spending habits http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4144/all en-US 6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/travel_planning_concept_on_table.jpg" alt="Travel planning concept on table" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By signing up for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">travel credit cards</a>, earning travel points through bonus offers and regular spending, and using your points in the smartest way possible, you can travel to far-flung corners of the world while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months with Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>While this probably sounds intriguing and fun, and it is, there are so many nuances to this strategy that it&rsquo;s easy to get it all wrong. To be a pro, you need to know which types of travel currency to pursue, how to maximize your miles, and how to avoid the many pitfalls that come with using credit cards in general. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Travel Rewards Cards to Get Free Trips</a>)</p> <h2>1. Missing out on a sign-up bonus</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">Credit card sign-up bonuses</a> offer one of the easiest ways to earn points or miles in a hurry. Often, you can earn up to 50,000 hotel points or airline miles after meeting a minimum spending requirement in the $1,000&ndash;$5,000 range within three months. Sounds easy, right?</p> <p>Unfortunately, far too many people jumble the details along the way. Either they fail to meet the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement?ref=internal" target="_blank">minimum spending requirement</a> because they mix up the dates, or they misread the fine print and don&rsquo;t spend enough.</p> <p>Either way, you&rsquo;ll want to avoid this mistake if you want to maximize the points and miles you earn. It helps to read the offer details and understand it inside and out before you take the plunge.</p> <h2>2. Failing to optimize</h2> <p>Failing to optimize is another common mistake many new travel hackers make. When you don&rsquo;t understand the details of individual rewards programs, it&rsquo;s easy to assume they&rsquo;re all the same. The thing is, not all travel programs are created equal &mdash; not even close. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-travel-rewards-credit-cards-really-work?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Travel Rewards Credit Cards Really Work</a>)</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a good example of failing to optimize: Let&rsquo;s say someone has 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and needs to book a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles. Because they don&rsquo;t know any better, they might go ahead and book their flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for the current price, which happens to be 32,000 Chase points on that specific day.</p> <p>If they had dug a little deeper, however, they might find that you can often fly Southwest Airlines from Chicago Midway Airport into LAX for less than 13,000 points round trip. By transferring their points to Southwest instead of booking through the portal, they could have saved 19,000 points!</p> <p>The bottom line: Make sure you consider all your options before you use your points for travel. With some creative thinking and planning, you could find a much better deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frequent-flyer-rules-to-go-farther-on-fewer-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Frequent Flyer Rules to Go Farther on Fewer Miles</a>)</p> <h2>3. Racking up credit card debt</h2> <p>Often, people who aren&rsquo;t financially sophisticated dive into the credit card rewards hobby without setting limits or expectations. Unfortunately, not having a plan for credit or never tracking your spending can easily lead down the winding road of credit card debt.</p> <p>To avoid debt and all the stress that comes with it, only use credit cards when you have a spending plan in place &mdash; and the discipline to pay your balance in full each month. If you wind up in debt, the rewards you earn will be wiped out by the credit card interest you&rsquo;ll pay each month.</p> <h2>4. Letting your points expire</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s crucial to make sure your hard-earned points don&rsquo;t expire before you&rsquo;ve had a chance to use them. While some programs like Delta SkyMiles and Chase Ultimate Rewards offer points that never expire, other travel currencies can expire if you don&rsquo;t &ldquo;earn or burn&rdquo; any points for 12&ndash;24 months.</p> <p>The best way to avoid expiring currencies is to know when your points will expire and enact a plan to &ldquo;restart the clock.&rdquo; Most of the time, it&rsquo;s fairly easy to save points by shopping through a loyalty shopping portal or spending even a handful of points. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-frequent-flyer-miles-that-are-about-to-expire?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Save Frequent Flyer Miles That Are About to Expire</a>)</p> <h2>5. Earning points without a plan</h2> <p>I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times I&rsquo;ve seen people earn points and miles without any type of plan at all. Sometimes they are pursuing a currency that won&rsquo;t even work with their travel plans. For example, I know one person who built up a giant stash of Southwest Rapid Rewards points for a trip to Europe, without ever realizing that Southwest doesn&rsquo;t fly to Europe. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choose-the-best-travel-rewards-credit-card-with-this-guide?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Choose the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card with this Guide</a>)</p> <p>The best way to get ahead in the game is to get strategic about the points and miles you&rsquo;re earning and why. Figure out where you want to go, then decide which travel currency will get you there. Better yet, pursue flexible travel currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. That way, you can earn all the points you want and decide how to use them later on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-best-tools-for-tracking-your-rewards-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Tools for Tracking Your Rewards Points</a>)</p> <h2>6. Waiting too long to book</h2> <p>While it&rsquo;s possible to book award travel right up to the last minute, anyone who has been in this hobby for a while will tell you it&rsquo;s better to book ahead.</p> <p>If you can book a flight six to nine months in advance, for example, you&rsquo;ll normally find more award availability than you will closer to departure. The same is true for hotels; since hotels have limited award availability, waiting too long to book can mean missing out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-expert-tips-for-redeeming-miles-for-free-travel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Expert Tips for Redeeming Miles for Free Travel</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Pitfalls%2520When%2520Chasing%2520Travel%2520Rewards.jpg&amp;description=6%20Pitfalls%20When%20Chasing%20Travel%20Rewards"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Pitfalls%20When%20Chasing%20Travel%20Rewards.jpg" alt="6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards">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/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward 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/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards">The Best Credit Cards for Hotel Deals and Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-might-be-the-best-travel-rewards-program-no-matter-what-airline-you-fly">This Might Be the Best Travel Rewards Program (No Matter What Airline You Fly)</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-i-successfully-gambled-in-las-vegas-without-losing-my-shirt">How I Successfully Gambled in Las Vegas Without Losing My Shirt</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-questions-to-ask-before-you-book-a-discount-airfare-deal">6 Questions to Ask Before You Book a Discount Airfare Deal</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel credit card rewards credit cards saving money spending habits Spending Money travel rewards travel tips Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Holly Johnson 2037241 at http://www.wisebread.com What Does Your Junk Mail Say About You? http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-your-junk-mail-say-about-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-does-your-junk-mail-say-about-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businesswoman_reading_a_letter_at_office.jpg" alt="Businesswoman reading a letter at office" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since it costs money to produce and mail marketing materials, most of the junk mail you receive does not end up in your mailbox by accident. Marketing companies target customers with junk mail based on information that leads them to believe you would be a good candidate for their offers. The companies that send junk mail use information such as credit history, credit card balances, mortgage information, and public records to find targets for their marketing materials. They also buy lists of potential customers that have recently purchased a certain type of item or signed up for a catalog in a product category.</p> <p>What does the type of junk mail you receive say about you?</p> <h2>You have high net worth</h2> <p>If the information available to marketers such as home value in your neighborhood or length of your credit history indicates that you have significant net worth or may be nearing retirement, you may get offers related to investment and retirement planning offers, invitations to free dinner events to learn about investment services, and offers to subscribe to investment newsletters.</p> <h2>You have good credit</h2> <p>People with good credit scores tend to get the best credit offers. If you have a high credit score, you might receive offers for rewards and travel credit cards, preapproved credit card offers with favorable terms, and balance transfer offers with low fees. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Credit Card Offer</a>)</p> <h2>You have poor credit or high debt</h2> <p>Credit offers with the least favorable terms are targeted to those with lower credit scores, since these people are more likely to take an offer with worse terms. Those with poor credit will typically get applications for credit cards with low &quot;teaser&quot; interest rates that go up, debt consolidation offers, and applications for credit cards with high interest rates, and high annual fees, as well.</p> <h2>You shop a lot</h2> <p>Many types of mail order purchases, online purchases, and orders from TV infomercials will get your name on catalog mailing lists that will be used to try to sell you related things, or even unrelated things.</p> <h2>You live in a good neighborhood</h2> <p>Some types of junk mail are sent to all residences in particular neighborhoods that are seen to be a good fit for what they are selling. You'll see lawn care and pest control services, high-end security alarm installation, and house cleaning deals addressed to you.</p> <h2>You're fixing up your house</h2> <p>Once you request information about one home improvement item, you'll likely start to get other offers as well, such as big ticket home improvement installations for doors, windows, siding, roofing, remodeling, and coupons from home improvement stores.</p> <h2>You bought a new car</h2> <p>If you buy a car from a dealer, your name can end up on a variety of mailing lists. Based on the date you purchased your car, you can get junk mail anticipating your next car purchase three or four years later. You'll get extended warranty offers, invitations for test drives, and contests you can enter if you stop by the car dealership.</p> <h2>You're an athlete or sports fan</h2> <p>If you buy sporting equipment by mail order or at a sporting goods store with delivery, your name and address can start to circulate on marketing lists for sporting goods, or fishing, hunting, and camping products.</p> <p>Or if you order tickets to watch your favorite sports team in action or sign up for a fan club, marketing companies will try to sell you other items related to your team, such as fan merchandise or event ticket offers.</p> <h2>You're a globe-trotter</h2> <p>Frequent travelers are a classic target for marketing via junk mail. If you're often seeing the world, once you get home you'll find vacation package offers, hotel club invitations, and frequent flyer program info in your mailbox. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-card-perks-beyond-points-and-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Best Travel Credit Card Perks Beyond Points and Miles</a>)</p> <h2>What are the best junk mail offers?</h2> <p>While most junk mail really is junk &mdash; either promotions for stuff you don't need, or offers that aren't a good deal anyway &mdash; sometimes the market research behind the junk mail works out, and you get an offer for a product you need at a price that makes sense, such as:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Credit card offers</p> </li> <li> <p>Balance transfer offers</p> </li> <li> <p>Loyalty programs</p> </li> <li> <p>Bank bonus offers</p> </li> <li> <p>Coupons for products that you buy regularly</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Can you sell your junk mail?</h2> <p>There is a lot of information that can be gleaned by studying junk mail, so much so that you can actually get paid to send in your junk mail for analysis. A company called Small Business Knowledge Center (<a href="http://www.sbkcenter.com/consumer.html" target="_blank">SBKC</a>) processes junk mail to identify marketing strategies and provide competitive intelligence to their corporate clients. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-earn-170-a-year-with-your-junk-mail?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Here's How to Earn $170 a Year With Your Junk Mail</a>)</p> <h2>How to get less junk mail</h2> <p>Many people don't find value in getting junk mail and would prefer not to waste the paper used to print it, or the time dealing with it. There are some actions you can take to cut down the amount of junk mail you receive.</p> <h3>OptOutPrescreen</h3> <p><a href="https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t" target="_blank">OptOutPrescreen</a> allows you to opt out of preapproved credit card offers. You will be asked to provide your social security number, but after you opt out, your name will not be reported in lists provided by the credit reporting companies to credit card marketers.</p> <h3>DMAchoice</h3> <p><a href="https://dmachoice.thedma.org/index.php" target="_blank">DMAchoice</a> is a service run by the Data &amp; Marketing Association (DMA) that allows you to cut down on the amount of direct mailings and catalogs you get. You can use their online tools to select which types of marketing materials you would like to receive &mdash; and which you don't want.</p> <h3>Catalog Choice</h3> <p>If you are plagued by too many catalogs filling your mailbox, <a href="https://www.catalogchoice.org/" target="_blank">Catalog Choice</a> is another resource to opt out of unwanted mailings. They will send opt out requests to merchants on your behalf for specific catalogs that you no longer want to get.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-does-your-junk-mail-say-about-you&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520Does%2520Your%2520Junk%2520Mail%2520Say%2520About%2520You-.jpg&amp;description=What%20Does%20Your%20Junk%20Mail%20Say%20About%20You%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20Does%20Your%20Junk%20Mail%20Say%20About%20You-.jpg" alt="What Does Your Junk Mail Say About You?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-your-junk-mail-say-about-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-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for">5 After the Holidays Moves Your Credit Score Will Thank You 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-to-organize-your-paperwork-in-just-10-minutes-a-week">How to Organize Your Paperwork in Just 10 Minutes a Week</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-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill">5 Painless Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-effortless-ways-to-prevent-budget-busting-impulse-buys">7 Effortless Ways to Prevent Budget-Busting Impulse Buys</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Consumer Affairs bills credit score junk mail mail paperwork shopping habits spending habits Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2030769 at http://www.wisebread.com How Cutting Your Losses Can Save You More Than Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/this_is_becoming_too_hard_to_handle.jpg" alt="This is becoming too hard to handle" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let's say you bought tickets in advance for an upcoming concert, but the day of the show, a friend invites you to do something you'd enjoy even more. If you're like most people, you'll choose to go to the concert anyway. You don't want to waste the money you've spent, even though you'd rather be somewhere other than the concert. Your aversion to losing the money you spent on the tickets (aka a &quot;sunk cost&quot;) means you give up on doing something more enjoyable.</p> <p>A sunk cost is the time, money, or resources that have already been spent &mdash; and cannot be recouped &mdash; on a project or goal. Sunk costs should not color your decision whether or not to continue with a project, because the money and time has already been spent and cannot affect the outcome.</p> <p>The sunk cost fallacy is farther reaching than just financial decisions, though. It can also cost you much more than money if you fall victim to this fallacy. Here are five ways the sunk cost fallacy can affect various parts of your life beyond your budget.</p> <h2>1. Staying in a job you hate</h2> <p>When I was in high school, my mother very suddenly had to find a new dentist. The one she'd been going to for years had decided to quit dentistry and go back to school to become an accountant, which was what he had always wanted to do. We made a lot of jokes about it at the time, even though we were very happy that he was finally following his passion for accounting.</p> <p>This dentist had been practicing for over a decade when he decided to make this enormous career change. His family had pressured him to pursue dentistry, and it seemed like a waste to have gotten all that schooling and not practice. Once he became a dentist, each year that passed was another year that would have been &quot;wasted&quot; if he changed careers.</p> <p>Luckily for him, this dentist came to realize that his time at dental school and in practice was &quot;wasted&quot; anyway, since he did not want to be a dentist. Continuing in this profession would be wasting even more time because he'd be following a path he didn't enjoy.</p> <p>Many people who are stuck in jobs they don't like are not nearly as clear-eyed about their own professional sunk costs. If it feels like a &quot;waste&quot; of your time or education to get out of a job that is making you unhappy, then you are falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy. How you have spent your professional training and time up to this point doesn't matter if you're on a path that doesn't interest you.</p> <p>If you're worried about wasting what you've already sunk into a hated profession, make like my dentist and pursue what you truly love. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-that-job-you-hate-keeps-you-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways That Job You Hate Keeps You Poor</a>)</p> <h2>2. Staying in an unhappy relationship</h2> <p>If you regularly read dating advice columns, sooner or later you'll come across a letter from someone who wants to end an engagement, but feels like they can't because deposits have already been paid, people will be disappointed, and Great Aunt Hilda has already bought her plane ticket for the wedding.</p> <p>In short, these cold-footed would-be brides and grooms are focused on the sunk costs of the upcoming nuptials. That's because thinking about the loss of money, face, and Great Aunt Hilda's respect makes it difficult to clearly see the huge benefit of calling off a wedding: Not marrying the wrong person.</p> <p>Of course, the sunk cost fallacy doesn't just lead you down the aisle with the wrong person. It can also keep you in a relationship with someone who doesn't want the same things you do.</p> <p>If humans were able to think rationally about our relationships, it wouldn't matter that the deposit on the swan-shaped ice sculpture for the reception is nonrefundable. In this scenario, a rational decision would be to determine if the marriage or the current relationship is what you want and make your decision from there. But we all have a tendency to make current decisions based on what we've invested up to this point.</p> <p>So, we enter into marriages we're unsure about because we can't stand the thought of losing catering deposits, and we stay with partners who don't offer us what we want in a relationship because we can't stand the idea of losing all the time we've already put in.</p> <h2>3. Sticking with entertainment you're not enjoying</h2> <p>I'm ashamed to admit I watched the entire final season of a show I ended up hating. It was a truly terrible season of TV and it included virtually none of the characters that had made the previous seasons of the show charming and funny. So why did I endure 286 minutes of this show when I didn't have to? Because I had invested eight seasons in the show, and, by gum, I was going to finish it.</p> <p>My entertainment sunk cost experience is hardly unique &mdash; and game developers have actually taken notice of this quirk of our brains. Facebook game <em>Farmville</em>, which at its peak had 84 million people playing, was created to take advantage of the sunk cost fallacy. Since you could lose the time and money you have invested in the game ― your crops and livestock would die if you neglected the game too long &mdash; many players would return over and over again to protect themselves from loss. They weren't enjoying the game anymore. They simply didn't want to lose their investment in it.</p> <p>Despite the fact that <em>Farmville</em> was simply pixels on a screen, we have a tendency to stick with entertainment we dislike just to protect our previous investment or time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-resist-the-expensive-once-in-a-lifetime-mentality?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Resist the Expensive &quot;Once in a Lifetime&quot; Mentality</a>)</p> <h2>4. Eating food you don't want</h2> <p>As a parent, I've often found myself finishing meals my kids have only nibbled at, to keep from wasting food. Even before I had children, there would be times I'd force myself to finish eating something after I was already full, for fear of wasting money.</p> <p>The problem is that the food is just as wasted if it ends up as extra padding on my hips. The money and time has already been spent buying and preparing the food, and it's not as if I could actually send the excess to starving children in other parts of the world. Finishing the food simply takes away the visual reminder of the waste (until it shows up on my body). It does not negate the waste of buying and preparing food my kids refuse to eat or eating at restaurants that make portions too large to finish.</p> <p>If I'm full, I should stop eating, since the food in front of me is already a sunk cost. I should also get better at preserving the leftovers for future meals and reducing said food waste. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-food-waste-from-spoiling-your-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Keep Food Waste From Spoiling Your Budget</a>)</p> <h2>5. Keeping a cluttered house</h2> <p>All across the nation, there are bread machines and stationary bicycles gathering dust in basements, attics, and garages. I personally have a set of adjustable weight dumbbells in my basement that cost $300 and have been used fewer than a dozen times.</p> <p>The sunk cost fallacy keeps these unused items in our homes. We refuse to part with something we spent &quot;good money&quot; on, despite the fact that we would be happier with uncluttered homes.</p> <p>Even if we do decide to clear house, we often want to get back what we put into the items we don't use. The fact that we spent &quot;good money&quot; on an exercise bike or small appliance blinds us to the item's current value. We recall spending several hundred dollars for the unused item, and we hate to &quot;lose&quot; that investment by selling our stuff at a loss. But now that the item is covered with several years' worth of basement dust and it smells slightly moldy, its value is much lower than it was when we bought it.</p> <p>This sunk cost fallacy makes us believe that we can't get rid of unused items unless we can sell them for at least what we paid for them &mdash; forgetting that the money we spent is sunk, and that having a less cluttered house would improve our lives. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free</a>)</p> <h2>Don't let sunk costs sink your decisions</h2> <p>The simple (but not necessarily easy) way to handle the sunk cost fallacy is to consistently check in with yourself. Ask yourself, &quot;Is this really what I want?&quot; and be honest when you answer. This question can help you decide what to do, whether you're staring down a career that you feel ambivalent about, a marriage that doesn't feel right, another episode of a show you're not enjoying, a French fry that you're not hungry for, or a panini press you haven't used since the first Bush administration.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520Cutting%2520Your%2520Losses%2520Can%2520Save%2520You%2520More%2520Than%2520Money.jpg&amp;description=How%20Cutting%20Your%20Losses%20Can%20Save%20You%20More%20Than%20Money"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20Cutting%20Your%20Losses%20Can%20Save%20You%20More%20Than%20Money.jpg" alt="How Cutting Your Losses Can Save You More Than Money" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money">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-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-improve-yourself-for-100-or-less">10 Ways to Improve Yourself for $100 or Less</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/this-simple-shopping-list-strategy-from-5-meal-plan-will-save-you-big">This Simple Shopping List Strategy From $5 Meal Plan Will Save You Big</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/flashback-friday-44-sneaky-shopping-traps-to-avoid">Flashback Friday: 44 Sneaky Shopping Traps to Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-women-can-avoid-paying-the-pink-tax">4 Ways Women Can Avoid Paying the &quot;Pink Tax&quot;</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/heres-how-too-many-decisions-costs-you-money">Here&#039;s How Too Many Decisions Costs You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Personal Development Shopping budgeting cut your losses improve your life lifestyle tips mental bias saving money spending habits sunk cost Fri, 29 Sep 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2028481 at http://www.wisebread.com Most Popular Ways Americans Spend Their Tax Refunds http://www.wisebread.com/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-492675012.jpg" alt="Here are the most popular ways Americans spend their refunds" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to the IRS, the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/filing-season-statistics-for-week-ending-feb-26-2016" target="_blank">average tax refund in 2016</a> was $3,053. While we here at Wise Bread generally advise against giving the government a free loan all year, there's no arguing that a tax refund can go to good financial use. But how, exactly do most Americans spend their newfound chunk of change?</p> <h2>What do most people spend on?</h2> <p>Fortunately, the majority of people use their tax refund to pay down debt, save, or invest. In a poll conducted by GoBankingRates, 41 percent of people deposited the money into their savings account and 38 percent used it to pay off debt.</p> <p>More than half of millennials plan to use their refunds for savings and debt repayment. This is a major change from previous years, when the tendency for this age group was to spend on splurge purchases (clothes, video games, new shoes, etc.). Gen Xers are the second group behind millennials most likely to use their refund for debt repayment, and younger Gen Xers (35&ndash;44) are the second most likely behind boomers to fund a vacation. While baby boomers age 65+ are less likely to receive a refund, they are currently more likely to spend it on a vacation or splurge purchase than other generations. Despite more boomers spending on themselves, 42 percent still allocate their refund to savings.</p> <h2>Smart ways to use your refund</h2> <p>If you're getting a tax refund this year, you might be tempted to splurge. While there's nothing wrong with treating yourself once in awhile, your money would be better spent in these smart ways.</p> <h3>Boost your emergency fund</h3> <p>You should have three to six months' worth of expenses saved for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">financial emergency</a>. If your savings account could use some padding, this is the perfect time to save without feeling the burn. Your future self will be grateful for your savviness. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">50 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a>)</p> <h3>Pay down debt</h3> <p>According to a GoBankingRates survey, the top source of financial stress for Americans is paying off debt. Fortunately, your tax refund can help ease that stress. Consider using the money to make an extra mortgage or student loan payment, or help tackle your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">high-interest credit card debt</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Fastest Way to Pay off $10K in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>Invest it</h3> <p>If you already have an emergency fund to fall back on, then consider using your refund to pad your retirement accounts or other investments. You can also begin diversifying your portfolio to mitigate risk and potentially increase your returns.</p> <h3>Invest in yourself</h3> <p>If you've considered taking classes, focusing on your hobbies, getting in shape, or starting a small business, then it might be worth using your refund to fund these ventures. By investing in yourself, you'll continue benefiting from the refund over time.</p> <h3>Make small home improvements</h3> <p>Have you been putting of small fixes around the house? It's time to tackle them now before they turn into a bigger problem. Simple upgrades are not expensive, and can result in a higher resale value and future tax benefits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a>)</p> <h3>Donate it</h3> <p>If you're feeling financially secure in your own life, consider paying the funds forward. Donating your refund to a worthwhile charity ensures that the money is going to great use. It can also reduce your taxable income for the next tax season. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</a>)</p> <h3>Treat it like a paycheck</h3> <p>Figure out how much of your paycheck you allocate to certain expenses each month (food, mortgage, gas, etc.) and treat your tax refund the same. Don't forget to include any debt payments. Just like a typical paycheck, you might even have a small amount leftover to use for something fun.</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/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</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/12-things-you-should-know-about-the-new-tax-law">12 Things You Should Know About the New Tax Law</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">Avoid the Tax Season Rush With These Early Prep Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</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/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes debt repayment investments IRS saving money spending habits splurges tax refunds Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:30:18 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1917304 at http://www.wisebread.com Careful! Your Credit Card May Be Sharing Your Private Info http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-508426961.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2015, a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that scientists were able to use the information from credit card purchases to correctly identify the names of the consumers making the charges. Their accuracy was a staggering 90% &mdash; and they only looked at four transactions.</p> <p>These scientists could do this even after credit card companies anonymized the transactions, erasing the names and other personal details of the cardholders doing the buying.</p> <p>You might be surprised at just how much your credit card provider knows about you, and has known for a while. Take for example the 2008 case of Kevin Johnson, who received a letter <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/TheLaw/gma-answers-credit-card-companies-financially-profiling-customers/story?id=6747461" target="_blank">slashing his credit limit</a> by $7,000 because his credit card provider didn't approve of the stores he frequented. These stores, they claimed, were common shopping hot spots for people with poor repayment histories. This kind of profiling ignored Johnson's solid 760 credit score in favor of the data it was secretly gathering. And although Johnson's card provider later abandoned the policy, the question of ethics had been raised.</p> <p>Though the concept of credit card data sharing can be a little unnerving, it's not all harmful, either. Over time, your credit card provider can piece together a detailed history of your spending habits to help you find relevant sales, coupons, or services. If you charged the purchase of a new couch, for example, you might suddenly see advertisements from stores selling home furnishings. You might even receive a mailing from a mortgage lender wondering if you want to refinance your mortgage loan.</p> <p>So, exactly what information is your credit card collecting and how does it affect you?</p> <h3>1. The Type of Food You Like</h3> <p>Do you eat at the same four restaurants each month? If you charge these meals, your credit card provider will take notice. You might start receiving coupons for discounts at these restaurants.</p> <h3>2. Where You Like to Grocery Shop</h3> <p>If you do the majority of your shopping at one grocery store, don't be surprised if you start receiving mailings informing you of weekly specials. You might even be asked to join that store's preferred shopping program, which could save you even more money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-store-loyalty-programs-that-are-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Store Loyalty Programs That Are Worth It</a>)</p> <h3>3. What You Like to Buy Online</h3> <p>Many of us are turning to online shopping as a way to beat the stress of visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Just know that your credit card provider will be happy to share your online shopping habits if you pay with plastic. If you buy flowers for every Valentine's Day, birthday, or anniversary, local and national florists might start targeting you with advertisements boasting of their own specials.</p> <h3>4. Details About Your Financial Health</h3> <p>Your credit card provider can glean much about your financial health through your transactions. If you are constantly shopping at thrift or secondhand stores, this could be a sign that you are struggling financially. If you decide to request a credit line increase, or an APR decrease, you might not be approved. Or even if you decide to apply for a new credit card with the same bank, they might use this information in their decision. Of course, you might also start getting advertisements from companies who target such consumers &mdash; everyone from mortgage lenders eager to refinance your home loan to a lower interest rate, to insurance providers eager to get you into what they consider a lower-cost auto insurance policy.</p> <h3>5. The Medications You Need</h3> <p>Ever charge your visits to the doctor or dentist? Maybe you also charge your prescriptions? Don't be surprised if this information is shared, bringing advertisements from a host of medical providers. If you prefer that your medical histories and treatments remain private, you might want to pay with cash instead.</p> <h2>So &mdash; What Are the Privacy Rules?</h2> <p>Thanks to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999, you'll receive a privacy letter from your credit card provider when you first open your account and, in most cases, once every year thereafter.</p> <p>The letter will state how your credit card provider intends to use your personal financial information. It might state that your provider uses information from your transactions for its own internal purposes.</p> <p>Your credit provider usually will state that it might share your financial information as a way to market its own products and services to you, and that it will share your information with affiliated businesses. Maybe the parent company behind your credit card also runs a mortgage business. It might share your information with this affiliated business unit, meaning that you might be targeted for refinance and mortgage advertisements.</p> <p>The letter might also mention that your provider will share information about you with nonaffiliated companies. These are outside companies that aren't a part of your credit card provider's family of business units.</p> <h2>How Can You Limit What's Shared?</h2> <p>You do have some control over how your credit card company shares your information. Read the privacy statement you receive each year. It will tell you how to opt out of <em>some </em>of this info-sharing. You might have to call your provider, write a letter, send an email, or fill out an online form.</p> <p>You can't opt out of all sharing, though. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that you can stop your credit card provider from sharing information with nonaffiliated companies. You can also stop your provider from sharing information that appears on your three credit reports &mdash; one each maintained by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion &mdash; with affiliated companies. The bureau, though, says that you can't stop your provider from sharing information with affiliated companies when that information is based solely on the transactions you have made with your credit card.</p> <p>If you are uncomfortable with the information that credit cards gather about your spending, make sure to read the privacy notices carefully and follow the instructions to opt out, and then try to make your purchases in cash.</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/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-cards">Stop! Don&#039;t Cut Up Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company">How to Win a Fraud Dispute With Your Credit Card Company</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-does-your-credit-card-start-charging-interest-on-a-purchase">When Does Your Credit Card Start Charging Interest on a Purchase?</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/is-credit-monitoring-ever-worth-it">Is Credit Monitoring Ever Worth It?</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/whats-your-credit-card-spending-style">What&#039;s Your Credit Card Spending Style?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit reports data privacy sharing information shopping spending habits spending history Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:32:04 +0000 Dan Rafter 1879590 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bride_groom_wedding_81998933.jpg" alt="What Americans spend too much money on" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We're all guilty of spending too much money at some point or another. Even when we know the importance of a good budget and have a regular savings routine, we can get off track. Because Americans are big spenders in general, it should come as no surprise that we spend way too much on stuff we don't need &mdash; and, interestingly, stuff we do need.</p> <p>Whether you realize it or not, here are five things you're probably spending too much on.</p> <h2>1. Groceries</h2> <p>We need food for survival, and because food is a necessity, some people never think to calculate how much they actually spend on food on a yearly basis. They don't know if they're spending too much.</p> <p>There are no hard and fast rules regarding how much we should spend on food every year. But considering how a trip to the grocery store can be just as tempting as walking through a clothing store, there's a good chance that we're spending more than we need.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a family earning $69,629 in 2015 spent an <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.nr0.htm">average of $7,023 on food</a> (includes food at home and away from home), which comes to about $585 a month. The cost of food periodically increases, so we can expect slight increases in our grocery bill. But there are plenty of ways to shave down this number and save.</p> <p>Clipping coupons, signing up for grocery store loyalty cards, and resisting the urge to stock our carts with stuff we don't need &mdash; such as unhealthy snacks &mdash; can result in big savings. And if we limit the amount of times we dine out every month, the savings increase.</p> <p>If you reduce your grocery bill by as little as $20 a week, that's a savings of $1,000 a year. Buying less also makes sense considering how &quot;a four-person family loses about <a href="http://savethefood.com/">$1,500 a year on wasted food</a>,&quot; according to the National Resources Defense Council.</p> <h2>2. Bottled Water</h2> <p>If you're looking for ways to save on groceries, you can start by cutting bottled water from your grocery list. Bottled water has become a necessity in many U.S. households, with many people preferring this over tap water for various reasons. Some people don't trust their city's water supply and others simply enjoy the taste of bottled water.</p> <p>But our love affair with bottled water is costly. On average, Americans spend about <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/bottled-water-statistics/">$11.8 billion on bottled water</a> every year, and the average person in American consumes 167 plastic water bottles annually. Given the average cost of $1.45 per bottle, that's $242 a year per person, which is expensive considering how we can purchase a reusable water filter for $30 or $40.</p> <h2>3. Coffee</h2> <p>If you broke the habit of buying coffee every day, you probably think you're saving money &mdash; and maybe you are. Brewing your own coffee at home is supposed to save, yet a new study found that Americans are spending more on coffee than ever before, despite drinking less due to single-serve coffee machines.</p> <p>It's predicted that Americans will spend <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-coffee-demand-kcups-idUSKBN0P209F20150622">$13.6 billion on coffee</a> in 2016, which is up from the expected $12.8 billion in 2015. This is primarily due to the fact that more Americans are drinking single-serve cups and paying a premium for this convenience. Using K-cups can <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/keurig-cups-are-expensive-2015-3">cost up to five times more</a> than using a coffee pot. Fortunately, there are ways to save like purchasing a reusable filter for Keurigs and other single-serve coffee pots, as well as skipping the grocery store and buying K-cups from discount stores or online from Amazon and eBay.</p> <h2>4. Housing</h2> <p>Once you're ready to buy a house, you'll seek a property that offers everything you're looking for and more. But getting everything you want comes at a price, and unfortunately, some people buy more house than they can afford.</p> <p>A competent mortgage lender won't approve a loan for more than you can afford. But if you have excellent credit, some lenders are flexible and they'll allow you to spend a greater percentage of your gross income on housing. But just because you're approved for a particular loan amount doesn't mean you should spend your max.</p> <p>Whether you're renting or buying, keeping house payments below your means creates more disposable income that can go toward saving a rainy-day fund or paying off debt. According to a 2014 report, millions of Americans spend too much of their monthly incomes on housing &mdash; <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/03/real_estate/housing-costs/">more than 30%</a> of their income. Ideally, house payments should be no more than 28% of your gross income.</p> <h2>5. Weddings</h2> <p>Weddings are a special day. If you stay together forever, this can become one of the best days of your life. But just because weddings are a memorable event doesn't mean you should wipe out your savings or go into debt.</p> <p>In 2015, the average cost of a wedding <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/05/pf/average-wedding-costs/">increased to $32,641</a>. Some people could argue this is a reasonable amount. But given how nearly one in two marriages in the U.S. <a href="http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/">ends in divorce</a>, spending this type of cash is a waste of money.</p> <p>Even if a marriage never crumbles, $32,000 is too much to spend on a day that's only the beginning of your journey together. Rather than begin a marriage in debt or wipe out your savings account, plan an inexpensive ceremony and put the majority of the money toward a home purchase or save it for the future.</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/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">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-easiest-food-budget-wins">The 9 Easiest Food Budget Wins</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/save-big-at-these-4-discount-supermarkets">Save Big at These 4 Discount Supermarkets</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-sort-of-small-kitchen-gadgets-that-equal-big-savings">4 Sort-of Small Kitchen Gadgets that Equal Big Savings!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</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-grocery-purchases-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2017">6 Grocery Purchases That Will Be Cheaper in 2017</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Shopping americans bottled water coffee food costs food waste groceries housing overspending spending habits weddings Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1819950 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Financial Wake Up Calls — And How to Deal With Them http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-wake-up-calls-and-how-to-deal-with-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-financial-wake-up-calls-and-how-to-deal-with-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glasses_gasp_84119999.jpg" alt="Woman learning her own financial wake up calls" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Can't seem to get a handle on your finances? That in itself is a wake up call that you need to be doing things differently. Here are eight more.</p> <h2>1. You Use Personal Credit Cards for More Than One-Off Expenses</h2> <p>Some personal finance experts recommend automated billing for recurring expenses, but I don't usually suggest it since I like to be in control of when and where my money goes. But <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score" target="_blank">charging expenses to your credit card</a> on a regular basis is a different story. Credit cards should be used for one-off expenses that you'll pay off quickly, not month-to-month bills that can rapidly pile up without being paid.</p> <p>&quot;Credit card companies work hard to make their cards not feel like a personal loan with an abhorrent interest rate, but that's what they are for a lot of people,&quot; says money-saving expert Mike Catania. &quot;Once regular consumers start putting recurring expenses onto the cards and not paying them off fully on the due date, it's time to re-evaluate the financial picture.&quot;</p> <p>If this is something you do or have done in the past, switch to automated billing linked to your debit card. You'll need to commit to being financially responsible &mdash; like, all the time &mdash; to ensure that you can cover the funds during the fund extraction period. It'll require a change on your part, but it's not the worst habit you can pick up.</p> <h2>2. You're Constantly Complaining That You Never Have Enough Money</h2> <p>I know way too many people who complain that they're always broke, and my first question is, &quot;Why?&quot; If this sounds familiar, it's time to ask yourself that question &mdash; seriously. In most cases, there are two common answers: One, you're spending too much money on frivolous things, and two, you're not making enough money because you're spending too much time spending money on frivolous things.</p> <p>Follow me?</p> <p>To change that scenario, curb your spending. You don't need all those new things, and you shouldn't be in bars and restaurants every night of the week. Also, consider getting a second job. I recently started driving with Lyft to help curb my own Friday and Saturday night habit of going out with my friends and spending dough. So I'm not just sitting at home bored, I thought it would be helpful to find something fun to do that also will pay me &mdash; because I like money way more than the feeling of not having enough of it.</p> <h2>3. You've Been Drowning in Debt for Most of Your Adult Life</h2> <p>Nobody is going to shake a finger at you because you made a few (or more than a few) financial missteps in your 20s. We've all been there, and we've all racked up debt. But if that black cloud has followed you into your 30s or even 40s, you need to re-evaluate your entire life philosophy.</p> <p>Some debt is unavoidable, of course. I consider school loans and home mortgages &quot;good&quot; debt because they're investments, but if you've got credit card bills coming out the wazoo because you like to spend money, it's time to forget the Joneses and get back to reality. You may need an additional source of income to address the debt &mdash; which I'll cover below &mdash; but you need to do whatever's necessary to get out of the hole you dug, stat.</p> <h2>4. You're Well Into Your 30s And You Haven't Started Saving for Retirement</h2> <p>Times aren't like they used to be, and many young professionals don't have the extra money to start building their retirement funds. But, I must advise you to find that extra few bucks a month to put toward a 401K or other retirement-savings account, and take advantage of matching dollars from your employer if they're available. You may not be able to max out contributions right away, but that's okay &mdash; you've got to start somewhere. If you don't, you'll be middle-aged before you know it and fretting that you won't be able to survive retirement &mdash; or worse, not able to retire at all.</p> <h2>5. You Skip Contributions to Your Savings Accounts for Months in a Row</h2> <p>If you haven't made contributions to your savings account for several months in a row, something's wrong. Maybe you've had unexpected expenses pop up, or maybe you just haven't been as responsible with your money as you're supposed to be. Whatever the case, the fun's over; it's time to get back on track. Take a deeper look at where your money is going and see what you can pull from to put a little back in your savings account. Maybe it's canceling an entertainment service or it could be skipping the coffee house or lunches out during the week. Whatever you would've spent on those little luxuries, send that amount to your savings account to start building it back up dollar by dollar.</p> <h2>6. You Only Have One Source of Income</h2> <p>I touched on this point earlier, so let's get down to it.</p> <p>One of my financial life philosophies is to always have more than one source of income. Personally, I have about four income sources &mdash; some bring in more than others, but they all contribute to the &quot;pot.&quot; I don't need all of these revenue streams to survive, I could live without one or two of them, but I don't want to. I don't want to, because that extra one or two help me add to my savings, pay for life's little luxuries and experiences, and cover unexpected expenses when they arise. Without them, I would have to dip into my regular income, which would then take away from my savings and other running funds I keep, which in turn could lead to a dangerous debt situation if I'm not careful.</p> <p>There are absolutely no downsides to having two sources of income or more, and not a single person has ever said how frustrated or stressed they are because all their bills are paid with money to spare. No one. Ever.</p> <h2>7. You Keep Track of Expenses by Browsing Your Checking Account Online</h2> <p>I see this way too much with 20 and even 30-somethings who monitor and manage their finances by simply browsing their online checking and savings accounts. Sure, peeking at your accounts on a regular basis is good practice, <em>but that's not enough</em>. You really ought to have a formal budget established (a spreadsheet is an ideal solution for this) that details your monthly expenses and what's coming in and going out. Yeeees, it requires some effort on your part &mdash; at least more than logging into your banking app with Touch ID &mdash; but it's well worth it to avoid teetering on the edge of overdraft all the time.</p> <h2>8. You Spend Until There's Just Enough Left to Avoid Overdrafting</h2> <p>Speaking of teetering on the edge of overdraft, stop doing it! There's no reasonable explanation that you're spending money until you're within a few dollars or cents of being slapped with an overdraft fee.</p> <p>You know why? Because you can't afford it! You have zero dollars in your account at that point, which means you messed up somewhere. If you couldn't afford whatever sent you over the edge, you can't afford the hefty overdraft fees, either.</p> <p>To avoid this situation, here are my tips: When you see that thing at the store that you <em>have</em> to have, walk away. When you want to order that pizza because you're hung over or too lazy to cook dinner, get up off your butt and recognize that this exact scenario might be why you're broke in the first place. When your friends ask if you want to go out and you see that you only have $20 left in your account, just&hellip;say&hellip;no! You're allowed to do that, ya know, and nobody will stop being buddies with you and the world won't end. I promise. Instead, spend that time to reflect on why you have $20 to your name (seriously, think about that long and hard) and how you can change that. I've offered a few tips here already. The time is now.</p> <p><em>Are you avoiding any of these &mdash; or other &mdash; financial wake-up calls?</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/8-financial-wake-up-calls-and-how-to-deal-with-them">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/10-ways-you-disrespect-your-money">10 Ways You Disrespect Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-personal-finance-letter-id-write-to-my-younger-self">The Personal Finance Letter I&#039;d Write to My Younger Self</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-a-surprise-credit-limit-increase-can-harm-you">How a Surprise Credit Limit Increase Can Harm You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-golden-rules-of-personal-finance-everyone-should-know">10 Golden Rules of Personal Finance Everyone Should 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/your-good-credit-doesnt-mean-you-have-good-money-habits">Your Good Credit Doesn&#039;t Mean You Have Good Money Habits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance debt going broke overdraft fees overspending paycheck to paycheck retirement accounts second jobs spending habits wake up calls Thu, 04 Aug 2016 09:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1764991 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Saying Thanks More Make You Rich? http://www.wisebread.com/can-saying-thanks-more-make-you-rich <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-saying-thanks-more-make-you-rich" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/thank_you_note_000058962422.jpg" alt="Learning how saying thanks can make you rich" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're even a little bit cynical, you might be expecting a resounding, one-word answer to this question. I mean, since when did being nice ever get you rich?</p> <p>But there is good news out there for those of us who still like to see the nice guy win once in-awhile. In fact, gratitude has a number of direct impacts on financial well being.</p> <h2>Gratitude Makes You Happy</h2> <p>Gratitude has been shown to <a href="https://www.uthealthleader.org/story/grateful-ology">make people happier</a> &mdash; and happiness is known to have a positive impact on earnings.</p> <p>In research, groups were asked to keep journals over an extended period, either simply writing down neutrally what had happened to them, or trying to find the positives to be grateful for. At the end of the study, the gratitude group were 25% happier than the neutral group, and reported fewer physical illnesses over the period.</p> <p>A different study links <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-money-does-buy-happiness" target="_blank">happiness and earnings</a>, with research which shows that adolescents who report higher levels of happiness go on to <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/109/49/19953.abstract">earn more as adults</a>. There are probably a wide range of reasons for this &mdash; happier people take fewer sick days, build more positive relationships, and are able to focus more on the things that matter to them.</p> <h2>Gratitude Stops Spending</h2> <p>If excessive consumption is your downfall, then try practicing a little gratitude to get back on track.</p> <p>Instead of lusting after another gadget or handbag, make a conscious effort to appreciate what you have &mdash; not only will you rediscover old pleasures, it will most likely slow your urge to spend.</p> <p>Often the desire to shop comes about because of something known as <em>hedonic adaptation</em>, or the hedonic treadmill. This is the tendency humans have to slip back to an average level of satisfaction very shortly after large improvements or positive life events. So even though you get a massive pay raise, the enjoyment is short-lived, and you soon come to expect the extra salary. Similarly, the new phone you were yearning for is only truly impressive for a few weeks before you forget the novelty and start to think about your next purchase.</p> <p>Gratitude can help overcome this tendency because it slows down the pace at which we get complacent about what we have &mdash; and by cutting out the excesses of spending, our financial wellness gets an immediate boost.</p> <h2>Gratitude Promotes Great Relationships</h2> <p>Relationships flourish with gratitude, and relationships are how business happens. So exercising a bit of gratitude can be a boon to your personal and professional relationships alike, making you happier and wealthier at the same time.</p> <p>This dynamic in professional environments has already received much scientific and psychological attention. Studies dating back decades have shown that customers come back and tip more if they are thanked for their generosity. In one wonderful example (which I really wish I had come up with myself), restaurant servers handed over the check to diners &mdash; either blank, or with a handwritten note saying thank you, including a smiley face. This research showed that those who had written &quot;thank you&quot; on their checks <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1996.tb01847.x/abstract">received higher tips</a>.</p> <p>Because gratitude forges an immediate personal connection, it's a great way of opening the door to a developing relationship. In a work environment, that might be as simple as getting an extra few dollars tip, or it could be the start of something beautiful. You never know.</p> <h2>Gratitude Keeps You Healthy</h2> <p>Science shows you can cut down your medical bills by saying thanks. Seriously.</p> <p>Don't take my word for it. Professor Robert A. Emmons is the author of a report on the <a href="http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html">impact of gratitude on health</a>. He says gratitude &quot;can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.&quot;</p> <p>Not only all that, but those who are grateful also report having a stronger social network that can support them when they need help, as well as improving blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health.</p> <p>Gratitude's impact on financial wellness is based on elements of scientific and psychological fact. It may sound far fetched at first, but saying thank you to others, and remembering to be grateful for what you have &mdash; rather than yearning for more &mdash; could really be the secret to unlocking greater emotional and financial well being.</p> <p><em>What do you think? Crazy theories or common sense? How do you practice gratitude in everyday life?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-saying-thanks-more-make-you-rich">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-you-are-more-than-your-credit-score">7 Reasons You Are More Than Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt 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/could-a-divorce-improve-your-finances">Could a Divorce Improve Your Finances?</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-couples-fight-over-money-and-what-to-do-about-it">Why Couples Fight Over Money and What to Do About It</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-protect-yourself-financially-during-a-divorce-or-separation">How to Protect Yourself Financially During a Divorce or Separation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance appreciation gratitude happiness healthy higher salary mindset relationships spending habits Thu, 26 May 2016 09:30:18 +0000 Claire Millard 1717156 at http://www.wisebread.com Why "Opportunity" Funds Are the New Emergency Funds http://www.wisebread.com/why-opportunity-funds-are-the-new-emergency-funds <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-opportunity-funds-are-the-new-emergency-funds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_piggy_bank_000091361933.jpg" alt="Women learning how opportunity funds are the new emergency funds" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know your emergency fund is important to your financial well-being. In fact, it's a bit like flossing is to dental health. We know it's important. In fact, we know it is hugely beneficial. But do we do it? Well, no &mdash; or at least not like we should.</p> <p>The emergency fund is a classic example of what has become known as the &quot;<a href="http://www.wenell.se/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/thinking_knowing.pdf">knowing-doing gap</a>.&quot; These are cases where know we should take action, yet we don't. That's because abstract thoughts about future emergencies &mdash; auto repairs or a leaking roof &mdash; are hardly compelling. An emergency fund, as vital as it may be, just isn't sexy.</p> <p>If it's time for you to bridge the knowing-doing gap, and start future-proofing your finances, here's a smart trick to try.</p> <h2>Bridging the Gap</h2> <p>When it comes to an emergency fund, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">size matters less than habit</a>. If you think that it's not worth starting because you can only spare a small amount, then you're kidding yourself. Small amounts regularly saved do mount up.</p> <p>In reality, what prevents many people from saving is not a shortage of spare cash, but a lacking desire to build an emergency fund in the first place. After all, if you were really committed to saving, and prepared to fully audit your budget, you could probably find ways to trim your expenses a few dollars a week, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-extra-cash">bring in some extra cash</a> on the side.</p> <p>But saving for an emergency fund is an inherently pessimistic and abstract thing. There is no conclusive rule to tell you how much you should have. You're saving for things that might never happen, and anyway, isn't just thinking about emergencies a little like tempting fate?</p> <h2>Opportunity Fund</h2> <p>The real barrier to saving an emergency fund, often, is in the mind. So instead of saving for an emergency fund, why not shift your thinking into a more positive groove? Decide instead to save an <em>opportunity fund</em>, so that you never need to fear missing an opportunity for want of cash.</p> <p>How much more would you be motivated to save for some unknown opportunity that might present itself in future? Instead of saving as insurance <em>against </em>the stuff of nightmares, think about saving so you can grab an opportunity when it arises.</p> <p>It is a whole lot easier (and more pleasant) to think about the opportunities that might come up in the future than it is to speculate about the disasters that might befall us. Imagine these scenarios, both with and without the financial cushion provided by your opportunity fund:</p> <ul> <li>Your dream job comes up, but the salary doesn't stack up. What do you do? Your savings give you choices.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You have the opportunity to start your own business in an area you're passionate about, but starting out means living on less to begin with. Now you can weigh your options.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You decide to study again, and need to flex your finances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your best friend is about to embark on some pretty major travel plans, and you really want to join. Guess what? Now you can.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You choose to drop hours at work to care for family, to travel, or to focus on a hobby. Having an opportunity fund means that you can consider different routes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You need (or want) to relocate suddenly. This could be for a good reason like a new job, love, or family. Don't feel stuck &mdash; your opportunity fund gives you the control you need to make the decisions that matter.</li> </ul> <p>While an emergency fund feels like an exercise in damage limitation, your opportunity fund will feel like control, flexibility, and financial confidence. With those motivating factors on side, you are far more likely to make a savings plan and stick to it &mdash; even if it means trimming the spend a little elsewhere.</p> <p>Naturally, once you have saved your financial cushion, it is there for you if an emergency should ever arise. But more importantly it's there as a comfort, an assurance that money worries do not need to be a reason to walk away from a great idea or opportunity. Doesn't that sound better?</p> <p><em>What do you think? Do you have an emergency fund? Would you consider using it for a great opportunity instead?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-opportunity-funds-are-the-new-emergency-funds">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/your-small-business-needs-an-emergency-fund-too">Your Small Business Needs an Emergency Fund, Too</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/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea">Using Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund — Ever a Good Idea?</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-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">6 Emergency Fund Myths You Should Stop Believing</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/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</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-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance emergency funds fun money opportunity funds savings spending habits traveling Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:30:04 +0000 Claire Millard 1699422 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Shopping Habits to Nix Before You Turn 30 http://www.wisebread.com/5-shopping-habits-to-nix-before-you-turn-30 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-shopping-habits-to-nix-before-you-turn-30" 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_bags_000051645128.jpg" alt="Woman learning shopping habits to nix before turning 30" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Once you're in your 30s, people will expect you to have smarter shopping habits. Not only is it wiser to spend your money responsibly, but once you hit the big three-oh, you will need to focus your savings efforts towards retirement and buying a home.</p> <p>Ditch these five bad shopping habits before you leave your 20s, and you will find that it is much easier to save money and hit your financial goals later in life.</p> <h2>1. You Buy What You Want</h2> <p>As an adult, it is time to realize that there are going to be many things that you <em>want </em>to buy. However, it is important to buy things you truly <em>need </em>rather than everything on your wish list. For example, you need groceries &mdash; but you do not need that tray of sushi or bottle of cold-pressed juice. Cutting out frivolous spending on whims and splurges will drastically change your finances.</p> <p>This is not to say there is never room for splurges. Instead, budget a set amount of money each month that can be spent however you wish.</p> <h2>2. You Use Credit Cards Wrong</h2> <p>Credit cards can be helpful in your finances. However, if you are just pulling out your credit card every time you make a purchase, you are more likely to overspend and put yourself in a situation where you're living paycheck to paycheck. Using credit cards wisely is the key.</p> <p>A smart way to use your credit card is to write down all of your purchases as if you were balancing a checkbook. For example, if you want to use your credit card for groceries, utilities, gas, and dining out, then set a budget for each one. Then you add all those budgets together, and every time you swipe your card, you deduct the cost from your total budget &mdash; either in a small notebook or on your phone's notepad. It might look like this:</p> <p>$850</p> <p>-$75 for electric bill (2/19)</p> <p>__________________</p> <p>$625</p> <p>-$5.50 for fast food (2/23)</p> <p>__________________</p> <p>$619.50</p> <p>Once you reach $0, stop using your credit card and pay off your balance. This allows you to benefit from the convenience of a credit card, without going into debt.</p> <p>Also if you plan on using a credit card for majority of your spending, then you need to get a card that will give you a decent amount of return. Consider using a credit card that comes with an annual fee, because those cards <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">usually come with better rewards</a>.</p> <h2>3. You Don't Pay Attention to Your Budget</h2> <p>Financial experts are quick to push the idea of budgeting on others as a simple way to be in control of your finances. The truth is that budgeting is harder to stick with than it sounds. To stay committed to your budget, try establishing budget ranges rather than a set number. For example, budgeting $350&ndash;$425 per month on groceries allows for natural fluctuations, such as a good sale or having guests over for dinner.</p> <h2>4. You Emotional Shop</h2> <p>Feeling sad? Go shopping. Excited about a new job offer? Go shopping. Have nothing else to do on a Saturday? That's right, go shopping. As silly as this sounds, many people allow their feelings and mood to dictate when they go shopping. Shopping when you are stressed, bored, excited, or depressed are all easy ways to overspend and buy items you do not need and will not use.</p> <p>This is where it is important to stick with a budget, and to evaluate what you are buying. Perhaps you are in Target, and you see a really cute dress. Before putting it in your cart, ask yourself if it is in your budget. Do you really need it? Do you have anything else like it at home? Realize when emotions are dictating your shopping habits and overrule them with logic. The best trick to try is walking away from a purchase for a day or two. If you still want the item later and it fits in your budget and needs, then go buy it.</p> <h2>5. You Don't Shop With the Future in Mind</h2> <p>As you enter your 30s, you should consider the future for each major purchase. For example, if you are planning on having children in the next two to three years, perhaps a small car is not the wisest decision. The same principle goes for buying houses, furniture, and more.</p> <p>You should even consider the future with minor purchases. It can be as simple as paper towels going on a sale. Since it is predictable that you will use paper towels in the near and distant future, you should buy several months' worth rather than just one package. Remember to exercise balance when it comes to bulk buying, though. You will need paper towels for the rest of your life, but that does not mean you should buy a whole a year's worth!</p> <p><em>Which shopping habit do you think is the most important to leave behind once you hit your 30s?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-shopping-habits-to-nix-before-you-turn-30">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-effortless-ways-to-prevent-budget-busting-impulse-buys">7 Effortless Ways to Prevent Budget-Busting Impulse Buys</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/flashback-friday-44-ways-to-effectively-resist-impulse-buys">Flashback Friday: 44 Ways to Effectively Resist Impulse Buys</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-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On</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-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-awesome-reasons-to-shop-at-aldi">6 Awesome Reasons to Shop at Aldi</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping 20s 30s budgets emotional spending impulse buys millennials spending habits Tue, 22 Mar 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1672234 at http://www.wisebread.com Americans Spend Less Than Other Countries on These 9 Items http://www.wisebread.com/americans-spend-less-than-other-countries-on-these-9-items <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/americans-spend-less-than-other-countries-on-these-9-items" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_eating_out_000078199745.jpg" alt="Americans spending less than other countries on these items" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The U.S. has the largest consumer market with a GDP nearly one-third the size of the entire world's consumer market. And we <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/americans-spend-more-than-other-countries-on-these-10-things">spend more on certain items</a> than most other countries. For instance, we pay much more than other nations for housing, medical costs, and education. But, it may surprise you to learn that because we are such a large consumer market, we actually spend less than other nations on these nine things.</p> <h2>1. Clothing</h2> <p>In a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) comparative study of four developed nations including the United States, it was discovered that Americans spend 2% less than Canadians and 1.5% less than the UK on clothing. And of the four nations the U.S. ranked lowest for <a href="http://www.bls.gov/opub/focus/volume2_number16/cex_2_16.htm">total clothing expenditures</a> &mdash; at 4%.</p> <h2>2. Food</h2> <p>The same study also revealed that Americans spend less on food &mdash; just 14.6% &mdash; while Japanese citizens spend 21.8% of their total income on food. Canada scored second (15.3%), and the UK ranked third at 19.9%.</p> <h2>3. Electronics</h2> <p>The U.S. has the largest market for consumer electronics. And like the rules of supply and demand tell us, manufacturers are eager to supply to large markets such as ours, which helps control prices. Therefore, Americans who love their electronics and gadgets actually spend less on electronics than other nations.</p> <h2>4. Public Transportation</h2> <p>Again, according to the BLS report, we spend the least to get around (1.1%). Meanwhile, the UK spends 2.5%, Japan spends 2.3%, and Canada spends 2.0%.</p> <h2>5. Appliances</h2> <p>Many of the top appliance manufacturers like General Electric (GE) and Whirlpool are based in the U.S., which creates another situation where Americans get to reap the price rewards of purchasing domestic products for less.</p> <h2>6. Automobiles</h2> <p>Americans love their cars, and we spend 6.1% of our expenditures on automobiles. That&rsquo;s more than the UK and Japan, but that's the percentage of our household income. In terms of car prices per unit, we spend less than other countries.</p> <h2>7. Culture, Entertainment, and Recreation</h2> <p>Statistics about the types of culture, entertainment, and recreation are unknown, so it's unclear what specific things were included in total expenditures. But, apparently the U.S. spends significantly less on this category (6.5%) than other countries. The UK spends 15.1%, Japan 11.2%, and Canada 8.6%.</p> <h2>8. Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Products</h2> <p>Surprisingly, Americans spend less than the UK and Canada on alcohol and tobacco products &mdash; 1.9%. This is perhaps because many of the liquor and tobacco producers and distributors are located right here in the U.S. or in nearby Latin America.</p> <h2>9. Firearms</h2> <p>Americans love firearms probably as much as they love automobiles. Guns in America are readily available and cheap. However, they cost in more ways than people realize. An insightful Mother Jones article points to how gun violence <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america">costs American taxpayers millions</a> of dollars every day.</p> <p><em>Do your expenditures match the averages listed here?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Famericans-spend-less-than-other-countries-on-these-9-items&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FAmericans%2520Spend%2520Less%2520Than%2520Other%2520Countries%2520on%2520These%25209%2520Items.jpg&amp;description=Americans%20Spend%20Less%20Than%20Other%20Countries%20on%20These%209%20Items"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Americans%20Spend%20Less%20Than%20Other%20Countries%20on%20These%209%20Items.jpg" alt="Americans Spend Less Than Other Countries on These 9 Items" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/americans-spend-less-than-other-countries-on-these-9-items">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-8"> <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/americans-spend-more-than-other-countries-on-these-10-things">Americans Spend More Than Other Countries On These 10 Things</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-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money">How Cutting Your Losses Can Save You More Than Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s">This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s</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-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-fishing-rods">The 5 Best Fishing Rods</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Shopping americans countries money habits spending habits united states Wed, 16 Mar 2016 11:30:05 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1670513 at http://www.wisebread.com The Surprising Way Birth Order Decides Your Money Habits http://www.wisebread.com/the-surprising-way-birth-order-decides-your-money-habits <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-surprising-way-birth-order-decides-your-money-habits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000087462289_Large.jpg" alt="wondering how her birth order determines spending habits" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The order in which you were born can say a lot about you. There have been many studies done that suggest your <a href="http://familyservices.us.com/pdf/A%20Review%20of%20200%20Birth-Order%20Studies-Lifestyle%20Characteristics.pdf">birth order is directly connected</a> with your personality, achievements, and even who you marry. Your birth order might even give some significant insight in how you save and spend money.</p> <h2>Oldest Child</h2> <p>Being the eldest of the family usually means you are <a href="http://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/psyreli/documents/2003.BirthOrder.pdf?spnCategory=525&amp;spnDomain=17&amp;spnContent=23&amp;spnContent=28&amp;spnID=41021">more responsible and driven</a>. Firstborns tend to be more organized and punctual, too. You have probably been in charge of your younger siblings on multiple occasions. And there were also many times when your parents depended on you.</p> <p>All of these personality traits translate to healthy financial habits. Firstborns are more likely to pay bills on time, spend responsibly, and calculate financial risks thoroughly. Their driven behavior might be why many firstborns also make more money or have prestigious careers, such as a profession in the medical or law field.</p> <p>Firstborns can also come with flaws. Their perfectionist nature can drive them too far. Firstborns are more likely to suffer burnout and mid-life crises. Your finances will suffer if you reach burnout and give up on your career or savings goals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-smarter-than-your-sibling-your-birth-order-might-provide-the-answer?ref=seealso">Are You Smarter Than Your Sibling?</a>)</p> <h2>Middle Child</h2> <p>Middle children tend to be the <a href="http://familyservices.us.com/pdf/A%20Review%20of%20200%20Birth-Order%20Studies-Lifestyle%20Characteristics.pdf">family's peacemaker</a>. They are good at solving problems and coming up with inventive solutions to conflict and issues. Middle children can fall into the trap of not wanting to look upstaged by their older sibling. Middle children are more likely to hide their true financial situation, so that parents and siblings will think the middle child is responsible and successful.</p> <p>Middle children will benefit the most financially by being honest with themselves and others about money. You will only put your budget in trouble if you pretend that you can afford everything your older sibling can. While the pressure to compete might have you embellishing how much is in your savings account, don't let your pride cause you to overspend or forgo asking for help when you are in financial hot water.</p> <p>As an inventive problem solver, middle children can tend to deal with financial problems in a creative, but unhelpful way. Shuffling debt around to new <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">0% APR credit cards</a> might seem smart, but it does not address the root issue &mdash; debt.</p> <h2>Youngest Child</h2> <p>As the baby of the family, you are used to being in the spotlight. Family members are more likely to dote on the youngest and provide extra leniency as far as responsibility goes. The youngest tend to be more social and fun-loving, too.</p> <p>All of these traits can lead to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-habits-that-kill-your-buying-power">poor money habits</a>. The youngest child might rely on their parents for financial support much longer than their other siblings and have a hard time developing financial responsibility. They can tend to blame bad financial consequences on others instead of owning up to mistakes. For example, a late bill is not their fault since the company forgot to send the bill or they were working too many hours to have time to pay it.</p> <p>The youngest children can tend spend their money carelessly, especially in social and fun settings. They might complain about not having enough money to fix their car or pay rent, but they always seem to have money for a dinner out with friends or a Starbucks latte.</p> <p>Don't let your youngest-child status ruin your finances though. You can still enjoy fun, social nights out, but learn to budget for it and find creative and more affordable solutions. A potluck with friends can be just as fun &mdash; and much less expensive &mdash; than going out for a dinner and a movie.</p> <h2>Only Child</h2> <p>Only children share many of the great financial habits of firstborns. They tend to have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-your-credit-score-mean-good-bad-or-excellent">great credit scores</a> and be driven to make more money. Since only children have spent most of their lives around adults, they also tend to be more mature. However, only children can also feel more inclined to impress others and take risks. They might overspend and live above their means to impress others and to fit in.</p> <p>Only children might also take riskier financial moves, such as putting their money in a new startup or risky investment. Their higher level of risk can either work for them, or against them. Some risks will pay off in big ways, while others will drain their bank accounts.</p> <p>It is important to remember that birth order is a theory and not a law. While your birth order <em>might </em>mean you have natural inclinations to certain personality quirks and spending habits, it should by no means be what defines you. Don't write off your bad money habits just because you are the youngest child. Instead, learn what your natural inclinations are and work against them to create healthy money habits.</p> <p><em>Did we nail your money habits right on the head or were we completely wrong? Share your how your birth order affects your money management. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-surprising-way-birth-order-decides-your-money-habits">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-9"> <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/what-s-your-budget-personality">What’s Your Budget Personality?</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-smart-financial-gifts-to-give-your-kids-this-year">6 Smart Financial Gifts to Give Your Kids This Year</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-money-conversations-parents-should-have-with-their-adult-kids">7 Money Conversations Parents Should Have With Their Adult Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</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-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting Family birth order budgeting money habits money personality only child spending habits Wed, 16 Mar 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1673866 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop! Don't Cut Up Your Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-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_cutting_card_000037695864.jpg" alt="Woman deciding not to cut up credit cards" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's a dramatic statement: You've vowed to finally pay off your credit card debt. To prove your point, you grab those scissors and cut your plastic into tiny pieces.</p> <p>That probably feels good, but it's really not a smart move. And going one step further and canceling those credit cards once you do pay off your debts is an even worse move. Why? If you never use your credit cards, the financial institutions behind them will eventually consider them inactive. They will then close those accounts. When banks close your credit card accounts, your FICO credit score will fall.</p> <p>&quot;We live in a world in which using credit cards is actually important,&quot; said Dolph Janis, founder and owner of Clear Income Strategies Group in Charlotte, North Carolina. &quot;If someone has given you credit to use, you might not need it today. You might not need it tomorrow. But you might need it one day.&quot;</p> <h2>Credit-Utilization Ratio</h2> <p>Lenders today rely on your FICO credit score to determine if you qualify for loans and to decide the interest rates you'll pay on them. A high credit score will result in lower interest rates, with a FICO score of 740 or higher yielding the best results.</p> <p>Your score will fall if you pay certain bills late, miss certain payments, or run up too much credit card debt. But many consumers don't know that their score will fall, too, if they or their banks close unused credit card accounts.</p> <p>This is because of something called your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit-utilization ratio</a>. Your credit score will be higher if you use less of your available credit. Say you have four credit cards with a total credit limit of $10,000, and you have $3,000 in credit card debt. If you close one of your accounts or your bank closes an inactive credit card with a credit limit of $3,000, you will suddenly have that same $3,000 worth of credit card debt on a total credit limit that has fallen to $7,000.</p> <p>This means you are using more of your available credit, and that your credit-utilization ratio is worse &mdash; all without you making a single new credit card charge.</p> <h2>Keeping Your Cards Active</h2> <p>To prevent a closure of your card, Janis recommends that you use each of your credit cards at least once a month.</p> <p>But don't carry a balance on these cards. Instead, charge items that you know you can pay off at the end of the month. Then pay your card balance in full by its due date. This way, you keep your credit cards active without suffering the pain of traditionally high credit card interest rates. Of course, you can't follow Janis' plan if you've already cut up your credit cards.</p> <h2>Look at Your Spending Habits</h2> <p>There's another flaw with the cut-the-cards strategy. It doesn't really change your spending habits.</p> <p>Sure, cutting up your credit cards might feel good. But if you don't determine why you've run up your debt, the odds are that this will only be a temporary solution. Once you get the urge to use your plastic again, you'll simply call your bank and ask for a replacement card.</p> <p>A better approach is to figure out what causes you to overspend and then resolve whatever those issues might be.</p> <p>If you are battling credit card debt, know that you are not alone. Many consumers struggle with credit card debt. The Federal Reserve Board in May of last year said that total credit card debt in the United States hit $901 billion. That was up 3.19% from a year earlier. A study by NerdWallet found that as of July of last year, households with credit card debt carried an average of $15,863 on their cards.</p> <p>If you, too, have thousands of dollars of credit card debt, you'll have to do more than just cut those cards. You'll have to do the hard work of changing your spending habits and learning how to use your credit wisely. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt with a Balance Transfer</a>)</p> <p><em>Have you you ever chopped up your credit cards in order to cut your spending?</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/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-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-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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info">Careful! Your Credit Card May Be Sharing Your Private Info</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-boost-your-credit-with-a-balance-transfer">How to Boost Your Credit With a Balance Transfer</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-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt">The Fastest Method to Eliminate 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/the-debt-trap-factors-that-have-led-us-to-our-debt">The Debt Trap: Factors That Have Led Us To Our Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit reports credit utilization ratio debt spending habits Thu, 10 Mar 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1670332 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware of These Common Debt Consolidation Traps http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_concerned_paperwork_000082590043.jpg" alt="Man learning to beware of common debt consolidation traps" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've vowed to eliminate your credit card debt, but your bills are too overwhelming. You're ready to consider a final option: debt consolidation.</p> <p>It's true that consolidating your debts can make it easier to eliminate them. But debt consolidation can come with its own financial traps. Because of these potential pitfalls, consumers should be wary before signing up for debt consolidation. Bruce McClary, vice president of external affairs and public relations for the Washington D.C.-based National Foundation for Credit Counseling, says that sometimes, it makes more sense to consider other options.</p> <p>&quot;Debt consolidation is not always the right choice,&quot; McClary explains. &quot;It is not a free service. And often, you can take care of your debt on your own, if you change your spending habits and take a more disciplined approach to paying off your existing debt.&quot; (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money">5 Tricks to Consolidating Your Debt and Saving Money</a>)</p> <p>Here are the most common debt consolidation traps to avoid.</p> <h2>1. A Sky-High Interest Rate</h2> <p>In debt consolidation, a company will combine your debts into one single monthly payment that you can afford. In theory, it's a low-stress way to tackle what would otherwise be overwhelming.</p> <p>But even if your monthly payment is lower, this doesn't mean that you won't be spending too much. Some debt consolidation companies charge high interest rates to go along with the new monthly payment plans they set up for their clients. Make sure you ask your debt consolidation company what interest rate they'll charge you. If it seems too high, look elsewhere.</p> <h2>2. High Fees</h2> <p>Debt consolidation isn't free. But some debt consolidation firms soak their clients with especially high fees, either in the form of monthly or upfront charges.</p> <p>Again, make sure you know exactly what fees your debt consolidation company plans to charge you. Request a list of these fees in writing so that there's no confusion. If the firm won't provide this information to you, don't work with it. You want to work with a company that is clear about how much it charges.</p> <h2>3. Consolidating the Wrong Debt</h2> <p>Some forms of debt are worse than others. Credit card debt with high interest rates, for instance, is the bad kind of debt. But debts with low interest rates, such as auto loans or student loans, are generally considered good debt.</p> <p>You might be tempted to consolidate all of your debts into a single monthly payment. But rolling low-interest-rate debts into your monthly payment might be a poor financial decision depending on the interest rate of your new debt consolidation loan.</p> <p>When taking out a debt consolidation loan, focus on your debts with the highest interest rates. Pay off your low-interest-rate debt on your own.</p> <h2>4. Running Up Your Debt Again</h2> <p>Taking out one debt consolidation loan is bad enough. But if you don't change your spending habits, you might find yourself facing overwhelming debt again, even after paying off a debt consolidation loan.</p> <p>Consolidating your debt is treating the results of your bad spending habits. This isn't the same as treating the reasons for your bad spending.</p> <p>Once you've entered debt consolidation, it's time to determine why you ran up your debt in the first place. Maybe you spend when you are anxious. Maybe you overspend in an effort to keep up with your neighbors. Maybe you've never learned how to make and stick to a budget. If you don't address the reasons behind your overspending, you run the real risk of piling up debt yet again.</p> <p><em>Have you tried debt consolidation to eliminate debt? Did it work?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/6-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt">6 Ways to Invest When You&#039;re In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The Best 0% Balance Transfer 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/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</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-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management consolidation fees interest rates spending habits traps Wed, 20 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1638728 at http://www.wisebread.com This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_classic_car_000028718312.jpg" alt="Woman in America spending her money in the 1950s" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans tend to think of the 1950s as an idyllic time when the babies were booming, the jobs were plentiful, and the country was flourishing.</p> <p>Our parents and grandparents had good reason to feel prosperous. The average yearly income rose from <a href="http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1950.html">$3,210 in 1950</a> to <a href="http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1959.html">$5,010 in 1959</a>, and post-war Americans were enjoying access to products and services that were scarce during World War II. Finding good uses for disposable income in the 1950s began the American love affair with consumerism. That love affair that continues to this day &mdash; although our spending priorities may have changed somewhat over the years.</p> <p>Here's how Americans spent their money in the post-war 1950s, and how their spending habits compare to ours in the 2010s.</p> <h2>White Picket Fences</h2> <p>The American dream of owning a home has deep roots the 1950s. Not only were many of the 16 million returning WWII veterans looking to buy homes, but the GI Bill offered them liberal home loans, and the end of the war saw the beginning of the baby boom, all of which drove demand for affordable houses.</p> <p>Large homebuilders met that demand. They began applying assembly-line methodology to home building &mdash; by using panelized construction and drywall rather than wet plaster &mdash; which allowed them to create &quot;cookie cutter&quot; tract housing, giving birth to the modern suburb. An amazing &quot;<a href="http://www.achrnews.com/articles/87033-the-1950s-pursuing-the-american-dream">three out of five families</a> became homeowners, and suburban living became a national phenomenon.&quot;</p> <p>There was a dark side to this housing boom, however. While favorable loans and newly built homes in suburbia were available to white veterans and families, African Americans and other minorities were actively excluded from communities, such as Levittown, and from access to home loans. These entrenched patterns of racial discrimination in housing continue to affect housing and home buying to this day.</p> <p>For those who could access the American Dream in the 1950s, homeownership looked very different from today. To start, the average size of a new single-family home in 1950 was a mere 983 square feet, whereas the average new home built in 2004 boasted 2,349 square feet. According to Margot Adler of NPR, &quot;Back in the 1950s and '60s, people thought it was normal for a <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5525283">family to have one bathroom</a>, or for two or three growing [kids] to share a bedroom.&quot;</p> <p>In addition, the time frame for purchasing a house has changed since the 1950s. Modern young adults consider buying a home an important step before having kids. According to Casey Shipley, a mortgage loan originator from Lafayette, Indiana, families in the 1950s saw home ownership as &quot;something you did when you were settled and done with babies. Most families had children in their early 20s, so looking for a home was something you did after that first big promotion, maybe when you were in your 30s.&quot;</p> <p>Part of that wait-to-buy-until-we're-settled mindset came from the fact that most families lived their entire lives in one home. Financing such a once-in-a-lifetime purchase with a 30-year mortgage allowed a family to have their home paid off by the time the breadwinner was ready to retire in his 60s.</p> <p>The median home price in the United States in 1950 was $7,354 (which is equivalent to $71,360 in today's dollars), rising to a median of $11,900 in 1960 ($93,830 in today's dollars), and housing represented about 22% of a 1950s household budget. For comparison, the median home price in October 2015 was $281,500, and the modern household spends about 43% of its budget on housing.</p> <h2>Cool Rides With Tail Fins</h2> <p>Of course, living in a new suburban home meant dependence on another big status purchase: a car. And Americans embraced the automobile with open arms, making it the center of our culture. Just look at the rise of American auto manufacturing (one out of every six working Americans were employed directly or indirectly by the auto industry), the creation of suburbs and interstates, and the introduction of the drive-in theater, fast food, and the classic car song.</p> <p>As much as Americans loved their cars, the standard was for each family to have just one automobile. Owning more than one car often indicated top-hat-and-monocle levels of wealth. The one-car family can seem pretty odd in retrospect, considering how inexpensive a new car was back in the day. At the beginning of the decade, the average sticker price for a new car was $1,510 ($14,650 in today's dollars), and rising to $2,200 ($17,350 in today's dollars) by the end of the 1950s. Modern new car prices average $33,560 in 2015.</p> <p>But it's important to remember that cars of the 1950s, as solid as they may look, had vastly shorter lifespans and required a great deal more maintenance than their modern counterparts. According to Craig Fitzgerald of BestRide, &quot;it was exceedingly common to carry a little envelope with flat ignition wrenches in the glove box, so that car owners could adjust ignition points and timing, which started going out of spec the moment you turned the car on.&quot; Additionally, cars were more likely to rust out from under you, which is why many families made do with cardboard-covered holes in the floors of their cars.</p> <p>This meant cars tended to last no more than 60,000 to 80,000 miles, between the ignition point issues and the overwhelming problem with rust. All-in-all, families in the 1950s and modern families spend a similar percentage of their household income on transportation &mdash; it was about 15% of a 1950s family budget, and is about 18% of a modern family budget. The difference is that we now own multiple cars that we keep for longer and have to maintain less.</p> <h2>TVs and Sugary Snacks</h2> <p>In addition to houses and cars, there was one more big purchase families in the 1950s scrimped and saved to make: the television. TV sets cost around $200 in the 1950s ($1,600-$1,950 in modern dollars), but that was not the end of their influence on American spending. (See also: <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>)</p> <p>Changing the American downtime from radio-listening to television-watching meant that our grandparents suddenly had visual examples to imitate in real life. For instance, TV shows from the 1950s were all about families living in gorgeous, spotless houses. Watching television prompted American families to yearn for their own homes, and to spend more money on cleaning products to make their homes as squeaky-clean as the sets of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013FCLEIG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B013FCLEIG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=44G3NJ7SEW37PC5C">I Love Lucy</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0038SUBDC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B0038SUBDC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=OIBYQW6BP6S26TWI">Leave It to Beaver</a>.</p> <p>Television also helped to create a brand new demographic: the teenager. While teenagers were already at work forming their own subculture, advertising agencies realized that teens were a potentially lucrative group to target since they had leisure time and spending power, unlike previous generations of adolescents. So television commercials were geared toward the new demographic. Teens responded by spending their money on <a href="https://youtu.be/bgAt4dMgwwU">Coca-Cola</a>, <a href="https://youtu.be/4gtM_mmvDww">M&amp;Ms</a>, and all the other products commercials sold to them &mdash; and by influencing their parents' spending habits.</p> <p>The financial power of the teenage demographic remains incredibly strong, but advertisers have had to change their tactics as our consumption of entertainment has changed.</p> <h2>Keeping Our Spending Habits, But Changing What We Buy</h2> <p>While the specifics of what Americans bought in the 1950s might look different from modern purchases (when's the last time you saw someone rock a coonskin cap?), the habits themselves were remarkably similar. Homes, cars, and the products advertised on your screen of choice are the items people most wanted to buy then, as now.</p> <p>That's because the spending habits we consider normal were born in the post-war 1950s. Prior to that decade, few households could boast discretionary spending, and before television, there were not as many large-scale outlets that allowed advertisers to tempt consumers into unnecessary spending.</p> <p>We may no longer consider a 983 square foot house or a car with a rusted-through hole in the floor to be normal, but our expectations for spending discretionary income remain mostly the same.</p> <p><em>Would you have preferred to live in the 1950s? Or another decade? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthis-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThis%2520Is%2520How%2520Americans%2520Spent%2520Their%2520Money%2520in%2520the%25201950s_1.jpg&amp;description=This%20Is%20How%20Americans%20Spent%20Their%20Money%20in%20the%201950s"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/This%20Is%20How%20Americans%20Spent%20Their%20Money%20in%20the%201950s_1.jpg" alt="This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s">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/heres-how-too-many-decisions-costs-you-money">Here&#039;s How Too Many Decisions Costs You Money</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-one-nice-thing-can-ruin-your-whole-budget">How One Nice Thing Can Ruin Your Whole 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/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</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/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-luxury-pens">The 5 Best Luxury Pens</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Lifestyle Shopping 1950s American spending shopping spending habits Spending Money Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1635539 at http://www.wisebread.com