Category Archives: Personal Finance

How to Avoid Getting Screwed With Your Credit Cards

Jeremy Richard writes about credit and debt and the importance of following a budget and saving for retirement.

Credit cards present a highly convenient way to make purchases and earn rewards, but if you’re not careful when you use them, you can end up getting screwed. The effort to protect consumers from abuses seems like a never-ending struggle, which implies just how bad things can potentially get for any given user. The fine print is usually too long to read and too abstruse to understand – and believe me, that’s exactly what many credit card companies are counting on. To avoid getting screwed with your credit cards, take a look at these six tips.

  1. Pay Off Your Balances
    The best way to avoid getting screwed with your credit cards is to live a balance-free life. If you currently have balances, formulate a game plan for getting them in the rearview mirror for good. Create a personal budget, reduce your spending until it’s lower than your income, and send in the difference each month until your debts are paid. Once they’re gone you’re going to start seeing a lot more leftover in your checking account each month.
  2. Be Careful With Balance Transfers
    Credit card balance transfers can be a great way to alleviate the effects of high interest as you pay your debts down. Simply sign-up for a card that offers a no-interest introductory period, transfer your balances to that card, and start racking up the savings. Just make sure you don’t transfer more than you can afford to pay off by the time the promotional rate ends and don’t use the card for purchases while you’re paying it down.
  3. Don’t Pay Your Bills Late
    Because of recent credit card legislation, the fee for making a late credit card payment is capped at $25 for the first offense. However, that’s not all you have to worry about. Fail to make a timely payment and you may be assessed a penalty APR which can be as high as 30%. Try signing-up for a website like Manilla and you can receive text message or email reminders when your bills are due.
  4. Use Automatic Payment With Caution
    Using automatic payment plans to pay your credit card bills is a viable option, but be sure you still monitor your credit card statements every month. If you don’t, and if your bill is paid automatically, you might miss an unauthorized purchase or overcharge.
  5. Don’t Open Up Too Many at Once
    Even if you find a wealth of new credit card offers with attractive cash-back deals, don’t jump on them all at once. Although you may earn solid money in the short-term, each card you open generates a hard pull on your credit report and yourcredit score is negatively affected as a result. Limit yourself to opening one or two new credit cards per year at most.
  6. But Never Close Any
    On the other hand, when it comes to older cards you don’t use anymore, don’t make the mistake of closing the credit cards. Keep those lines of credit open, use them every few months for minor purchases, and make sure you pay the bills in full and on time. You want your total available credit to be as high as possible, as that benefits your credit score.

Using credit cards effectively requires a degree of personal responsibility. If you find yourself missing payments or overspending, you can always reduce your risk by using cash or a debit card. Not getting screwed with your credit cards is important, and if you simply can’t get your head around ways to avoid some of these errors, stick yours in a drawer and use cold hard cash.

What ways can you think of to avoid getting screwed with your credit cards?

3 Ways To Get A Start As A Financial Analyst

There are plenty of opportunities for financial analysts with a few years of experience, but getting that experience can be a struggle. Many young people worry whether they will like working in a financial career, and are unsure about entering a field they don’t know much about. However, there are plenty of opportunities for people who want to become financial analysts to test drive these responsibilities without locking themselves into a long-term career. If you’re considering a career as a financial analyst, try building your experience and knowledge base in these three ways.

Get an Internship

Internships are becoming one of the most popular choices for students to strengthen their work experience. Many companies create tailored internship plans where the student shadows multiple employees, works on projects that require all aspects of the business, and takes on responsibilities of their own. It’s a great way to learn more about the industry over three to nine months.

Many experts recommend treating your internship like a job. If you put as much work into it every day as you would an actual full-time position and still enjoy the field, then a career as a financial analyst is right for you. This is also a great way to get your foot in the door, as many companies hire the top interns full-time after their classes are completed.

Work for a Consulting Firm or Agency

It’s entirely possible that you would enjoy a career as a financial analyst; you just need to find the right industry. Instead of moving from the nonprofit sector to sports to retail, try working for an agency or consulting firm where you will have multiple clients at once. This will expose you to the unique challenges and opportunities that every industry provides, while changing up what you work on day-to-day. You may find that you like agency work itself, or you can move to an in-house analyst position in a field that you’re interested in.

Volunteer With a Nonprofit

Many nonprofits need an extra set of hands handling the marketing, accounting, and operations of the organization. While the local volunteers might be well-meaning, it’s possible that they lack the specialized skill set of a financial analyst. When volunteering for the nonprofit, you will make sure their 501(c)3 status is maintained, make sure donations are allotted to the proper sources, and create budgets and return goals for fundraising events.

Not only does volunteering help you give back to the community, it also boosts your resume and gives you experience working in finance. Furthermore, small nonprofits tend to have volunteers cross over multiple fields, so you may gain experience in volunteer coordination and event promotions – adding leadership, management, and project planning to your resume. These added skill sets can help you find a job you enjoy while making you a more valuable asset to employers.

Even if you don’t pursue a career as a financial analyst, the organizational and management skills that you will pick up during your studies will make you an asset to most companies and industries. People are always looking for someone who they can trust with money.

Top 5 Teams Vying for March Madness 2017

March means the start of the most exciting part of the sports calendar has arrived: March Madness. Brackets will be released soon and everyone will get the chance to take a shot at picking the next national champion in men’s and women’s college basketball.

The excitement of filling out multiple brackets to increase the chances of winning and the sheer amount of money that’s exchanged between thousands of people across the country is mind numbing. There are also plenty of free tournaments for people who would rather save the money, though, including the popular ESPN bracket challenge where entrants are eligible for cash winnings.

Wondering where to start when you fill out your brackets? Take a look at the top picks for to be crowned the NCAA March Madness winner in 2017.

Gonzaga

By the time the tournament starts, the Bulldogs may have completed the first undefeated season in school history. If the Zags end up making it out of the West Coast Conference tournament unscathed – meaning the team remains undefeated – the NCAA tournament gets even more interesting. But even if there’s a loss before the tournament starts, Gonzaga is still one of the favorites to make it to the Final Four.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are barreling towards a number one seed. After last year’s disappointing finish (North Carolina lost on a last second three-pointer in the title game), North Carolina has seemed to shake off the bad vibes to rise to the top of the game again this season. North Carolina is a bullish pick as they’ve only lost 5 games this season.

Kansas

Another team that’s always around at the end of the season is Kansas. The last time the Jayhawks won the title was nearly 10 years ago in 2008. It’s about time for Bill Self, the team’s head coach, and the Kansas Jayhawks to make another run. The team’s last Final Four appearance happened in 2012, which in this environment may not allow for Self to remain much longer without a deep run into the tournament. Self’s team is looking good, though — Kansas has over 25 wins so far this season.

Villanova

A last second three-pointer in last year’s title game to win is how many will remember Villanova. Even watching the clip of the buzzer beater gets the heart racing. Villanova is just as good this year, if not better, and has a great shot at making it back to the title game. The last time the tournament had back-to-back champions was when Florida doubled up in 2006 and 2007.

Duke

Duke started the season as the nation’s top team. Then the team fell-off, Coach Mike Krzyzewski had back surgery and all seemed lost. Once Coach K eventually returned the Blue Devils stabilized. The team still has too many loses in the ACC to make it as the overall number 1 seed, but there’s enough firepower for Duke to make a serious run at another national title.   

Are any of your favorites on this list? Where will you place your March Madness bets?