Thursday December 5, 2013
Using your credit card to shop online can be riskier than when you use it in person. That's because it's easier for credit card thieves to create fake websites than it is to create fake stores.
When you use your credit card online, be on guard for impostor websites and other scams designed to steal your credit card information.
Read: Online Credit Card Shopping Tips
Sunday December 1, 2013
A student in a budgeting class I was teaching asked, "What if your adult children are breaking your budget?" I was talking about identifying areas of consistent overspending and this person had identified theirs, but was understandably torn on how to handle it.
For many parents, the desire to help their adult children never goes away, even after the child has grown up and is technically on their own. No matter how much you want to lend a helping hand (or a few hundred dollars), you have to be careful about helping your adult children with their debt or other expenses, especially if it means hurting yourself.
Read: Should You Pay an Adult Child's Debt?
What do you think? How much help should parents lend to their adult children?
Tuesday November 26, 2013
One of the most important reasons to read your credit card billing statement is so you can quickly spot any unauthorized charges. The longer it takes to recognize and report unauthorized credit card charges, the less likely it is that your credit card issuer will remove the charges from your statement.
If you report unauthorized charges quickly, i.e. in less than 60 days, your liability is legally reduced to $50 or less. However, if you wait longer than that, you may end up liable for the charges. Make sure you know the right way to handle unauthorized credit card charges.
The only foolproof way to avoid unauthorized charges is to not have a credit card. Still, there are ways you can prevent credit card fraud such as keeping your credit card in a safe place and never giving your credit card number to someone you don't trust, especially to someone who calls or emails you saying they're your credit card issuer.
Friday November 22, 2013
The day after Thanksgiving has become a bigger deal than Thanksgiving itself. Black Friday, the biggest shopping day so far this year, has been getting attention for weeks and stores are changing their hours to be sure they get as many shoppers as possible. Some stores are open on Thanksgiving Day, many in the evening but at least one (KMart) is opening at 6 am on Thanksgiving. Some stores have even started making Black Friday sales prices available today, a full week ahead of schedule.
Many of this year's shoppers have no qualms about going into debt to purchase gifts. In a poll by Harris Interactive, 57% of adults said they would go into debt to make their children happy on Christmas. More surprisingly, the people with the lowest household incomes were willing to accrue more debt. Families with less than $35,000 household income were willing to accumulate $700 in debt for Christmas versus $300 for families with household income of $75,000 or more.
The best way to avoid going into debt - for the holidays or any other big shopping event - is to calculate how much you have available to spend and don't go above that amount. Thirty-one percent of adults responding to the Harris Poll said they do not have a holiday shopping spending limit.
Other alarming results:
- 36% said that buying gifts was more important than sticking to a budget
- 55% have not saved any money for gifts this year
- Adults charged an average of $1,100 on holiday spending last year
It's not too late to come up with a holiday spending plan. Make a goal not to create any additional debt this year and stick to it, especially if you can't afford to pay it back. Layaway is an option for buying gifts on a payment plan without creating additional debt. Here are a few more tips for avoiding holiday debt.
More on Avoiding Holiday Debt