Avoid Financial Disaster with Good Planning

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You never know when financial disaster – job loss, illness or natural catastrophe – will happen. But you can take a few simple steps to be prepared, just in case.

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It’s tough to get by financially in today’s fast-paced life. With mortgages, car notes and massive amounts of credit card debt, most people struggle to get by from month to month. With most people doing what they can just to pay their bills, few people are prepared for the unlikely event of a financial disaster. They come in many forms; a storm like Hurricane Katrina, a loss of job, or a sudden illness can break anyone who isn’t prepared for an unexpected interruption in their financial life. But it isn’t all that difficult to make preparations that will help you in times of a money crisis. All it takes is a bit of planning ahead of time.

Here are a few things that will help you be prepared for the unexpected:

Get an ATM/Debit card – You may not regularly use cash or have a need for a debit card, but there are some circumstances where it may be necessary. People from New Orleans who were temporarily displaced by Hurricane Katrina would have benefited from having access to cash even while away from home. If you don’t use one regularly, get one anyway and keep it in a safe place.

Sign up for direct deposit – With direct deposit, you will know that your paycheck will be in your bank account even if you cannot, for whatever reason, physically get to your bank. This will help you in the event of illness or natural disaster that may have your local bank temporarily closed.

Sign up for online bill paying – You can pay bills even if you aren’t at home via the Internet. You don’t have to use the service, but it may come in handy at a time when you least expect it.

Save some emergency cash – Financial experts recommend that you save at least three months’ worth of financial expenses. That’s difficult, but every little bit can help. Try to cut back on a few unnecessary items, such as that tall latte you buy every day. It adds up, and you never know when you may need to access that emergency cash.

Set up a home equity line of credit – Unlike a home equity loan, which provides you with a lump sum of cash right away, a home equity line of credit provides you with cash that you can use a little at a time, and only when you need it. If you don’t actually take any money out, you don’t have monthly payments. But if an emergency strikes, you’ll have cash available. This can be particularly helpful if you find yourself out of work for a short period of time. Your bank won’t lend you money when you are out of work, so plan ahead of time and the money will be ready when you are.

A little bit of planning can go a long way when a financial emergency strikes. If you plan for it now, you will have fewer worries later.

Avoiding High Interest

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Frequent flier credit cards are a unique way for consumers to reward themselves wile spending money.

Avoiding High Interest

Frequent flier credit cards are a unique way for consumers to reward themselves while spending money.

There is, however, a hefty price to pay for spending while earning-interest rates average 16.99 percent on airline mileage credit card balances.

As consumers look for alternative choices to managing debt, the inevitable hunt for a low-rate balance transfer begins. Innovative companies such as E*TRADE FINANCIAL are making it easier for consumers to transfer their balances to a low-rate card while preserving their ability to earn rewards on the card of their choice.

Instead of the standard one-time balance transfer, the E*TRADE Mileage Maximizer Account is an automated balance transfer system that allows customers to transfer their balances on higher rate credit cards to a lower rate credit card each and every month. Low-rate credit products like these allow consumers to reduce the interest paid on balances, paving the way for effective debt management.

So celebrate the rewards you get from your airline mileage credit cards-take that trip, upgrade your seat or turn the miles into a charitable gift. But be smart-don’t pay for those benefits with an exorbitant interest rate and manage the balances you are carrying down to a low interest rate.

Finding The Right Credit Card

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Some people feel loyal to certain credit card companies, it’s only natural when you’ve had them for so long, but why not see if they can offer you a better card?

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I remember the lecture my mother gave me a few weeks before my first day of college. She sat me down and said, “I have something important to tell you.” Right about then is when I rolled my eyes and braced for the, “Young men are the devil’s spawn and should not be trusted,” and the, “You are going to a place where there will be great temptations,” speech. What I got was not really a lecture, but a talk about how it was time to start building my credit.

I really never gave that topic much thought. I always thought that getting a credit card was for grown ups, and Lord knows I didn’t quite feel like a grown up at the time. She told me I should start thinking about applying for a credit card. She also warned me if I did so, she would NOT bail me out if I started charging up the world. That alone scared me. I had a full time job, but what if I couldn’t handle the payments? What if I went temporarily insane, and decided to charge everything I could. It was too much for me, and I told her, I didn’t want to hear any more nonsense about me getting a credit card.

She of course persisted for the next two weeks, and I finally told her that I would look into it. I then asked the million dollar question, “How do I find the one that is best for me?” She blank stared me. Then she blink. Then she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know, that’s your problem.” Cue the crickets.

So there I was, eighteen in 1992, trying to get a credit card, but not knowing where to start. Luckily on the fist day of classes, I was in the school book store and found an ad for a student credit card. Without giving it much thought, I applied and to this day I still have a card from that company. Was that the best way of going about it? Probably not. I suppose if I did the research I could have found a card with a better interest rate, or a better limit.

Now days, the internet has changed the way people research topics. I’ve found the best way to find a good product is to find a site that helps you compare similar products side by side. Are you interested in credit cards that offer airline rewards? How about credit cards that offer hotel and travel rewards? Maybe you are just looking for the credit card that would be right for your business, or one with low interest rates. There are even credit cards for poor credit.

Some people feel loyal to certain credit card companies, it’s only natural when you’ve had them for so long, but why not see if they can offer you a better card? Your time is precious and getting the best credit card for you is important to your lifestyle.

Handling Your Money Effectively

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There is inflation every year. You cannot stop an increasing in living expenses as prices of consumer goods increasing all the time. Saving money becomes an extremely difficult task to do. Here are some solutions for saving a little so that you can still meet your needs and still find ways to trim off a little for the future.

1. Budget ?Get one and stick with it! And set aside at least a small portion for savings while you’re at it; savings for your future, your retireme…

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There is inflation every year. You cannot stop an increasing in living expenses as prices of consumer goods increasing all the time. Saving money becomes an extremely difficult task to do. Here are some solutions for saving a little so that you can still meet your needs and still find ways to trim off a little for the future.

1. Budget ?Get one and stick with it! And set aside at least a small portion for savings while you’re at it; savings for your future, your retirement, your education, your vacation, whatever. Head to your local office supply store for planning workbooks or budget sheets to use. Or head to your favorite search engine and type in, “budget planning?for hundreds of sites with articles, free downloads, tips, ebooks and other resources to help with your budget setup and follow up.

2. Plan Ahead ?Make sure to plan for emergencies and the unexpected, like an appliance break down or garage door malfunction. Even if you can only set aside $50 or so each monthly, place it in an account and earmark it for this “Miscellaneous?fund. Then when things go wrong, and they will ?nothing’s perfect ?you’ll be better prepared.

3. Non Monthly Items – Work out a monthly payment for items that you don’t pay monthly and set this up in your regular monthly budget. For example, for items like annual home owner or renter insurance, quarterly water bills and automobile insurance payments and annual trash bills, take the amounts and determine what they would be monthly. Then list the items on your budget log and pull these amounts aside, saving them in your account for those purposes. This way, when the bills hit, you won’t be caught off guard and have to scrounge for the payments.

What works well, instead of handling multiple savings accounts for each company owed, is to use index cards and one savings account. Create one index card for each bill. Then simply log the amount you’re setting aside on the card and deposit it into your savings account. Keep the index cards with your savings passbook to remind you what the balance covers. The total of all your index cards should equal the balance in your savings account. (Make sure to create an index card for your regular funds that you are saving each month in step one above and a card for your Miscellaneous fund in step two above).

So next time you get paid, take three giant steps forward. Grab your index cards, follow your budget and invest in yourself and your future. Get a grip on your money handling.

Check Out These Check Facts

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Checking accounts have changed and you may want to spend some time checking out the changes and how they affect you.

Check Out These Check Facts

Checking accounts have changed and you may want to spend some time checking out the changes and how they affect you.

To start, checks are being processed more quickly these days. This means that when you write a check the money may be deducted from your account sooner. To avoid bounced checks, be sure you have enough money in your account at the time you write a check. A bounced check charge could cost you $25 per check or more.

Here are some other changes you should make note of:

• Some of your checks may be converted to electronic funds transfers from your account-called electronic check conversion. Your check is now like a debit and the money may come out of your account sooner. If you don’t want the checks you write to pay bills converted, contact your creditors to find out how to opt out. If you need a copy of a check that was converted, you will have to contact your bank, which will then contact the creditor who converted your check.

• Some of your checks may be processed as a check (instead of being converted), but the banks may exchange payment information electronically. Banks do this by creating “substitute checks.” Substitute checks are special paper copies of the front and back of the original check. When banks use substitute checks, the money may come out of your account sooner.

• The items listed in your checking account statement may look different from one another. Some items may be listed by check number and others may be listed by the name of the company you paid. Always review all of the charges listed on your account statements to make sure they match your receipts or records.

If you have questions about how your checks are processed, contact your bank, savings and loan or credit union.

Remember, under federal law you are protected against errors in your account when electronic funds transfers are used. But you have to read your bank statements each month or go online to check your account transactions. And you need to notify your bank as soon as you spot an error.