When you've paid off debt and saved for emergencies and retirement, whatever's left over is yours to do with as you please, right?
I paid off the last of my debt in 2007, quit my day job in 2008, and have been working to build wealth ever since. As I wrote early last year, I'm in what I've called the third stage of personal finance: I've paid off my debt, built a cash cushion in savings, and am maxing out my retirement accounts. And after doing all of these things, I have money left over to spend on comic books and travel. I'm a lucky man.
For the past year, GRS readers have been asking me to write more about the third stage of personal finance. What's it like there? What choices does a person face? What sorts of things does he do with his money?
Though I've wanted to respond to these requests, I haven't.
- For one thing, I've felt there isn't a whole lot to say. Mostly, the third stage is like the earlier stages, but without the debt. I'm still pretty careful with my cash, but instead of saving to pay off past purchases, or saving my emergency fund, I'm now saving for other goals -- like travel.
- For another, I'm reluctant to talk about some of my spending.
Confusing my credit card with my debit card at the ATM is going to cost me.
I did something very stupid: I used my credit card instead of my debit card at the ATM last week. Three different times. The stupid cards look so much alike.
So, this means that:
- Each transaction was treated as a cash advance -- charging me $15-plus in total fees just for swiping them.
If you don't opt in, your debit card could be declined if you're out of money. But you won't pay a bank fee.
Chances are you've gotten a friendly letter or two from your bank in recent weeks, urging you to "opt in" to overdraft protection so "you can continue to enjoy" the service.
Here's why: The last of a series of new federal overdraft rules goes into effect Sunday, Aug. 15, after which banks can no longer automatically include customers in an overdraft "protection" plan that smacks them with a hefty fee when the bank makes good on a debit or ATM card overdraft.
Those who decide not to opt in will have their cards declined when a debit or ATM transaction would overdraw their account, but will not pay a fee.
A new website offers special account services to the wealthy. Example: An alarm to parents if children spend family fortunes too quickly.
Any kid can open a regular ho-hum checking account, but one major bank is testing special online account services for the offspring of the very wealthy.
Bloomberg reports: "Heirs to Citigroup's wealthiest clients can log in to parent-funded accounts for discretionary spending, investments and 'one-click giving' to charities."
One of the primary goals, according to Tile Financial, which developed the tool, is -- and we are loosely paraphrasing here -- to help build customer loyalty with the tykes so they'll leave the money where it is when Mom and Dad go to the big bank vault in the sky. The online service is offered only to the children of clients of Citi's Private Bank. (If you have to ask what that is, you can't afford it.) Post continues after video:
Online deal sites are sweetening deals on everything from gym socks to dorm fridges.
Well, summer's almost over -- sorry, kids, it is -- and online deal sites are offering some extra incentives, from higher cash-back shopping rates to 31 free iPads.
Deals and freebies include Dora's birthday party, 2-for-1 movie tickets, yet more free smoothies and 39-cent tacos.
With summer winding down, you may want to take advantage of your last weekend or two before school starts to engage in some free or cheap fun.
Entry to all 392 U.S. national parks is free this weekend, Aug. 14-15. The National Park Service also notes that admission to many of our national parks is always free. Admission to national parks that charge a fee also will be free on Public Lands Day, which is Sept. 25, and Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11.
If you live in the sort of climate where only the mosquitoes would enjoy visiting national parks this weekend, perhaps indoor activities would be a better choice.
A North Carolina company has a new product called WedLock, which aims to defray the costs of a breakup.
First there was wedding insurance, which reimburses you for lost deposits and other expenses in the event your wedding is canceled because of a death in the family, dangerous weather or other unforeseen circumstances. (We've explained it several times in the past, most recently a couple of months ago.)
You've been told that you never have to pay for these things, but let's examine the bottom line.
Who doesn't love a free lunch? I know I've never turned one down.
If you believe everything you read on the Internet (as well you should), then there are a lot of products and services out there you should never pay for.
The problem is, "never" is such a strong word, isn't it?
Compounding the matter, "free" is also a bit of a dicey term. And, while I've never turned down a free lunch, I also realize that, in reality, there's no such thing as a free, er, lunch.
So, with that in mind, here is my take on some of the products and services we've been told we should never ever pay a single penny for (post continues after video):
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