Boost Your Budget With Credit Cards

Yes, you read that right — you can boost your budget with credit cards!

And no, we haven’t had too much eggnog to drink this holiday season!

The common mentality is that credit cards are evil, or at least a significant contributing factor to why so many people are mired in debt. However, with the proper foundation of personal finance knowledge, and discipline, credit cards can boost your bottom line.

Show me the money!

So how exactly do you go about boosting your budget with credit cards? Plain and simple – rewards cards. There seem to be more varieties than flavors of ice cream at Baskin Robbins these days, but with the proper research you can find attractive rewards cards.

Think about how many monthly bills you have setup to automatically deduct from your checking account. Or if you’re anything like my relatives, bills that you still pay with a written check.

Rather than writing checks or having those bills auto-debited from your checking account, have them setup to automatically charge your rewards card every month. While this tactic might not be recommended for everyone — be honest with yourself if you have the discipline for this — but these are bills that you have to pay regardless, right?

Why not earn a reward for paying the bills you already pay every month? As an added bonus, you will simplify your bill paying as well. With everything being charged to your credit card on auto-pilot, you only need to worry about paying your credit card bill.

Use only if…

As we mentioned, this approach is not for everyone. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to pay the credit card bill in full, or if you will be tempted to overspend on other items because your money is available until the bill is due, this probably isn’t for you.

Using your rewards card to boost your budget might be right for you if:

  • You have the money to pay the credit card bill in full.

    If you are carrying a balance, you will eliminate the benefit of the rewards by paying interest on your monthly expenses.

  • You pay your credit card on time.

    Again, if you have a history of missing your due date, you will be hit with late payment fees and reduce the value of any rewards you are earning.

  • You avoid frivolous spending.

    The strategy here is to earn rewards on your necessities that you are paying for right now; i.e. gas, electric, cable (not a necessity) and not a new pair of shoes.

  • For those that have a track record of sticking to their budget and being disciplined with their spending, this strategy can be a nice little boost.

    Over the course of the year, you will build up a healthy balance of points / miles / rewards and can cash them in for something nice. Depending on your current budget, you may see a boost of anywhere from $500-1000 in rewards. Possibly higher too.

    It is a beautiful thing to be rewarded for spending money that you need to spend every month, isn’t it?

    Spread it out for the best rewards

    With the variety of rewards cards available, you can also spread your spending around to maximize your rewards.

    For instance, some credit cards have a higher reward for certain types of charges. You may have one card that pays a higher reward for gasoline purchases, so use that card for each and every stop at the gas station. That same card might not have as nice a reward for grocery stores, so find a card that has the best rewards for groceries.

    By mixing and matching, you will further boost your annual rewards!




Want To Improve Your Credit Score?

Raise your hand if you’re in debt. You’re not alone. With the state of the economy and unemployment rates wreaking havoc on families all across the country, more and more people are struggling just to make ends meet. Raise your hand again if you believe that being in debt means that your credit score is […] continue reading

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5 Easy Spending Cuts To Eliminate Debt

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Nominate Your Favorite Personal Finance Blog for the Media Awards

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Debt

How to avoid getting in debt

Debt is one of those words that strikes fear in just about everyone. It is definitely something that everyone wants to avoid at all cost. Nothing is worse than seeing the debt continually pile up month over month and feeling like it’s impossible to get out. That is why it’s best to avoid getting into […] continue reading

8 things you need to consider before signing up for a joint account

Money can be a source of various conflicts for many people who are in relationships. It’s important, therefore, to come up with a financial strategy that works for both parties involved. Having a joint account may be advisable for those individuals who want or require more than one person authorized to use a bank account, but they will need to know what things they should consider first before deciding if this is the best recourse for them.

What are the things you need to consider before applying for a joint account?

Here are 8 things to keep in mind:

1. Communication will be crucial.

The money in the joint account will of course belong to both of the authorized persons – to both of you. Each of you will be responsible for keeping track of any money that comes in and goes out of the joint account. This means that you equally share responsibilities in keeping up to date with any changes in your account. If one fails to communicate the changes and it shows up in the record, it may cause some serious problems, because expectations have not been set.

It may be difficult – but not impossible – when two individuals have access to one account. It just means the two of you really have to communicate to make sure things are in order.

2. Savings and expenses will be equally divided.

Having a joint account also means that you both share whatever savings or expense you will have. This is beneficial if you have the same amount that you are putting in to pay for the same rent, same utility bills, and so on. Every transaction will be recorded so it will be easy to compute and verify. If you think that there are any errors in the record, you will have to check with the other person first to know if there were any transactions that were failed to be mentioned beforehand.

3. Both authorized signatories’ credit score will be affected.

Both of your names will be in the joint credit card account and you will have the same capacity to make charges to a credit card. All of the card’s history will be integrated on both persons’ individual credit report.

If one of the joint users that has bad credit is added to the joint account, the bad credit will be neutralized and perhaps be able to obtain a better credit card. This will only be possible if the credit card is used properly, the bill is paid when it is due, and the balance is kept low.

4. Both credit card application and interest rate will be affected.

A joint user of an account will find it easier to apply for a credit card when it was difficult before. This is particularly useful for those who have had a bad credit record and have high-interest rates on their individual accounts. Obtaining a joint account will allow that person to leverage on the other joint user’s good credit record to obtain a credit card easily or lower the interest rate.

5. Both authorized signatories are legally responsible for any payments.

While in individual accounts, you are only responsible for your own finances, in joint accounts, you will also be responsible for the other person’s money and debt. So if there should be any delinquent payments on the other joint user’s part, you will still be legally responsible for it – even if these delinquencies are not your fault.

The issuer of the credit card can go after either cardholder for the payment because both of your names are in one account. They can have legal actions taken against you, or both of you, for any charges you have or might not have made.

6. Credit card conflict can cause relationship problems.

Arguments are to be expected with joint accounts when communication is put aside. If there were any transactions that have been made without the knowledge of the other, it could give offense. For instance, if one has made a purchase that is not acceptable to the other joint user, and it has not been informed to him or her, they will have some trust issues in the future that will strain their relationship. It could be personal or business – for whatever purpose it is – inconsistency in the joint account will cause some relationship problems if not managed well.

7. Separation, divorce, or death will make it difficult to manage the joint account.

You will be held liable for any responsibilities in the original credit card agreement even in the unfortunate event of separation from, divorce from, or death of the other joint user. In cases of separation, it will be hard to communicate any transaction or due payments on the other joint user’s share, if you severe ties with that person.

In cases of a divorce, you will still be held liable even when the divorce agreement says otherwise. This means that if your partner isn’t putting in his or her share of bill payments, you will still be affected. In cases of death, you will take over full ownership of whatever accumulated savings or debts you have in the joint account.

8. The joint account can be used as a medium to manipulate the other.

This should not be the case, but it happens to some people, most especially to those that are in troubled personal relationships. One uses the credit card of the joint account to put a stress on the other. For instance, a joint user can go on a spending spree without any intention of paying for it, leaving the other person to cover the bill. If the other person refuses to pay, both of them will be held accountable. This would not matter for the other person who splurged if he or she already has bad credit in the first place.

About the author

Ally is part of the team that manages Home Loan Finder, a free home equity loan and home loan interest rates comparison service in Australia. Before joining HLF, she was a Media Planner with McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.

How to get out of credit card debt

Many people find themselves with significant amounts of credit card debt at some point in their lives. In order to get out of debt, you need to get motivated and concentrate on doing what you need to do to get yourself out of the situation. The following are a series of tips that will help you out:

Stop Charging

This is perhaps the most obvious but, at the same time, the most difficult to do. Take out some scissors and cut up your credit cards, particular ones with high interest rates. If you are not able to do this, take your cards out of your wallet so you won’t be tempted to charge more.

Transfer Your Balances to a Card with Lower Interest

The lower the interest rate, the more each of your payments will positively affect your debt. Take advantage of balance transfer offers that are available.

Pay off your Debts from the Smallest to the Largest

Make all of your minimum payments except on the debt which is the smallest. Pay off as much as you can on this one. The advantage of doing this is that you will certainly be more encouraged by paying off one or two debts and this will be far easier with those that are the smallest.

Consider Programs that Offer Debt Relief

Because of the recession, there are several ways that you can go about reducing your credit card payment. Do some research and you are sure to find a way through which you can reduce your credit card debt.

Pay Half the Minimum Payment Twice Each Month

The calculated interest is dependent on the average balance on the account for the whole month. Making payments every two weeks will reduce the total balance and thereby reduce the finance charges. Additionally, splitting up the payment will make the paying of the bills less daunting.

Make Small Payments When you Have Extra Money

Any extra money that you receive from family, eBay sales, overtime earnings, part time work, or garage sales should go straight to your card to pay off the debt. Although it might not seem significant, it will soon add up. Additionally, if the money is deposited in your checking account, you will be more likely to spend it on unnecessary items.

Close New Accounts

As you pay off your balances, close out your new accounts and leave your one or two oldest cards open. One of the aspects of your FICO credit score is the length of your credit history, which becomes negatively affected when you open new accounts. Through the closing of these new cards, you are essentially making your credit history appear older. If you are unsure as to how old your current accounts are, you should consider ordering a credit report.

If you are not someone who is able to control your credit card spending, you should perhaps consider cutting up all cards and living solely on cash. However, before you do this, make sure that you have a stash of emergency funds.

This guest article was contributed by Jane Sanders from Debt Management. To get more information, read her articles about credit card debt management.

Prepaid cards for teens :: Teach your children proper budgeting

We actually live in the epoch of financial issues. In fact, it’s almost impossible to imagine our world with no money in it. Besides, our kids follow the current progress willingly and due to the peculiarities of their age, they need to feel freedom, especially financial.

It’s not so bad as this period of life is the right time for teaching teens budgeting tips and prepaid credit cards can become a great tool to fulfill this purpose.

Another tool for your financial toolbox

Most parents don’t like the idea of giving their children traditional credit cards as they are afraid of overspending. Thus, credit card companies designed particular prepaid cards for teens which are aimed to teach kids dealing with money and credit being responsible.

The way these prepaid cards work is rather simple. Parents can load a particular amount of money that they deem appropriate for a teenager during one month, for instance, and then monitor the child’s spending by calling to the credit card company or with the help of online statements.

Safer than cash?

Actually, some experts consider these prepaid cards safer than cash because most credit issuers guarantee that the parents can be refunded for unauthorized purchases. In addition, the child won’t be able to spend more money than the parents have loaded. Moreover, even relatives can put money on the card for a teen instead of sending a check or just giving cash that can be wasted at once.

As for the teens, they will have more opportunities as having a prepaid credit card will allow making purchases online that are impossible with cash.

The major credit card companies, including Visa and MasterCard, offer prepaid cards for teens. As a rule, there are no overdraft fees, no interest charges or late fees. Thus, this financial option can become a really great tool for teaching budgeting tips.

However, it can become harmful without strict measures set for your teenagers. As an example on how to manage the prepaid card, load the desired amount of money each month in order to teach your kids efficient budgeting. Also, monitor your child’s spending carefully and discuss every purchase explaining whether it’s essential or not. Some parents may find it to be useful to make their children work for the card by means of doing some chores, for instance.

Great tool when used wisely

In fact, prepaid credit cards can be not only a good teaching tool, but also a great gift for teens. If your children will get prepaid cards, they will feel more adult and it’s really important for them to obtain a kind of financial freedom.

Don’t get too concerned if your child won’t manage proper spending right at the beginning. Be patient and try to explain every mistake. No one is perfect, but it’s better to make mistakes now at a young age in order to avoid the same errors as an adult.

Valery Thomson is a financial copywriter being occupied for the website providing payday loans online and she is eager to share her knowledge and experience concerning various financial issues.

5 tips to start getting out of debt

Get out of debt

Debt.

More of us are in it than we’d like to admit. In fact, debt is one of our country’s leading problems right now: our obsession with accumulation is responsible for putting us into this predicament, and it’s time to stop!

There is no quick way to get out of debt, unless you win the lottery. However, with small steps, we assure you that you can get there. Here are some helpful tips that you can use, if you too are trying to get out of debt.

  1. Say goodbye to your credit cards

    The reason why most of us got into debt in the first place is that we went a little charge happy with our credit cards. Credit cards give you the false illusion that there is money to spend when there isn’t. Stop living that lie, and give up your credit cards. When you have no actual cash to spend for something, it simply means that you cannot afford it, and must save up for it.

  2. Develop other hobbies and activities besides spending

    Most people wander around the mall because they are bored. Then, what happens? You end up buying this and that, items that will relieve boredom for now and give you temporary happiness. However, the cycle builds when you get bored again and you end up again buying something useless, accumulating debt in the process. Stop this cycle by keeping busy. Talk to friends, exercise, bond with your significant other or your kids. Just look for something worthwhile to do that does not involve spending!

  3. Always plan for expenses

    This is the time to say goodbye to impulse buys. If you want to buy something without planning for it, it probably means you do not need it. Before purchasing anything, discuss it over. See if this is a real need or just a passing want.

  4. Be smart and cut spending habits

    We know you’ve grown used to picking up the same brands when you go to the grocery store, but will switching to something cheaper really affect you in an adverse way? The next time you do the groceries, try to pick up the generic brands. Ask yourself if picking up the cheaper brand is really all that bad. Also calculate the savings you’ve made. You may be surprised at how much it is!

  5. Consider a second income

    If only one parent is working, see if it is possible to get a second income. A great option for stay at home parents is to get a job that allows you to work from home, or even an online job. When debt is high, a steady income is one of the best ways to get it go down.

Sam Briones is a freelance writer who covers an array of topics, from finding cheap auto insurance to safety tips.

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Bar None: The BEST Money-Making Degrees

You want to maximize your time in college, of course, but you also want to make sure that once you finally get out, you’ll be able to find a job in your career area of interest.

In order to find the most lucrative, well-paying job, you need to start by pursuing the best possible degrees while you’re in college. This will ensure that you will not only have a job, but a good one to boot. Here is a list of the best money-making degrees that you can pursue for big money.

Degree in Medicine

  • Average Salary: $145,000 – $151,000
  • Medical degree holders include doctors, surgeons, nurses and healthcare administrators. The medical field is in high demand of skilled, qualified and well-educated medical personnel. Entry-level physician assistants and healthcare workers with degrees can climb the ranks very quickly.

Degree in Anesthesiology

  • Average Salary: $ 290,000 – $393,000
  • The anesthesiologist keeps the patient alive during surgery while the surgeon performs the operation. Their main job is to keep the patient alive by making sure that they’re asleep during surgery. They also administer medications to ensure that the patient is pain-free and comfortable after surgery.

Degree in Law

  • Average Salary: $102,000 – $125,000
  • Law school will prepare you for a career in corporate law, private law, or you may even find yourself in mitigating law where you argue your case to a jury. The salary can command an even higher check in practices where there is an opportunity to become one of the managing partners of a law firm.

Degree in Pharmacy

  • Average Salary: $ 94,520 – $148,987
  • Pharmacists work for retail drugstores, mental health centers, private physician offices and nursing homes. The degree in this area pursues some of the same subjects as medical students do, including biology, physiology and math subjects.

Degree in Education Administration

  • Average Salary: $79,780 – $100,403
  • This field is full of teachers and educational administrators, and the average salary is only for those with a four-year basic educational degree. With advanced degrees like a masters or doctorate, academic students can expect to make significantly more, especially if they work in the private school sector.

Degree in Construction Management

  • Average Salary: $73,700 – $110,650
  • In the construction industry, there is a high demand for management personnel, and your services can either go to the highest bidder, or to manage a bevy of projects for specialty clients. Construction managers are also found working as general contractors, either for larger construction companies or as self-employed business owners.

Degree in Dentistry

  • Average Salary: $132,140 – $135,360
  • Dentists in private practice make a handsome salary in a stable industry. They can also customize their practices to concentrate in pediatric, geriatric dentistry or in cosmetic dentistry where the income is even more lucrative.

Conclusion

By carefully choosing your degree that promises a healthy salary, you can forget worrying about those questions that plague some people’s minds: How much will I make? Is this enough for me to live on? How will I pay off my loan?

With these degrees, you’ll be able to write your own check, straight to the top and to the bank!

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