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3
Dec

Avoid Store Credit Card Signups This Season

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The holiday shopping season has officially arrived. During this time, consumers are faced with many financial decisions, such as how much to spend on gifts, which deals are the best deals, and how to pay for their purchases. Retailers know that most people want to get as much as possible while spending as little as they can out of their bank accounts, so they take every opportunity to try to sign you up for one of their store credit cards during your visit. The next time a sales clerk asks you if you want to sign up for the store credit card at checkout, here are some good reasons for you to say no.

Reason 1 – The Interest Rates Are Higher Than Average

The interest rates for store credit cards are generally higher than the interest rates for the all-purpose credit cards available through banks and credit card companies. A recent survey on CreditCards.com showed that the average interest rate for store credit cards is about 23.23 percent while the average for other credit cards is around 15 percent. If you tend to carry a balance on your credit cards, this additional amount could cost you hundreds of dollars in additional interest annually.

Reason 2 – The Rewards Often Aren’t Worth It

Salespeople try to entice customers into signing up for the store credit cards by touting the rewards and perks available for using the credit card, such as a percentage off of purchases or cash back. It is important to remember that these companies are not in the business of losing money and they are counting on you paying much more in interest and fees than you receive back in rewards. The spending needed to reach a decent reward level can be considerable and redeeming the rewards can be complicated. In many cases, you would do better financially waiting for sales and closeouts on the merchandise you want than signing up for the store credit card and redeeming the rewards.

Reason 3 – Your Credit Score Will Drop

Many people do not know that every time they sign up for a credit card, a loan, or other credit product, it causes a drop in their credit score. That is because each application is treated as a credit inquiry, which deducts a few points off of your score each time. The resulting drop in your credit score could be enough to shift you from the “excellent” credit range to the “good” credit range, causing you to pay higher interest rates for any credit products you apply for. Applying for a handful of store credit cards within a short period of time can also be a red flag in the eyes of a lender because it makes you appear desperate to borrow money.

29
Nov

Unemployment Insurance Basics For The Unemployed

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Most working Americans do not expect to become unemployed, so they do not know what to do when it happens to them. Unemployment insurance is designed to provide financial aid to workers that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, generally due to layoffs or business closures. It is important to understand some basic facts about unemployment insurance so you will know what steps to take if you unexpectedly become unemployed.

Who Is Eligible?

To receive financial aid through unemployment insurance, the worker must prove that they are eligible by meeting certain qualifications. The worker must have recently become unemployed through no fault of their own, so a worker fired for repeatedly being late to work would not be eligible. The worker also must be physically able to work and be actively looking for work to receive payments under unemployment insurance.

How Much Money Is Provided?

Unemployment insurance only provides a portion of the person’s former salary. It is intended to be a bridge between jobs, not a replacement for working. While each state may use slightly different calculations to arrive at an amount, the average amount is roughly half of the worker’s previous income with an income cap of about $70,000. In many states, the worker can receive payments for up to 26 weeks, while a few states have a 28 or 30-week limit.

What Can The Money Be Used For?

The money distributed through the unemployment insurance program is intended to help workers pay for their housing, keep their utilities on, and feed their families while they are looking for a new job. There are also other programs available to help, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and utility-based programs that reduce the amount low income individuals must pay for their utilities. A quick search online can show you what types of programs are available in your area.

While unemployment insurance will not replace your entire income, it will relieve some of the financial pressure of not having a job and a regular paycheck. This lifeline has helped millions of families stay in their homes and remain fed while the primary breadwinner searched for a new job. Most people find a new job before their benefits under the program have expired, but if they do not, there are other state and federal programs designed to help them find or train for a new profession.

26
Nov

These Smartphone Apps Can Help You Save More Money

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Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people discover how useful they can be. Numerous smartphone apps have been created to help people do a wide variety of tasks, from monitoring health to monitoring bank account. There are some apps that can even help you save money when you use them regularly. Here are some great smartphone apps to use to save more money during your daily activities.

Acorns

The new Acorns app is a great way to save more money and invest at the same time. The app basically works by rounding up purchases made with a debit card to the nearest dollar and invests the difference in a mix of low-cost, exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Fees are pretty low at $1 per month, with an expense ratio of 0.25 percent-0.5 percent. The small but steady contributions allow you to take advantage of compounding growth to save for retirement, for a child’s college education, or for a future home.

Mint

Mint is a great app for budgeting, as it takes all of the tedious, time-consuming work out of making and following a budget. The app links to your bank accounts and credit card accounts and gives you a real time look at your finances every time you log into the app. You can set up a monthly budget using preset categories and the app will automatically categorize each transaction that hits your accounts so you can easily see how close you are getting to your spending limits. To save more money out of your paycheck, add a savings amount to your budget and pay that amount to your savings account every month. You may be able to set it up as a recurring transaction that is automatically paid through the online features of your bank’s webpage.

Savings Goals

The Saving Goals app is just what its name implies – an app for managing your savings goals. To use the app efficiently, you must input the amount of money it would take to reach a particular savings goal and when you intend to reach that goal. The app will calculate the amount that you will need to save weekly or monthly to reach each goal set within the predetermined timeframe. The app will also keep track of your progress for you, saving you the hassle of constantly recounting and recalculating what you need to do to reach your goals.

24
Nov

Alternative Ways to Save for Your First Home

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Saving a deposit for your first home can seem too difficult and altogether impossible, but there are some quite creative ways that can be used to accrue sufficient funds to buy a property.

1. Upskill yourself in Currency Trading

When you have the appropriate skills, knowledge and training, currency trading can be a lucrative way to generate funds and save for your first home. However, financial trading should not be approached lightly; you really need to know what you are doing if you are to enjoy success.

Therefore, it is well worth taking a course through a credible training provider, such as Knowledge to Action . Quality training will help you to learn more about the ways the currency market affects investment possibilities, the impact of time on the way that money is moved across the world, and a deeper understanding of your personal relationship with money.

2. Save immediately after you are Paid

It’s difficult to find money for saving after you have spent most (if not all) of your pay cheque, so the best advice is to save your money as soon as it is paid to you. With this money deducted, you can then budget for the remainder of the month. Be careful not to allocate too much of your salary to savings – you still need to be able to make ends meet, so start by taking 10 per cent of your pay immediately and organise an automatic transfer. It’s easiest if the money is never seen in your everyday account!

3. Consider a Cheaper Car

If you really are serious about saving, it’s not the time to buy a new car, the latest technology or most advanced gadgetry.

Not only is a car a depreciating asset, car maintenance is usually expensive. If you are part of a couple and you each have a car, consider whether you can survive with just one vehicle between you. If you can, sell one car and devote the money received to your deposit. You should also work out the total that you would have spent on maintenance and also put that towards your deposit.

It may also be wise for you to own and drive a cheaper car. If you really want to secure your first home, determine whether selling your car and buying a less expensive, second-hand car will help.

4. Rent a Room

If you have a spare room within your home, or even a granny flat or garage that is not used, consider whether you could generate some much-needed income by renting out the space. While you may appreciate the extra money that comes in, you also need to feel completely comfortable with having another person/people in or around your home.

A solution may be to rent out your drive way or parking space if you live in a particularly busy area. This can be an easy, and lucrative, way to increase your income.

5. Enjoy a Second Income

If you look around and research carefully in order to only work with reputable set-ups, a plethora of websites exist to help you earn additional cash. You may be able to earn a second income through the completion of surveys, blog writing, producing graphics or even providing a voiceover service.

Saving for your first home can seem so difficult, but there are ways to increase your income and the amount you can save, often via some alternative but effective ways.