debt http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/805/all en-US Stop! Is That Loan Too Big For Your Wallet? http://www.wisebread.com/stop-is-that-loan-too-big-for-your-wallet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-is-that-loan-too-big-for-your-wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_car_loan_000025294979.jpg" alt="Woman signing for a new car loan" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's not uncommon to find yourself in need of a loan to pay for a home, car, or other major expense. But navigating the world of lending can be a bit bewildering.</p> <p>If you're careful and sensible, it's possible to borrow money without risking your financial wellbeing. In fact, responsible borrowing can be an integral part of wealth-building. The key is to know how much loan you can actually handle easily. But, how do you determine this?</p> <h2>1. Know Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Your FICO credit score will play an enormous role in the size of the loan you can qualify for and the interest rate that you will pay. The higher the score, the better off you'll be. Everyone is entitled to <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports">one free credit report</a> each year, so be sure to examine it if you're considering taking out a loan. A credit score above 720 usually qualifies you for good rates. Anything less than that, and you may want to consider taking steps to improve your score before borrowing. This means correcting any errors and paying down outstanding debts.</p> <h2>2. Learn About Debt-to-Income Ratios</h2> <p>The general rule of thumb regarding mortgage loans is to avoid dedicating more than 28% of your monthly take-home income to housing. This includes not just the mortgage payments, but also related taxes and fees, which can add another 2%-3% to the overall cost. So in other words, a person taking home $50,000 should avoid paying more than $1,166 per month toward their home. ($50,000 x 0.28 = about $1,166)</p> <p>There's another key factor, however, and that is your overall debt load. The 28% rule above applies to the mortgage loan itself, but financial experts advise having an overall debt-to-income ratio of no more than 36%. So if you already have other loans, you may want to take on a smaller mortgage, or paying them down before borrowing more.</p> <h2>3. What You're Approved For Is Not Necessarily What You Should Borrow</h2> <p>When you apply for a loan, a lender will usually let you know how much you are approved to borrow. It's best to ignore that number. Just because you are approved to borrow $500,000 for a home does not mean it's wise to go and borrow $500,000. It's nice to get approval, but banks found themselves in trouble a few years ago when they approved loans for amounts that were well beyond what the borrowers could comfortably afford.</p> <h2>4. Down Payments Are Key</h2> <p>If you can't afford to buy a house or other big purchase in cash, at least put down as much money as you can. This will reduce the size of the loan and the amount of interest you will pay. A larger down payment could also make you more attractive to lenders, who can offer a more generous interest rate. When buying a home, a down payment of 20% or more will usually mean you can avoid paying for mortgage insurance.</p> <h2>5. Look at Loan Length, Not Just Monthly Payments</h2> <p>All too often, borrowers will focus on the monthly payments without looking at the total cost of a loan. The great car buying advice site, Edmunds, advises to keep <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/car-loan/how-long-should-my-car-loan-be.html">loan terms under five years</a>, and reports that two additional years on a loan of a Honda Accord would add more than $3,400 in interest charges. Similarly, a 15-year mortgage on a home will save you tens of thousands of dollars over a 30-year term, even if your monthly payments are higher.</p> <h2>6. Future Income Is Not Guaranteed</h2> <p>I once heard a friend say that they planned to purchase a more expensive home than they could really afford, because they figured they'd be earning more down the road. This is a very risky approach to borrowing. A more sensible approach is to borrow based on your current financial situation, then any extra income you earn over time can go into savings or be used to pay off the debt earlier.</p> <h2>7. Don't Steal From Your Future Self</h2> <p>Are you putting away money toward retirement? Would a mortgage payment or other loan prevent you from contributing to an IRA or 401(k)? If you're making loan payments but are unable to set aside money for the future, then you may be borrowing too much. Set aside 10%-15% of your salary for retirement before seriously considering large loans.</p> <h2>8. Consider Future Expenses</h2> <p>A couple with no children might crunch some numbers and determine that they can comfortably afford a loan of a certain size, but will their monthly expenses always be what they are now? It's important when borrowing to try and anticipate future costs, especially when exploring a long-term loan. A good rule of thumb is to assume that your costs will rise yearly with inflation (roughly 2%-3% a year; add more if you expect a larger family, or a move to a more expensive area).</p> <p><em>What rules of thumb do you use to know your loan limits?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-is-that-loan-too-big-for-your-wallet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-loan-options-for-those-with-good-credit">5 Loan Options for Those With Good 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/6-times-when-its-okay-to-take-a-loan">6 Times When It&#039;s Okay to Take a Loan</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-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance">5 Strategies To Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</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/worried-about-debt-tips-on-managing-your-loans">Worried About Debt? Tips On Managing Your Loans</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/best-of-personal-finance-credit-where-credit-is-due-edition">Best of Personal Finance: Credit Where Credit Is Due Edition</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management borrowing debt lending loans Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 1320914 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Tricks to Consolidating Your Debt and Saving Money http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-calculating-bills-home-Dollarphotoclub_76897987.jpg" alt="man calculating bills" title="man calculating bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're in the red, repaying the money you owe as quickly as possible can save you big. The longer you carry a balance on credit cards and loans, the more interest you'll rack up on your debt &mdash; and the more you'll have to fork over when all is said and done. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you?ref=seealso">Snowballs or Avalanches: Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?</a>)</p> <p>One means of speeding up the repayment process is debt consolidation. Consolidating the various balances you're carrying on different credit cards and loans into one single balance can help you obtain a lower interest rate, which will save you money over time. It will simplify your debt repayment, making it easier to get a handle on what you owe. Read on for a roundup of your best debt consolidation options.</p> <h2>1. Execute a Balance Transfer</h2> <p>If you're carrying debt on a credit card with a high interest rate, you can save big by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">transferring the balance onto a new card with a lower rate</a>. Some cards offer promotional interest fees as low as 0%, which can be monumental in helping you conquer your debt faster. But it's essential to have good credit in order to qualify for a card with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards">low interest rate</a>. There's typically a fee in the range of 3% of your debt that you'll pay upon shifting your balance onto the new card. And be mindful that that introductory 0% interest rate won't last forever. Most of these offers expire in 15 months or less, so use that time wisely to pay down your debt quickly. (See our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">favorite credit cards for 0% balance transfers</a>)</p> <h2>2. Take Out a Peer-to-Peer Loan</h2> <p>In peer-to-peer lending, borrowers obtain a loan from individual lenders without going through a traditional financial institution. The greatest benefit of P2P loans are their interest rates, which can be as low as 7% for borrowers with good credit &mdash; this means you can save money in the long term. The two largest P2P platforms are Prosper and <a rel="nofollow" href="http://track.flexlinks.com/a.ashx?foid=1029882.227343&amp;fot=1071&amp;foc=1" target="_blank">Lending Club</a><img border="0" src="http://track.flexlinks.com/i.ashx?foid=1029882.227343&amp;fot=1071&amp;foc=1" alt="" />. Both charge fees for new loans (1% to 5% of the total loan amount at Prosper and 1.11% to 5% at Lending Club), depending on the size of the loan.</p> <p>Once you're approved, you'll receive the funds in a few business days (which is much faster than a bank loan). Another notable difference between P2P loans and those issued by banks are that they come with a fixed term for payment, meaning the borrower typically has a deadline of three to five years to pay the loan off entirely, with monthly payments to meet. &quot;Some people like the idea of having a fixed term for the payment,&quot; said Peter Renton, founder of <a href="http://www.lendacademy.com/">LendAcademy.com</a>. &quot;It's a kind of enforced discipline. They know they have three or five years on a loan and they will have paid off their debt.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">Should You Use Peer-to-Peer Lending to Pay Down Credit Card Debt?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Tap Into Your Home Equity</h2> <p>If you own a home, you may be able to use your home equity to consolidate your debt. The risk, of course, is that if you don't use that equity responsibly, you could find yourself facing foreclosure. But if you're careful not to overextend yourself, tapping into the equity of your home and then repaying yourself can be a very convenient way to consolidate your debt.</p> <p>First, you need to decide between two choices: <a href="http://www.expertlaw.com/library/finance/home_equity_loan.html">a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit</a>. The annual percentage rate (APR) for a loan typically incorporates points and finance charges, whereas the APR for a line of credit typically reflects only the interest rate. With a loan, you'll receive a payment totaling the full amount borrowed upon closing. With a line of credit, you'll be handed a checkbook with which you can write checks against your equity up to the amount of the line of credit. Home equity lines of credit or HELOCs are similar to credit cards in that interest is only charged on the amount withdrawn. In fact, most of them give homeowners as long as a <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/mean-home-loan-draw-period-49163.html">decade to draw out the equity</a> and then another 15 to 20 years to repay it after the draw period expires.</p> <h2>4. Borrow From Your Retirement</h2> <p>This is a last resort means of debt consolidation, but if you're in dire straits, you might want to investigate <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account">borrowing against your 401(k)</a>, 401(b), or pension plan at a low interest rate. The benefit of borrowing from your retirement is that it enables you to pay back your plan (generally under more favorable terms), rather than having to pay back a lender. The drawback, of course, is that you could be jeopardizing your retirement savings.</p> <h2>5. Borrow From Your Life Insurance Policy</h2> <p>Another last-ditch option is borrowing from your life insurance. You can take out a loan against it (typically up to the value of the policy), and with the proceeds, consolidate your debt. Your insurance company usually won't require you to make payments, but it's a good idea to do so anyway. Failure to repay a life insurance policy loan means your family may be entitled to nothing when you die.</p> <p><em>How have you considered consolidating your debt?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-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-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/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary">How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30K Salary</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-organizations-that-really-can-help-you-with-your-debt">8 Organizations That REALLY Can Help You With Your 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/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <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-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</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-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor">7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Advisor</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management debt debt consolidation debt repayment Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:07 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1286247 at http://www.wisebread.com How This Single-Income Family Found Financial Freedom in Just 27 Months http://www.wisebread.com/how-this-single-income-family-found-financial-freedom-in-just-27-months <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-this-single-income-family-found-financial-freedom-in-just-27-months" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-family-boxes-home-Dollarphotoclub_17954295.jpg" alt="happy family boxes" title="happy family boxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When their second child was born, the Fobes family had almost no disposable income and were $37,000 in debt. Tracie Fobes had recently lost her part-time, work-from-home income, and the couple was struggling to make ends meet on their one full-time salary.</p> <p>The Fobes juggled their bills for four months post-baby before they realized something had to change. &quot;We were living paycheck to paycheck,&quot; says Tracie. &quot;Money was tight and we were stressed. We were trying to figure out how to make ends meet but we were getting nowhere fast. It was really bad.&quot; They weren't sure how they were going to manage long-term when a family friend told the Fobes about the Dave Ramsey method and get-out-of-debt due date they'd set for themselves. &quot;They were doing it successfully on one income,&quot; says Tracie. &quot;That's what got me thinking that maybe we could do it, too.&quot;</p> <h2>Using a Roadmap to Chip Away at Their Debt</h2> <p>After that fateful dinner, the Fobes spent the following three days reading as many Dave Ramsey books as they could get their hands on. &quot;We felt like we had an answer and a way we could actually do this,&quot; she says. &quot;We felt like we finally found a solution to our problem.&quot;</p> <p>The first step the Fobes took was to create an in-depth budget. &quot;The first time we [wrote out our budget], we both wanted to throw up, it was so bad,&quot; laughed Tracie. &quot;But we buckled down and realized we had no one to blame but ourselves. We changed our money attitude and moved forward.&quot;</p> <p>The budget helped the Fobes realize where they were overspending and where they needed to cut back. Grocery costs were way too high, they realized, so Tracie set to work learning how to meal plan and use coupons to slash food costs. Tracie would plan her family's weekly meals around what was on sale that week at the supermarket and what coupons were in her Sunday newspaper supplement. She also became efficient about using what was already in her pantry. &quot;It became a goal to pay as little out of pocket at the store as I could,&quot; she says. In one year alone, Tracie saved $6,000 just by menu planning and couponing.</p> <p>Then, there were the restaurant meals. &quot;We were also spending a lot to go out to eat,&quot; Tracie says, admitting to their three time a week habit. &quot;If you eat out eight to 10 times per month and it costs $20 per adult, that's over $4,000,&quot; she explains. &quot;When you sit down and do the math, you realize how sickening it is.&quot; So, they slashed their restaurant budget and reallocated those funds toward paying down their debt.</p> <p>Like most Americans, the Fobes had plenty of stuff around the house that they didn't actually use. &quot;We did an assessment of our wants versus needs,&quot; Tracie says. &quot;We had all this furniture that we were storing for a home remodel that we knew wouldn't happen for at least 10 years. We realized that we wanted the furniture but what we <em>needed</em> was to get out of debt.&quot; Cleaning out the house raised $3,000, which went directly toward paying down their debt. &quot;It was a nice way to clean out the house,&quot; Tracie says. &quot;We got rid of a lot of junk. It was liberating. We didn't realize how much all that stuff was weighing us down.&quot;</p> <h2>Staying the Course</h2> <p>It can be hard to maintain frugality for as long as it takes to pay off a hefty debt burden. Tracie's healthy attitude helped her stay on target. &quot;We didn't get into debt in two months,&quot; she says. &quot;It takes a long time to pay it off. You have to be patient and stick to it. You have to not give up.&quot;</p> <p>In addition to spending cuts, The Fobes also took any unaccounted for money and put it toward lowering their debts. There were income tax returns, but there was also a new income stream: Tracie had wanted to share her newfound saving strategies with others, so she started blogging about her journey at <a href="http://www.pennypinchinmom.com">pennypinchinmom.com</a>. The blog was a hobby at first, but over time it grew into a substantial income source.</p> <p>&quot;My first monthly revenue check for the blog was for $65,&quot; she says. &quot;We made $1,000 in the first year but it went up from there.&quot; In year two her blog earned $23,000 and then $38,000 in year three. &quot;The extra income really helped. It felt like free money, so we just used it to pay down the debt,&quot; she says. &quot;In the end, we paid off $37,000 in just 27 months.&quot;</p> <h2>The Final Stretch</h2> <p>In 18 &ndash; 24 months, the Fobes will pay off their last remaining debt &mdash; their mortgage. &quot;Having financial freedom is like no other feeling in the world,&quot; Tracie says. &quot;Our money is our money now. We decide how to spend it.&quot;</p> <p>For others looking to start their own get-out-of-debt journey, Fobes suggests leveraging a personal passion to build a side income. &quot;Photographers can take family photos, writers can freelance,&quot; she says. &quot;Many people also do well with multi-level marketing companies because the work can be done in the evening, after traditional work hours.&quot; Blogging worked for Tracie, but there are many different paths to follow.</p> <p>Now that the Fobes have a comfortable disposable income, they use it to spend time as family. &quot;We do fun things on the weekends and we don't think much about the cost of event tickets,&quot; she says. They go on vacation with the kids. They work on home remodeling projects. &quot;It's amazing,&quot; she says. &quot;When people ask what's stressing me out, our budget and finances never come to the top of the list.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have plans to cut expenses or boost income this year? What strategies do you have in mind for your own debt elimination journey? We want to hear about it in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-this-single-income-family-found-financial-freedom-in-just-27-months">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/how-one-inspiring-couple-paid-off-48000-in-25-years">How One Inspiring Couple Paid Off $48,000 in 2.5 Years</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-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary">How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30K Salary</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-one-young-entrepreneur-paid-off-40000-in-student-debt-by-age-24">How One Young Entrepreneur Paid Off $40,000 in Student Debt By Age 24</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-recent-grad-paid-off-34k-in-sudent-loans-and-launched-a-business-in-just-4-years">This Recent Grad Paid Off $34K in Student Loans and Launched a Business (In Just 4 Years)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance debt debt repayment debt stories Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:00:09 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1283251 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Should Say Yes to New Credit Card Offers http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-should-say-yes-to-new-credit-card-offers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-should-say-yes-to-new-credit-card-offers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-girl-credit-card-tablet-Dollarphotoclub_62582853.jpg" alt="girl credit card tablet" title="girl credit card tablet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Nothing can be more annoying than unsolicited credit card offers filling your mailbox. Typically, I receive about five to six new credit card offers a week &mdash; <em>a week</em>, y'all &mdash; and I usually shred these offers without removing them from the envelope. You might do the same. However, there are times when it's okay to say yes to new credit card offers.</p> <p>Not that you should go crazy and apply for every new credit card offer you receive (like I did when I turned 18: disaster!) but if you can relate to any of the following five situations, maybe it's time to explore some of those new offers.</p> <h2>1. You Want a Credit Card With Rewards</h2> <p>A no-frills credit card is perfect if you rarely use plastic or only need a basic credit card for emergencies. But if you're using credit cards more often, it only makes sense to get a credit card that offers a rewards program. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards With Travel Rewards</a>)</p> <p>These programs offer just that &mdash; a reward for using your credit card. And depending on the rewards program, you can earn points, miles, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal">cash back for every dollar you spend</a>, which can help you score some sweet freebies or discounts. Redeem reward points for airline tickets, hotels, gift cards (I use mine for holiday gifts to reduce the hit to my wallet at the end of the year), or a statement credit.</p> <p>Compare various reward programs and choose the card that best suits your lifestyle and spending habits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about?ref=seealso">13 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn't Know About</a>)</p> <h2>2. You Want to Transfer a Balance</h2> <p>Paying off a credit card is much easier to say than do &mdash; especially if you're paying a high interest rate. If your credit card company charges 18% or 19% interest, and you're only making minimum payments, this debt isn't going anywhere for years.</p> <p>If you have the resources to pay more each month and you're developing a debt-elimination strategy, look into credit cards that offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal">0% APR on purchases and balance transfers</a> for a specific period. It's not hard to find cards offering 0% for the first 6, 12, or 18 months. Transfer an existing credit card balance and pay it off within the introductory rate period to avoid additional interest charges. Or, if you're thinking about using a credit card for a big purchase, use a 0% interest card and pay off the purchase during the zero-rate period &mdash; it's just like paying cash. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-must-know-before-transferring-credit-card-balances?ref=seealso">What You Must Know Before Transferring Credit Card Balances</a>)</p> <h2>3. You're Hunting for a Better Rate</h2> <p>There's no reason to pay a high credit card rate if you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-excellent-credit?ref=internal">excellent credit</a>. But no matter how long you've been a customer, or how high your credit score is, some credit card companies aren't going to budge with the rate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards With Low Interest Rates</a>)</p> <p>If you carry a balance from month-to-month, you need a credit card with a low rate to reduce how much you pay in interest &mdash; aim for somewhere in the ballpark of 10% to 14%.</p> <h2>4. You're Looking to Improve Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Various factors contribute to our credit rating, and typically, the lower your credit card utilization ratio, the better your score.</p> <p>Credit card utilization refers to how much of your available credit you use each month. So, if you have one credit card with a $2,000 credit limit and a balance of $1,000, your credit card utilization ratio is 50%. This is kind of high, and unfortunately, credit-scoring models penalize people with higher ratios. But if you apply and get approved for a new credit card, and this card also has a credit limit of $2,000, your credit card utilization ratio drops to 25%, which is a much better percentage and your credit score might increase. For this approach to work, you can't overuse the new credit card. If you rack up additional debt, you could end up in the same situation in just a few months. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>5. You Want a Card That's Widely Accepted</h2> <p>You may prefer the limitless spending feature of an American Express, but if you're a big credit card user, you're probably aware that some credit cards aren't accepted everywhere. So, if you want to avoid an awkward encounter at checkout, you need at least one other major credit card in your wallet &mdash; preferably one that's accepted everywhere worldwide, such as Visa or MasterCard.</p> <p><em>Do you have tales of credit card woe that you'd like to share? When has your credit card really helped you out? How can we all be more responsible with our credit cards? Join the conversation in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-should-say-yes-to-new-credit-card-offers">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/10-tricks-to-save-money-with-credit-cards">10 Tricks to Save Money with 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/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance">5 Strategies To Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</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/reduce-your-credit-limits-to-manage-your-spending">Reduce Your Credit Limits to Manage Your Spending</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/worried-about-debt-tips-on-managing-your-loans">Worried About Debt? Tips On Managing Your Loans</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-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards">6 Warning Signs That You Need to Stop Using Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards consumer debt credit debt new credit cards Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1282526 at http://www.wisebread.com How One Inspiring Couple Paid Off $48,000 in 2.5 Years http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-inspiring-couple-paid-off-48000-in-25-years <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-one-inspiring-couple-paid-off-48000-in-25-years" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-family-house-Dollarphotoclub_36832642.jpg" alt="happy family house" title="happy family house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It would be easy to assume Mark and Lauren Greutman were living the American Dream. They had a growing family and had just built a 3,200 square foot home in a lovely Charlotte suburb. They appeared to have it all. What friends and neighbors couldn't see from the outside, though, was the $42,000 in consumer debt they'd racked up over time, much of it on high-interest rate credit cards. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-inspiring-saver-found-true-love-shook-off-debt-denial-and-paid-off-123000?ref=seealso">How One Inspiring Saver Found True Love, Shook Off Debt Denial, and Paid Off $123,000</a>)</p> <h2>Falling Separately Into Debt and Together Into a Short Sale</h2> <p>When things were at their worst, the Greutmans owed a whopping $1,000 per month more than they were earning. Like most credit card debtors, their burden had grown slowly over time, until it swelled to the point where they couldn't ignore the balance any longer. At the time, the Greutmans weren't consulting each other before making purchases and they weren't on the same page about their financial goals. &quot;It was a breaking point for us when we realized we didn't have enough money to pay our bills,&quot; says Mark. &quot;We were so accustomed to paying the minimums on our credit cards that we didn't even realize the hole we were in. We realized we were in debt,&quot; he adds, &quot;but we never sat down and added it all up.&quot;</p> <p>Around the same time, the Greutmans received more bad news. The company Mark worked for was restructuring and his job was on the line. Even worse, he was the family's primary income earner, their house was under water (they owed more on it than it was worth), and they had a preschooler and newborn to care for.</p> <p>In an incredible stroke of good fortune, Mark received an unsolicited job offer the following day &mdash; from a previous employer from the Greutman's hometown in upstate New York. The Greutmans were thrilled by the job opportunity and also for the chance to move back home. They were able to sell the Charlotte house in just two months by enlisting the help of a short sale specialist. The process added an additional $6,000 to their debt burden but, at the same time, the sale helped them shed responsibility for a sizable monthly mortgage payment. &quot;The quick short sale was a miracle,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;We were so tired of being house poor. [Building that home] was a bad financial decision from the beginning.&quot;</p> <h2>A New Life in Repayment</h2> <p>With the move, the Greutmans were determined to make a financial change and wipe their debt clean. The general cost of living was lower in their new upstate New York town, but they also downsized considerably. After a few weeks of living with family, the Greutmans set their sights on an 800 square foot townhome that was large enough for their family yet modest enough to decrease their housing expenses by more than $1,000 per month.</p> <p>Once settled into the new house, the Greutmans got serious about their budget. &quot;We had budgeted in Charlotte to tread water but in New York we were in a position to make a difference with our debt,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;I learned to coupon and to meal plan. For years, I fed our family on $50 per week.&quot;</p> <p>The Greutmans cut other unnecessary expenses to boost their monthly debt payments. &quot;We never went out on dates, we didn't have cable,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;We got down to the bare bones minimum. We didn't have a home phone line, we didn't have smartphones. We just used our inexpensive, dumb phones,&quot; she laughs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today?ref=seealso">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a>)</p> <p>Then, Lauren started looking for creative ways to supplement the household's income. She took online surveys that paid $10 &ndash; $20 each and, over the course of a year, put that income aside for that year's Christmas gifts. &quot;I saved about $400 and we didn't have to go into more debt for the holiday,&quot; she says.</p> <p>Lauren also boosted the family income by reselling garage sale antiques on eBay, attending marketing company focus groups that paid up to $100 per session, and eventually, by sharing her newly acquired couponing skills on her blog, <a href="http://www.iamthatlady.com">Iamthatlady.com</a>.</p> <p>It took about 10 months for the blog to start generating revenue. &quot;We wanted to send our son to private school but it was $350 per month and we didn't have the money,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;In 10 months, the blog grew so I was bringing in enough to pay for the tuition.&quot; Eventually her online income grew to thousands per month and the Greutmans funneled those additional funds toward their debts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-young-entrepreneur-paid-off-40000-in-student-debt-by-age-24?ref=seealso">How One Young Entrepreneur Paid Off $40,000 in Student Debt By Age 24</a>)</p> <h2>Getting Strategic</h2> <p>At the start of their journey, the Greutmans owed $25,000 in credit card debt, $10,000 for student loans, $7,000 for a car loan, and $6,000 from expenses related to the short sale of their Charlotte home.</p> <p>To stay on track with their plan, the Greutmans created what they call a financial bucket list. &quot;It includes all the things you want to do with your money before you die,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;It helps you discover where your values lie.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It also helps to have your long-term goals in mind when you're making short-term decisions,&quot; adds Mark. &quot;For us, not being on the same page was what created a lot of our trouble. Getting on the same page is what got us out of debt.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-questions-that-reveal-if-you-and-your-partner-are-a-money-match?ref=seealso">7 Questions That Reveal If You and Your Partner Are a Money Match</a>)</p> <p>Relationships first. While at the settlement table, the Greutmans discovered they were $4,000 shy of the amount they needed to complete their short sale &mdash; and they didn't have the money. At the last minute, they were able to borrow the funds from a family member and the sale went through. &quot;We paid that off first,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;It was a personal issue and we didn't want to muddle that relationship.&quot;</p> <p>Then the credit cards. Next the Greutmans tackled their hefty credit card debt. They'd added $2,000 in moving expenses to their total and were eager to pay it all off. &quot;We paid the cards with the smallest balances first,&quot; says Lauren, explaining the modified <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0">debt snowball method</a> they used as a repayment plan. Instead of tackling the credit card bill with the highest interest rate first, the snowball method suggests paying the minimum for all bills, except for the one with the smallest outstanding balance. That bill should be tackled with all available funds. Once the first bill is paid off, the debtor moves on to the next smallest balance, and so on. &quot;We liked seeing small wins along the way,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;We were always throwing as much as possible toward our debts.&quot;</p> <p>And then the car, and finally the student loan. After the credit card bills were repaid, the Greutmans tackled their car payment, even though it was a larger debt than their student loan. They knew they were highly motivated at that point and were happy to see the interest savings add up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary?ref=seealso">How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30k Salary</a>)</p> <h2>Life After Debt</h2> <p>Eventually, the Greutman family of four grew to a family of six and they moved to a larger home. &quot;We bought a house that was far under what we could afford,&quot; says Mark. &quot;It's very modest. It was a third of the price of the big house,&quot; he says, referring to the house they'd owned in Charlotte. Today their only debt is their mortgage, which they plan to pay off in 11 years.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Mark left his day job to join Lauren as a full-time online entrepreneur. Together they run <a href="https://markandlaureng.com">MarkandLaurenG.com</a>, a personal finance site for couples embarking on their own debt reduction journeys. The Greutmans took a pay cut with the change, but, because their monthly obligations are now so low, it's a move that's well within their budget. &quot;We wanted a simpler, happier lifestyle where we could spend more time with our family,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;Now we can go on field trips with our kids. It was a lifestyle decision and not one we could have made before.&quot;</p> <p>They're also working together to accomplish the goals on their financial bucket list. For the Greutmans, long-term financial plans include being able to maximize time with their kids, private school tuition, an annual vacation, remaining debt free, and, eventually, retirement. &quot;What's not on our list is the desire to move to a nicer house,&quot; says Lauren. &quot;No matter how much money we make, we want to continue to live simply and spend simply.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have plans to cut expenses or boost income in the new year? What strategies do you have in mind for your own debt elimination journey? Tell us about it in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-inspiring-couple-paid-off-48000-in-25-years">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/how-this-single-income-family-found-financial-freedom-in-just-27-months">How This Single-Income Family Found Financial Freedom in Just 27 Months</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-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary">How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30K Salary</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-one-young-entrepreneur-paid-off-40000-in-student-debt-by-age-24">How One Young Entrepreneur Paid Off $40,000 in Student Debt By Age 24</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-recent-grad-paid-off-34k-in-sudent-loans-and-launched-a-business-in-just-4-years">This Recent Grad Paid Off $34K in Student Loans and Launched a Business (In Just 4 Years)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance debt debt repayment debt stories Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:00:09 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1270228 at http://www.wisebread.com Do These 8 Things to Profit From the Improving Economy http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-buying-home-178728490-small.jpg" alt="couple buying home" title="couple buying home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After several years of sluggish growth, it appears that the economy is getting better. Unemployment has dropped. The stock market has been setting record highs. But are you poised to take full advantage of the rebound? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-rising-interest-rates-can-help-your-wallet?ref=seealso">8 Ways Rising Interest Rates Can Help Your Wallet</a>)</p> <p>Here are eight ways to position yourself for the best result once the economy kicks into high gear.</p> <h2>1. Pay Off Debt</h2> <p>If the economy is getting better and you find yourself earning more, getting rid of debt should be your first priority. The last thing you want is to miss out on an economic boom because you're handcuffed by loans and credit card bills, so pay that stuff off. And do it fast, because a good economy often comes with higher interest rates. So if you have debt, it's best to rid yourself of it before it gets pricier to pay down later.</p> <h2>2. Spend Less</h2> <p>The flipside of higher interest rates is that you'll be making more on any money you have in your bank account. So there's an incentive to save now. What's more, you may be earning more in general during strong economic times, so you have the double whammy of stashing more money into those saving and retirement accounts, plus a higher return.</p> <h2>3. Pump Those Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>There's never a truly bad time to begin investing, especially if you have a long savings window. So get started now, before stock prices get too out of hand. Consider upping your 401(k) contribution. And if you have an IRA, you have until April 15 to make contributions that count toward 2014's tax bill.</p> <h2>4. Lock In Whatever Prices You Can</h2> <p>A good economy often comes with some inflation. So it might make sense to explore ways to secure long-term price stability on items or services you use frequently. Locking in a price on a cable or mobile phone bill might make sense, and you may even be able to lock in prices on electricity and other utilities.</p> <h2>5. Build Up Your Emergency Fund</h2> <p>If you are fortunate enough to have some extra money come your way, consider using it to build up your savings to protect yourself. Opinions vary on how much liquid cash you should have socked away, but at least three months of salary is a good rule of thumb.</p> <h2>6. Consider Buying That House</h2> <p>If interest rates do go up, mortgages could get pricier. So it may be wise to try and purchase a home now while rates are still historically low. If you've been on the fence about when to buy, now may be the time.</p> <h2>7. Ask for That Raise</h2> <p>When the economy was slow, employers were loath to give out pay raises. &quot;Times are tough, we've got to tighten belts,&quot; was the common response. Now, with things improving, it's harder for your boss to make the argument that you're not worth a bump in pay. If your organization has done well financially and you feel you've played a role in that, go ahead and ask for that increase.</p> <h2>8. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile</h2> <p>If things are getting better, employers may starting looking for new hires. Take advantage of the situation by updating your online presence and doing what's necessary to look good to recruiters. If you stopped working during the downturn, maybe its time to get back into the workforce. If you hate your job, maybe now is when you find a better one. And if you like your job, it never hurts to build up your network and see what else is out there.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for a better economy? How do you plan to profit from it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-why-the-us-economy-is-kicking-the-worlds-butt">9 Reasons Why the U.S. Economy Is Kicking the World&#039;s Butt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015">8 Buys That Will Be Cheaper in 2015</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/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-inflation">Why Inflation?</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/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes">Another path to recovery: higher incomes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News debt Economy employment growth income spending Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1264105 at http://www.wisebread.com The 9 People in Your Life Who Are Keeping You Poor http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-man-family-118427363-small.jpg" alt="happy man family" title="happy man family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You don't always need any help making dumb financial choices&hellip; but these nine people might be inadvertently rooting you on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor?ref=seealso">Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Your Spouse</h2> <p>There are many ways your spouse can hurt your finances, even if she has good spending habits. For example, your spouse has no credit history because she got a full-ride scholarship to college and paid cash for her car. When you jointly apply for a home mortgage, you might be rejected for the loan or charged a higher interest rate for a joint loan due to her lack of credit history, even if your own credit is spectacular.</p> <p>The shopaholic wife driving a couple into poverty is a tired and stupid trope. In fact, hardworking spouses are often the accidental cause of financial mayhem. If a couple with kids is paying more in taxes because their double income is putting them into a higher tax bracket, they should do the math to see if it's financially more profitable for one spouse to be the stay-at-home parent. Fair warning: discovering that you're worth more to the family budget as a dependent on your husband's tax return than as a respected professional is an ego-crushing experience for wives who love their work but make less money than their husbands.</p> <p>Regardless of who stays home with the kids, it's worth running the numbers to see if a double income actually makes financial sense. My friends Katie and Marc discovered a few years ago that they were spending the equivalent of Marc's entire salary on childcare, gasoline, and other related work costs. Marc, who made less than Katie, decided to quit his job and stay home with the kids. With Katie as the sole breadwinner, they fell into a lower tax bracket, no longer needed the help of a nanny, saved on gas money, and put less wear and tear on Marc's car. As a full-time worker outside of the home, Marc was only adding $2000 a year to the family's savings. As a stay at home dad, Marc adds $17,000 to the family's budget.</p> <h2>2. Your Kid</h2> <p>Based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/tools/CRC_Calculator/default.aspx">cost to raise a child born in 2013</a> to the age of 18 is just over $245,000. Depending on your income and where you live, this number could be higher or lower, but the fact remains: having a child is the single most costly thing that most people will do in their entire lives.</p> <p>Although the high cost of having children is common knowledge to just about everyone, according to the <a href="http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Unintended-Pregnancy-US.html">Guttmacher Institute</a>, 51% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Although many accidental parents are happy with their unintended offspring, what this statistic says is that over 50% of American families are just winging it with their finances, and that's kind of crazy. Would these same people accidentally buy a house for $245,000?</p> <p>Okay, okay. Comparing the pleasure of parenthood to the pleasure of homeownership is like comparing apples to oranges, but I'm hard pressed to think of another $245,000 investment that more than 6.6 million families would fall into without foresight each year.</p> <p>The best thing that parents can do to ensure the financial well-being of their family is to plan their parenthood. When you have children, how many children you have, and where you raise your children all have a direct impact on family finances.</p> <h2>3. Your Parents</h2> <p>While growing up with my parents' near pathological, Scrooge-like tight-waddery was no fun, I'm grateful as an adult to have parents who saved enough for retirement. Even though the financial downturn of 2007 knocked my parents' retirement fund down by 45%, they still have enough money to live comfortably for the next 25 years. Alas, my parents are the outliers in this scenario. Many of my friends are now faced with the financial double-whammy of supporting both their kids <em>and</em> their newly poor parents.</p> <p>What I find shocking is the number of young people forced into supporting their <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f35/financially-irresponsible-parents-borrowing-my-money-and-pissing-me-off-231738/">financially</a> <a href="http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/dealing-with-a-financially-irresponsible-parent/">irresponsible</a> <a href="http://eldercare.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/1196030151/m/454101482">parents</a> who live extravagantly with no thought to how they will pay the bills once they leave the job market.</p> <p>Even if you hate your parents, in <a href="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/health/NOA/30states.pdf">30 states</a> there are filial responsibility laws on the books that your mom and dad can use to force you to pay for their basic life needs, so just as it's important to have frank discussions about money with your children, it's also important to discuss financial boundaries and expectations with your parents. Instead of enabling your parents' poor spending choices by bailing them out with your hard-earned cash, you should consider asking them to meet with a financial counselor. (You can get referrals to non-profit credit counseling agencies at the <a href="http://www.nfcc.org/">National Foundation for Credit Counseling</a>).</p> <h2>4. Your Cat (or Your Dog)</h2> <p>That FREE KITTENS sign is false advertisement. Although cheaper to own than dogs, cat ownership costs <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/business/8199165-420/dogs-vs-cats-both-cost-hundreds-even-thousands-a-year-to-own.html#.VGA6xlPF8_k">between $7,760 to $15,260 per lifetime</a>, (and even more if you married my soft-hearted husband, who spends more on <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/words-sound-terrible-cat-abscess-butt-comforter-cover/">pet</a> <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/pannonica-cat-baroness/">health care</a> than his own health care every year). As with human children, if you even think there's a chance you'll end up with a pet in the near future, do your research on the real costs of owning an animal. Even &quot;budget&quot; pets like turtles cost <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/turtle-survives-raccoon-mauling-double-amputationa-bittersweet-birthday-story/">way more</a> than you might think. Making our indoor/outdoor cats into indoor only cats was one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-30000-and-helped-the-earth-at-the-same-time">best things</a> I've done for the household budget and for the health of my kitties.</p> <h2>5. Your Cleaning Lady</h2> <p>Oh, I know. The day after my cleaning lady comes is my favorite day of the week, too. But do you have support staff because you work long hours or do you have to work extra hard to pay for the entourage that cleans your house, washes your clothes, manages your money, etc&hellip; Do the math. The convenience of household help may be your golden handcuffs. My job pays $20 an hour, which means I have to work three hours to afford my cleaning lady. For me, this is a fine trade. Not only do I hate to clean my house and love my work, I couldn't clean my house as well as my cleaning lady does in three hours. That said, I would have to work 24/7 to afford the pet-sitter, the gardener, and the dry cleaner that would give me the &quot;free time&quot;&hellip; to work extra hours.</p> <h2>6. Your Employer</h2> <p>I was loyal to my old boss for way too long. He underpaid me and I let this happen because he gave me plenty of autonomy and empowered me to be the best I could be at my job. I loved my work and basked in the adulation of others who were impressed by how much I'd made out of my position. Also, I was good at living on a budget, so my quality of life outside of work was good, too.</p> <p>My freedom at work cost me plenty. Had I been paid market value, I could still have lived on a budget and socked away the extra cash in my retirement fund. Don't be afraid to ask for a raise. When I left that company, my replacement negotiated a salary that was <em>twice</em> what I had been paid for the same job. He also loved the job, but his quality of life outside of work was considerably better than mine.</p> <p>Don't be me.</p> <h2>7. Your Real Estate Agent</h2> <p>Real estate brokers are legally obligated to give information to their sellers that will help them get the best price for their home. Alas, buyers often forget that they are not their broker's only clients. In my neighborhood, the real estate market is so hot that buyers have to get pre-approval from banks. Pre-approval tells agents that a buyer who is haggling for a $420,000 price can really afford $575,000. Obviously, this can really undercut a buyer's ability to negotiate, even with the most honest of brokers.</p> <p>To get around this conflict of interest, a lot of buyers hire buyer brokers, real estate agents who supposedly work only for the best interests of the buyer. Unfortunately, buyer brokers usually get the same 3% commission cut that any other broker gets when he or she gets involved in another agent's listing, so they might encourage you to pay a higher price or close a sale quickly, moves that will benefit everyone but you, the buyer.</p> <p>If you are new to an area and don't have friends or co-workers to recommend a good agent, the <a href="http://naeba.org/">National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents</a> is a good place to find a broker who can work independently from seller's agents.</p> <p>If you are selling your home, make sure that you find a seller who specializes in your area and is willing to work to get you the best deal. I bought my first house for its sky-high asking price, before the home even went on the market, an hour after I'd toured it. The sellers were excited by the quick and pricey sale for exactly two hours. The ink wasn't even dry on my accepted offer when friends of mine offered $6000 above the asking price, unaware that the house was already off the market. Who knows how much money the house would have sold for had the seller's agent put the house on the market. Definitely more than I'd bought it for.</p> <h2>8. Your Accountant</h2> <p>My accountant specializes in creative industries. She is an expert on what tax loopholes exist for video game designers, and what screenwriters should never write off unless they really want to be audited. When my husband sold the house he co-owned with his ex-wife, I hired my accountant to advise my husband on the best way to invest the money from the sale to avoid taxes. As a fan of the Big Picture, my accountant asked to look at his old tax returns. She discovered $8000 in tax write-offs from earlier years that his old accountant had missed.</p> <p>My accountant is on the expensive side, but she's worth the money. The year before I hired her, I went to a nationally known tax accounting chain for tax help and received exactly half the return I get with my pricey accountant. It literally pays to shop around for tax help.</p> <h2>9. Your Rich Friend</h2> <p>I credit two wealthy friends for pulling me into the middle class by giving me all their nice hand-me-downs. Thank God there are still people in my life who can afford to shop retail as a hobby. While there are obvious financial benefits to having rich friends who are happy raise your standard of living, just by cleaning their house, your rich friends can also make living on a budget that much harder.</p> <p>Many <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444032404578008322908926476?mod=rss_PJ_Main&amp;mg=reno64-wsj&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10000872396390444032404578008322908926476.html%3Fmod%3Drss_PJ_Main">people would rather struggle with credit card debt</a>, than admit that they can't afford something. Peer pressure keeps people poor. It's why &quot;Keeping Up With the Joneses&quot; is still a thing. Don't be the Joneses' neighbor, and avoid rich people who care that you don't know that &quot;summer&quot; and &quot;winter&quot; are verbs.</p> <p><em>Is there someone in your life who keeps you poor? Who is it? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor">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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-low-effort-ways-to-save-money-ever">The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever</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/financial-tricks-to-master-for-a-happier-life">Financial Tricks to Master for a Happier Life</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/9-ways-staying-on-budget-can-be-fun-really">9 Ways Staying on Budget Can Be Fun (Really!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting debt lifestyle spending Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:00:09 +0000 Max Wong 1255272 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Signs You're Suffering From Lifestyle Inflation http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-bills-stressed-76662978-small_0.jpg" alt="woman bill stressed" title="woman bill stressed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our tendency is, for the most part, to live right up to the ceiling of what our income will allow. This <em>lifestyle inflation</em> becomes a problem when our expenditures begin to exceed the amount of money we bring in, thereby causing us problems managing our personal finances.</p> <p>What's worse &mdash; many people who are engaging in lifestyle inflation don't even realize it, because they've spent so much time getting accustomed to living that way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave?ref=seealso">How to Not Be a Debt Slave</a>)</p> <p>So how can you recognize and identify this potentially disastrous habit? Here are nine practical signs to look out for.</p> <h2>1. Excessive Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Though it's a common practice for many of us to use our credit card and pay it off on time (there's value in reaping those rewards points if you're a disciplined user), excessive credit card debt that you can't pay off will begin to accrue interest. Over time it'll cost you far more than the initial bill in interest and late charges. When a rolling credit card payment becomes a normal part of your budget, it's a sure sign that you need to scale back and spend less in order to pay off your debt. Start setting aside chunks of cash specifically allotted to chip away at this debt as quickly as possible.</p> <h2>2. Avoiding Basic Money Management Tasks</h2> <p>There is, of course, common procrastination when it comes to doing your budget or checking account balances. I'm not talking about that. Instead, I'm referring to the act of intentionally avoiding any tasks related to managing your own money. Generally this happens when you know that the picture you see is going to be bleak, and it's much easier to just avoid it instead and hope for the best. Get back on track by scheduling a certain time of week or month &mdash; I find that Sunday afternoons work best for me &mdash; to check in on your finances and determine what you need to reel in for the week ahead.</p> <h2>3. A Lack of Discretionary Income</h2> <p>&quot;Mo' money, mo problems&quot; as they say, and this one is typical of those who suddenly start earning more than they were previously, followed closely by spending more. It's also a telltale sign that the budget needs to be tightened up to provide some breathing room and more mileage out of your paycheck.</p> <h2>4. Your Income Is Spent Before It's Earned</h2> <p>Another term for this is &quot;living paycheck to paycheck.&quot; In this scenario, your expenses are so crippling that you have to wait for your paycheck to show up before you actually pay for them. Once that happens, it's a revolving door where you're always behind and constantly trying to play catch up. The obvious solution here is to cut back where you can, but also to take a serious look at your cash in and cash out and decide whether serious changes need to be made &mdash; like downsizing to a smaller apartment, buying a less expensive car, etc.</p> <h2>5. People With Similar Incomes Don't Spend as Much as You</h2> <p>There are a lot of extenuating circumstances that can cause two people in the same economic tier to live lives that look really different &mdash; like if one is single and the other is a parent of two. Outside of those circumstances, however, you should generally see similarities between your lifestyle and that of your peers who make what you make. If there's a disconnect, it might indicate that you're living beyond your means.</p> <p>If you and your colleagues earn about the same salaries and one of you is taking lavish vacations and indulging in other expenses that don't seem feasible across the board, there's likely a problem &mdash; and if it's your problem, it's time to settle down.</p> <h2>6. Impulse Buying and the &quot;Shopping Rush&quot;</h2> <p>Everybody loves to get new stuff. The allure and mystique of new things (regardless of our age) is always strong, even if it wears off after a short time. But if you feel yourself craving that feeling and the rush that comes along with making a new purchase, it's an indication that shopping has become a habit that has become detrimental to your finances &mdash; and perhaps other areas of your life. Usually this is an issue that can be quelled by self-discipline, but if you feel it's out of your control you can seek professional help.</p> <h2>7. You're Bored at Home</h2> <p>Increased buying can be a vicious cycle, leading to boredom, which leads to even more dangerous spending habits. Do you find yourself restless at home? Do you often go online or out to a shopping center to buy something that you don't need just to have something to do? I'm guilty of this myself at times, which is why I try to plan activities and adventures with friends for times when I know that I'll otherwise be at home without much else productive on my plate. Staying busy curbs my desire to blindly shop for things I don't need, and I get to fill my weekends doing things that feel like I spent money even if I didn't.</p> <h2>8. You Don't Look for Deals</h2> <p>Sometimes an inflated lifestyle is just a matter of failing to be thrifty (or, in my opinion, just being plain lazy). I know plenty of people who are spending way more money than they need to spend simply because they pay full price for everything when there are savings literally at their fingertips. I can guarantee you that I save thousands and thousands of dollars every year because I won't purchase a single thing without a coupon or a discount (if I can help it).</p> <h2>9. You Don't Feel the Need to Save Money</h2> <p>Perhaps the most telling sign that you're overspending and living above your means is that you've completely written off the idea of saving money. You assume that it's unnecessary or perhaps impossible to do. The truth is, neither of those things are accurate.</p> <p>If you make even a modest amount of money, you can contribute something to your savings account. This is a good place to start if you've come to the realization that you're living an inflated lifestyle. Once you cut back expenses, set up an automatic bank draft from checking into savings and start with a small, weekly amount. Even just $20 is a great start. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your bright financial future.</p> <p><em>Do you have other signs of lifestyle inflation that you'd like to add? Please share in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation">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/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards">6 Warning Signs That You Need to Stop Using 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/a-champion-of-savings-over-spending">A champion of savings over spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-all-of-the-benefits-of-your-credit-cards-and-none-of-the-costs">How to Get All of the Benefits of Your Credit Cards — and None of the Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-part-i-fast-money-in-the-09">Recession Journal Part I: &#039;Fast&#039; Money in the &#039;09</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living credit debt lifestyle inflation spending Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1253727 at http://www.wisebread.com How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30K Salary http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/female-graduate-176844972-small_0.jpg" alt="female college graduate" title="female college graduate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average college senior graduated with $29,400 in <a href="http://projectonstudentdebt.org/state_by_state-data.php">student debt</a> last year and the number is projected to rise by a staggering 6% per year. Even worse, a full 44% of borrowers <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/joel-best-and-eric-best-student-loan-debta-federal-toxic-asset-1412204612">aren't making their payments</a> for one reason or another. Despite the depressing statistics swirling around what's now been dubbed the current student loan crisis, there are still plenty of college graduates who manage to buckle down, live cheaply, and pay off their debt burdens. (See also:<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-inspiring-saver-found-true-love-shook-off-debt-denial-and-paid-off-123000?ref=seealso"> How One Inspiring Saver Found True Love, Shook Off Debt Denial, and Paid Off $123,000</a>)</p> <p>Take Zina Kumok, for example, who is just one month shy of making her last payment on what was once a $28,000 student loan balance. Through a combination of tenacity and frugal living, Kumok will pay off her debt in just three years &mdash; while bringing home an income that's just slightly higher than what she once owed.</p> <p>How did she do it?</p> <h2>The Motivation</h2> <p>Like most students today, Kumok didn't give her loans much thought while she was in school. &quot;It wasn't until I graduated and had my first job,&quot; she says. &quot;I was making $28,000 per year. It was depressing to think that for the next 10 years I would have this payment that was a large chunk of my income.&quot; Even more motivating, Kumok and her then-boyfriend and now fiancee had started talking about marriage. &quot;I didn't want to saddle him with my debt. My monthly payment was $350.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dark-side-motivations-to-get-you-out-of-debt?ref=seealso">10 Dark-Side Motivations to Get You Out of Debt</a>)</p> <h2>The Job Switch</h2> <p>Kumok's newspaper job required frequent night shifts and she was living a three hour distance from her boyfriend. &quot;I wasn't happy at the newspaper and I wanted to go back to a normal schedule,&quot; she says. &quot;I knew I wanted to switch jobs.&quot;</p> <p>Kumok was able to land a marketing and communications position in the city where her boyfriend lived and she even received a slight salary bump. (Her current annual income is slightly more than $30,000.) With a little more money coming in and lower expenses now that she wasn't traveling to see her boyfriend most weekends, Kumok was able to increase her student loan payment by an additional $300 per month. In short, instead of using her excess cash flow to expand her lifestyle, Kumok funneled the extra cash into her loan so she could chip away at her balance month by month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-steps-to-discovering-your-true-salary-potential?ref=seealso">6 Simple Steps to Discovering Your True Salary Potential</a>)</p> <h2>Decreased Living Expenses</h2> <p>After their engagement, Kumok and her fiance moved in together. They also took on a close friend as a boarder. &quot;My rent went down significantly,&quot; she says. &quot;Now I split utilities and rent with two other people. That really made a huge difference. Now half my take-home pay goes toward my loans.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unnecessary-household-expenses-you-can-cut-today?ref=seealso">7 Unnecessary Household Expenses You Can Cut Today</a>)</p> <h2>Keeping Track</h2> <p>For Kumok, her fairly low income offered motivation to wipe out her debt. &quot;Every month I would go through my statement and I would see how much was going toward interest. It was so much hard earned money and I didn't have a lot of it,&quot; she says. &quot;When you're not making a lot, every little bit counts.&quot;</p> <p>Kumok was further inspired once she was able to boost her monthly payment. &quot;I was finally paying more in principal than in interest,&quot; she says. &quot;I liked seeing my interest decrease each month. I felt like I was throwing less money away.&quot;</p> <h2>Budgeting for the Fun Stuff</h2> <p>Kumok admits she finds it difficult to spend money unnecessarily when she owes so much. Even so, she was able to put money aside for a couple of overseas vacations, proving that debt repayment doesn't have to be all work and no play. &quot;It was hard for me to relax and have fun,&quot; says Kumok, who was able to take each trip on the cheap. Even so, she says, &quot;I counted my budget every day on those trips. I'm excited to travel on a budget but not feel guilty about it, once my loans are paid off.&quot;</p> <h2>And&hellip; What's Next?</h2> <p>About a year ago, Kumok started saving for retirement. &quot;Once I became eligible for my company's 401(k), I paid enough to get the match. Now I'll be boosting that contribution amount.&quot;</p> <p>She soon won't owe any money and yet she doesn't expect that much to change. &quot;I was careful for so long. I don't want to get back into the frivolous habits I had in college,&quot; she says. &quot;I'm a child of the recession, the stock market crashed when I was in college, and I'm the child of immigrants. There are plenty of horror stories around about people who didn't save or make careful choices. Those things make it hard for me to take a backseat when it comes to money.&quot;</p> <p>Being the careful sort, Kumok looks forward to starting her marriage without any debt. &quot;He helps me relax a bit so I hope we'll learn how to be responsible while still having a balance,&quot; she says.</p> <p>You can read more about Kumok's journey on her blog, <a href="http://www.debtfreeafterthree.com/">Debt Free After Three</a>.</p> <p><em>Are you paying back your student loans? What strategies work best for you? How do you stay motivated and on track? We want to hear about it in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary">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/how-one-couple-paid-off-147k-of-debt-even-while-unemployed">How One Couple Paid Off $147k of Debt (Even While Unemployed)</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-recent-grad-paid-off-34k-in-sudent-loans-and-launched-a-business-in-just-4-years">This Recent Grad Paid Off $34K in Student Loans and Launched a Business (In Just 4 Years)</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-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <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-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money">5 Tricks to Consolidating Your Debt and Saving Money</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-one-inspiring-couple-paid-off-48000-in-25-years">How One Inspiring Couple Paid Off $48,000 in 2.5 Years</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management debt debt repayment debt stories life hacks student loans Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:00:05 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1250695 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Advisor http://www.wisebread.com/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial-advisor-153824915-small.jpg" alt="financial advisor" title="financial advisor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Laying out a few hundred dollars for a financial advisor can seem like money down the drain if everything is going smoothly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-you-need-to-fire-your-financial-planner?ref=seealso">9 Signs You Need to Fire Your Financial Planner</a>)</p> <p>Until it isn't. Life's road bumps pop up, and good and bad things that happen can lead to financial problems or opportunities that you weren't prepared for. Here are seven occasions when a financial advisor should be called in to help.</p> <h2>1. Ruinous Debt</h2> <p>We're not talking about having payments for a credit card lapse for a month, but deep debt where you're having difficulty deciding which bills to pay and which to put off each month. This is a case where you don't want to have to pay a financial advisor &mdash; whether it's a one-time fee or percentage of assets that they manage. Instead, go somewhere such as the <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/index.php">National Foundation for Credit Counseling</a> or look for <a href="http://www.usa.gov/topics/money/credit/debt/out-of-control.shtml">local nonprofit agencies for free help</a>. At the very least, get help setting up a budget.</p> <h2>2. Career Change</h2> <p>Hopefully, this is an opportunity to earn more money and therefore put more money aside in a retirement account. A financial advisor can help you pick a retirement account that's right for you.</p> <p>Young people with the potential for increasing their assets who are starting their careers should seek a financial planner, says Eric Roberge, a fee-only certified financial planner in Boston and founder of <a href="http://beyondyourhammock.com/">Beyond Your Hammock</a>. This is especially true for a single person earning at least $75,000 a year or a couple earning $150,000 because they should have more money to invest, Roberge says.</p> <h2>3. Sudden Wealth</h2> <p>An inheritance, insurance payout, lump-sum pension payment, divorce settlement, lottery winning, or any other sudden influx of new money can burn a hole in a pocket, says Mike Sena, a certified financial planner at <a href="http://www.whitestreetadvisors.com/">White Street Advisors</a> in Roswell, GA. It can be tempting to splurge a little &mdash; or a lot. Instead, seek advice on how best to use your windfall now &mdash; and for years to come.</p> <h2>4. Death in the Family</h2> <p>The death of a close relative can be a key time to get financial help. You could face tax implications or need help with estate planning, for example.</p> <p>Roberge had a client who didn't seek his advice after her father died with a $600,000 annuity she inherited, and she took some money out of the annuity. She ended up having to pay a $40,000 tax bill, which Roberge says he could have helped her avoid.</p> <h2>5. Passing on a Family Business</h2> <p>Your parents and grandparents may want you to continue running the family business when they die, but you may not. This is a conversation that a financial advisor can help with early, says <a href="http://charleskochel.com/">Charles Kochel</a>, a wealth advisor for a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor in Arkansas. Kochel specializes in helping farmers transfer the family farm from one generation to the next.</p> <p>&quot;A major concern of a large family farm is legacy planning,&quot; he says. &quot;The issue is usually lack of communication. Multigenerational farmers assume the next generation will want to come back home, after college, and manage the farm or the assumption is that farming may prove too costly.</p> <p>&quot;A series of conversations needs to take place, often emotional and uncomfortable,&quot; Kochel says. &quot;A family meeting and ongoing proactive conversations help monitor the wants and needs of the entire legacy.&quot;</p> <p>The family will likely evolve over the years, and a financial advisor can help systemize the process and create an ongoing conversation that will move the estate planning beyond a one-time event.</p> <h2>6. Big Drop in the Stock Market</h2> <p>If your portfolio includes stocks, a financial advisor can help you come up with a financial plan, and stick to it.</p> <p>&quot;Most people think they can handle their own investments, but when the stock market drops, they start second-guessing their plan,&quot; says Tyler Gray, a financial planner at <a href="http://www.sageoakfinancial.com/">Sage Oak Financial</a> in Tulsa, OK.</p> <p>In 2008-09, for example, &quot;you had a lot of people who pulled out of the market at the worst possible time because they didn't have an advisor to help them stay disciplined,&quot; Gray says. &quot;The worst part is that many of these folks never got back in the market and have missed out on a lot of growth over the last five years.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Growing Family</h2> <p>Whether you're getting married or having children, it's best to have a financial conversation ahead of time, Sena suggests. New couples merging finances or planning for a baby and all of the costs that go into raising a child should have a financial plan.</p> <p>&quot;In general, anyone who is not meeting or exceeding their life and financial goals should work with an advisor,&quot; White says. &quot;Most of us are simply too close to our money to be objective.&quot;</p> <p>For better or worse, major life events can cause people to rethink their lives and plan for the future. Planning for a financial future should be part of many major events in life.</p> <p><em>Have you ever sought advice from a financial planner? What prompted you? Was the advice worthwhile and helpful? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor">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-10"> <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/intimidated-by-retirement-investing-get-professional-help">Intimidated by Retirement Investing? Get Professional Help!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-fire-your-financial-adviser-soon">5 Reasons to Fire Your Financial Adviser Soon</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/is-this-hidden-cost-sapping-your-retirement-savings">Is This Hidden Cost Sapping Your Retirement Savings?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make">5 Dumb 401(k) Mistakes Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Investment Retirement debt financial planner financial planning investing retirement Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Aaron Crowe 1248279 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Ways to Deal With Student Loan Debt http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-deal-with-student-loan-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-ways-to-deal-with-student-loan-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sad-graduate-student-177704055-small.jpg" alt="sad graduate student" title="sad graduate student" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on dealing with student loan debt, feeling less stress, and money moves for the fall.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/15-ways-to-deal-with-student-loan-debt/">15 Ways to Deal with Student Loan Debt</a> &mdash; To deal with student loan debt, take advantage of your grace period and understand your loans.[The Simple Dollar]</p> <p><a href="http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/10/05/11-ways-to-let-go-and-feel-less-stress/">11 Ways to Let Go and Feel Less Stress</a> &mdash; Saying less and breathing more when you are angry can help you feel less stress. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="https://www.mint.com/blog/planning/5-money-moves-for-fall-100714/">5 Money Moves for Fall</a> &mdash; Now that fall is here, start saving for the holidays and shopping strategically. [MintLife Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://timemanagementninja.com/2014/10/the-4-key-components-of-every-time-management-system/">The 4 Key Components of Every Time Management System</a> &mdash; Every time management system has a todo list and calendar.[Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyplansos.com/why-getting-out-of-debt-is-so-hard/">Why Getting Out of Debt Is So Hard (and What to Do About It)</a> &mdash; The secret to getting out of debt is to not quit, keep trying! [MoneyPlan SOS]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://outofyourrut.com/need-approach-life-mindset-student/">Why We Need to Approach Life With the Mindset of a Student</a> &mdash; Students have the mindset to learn new disciplines and ideas. [Out Of Your Rut]</p> <p><a href="http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/the-top-10-things-that-could-make-wedding-disaster.html">The Top 10 Things That Could Make a Wedding a Disaster</a> &mdash; Running out of food and having your guest list become out of control can make your wedding a disaster. [Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2014/10/5-things-complicates-lives.html">5 Things We All Do That Over Complicates Our Lives</a> &mdash; Taking pride in working hard may be over complicating your life. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Uses-Club-Soda-30394321">11 Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Club Soda</a> &mdash; Did you know the minerals in club soda makes it better for plants than actual water? [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/5-books-to-help-prepare-your-preschooler-for-her-education">5 Books to Help Prepare Your Preschooler for Her Education</a> &mdash; To help your preschooler prepare for their education, read the &quot;I Am&quot; series with him or her. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-deal-with-student-loan-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary">How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30K Salary</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/can-you-talk-to-your-friends-about-debt">Can you talk to your friends about 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/your-interest-rates-are-about-to-go-up">Your Interest Rates Are About to Go Up</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-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money">5 Tricks to Consolidating Your Debt and Saving Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management best money tips debt loan student loans Thu, 09 Oct 2014 19:00:04 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1230391 at http://www.wisebread.com How One Inspiring Saver Found True Love, Shook Off Debt Denial, and Paid Off $123,000 http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-inspiring-saver-found-true-love-shook-off-debt-denial-and-paid-off-123000 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-one-inspiring-saver-found-true-love-shook-off-debt-denial-and-paid-off-123000" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-paying-bills-89654425-small.jpg" alt="couple paying bills" title="couple paying bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>American <a href="http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-card-data/average-credit-card-debt-household/">debt is on the rise</a>, up 3.8% from last year. We're carrying higher mortgage balances, more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance?ref=inarticleinarticle">credit card debt</a>, and significantly higher student loan burdens (which are up an astonishing 11.5% from last year).</p> <p>For students in particular, it's easy to overspend. The cost of college is staggering and, to make matters worse, few students come to campus prepared with financial literacy training. Both federal and private loans are readily available for most students, but so are a barrage of credit card offers. Credit is so easy to obtain for many students that, according to one recent survey, most college graduates are <a href="http://www.fidelity.com/inside-fidelity/individual-investing/college-grads-surprised-by-student-debt-level-exceeds-35000">shocked to discover how much debt they've racked up</a>.</p> <h2>A Young Dentist in Debt</h2> <p>Just ask Paul Amato, DDS at LeCuyer Amato Dentistry who, according to one <a href="http://money.msn.com/debt-management/debt-calculator.aspx">debt calculator</a> I ran his numbers through, owed over 85% of his first year take-home pay to creditors. &quot;When I finally sat down and looked at the numbers,&quot; he says, &quot;the interest was like a gut punch.&quot; Amato had finished dental school and had landed a well-paying job, but even so, the path he'd taken to get there had left him struggling with more debt than he could manage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt?ref=seealso">5 Inspiring People Who Paid off Over $100,000 Each in Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Being in Debt Denial</h2> <p>Amato graduated with $120,000 in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-borrowers-still-pay-off-their-student-loans-in-10-years?ref=inarticle">student loan debt</a> and and another $40,000 in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">credit card loans</a>. Shortly after graduation, he took on an additional $40,000 in auto financing. All told, his debt burden was 2.5 times that of his first year take-home pay and he didn't even have a mortgage to show for it. &quot;I had six credit cards,&quot; says Amato. &quot;I never added up how much I was paying on the cards. I just paid the minimum. I wasn't thinking much about the interest. I was really kind of careless.&quot;</p> <p>Looking back, Amato accepts he could have lived on his student loan disbursements alone. He didn't need the credit cards. &quot;I overdid it,&quot; he admits. &quot;I had friends who had money I didn't have and I wanted to hang out with them. I wanted to do the things they were doing.&quot; Amato also accepts that he could have bought a less expensive car. &quot;At first I thought it wasn't a big deal. Then I saw it was a huge deal. I was paying a lot in interest. I paid that car off and I kept it for eight years. But now I have a more practical car.&quot;</p> <p>Amato admits to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-harmful-money-beliefs-that-are-keeping-you-poor?ref=inarticle">being in denial about the debt</a> he was accruing until he and his then girlfriend (and now wife), Rebecca, got serious, moved in together, and started talking about their money. &quot;She noticed that I had a lot of credit card bills coming in,&quot; says Amato. &quot;That's when we sat down and started looking at everything together.&quot;</p> <h2>Getting Motivated</h2> <p>&quot;Rebecca had no debt and she always paid everything off. She was a buy-what-you-can-afford kind of gal,&quot; says Amato. &quot;She wanted me to get my finances in order before we committed to a relationship.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/say-no-7-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-get-married-if-youre-in-debt?ref=seealso">Say No! 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Get Married if You're in Debt</a>)</p> <p>Every month, the two would sit down and review Amato's balance sheet. It quickly became clear that he'd need additional income to make a dent in his debt. &quot;I filled in wherever I could,&quot; says Amato. &quot;I took hygienist shifts. I'd drive one to two hours away to take an extra job. If there was somewhere I could work, I worked.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-20-somethings-can-do-about-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">What 20-Somethings Can Do About Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>In addition to increasing his income, Amato also lowered his living expenses. &quot;We lived on the cheap,&quot; he says. &quot;We lived in a modest apartment in a questionable part of town. We didn't have cable. We rarely went out.&quot;</p> <p>It wasn't always easy, Amato admits. &quot;I wanted to spend my money every time I got paid. Rebecca really kept me rooted in reality. She'd say, 'You can have those things one day but now is not the time.'&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dark-side-motivations-to-get-you-out-of-debt?ref=seealso">10 Dark-Side Motivations to Get You Out of Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Digging Out of the Hole</h2> <p>Amato tackled his debt by paying the minimum payments on all debts except his highest interest loan. &quot;I paid off the credit card with the highest rate first and then I kept going, in order,&quot; he says. &quot;Then came the car loan and eventually I started doubling up on my student loan payments.&quot;</p> <h3>Reset Goals</h3> <p>Life isn't always a linear journey, though, and Amato reprioritized his financial goals several times along the way. After making his final credit card payment, Amato bought the engagement ring. A few years later the Amatos bought their first house. The big purchases didn't re-open the door to bad habits, though. &quot;Ever since I paid off the credit card debt, I've been much more savvy about other bills like car or home-owners insurance. I'm a much better saver.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-trick-yourself-into-better-credit-card-behavior?ref=seealso">How to Trick Yourself Into Better Credit Card Behavior</a>)</p> <h3>Refinance</h3> <p>Amato also consolidated his federally-funded student loans. The rate on his private education debt was substantially higher so he kept those loans separate, and paid them off as early as he could. During those early years, as Amato's income grew, he kept his standard of living low, and paid as much toward his debts as he could.</p> <p>&quot;I became even more Type-A. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel,&quot; says Amato. &quot;If I could run a tighter ship, I could be more profitable.&quot; It was a philosophy that helped Amato with his personal finances, but also within his professional practice.</p> <h3>Shift to Retirement</h3> <p>Eventually, the Amatos eased off their student loan and mortgage repayment strategies and focused more on boosting retirement savings. Today Amato still has $80,000 in student loans and a substantial mortgage balance to contend with. They've since filled the house with 18-month-old twin boys and, because of the frugal choices they made early on, were able to put Rebecca through dental school without taking on any additional debt. &quot;It helped that we didn't have to re-buy books or equipment,&quot; says Amato. &quot;That made her cost less than when I had gone to school.&quot;</p> <h2>Looking Back</h2> <p>&quot;Paying off that credit card debt really gave me a lot of perspective about living beneath my means,&quot; says Amato. &quot;Without that debt I can take life into my own hands and work toward my long-term goals. I want financial freedom. I don't want to be constrained by debt.&quot;</p> <p>What Amato learned is that financial freedom isn't about how much money you make. It's really about how you manage what you have. &quot;I made some poor decisions early on,&quot; he says, &quot;but fortunately I was able to learn from them.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you retired a significant debt? Tell us your story in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-inspiring-saver-found-true-love-shook-off-debt-denial-and-paid-off-123000">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-12"> <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-tricks-to-save-money-with-credit-cards">10 Tricks to Save Money with 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/8-things-people-with-good-credit-never-do">8 Things People With Good Credit Never Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-new-credit-card-policies-chase-card-holders-already-hit-with-fees">Watch out for new credit card &quot;policies&quot; - CHASE card holders already hit with fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-we-really-need-help-in-getting-more-debt">Do we really need help with getting more 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/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Debt Management credit cards debt debt management debt stories paying debt Fri, 03 Oct 2014 13:00:06 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1226229 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Dark-Side Motivations to Start Saving http://www.wisebread.com/8-dark-side-motivations-to-start-saving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-dark-side-motivations-to-start-saving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/business-couple-flirting-480187847-small.jpg" alt="business couple flirting" title="business couple flirting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>From ruling the galaxy to getting out of debt, embracing the dark side can be a powerful tool. Sure, the motivations may be impure, but if it's monetary results you're after, maybe that's okay. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dark-side-motivations-to-get-you-out-of-debt?ref=seealso">10 Dark Side Motivations to Getting Out of Debt</a>)</p> <p>So embrace your demons and get ready to stockpile some cash with these eight ways you can use the darker side of your nature as a driving force to save more money.</p> <h2>1. To Impress Someone</h2> <p>Whether it's a potential new partner, or just someone you really want to one-up, having a nice wad of cash in the bank can be a great way to get noticed. You can't just casually drop &quot;hey, I've got $30k in my savings account&quot; into conversation, though. You'll need to find more underhand ways to do it. You could check your balance, get a receipt, and just happen to leave it in a place someone else could see it. Or, you could ask about investment opportunities for your enormous rainy day fund. This works well at those high school reunions.</p> <h2>2. To Get Laid Off</h2> <p>Most people don't want to get fired. These days, jobs are tough to get in many industries, and just as tough to keep. Why on earth would anyone want to get laid off, or fired?</p> <p>Well, some people do have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide">reasons for wanting to leave a job</a>. They may genuinely hate it, but leaving is not as lucrative as being kicked out, with many companies offering handsome severance packages. If this is your plan, you need to have some savings as a safety net. When the time comes, you can use it as buffer until you find work. A word of warning though: be sure to check the redundancy policy of the job you plan to &quot;leave.&quot; Some companies are making cuts everywhere, and that includes termination benefits.</p> <h2>3. To Get Revenge</h2> <p>It may be a dish best served cold, but it can also be an expensive one. If you really want to hit someone where it hurts, you are going to have to put down some cash to make it happen. Revenge can be as simple as a college prank, or as complicated as the plot from a movie. It could be something that takes five minutes to plan or several months. Depending on the level of vengeance you're aiming for, you may need to put away a large sum of money to finance your cunning plan.</p> <h2>4. To Spy on Someone</h2> <p>Cheating spouse? Co-worker embezzling money? Neighbor's dog using your lawn as a toilet? Whatever your reason, you'll need a nice sum of money if you want to get hard evidence. This could involve hiring a private investigator, setting up a substantial hidden camera system, and even wearing recording devices (check the legality of this in your state first). However you plan to spy, you'll need to bankroll your operation. Start saving now &mdash; some of these people will only accept cold, hard cash.</p> <h2>5. To Get Plastic Surgery</h2> <p>Some would say that improving yourself is very worthwhile, and I tend to agree. Are breast implants, tummy tucks, and lip injections really that bad? Well, it all depends. If you're saving for those and letting your kids go hungry, then yes, that's bad. If everyone is taken care of, and this is something you'd rather do than buy a new car or go on vacation, then more power to you.</p> <h2>6. To Annoy Your Neighbor</h2> <p>Have you ever watched a show about battling neighbors? It happens often, and it can go from the silly to the downright bizarre. Case in point &mdash; the Bank of Manhattan and the Chrysler building. Both wanted to be taller than the Woolworth back in 1929. It looked like the Bank of Manhattan won the battle, but the war went to the Chrysler building a few months later, when a spire was secretly assembled on its roof. From building bigger fences, to painting houses brighter colors, suburban neighbors have also battled for years. If you want to get into it, you'll need the money to compete.</p> <h2>7. To Get Divorced</h2> <p>Maybe you're in a relationship that is just barely hanging on for life. You may be tied to the other person financially, and cannot separate until you have the money to do so. This is where saving money comes in, but you will have to be careful how you do it. You cannot just squirrel away money from your partner, and not declare it. But if you do it legally, and with full disclosure, saving money now is the best way to ensure you can finally start down the road to unwedded bliss. As Louis CK has so rightly said, don't commiserate with people going through this; no good marriage ended in divorce.</p> <h2>8. To Do Nothing</h2> <p>Some people have a dream that is neither productive, nor inspiring. They simply want to save enough money so that they don't have to work again. Or do anything else remotely connected to work, if truth be told. There's a famous quote from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-about-life-and-career-from-office-space">Office Space</a> that sums it up, uttered by the protagonist Peter Gibbons, when asked what he'd do with a million dollars: &quot;I would relax&hellip; I would sit on my ass all day&hellip; I would do nothing.&quot;</p> <p>Of course, his friend Lawrence counters that with, &quot;Well, you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin; he's broke, don't do sh*t.&quot; Sorry, Lawrence, you do need money. A lot of money. Doing nothing may not cost a lot, but you still need to eat, pay bills, and live a somewhat comfortable existence. Start saving.</p> <p><em>So, those are eight dark side motivations, but what are yours? What dark things inspire you to save money? Let us know in comments below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-dark-side-motivations-to-start-saving">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-13"> <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-dark-side-motivations-to-get-you-out-of-debt">10 Dark-Side Motivations to Get You Out of Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this">The Most Valuable Thing Debt Takes From You Isn&#039;t Money — It&#039;s This</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/debt-free-living-is-attainable-if-you-want-it-you-can-have-it">Debt-Free Living IS Attainable: If You Want It, You Can Have It</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-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <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/debt-repayment-is-not-an-expense">Debt repayment is not an expense</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management debt goals motivation saving Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Paul Michael 1209316 at http://www.wisebread.com 73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buying-medicine-78056472-small.jpg" alt="buying medicine" title="buying medicine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The first step to saving dough is to have a go-to list of cost-cutting strategies in your pocket. Below are 73 ways to cut spending, some more orthodox than others. Find just a few that work for you and watch the savings add up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-things-everyone-should-be-saving-for?ref=seealso">The 10 Things Everyone Should Be Saving For</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cancel Cable TV</h2> <p>With so many streaming options like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, there's barely any reason to pay for cable TV. at all. Unless you watch a whole lot of new programming, it's even cheaper to buy your shows by the season through itunes.</p> <h2>2. Find a Cheaper Cell Plan</h2> <p>Don't overpay for minutes or data that you're not using. Likewise, be sure to shop carriers every time your contract is up to make sure you're buying from the cheapest service provider (assuming they also offer the best coverage, of course).</p> <h2>3. Shop for Groceries With a List</h2> <p>A list can help keep you from adding needless items in the shopping cart (chocolate chip cookies, anyone?) that can flatten your wallet while fattening your waistline.</p> <h2>4. Shop Your Home and Auto Insurance Policies</h2> <p>There are no discounts for loyalty these days. One expert I spoke with recently estimated a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less">$600 &ndash; $800 annual savings</a> by comparing insurance carriers every couple of years. That's a big bang for a couple of minutes worth of work.</p> <h2>5. Buy Discount Pharmaceuticals</h2> <p>Large retailers are increasingly offering discounted pharmaceuticals. <a href="http://www.goodrx.com/">GoodRX.com</a> compares prescription prices to help you find the lowest costs in your area. Both Target and Walmart have a large list of generics that are priced at $4 for a month's supply. <a href="http://www.shoprite.com/health-wellness-pharmacy/">Shop Rite</a> also offers a discount generics program as well as free short-term supplies of prenatal vitamins and diabetes medication.</p> <h2>6. Throw a Potluck Party (Instead of Going Out)</h2> <p>Going out to eat is expensive. Why not have your friends over, instead? If everyone brings a dish or drink, you can all eat like royalty for the night &mdash; for next to nothing.</p> <h2>7. Learn to Sew</h2> <p>Taking your duds to the tailor for button and rip repairs can add up, not to mention the price of scrapping the item altogether and buying new. Why not learn to sew and make minor repairs on your own at the fraction of the price?</p> <h2>8. Ask Your Credit Card Company for a Rate Reduction</h2> <p>If you carry a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">credit card balance</a>, any reduction in rate can help shave a couple of dollars off your costs. Before you call, be prepared with any offers you've received from competitors and come to the phone with a script, <a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-getting-your-credit-card-interest-rates-reduced/">like this one</a>. If you have a $5,000 balance, a 5% rate reduction could save you $250 over the course of a year.</p> <h2>9. Consign Clothes You Don't Wear Anymore</h2> <p>Clearing clutter not only saves space and time, but it can also pad your savings account, if you send your castoffs to your local consignment shop. Most consignors offer you a percentage of what the items sells for, keeping the remainder for themselves to pay for overhead and as profit. If you're not wearing the duds anymore, it can pay (literally) to clean house.</p> <h2>10. Learn to Cook</h2> <p>A recent study found that <a href="http://retailfeedback.com/component/k2/item/6-home-cooked-meals.html">it costs $12.28 per person to dine out</a>, on average. If you live in a major city or have champagne tastes (like me), it can cost substantially more. Cut your dining costs by at least half by cooking more of your meals at home.</p> <h2>11. Cook Meals in Batches</h2> <p>Save time and money by doubling or tripling recipes when you cook. It takes just as much effort to cook one meal but you'll end up with two or three nights worth of dinners (saving you time as well!) plus you can save cash by buying groceries in bulk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend?ref=seealso">Save Time and Money With a Bulk Cooking Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>12. Open Your Windows</h2> <p>Cooling costs add up in the summer. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, open up the windows. You'll save money and air out the house at the same time.</p> <h2>13. Turn Off the Lights</h2> <p>Don't let your electric bills get out of control. Listen to what dad always said and turn off lights when you leave a room.</p> <h2>14. Unplug Unused Appliances and Gadgets</h2> <p>Even if they're not in use, they're still draining electricity, so long as the plug is in the socket.</p> <h2>15. Borrow Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks From Your Local Library</h2> <p>Voracious readers know that book costs can add up quickly. Save yourself some dough and borrow from your local library instead. Most libraries have added e- and audio books to their catalogs, so you can borrow in your favorite format.</p> <h2>16. Declutter</h2> <p>Decluttering your home helps you find the things you already own &mdash; so you're less likely to make the mistake of buying items in duplicate or triplicate (of which I am guilty!). Bonus: You'll also save time because you'll know where everything is. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever?ref=seealso">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <h2>17. Use LED lightbulbs</h2> <p>A household can <a href="http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html">save over $6,000</a> by switching their home lighting from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. The bulbs cost substantially more up front, but they're extremely energy efficient. They can last between 11 and 17 years, even if used up to 12 hours a day. Over time, the higher up-front cost of the bulbs will pay you back in substantially lower energy and replacement costs.</p> <h2>18. Cancel Unused Subscriptions</h2> <p>Unread magazine subscriptions needlessly clutter your space and drain your wallet. If you're not reading the issues, let the subscription go.</p> <h2>19. Cancel Unused Memberships</h2> <p>It's easy to let memberships services like those to Netflix and your local gym run, even if you're not using them. Check out where you're being billed monthly for a service you don't utilize and get canceling.</p> <h2>20. Buy Used</h2> <p>Consignment stores are good for more than just selling. You can often buy high end brands at a fraction of the price at your local consignment shop, eBay, or from sporting goods resale shops. Great finds can also be found at yard sales and estate sales.</p> <h2>21. Set Up a Babysitting Co-Op With Friends</h2> <p>Long gone are the days when a local teen would watch your kids for $3 an hour. Today's babysitters charge anywhere between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on where in the country you live and how many kids you have. Instead of breaking the bank to get some much needed quality time with your partner, set up a babysitting co-op with other local parents.</p> <h2>22. Brown Bag Your Lunch</h2> <p>One <a href="http://www.yourgfm.com/debt-calculators/brown-bag-calculator.shtml">online calculator</a> estimates a New Yorker can save $31,200 over 10 years by packing a lunch instead of going out. Even workers in less pricy cities can see substantial savings from a homemade lunch. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-quick-cheap-lunch-ideas?ref=seealso">25 Quick, Cheap Lunch Ideas</a>)</p> <h2>23. Perform Routine Maintenance on Your Car</h2> <p>Your car's regular service isn't the place to scrimp. Changing your car's oil and filter every 3,000 &ndash; 10,000 miles (depending on what your owner's manual recommends) is the best way to avoid engine failure, which can add up to thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs. That's just for starters. To avoid costly repairs, follow your auto manual's recommendations for air filter changes, tire rotations, brake checks and more.</p> <h2>24. Wear More Traditionally Styled Clothes</h2> <p>Following fashion trends can be expensive, particularly for women. Traditional or conservative style choices go out of fashion less often, meaning you can update your wardrobe less frequently.</p> <h2>25. Plant a Vegetable Garden</h2> <p>According to one blogger, the Burpee Seed Co. estimates a <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-save-money-with-a-home-garden/">$1250 produce yield</a> for every $50 a family spends on seeds and fertilizer.</p> <h2>26. Check Out Free or Cheap Community Events</h2> <p>Most communities offer free or inexpensive community events <a href="http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/">like these</a>, found in New York City. Check out your local chamber of commerce or township website for what's available near you. Most often you can stay entertained without spending a dime.</p> <h2>27. Ditch Your Car</h2> <p>According to AAA, the <a href="http://newsroom.aaa.com/2014/05/owning-and-operating-your-vehicle-just-got-a-little-cheaper-aaas-2014-your-driving-costs-study/%20">average annual cost of owning a car</a> is $8,876 per year. If you live in a walkable area or in a city with a good transportation system, you could easily forego that cost.</p> <h2>28. Pack Your Own Vacation Snacks</h2> <p>Most major theme parks will let you carry your own snacks through the gate and the savings can really add up. A snack-sized serving of <a href="about:blank">grapes costs $3.69</a> in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom while you can buy an entire bag at the grocery store for about the same amount. Pack a backpack on your next day trip and you can shave beaucoup bucks off your final day's tab.</p> <h2>29. Pack Snacks and Coffee for Your Car Trip</h2> <p>We all want to break up a long drive with a stop at Starbucks. In my area, a tall frappuccino costs over $4. Add in another for my spouse and some snacks for the kids and a little diversion can add up to over $20. Instead, bring some brew from home and pack kiddie snacks in a couple of ziplock bags.</p> <h2>30. Negotiate Fees With Service Providers</h2> <p>Everything is negotiable, so&hellip; negotiate!</p> <h2>31. Use Coupons</h2> <p>If you don't like the coupon clutter, check one of the latest coupon apps like <a href="http://www.retailmenot.com/">RetailMeNot</a> or <a href="https://www.favado.com/">Favado</a>.</p> <h2>32. Vacation Within Driving Distance</h2> <p>Airfare rose 2% in 2013 and flyers coughed up <a href="http://www.pressherald.com/2014/01/16/airfares_continue_to_rise__up_12_percent_since_2009/">$3.4 billion in fees</a> last year. Bring down the cost of your vacation by going Griswold style and packing up the station wagon (or minivan).</p> <h2>33. Exercise at Home</h2> <p>According to one source, the <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/01/02/the-heavy-price-of-losing-weight">average cost of a gym membership</a> is $55 per month. Instead, check out these exercises that will give you a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free">gym-quality workout for free</a>.</p> <h2>34. Pay Off Your Debts</h2> <p>The average household owes in $7,221 in credit card debt at an average fixed rate<a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/rate-roundup.aspx"> APR of 13.02%</a>. All that interest adds up to money that's needlessly being paid out to credit card companies. Stop the cycle, pay in cash, and stash those payments in your own account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance?ref=seealso">How to Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</a>)</p> <h2>35. Save Your Loose Change</h2> <p>Put it in a jar at the end of each day and watch the pennies add up.</p> <h2>36. Quit Smoking</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/tobacco-control-advocacy/reports-resources/cessation-economic-benefits/states/united-states.html">pack of cigarettes costs $5.51</a>, on average, and THEY KILL YOU.</p> <h2>37. Brew Your Own Coffee</h2> <p>One blogger estimates the cost of a cup of<a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/01/25/savings-experiment-the-perks-of-brewing-versus-buying-coffee/"> home brew at 16 cents per cup</a>. Compare that to your local coffee shop.</p> <h2>38. Use Fee-Free ATMs</h2> <p>Find one <a href="http://www.allpointnetwork.com">here</a>.</p> <h2>39. Pay Extra Toward Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Calculate your<a href="http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/helpful-advice/save-by-paying-more.php"> potential annual savings</a> here.</p> <h2>40. Weatherproof Your Home</h2> <p>You'll save on energy and replacement costs by insulating pipes, installing storm doors and windows, and caulking cracks.</p> <h2>41. Buy Clothing on Sale</h2> <p>Retailers want to make room for new merchandise at the end of a season and usually slash prices to a fraction of what you'll find at high season. Take advantage of the savings by buying off season and preparing for the following year.</p> <h2>42. Buy Consigned Clothing Online</h2> <p>Consignment stores aren't just for selling your cast offs. Check your local options or check out some of the newer online consignors like <a href="https://www.liketwice.com/">Twice</a>, <a href="http://www.thredup.com/">ThredUP</a>, or <a href="http://www.greenestreetconsignment.com/">Greene Street Consignment</a>.</p> <h2>43. Buy High Quality Clothing</h2> <p>Don't like to buy used? Invest in higher quality duds that will stand up to wear and tear over the years. The upfront cost may be higher but over time you'll be shopping far less often.</p> <h2>44. Learn to Iron</h2> <p>The average two-piece dress costs $12.47 to dry clean. Iron your pieces at home and you can stretch the time between dry cleanings.</p> <h2>45. Set Gift Price Limits</h2> <p>The <a href="http://americanresearchgroup.com/holiday/">average cost of Christmas</a> for families in 2013 was $801. Birthdays and holidays don't have to be as expensive if you talk to your loved ones and set a price limit on gift giving. It's the thought that counts, anyway. Right?</p> <h2>46. Buy a Smaller Home</h2> <p>Because lower utility bills, lower maintenance costs, less to clean, less to furnish, and lower tax bills. Need I say more?</p> <h2>47. Live Close to Work</h2> <p>One blogger estimates <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5855550/the-true-cost-of-commuting-you-could-buy-a-house-priced-15900-more-for-each-mile-you-move-closer-to-work">you can buy a house priced $15,900 more for each mile you live closer to work</a>.</p> <h2>48. Move to a Cheaper City</h2> <p>According to <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/">one online calculator</a>, it costs half as much to live in Chapel Hill, NC as it does to live in New York City. Make your own comparisons.</p> <h2>49. Get a Roommate</h2> <p>Half the rent, half the utilities.</p> <h2>50. Pay Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>Chronic late credit card payers can <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/10/18/chronic-late-credit-card-payments-how-bad-can-fines-fees-get/">face a fee of $35 per month</a>, in some instances. That's an added expense with no included benefit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-and-avoid-late-fees?ref=seealso">How to Get Rid of and Avoid Late Fees</a>)</p> <h2>51. Downsize to One Car</h2> <p>Save on the added insurance and maintenance costs of the extra set of wheels.</p> <h2>52. Downsize to a Smaller Car</h2> <p>A sedan has a lower sticker price and also guzzles less gas than an SUV.</p> <h2>53. Skip the Credit Card With the Annual Fee</h2> <p>There are plenty of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-type-of-rewards-credit-card-is-right-for-you?ref=inarticle">reward cards</a> available that don't tack on an unnecessary annual fee.</p> <h2>54. Cancel Your Landline</h2> <p><a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/06/cell-phone-ownership-hits-91-of-adults/">91% of Americans carry a cell phone</a> so there's little reason to maintain the expense of an additional land line.</p> <h2>55. Send Your Kid to a Cheaper College</h2> <p>In his latest book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316204366/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0316204366&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=V7QLJKDKF4IT5UMS">David and Goliath</a>, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the academically gifted will rise to the top at a lower-tier school and that there are many esteem-boosting advantages to this education strategy. You and your kid can also save a whole heck of a lot of money in the process.</p> <h2>56. Keep Driving Your Beater</h2> <p>A paid off car has one major advantage over a new car: It's paid off. Think twice before you upgrade to a newer model with a hefty monthly price tag.</p> <h2>57. Create a Personal Waiting Period</h2> <p>One study found that <a href="http://www.usaweekend.com/article/20130712/MONEY01/307120006/I-ll-take-that-that-that-Experts-explain-impulse-buying">North Americans spend more than $4 billion per year in impulse buys</a>. Create a cooling off period for yourself and go home to think about a purchase, before you make it. You'll be surprised by how much you'll save.</p> <h2>58. Use Cloth Diapers</h2> <p>For new parents who can stomach the added responsibility, <a href="https://www.babyworks.com/cost-comparisons">cloth diapering can save a family several thousand dollars</a> by the time baby turns two and a half.</p> <h2>59. Skip Your Supermarket's Pre-cut Fruits and Vegetables</h2> <p>The markup is high and they expire faster. Cut your own and save.</p> <h2>60. Buy Generic Groceries</h2> <p>Generic groceries usually taste just as good as their more expensive brand-name counterparts. They're also cheaper.</p> <h2>61. Eat Homemade Soup</h2> <p>Invest in a $20 crock pot and throw all your leftovers in the pot. Dinner is made when you get home from work, it was cheap, and it's good for you. Triple win. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-night-soup-delicious-soup-from-leftovers?ref=seealso">Thursday Night Soup: Delicious Soup From Leftovers</a>)</p> <h2>62. Make Your Own Bread</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/make-your-own-sandwich-bread-5-recipes-for-beginners-167356">Baking bread</a> is easier than you think. A homemade loaf also costs a small fraction of a store-bought loaf.</p> <h2>63. Freecycle Your Castoffs</h2> <p>Declutter your life by taking advantage of your local <a href="https://www.freecycle.org">freecycle community</a>. You can also find a few new things for yourself, at zero added cost.</p> <h2>64. Mow Your Own Lawn</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_mow_lawn.html">cost to hire a service</a> to mow your lawn averages between $0.06 and $0.31 per square foot. Mow your own and you can save a bundle over time.</p> <h2>65. Go to the Matinee</h2> <p>From the movie house to Broadway theater, matinee showings are substantially cheaper. If you're paying for a few friends or family members, the cost can be cut dramatically by watching a show in the afternoon instead of evening.</p> <h2>66. Make Frugal Friends</h2> <p>Frugal friends can help you keep your savings goals on track, inspire you with new ideas, and won't encourage you to break the bank on the newest trends.</p> <h2>67. Have Your Shoes Repaired</h2> <p>Repairing quality footwear is usually more cost effective than buying cheaper shoes more frequently. A quality pair of men's dress shoes can last for 10 years or more, particularly if they're resoled or re-crafted. A good cobbler can extend the life of your shoes for decades.</p> <h2>68. Buy Cheaper Wine</h2> <p>The research shows that <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-decision-tree/201207/cheap-and-expensive-wine-taste-the-same-in-blind-taste-tests">we really can't tell the difference</a> between an expensive bottle of French wine and a cheaper bottle of domestic swill. Save yourself the bucks and buy cheap. If you're serving guests and want to look upscale, invest in a decanter, just for show.</p> <h2>69. Shop Consignment Sales for Kids Clothes and Toys</h2> <p>There are consignment sales throughout the country where parents sell their castoff toys and clothes for a fraction of the cost of buying new. <a href="http://consignmentmommies.com/SeasonalSales">Find one near you</a> and save big.</p> <h2>70. Dress for the Weather</h2> <p>Before you crank up the heat, grab a cardigan to stay warm. Offset the cost of high fuel costs with appropriate winter gear in the house. Sweaters, fingerless gloves, and fleece pants help keep you warm in cold weather.</p> <h2>71. Vacation in the Off Season</h2> <p>A September beach vacation can cost half of what it costs in July or August. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Top Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>72. Vacation Via a Houseshare Program</h2> <p>Services like Airbnb give you the opportunity to find unique vacation accommodations while you save a few bucks. You can also earn some cash by renting out your own place while you're out of town.</p> <h2>73. Drink at Home</h2> <p>Skip the expensive bar and have your nightcap at home with friends.</p> <p><em>Do you have an easy money-saver that isn't on the list? Share it below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">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-14"> <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/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</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-10-most-low-effort-ways-to-save-money-ever">The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever</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-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor">The 9 People in Your Life Who Are Keeping You Poor</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/join-america-saves-week-february-24-to-march-2nd">Join America Saves Week February 24 to March 2nd</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-retirement-latte">The Retirement Latte</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting credit cards debt saving spending Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1209317 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Warning Signs That You Need to Stop Using Your Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-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/cutting-credit-card-78725890-small.jpg" alt="cutting credit card" title="cutting credit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In romantic relationships, career choices, even struggles with drugs and alcohol, professionals often ask us to look out for warning signs. Well the same should be done with credit cards. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-habits-of-highly-responsible-credit-card-users?ref=seealso">12 Habits of Highly Responsible Credit Card Users</a>)</p> <p>According to the Federal Reserve, average household credit card debt in the U.S. is more than $15,000 in 2014. If you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-that-your-credit-card-spending-is-out-of-control?ref=inarticle">credit card debt</a> anywhere near that high, it's probably a sign that you should cut up your credit cards right this minute. But that kind of debt doesn't pile up overnight, and many of the warning signs are much more subtle.</p> <p>Here are six signs you should kill your credit card sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>1. You Shop When You're Sad</h2> <p>They don't call it &quot;retail therapy&quot; for nothing. Research has found that hauling something new home at the end of a hard day really does have a &quot;<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mar.20404/abstract">lasting positive impact on mood</a>.&quot; In this same study, 62% of respondents also admitted to buying things to cheer themselves up. But there's a catch.<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/08/the-loneliness-loop-why-feeling-sad-makes-us-shop-and-shopping-makes-us-sad/278443/"> It also makes you lonelier</a> and less able to form meaningful connections with the people around you. It's what economists call a &quot;loneliness loop.&quot; In other words, it's something you can get stuck in. If you're using your credit card to dig yourself out of an emotional hole, you may end up in a huge financial one instead.</p> <h2>2. You Spend More Than You Mean To</h2> <p>When you're faced with temptation while holding a card that can buy $10,000 worth of stuff in a single swipe, any budget you may have set for yourself can easily be &quot;forgotten.&quot; Research suggests that <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/retail-therapy/201306/why-we-overspend-credit">overcoming the urge to overspend on a credit card</a> is a tough hurdle for many psychological reasons, but they all boil down to the fact that it simply hurts less to pay with credit (at least in the short term.) If you are often shocked by the size of your credit card bill (even if you're still able to pay it or pay most of it), it may time to kill your credit card for a while and learn to shop on a budget.</p> <h2>3. You Don't Remember What You Bought</h2> <p>Have you ever had a look at your credit card bill and been totally baffled by several of the purchases? When did you spend $50 on a restaurant meal? What on earth is that $250 charge for? Did you really go out shopping three times in one month? Credit card bills tend to come well after we've enjoyed the goods they purchased, but if you can't remember much of what you've bought, you're probably spending on things that aren't that important to you. Over time, those kinds of shopping habits can lead to real financial trouble. If your credit card bill shocks you, it may be time to do away with that card before the balance does you in. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-your-credit-card-statement-is-keeping-you-in-debt?ref=seealso">How Your Credit Card Statement Keeps You in Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. You Shop for Points You Can't Afford</h2> <p>We've all heard stories about people who've scored 'round-the-world, all-expenses-paid vacations by racking up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">credit card rewards</a> and flight miles. It happens. Those people really do exist. But trying to emulate them is a bit like signing up for your first marathon and expecting to be in the lead; it isn't something that most people are able to achieve. And, what's much more common than people who get free stuff by using their credit cards are people who pay thousands and thousands of dollars in interest. If you can find a decent rewards card and pay it off in full every month, go ahead and rack up those points for a beach vacation. If you can't, you're more likely to end up broke, in debt, and at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-beginners-guide-to-miles-and-points?ref=seealso">Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points</a>)</p> <h2>5. You Often Use It to Buy the Basics</h2> <p>The golden rule of responsible credit card use is to avoid buying more than you can afford. If you often feel the need to use a credit card to buy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=inarticle">groceries</a>, gas, or other daily essentials, some part of your financial life is most likely off balance. Whether you need to earn more money or spend less of it on non-essentials, using a credit card to make up for shortfalls will only make the problem much worse. Credit cards are best used as a convenience, not a crutch. If you're using a card to prop yourself up and pay for everyday expenses, it may be time to kill it.</p> <h2>6. You Can't Bear the Thought of Putting It On Ice</h2> <p>Shopping &mdash; particularly when it's done using a credit card &mdash; can be addictive. If you're struggling to keep your debt under control and are making a bunch of disastrous financial decisions to do it, you probably know that your credit cards are a bad thing, that you should cut them up, throw them out, or at least shove them to the very back of the freezer where they won't tempt you as much. But, maybe, somehow, you just can't bear to do that. You don't want to go out without a credit card in your wallet. You don't want to remove the option. That sense of dependence is a serious red flag, and one that suggests that you should kill your credit cards before they snuff out any financial stability you may have left. If you can't do it alone, consider seeing a credit counselor for help.</p> <p>Killing your credit card can feel like a tough decision &mdash; until you consider the consequences. The real killer is the high-interest debt that credit cards can accumulate. If you're on a path toward financial destruction, it's time to wipe out those credit cards &mdash; before debt takes a swipe at your personal finances.</p> <p><em>How do you control credit card spending? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-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-15"> <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/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation">9 Signs You&#039;re Suffering From Lifestyle Inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tricks-to-save-money-with-credit-cards">10 Tricks to Save Money with Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance">5 Strategies To Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</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-times-you-should-say-yes-to-new-credit-card-offers">5 Times You Should Say Yes to New Credit Card Offers</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/reduce-your-credit-limits-to-manage-your-spending">Reduce Your Credit Limits to Manage Your Spending</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit credit card habits debt spending warning signs Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Tara Struyk 1195552 at http://www.wisebread.com