Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for March. Also in the news: Sane ways to pay down student debt, how to avoid a credit check scam while looking to rent, and how to save when you don’t have any extra cash.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for March 2017
Finding the best cards.

4 Sane Ways to Pay Down Student Debt
Paying your loans without losing your mind.

Looking to Rent? Avoid a Credit Check Scam
Watch out.

7 Ways to Save When You Don’t Have Any Extra Cash
Every penny counts.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Consumers have a powerful tool in credit card chargebacks. Also in the news: Credit card trends for 2017, how to stay on budget and still have a social life, and deducting your student loan interest.

Consumers Have Powerful Tool in Credit Card Chargebacks
When to dispute a charge.

4 Credit Card Trends for 2017 and What They Mean for You
Going back to basics.

Ask Brianna: How Can I Stay on Budget and Still Hang Out?
You don’t have to give up your social life.

PSA: Don’t Forget to Deduct Your Student Loan Interest
Deducting every penny possible.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Creating a budget isn’t as scary as it sounds. Also in the news: How filing separately could give some couples a lower tax bill, the history of the credit card, and how to protect your family business during a divorce.

Creating a Budget Isn’t as Scary as It Sounds
Taking the first step.

Filing Separately Could Give Some Couples a Lower Tax Bill
When it makes sense to file separately.

The History of the Credit Card
The origins of our favorite plastic.

How to protect your family business during a divorce
Protecting a legacy.

Q&A: Will closing high-interest cards hurt your credit score?

Dear Liz: I have a few credit cards with very high interest rates — in the mid-teens. My FICO has improved (805 to 830) and I carry little or no balance on the credit cards. I have contacted the issuers asking for lower interest rates but they won’t budge. I have other credit cards with single-digit interest rates. I would like to close the credit cards with the higher interest rates and understand that I may see a drop in my FICO score. How long will take to get my credit score back in the 800s? Is this a wise move?

Answer: Sites that offer credit scores often also have simulators that estimate what might happen if you take certain actions, such as closing cards. You’ll note, though, that these simulators come with plenty of caveats that add up to: Your mileage may vary. A lot.

The reality is that it’s often tough to predict exactly how account closures will affect your scores or precisely how long those scores will take to recover. That doesn’t mean you can never close a card. For example, if you’re not using the card and you’re tired of paying an annual fee, then closing it can make sense if your scores are good and you’re not going to be in the market for a major loan, such as a mortgage. (You don’t want to close or open other accounts while you’re in the process of getting a loan.) If your scores drop a bit, it won’t be a crisis.

Closing a bunch of accounts at once, however, is generally not a good idea — particularly if you’re just doing it to “show them who’s boss.” If you’re not paying interest on these cards, their rates are irrelevant.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for February. Also in the news: How to cope with delayed tax refunds, brick and mortar stalwarts close as e-commerce thrives, and free online classes to improve your financial literacy.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for February 2017
What cards will serve you best?

IRS Delays Some Tax Refunds: How to Cope
Security measures to slow things down.

As E-Commerce Thrives, Macy’s, Sears Stores Close
Brick-and-mortar stores turned to dust.

5 free online classes to improve your financial literacy
No excuses!

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Credit score companies ordered to pay millions in refunds. Also in the news: How the Trump presidency will impact housing, how to refresh your finances in the new year, and how to become an extreme saver in 2017.

Credit Score Companies Must Refund $17.7 Million to Customers
Could you have a refund on the way?

How the Trump Presidency Will Impact Housing in 2017
A glimpse into the future.

Ask Brianna: How Can I Refresh My Finances for the New Year?

How to Become an Extreme Saver in 2017
Every penny counts.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: The best credit card tips for January. Also in the news: Less than one month left to shop for Obamacare, how to spend more mindfully in the new year, and what research says about erasing credit card debt.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for January 2017
How you can make 2017 better than 2016.

Less Than One Month Left for ‘Obamacare’ Shoppers
The deadline is Jan. 31st.

How to Spend More Mindfully in the New Year
Paying closer attention.

What research says about erasing credit card debt
Following the best path.

Holiday debt hangover? Here’s how to fix it

images-2Despite what you often read, credit card debt isn’t typical. One quarter of U.S. households don’t use credit cards at all, and another 35 percent or so regularly pay their balances in full, according to Federal Reserve statistics. Among households that carry credit card balances, the median debt–where half owe more and half owe less–is somewhere around $3,000.

Whopping “average credit card debt” statistics are what grab headlines, though. They’re typically compiled by taking the total amount charged on plastic at the end of the year and dividing it by the number of card-carrying households. Those total charges include amounts that are about to be paid off by us so-called “convenience users,” and often business credit card balances as well. Also, averages can be misleading, since a relatively small number of households carrying a lot of debt can skew the average upward.

If you’re the one with the debt, though, you know it doesn’t feel good. If your balances grew over the holidays, you may be stressing already about how to pay it off. Here are some ideas:

Skip the post-holiday sales. You’ve heard it over and over: You can’t get out of debt if you don’t stop digging. But our brains tells us sales are the exception. We’re saving money! Nope, we’re spending–and adding to our debt stress. Whatever’s on sale likely will be on sale again, so let it go.

Have a no-spend month. I hosted one of these more than a decade ago on MSN, and readers reported saving $300, $400 and more. A no-spend means you spend only on essentials: no eating out, paid entertainment or shopping. You’ll learn frugality skills like planning and making do that can help you save year round.

Check the cushions. You may have money tucked away in various forms–jars of coins, unused gift cards, rewards programs that can be converted to cash back or gift cards. (Sites like Gift Card Granny can help you convert plastic to cash.)

Make weekly credit card payments. Don’t wait until the bill arrives to pay it–start whittling down your balance with regular injections.

Lower your interest rate. If you have good credit, you may be able to qualify for low- or zero-rate balance transfer offers. Use them as a way to speed up your debt repayment.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

hidden-fees1Today’s top story: Credit card late fees are expected to rise in 2017. Also in the news: 10 New Year’s resolutions for your wallet, will Millennials be ready for retirement, and 3 signs you should switch banks.

Look for Credit Card Late Fees to Rise in 2017
More incentive to pay on time.

Sean Talks Money: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Wallet
Starting the news year off on the right foot.

Only 30 Years to Go. Will Millennials Be Ready for Retirement?
The clock is ticking.

3 Signs You Should Switch Banks in 2017
Knowing when it’s time to switch.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for December. Also in the news: How to tell if a Roth 401(k) is for you, why postdating checks is a waste of time, and how many credit cards you should have.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for December 2016
Just in time for holiday spending.

How to Tell If a Roth 401(k) Is for You
Choosing the right retirement savings.

Postdating Checks Is a Waste of Time — Here’s Why
Not worth the risk.

How many credit cards should you have?
What’s the magic number?