Credit cards can come with a temptation to live beyond your means -- and that can quickly lead to trouble. But manage your cards well, and you can reap rewards later.
American college students tend to have a rough time with credit cards. Without much real-world personal finance experience, many spend beyond their means and graduate with credit card debt. And even for those who are lucky enough to complete school without debt, the threat continues to loom after graduation.
So how can recent graduates enjoy the convenience and security of credit cards without getting into trouble with debt? Here are a few tips:
1. Keep it simple. It is easy to get caught up in the hype promoting credit card perks and rewards, but these benefits are not worth it if they lead to debt. Instead, recent graduates should focus on finding cards with the fewest fees and the simplest terms.
2. Always pay your balance in full. This is the single most important piece of advice that can be offered. Those who pay their entire statement balance each month avoid costly interest charges, and there isn’t a better time to get in this habit than after graduation. And the lesson of living within your means, instead of on hoped-for future earning, applies well beyond credit cards.
The winner of last weekend's jackpot of nearly $600 million now has to decide whether to take a lump sum or annual payments. An expert weighs in with advice.
This post comes from Ross Kenneth Urken of partner site MainStreet.
One lucky person at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Fla., purchased the winning ticket for the highest Powerball jackpot in history, estimated at $590.5 million.
After winning with odds at 1 in 175.2 million, the person has done the hard part, but whether to take a lump-sum cash payout or to collect the winnings in annual payments is the cushy but difficult decision the lucky duck will now have to make.
Most winners go for the lump sum in order to be in control of the money from the get-go, and with fears of continued rising tax rates, it might be better to take a softer blow from the Internal Revenue Service now than a harder one in the future.
"The immense size of this particular jackpot can make things a bit more straightforward," said Doug Walker, the president of AfterLotto, a company that provides legal, financial and personal assistance to lottery winners.
Whereas a person may be reluctant to take about half of the total pot for the instant gratification of a lump sum -- the lump-sum payout here would be about $300 million -- the difference between $300 million and $600 million is more negligible at those amounts. It's a question of whether to have golden toilet seats in your yacht.
Concerts, bowling, filmmaking camp, small-plane rides -- these and other activities will get your kids out of the house without breaking the bank.
Kid-centric activities, that's what -- and these fun and/or enriching diversions need not break the bank. In fact, they may even be free.
A certain amount of unstructured play time is a great boon for the imagination. But two and a half months is a long time to go without at least some planned activities.
How about bowling, movies, concerts, museums or a filmmaking class, all without paying a dime?
Can't bother with the gym? Get fit on your own using these tips from fitness experts.
With the onset of spring comes the prospect of wearing a lot less clothing. And that, for many of us, means rigorous commitment to an exercise routine. But don't be deterred by thoughts of a pricey gym membership or in-home exercise equipment, because all you need is motivation.
We spoke with Kira Stokes, a personal trainer and founder of Stoked Method, and learned how to master fitness on your own. Her focal point is transforming both body and mind. Here is her approach to fitness on your own:
1. Start moving
That means picking up your pace and getting out of your comfort zone. If it normally takes seven minutes to walk around the block, says Stokes, aim for five. Run from one street sign to another and then walk to the next few.
2. Set goals
Setting and then reaching new goals will keep you motivated. Write down both short- and long-term goals, and make the former reachable. Doing 10 knee push-ups during TV commercials is a good short-term goal; losing 15 pounds is not. "If you're feeling frustrated by your inability to reach your goal, change your goal," Stokes says. Don't just give up.
You might think Americans have the corner on retirement worries. But you'd be wrong.
If misery really does love company, then America's aging baby boomers are due for a global group hug. Citizens in a 12-nation survey overwhelmingly reported they are not ready for retirement and expect retirement outcomes to be worse for future retirees than for those who have already retired. The survey was conducted earlier this year and polled about 12,000 people. It was sponsored by Aegon, a large global financial services firm, and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
"The situation has become more dire than just a year ago," Aegon said in its 2013 Retirement Readiness Survey. "People in general feel less prepared for retirement and do not adequately understand the steps they need to take."
The survey presented a retirement readiness index and said none of the dozen countries fared well.
German citizens are in the best shape for retirement, but Germany's national score was only in the upper range of the lowest-ranking category. And readiness was worse in 2013 for all countries compared with last year, due primarily to rising levels of uncertainty about the economy and investment performance.
On a scale of zero to 10, the average index rating for all 12 nations was 4.89 in 2013, down from 5.19 in 2012. Here are the individual index readings for each country:
Summertime, and the gas prices are rising. Watch this video to learn easy tips on making the most of your summer motoring budget.
Granted, forecasters say this year's summer price hike isn't as high as in years' past. But with the national average hovering near $4 a gallon, gas can still take a sizable bite out of your travel budget.
But no need to stay home. We offer a handful of easy tips that can help keep your gasoline bill in check as you travel this summer. These include everything from keeping your tires inflated (increase your MPG by 3.3%) to using smart phone apps to find the cheapest gas nearby.
For example, did you know you can save money if you fill your tank before a certain day of the week? Watch this video to learn more, and hear other tips for saving money on gasoline this summer.
Happy trails, and be safe out there!
Or do you? The FTC shuts down two alleged tech support scams, reminding consumers to watch out for this con job.
If you own a computer, there's a good chance at some point you're going to run into a problem you can't fix on your own. And that's enough of an opportunity for phony tech support companies to inject themselves into your situation and try to take your money.
Just in case you don't have a problem, they've got that covered, too. Many of the scams revolve around phony websites that promise a scan of your computer, which is actually a trick to load viruses and malware so you actually do end up with a problem.
The Federal Trade Commission announced today two of six cases the agency filed after a crack-down against alleged tech support scammers ended with the defendants agreeing to give up "their ill-gotten gains" and to never run such a scheme again.
But the scams still abound.
An actress says hers was closed suddenly, and an executive has filed suit, alleging that fair lending laws have been violated.
Chanel Preston knows not everyone approves of her chosen profession. That's one of the risks that go with being one of the biggest stars in porn. But she never thought it would affect her ability to open a bank account.
Preston recently opened a business account with City National Bank in Los Angeles. When she went to deposit checks into the account days later, however, she was told it had been shut down because of "compliance issues."
She found the manager she had worked with originally and asked what had happened. The bank, she was told, was worried about the Webcam shows she had on her site and had revoked the account.
City National declined to comment on Preston's accusations and on whether it had any policy regarding accounts tied to the porn industry.
Preston is not the only porn star who has had trouble with banks. Several performers and porn insiders (who were afraid to go on the record because of possible repercussions from their banks) said they have been denied accounts from a variety of financial institutions.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Take an extra step before donating to a charity that claims to be helping tornado victims: Research them first.