Why that department store credit card is killing your credit

We’ve all been in that situation, the one where the department store credit card becomes too irresistible to ignore.

You know that moment, when you’re in the midst of pushing around a full cart, which wasn’t your plan at the moment, or carrying around enough clothes to fill more than just one closet or how about that trip to Target that led to a complete overhaul of your living room with new end tables, blinds, drapes and TV stand.

In that instance, you simply can’t say no when that cashier or sales representative asks you if you want to open up that store credit card to save a certain percentage off today’s purchase. You gladly take that 10 or 20 percent discount in exchange for opening up a new card. In your mind, you’ve scored the better end of the bargain; you get all the items you wanted for less.

While that thinking isn’t untrue, what happens after that card is opened and used tells the true story if the decision ultimately is one that benefits your financial future.

Credit cards given out by stores aren’t quite as difficult to secure versus the traditional Visa or MasterCard, but that said they come with equal parts benefits and drawbacks as their counterparts.

Naturally, you save money when you open the card and in some instances every time you use it. That incentive only really stands as a positive if you’re paying off that balance on the first try, when that bill first comes in the mail. Those cards have tremendous upside on personal interest rates initially, but once that period come to a close, rates can balloon up to 20 to 30 percent.

Simply put, if you’re not using the store card and then paying them off to to avoid high rates yet still get the benefits of the special deal, then you’re not using them correctly. Those cards need closed quickly, particularly if you’re not using them as well. Having them sit isn’t going to do you any favors both from a temptation standpoint but also your credit as a whole.

As inviting as those retail cards can be, and despite all the rewards (which incidentally only mean something when you actually use them), you have to be selective with the ones you open and use. Furthermore, you absolutely must pay them off right away or before you start to incur interest charges. Those extra charges are going to mean your payment goes up and hopes dashed of ever saving money while still paying your credit card bill on time.

Are you having trouble staying on course with budget?

Everyone says they have a budget, which certainly means that you’re at least trying to save money and spend less. The question remains, however, isn’t so much how good is your budget but are you actually sticking with it the way you planned?

The point of having a budget is implementing it in a way so you can stick to it, plan accordingly and ultimately save money and pad your finances for whatever reason you’re thinking of this week: savings account, nest egg, financial future and retirement.

What tends to happen, however, is budgeting becomes more about saying you have one and less about actual execution. Budgeting is like joining a gym; just because you did one, doesn’t necessarily translate into the other.

Joining a gym doesn’t mean you’re going to go, much the same way having a budget doesn’t mean you’re going to stick with that, either.

So how exactly can you train your brain to stay on course as it relates to your budget and not falling off course?

If you’re overlooking your spending habits, that’s a first sign indicator that you really haven’t fully grasped the idea of a budget. Yes, we know you have your bills and the larger debt that you have to account for on a daily basis. That being said, when was the last time you put putting gas in your car, meals eaten out in restaurants, coffee and clothing on your budget as being worthwhile to track?

Those items and others of that ilk tend to get lost behind car payments, house mortgages, rent on that townhouse or apartment and your cable and phone bills. You have to make sure you’ve planned to add to that budget to include things you spend money on daily, since those add up quickly into thousands spent yearly and you wondering aloud why you aren’t able to save with the budget as it stands.

You also want to look closely at your budget at it pertains to credit cards, specifically how much you’re paying on them. If you’re only paying the minimum payment, you might want to rethink your repayment options. The minimum payment can suffice if your goal is ultimately to build more into your savings account and you have a fixed payment in mind. That minimum might be part of your budget if that’s all you can afford, but checking your budget to increase the minimum means less high interest paid over time, but also the ability decrease overall debt faster.

Budgeting bites the dust typically when you don’t account for all facets of it, or take money saving as being too topical and typical than it really is. The more specific you can make your budget, along with adhering to it, the better chance you have of success.

How to Save Money on Your Next Hotel

Nothing is quite as exciting as going on a trip to a new unexplored land. Americans usually travel during the summertime when they have the right to take their vacation time. Sometimes they travel for business trips at random times of the year, or they have some other business they have to conduct. Hotel accommodations are sometimes the most expensive part the trip, and they are probably so expensive because people know that travelers cannot go without sleeping. The following are some tips for reducing the cost of a hotel stay during a trip:

Conduct an Online Search for Price Goodies

Price goodies are all those sweet deals that save consumers a lot of money. Price goodies include things like coupons and discount codes. Coupons are valuable because they can save a person 20 percent or more. Patience is a virtue, and coupon users need to remember that they have every right to take their time and claim their discounts. Consumers can print coupons. Promotional codes are numeric codes that a person punches in during the checkout process. Anyone can find coupon codes and coupons by typing keyword phrases.

Stay for an Extended Period

Clients who stay for extended periods tend to receive discounts from the hotels. Customers can reserve rooms at certain hotels for a week. The price goes down significantly from the daily price added seven times.

Catch Time-Sensitive Deals

Time sensitive deals are always an amazing way to save money on hotel stays. For example, some Super 8 motels are currently offering sales prices that give their customers as much as 20 percent off the price of their reservations.

Earn Credit Card Rewards

Some credit cards have rewards programs that customers can use to receive hotel discounts. They earn the rewards by buying certain things with their credit cards. Some people earn their rewards when they first sign up for their credit cards. The rewards can help them to get a wonderful deal on hotel tickets.

Negotiate

Finally, the negotiation tactic may not work with the larger establishments, but it can certainly work for smaller hotels. The person can try to “work a deal” with the hotel owner for a cheaper rate. All previously mentioned tips have a high level of possibility. The consumer can try several of them to ensure that he or she receives optimum pricing.

Five Types of Retirement Plans to Consider

Retirement plans are savings plans that help workers and individual consumers to save for when they get older and can no longer work. Several types of retirement plans exist, and they each have a unique quality. The following are some common types of retirement plans and some information on how they can assist a worker or consumer:

The 401K Plan

The 401K plan is an extremely popular plan for employees. The plan works by employer contribution and employee contribution. The employee can contribute up to 6 percent of his or her paycheck on a weekly or biweekly basis. The employer can then contribute up to a match of the employee contribution.

The IRA Plan

IRA is an acronym for individual retirement plan, and many variations of such plans exist. For example, as SIMPLE IRA is one that stands for savings incentive match plan for employees. Employees and employers can both contribute to a SIMPLE IRA plan. A Roth IRA is an example of another plan. A Roth IRA is a tax-deductible plan that people can place money into to build their futures. A Roth IRA is different from a traditional IRA in that it allows people to withdraw funds at any time without charging them penalties.

The Profit-Sharing Plan

A profit-sharing plan is a special incentive plan for employees. Employees are allowed to share the profits that the company earns based on a specific formula. New employees are usually eligible for profit sharing plans after a certain amount of time.

Stock Ownership Plan

A stock ownership plan is similar to a profit-sharing plan in that it uses something from the company. A stock ownership plan is a partial ownership of the company’s stock. The employee earns a small portion of cash when the company stocks go up and so forth.

Cash Balance Plans

Cash balance plans are special plans to which employers contribute to their employees. The employers usually make contributions to such plans at least once per year. Cash balance plans are amazing for employees on the young end of the spectrum because they grow immensely over time.

A new employee will want to ask the HR department or the benefits department about any retirement plans they offer. The new employee can start contributing to the plan as quickly as possible. The 401K plan is one of the most popular because some employers offer high contributions.

How to Save Money on Auto Insurance

The monthly auto insurance bill can be a headache, especially when a consumer has more than three big bills to pay each month. The good news is that a consumer can use several strategies to cut the bill down as much as possible. Several circumstances and consumer decisions can change the outcome of a monthly insurance premium. The following are some tips on cutting the cost of the bill. Drivers and policyholders can try these tips today:

Go Through a Broker

A consumer can get the best deal on auto insurance if he or she goes through a broker. A broker is not partial to any single insurance provider. A broker’s job is to connect a driver to the best auto insurance option available. Therefore, the broker will search for the cheapest insurance if the cost is the most important factor to the consumer. Another benefit of letting a broker handle the search is that the broker can help the consumer to obtain all the discounts.

Buy a Car Outright

Buying a used car outright is better than buying a newly financed vehicle is in terms of auto insurance. Many finance companies require their customers to obtain full coverage insurance for the duration of the loan agreement. Full coverage insurance is quite expensive. A person who owns and an older vehicle may only have to pay for liability coverage. It would be in the consumer’s best interest to find a reliable used vehicle that has a low price tag.

Choose a Vehicle With Many Safety Features

Insurance companies give policyholders special discounts for purchasing vehicles with safety features. Drivers can get discounts for alarm systems, airbags, anti-lock brakes and more. The insurance premium can lessen with each safety feature.

Drive Safely

Some insurance companies such as Geico offer generous discounts to their customers who drive safely for a certain amount of time. One of the best ways a consumer can cut down a premium is to obey the traffic rules and avoid accidents.

Increase the Deductible

Finally, a consumer can decrease the monthly premium by increasing the deductible. The deductible is the amount of the money the driver has to invest before the insurance company covers any part of an accident. A frugal driver can adjust the deductible, which will adjust the premium. The person can change the information back at a later date.

How to NOT Spend the Cash Burning in your Pocket

Saving money is a task that is challenging to all consumers whether they are rich or utterly destitute. The presence of cash entices the consumer to shop regardless of that person’s need to pay the bills. Many consumers start out with strict savings plans, but they end up getting frustrated with savings failures and spending the money they have. Clever savings strategies can be fun and fruitful. Sometimes consumers need to plant their funds in a difficult place for it to grow like it should. The following are three clever money saving ideas:

Give It to a Relative

A consumer can give his or her savings money to a close relative each time the paycheck arrives. The person will have to be absolutely sure that he or she can trust the relative in question. The consumer may want to have that person open a savings account in his or her name and then set up work direct deposits into the relative’s savings account. The relative could act as a protector who can stop the consumer from withdrawing the funds prematurely. However, the relative needs to be a person of integrity so that the consumer does not lose any of his or her funds.

Get a Brokerage CD Account

Two kinds of certificates of deposits exist: regular and brokerage CDS. A consumer can save money by purchasing regular certificates of deposits from the bank. Technically, the individual is not supposed to cash in the CD until it matures. Doing so will result in a penalty. The CD cash-out penalties are usually enough to deter people from cashing them early. However, brokerage CD accounts have much tougher stipulations and larger penalties. Therefore, the consumer may want to obtain a brokerage CD for an ironclad protection strategy.

Open a Secured Credit Card

Obtaining a secured credit card is a roundabout way to save money, but it could work. The logic is that a consumer will have to put the money back into the “savings” fund if he or she uses it to avoid bad credit. The person may be less tempted to use a secured credit card than he or she would be with an open wad of money in hand. The consumer could keep the money on the secured credit card until the time comes to cash out. A simple ATM withdrawal will provide the funds from the special “savings account.”

Consumers can think of a variety of clever ways to save money in a way that minimizes the spending desire. The previously mentioned ideas are a great place to start.

Profitable Spring Cleaning

All home and apartment dwellers find themselves ready for spring cleaning at one point or another. Spring cleaning is a process that involves purging oneself of unnecessary household items. Over the years, material items tend to accumulate because of poor organizational skills, impulsive buying, hoarding tendencies and more. Spring cleaning is necessary to bring the number of household items down to a nominal level. Additionally, spring cleaning can be an excellent way to earn extra cash. The following are some tips on conducting profitable spring cleaning:

Choose a Strong Day for Spring Cleaning

A consumer should conduct his or her spring cleaning on a day that will be convenient for everyone involved. Weekends are perfect for people who have traditional 9-5 jobs. The person will want to have a day free of obligations and distractions to conduct the spring cleaning in an organized fashion.

Recruit Friends and Family Members

Recruiting friends and family members is important for simplifying one’s spring cleaning efforts. Not all family members will be thrilled about cleaning, but some of them may be motivated by monetary incentives.

Have a “Trash Doesn’t Exist” Mindset

Spring cleaners must carry a “trash doesn’t exist” mindset. The TDE mindset is one that forces the participants to find a purpose for every item in the house that needs to leave the premises. One man’s trash is always someone else’s treasure. Any item can serve a person an important purpose, and consumers will buy just about anything for a discount.

Offer Electronics, Furniture and Household Appliances for Sale

Cell phones, televisions, microwaves, radios and the like are the most valuable material items in the house. Someone is always looking for such items for a reasonable price. The consumer can offer the items on an online site such as Craigslist or eBay. Someone will respond to the ad quickly, and the seller can use the funds for the good of the household.

See the Value of Used Clothing and Bedding

Sometimes people do not realize the value of old clothing. Clothing that cannot fit one person might fit another person perfectly. Homeless persons, single parents, and struggling residents will appreciate an offer of such clothing. Spring cleaners can sell their mounds of clothes for extremely low prices and still earn a substantial amount of money. Some yard sale sellers offer their clothing items for as little as $.25 per garment. Bedding is equally useful.

Any household can conduct a profitable spring cleaning event. Motivation, organization and creativity are the keys to success. 

Saving Early for Summer Holidays

Even though spring just arrived, it is not too early to think about and plan for summer vacations. Independence Day and Memorial Day are two of the most popular summer holidays in the United States and many choose to celebrate at home by purchasing food and having a barbecue with friends and family members.

Others may want to visit a festival that celebrates the holiday with music, games and the like. All holiday activities require one to have money. Therefore, a consumer will want to get ahead by saving cash before the summer months come. The following are four tips that a person can use to prepare for summer holiday expenses:

Divide Direct Deposit Funds

The best way to save for a summer holiday is to create a separate savings account and assign funds to the account on each payday. Most employers allow their employees to distribute the funds from their paychecks to various accounts. Designating a small amount of money on a weekly or biweekly basis is an effective way to build a vacation fund.

Perform Odd Jobs

Another way that one may want to save money for a summer vacation is by performing odd jobs. Odd jobs include jobs such as grass cutting, housecleaning, babysitting, web design, article writing and more. The person can place the extra funds in the previously mentioned savings account.

Make Advance Purchases

Persons will want to make advance purchases for holiday reservations such as hotel reservations, rental car reservations, restaurant reservations, festival reservations and the like. The savings can be humongous if the person secures the reservations several months in advance.

Use Coupon Codes and Special Memberships

Coupon codes and special memberships can remove some of the expenses associated with airline tickets, train tickets, rental cars, hotel stays and more. Consumers can receive discounts for having AAA membership or college membership. Additionally, a multitude of coupons and promotional codes exist online. One could enjoy double or triple savings by reserving accommodations early and using special privileges. He or she could use a promotional code during a checkout. The person could use the drop-down menu to specify AAA membership, college membership and senior citizen status, as well.

Summer holidays are always better when one takes the time to save enough money for the events. The consumer should do so by relaxing and saving a little bit at a time each week.

Inexpensive Baby Clothes for Expecting Mothers

The anticipation of having a baby is exciting, but it can produce a high level of anxiety, as well. Expecting mothers often wonder where they will obtain the funds to purchase clothing for themselves and their children. These women are often clueless as to how they can get what they need aside from being blessed with a baby shower. The following are some tips on how an expecting mother can gather baby clothing before the big day comes:

Online and Physical Clearance Racks

The first place that an expecting mother can look for deals on baby clothes is the clearance racks of popular children’s clothing establishments. Some examples of those stores are Carter’s, Old Navy and BabyMallOnline. Online shopping is convenient for women who are in the late stages of their pregnancies. However, most physical locations have a clearance section. Shoppers can find tremendous discounts on clothing items such as onesies, pant sets, bodysuits, pajamas and more. Some clearance items are on sale with discounts that are as high as 50 percent.

Thrift Shops, Flea Markets and Yard Sales

An expecting mother can visit thrift shops, flea markets and yard sales if she does not mind buying used clothing. She can opt to wash the used clothing in high-grade detergent that will purify it. The woman can find the best prices at such places. Yard sale sellers and flea market vendors are often will sell baby clothing for several cents instead of several dollars for each time. Thrift shops and consignment shops are second best in terms of discount potential.

Churches and Other Benefactors

Churches and organization such as the Salvation Army can provide an expecting mother with the clothing she needs to bring her child into to the world. Getting assistance with clothing only requires a phone call and a sincere request.

Online Auctions and Websites

Tech savvy expecting mothers can use online auction sites and website such as eBay, Amazon.com, Overstock.com and more. The benefit of using such sites is that the person can find bundled baby clothing. For example, the expecting mother may be able to find a month’s worth of clothing in a bundle for less than $10. Even the most destitute person can prosper.

Hope is available for the expecting mother. A way is always available for her to gather the things that she needs to provide warmth for her son or daughter. 

Save Money on a Dream Vacation

Going on vacation is expensive no matter where a person goes. However, some corners of the world are much more expensive than others are. For example, one night at a hotel in Key West, Florida costs about $600 for a four-star or five-star location. Additionally, special events such as boat rides and scooter rentals can end up costing several hundred dollars. The following is some information on saving money on such a trip:

Reserving a Room Early

Early room reservations can save hundreds of dollars. Scheduling a stay for non-weekend nights can save money, as well. The visitor will want to reserve the room approximately three months ahead of time to obtain the best rates. Weekdays are less expensive because many people have to work during the week. Hotels and motels are much less full during those times. The average price difference between a weekday and a weekend night can be as high as $100.

Using Plastic Resources

Credit cards and club memberships can give a person an edge on the pricing in an expensive vacation. Triple A membership can provide a visitor with a discount of approximately 10 percent off a hotel stay. Some credit cards offer points as rewards for normal credit card use. The points can shave some of the dollars off the average hotel stay. Additionally, such memberships and cards may provide the consumer with access to cheap rental cars for the road.

Finding Cheap Things to Do

Finding cheap activities is the key to making one’s funds last as long as possible in the Keys or other expensive areas of the world. All major activities will cost hundreds of dollars. However, a frugal visitor can conduct a variety of activities that cost little to no money. Picture snapping adventures are free, and they can be quite fun. All the person needs is a trusty camera and some fuel to drive around and see the sites. The person can search for monuments, landmarks, botanical gardens, parks and the like. Some botanical gardens cost money, while others only accept donations.

Beach walking is a fun free activity for families, lovers and lonesome people. The beginning of evening is a wonderful time to go outside and watch the moonlight develop. A beach-side sunset is beautiful, as well.

Many money-saving techniques exist. The previously mentioned tips can be a stepping stone or a starting point.