Oh, the price you'll pay to access your own cash -- or for services like 'maintenance' and 'overdraft protection.' Here's how to keep more of your money for yourself.
This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Credit.com.
It can feel like the ultimate gotcha. You give a bank your money for safekeeping, and seemingly just because it's sitting there, your bank helps itself to a handful of your cash. Your balance dips below $5,000 for one day? That'll cost $25. You buy a hamburger at the wrong time with your debit card? That'll be $35! You grab cash instead at a nearby ATM: Better leave a $4 tip for the two banks involved.
The fees add up fast. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found this year that a consumer who overdraws an account pays an average of $225 in fees annually. That'll eat up any measly interest you might earn on a checking account, and eat substantially into your deposits, too.
Some consumers who don't want to play financial games opt out of credit cards so they don't have to worry about interest charges and late fees. It's nearly impossible to do the same with checking accounts -- it's very hard to participate in our economy without access to tools like direct deposit, ATMs and online bill-pay. So to be a sophisticated consumer in the 21st century, you have to know how to play checking account roulette.
You won't have to worry about signing away your firstborn to make a return at these stores.
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
Even the most thoughtful gift-giver can’t get it right all the time. In fact, Randy Allen – an associate dean for the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University – told The Wall Street Journal anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of holiday sales are returned or exchanged.
But return policies aren't created equal. So it's something you should take into account whenever purchasing something that may be returned - especially gifts. So which stores are the nation's best when it comes to hassle-free returns?
Even with a recent slight uptick in prices, Americans are paying about 20 cents less for a gallon of gasoline than at this time last year.
This post comes from Beth Braverman at partner site The Fiscal Times.
National average prices ticked up a few cents this week, but at a current $3.20 per gallon, they're still more than 20 cents lower than they were a year ago. They've been on a downward trend since Labor Day. In fact, we're paying the same amount today per gallon as we did in 1980 -- 33 years ago, adjusted for inflation, when the average price was $1.13.
Gift cards bought on the secondary market are like 3 to 30 percent-off coupons that never expire. Here's where to find the best deals.
This post comes from Donna Freedman at partner site Money Talks News.
In addition to frugal hacks like cash-back shopping, price comparison websites, online coupons and rewards credit cards, true deal hounds will seek out the secondary gift card market.
Sites like Raise, Cardpool, Plastic Jungle and ABC Gift Cards provide new homes for unwanted retail scrip. At these and other secondary market sites you can buy cards at less – sometimes a lot less – than face value.
Although cards for popular retailers like Target and Walmart may offer only a 3 percent discount, others may hover in the 10 to 25 percent range. (I’ve heard of specialty cards going for 50 percent off, but that’s rare.)
At these sites you can also sell any cards you have but don’t want, earning up to 92 percent of their value (and sometimes more if you agree to take an Amazon credit instead of cold, hard cash).
How do these cards end up as orphans? Either they’re not a good fit or the sellers would rather have the money.
Or sometimes both:
If you're planning on shopping in-store the day after Thanksgiving, leave some extra space in your shopping bag for these freebies.
At its core, Black Friday is all about saving money, and there's no better way to save money than to get stuff for free! Below, we've rounded up all the Black Friday deals featuring Buy-One-Get-Ones (BOGOs), gift cards, and outright free items that we could find. Note that some of these offers are only rumors, and we've marked them as such. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back often, as we'll be adding even more Black Friday freebies as we come across them.
Freebie: This doorbuster freebie was actually the first 2013 Black Friday ad: a free JCPenney 2013 Snow Globe. In response to the frustrated outcry of shoppers who went home globeless in 2012, JCPenney has brought back the popular keepsake. No word yet on when you'll have to show up in-store to bag one, though, so stay tuned for more details on how to get yours.
Some think more cuts need to be made, and they say some states are taking advantage of a loophole.
This post comes from Alan Bjerga at partner site Bloomberg.
If a state gives a resident as little as $1 a year in heating assistance, it allows that person’s household to automatically qualify for an average of $1,080 in additional food stamps annually from the federal government.
That’s what 14 states, including New York and California, and the District of Columbia have done.
"If there are programs available for people, we should use them," Mary Cheh, a Democratic member of the District of Columbia city council, said. At her urging, the council unanimously approved the "heat and eat" arrangement in 2009, agreeing to make token heating-aid payments so citizens can get more for food.
Prices have dropped since last year. Will waiting save you even more?
Prices for used cars are at a four-year low, and poised to drop even lower, car experts say. The reason: Americans are finally buying new cars, and their trade-ins are adding supply to what had been a tight market.
The average price of a used car dropped 2.8% in the third quarter to $15,678 from $16,134 the quarter before, according to the used-car market report from car-comparison site Edmunds.com.
The last time the third-quarter average was this low was in 2009, when the price was $14,808. The average used-car price has been higher than $15,000 since the end of that year.
After the financial crisis, Americans pulled back on trading in their cars, so while the demand for used cars was high, the supply was not. This drove up the prices, pushing some would-be used-car buyers to buy new, because the difference in price was smaller than normal. Used-car prices peaked in the second quarter of 2011 at $16,473.
You can pay for TV, Internet access and anti-virus protection or you can get them free. Here's how to eliminate or slash your monthly subscription fees.
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
According to The NPD Group, the average pay-TV subscription service cost $86 a month in 2011, and that number is expected to climb to $123 by the year 2015. If the research company is right, you may be on track to spend more than $200 a month for the privilege of watching television in 2020.
But here's the good news. There are ways to cut your cable bill, as well as many other burdensome monthly expenses.
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