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Don’t Make These Credit Card Mistakes This Holiday Season


Avoiding making a credit card mistake can get harder during the holiday season. The decorations, music, and festivities of the season can sweep away our will power and cause us to be more generous with our gifts than we can really afford to be. To keep your credit card spending under control and protect your financial information, you must be smart about how you use your credit cards to pay for purchases. Here are some common credit card mistakes to avoid this holiday season.

Mistake 1 – Shopping On Unsecured Websites And Wireless Networks

Many people do not realize that they are making a serious credit card mistake and putting their credit information at risk every time they enter the information when using an unsecured wireless network or website. Hackers frequently exploit these methods of accessing the internet to capture your information while its being transported unencrypted from one party to another. Many people choose to limit their online shopping to Amazon, eBay, and the websites of major retailers because they know that their payment information will be encrypted, making it harder for hackers to steal it. If you are unsure of whether a website you are using has been secured, look for a little lock symbol to the left of the web address or for the web address to start with https:// instead of http://.

Mistake 2 – Neglecting To Keep Track Of Spending

During the holiday season, many people whip out the credit cards for multiple payments a day, often spending more than they realize. If you make the common credit card mistake of neglecting to track of how much you are spending while you are spending it, you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised when you receive the bill in January. There are several ways to keep track of the amount you are spending during the holiday season. Some people jot the vendor and amount in a notebook they carry with them while others use budgeting apps like Mint to categorize their purchases as they are made. Keeping the amount you have already spent at the forefront of your mind will help you avoid overspending this holiday season.

Mistake 3 – Not Considering The Cost Of Recurring Payments

Another common credit card mistake often made during the holiday day season is purchasing gifts that require a recurring payment billed to you or charged to your credit card and not considering that additional cost in your budgeting. For example, when I purchased a new video game system for my son last Christmas, I factored in the cost of a couple of new games and an additional video game controller but did not consider that I would need to pay a monthly fee for an online membership so he could access all of the features of the games he would play. People that purchase smartphones, membership packages, and video games with multiple tiny toy characters that interact with the game find themselves in the same position. Be sure to consider all of the costs involved before making your purchase.


Interested In Selling Your Structured Settlement Payments For Cash?


Over the past few years, a number of commercials about selling structured settlement payments for cash have infiltrated the breaks between our favorite television programs. These commercials tell us that if we have a structured settlement or annuity that pays a little bit each month or year, we can sell future payments for an immediate lump sum of cash. While these offers seem great on the surface, most of us do not know enough about how selling a structured settlement payment for cash actually works to make an informed decision. Here are some things that you should know before you make that choice.

How Do The Companies Operate?

While each company that offers to purchase your annuity or structured settlement payments operates slightly differently, they all operate by giving you a lump sum of money in exchange for the rights to your future payments. Because there is a fee assessed on the transaction, you will receive less as a lump sum than you would have received in smaller payments over the longer time period. For most companies, the fee falls between 9 percent and 15 percent of your total annuity or structured settlement.

Each of the companies that offer to pay you a lump sum for your annuity payment should have detailed information available disclosing how they do business and what fees will be charged. One of these companies is Cash In Your Annuity (CIYA). CIYA, a newer annuity company, provides detailed information about every step of the process and provides answers to virtually every question an interested party may have on its website. Having this type of information about each company you are considering allows you to make an informed decision about which one has the best deal for you, potentially saving you a significant amount of money.

How To Choose The Best Company

Ideally, the best company to sell your annuity or structured settlement to would be a company that is reliable and is willing to give you the most money for your future payments. It is important for the company you choose to have a good reputation, which can be easily determined by reading reviews about the company online. The company should also provide you with a free quote based on information about the payments you are scheduled to receive. These pieces of information will give you a good picture of which company would be the best company for you to do business with.


5 Tips That Can Help You Add Tax Free Bonds Intelligently to Your Portfolio


Tax free bonds are debt securities that are issued to pay for public-purpose projects such as airports, school buildings and roads. Adding these bonds to well-ballanced portfolios makes sense for many investors because the income that is derived from tax free bonds is often exempt from gross income that is taxed by the federal government.

Many financial service providers try to help investors take advantage of this tax benefit by offering a convenient marketplace for investors who wish to add tax free bonds to their portfolios. Here are some tips that can help you use this marketplace to add tax free bonds intelligently to your portfolio.

Research the Issuer’s Listing History:

Most governments and government agencies provide information about the history of their past bond listings. Reading these histories is often worthwhile because it can help you learn information about issuers’ past payment histories that can influence their future bonds’ initial coupon rate.

Research the Issuers’ Bond Ratings:

Nearly all of the governments and government agencies that issue tax free bonds have bonds ratings that vary considerably. Comparing these bond rating in advance is worthwhile because it can help you choose tax free bonds that suit your risk tolerances and investment strategies.

Research the Issuers’ Purchase Terms:

Most bond issuers who list tax free bonds for sale have purchase terms that govern how the bonds are sold to investors. These purchase terms often describe the bonds’ initial offer price, initial coupon rate and the minimum number of bonds that must be purchased to complete a sale. Researching these terms is recommended because it can help you choose tax free bonds that suit your budget and asset allocation strategies.

Compare the Coupon Rates and Maturity Dates That Are Offered:

Tax free bonds have coupon rates and maturity dates that can vary considerably. It is a good idea to compare these coupon rates and maturity dates before you invest because it can help you choose tax free bonds that offer a rate of return on your investment which matches your investment goals.

Examine the Bonds’ Potential for Early Repayment Risk:

Many tax free bonds are issued by government agencies who have the right to repay their bonds early before they mature. This feature can make owning tax free bonds riskier to own for investors who rely on long-term maturity dates to derive income. One way to avoid this problem is to check to see if a tax free bond is eligible for early repayment. This is usually simple to do because reliable bond brokers usually list information about early repayment options in their bond descriptions.

As you might have noticed, adding tax free bonds intelligently to your portfolio requires an organized approach that can help you examine rationally the factors that influence the value of a tax free bond. As a result, feel free to use these tips to help you organize your research on tax free bonds that are offered by investment service providers.


Avoid Store Credit Card Signups This Season


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 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.