Avoid Making Credit Card Mistakes

Credit cards can be a blessing or an early grave if you aren’t careful.  The stress that debt puts on one’s shoulder can make you feel like quicksand with no escape, so there is definitely plenty of responsibility involved with having one.  To ensure that you are making all of the right credit card moves, try to ensure that you are avoiding any mistakes.  Even the slightest mistake could end up costing your money, as credit score is the major factor in deciding not only your application approval or denial, but what terms and interest rate you are going to be paying going forward.

Overlooking the Due Date

Late payments are extremely damaging to not only your credit account, but your credit report as well.  If you miss your due date you could get a late fee and interest rate hike as early as the next day, but when you hit thirty days is when your credit report is hit and your score is negatively impacted.  Handling your own finances takes work, but much like anything else in life, you don’t want to be late, so it shouldn’t stop with your bills.

Closing Zero Balance Accounts

Depending on the size of the credit card balance, it may have taken years to pay off, which is an accomplishment in itself not having credit card debt any longer, so to give yourself a pat on the back you might opt to close the account to save from using going forward, but this could actually hurt your credit score taking away from your available balance.  If you are looking to avoid using the card going forward you may just want to cut it up, and leave the account open to continue to build to your credit history.

Not Taking Advantage of Rewards

Credit cards are great when it comes to fraud protection, being able to book a hotel or rental car without worrying about a hold coming out of your bank account, but where credit cards really have the advantage are for rewards.  These can be points that accumulate when you make purchases that you can redeem for gift cards, or they could even add up as dollars to receive a check back once a year.  The down side is that the rewards keep adding up as you make purchases, so you want to make sure to not go overboard on spending, especially just for the rewards.

Paying Interest

There’s nothing worse than paying interest rate.  We may not be able to avoid it when it comes to large purchases such as a mortgage, or even an auto loan, but what we can control is spending within our means.  Credit cards do give us the grace period to pay up by the next billing statement, but if you are spending too much and can’t make that full payment, then a balance will carry over and you will begin to pay interest, which depending on the balance, could take years to get out of.

Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping can be expensive depending on the family size, but still doesn’t compare to what it would cost to go out to eat.  If you can eat your meals at home, pack your lunch, and even brew coffee at home to take on the way to work, you could be saving hundreds of dollars a month.  The grocery store can be overwhelming, but if you have a plan going in, you can be successful and come out saving at the register.

Don’t Leave Home Hungry

The worst you can do to your grocery budget, and probably to your waistline, is go to the grocery store on an empty stomach.  You always hear of those that run in for milk and bread and come out spending $100, and don’t let you be another statistic.  When you are hungry, everything sounds good, so you will load up the cart with plenty of impulse, and most likely unnecessary purchases.  If you can eat a full meal at home you will have a much clearer head and can get in and get out with little damage done.

Stick to the Shopping List

You can also do damage to your wallet if you go in without a plan.  Not only will you probably forget a necessary item or two that you actually went in there for, but you will come out with much more than you needed if you don’t stick to a shopping list.  It can even help to not go up and down each aisle, but to just seek out the items on your list, that way you can keep your head down and focused on the shopping list and not products that stick out for you to buy.

Use the Rewards Card

Sure, the regular price items are probably more so they entice you to use your shopper’s rewards car, but then I guess why not use it.  You can use it for the promo items on sale, but also the more you use it at the checkout the more you can accumulate fuel points that you can redeem at the participating gas stations that will take money off each gallon of gas.  You can also go to the store’s website and load digital coupons to your card that will automatically take money off of the purchased item at the checkout, just the trick is remembering what you loaded, so you may have to print off the list as a reminder.

Shop During the Week

The stores are packed on the weekend, so there is little need for the grocery store to have any additional sales when they already know they’re going to be busy.  During the week, you can find many promos that will take additional money of the sale prices if you buy the ticketed items.  In addition to saving money during the week, you will also find the store less-crowded, especially if you go during my favorite time, which is mid-week, after dinner.  You will hardly see a soul in the store.

Tips to Improve Credit Score Even on a Smaller Income

Whether you make a million dollars per year or are living off of minimum wage, you are still responsible for your debt obligations.  Credit score is a huge factor in securing not only the best interest rates on the market, but can make or break even getting a mortgage, apartment rental, leasing a car, or could even cost you a potential job.  Even having a small income can’t be an excuse for lacking credit, so you should strive to have the highest score possible.

Make Payments On-Time

First and foremost, if you have monthly bills, pay them on time.  If you don’t, not only will you get late fees, but if you are thirty days late, they will show up on your credit report and severely damage your score, taking years to come off.  A large portion of your credit score is based off of history, so you want to show lenders that you are a responsible borrower when it comes time to application time, where any dip could cost getting you the best rate, which in turn will add significant amount of interest to your payments.

Come Up with Extra Money to Pay Down Balance

It is important to make sure you are out of debt, and I understand that making huge payments to pay down that balance can be tough on limited income, but in order to boost your credit score as your debt decreases and your available credit increases, you may have to come up with extra money somehow.  Now that it is summer, there are always opportunities to pick up a second job, but beyond that, you can have a garage sale, sell items lying around the house on Craigslist or eBay, or even donate items to get a tax break at the end of the year.

Keep Accounts Open, Even with Zero Balance

As you start to pay down and finally pay off credit card balances, your first instinct may be to close the account once it’s at zero balance, but that actually could be a mistake.  By paying the balance down to zero, you now have more available credit and no debt, which will boost your score, but if you close the account you are essentially taking away all of that available credit, so your score could actually decrease as a result.  If you are worried you may still use the card once it’s at zero, you can always cut up the card and still keep the account open.

Don’t Apply for New Credit

When you apply for loans, cards, etc., having your credit pulled is known as an inquiry, and while it may only reduce your score by a few points, having too many credit inquiries on record could give lenders the impression that you are looking to charge up your accounts, so it is best to only have your credit pulled when you are certain you are going to go through with the account, and that you don’t plan on continuing to open accounts afterwards.

Tips to Stay Out of Credit Card Debt

It is so easy these days just to either hand your card over for a purchase, or even worse, shop online, where you can buy with a few clicks, or even faster if using Amazon and you can make a one-click purchase.  It can be easy to fall into credit card debt, so much in fact that according to a recent study by NerdWallet, the average American household has more than $16,000 in credit card debt, and $779 billion for all U.S. consumers.  In order to prepare to be financially free by the time you hit retirement age, although it may seem like too far away to worry about now, you want to ensure you stay out of credit card debt today.

Spend Within Your Means

Sure, it can be easier said than done, but you should only spend what you can afford.  If you don’t have the money in your bank account now, don’t buy it, plain and simple, and if you want it, save up for it.  Either having a budget, or at least tracking your purchases will help in seeing exactly where your money is going, even taking a step further in analyzing purchases line by line and seeing if they were necessary.

Use Cash Instead of Plastic

With the ease of using your credit card everywhere you go, you can continue to run up charges over the next month until you receive the statement in the mail, and it’s from there you have to figure out how you are going to pay that balance by the statement due date.  A good way to avoid the credit card is to give yourself a cash allowance, sort of like what your parents gave you as kids, only being able to spend what you have until the next paycheck, and maybe seeing that cash transaction leaving your hand and into the register will be enough to give an impulse purchase a second thought.

Cut Up and Leave Account Open

If you just can’t seem to break the habit of using your credit card and you find yourself having one too many shopping sprees, you can cut up the credit card (and throw away the pieces so you can’t piece together to still shop online).  If you do lose the card, it is important to leave the account open, no matter the balance, even if it is at zero, otherwise closing the account would reduce your available credit and actually ruin your credit score when you think you are doing yourself a favor.

Remember What It’s Like

I used to have trouble with credit cards, and my motivation to stay on track is that I remember what it was like before, with the weight on your shoulders, wondering how you will ever get out of debt.  Fortunately, I was able to come out ok, but I never want to be in that position again, so if you had the same experience, or even if you have not, listen to us, and stay on course.

Now is the Time to Get Personal Finance on Track

I feel that I had a solid education growing up and into college.  I probably could have paid more attention and applied myself a little better instead of having priorities elsewhere, but when it comes to personal finance I feel like it was not that I was ignoring these life lessons; it’s that I was not taught.  This is not to blame my parents at all, I made my own spending and saving decisions, or lack thereof, but as I even studied business in college, I think there was a gap in what really should have been explained; how to set yourself up for financial success.  Whether you are already into your career or just beginning, it is never too late for a little financial improvement.

Create a Budget

If you do not allocate where your income goes, you could be on a spending free for all each month, so not only creating, but maintaining a successful budget is improvement for a little financial structure in your life.  While noting every dollar that is coming in, first take a look at what comes out first; your necessary monthly expenses such as rent/mortgage, utilities, car lease, and student loan payments.  Next comes items that you will need to set aside enough money for, such as food, gas, and spending money.  This is the tricky part, as you will need to figure out how much how much you should, and can, spend without being excessive.

Reduce Unnecessary Spending

This is where the excessive spending comes in, such as going out to bars and restaurants, shopping, and entertainment funds.  If you take a look at your last credit card/bank statement, go over line by line for purchases that were not necessary monthly bills, and circle each, adding up the total spending.  It will probably shock you, so the next step would be to see which items could have been avoided and work towards reducing unnecessary spending going forward.

Create an Emergency Account

While on a strict budget, any sort of unexpected expense can throw your successful planning out of whack, so you want to give yourself a little cushion.  You never know when you might have an auto repair come up, an unexpected home repair needed, or even worse, an unfortunate job loss.  For purchases, it would be nice to have the money readily available so that you do not have to put it on a credit card to try and figure out how to pay for it later.  Experts say you try and have three to six months’ worth of expenses available, though some will say six months may be too much and could have been better spend investing.

Contribute to Retirement as Soon as Possible

Although it may be the furthest from your mind, start saving for retirement as early as possible; you will thank yourself later.  Even if money is tight, if your employer offers a matching 401(k) program, at least put in the maximum company match, otherwise it could just be leaving free money on the table.

The Nuts And Bolts Of Day Trading

If you have just started learning how to trade, there are a few things that you need to take in to account before really getting into day trading. To start with, you will need to understand both basic terminology and concepts in order to build your foundation. These are however, just the first steps. After that, it is important for you to study the market, to learn how to analyze charts and familiarize yourself with the trading strategies used by professional traders on a daily basis.

Trading comprises of buying shares and trading it for profit in a matter of minutes or even hours. What traders usually look for are volatile stocks, which are those of companies that have either recently reported earnings or released news. Usually, day traders focus on stocks that are very different than those of a long term investor, when they make their trading strategy. Trading techniques need to be adapted as day traders’ decisions imply much more risk, than those of long term ones. This is why, day traders sell stock very fast after buying it.

Warrior Trading has a different strategy than other online trading schools. It first teaches the basics of trading on the online platform and then, it uses its online trading chat room in order to provide live examples to the traders. What Warrior Trading usually looks for are stocks that seem to quickly increase in value and continue to rise in it. In order for this trading technique to be successful, it is important to use the online trading chat, because one might spot a stock that is increasing in value, while others might not even notice it. This way, the whole group will be able to benefit from the raising value of the stock.

Learning trading strategies on your own might not be easy, this is why this online platform uses its courses for you to learn the basics in the field, such as the necessary terminology and concepts. Then, the online chat is the perfect place to continue your formation in the trading world as it provides examples to help you have a better understanding of the theoretical concepts that you have learned during the online classes. The third and final step, is you trading on your own. However, if you have problems or are uncertain about buying a stock, then an expert will always be available on the online chat.

If you need to get further information about day trading, then you can always find Warrior Trading on StockTwits, where our experts will kindly address any problem or uncertainty that you might have regarding online trading. Best of luck and remember to never stop trading!

Guide to Being Financially Happy When You Reach Age 30!

Today’s post is a guest feature from Hannah Harvey! Please enjoy! 

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Still relying on the bank of mom and dad to get you by each month? Many young people are, but we encourage you to cut the reigns and be financially independent before you hit the big 3-0.

Relying on parents for money has been all too easy – they don’t want to see you go without, and so it can often be easy to win them round, getting them to give you a little extra cash each month. Perhaps you’re lucky enough for your parents to even pay your rent or cover some of your bills, but how long can this go on for? Your 20s is the decade to get yourself on your feet, but by the time you reach 30, you really don’t want to be knocking on mom and dad’s door anymore. So, this quick guide gives you some tips to being financially literate, financially settled, and ultimately financially happy by the time you’re 30.

Look at your salary

You don’t want to jump from job to job because this can look bad on your CV, but if you believe you don’t get paid enough for what you do, you might want to address this with your manager. Perhaps you could take on more responsibility at work. You could also commit to more overtime if you’re able to. If it really looks dead-end, why not look elsewhere, rather than get stuck in a pit?

Stop bad spending habits

Getting the latest gadget is, incredibly, a commonly cited reason for the younger generation taking out an online loan. It’s important to appreciate the differing perspectives on debt, specifically what makes it ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In short, I encourage you to stop creating debts on these ‘bad’ items, and invest in yourself instead. If you need to draw on a loan, do so wisely, we’re talking mortgages and student loans here for instance.

Partner up

If you want to make a big move and get on the property ladder, but can’t afford so on your own, maybe you want to partner up with some reliable friends and invest in a property together (look at this guide on how to make that work out!) Get some solid financial advice before making your move, and draw clear terms and conditions out with your pals.

Save, save, save

Remember how important it is to save money. Even a little each month can mount up over time. You never know when you’ll need to draw on that money, and much better a savings fall-back than a loan with high interest rates. Consider your employer pension too. It can be easy to dismiss this when offered it, because retirement feels like ages away – but by paying in now, you invest in your future. It will cost you a little each month out of your pay packet, and your employer pays in too.

What else do you think should be in this guide? Anything else that might help with financial happiness before one hits the BIG 3-0??

About Hannah: Hannah Harvey is an Irish born technical financial blogger! Follow her on Twitter!

How To Talk About Money With Your Significant Other

Today’s post is a guest feature by Michael from SuperMillennial.com! Enjoy!

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We’ve all seen the shirts, memes, or images of “couples that run together stay together.” Or “couples that laugh together stay together.” Or my favorite “couples that train together stay together.” Well the new one should be “Couples that talk about money together stay together.”

According to a Edelman Financial Services survey “44 percent of surveyed couples believe money is the root cause of most divorces.While some people say “money isn’t everything,” I personally couldn’t disagree more. I’m not saying you need a million dollars to actually be happy but money factors into to nearly all areas of our lives. If you’re able to manage your money successfully you’ll be able to sleep better, worry less and enjoy your life with family and friend.

If you don’t talk with your partner about money it can put a real strain on the relationship. Usually in the beginning money isn’t really a huge conversation for a new relationship. But as time goes and you become more serious it’s inevitable to talk about money with your significant other. Usually this comes when you begin to start living together or planning for the future. Whenever it comes up schedule some time to have an open conversation about your personal finances. Make sure you’re prepared by grabbing your favorite beer, wine or cocktail and have “the talk” about your financial future.

Here’s the keys to success to having a money conversation with your partner:

  • Be Honest: This is the time to be 100% open and in Will Ferrell’s words “This is the trust tree.” You should have a good enough relationship with this person where you feel comfortable sharing these details. If not maybe re-evaluate or slow down the moving in/wedding until you’re both 100% ready. Make sure you have your laptop and any other statements to review with your significant other by identifying the following:
  • Income: How much does each person make per year? Is there future bonuses, commissions or raises? Have you made this amount for a while? Figure out what each person is earning as a starting point. Then determine if the person who makes more will be paying more towards mortgage, rent, utilities etc.
  • Debt: This can be a touchy subject and one people might lie or get embarrassed about. No one wants to admit how much they owe the government or a credit card company. Put the pride aside and be honest on how much you owe to each individual. List out all debts for both and find out which ones have the highest interest rates. Find ways to cut spending to pay those down, transfer to a 0% interest credit card, or refinance student loans for a lower interest rate.
  • Plan: Who will pay the bills? Will one person pay all of them and the other will send the money? Or will both people pay a few bills? It’s not a bad idea to have at least one bill in each person’s name so they can also have a “utility” to provide if you’re planning on moving or finding a new place to rent in the future. Usually renters require payment stubs and/or past bills during the screening process. Make a calendar of when each bill is due, notate who will pay it (or set up auto pay to keep it real simple) & leave it somewhere you’ll both remember.
  • Spending: Opposites may attract but when two people are opposites with their finances a lot of problems (or divorce) can happen. If you’re a diligent saver and your partner is a diligent spender? You could see how it’d be frustrating to see your savings are being spent by your partner every month. With apps like Mint or Personal Capital it’s never been easier to track how much you’re spending. These apps allow you to set budgets, see where you’re overspend and track by categories to determine what you’re spending your money on.
  • Goals: Everyone probably has a list of financial goals whether they write them down or not. If not then talk about your future and find out what it is you want to save for. Without a reason to save it’s almost inevitable that you’ll live paycheck to paycheck instead of saving towards something you really want. By having similar goals you’re more likely to cut back and save towards mutual goals. Common goals could include:
    • Being debt free
    • Having an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses
    • Buying a new (used) car
    • Taking that vacation you always wanted together
    • Saving for a down payment on a house or rental property
    • Wedding (don’t waste too much on one day!)
    • Pet or Child (both come with expenses)

Once you have the initial conversation make sure to have some sort of follow up or check in. If not you’re more likely to have the conversation when there is a financial problem. Even if it’s five or ten minutes each Sunday it’s better than a future disagreement that could’ve been avoided if it wasn’t held in. Bottom line, relationships are hard enough. Don’t let money be the reason you fight. By constantly communicating and working towards shared financial goals you’ll be set up to continue your life without always worrying about money.

In the comments, tell me how you and your partner talk about money! Are you both on the same page? Who’s the spender and who’s the saver?

About Michael: Michael L. is the creator of Super Millennial. He teaches people how to evaluate their financial situation, simplify money management & learn how to automate their investments to reach their financial goals. Subscribe for his personal finance “Keys To Success” PDF and blog updates HERE.

Cook up a perfect budget for your grey hair days in 2016!

NOTE: Today’s post comes to you from Phil Bradford since I’m currently on vacation and away from a computer! Please enjoy!


 

Cook up a perfect budget for your grey hair days in 2016

Planning a budget after retirement is not at all an easy task. You need to reshuffle the whole budget that you have been following for all these years. You’ve to make changes in your grocery expenses, debt payments, utility bill payments, medical bill payments, auto and home insurance payments, and other expenses. Phew! What a tedious job. Isn’t it? If this is what makes you depressed, then cheer up. I’m here to guide you all the way to make a perfect budget after your retirement.

How to make an ideal retirement budget

You are struggling hard to create a proper budget for this year after your retirement. Is that so? You’ve come a long way all these years, and I’m sure that you’ll use your past experiences while drafting a retirement budget. But before you start drafting your retirement budget for 2016, just recall all the past financial mistakes you’ve made. It’ll definitely help you make a perfect retirement budget.

Use your mind wisely when you’re composing your retirement budget. Remember, the cash flow is not the same that used to be before you got retired. So, you need to plan your budget according to that. If you’re still confused about how to prepare your retirement budget, then just have a look at the below-given points:

Jot down your essential and non-essential expenses

An effective retirement budget is the one that has no room for extra expenses. To create such a budget, you need to eliminate all the unnecessary spendings. And, how will you do it? Well! For that, you need to divide your expenses list into three equal parts:

  • Essential monthly expenses – This list includes expenses such as food, clothing, housing, transportation and health care.
  • Non-essential monthly expenses – This part covers the cost of cable, cell phone, gym membership, entertainment, and so on.
  • Required non-monthly expenses – These include costs that may come up once a year such as property taxes, insurance premiums, auto registration, and home warranties. Calculate these costs on a monthly basis and don’t forget to add them to your monthly budget plan.

Check out health care expenses before and after retirement

Health complications will only increase with age. So, you should prepare yourself beforehand for any medical crisis. If your employer has been paying your health insurance premiums all these years, then it’s time that you should think about it. Now, it’s your turn to pick up the tab. Ask your insurance agent about all the necessary details regarding your health insurance and include them in your monthly budget.

Think of how you want to spend the retired days

The thought process can change a lot of things in your life. Take out time and sit down with your spouse to decide how you both wish to use your money after retirement. Think of the financial house where both of you want to make some renovations and use your nest egg accordingly. This would help you to make a more effective budget. Hence, both of you get to know your financial desires better.

Go on with your financial education

Now that you have retired, don’t stop yourself from getting the financial education. You should continue doing your research regarding fiscal matters because it would help you to come out as a more financially responsible person. Staying up-to-date would benefit you in creating a budget that’ll suit your pocket. You can also change your budget as per the market requirement. So, financial education is a must.

Make wise use of the grey matter

Make good use of the grey matter of your brain so that you can come out victorious as an intelligent money manager after your retirement. Try to be a smart consumer by switching to a pre-paid phone plan, buying things in bulk, closing your cable TV connection and using the Internet connection to its fullest, doing comparison shopping, and so on.

Make savings the key mantra

One of the key points in budgeting is ‘savings’. The more you can save, the healthier will be your budget and the merrier will be your golden days. Apart from cutting down useless expenses, try to search for places where you can save more dollars. Consider sharing as a part of your financial regime to minimize your monthly expenses. Start sharing your home or car with your friends or family. Borrow a gardening tool or extra chairs for a family barbecue and so on. Be as much creative as you can.

I hope now you can create your retirement budget confidently.

But before I bid adieu, let me remind you that President Obama has made certain changes in the retirement benefits such as introducing myIRS and lots more. So, don’t miss out on them while creating your retirement budget for 2016.

Are you budgeting for retirement? How are you doing it? What’s working? What’s not?


 

Have a great Wednesday!

 

Getting a tax refund? What’s YOUR plan?

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Whether we like it or not, it’s tax time. You might be like me – the person who has everything prepped and ready as soon as the year ends, or you’re scrambling on April 14th to cram them in before midnight. More than likely, you fall somewhere in between. 🙂 Or you might be self-employed and dealing with taxes in smaller increments throughout the year! Regardless, it’s prime money time for Uncle Sam.

Many PF bloggers and financial gurus go on and on about how you should not be getting a refund. Getting a refund is often touted as “giving Uncle Sam an interest free loan” for the year. I blatantly disagree with that statement. I like to say that the IRS is holding onto my money so I don’t do anything stupid with it. I’m one of those people who claims ZERO across all mediums, so I usually get some small refund. I would get more if I only worked one job, but since I’m a tipped employee in one of my side gigs, some of that cash goes back to the IRS.

Since I knew I was getting a refund, I immediately started making plans of what I would do with the money once I got it. Typically, the plan is the same for me from year to year: pay down a small debt and save for my “no credit card” vacation. For 2016, that was exactly the plan. I held a very official 😉 Twitter poll to see what some of my fellow bloggers might be doing with their refunds and I got a few great answers! Some ideas that I received on how people will be spending their tax refunds included:

  • Going directly into savings.
    • This is honestly what I probably should do, as my emergency savings could always be beefed up.
  • Paying off debt only.
    • I could also do this and eliminate my final small bills.
  • Saving for a house/remodeling fund.
    • I have no major house expenses (other than rent), so this wouldn’t be my best choice.
  • Vacation savings.
    • This person shares my ideas! 🙂
  • Donating a portion of the refund.
    • This idea never crossed my mind. I totally would have never thought about this at all. It would be a nice way to get my yearly giving started.

Honestly, I think the options of what to do with your refund (if you get one) are limitless. Use it as a lump sum or sprinkle out in smaller amounts for whatever you choose to do. Save it, spend it, gift it, use it for whatever makes YOU happy. Don’t worry about whatever everyone else says to do with it, but use it on something that you value.

In the comments, tell me what you’re going to do with your refund – if you’re getting one!

Still need to do your taxes? I highly recommend TaxSlayer.com! I really enjoy their program. It’s very easy to use, retains information from year to year, and they offer complementary services aside from taxes only.

Be back later this week with more goodies!