dcsimg

Archive for July 2013


Cats, credit cards and catastrophes

Published 7/26/13

Cats, credit cards and catastrophes By Peter Andrew

OK, I admit it: I'm a cat nut. Tati, the oldest of our three, had a mystery condition when he was very young, and it cost $10,000 to diagnose and treat it. True, most of that came from insurance, but we were still down several thousand dollars.

The world divides into people who completely get spending that sort of money on a pet, and those who are horrified or even outraged by it. I'm asked how I can justify shelling out that amount on an animal when there are people in the world who are starving. It's a fair point, but you can ask the same about all but the most essential household expenditure. The acquaintances questioning my priorities almost always have newer cars than mine (it's 18 years old), and I ask them to justify the cost of those. The starving were still around when those were bought.

Anyway, Sassi, our youngest cat (she's totally blind, and the cleverest, sweetest animal you've ever seen), now has lumps on her abdomen, and is due to return to the veterinary clinic on Thursday for biopsies to be taken. If the results are bad, there will be no cash limits on getting her better, although there will be ones on the suffering she should endure, should a brief and miserable extension to her life be all that's on offer. Time to cheer up! No point worrying before we get a diagnosis.

Cat-astrophes and credit cards

Anyway, pondering the possibility of some astronomical vet bills set me thinking about how best to pay for any treatment.

Read the full article »

2 steps to beneficial credit card spending

Published 7/17/13

2 steps to beneficial credit card spending By Georgie Miller

Sometimes it seems to me that every personal finance article on the Internet suggests that the only side effect of credit card use is overspending. And obviously overspending is something that needs to be avoided. However, it is actually possible to use credit cards to keep your spending in check.

How? By being a conscious consumer, you can use a credit card to simplify your record-keeping and make better spending decisions. Try the two steps below to see if you can use your credit card to improve your finances.

Step 1: Track your total balance

By tracking the total amount I've spent each month rather than considering each individual purchase, I can more easily decide the effect that purchase is going to have on my bottom line. Let's say a friend asks me to go to dinner and I have $30 in my wallet.

Read the full article »

Does your start-up need a business credit card?

Published 7/11/13

Does your start-up need a business credit card? By Justin Boyle

I'm not sure exactly when the fever took hold, but more than a few people I know have made the decision to start businesses in the last year or so. Whether it's turning an old Airstream trailer into a food truck, founding a software startup or turning a love of vintage objects into a resale shop on eBay, entrepreneurialism seems to be happening all around me.

Some general themes emerge when my enterprising friends talk about their ventures. Cautious optimism is pretty common, as you might expect, and practically everyone sighs heavily over start-up costs and overhead. All those sighs set me to wondering: What's the best way to pay for it all?

People who applied for business credit cards before doing any hefty spending tend to swear by their method, but those who dove into using their own personal credit haven't reported a long list of regrets either. Is one way really better than the other?

Let's take a look at some of the factors.

Reasons to get a business credit card

One of the biggest headaches of sole proprietorship is the necessity to keep track of your business finances.

Read the full article »

Is it safe to start spending again?

Published 7/5/13

Is it safe to start spending again? By Peter Andrew

I've been writing about business and money for a depressingly high number of decades. But I only started to cover credit cards in 2008. Remember that year? It was when the impact of the credit crunch really began to hit. People were hurting, and suddenly debt that had previously seemed easily manageable took on scary proportions.

Often, my job was to howl at the injustices some credit card companies inflicted on their customers, to provide advice about strategies for paying down card debt quickly, and to warn readers about the horrors of unmanageable debt. I'm a cheerful sort of person, and all that doom and gloom didn't come naturally.

Everything's coming up roses

Then, on June 27, everything changed for me. An e-newsletter arrived in my Inbox from Comerica's chief economist Dr. Robert A. Dye.

Read the full article »

One book's mission to teach personal finance

Published 7/1/13

One book's mission to teach personal finance By Jeffrey Steele

You can argue ad infinitum whether U.S. public schools do a good job in teaching reading, writing, arithmetic and all the other subjects taught to the tune of a hickory stick. But on one subject you're unlikely to get even a slight debate.

On the question of whether schools do well at helping students understand personal finance, the answer could be the world's most resounding "NO!"

This is what inspired Pittsburgh-based Gene Natali and his co-author Matt Kabala when they wrote their 2012 book, "The Missing Semester."

"We wrote the book because there's a clear need," Natali says. "This is one of the few subjects that impacts 100 percent of Americans. There will be 1.7 million students graduating college in 2013, and 3.2 million graduating high school, with 30 percent of those high school grads going directly to the workforce. Welcome to the real world, because 100 percent of them will have to begin making financial decisions. Yet they're ill prepared."

Introducing students to personal finance

When their schools fail them in term of financial education, students may not be prepared choose wisely on the dozens of financial choices that will be confronting them upon their graduation.

Read the full article »