Saving Money Category
How “alternative credit data” could help you get approved at lower rates.
Protecting you and your credit from cyber-theft.
Open Houses are not only a waste of time; they could be an open invitation to thieves.
From bag fees to charging to make reservations by phone, airlines are determined to squeeze as much money out of passengers as possible.
There’s money to be made in mutual funds, if you have the patience.
How to Save More Money This Month
Six ideas to help you get through June without breaking the bank.
No, You Shouldn’t Take Out the Largest Mortgage Possible
Don’t be tempted by still-low mortgage rates.
How to Give Your Finances a Summer Makeover
Ten tips on strengthening your finances over the summer months.
Nail Your Home Renovation Budget
How to ensure your home does not become a money pit.
How to Avoid a Summer Vacation Disaster
Don’t let your summer vacation turn into a summer nightmare.
Could there be a real solution to the student loan crisis?
Credit can be a helpful tool, but it also may make us “dumber, fatter, poorer.”
How to pay U.S. tax rates while living in your newly purchased English manor.
The home inspection could be the most important part of your potential sale.
There’s no way to completely protect yourself from identity theft, but here are some ways to boost your financial immune system.
Your Facebook status updates could soon be used to verify your financial state.
Experts debate the pros and cons of personal budgets.
Tips on how to break a lease as painlessly as possible.
How to stay cool without melting your wallet.
Small steps you can take to stay out of debt.
Tips on how to save money by not wasting food.
Gasoline, college tuition and…eggs?
Before walking down the aisle, find out where you both stand on past, present and future debt.
Advice on how to deal with parents’ compromised financial situations in a sensitive manner.
While holiday blackouts can make redeeming frequent flier miles difficult during the summer, there are still good deals to be had if you know where to look.
Identity thieves are targeting victims at their most vulnerable. Find out what you can do to protect yourself.
A novel approach to managing vacation time could allow you to purchase a day off or sell time you’re not going to use.
Meet the five common personal finance myths and how to avoid them.
The good news is that it’s not too late. The bad news is that it will be if you wait any longer.
The inconvenient costs of convenience checks, the effects of the sequester on the unemployed, how to save money by purchasing an energy efficient home, how to save your financial sanity when your kids move back home and why hurricane season means it’s time to check your auto insurance coverage.
The checks sent by your credit card company under the guise of convenience could lead to some very inconvenient fees.
The effects of sequestration mean 11% to 22% cuts for unemployment checks.
Purchasing an energy-efficient home could land you a larger mortgage and a lower interest rate under a Senate bill introduced with broad real estate industry support.
With over 13% of parents having a grown child living at home, it’s important to set financial ground rules in order to keep the peace.
Hurricanes damage hundreds of thousands of cars, but insurer rules prevent last-minute buying of coverage. Now is the time to review your policy.
Dear Liz: My spouse has tenure at a university. Given that one of us will always be employed, should we change the way we look at the amount of money we keep in an emergency fund or our risk tolerance for investments?
Answer: Even tenured professors can get fired or laid off. Tenure was designed to protect academic freedom, but professors can lose their jobs because of serious misconduct, incompetence or economic cutbacks, such as when a department is eliminated or a whole university is closed. About 2% of tenured faculty are dismissed in a typical year, according to the National Education Assn.’s Higher Education Department.
That’s more job security than in most occupations, of course. Your spouse also may have access to a defined benefit pension, which would give him or her a guaranteed income stream in retirement. Those factors mean you reasonably can take more risk with your other investments.
As for your emergency fund, you may be fine with savings equal to three months of expenses. But consider that if your spouse were to be dismissed, he or she probably would have a tough time finding an equivalent position. If the institution starts having financial difficulties or if there is any reason to suspect that he or she could be dismissed, a fatter fund could come in handy.
Here are some ideas to cut your costs:
Travel outside the box. Your options aren’t just “fly or drive”? Donna Freedman recommends checking out the Megabus. “I went from Philly to NYC for $1.50. Could make day trips really cheap.” She also traveled on the Megabus in the United Kingdom for a fraction of what the train fare would have cost. Speaking of trains, overnight trips on Amtrak can be pretty expensive, but we’ve scored free roomettes (double-bunk sleeper) and bedrooms on overnight trips up and down the West Coast using Starwood points that we dumped into Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program.
Book strategically. The best day to book airfares is often Tuesday, while the cheapest day to fly is usually Wednesday. But Bing’s price predictor can help you figure out whether to snap up a fare or wait a little longer. (Just search for an airfare, and the predictor will give you the likelihood the current fare will increase or drop.) Join frequent flyer programs and sign up for email newsletters so you can hear about special sales. Kiplinger has more here in its “21 secrets to save on travel.”
Rescue orphaned miles. Got points in a travel program you no longer use? You may be able to shift them to a loyalty program you do use. Check out Webflyer.com’s Mileage Converter to explore the possibilities. Speaking of points:
Don’t settle for expensive. Last-minute trips don’t have to be budget-busters. Airlines may release more seats a few days prior to the flight so that you can book them with frequent flyer miles. Priceline and Hotwire are great places to bid for cheap flights, rooms and cars.
Re-shop your reservations. Change fees make rebooking airfares tough on most carriers, but you can typically change hotel and car rental reservations without penalty. I usually book a few months in advance, then check three weeks out and again a week out to see if hotel or car rates have fallen.
Plan cheap fun. Last time we visited Hawaii we bought an Entertainment book for the islands before we left. The $10 we spent for the book was offset with our first museum visit; the coupons for other activities and restaurants were a bonus. Donna suggests talking to locals and doing searches for “free/cheap things to doyou’re your destination. “Maybe something just opened & isn’t on the general radar yet,” she noted.
Dear Liz: A few years ago I finished paying off my debt and now am in the very low-risk credit category. I have savings equal to about three months’ worth of bills and am working to get that to six months’ worth. I’m wondering, though, about an emergency that may require me to pay in cash (such as a major power outage that disables debit or credit card systems, or the more likely event that I forget the ATM or credit card at home). How much cash should a person have on hand? Is there a magic number?
Answer: There’s no magic number. You’ll have to weigh the likelihood you’ll need the green, and the consequences of not having it when you need it, against the risk of loss or theft.
Many people find it’s a good idea to tuck a spare $20 into their wallet for emergencies, and perhaps another $20 in their cars if they’re in the habit of forgetting their wallets or their plastic.
Cash for a disaster is another matter. Power could go out for a week or more, or you may need to evacuate and pay for transportation and shelter at a time when card processing systems are disabled. A few hundred bucks in cash probably would be the minimum prudent reserve you’d want to keep in a secure place in your home. You may decide that you need more.