Bad Money Habits Just Bring You Down

Bad Financial Habbits

Who really wants to be ​bad with money? Sometimes it just sort of happens, and you wake up one day in a difficult situation. If you can swap the bad money habits that creep into our lives for positive habits​, and start making ​good financial decisions​, you’ll be happier and less stressed out.

Living Without a Budget

The idea of a budget hurts, but it’s key for understanding how much money is coming in, what you can spend, and more importantly, what’s left over for saving and investing. Between all the apps and spreadsheets out there, it’s easy to plug in some basic information and start tracking. Weekly and daily updates will help keep you from spending out of control, which will help you avoid the next bad money habit.

Living Beyond Your Means

Overspending is one of the biggest challenges facing people today, with our consumption-driven economy and the fact that we hardly ever pay with cash. If you’re charging basic necessities, running up credit card balances, and borrowing money, you’re clearly spending more than you have. Allocating dollar amounts and holding yourself accountable is the way to do it. And, if you prefer to pay with plastic, use a debit card or pay your credit card off in full each month.

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Smart Short-Term Investments

Short Term Investments

Short-term investments offer you the opportunity to grow your money, while protecting it, too, since you’ll probably want to access it within the next five years. This means contemplating very different vehicles than when you’re investing for retirement and other long-range goals because you don’t have as much time to ride out any market lows. It’s normal to feel intimidated by all the choices out there, and maybe you don’t feel like you have the ​financial skills​ you need for making ​decisions​. Consider these ideas for smart short-term investments that have growth potential, combined with safety and stability. They’ll help you avoid ​investing mistakes​.

Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts are similar to regular savings accounts, and they’re FDIC-insured. When you open this kind of account, you’re investing in the market for short-term debt, so you earn higher interest than a standard savings account. Money market accounts give you easy access to your funds, often via debit cards and checks. Minimum required investments can be in the thousands of dollars, but shop around because there are accounts available with much lower minimum deposits.

High-Yield Savings Accounts

High-yield savings accounts may be available at your local bank or credit union. With rates of one percent or higher, high-yield savings accounts blow away the interest rates on traditional savings accounts, especially the ones offered by online banking institutions. Like money market accounts, they also offer easy access to your funds and are FDIC-insured. The good news is the minimum deposit requirements are not high. The bad news is that the interest rates are still quite low.

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How to Save Money on Car Insurance

happy woman saved on car insurance

Life is just expensive, and auto payments and insurance are one of the biggest monthly costs people have outside of housing. Wondering ​how to save money on car insurance? Here are some tips that can help cut your bill:

Go Shopping

Prices can vary dramatically from company to company, so get several quotes. It’s easy to do online and with a few phone calls. Some state insurance departments publish price guidelines, which is helpful for comparing to see if you’re getting legitimate quotes.

Weigh Your Options

The reason you have insurance is to protect yourself in the event of an accident. Medical bills and legal fees can be astronomical, so consider how much coverage you need carefully. It’s more important to have enough coverage than it is to carry a low deductible, which is more costly. Tweak your quotes to see how much coverage you can get, while at the same time raising your deductible.

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Preventing Credit Card Fraud

Credit Cards

You've heard stories of financial catastrophe in the news, so how can you prevent credit card fraud from affecting you? A little prevention and research can go a long way toward your safety. By protecting your sensitive information and maintaining good habits, you can thwart potential criminals from escaping with your hard-earned cash. But first, let's dive into some of the most common methods of credit card fraud that every consumer should know for savvy spending.

Types of Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is an international problem, and the United States experiences the third highest rates of fraud in the entire world! In fact, almost 30 percent of consumers have dealt with this agonizing problem within the last five years. What are the types of fraud that you may encounter?

  • Phone or Mail Order: This fraud occurs when you make purchases through either the telephone or through mail order catalogs.
  • Online Shopping: Your credit card details may be stolen while making purchases online in an insecure environment or fraudulent site.
  • Online Banking: False links through email, text messages, or malware can steal your bank account information.
  • Face-to-Face: Your card or PIN number may be stolen and used in a physical store.

Fraud Techniques

As you can see, there are tons of different avenues that thieves use to steal your credit card information. But there are a wide variety of techniques they can use to complicate matters even more.

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How to Use Graduation Money Wisely

Credit Cards

When you have graduation money in the bank, it may be tempting to head on a shopping spree. And while every graduate deserves something special for completing such an important goal, we encourage you to think ahead! From college savings to dorm decor, you can put yourself in a great position for the future if you use that graduation money wisely.

Savings

Dropping your graduation money into a savings account may not be the most exciting option in the present, but this smart decision can be a major asset for the future. Consider stashing a portion of your grad cash into a savings account as a small nest egg for the future. You can use that money to cushion the blow if you run into financial mishaps, like unexpected car expenses or tuition hikes. Even a small rainy day fund can prevent major headaches in the future!

School Supplies

If you're college-bound, consider diverting some of that graduation money into your freshman year school supply fund. Get a head start on the crowd by looking for your books early. Used copies sell out fast, and you can save a lot of money by securing your reading list early. You might also think about upgrading your computer before you head out to college. Look for fast, dependable, and portable models over the latest fads. You'll spend countless hours behind that computer screen, so be sure to get one that you can count on.

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Types of Credit Cards: Which One is Right For You?

Credit Cards

There are many different types of credit cards out there. Which one should you choose? You never want to leave money on the table, and it’s easy to be swayed by the idea of airline points, cash back, or a free balance transfer. Take the time to understand the fine print and pick the one that’s best for what you need.

Travel and Airline Credit Cards

These are ideal for consumers who travel frequently. Narrow down the ones you’re looking at to the airlines you like to fly and where they travel, and then compare how points are earned, how many you need for a ticket, interest rates, and annual fees.

0% APR Credit Cards

If you’re in a situation where you need to make a large charge that you can’t pay off right away, a 0% APR credit card might be a good solution for you. These types of cards save money in finance charges because they offer zero percent interest for an introductory period.

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Jobs for Retirees to Earn Extra Cash

Job for retirees

If you’re retired or still in the planning stages, you may want to consider a part-time job to earn some extra cash, especially if you’re behind the eight ball in savings. There are plenty of jobs for retirees out there, and they come with more than financial benefits - they’re an outstanding way to keep your mind sharp and develop new relationships.

What Will Work For You?

Before you just go out and get a part-time job, think about your retirement situation and what you want out of it. Have you saved enough money? How many hours do you want to work per week? How much money do you want to make? What kind of responsibility level are you looking for? The more you can define this, the better. You want to look at the right types of positions, and there are a lot of options out there to choose from:

Full-time to Part-time

Sometimes companies don’t want to lose all the valuable knowledge and experience that a long-time employee has, and they’re willing to offer you a part-time or contract version of your old position.

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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Planning for retirement and investing wisely are goals most of us have, but where do you begin? Hiring a financial advisor is a smart first step. They’re trained to educate you and help you make the right decisions for your situation. But finding one you can trust isn’t necessarily easy. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider these important questions:

Who are They?

How did you hear about this financial advisor? Were you referred by someone you respect? Be wary of turning your funds over to someone you connected with through an Internet ad or telemarketing.

What’s Their Story?

Research your potential financial advisor on the Internet and LinkedIn. Where did they go to college? What’s their professional experience? Do you know any of their clients? Are they satisfied? How do they describe their services? Are they conservative, or are they promising astronomical results?

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Financial Advice to Avoid

Thief robbing dollars

You’re probably used to reading articles that give you tips and financial guidance, but here’s a new take on it all: financial advice to avoid. Well-meaning friends and relatives often give unsolicited input on how you should spend or invest your money, and it’s not always something you should follow. Here are some instances where you should walk, or maybe even run, away!

Hot Stock Tips

While someone may believe they have a hot tip to share, no one knows for sure whether a stock is going to go up in the short term. Even if the tipster has invested in it, do your own due diligence, and realize you’re probably not going to make money buying and selling stocks quickly. Stocks are more for the long view and your own personal investment plan.

Spec Ventures

Speculative ventures are just what they sound like: risky, unsubstantiated deals. Even if you see a business plan, there’s absolutely no assurance that the venture will succeed. Some startups or spec projects will prosper, but if you choose to get involved, make sure you go into it with your eyes open. If you’re going to invest in a spec project, it’s best to do it with money you can afford to lose - one of many investing mistakes to avoid.

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Gain the Skills You Need for Financial Success

Financial Success

Thinking about finances can be intimidating. Maybe financial success seems out of reach to you, or you don’t think of yourself as a math person. Never fear. You probably already have some of the qualities you need to get control of your financial world, and if you don’t, you can learn and start implementing them in your day-to-day life.

Organization

This is the #1 thing that can help you stay on top of things and plan for the future. Paying your bills late hikes up your expenses with fees and penalties and can add major stress to your life. Make a commitment to yourself to organize your bills, whether they arrive in the mail or via text or email. If you have a hard time remembering to pay bills, simply use an app to remind you or add alerts to your calendar. Online banking software can consolidate bills and deadlines and make your life easier.

Self-Control

Spending with discipline is probably even harder than staying organized. It takes a lot of willpower to stick to a budget. But self-control encompasses even more than that: if you can understand how you relate to money and finances psychologically, than you can use coping strategies to help keep your behavior in check. Did you grow up poor? You might be a compulsive spender as an adult. Do you buy things and never take the price tags off? It might be a good idea to disable your password or one-click ordering capabilities. Take a hard look at what habits might be keeping you from working toward your long-term goals. Work extras into your budget so you don’t feel too restricted.

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