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Get out of debt by using your credit card

Get out of debt by using your credit card

Published 10/7/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

Get out of debt by using your credit card By Sierra Black

Credit cards: the best friend and worst enemy of anyone trying to live on a budget. Your credit card is there when an unexpected bill comes up, and it can help you through a rough week when you don't quite have enough to cover groceries and pay for gas for your car. However, depending on how you use it, your credit card can also be your biggest downfall, enabling you to rack up large amounts of debt.

Managing money is hard. Especially when you're just starting out, you'll make mistakes. Having a credit card in your pocket can feel like a safety net when there's a gap between your income and your expenses.

Using credit cards to get into debt

There were plenty of weeks when I depended on my credit card to get me through to my next paycheck. Like many young Americans before and after me, I didn't always pay it off again when that paycheck came. Pretty soon, I was carrying chronic debt on all of my credit cards. A lot of it.

At that point, my helpful credit cards started to look more like enemies than friends. I was living beyond my means, and the credit cards that once helped me do it now ate up a big chunk of my income in interest payments every month. It was time for a change.

Using credit cards to get out of debt

I didn't start out

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Savings accounts - nest egg builders or wastes of time?

Published 10/6/10  (Modified 3/17/11)

Savings accounts - nest egg builders or wastes of time? By Peter Andrew

You say tomatoes...

Do you think the Federal Reserve should be more like the Bank of England? No, I'm not suggesting it should employ people with funny accents or lose most of its international influence. But perhaps its people could learn something from their opposite numbers in London about plain speaking. The Daily Telegraph, a UK-based newspaper, reported at the end of September 2010 some remarks by the deputy governor of the Bank of England. He told British savers to, "stop moaning and start spending."

Well, that's blunt, and you can't imagine a senior Fed official coming out with anything like it. However, if you look at what the Fed does, rather than what it says, it's hard to escape the conclusion that it's trying to send a similar message to Americans. Perhaps it should just come clean like the Brits.

Saving accounts that lose you money

Partly thanks to the Fed, interest rates right now are generally at or near historic lows. That's great if you need a mortgage, but bad news if you're saving up for the down payment you'll need to get that home loan - or for anything else for that matter. Indeed, if you factor in fees and inflation, you can actually come out at a loss by keeping your money in some savings accounts.

But don't despair. It may be a long time before we again see the sorts of high rates for savers that

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2 ways to stay afloat during financial storms

Published 10/6/10  (Modified 3/17/11)

2 ways to stay afloat during financial storms By Peter Andrew

The bad news

If you're a student or recent graduate, you're entitled to feel resentful. These are supposed to be among the best years of your life (I know; I sound so old), but they're turning out very differently.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), only about 25 percent of college graduates who completed job applications in May 2010 actually found work, compared with half who did so three years earlier. And the unemployment rate among college graduates aged under 25 is running at nine percent. The news isn't much more cheerful for those who do find work. Salaries fell for those with bachelor degrees from the class of 2010 when measured against those of their predecessors in 2009.

It's the same if you're a little older but are finding that you're now encountering financial challenges. In August 2010, unemployment was at or close to a 27-year high. And if you add in those highly qualified people who've had to take part-time or menial jobs to stay afloat, the number of Americans who are likely to have debt problems is staggering.

What's really frustrating is that older generations - many of whom had it easy themselves - are quick to criticize younger people who find themselves in financial difficulties. Many find it impossible to sympathize, even though - or perhaps because - they're the ones who got the country into this mess.

The slightly better news


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5 sneaky ways to save a little money

Published 10/6/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

5 sneaky ways to save a little money By Megg Mueller

When it comes to saving money, everyone has their own, tried-and-true tactics. I clip coupons for the grocery store and compare them against my shopping list and against the grocery store sales flyers from my local paper. Maybe you keep your thermostat tightly regulated, doling out paper fans and sweaters to your family as the season's change. Whatever your personal money saving tips are, I bet there's a few you might not have thought of that just might save you a bit more each month.

1. Talk is not always cheap. Many people initially get locked into a cell phone contract, and then never look at their plan again except to pay the bill. But every few months, you should evaluate your usage. Are you texting more, and talking less? Have your monthly call minutes gone up due to that new boyfriend who isn't with the same carrier? Options such as unlimited text messaging, or family share plans can often save you money in the long run.

Your life changes, and so should your cell phone plan. Most carriers today allow you to change your plan at any time during your contract period. However, the catch is that you'll likely have to start a whole new contract, which extends your time with that carrier, so make sure to find out the details of your plan before switching.

2. Information is power. Most people know that a budget is a good

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