Monthly Archives: November 2013
Barclaycard have just announced what credit experts are referring to as “the longest offer in the history of the credit card”, which comes in the shape of their 30-month Platinum balance transfer deal. Many in the credit industry have called this a somewhat risky move on the part of Barclaycard, and this notion is certainly corroborated by new research undertaken by TotallyMoney.com.
Indeed, this research has emphasised the fact that one in four people who have received a long-term balance transfer, have gone on to miss a payment. Unfortunately for the consumer, the terms and conditions of the historic Barclaycard deal, as with most of the 0% transfer deals offered by the majority of card issuers, state that failure to meet monthly payments could mean that the 0% interest facility is removed before the end of the 30-month period. This would leave the consumers in question being forced to pay 18% interest APR, the average default interest rate.
In fact, 24% of the 30.42 million people with credit cards admit to having missed a payment in the last 24 months. This means that a staggering 7.3 million of credit card users flout the terms of their contract with their credit card companies, which obviously has a negative impact on their credit rating.
The research from TotallyMoney.com also shows that 22% of consumers have a balance transfer credit card, for which the average balance is £2167. Yet worryingly, only 33% of the 6.54 million people with these credit cards, have set up a direct debit to avoid missing one of the monthly payments.
CEO and co-founder of TotallyMoney.com, Will Becker, stated that: “it’s great to see the credit card market rife with competitive new deals for consumers”, pointing to the fact that the new Barclaycard Platinum deal. He also expressed concern that customers may not be aware of the pitfalls of defaulting on payments, with specific reference to the 18% default APR.
This is a Guest Post by Todd @ Fearless Dollar — it’s part of his 5 site series on How To Save on Gas Money.
Are you driving to see family this holiday season? Taking a road trip to see the fam can be cheaper and more (or less) convenient than taking a flight.
If you haven’t noticed, in the past 10 days fuel prices have dropped 50 cents in many areas across the country. But don’t be deceived, they’re still a lot higher than they were just 5 years ago.
If you want to save money on driving, here’s our 5 site series on saving fuel. I’m posting across five websites, so make sure to check out all the tips!
Fuel Saving Driving Tips
Tips 16 – 25 American Debt Project
SAVE GAS BY PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Thinking ahead to save fuel
16. Set your course
Organize activities and perform as many errands as possible in one trip. Plan a route by driving to your further distance first, and then make your way back home by hitting your other planned spots along the way.
17. Skip the rush hour
If possible, avoid driving during rush-hour & other peak traffic periods. Plus, doing so is proven to extend your life! (Well maybe not, but at least you’ll have a little less stress and frustration!)
18. Better planning
Better planning reduces the need for speeding to get there in time. The biggest waste of fuel is accelerating hard and fast!
19. Gas station shopping
Shop around for service stations with the lowest gasoline prices. – also use GASBUDDY!!
If you’re like me, you have a routine gas station you go to. If you’ve been going there for several months or over a year, it’s possible another gas station has overtaken your usual spot with better gas prices.
20. Traffic reports
Keep tuned to radio traffic reports & avoid traffic jams and other delays.
21. Public transpo
Public transportation may be cheaper, especially when you are traveling alone.
22. Eliminate dead weight in your car.
If you’ve got a trunk full of stuff that could be cleared out, you should do it right now. You’re spending gas lugging the extra stuff around.
23. Take the path of least resistance
Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel can rob you of up to 30% of your gas mileage. Potholes and rough patches require you to speed up and slow down frequently. This oft acceleration will burn through your gas.
24. The shortest path isn’t always the fastest.
Avoid heavy traffic and lots of traffic lights. The shortest route is not always the most fuel efficient if you have to stop a lot.
25. Consider alternate routes
Use alternate roads when safer, shorter, straighter. Compare traveling distance differences – remember that corners, curves and lane jumping requires extra gas. The shortest distance between two points is always straight.
[Featured image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmogle/]
Let’s be clear: I could care less about retirement.
With my rugged good looks and incredible personality, why would anyone want me to quit working with them? I’d much prefer to do what I love (writing here once a month) until I die.
BUT that doesn’t mean that I’m saying bye-bye to financial independence. If I decide to tell the overlords here at ADP to shove it, I want the ability to push that big red button tomorrow.
That’s why I choose to “afford” a retirement fund.
I’ve been told over and over during my career that people can’t “afford” to put money toward retirement. There are bills today, child expenses, work-related costs…fires that need to be put out right flippin’ now. A retirement account will have to wait, they say.
But affording retirement is easy if you examine your priorities. Instead of dreaming about that shiny new thing or even that “I have to have this for my job” thing, you have to instead want financial independence even more. As my friend LaTisha Styles at YoungFinances mentioned on our Stacking Benjamins podcast, you have to realize that shopping today doesn’t help as much as saving for tomorrow.
A cool side note: once you start saving, whether you think you have a saving “gene” or not, you’ll find yourself rolling faster and faster as the successes start piling up.
If you want to start saving into a retirement account, here’s what you do:
1) Focus on why. Most people in America (and elsewhere, for that matter) work in jobs they don’t like doing things they’d rather not do. Why stay there a day longer than you have to? Instead, plan out what your ideal day would look like if you didn’t have to go to work. Realize, that the idea of “doing nothing” might sound awesome right now, but that’s not a recipe for longevity. On our Stacking Benjamins Short Stack podcast, we shared a story about a researcher at UCLA who discovered Catholic Nuns live longer than most of us because they have important work to do….forever.
2) Compare that long range goal with today’s purchases. That new shiny dongle for your office today probably seems awesome until you compare it with that trip around the world later. Flip through a few “dream” photos of your hoped-for Kenyan safari or Tuscan sunsets and you’ve fought half the battle. From there, you’ll find that you don’t want the dongle as much anymore.
Any time I get to use the word “dongle” in an article, it’s a little win.
3) Make it automatic, baby. A woman I’ve been working alongside on a project wrote me the other day about the power of a due date. I don’t know about you, but nothing forces me to pay bills more than their due date. If I turn my retirement savings into a bill, I’m far more likely to save than if I just tell myself that I’ll do it. Writing that check every month never happens.
Side note: People have told me over and over that “I don’t need to set up my savings on automatic pilot. I’ll remember jto write a check every month. In fact, they’d assure me that there wouldn’t ever be a problem with their way of savings. I can’t remember one instance where writing a check was ever a good strategy.
Still Can’t Afford A Retirement Account? Read On….
For most people, those three steps enough are enough to begin the saving wheel. But we all know someone who has bigger problems and is going to need to cut to finish the job.
Maybe that’s you. If so, I’ve been there.
For those people, my job was to help them wheel their budget into surgery and find new savings. Steal any of these biggies:
1) Phone/television packages – We reliably found money by restructuring phone and television/cable packages. This was an easy way to free up $50 to $100 per month.
2) Debt restructure. If someone has debt, we’d see if there were ways to create savings. Often, someone could refinance their home to a lower interest rate loan and also free up money to save today. If you refinance debt and don’t automatically save some of the money, you’re destined for more debt down the road.
3) Tax refund. If you’re going to waste your tax return on non-goal oriented activities, why not change your workplace withholding to automatically save into your 401k plan or an IRA? In some cases, my clients had tax returns of over $5,000. That’s a healthy Roth IRA contribution.
4) Meal plan. Be honest: maybe you eat meals at restaurants WAY more than you tell people you do. Otherwise, why are they packed throughout the day? Also, many North Americans are wasteful with groceries. By planning exactly what you’ll eat for each meal you can grab control of your costs fairly quickly and often free up significant money for retirement. A meal plan slashed over $300 per month off of our spending personally. I’ll bet it can do the same for you. (And, by the way….it’s fun to plan your weekly meals.)
5) Use utility plans. This one won’t save you as much money, but here’s how it works. Some people can’t save because their expenses fluctuate too much. A successful budget works because you can plan to shove more money into the savings bucket. By switching to a utility plan, your bill will stay level most months and then you’ll make up the difference or have a smaller bill once a year (or other interval….check with your area’s utilities for details).
On that note, examine all of your spending and see how much fluctuation you can remove. As you level out your spending, you’ll find the amount you can reliably save rises.
That’s it! Hopefully you’re on the retirement plan savings wagon.
How much should you save toward retirement? That’s a topic for another day! #keepthemwantingmore
Here’s where you can help: how do you save money? Let’s throw in some more ideas on how to “afford” retirement plans in the comments. Thanks!
Joe Saul-Sehy is the incredible talent behind StackingBenjamins.com and enjoys spending as much money on lattes as possible as he builds wealth.
Sometimes I divide people up into just two categories: those who live close to their work and do little to no commuting, and those who have to commute.
Way too often in life, I have fallen in the latter category. At its worst, my commute has been 33 miles each way. At its best, it was a walk down a hill (and up on the way home).
Since moving back to California, I was lucky enough to live just 5 miles from a couple of different project offices, and with my new job, I live 18 miles from my office. An 18-mile commute is not the end of the world for me: I know it’s popular to lament how gray and dull it is to get in your car and drive to work everyday, but frankly, I love my work and I love where I live, and the two happen to be 18 miles apart. I simply cannot zipline across 18 miles of Southern California suburbs, and so I make the best of my commute. Here are a few tips that have helped me enjoy the ride:
I have made a few great friends through carpooling to work. There’s nothing like a car ride to make people open up to each other- and luckily that’s always been a good thing. Carpooling is tricky since you don’t always know when you need to stay late, and there have been times when I have walked out to the parking lot for lunch only to remember I didn’t drive that day-but the benefits are immense. You spend less on gas or share the cost, you make the drive interesting, and you reduce your carbon footprint. Win/win/win.
2. Borrow Books on Tape from the Library.
Here are the books I have “read” on tape: Brideshead Revisited (an all-time favorite), A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I’ve also got “Learning Chinese” although I will admit that I can only do a few lessons at a time since Chinese requires a lot of mental effort on my part.
3. Download an online course or series.
If you don’t feel like listening to one book, try a course, from MIT OpenCourseware or other free platforms, and download the lectures for listening on your drive.
4. Beat the morning rush.
If you’re lucky enough to have a gym on-site or on your way to the office, try getting up early to work out before work. You can avoid the morning traffic and get your heart pumping. I admit that I used to think this was impossible because everyone knows the best sleep is achieved from 5:45 to 6:30 in the morning. But after a couple weeks of morning workouts, I now love the morning routine. It’s great knowing my workout is done and going home in the evening without feeling like I have to exercise and can just take the dogs for a long walk.
5. Get a wireless headset and make your daily calls.
I love my Bluetooth, even if it makes me feel like a cheesy mortgage broker sometimes. I can make all my calls on the drive home, some obligatory and some to just catch up with friends and family.
If you can take public transportation or ride a vanpool, even better. These options also allow you to catch up on emails, read or listen to music. I like the transition period from home to work, and while short commutes are better, there are always to make a longer commute more enjoyable and sustainable.