkout register ranks quite high among the most embarrassing personal finance problems. Holding up a long line of impatient shoppers or missing a window to land an online 40% discount on a Cyber Monday deal are cringe-worthy money moments that can ruin your entire day.</p> <p>Beyond having insufficient funds on your credit or debit card, there are several reasons why your card didn't go through. Here are seven reasons &mdash; and more importantly, <em>how to fix them</em>.</p> <h2>1. Missing Payments</h2> <p>Approximately 6% of Americans admit they have been <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NFCC_2015_Financial_Literacy_Survey_FINAL.pdf">late making a credit card payment</a>. Depending on the terms of your card, an issuer can reserve the right to deactivate your card with as little as one missed payment. Some retailers, such as gas station chains or clothing stores, issue cards that require you to pay back a balance in full by the deadline in order to continue using the card in the next billing cycle.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Call the customer service line and ask how much you need to pay to get the card reactivated. If you have a positive payment history with the issuer or substantial reason for late payment, such as a medical emergency, request a waiver of any applicable late payment fees. Prevent future missed payments by setting up a recurring automatic payment through your bank's checking account or the card's online payment portal for at least the required monthly minimum.</p> <h2>2. Getting a Hold on Your Card</h2> <p>When you use your card to buy gas, rent a car, or book a hotel room, you may receive a hold on your account to ensure that you have sufficient funds to make your payment. For example, you may want to pump only $30 worth of gas, but the automatic payment terminal can put a hold of up to $125 on your card. If you only have $50 of available credit left, you may get declined for the $30. The timing of the release of these holds vary from issuer to issuer, meaning you might inadvertently exceed your current balance.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>The key is to prevent the holds. At the gas station, pay with your debit card at the cashier inside before filling up. When planning to use your debit card at a hotel or car rental agency, call ahead and inquire what the amount of the hold would be so you can budget accordingly. Also, ask if the company accepts a cash deposit, instead. That way you can get cash back right away instead of waiting for a hold to clear.</p> <h2>3. Waiting on a Deposit or Transfer to Clear</h2> <p>It's just like that joke from Kevin Hart: &quot;You see, the way I got my bank account set up, I got a checking and a savings, but all my money is in my savings, so I gotta switch it to my checking, but it's gonna take three business days... I don't think it's gonna go through.&quot;</p> <p>Financial institutions have different holding periods on deposits and account transfers. For example, my credit union makes check deposits and transfers from one account to another available immediately, but my wife's bank puts a 24-hour hold on check deposits and a next-business day hold on account transfers done after business hours.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Determine your bank or card issuer's transfer timing. If you know that a deposit or account transfer should have cleared by now, contact customer service and ask them to take a look at it.</p> <h2>4. Using a Chip Card the Wrong Way</h2> <p>Getting used to your new chip card may take time. Some chip-enabled card readers won't accept your chip debit or credit card when you try to swipe the magnetic stripe. Also, removing your chip card before receiving the on-screen prompt to do so can result in your payment being declined. Still, the benefits of chip cards far outweigh these potential little inconveniences. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-chip-credit-cards-make-life-easier?ref=seealso">4 Ways Chip Credit Cards Make Life Easier</a>)</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Try processing your payment again the right away. Dip the chip card into the slot of a chip-enabled card reader and follow the on-screen prompts.</p> <h2>5. Triggering Fraud Protection</h2> <p>In response to increasing card fraud, many issuers pay close attention to purchases that are outside of your regular pattern. Year after year, I have paid my web hosting provider located in Sweden via PayPal. This year, I decided to use my credit card and the transaction didn't go through. I immediately received an SMS from my credit union's fraud department asking me, &quot;Did you try a charge of $xx.xx at xyz.com on card ending 1234?&quot; Another common way to trigger fraud protection is when using your credit card abroad without informing your financial institution about your travel plans.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Sign up to receive fraud alerts via SMS so that you can confirm that you were trying to do a transaction right away. (In my case, I just had to reply &quot;Yes&quot; to continue using my account.) When planning to leave the country, inform your card issuers and find out about any applicable card rules. Keep handy the customer service number that you can use to contact your issuer outside of the U.S. in case of any issues.</p> <h2>6. Forgetting About Annual Fees</h2> <p>You know you still had at least $100 in available balance on your credit card, so why was your card declined? You probably forgot about the annual fee. In 2014, the average annual fee of credit cards was $163. If your card balance runs very close to the limit, you run the risk of having insufficient funds when the annual fee is charged.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>You'll have virtually no other option than to make a payment to cover the fee(s). In the future, set a reminder for a month before the date of the annual fee so that you cover it on your payment of the previous billing cycle. Review your card's terms and conditions and watch out for other fees that could limit your available funds.</p> <h2>7. Getting Your Authorized Card Deactivated</h2> <p>As an authorized card user, you'll only be able to use the card so long as the primary card owner allows you to do so. If a spouse, family member, relative, or friend trusts you with an authorized card, respect the rules that he or she lays out for you. Communication is key. Otherwise, you'll be cut off.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Contact the primary card owner and ask how you can get your card reactivated. Be calm, polite, and be ready to apologize if you did wrong.</p> <p><em>What are other reasons your card can get declined?</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/7-reasons-your-card-got-declined-and-how-to-fix-it">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/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad">Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad</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-ways-to-avoid-credit-card-fraud-while-traveling">7 Ways to Avoid Credit Card Fraud While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-millennials-should-embrace-credit-cards">Why Millennials Should Embrace 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/new-tools-for-the-unbanked">New Tools for the Unbanked</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards chip cards declined embarrassing fees fraud protection insufficient funds late payments text alerts transfers Mon, 30 May 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Damian Davila 1718093 at http://www.wisebread.com 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> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520Before%2520Accepting%2520a%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Offer.jpg&amp;description=10%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20Before%20Accepting%20a%20Credit%20Card%20Offer"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/10%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20Before%20Accepting%20a%20Credit%20Card%20Offer.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></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-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/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/7-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards">7 Signs It&#039;s Time to Break Up With Your Credit 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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </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 months, 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-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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card">6 Moves to Make Before Cutting Up Your Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards">7 Signs It&#039;s Time to Break Up With Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</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-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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate">Don&#039;t Get Taken: How to Evaluate an Exchange Rate</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-reasons-paper-checks-are-still-relevant">5 Reasons Paper Checks Are Still Relevant</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/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees">Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</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-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/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-big-deal-about-banks-refusing-to-lend">What&#039;s the big deal about banks refusing to lend?</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/3-times-bankruptcy-is-the-right-move">3 Times Bankruptcy Is the Right Move</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/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> </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-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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver</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-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</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-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</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-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-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-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/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/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you">How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-your-first-stocks-or-funds">How to Buy Your First Stock(s) or Fund(s)</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-only-8-rules-of-investing-you-need-to-know">The Only 8 Rules of Investing You Need to Know</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/11-investment-mistakes-we-all-make">11 Investment Mistakes We All Make</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-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/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/401k-or-ira-you-need-both">401K or IRA? You Need Both</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/best-online-sites-for-building-wealth">Best Online Sites for Building Wealth</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </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