dcsimg
Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the savings offers appearing on this site are from advertisers from which this website receives compensation for being listed here. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). These offers do not represent all deposit accounts available.


The idiot's guide to saving for retirement

Published 5/14/15

The idiot's guide to saving for retirement By Peter Andrew

Early in April, 2015, a British doctor revealed results from years of medical research around the globe. People, he concludes, who are overweight (but not obese) live longer that those with a body mass index in the normal range. I immediately went on Facebook to complain. My personal retirement strategy has always been to live unhealthily and die young, but scientists keep moving the goalposts: Things (caffeine, red wine, excess weight…) that were once supposed to be certain bringers of death now look set to prolong my life. If they find cigarettes are good for you (I quit only relatively recently), I could go on till 100+.

I'm not asking for sympathy. I'll get by in my twilight years: I'm debt-free, own my own home without a mortgage, have some modest savings and do the sort of work that (providing some genius in Silicon Valley doesn't come up with an app that writes financial advice) I can continue to do for the foreseeable future. In fact, I plan my last conversation to be with the funeral home crew hovering at the end of my deathbed: "Hang on, guys. I just have to post this feature article and I'll be with you."

My point is that what you're reading now is a "do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do" piece. It also means I know all about how difficult it can be to save for an event way in the future when the current demands on your money seem irresistible.

Read the full article »

How to fix a broken savings strategy

Published 4/3/15

How to fix a broken savings strategy By Peter Andrew

The only thing that stands between me and my being a good saver is my inability to differentiate between things I want and things I need. Show me something that it would be nice to have, and I'll show you the spectacular display of mental gymnastics necessary to turn that object of desire into a necessity. It's not that I'm a noticeably stupid person in most respects. It's just that my brain seems to have a blind spot when it comes to impulse control.

Either that or I'm too stupid to recognize my own stupidity. Looking around though, it appears I'm not alone in having impulse control issues when it comes to spending.

Most Americans financially unhealthy

Fifty-seven percent of adults in this country say they struggle financially, and 43 percent of U.S. households find simply keeping up with bills and finance payments a real challenge. Those numbers come from a new study from the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), which seeks to better understand people's "financial health," something it defines as occurring "when an individual's daily financial system functions well and increases the likelihood of financial resilience and opportunity."

Two other figures from the study show just how important savings are to achieving such health:

Read the full article »

Traveling abroad? Know these 5 credit card facts

Published 3/16/15  (Modified 3/20/15)

Traveling abroad? Know these 5 credit card facts By Peter Andrew

Do you believe that 41.8 percent of adult Americans failed to take a single vacation day in 2014? And that another 16.1 percent took fewer than five? Those figures, which comes to you courtesy of the Skift travel website, are derived from an online survey with a sample base of 1,500, so they're hardly bulletproof statistically. But do you share my sneaking suspicion they could be correct -- or at least pretty close to correct?

It wouldn't be surprising. In 2013, the Center for Economic and Policy Research published a list of the paid vacation time provided in each of the 21 most advanced economies. The U.S. was alone in providing none. Add paid holidays to paid annual leave, and some countries were startlingly generous. You won't be surprised by the 31 days in France, but how about the 34 in Germany and Denmark or the 27 in Australia and New Zealand? Even the Japanese are guaranteed a minimum of 10 vacation days a year.

But not Americans. And yet vacation time can have an important influence on how we feel about ourselves. A few months ago, Gallup found some amazing results when it asked survey respondents about taking proper breaks from work.

Read the full article »

Easy and cheap ways to boost your home's value

Published 1/30/15

Easy and cheap ways to boost your home's value By Peter Andrew

Regular readers may be shocked by my grubby little secret: I can waste hours online reading about, looking at floor plans and pictures of, and fantasizing over other people's very expensive homes.

What do I get out of this? Some of my motivations may be shameful, and driven by insecurities about my own modest accomplishments. It's fun to see how the ultra-rich can expend vast sums of money on spectacularly garish -- almost Trump-esque -- monuments to vulgarity, ostentation and bad taste. Though one has to admire the equal-opportunities ethos of those who employ interior decorators who must surely be legally blind.

But the main pleasure I get is imagining what I'd do to the homes were I to be able to afford to buy them and then remodel with money-no-object budgets. Short of a lottery win or the discovery of a previously unknown and recently deceased billionaire relation, these fantasies are unlikely to come true, but I enjoy them. Still, it's embarrassing, so I'd be grateful if you keep my little secret strictly between the two of us.

Read the full article »

2 steps to making saving easier

Published 1/22/15

2 steps to making saving easier By Georgie Miller

It may still be early in the year, but if you're like me, you've already failed at a New Year's resolution (or five). I think one of the reasons so many resolutions fail is because they require that you take an action (or not take action) every single day. Saying I won't buy myself coffee every morning is easy. However, if I have to drive or walk by the coffee shop on a daily basis, it's only a matter of time before my willpower gives out and I'm in line for some caffeinated bliss.

That's why I experience more success by using strategies that fall into the category of "set it and forget it." In other words, if I only have to do something once, then I don't have to worry about a daily inner battle that I'm all too likely to lose. A little bit of effort up front can save me quite a bit later. How do you do that? Here is a simple two-step process for effort-free savings.

Step 1: Determine how much you want to save and work backward

How much do you want to be putting aside every month and why? Once you know that, then all you have to do is to figure out how to keep that money from hitting your checking account where it's likely to be spent.

Read the full article »

This holiday season, say no to store credit cards

Published 12/9/14

This holiday season, say no to store credit cards By Peter Andrew

I'm such a nostalgia junkie. Even now I'm an adult (allegedly), I can't help but overlay the hell that is getting through holiday preparations with precious childhood memories. There were happy songs on the radio. There was no pressure to judge gorgeously gaudy decorations through the prism of taste. Church -- something rarely other than boring to a 6-year-old boy -- suddenly became upbeat and fun.

And, when it came to festive-season department stores, the tables were turned: Instead of Mom dragging me for seeming eternities through endless displays of china, linen, silverware, menswear and -- the ultimate humiliation -- womenswear, I got to drag her to the toy department.

"Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven," Wordsworth might have written about kids and holidays, had he not already used the lines to describe the French Revolution. Come to think of it, in our house, the two could get similarly bloody (at least metaphorically) by Christmas night -- though not for us kids.

Trouble in store

You have to feel sorry for today's 6-year-olds. It must feel as if every time mom comes to pay in a department store they have to settle down to witness a clerk giving her the hard sell on the retailer's plastic. And quite a lot of those moms (and dads and others) are falling for the pitch.

Read the full article »