Your Beginner’s Guide to Playing the Credit Card Game

blog-a-beginners-guide-to-playing-the-credit-card-game

The credit card game is a little bit like a choose-your-own adventure. Do you want airline rewards? Take the path to your left. More interested in cash back? The door is behind you.  Sure you might meet some villains along the way, but there’s a treasure chest at the end.  If you act responsibly rather than impulsively, you can take advantage of some great rewards. To get you started, here’s a beginner’s play book.   Step 1: Choose your goal If you have credit card debt already, you’re best bet might be credit debt consolidation. Look for a card that has a lower interest rate than your current credit cards and that waives the balance transfer fee for the first few months. Consolidating your credit card debt can help you manage your monthly payments, save on interest rate costs … [Read more...]

5 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

blog-5-smart-ways-to-use-your-tax-refund

Wondering what to do with your tax refund? First of all, resist all urge to frivolously spend it on small purchases you don’t need. A Nordstrom’s shopping spree won’t help you pay off your bills or retire. And that large TV you’ve been coveting? Don’t even consider it unless you’re completely debt free. A good rule of thumb: If you couldn’t afford it before your refund, you shouldn’t be buying it now.   Instead, treat your tax refund, and any large bonus for that matter, as an investment opportunity. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend a dime. In fact many experts recommend spending a small percentage of it to help you stay motivated to save. Go for a small splurge—somewhere in between a new toothbrush and a new motorcycle. Then, do something smart with the remainder of your … [Read more...]

Does Getting Married Affect Your Credit?

blog-money-and-marriage

Considering tying the knot? Congratulations! But, as any wedding couple knows, with wedding planning comes financial planning. The rings, the venue, the Pinterest-chic individualized party favors with gold flakes on them—with each addition to your perfect day comes a subtraction from your bank account.   All this spending most likely has you thinking about your financial future with your new spouse. I know how busy you are, so I’ve taken it upon myself to address the three most common questions couples ask me:   1. I don’t love my spouse’s spending habits. Should I try to teach my spouse new habits or just manage the finances myself?    One of the most important facts of life to know before you get married is that you can’t expect your spouse to … [Read more...]

The Dangers of 5 Popular Ways to Pay for College

blog-5-dangers-paying-for-college

For many families, sending a child to college is a quintessential part of the American dream. But these days, you'd better start saving when they're still in diapers if you want to make higher education a reality. With the cost of college continuing to go through the roof, a growing majority of students are left searching for ways to subsidize the expense.   It has been said that education is the greatest investment, but to what lengths must you really go? When your savings, income, and even financial aid and grants  still aren't enough, alternative options are becoming increasingly necessary. While each has the potential to help pay the bills, they also come with inherent risks that often out-weigh rewards.   1. Credit Cards   Families often effectively … [Read more...]

Paranoid, Apathetic or Empowered:
Your Smart-Consumer Action Plan

blog-national-consumer-protection-week-your-action-plan

Protecting yourself as a consumer is pragmatic, not paranoid. I by no means encourage you to obsessively guard all traces of your personal information. If you take that approach, you’ll end up a recluse with a hoarding problem. But the reality is, how we transact has changed—we’re mobile, online and nationwide. So we’ve got to change the way we protect ourselves.   National Consumer Protection Week might be coming to end, but being a smart consumer means developing lifelong habits. That’s why we’ve provided a smart-consumer action plan. Print these tips, reference them often. Eventually, these steps should become habits so that every time you purchase, share, invest, donate or borrow, you will be better protected.   Your Smart-Consumer Action Plan   1. … [Read more...]

Consumer Protection Rights & Your Children

blog-national-consumer-protection-week-kids-need-protection-too

A blog post for myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   National Consumer Protection Week is an annual campaign that creates awareness about consumer information and protection. There’s actually a lot of regulation put into place to protect consumers that many people don’t even know about.   Thanks to the CARD Act, consumers are protected from unfair rate hikes, retroactive rates and late-fee traps, and important terms and conditions must be publicly available. That’s just to name a few. What you may not realize though, is that consumer protection isn’t extended just to adults; children need protection, too. Your child’s personal information, like yours, is protected by law. Sadly, identity theft threatens the … [Read more...]

The IRS & You: Why Your Tax Refund Needs a Body Guard

blog-tax-fraud-IRS-is-cracking-down

With all the major breach announcements in the last few years, I think I can safely assume that this has become common knowledge: Identity theft is a serious threat. If you’re still skeptical, consider this: someone became an identity theft victim every two seconds last year.   With that said, identity theft is also a broad and complex crime that’s hard to defend yourself against. Thieves have dozens of ways they can steal your personal information, and countless crimes they can commit with it. Sometimes they’re after your money; sometimes they’re after your good reputation. During tax season, they’re after both.   Why Identity Thieves Like Tax Season a Lot More Than You Do   Oh tax season, that wonderful time of the year where millions of Americans gather … [Read more...]

Word on the Web: Best of February

Let's face it, financial habits make relationships complicated. Similarly, relationships make financial habits complicated. Before you find yourself in a financial feud, learn from people who have been there. In ode to the most romantic month of the year, this month’s Word on the Web is dedicated to relationships. Check out our favorite February blogs on love and money.   How Money Can Affect People and Change Their Behavior Studies suggest money can change behavior – and not always for the better. Money Crashers writer, Jaqueline Curtis, analyzes the social pitfalls of wealth and how to detect the warning signs of money-related addictions.   10 Financial Tips for Couples Marriage and long-term partnerships create a fuzzy line between mine, yours and ours—and … [Read more...]

The Who, Why and How Behind Your Credit Health

As a writer in the personal finance sector, I spend a lot of time reading blogs about how to improve or establish credit. The information out there is great. I’ve come across tons of articles that offer a variety of ways to improve your credit score. Reading between the lines, it’s become pretty clear to see that there is one thing that is most important above all when working on your credit. It’s not a credit card, it’s not a budget, and it’s not a plan. No, it’s a general understanding of how your credit works, and why you have a score in the first place.   Let’s Start With The Why   Credit scores didn’t just happen. There was a genuine need for a way to gauge the creditworthiness of consumers, businesses, and even entire countries. The reality is, before credit … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Take Advantage
of America Saves Week

blog-america-saves-week

What do primetime TV commercials, Pinterest and Starbucks have in common? They all entice you to spend, spend, spend. In the name of America Saves Week, the overspending stops here.   The annual event is designed to spread the word about healthy financial habits while providing tips and tools to take control of your own savings plan. You can take their savings plan assessment, download a poster to keep your goals in focus or test your savings knowledge.   If nothing else, consider this a good time to evaluate your spending habits and savings. Whether you’re starting from scratch or well on your way, we’ve got a tip for you.  Open a spreadsheet or log in to your favorite finance app, and take advantage of America Saves Week. Here are 5 ways to update to your savings … [Read more...]

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by a credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of a credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a credit card issuer. This site may be compensated by credit card issuers mentioned on the site by such companies.