How To Reduce Your Credit Card Interest Rates

Interest rates can really eat into your finances over the long haul. On a monthly basis, it might not seem like much, but it can really add up over the long term, especially if you are only paying minimums at the moment.

If you are eager to start saving more money for a rainy day, then why not start with tackling your credit card debt, beginning with lowering your interest rates? Try these strategies to reduce the interest rates on your current debt.

Getting a lower interest rate on your debt can be much easier than you think. Look at your debts and their interest rates, see where you could make a difference, and go for it!


Schedule an Appointment with Yourself for a Financial Checkup

Avoiding the Consumer Credit Trap

Smart Spending Strategies: Cut Your Spending and Cure Consumerism


Financial Calendar for July

1-31 National Recreation and Parks Month. The month of July encourages recreation in the nation’s beautiful parks. It won’t cost much money to get a picnic lunch together and drive your family to the closest national park for a glorious day.

1 Midyear Financial Review. Since the year is halfway over, take a look at your financial situation so far this year. Make any adjustments necessary to finish the year financially strong.

4 Independence Day. Celebrate your country’s independence today. Dress in red, white and blue and enjoy a meal outdoors. Would you like to have financial freedom, too? Analyze your total debt this evening. What can you do to pay it down quickly?

7 Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market. Take some time this weekend to browse the Farmer’s Market. You’ll be amazed by how much you can save on fresh, delicious produce.

15 Finalize College Plans for Your College Freshman. If you have any kids starting college this autumn, have them double-check their living and meal arrangements to ensure everything is in order.

22 Hammock Day. Hammock Day is just like it sounds—a day to spend relaxing and doing nothing but resting. While you’re getting some R & R, vividly imagine realizing your financial goals. How will your life change? Use this pleasant imagery to motivate you to move forward toward this reality.

24 Parents’ Day. In the US, on this date we celebrate the importance of parents who build strong families. In order to be the best parent you can be, have you constructed a strong financial picture for your family? If not, do something now to improve your financial future.

31 Evaluate Your Financial Portfolio. Now is the time to meet with your stock broker to ensure your financial portfolio is building the way you’d like it to. Consider whether you want to add new mutual funds or stocks to your portfolio. If you do not have a broker, consider learning more about investing and decide whether or not you need a broker.


Saving Money, Investing Wisely in 2012 – Insider Secrets on How to Make the Most of Your Money in this Ongoing Recession


When to Down-size Your Home

Q: I always thought that when we bought our ideal home, we’d live in it until we died. It seems to me that most people will eventually get their home paid off so they can live in it mortgage-free when they retire. My husband and I both work full-time and really appreciate our home.

But lately, I’ve heard some of the financial experts on television talking about down-sizing your home. I can’t believe I’d ever consider it. But ever since the bottom fell out of the economy, I’m starting to wonder about all the costs involved — should my husband and I think about selling our house?

Does giving up the home of your dreams and down-sizing ever make sense?

A: You pose a good question. Many people believe the same as you: that they’ll remain all their lives in the first home they buy. However, we know that usually isn’t the case thanks to statistics on the subject. The average adult moves nearly 12 times in his life, according to the research.

Usually, each time people move, they “move up” to homes that are bigger and cost more to buy and therefore to maintain. They end up with ‘more house’ than they can realistically afford, and become more and more trapped by an asset that is not liquid, that is, can’t be easily converted to cash in case of an emergency.

The reality is that it costs money to keep a home in good working order. Some situations in life could occur that would compel you to reduce your standard of living. for example, if you or your spouse got laid off, or became ill and could not work, it would require you to live on just one of your salaries.

The question then becomes whether or not that would be possible. We should all have an emergency fund set by, but what if the unemployment or illness lasted longer than the six months you are supposed to plan for?

Another reason to down-size has to do with how much money you save over the long term. If you turn 65 and your retirement savings haven’t reached an amount you can live on for 25+ years, it makes sense to reduce your expenses by down-sizing. That will most likely involve selling the home you live in to get a smaller one and to live more modestly within your means.

Imagine that you live in a 2,500 square foot home at age 65. If the children have moved out, you could reduce your monthly expenses by a large percentage if you moved to a 1,200 square foot condo. That is because you’d be paying for heating, cooling and upkeep on just ½ the square footage that you did before, plus, no lawn care expenses would be needed.

Many families used to keep the home as is in case the children wanted to visit or come back to live, but you could look for a two-bedroom to use as a guest room and home office and consider putting in a sofa bed there and in your living room if you are really concerned about this.

Another factor that could trigger down-sizing is one of you leaving the workforce early. Consider this — if you or your husband develops a chronic health condition that prevents you from working, you would be living on one paycheck or on a significantly lower Social Security income rather than the amount on your paycheck. Another situation that might cause one of you to resign your job earlier than you anticipate is the need to take care of an aging parent. Many people are living longer than ever before, but this can often mean becoming crunched between young children on the one hand and aging parents on the other.

If your house is set up in such a way that an older person such as your parent or your aging self can live in it without issues regarding stairs and maintaining independence, you might consider keeping your house and having your family move in to save expenses.

Some people also rent out their rooms after their children leave, to earn extra money and have more company, but this can be risky if you do not know the person well, or at all.

It is less expensive to run a smaller home. You’ll begin noticing savings right away. The smaller your yard is, the less you pay to mow it or have it taken care of. The smaller your roof is, the fewer dollars you will spend maintaining it and the less you will spend on heat and air conditioning.

While it is true that the property market is not doing too well at the moment, you can never plan too early for the future, particularly your retirement. Start thinking about your opportunities now and plan for your financial future carefully. The next home you buy may be perfect for you, and one you will want to live in long term. Take account of what you would need now and in the future and think about a one-storey or easy access house in case of illness or disability.


Housepainting 101

Alternate Energy Guide


How to Rebuild Your Credit Quickly

If you are not happy with your credit score, do not just sit there feeling powerless about your financial situation. There are several key steps that you can take to begin restoring your credit.

Many people think they they are stuck with a bad credit score for life, but a few strategic moves on your part could soon have you raising your credit score systematically in order to get that loan you want, the home of your dreams, and more.

1-Pay down debt.

Plan to pay down any debt you have now.

2-Pay on time.
Be sure you always pay on time to avoid penalties, fees and further damage to your credit report.

3-Pay as soon as the bill comes.
Don’t leave it sitting around til the last minute. The sooner you pay, the less interest accruing on the balance.

4-Make an extra payment.
Even $10 extra can help you start to pay down your debt strategically and boost your credit score.

5-Obtain new credit

This is simple but very powerful. In many instances, people who don’t have good credit also do not have a credit card because they lost their privileges of owning one. Some never reapply for one because want to use cash to avoid going back into debt. But the reality is that if you ever want to apply for a loan or necessary credit, it’s important to start rebuilding your credit strategically. Just be sure not to apply too often, as the inquiry on your credit report could actually cause it to go lower.

Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

How to Save Over $100 on Your Food Bill Every Month

Money Matters Questions: Credit Cards


April Financial Calendar

1-30 Financial Literacy Month. Established in the US to encourage people to educate themselves about all things financial, Financial Literacy Month is the time to learn more about budgeting and improving your money habits.
Do something this month to expand your knowledge of financial matters—attend a financial seminar or read a book about finances written by one of your favorite money gurus.

1 Are you ready to file your taxes? Ensure you have all the forms and records you need to do your income taxes so you can file by April 17.

6 Good Friday. Spend time with loved ones today.

7 United Nations’ World Health Day. This holiday commemorates the importance of the health of all peoples. Every year on this date, the UN releases its message in terms of current health priorities. Why not use this day to survey your current financial health? It’s time to ensure your budget is in shape.

8 Easter. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Look over your entire investment portfolio this evening to ensure you’ve diversified your “nest egg” to ensure the best results.

17 Income Taxes Due. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet and can’t do it today, file an extension today so that you have until October 15 to file them. If you owe money though, the money is still due, so if you don’t pay until October, you’ll owe interest and penalties as well.

22 Earth Day. Established to celebrate our “neighborhood,” this holiday reminds us to give pause and thanks for the earth. Why not renew your recycling and re-purposing efforts? You’ll save waste at the local landfill and get double-duty from more of your personal belongings. Recycle, re-purpose and save money! For more information, and great activities for the whole family, see: Earth Day and Every Day: A Beginner’s Guide to Green Activities and Recipes (Green Matters)

25 Administrative Professionals’ Day. This day is designated to honor all the administrative professionals who keep the offices going. Why not splurge this year and give the administrative professional(s) at your office a $25 savings bond?
30 Get ready for spring. Have you thought about having a garage sale to make some extra money? Do some spring cleaning and price items you’re ready to get rid of. Deposit the money you make into your savings account. Good job!


March Financial Calendar

1-31 National Nutrition Month. Spearheaded by the National Dietetic Association, National Nutrition Month was established to remind people to eat nutritionally and develop healthy exercise habits. During March, concentrate on your nutritional intake and level of physical activity. Your good health = more money in the bank.

1 The first quarter of the year ends the 31st of this month. Maybe it’s time to take a look at your earnings so far this year. Are you meeting your mark? Think creatively about what you can do to increase your income every quarter this year.
2 Read Across America Day/Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. Dr. Seuss books serve as encouragements to read for a lot of kids every year. Why not donate a large stack of Dr. Seuss books to a local nursery school, grade school or foster care program? You’ll feel so wonderful to know you’re giving the gift of reading to children, plus your donation is tax deductible, which means you’ll benefit, too at the end of the year!
11 Daylight Saving Time Begins. Although you’ll lose an hour when you set your clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m., ultimately you’ll save money by using less energy for lighting. After all, when Daylight Saving Time begins, you save daylight!
15 Business taxes are due today for many people who run their own business. This is also a good day to start gathering your paperwork for April 15th.
17 St. Patricks’ Day. Who doesn’t love to celebrate the patron saint, St. Patrick, of Ireland? Have fun with your friends and family and don’t forget to wear green. Speaking of the color green, put an extra $50 away this week in honor of St. Patrick.

20 First Day of Spring. With the amount of daylight and night-time nearly even today, you might say it’s a day of balance. Take a look at your stock portfolio to ensure it’s balanced in terms of growth stocks and stable CDs.
22 World Water Day. This day in March is designated by the United Nations to increase the world’s understanding of the importance of water to the lives of all people. Do you do everything you can to conserve water in your home and office? Take shorter showers and teach your kids to do the same. You’ll not only conserve water, you’ll also save on your water bills.
31 Review monthly grocery expenditures. Gather your grocery store cash register receipts for this month. How much did you spend for the month? Plan to reduce your monthly total by 10% next month.


How to Earn Extra Money Even in This Recession, Part 2

(continued from Part 1)

3. Try is a website that allows anyone to post a product or service that costs $5. The website takes $1, so your earnings will be $4 per task. If the task only takes 15 minutes to complete, then you have the potential to earn up to $16 an hour. If you can think of offering a service that doesn’t take a lot of time, you can make some decent spending money. Logo design, for instance, does not need to take that long if you are skilled at PhotoShop. There are also several other websites similar to that allow you to charge up to $25 for quick services or products. A Google search for “Fiverr Clones” should show you several sites that are worth considering. Even if you are working full time, you can use your spare time after work, or even before work or during your lunch hour, to start earning more.

4. Buy a storage unit at an auction.
Or more correctly, purchase the contents of a storage unit. This practice occurs when people put items in storage and then fail to pay their rental fees. Eventually the property devolves to the rental place, who will sell the items in order to recoup their rent. The items will be auctioned site unseen. This practice can be hit or miss, since people might be storing a whole bunch of clothes or other personal items with little to no resale value. However, if you think about the success of eBay, you will know that many people are actually making a living from purchasing the contents of abandoned storage units and selling what they find. CDs, old records, books, tapes, and other collectibles can all be found in this way and sold on. Sell the junk at a garage sale and the good stuff on eBay. With a little luck, that $200 storage unit could be worth $10,000 or more.

There are certain rules, tricks and tips to selling on eBay that you will want to become familiar with before making such a commitment, so start small with a few items in your home and then take it from there. Also consider selling the latest titles as used books on Amazon. Become familiar with good packaging and mailing practices to be sure that any parcels you send out go by a traceable means and arrive promptly and undamaged. Remember that you will get ratings as a seller at all of the sites you participate on, so be prepared to offer good customer service.

If you still have a job but you are underpaid, underemployed, or both, these are just a few of the ways that you can make extra money to pay off debts, start an emergency fund, or start saving for your financial goals for the future.

Further Reading

For more great ideas on how to survive and even thrive in this recession, see: Your Recession Survival Guide

For more information on creating wealth to start your own business, see How to Start a Successful Small Business Even If You Don’t Have Much Cash

For more information on how to start an emergency fund, see Emergency Fund 101: How to Save Money for Unexpected Expenses