The Charge-It Blog

  • Alyssa N. Ammirato

    Resolve now to be smarter about your money in 2016

    Start the new year on a stronger financial footing. While making your resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more, add a few (or all) of these finance-focused goals to your list to make your financial life better in 2016.

    1. Create a budget or update an existing budget: If you don’t have a budget yet, this is the time to start one. If you have a budget, great! Take a look at it and make sure it’s still working for you. Are your categories and amounts still realistic? Can you up your savings category?

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  • Alyssa N. Ammirato

    Salvation Army tests ‘red kettle’-like card readers

    While the Salvation Army’s bell ringers and red kettles, hallmarks of the holiday season, aren’t going anywhere, the organization is testing much smaller red Salvation Army devices that accept plastic.

    The organization’s Western Territory has rolled out New York startup DipJar’s card-readers at three Salvation Army thrift stores, “and they are doing very well,” says Maria Todaro, corporate relations manager for the territory. As a result, Salvation Army DipJars now are being placed at Los Angeles and Denver sites including hotels, restaurants and other locations that are unable to support the traditional bell ringer and red kettle campaign.

    When someone dips a credit or debit card, the card reader lights up and makes a “chime-type” noise to confirm the donation, says Todaro. After the two-month test, Todaro says the organization is looking into getting a custom Salvation Army bell sound for its DipJars.

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  • Alyssa N. Ammirato

    How to avoid these 4 holiday budget busters

    Darting to the mall to pick up last-minute gifts, bell-ringers and other charitable causes vying for your attention, higher costs of traveling — sneaky holiday budget busters can do some hefty damage. Here’s how you can lessen the impact of these added expenses:

    1. Limit your tastes of the season: Businesses know that seasonal nostalgia kicks in during the holidays. That’s the driving force behind all those gingerbread-, pumpkin- and peppermint-flavored coffee drinks and desserts. But at $5 or more per cup, those holiday lattes are a lot of added expense working against your budget.

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  • Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

    Pay for Christmas tree with paper, plastic or phone

    At Christmas tree farms and corner tree lots, shoppers often select between fir, spruce and pine trees. And increasingly, Christmas tree shoppers are paying by credit card or mobile payment device.

    “We’d lose well over 50 to 75 percent of sales if we did not offer credit card transactions,” says Lindsay Schramm, co-founder and owner of North End Organic Nursery in Boise, Idaho. At its home base in the Garden City section of Boise, the 6-year-old business has always accepted credit cards.

    Now, in its first year of operating a satellite location, the nursery is using Square, the mobile app that processes credit cards through smartphone or tablets.

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  • Jeff Herman

    4 ways you can make the most of Giving Tuesday

    You braved Black Friday crowds, shopped local merchants on Small Business Saturday and were busy snagging deals online on Cyber Monday. How can you make the most of Giving Tuesday?

    Giving Tuesday? What’s that?

    After days of buying, #GivingTuesday (the hashtag for the social media campaign) is a global day of giving to charities and nonprofits. According to, since its start in 2012, Giving Tuesday has resulted in an estimated 470 percent increase in online donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

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  • Dawn Papandrea

    6 easy ways to protect yourself from skimmers

    If you’ve ever worried about swiping your card at the gas pump, or wondered if it’s safe to take out money for one of those ATMs at the back of a convenience store, listen to your gut. Those are some of the most likely places to have skimming devices put there by criminals trying to steal your financial information.

    In November, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a coordinated statewide effort to crack down on illegal skimmers. This New Yorker sure is happy to hear that!

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  • Jeff Herman

    11 easy ways to protect your security online

    Our phones have become our lifelines. We check email, get Facebook updates and do our banking while on the go.

    An American Bankers Association 2015 study found that two in five Americans (39 percent) use a mobile device to manage their bank account at least once per month. And fraudsters are increasingly aware of this.

    “Mobile banking provides an unprecedented level of convenience for bank customers, and while it is a safe way to conduct banking transactions, customers need to remember that any device used to connect to the Internet is vulnerable,” said Frank Keating, ABA president and CEO, in a press release.

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