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Archive for May 2013


5 tips for building an emergency fund

Published 5/24/13

5 tips for building an emergency fund By Holly Johnson

We've all been there. Your dryer breaks down. Your car needs new brakes. You finally have to replace your leaky roof. These are just a few of the common costs that can appear out of nowhere to drain your wallet. So what are you supposed to do when these unwelcome surprises occur?

You can't predict the future and there's no way to safeguard yourself against the many external factors that cause emergencies. However, there is one fool-proof way to prepare for a lifetime of unexpected expenses: start an emergency fund.

We've talked recently about what an emergency fund is and why it's important to have one. But if you haven't done it before, creating an emergency fund can seem like a challenging endeavor. Try using these five tips to get started.

1. Identify regular saving opportunities

In order to free up cash to divert to your emergency fund, you may need to cut some of your expenses (assuming you can't find a new way to make extra money).

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Should you start a business on zero percent credit?

Published 5/22/13

Should you start a business on zero percent credit? By Peter Andrew

I'm not what you'd call a natural entrepreneur. In fact, every venture I've ever tried to set up has turned to dust. But a few years ago, I inherited a small sum of money, and couldn't find anywhere to put it where it would earn a reasonable, relatively risk-free return. So I once again considered setting up my very own micro-enterprise: I planned to buy a cheap, run-down home, do it up, and then flip it before starting the process all over again.

A number of questions arose: Would my meager windfall be enough to fund such an operation? If not, where should I obtain working capital, especially as my bank and I are barely on speaking terms? Should I be ready to let credit cards take some of the strain?

Zero percent credit cards as seed capital

Given my track record, it's probably just as well I left the money in something my bank, without any trace of irony, calls a high-interest savings account. But should I have gathered some nerve and taken the plunge, having first applied for a clutch of zero percent credit cards? Maybe.

The idea of using the interest-free introductory period that many cards offer to fund a start-up business sounds attractive, and there are plenty of stories online about entrepreneurs who used plastic to get their companies off the ground.

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5 money lessons I learned after graduation

Published 5/16/13

5 money lessons I learned after graduation By Georgie Miller

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 1.7 million students will graduate from college this year. Graduation season is one of my favorite times of year. It reminds me of a time when the future was full of possibility.

However, there are some things about life and money that I wish I had known before entering the "real world."

1. Don't pigeonhole yourself

When I started looking at job ads, I was worried because I didn't see any that specified my major. However, I've been working happily for five years in a job with no explicit connection to my degree.

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Summer jobs for college students

Published 5/8/13

Summer jobs for college students By Anthony Fontana, Zing!/Quicken Loans

This story comes from our partner, Zing! by Quicken Loans

As a college student, this time of year was bittersweet. On one hand, the semester was winding down and summer vacation was just a few sleepless nights spent cramming for exams away. On the other hand, the end of the semester also meant it was time for a summer job.

A good summer job can make for a memorable summer. However, a bad summer job can make the summer seem like it’s dragging on forever. Below is a list of jobs for you to consider this summer if you want to make some money and have fun at the same time.

Server

If you’re looking to make some quick cash, work at a restaurant or bar as a server, not a dishwasher. While your paychecks generally won’t be worth a whole lot, you won’t have to wait a week or two for payday because you’ll bring home cold, hard cash after every shift (hopefully). Look for establishments that have outdoor seating, as it’s likely they’ll need to hire extra help for the summer.

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What is a chip-and-PIN credit card?

Published 5/7/13

What is a chip-and-PIN credit card? By Justin Boyle

At first glance, your U.S. credit card may seem ideal for traveling abroad. You can just bring your foreign-fee-free card on your next overseas trip and cross borders without having to worry about losing spending power to unfavorable exchange rates, right?

As many world travelers have found, it isn't always that easy.

The rise of chip-and-PIN cards

In 2004, card issuers in many parts of the world started changing their credit card format. The old signature-verified model began falling by the wayside in these places in favor of EMV smart chip cards, commonly referred to as chip-and-PIN cards.

Increased security is cited as the primary advantage of a switch to chip-and-PIN cards, which feature two authentication methods: the traditional magnetic stripe, as well as an encrypted microprocessor that broadcasts payment information to the card reader. Experts in India, where the national reserve bank has mandated a switch to EMV cards for international transactions, say that the chips are practically impossible for fraudsters to decode.

But after much of Europe switched to EMV technology, travelers from the U.S. began to fall victim to the incompatibility of their U.S. credit cards in some places.

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