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Don’t expect to cash in from Target’s class action lawsuit

Filed under: Fraud and Privacy Issues on April 29, 2015 @ 8:56 am

Target recently agreed to pay $10 million to settle a class action lawsuit over the big data breach that may have affected more than 100 million consumers, including me. But that doesn’t mean big bucks for victims.

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5 key traits of consumers with outstanding credit

Filed under: Credit Score on April 24, 2015 @ 10:38 am

My husband and I have long had outstanding credit scores without really trying.

We have one great habit (pay in full and on time each month) that has done well for us. Now, the credit bureau Experian has released research that shows that Mo and I actually have a lot of great habits.

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5 ways to fix vacation-saving mistakes

Filed under: Budgeting on April 22, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

I love international travel, but my husband and I haven’t been able to take a big trip in years because minivacations have eaten up our travel budget.

In fact, the last major trip Joe and I went on was for our honeymoon in Costa Rica almost eight years ago. Since then, we’ve taken many short trips — to beaches, to the mountains and to nearby cities.

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Lower prices at gas pump aid road trips, savings accounts

Filed under: Budgeting on April 17, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

I’m not alone, it seems, in loving the drop in fuel prices that we have seen over the past few months.

A Wells Fargo/Gallup poll found that 68 percent of respondents reported their household budget had been aided by the windfall. And of those, 70 percent are using the money to pay down bills or are parking it in savings. Only a quarter said they were buying stuff.

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How I disputed a debit card purchase – and won

Filed under: Debit Card on April 15, 2015 @ 9:17 am

I almost always use a credit card when buying any big item just in case something goes wrong with the purchase.

Most personal finance experts recommend using credit over debit for large purchases, both for the consumer protections and perks and because you’re only spending money on paper until you actually pay the bill.

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Best 18th birthday present: A 763 FICO score

Filed under: Credit Score on April 10, 2015 @ 8:56 am

My son George turned 18 this month. Here’s what he did on his birthday:

  • Updated his driver’s license.
  • Had lunch with Dad.
  • Shopped at Guitar Center.
  • Opened a PayPal account.
  • Changed his password on his bank account (because, apparently, moms can’t be trusted the minute you turn 18).

The next day? He and I pulled his first credit report and FICO credit score.

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4 ways to make Amazon Prime work for you

Filed under: Budgeting on April 8, 2015 @ 10:50 am

A little over a year ago, I joined Amazon Prime as a way to save money. I’ve found I spend more on now, but I save money and hassle overall.

Before I joined Prime, I weighed the pros and cons pretty carefully. Amazon Prime is a membership program that costs $99 a year. Members get free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible items and a variety of other benefits, such as free streaming of some Amazon videos.

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3 reasons stashing cash at home can be a bad idea

Filed under: Banking on April 1, 2015 @ 9:39 am

If you keep a wad of cash stashed under your mattress, inside a box of peas in your freezer or buried in a jar in your yard, you’re not the only one. But you ought to rethink your savings strategy.

The 2015 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey found that Americans who say saving is their No. 1 goal this year plan to put away, on average, more than $11,000. About 57 percent of those savers say they’ll put their money in a local bank, which is wise.

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Why your utility flat-rate billing deal may not be a deal

Filed under: Budgeting on March 25, 2015 @ 9:05 am

It’s so frustrating. You’re powering right along with your monthly budgeting when you get hit with an astronomically high utility bill.

As you scramble to find an extra $200 or more, you might be tempted to contact your power company to sign up for flat billing, which means you pay the same amount each month, regardless of your electricity usage. That’s what I did last year. But I recently discovered that flat billing isn’t as good a deal as I thought.

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3 ways to cope with financial stress

Filed under: Budgeting on March 18, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

You know you have plenty of company stressing out about big bills, credit card debt you can’t conquer or the dwindling balance in your bank account.

Case in point: A survey of over 3,000 adults by the American Psychological Association shows that money is the No. 1 cause of stress. A whopping 72 percent of Americans said they felt stressed about finances in the previous month.

For some consumers, the angst is overwhelming: The survey showed that 22 percent of people experience severe financial stress, which they rated at between 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale.

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