Five Ways to Get an Inexpensive Cell Phone

Smartphones are still on the top of the list of the most popular items that fly off the shelves during the holiday season. Manufacturers are always making improvements to them. You can surprise one of your buddies, family members, colleagues or mates with a new smartphone this year. The awesome part is that you won’t have to go broke to do it. The following are five ways you can get a cheap smartphone for someone this holiday season:

  1. Be a Black Friday Early Bird

Black Friday sales are some of the largest and most exciting sales in the world. They are events during which retail establishments chop the prices of their products down to a ridiculously low amount. The only thing you have to do to make it to a Black Friday sale is wake up on time. Some sales start at 12 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving while others don’t start until about 5 a.m.

  1. Sign a Contract

Signing a contract will get you a free phone every time. All the major providers such as Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer fantastic options for smartphones. You will be able to get something with a big screen, a fast processor and a bunch of abilities.

  1. Shop Online

You can find a great deal on a smartphone by visiting an online store. The eBay site is a wonderful place to go because you can sometimes grab the end of a low-bidding auction. Many sellers offer their smartphones with low opening bids.

  1. Charge It!

You don’t have to use your credit card to get a smartphone, but you could take advantage of a finance deal. Many prepaid cell phone stores offer finance deals for people who don’t quite have enough money to buy a smartphone on the spot. Finance options are great if you intend to keep the phone for the finance term.

5. Search for Freebies

Finally, you always want to search the Internet and the weekly circular for freebies. Someone is always offering a free cell phone. You might come across a company that wants to provide its customers with a free cell phone just to sign up for prepaid service. That’s an easy way to get a phone for someone you love.

Many more tips and tricks are available, but these five should help you to put a smile on someone’s face this year.

Why most in debt don’t even realize how much debt they actually have

Dealing with debt isn’t anything new to the masses. Truth is, more than 50 percent of the population is in debt. About 30 percent of that number has debt of more than $10,000 or more.

But as much as debt is part of society and having it has become the norm, where as those who live debt free are the exception to the money management rule.

The real disturbing aspect of debt is that those who have it don’t recognize that it even exists. Call it ignorance feeling blissful or just pretending as though debt and having it is perfectly acceptable, but the fact remains is that the troubling element of not being able to save money and instead borrowing it is that the majority of individuals and families have no idea how much debt they have.

The end result is not only a debt to income ratio that is ridiculously bad, but also a sense that they’ll never get back to even when it comes to money. Even more unsettling is the debt you have may prohibit you from borrowing and thus hinder and downright hurt your credit score.

That score dropping and dipping accordingly comes from such shortcomings that stem from debt such as not being able to pay your bills on time or perhaps pushing your credit card limit to its max.

Whatever is weighing on your credit score, don’t worry. You can raise it quickly and get back up to respectability, particularly if you have a house that you want to buy and a car that you desperately need to get to and from work.

How exactly can you work to raise your credit score quickly?

The first might be to get automatic billing and set up payments that are always paid on time. Something that simple is going to work wonders on getting that score up and you back on track. Furthermore, you might want to start paying down some of your credit cards that are too close to the maximum limit. That will always derail most personal loans 10 times out of 10, but it doesn’t hurt your chances are larger, bigger ticket items, too.

As silly as this sounds, you should apply for a credit card with a modest limit. This will allow you to charge items, but keep in mind the goal is to charge and pay off in full each time. This shows ability to pay on time but more so consistently.

Whatever your debt situation is, you can fix it. Whether you’re talking about $50,000 in debt or a few thousand, it is about not only coming up with a plan to eliminate it but first just knowing exactly where you stand.

The Art of Couponing

Coupon usage has become a way of life for most modern consumers. The practice is necessary for every family that is living in this crumbling economy. The Internet has a vast number of coupons that patrons can use to obtain everything from food to clothing to electronics and more.  With the soaring popularity of coupons, though, many sites have sprung up to meet the need and the vast majority of them are worthless.  We’ve sorted through all of the big ones and left you with a list of the most useful and up-to-date coupon sites.

The promotion code site has a user interface that is attractive and easy to use. Visitors can find promotional codes by viewing the “hot list” of codes to the left of the page or by viewing the various categories.

The key code site is another site that has a “hot button” with codes that consumers can use. The user interface is vibrant with colors and an easy-to-use menu.

Coupon Cabin

Coupon Cabin is a large contributor that connects consumers with more than 30,000 different retailers in various categories. Some of the retail establishments on the websites are retailers such as Auto Zone, Petco, Nike, Lids, Tanga, PetSmart, Walgreens and more.

Continue reading The Art of Couponing

Young and Restless: Why money and saving it matters in your 20s

When was the last time a 20 year old cared about the future, more so as it relates to money, saving it and, heaven forbid, have a budget in mind if they’re finishing up college for example and embarking on the real world.

The truth is saving money and being financial smart with your cash starts before you even reach college, perhaps as young as when mom and dad doled out allowance on a weekly basis, and you had to make that five dollars last for the next two weeks.

Of course as a kid, that little bit of money might be easier to manage than a first paycheck or initial job out of college. The 20 something year old might still live at home, not have a car payment (you still have that car mom and dad gave you), and have very few if any bills.

What you don’t realize is that from a money standpoint, you are the ideal position, one that you want to hang on to and keep as simple and straightforward as it is at the moment.

The only debt you might be in the midst of accruing is your college tuition and any loans you’ll have. That interest rate, however, is remarkably low and shouldn’t be viewed as an albatross of debt but rather a necessity that helps you land a job out of school.

But in your 20s, fresh out of school and having that first job, now is the time for you to start saving your money, while you’re still nestled in your old room and mom and dad still have a fridge full of food.

For starters, you’ll want to put extra money toward your loans, rather than defer them. Skip a few nights out with your friends and stay in for a weekend here and there, and double up on those school loan payments. That is going to cut the customary 10 year loan for schooling in half, leaving you debt free by the time you’re in your mid 20s.

Even though the average college student accumulates up to $5,000 in credit card debt while in school (this typically is due to needing money while in school and not having a job as part of the equation), you have to understand in your 20s, debt and credit is a necessary evil to build up the latter. That isn’t to suggest that you should be taking on thousands of dollars in debt, but opening up a card and starting to charge and subsequently pay off the card makes sense financially to start showing your credit and paying back loans is credible and capable.

Those in their 20s who start thinking about money right away tend to be the success stories, the ones you hear about retiring in their 50s. If your 20s is a backdrop for excess and wasting cash, you’ll consider that time period a failure when 30 rolls around.

Selection Process: What debt is most important to pay?

Nothing is more of a head scratcher in some ways than credit card, but for a number of reasons you might not believe.

Almost 70% of the population in the United States battles back and forth with some sort of credit card debt, and that debt is the kind that builds quickly, particularly when you’re using credit cards to make every day purchases on things like groceries and gas or for emergency buys like repair on the roof, car problems or anything else that has some price point to it that you can’t afford at the moment.

In times of convenience and crisis, and everything in between, we turn to credit cards. Good or bad, that is the hand we’re dealt.

But that debt, the kind from credit, isn’t exactly going away and your struggle continues as you attempt to pay it off in a timely fashion and refute efforts to want to use the card again and thus only compound the issue at hand.

So with credit card debt not going away any time soon, what exactly is your game plan for getting rid of the debt or at least attempting to pay on the right credit card bill at the perfect time?

The most important element of credit card debt is focusing on two aspects: interest rates and closing accounts. The latter is quite simple: you don’t want to close accounts per say, because it will take a chunk out of your credit score but if your card isn’t carrying a balance and you’re paying a annual fee for no reason, then you’re wasting, not saving, money. So in that instance, canceling is the better option.

Obviously, if you’re debating between the 10% interest rate on your Visa or MasterCard bill versus the department store card at Target that is carrying triple that rate, you want to take care of the latter.

Those tricky department store cards also spell trouble in the instance where you use them, you get some sort of introductory rate, usually 0% interest for a certain number of months. The key is not getting hit with backlogged interest rates on those credit cards and thus make those priorities so that 12 months or 24 month no interest plans don’t creep up on you at month 11 or 23, respectively, and you’re suddenly on the hook for thousands in extra money on that so called perks card.

Credit card debt is frustrating and can be avoided in most instances, but if you have it, combat that debt with decisions that don’t put you in a non-winning situation where you’ll never climb out of owing money somewhere.

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.


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.