Archives For Money
New ways to save your money: Be smart about how you pay
(ARA) – What if you threw away dollar bills every time you found them in your pocket? Does it matter how you pay for your family’s everyday purchases – with cash, credit/debit card or personal check? In fact, the way you choose to pay in stores and restaurants may be costing you (and the local stores you shop in) thousands of dollars a year.
These days, you can charge just about anything with a major credit card. But some non-plastic payment methods may allow you to get more for your dollar – and keep more of your hard-earned money in your local economy.
Here are a few times you may be paying extra or accepting unnecessary limits on your payment freedoms, and how to avoid them:
* ATM fees. You may knowingly be paying ATM fees, but you might be wise to select a bank that offers unlimited free withdrawals. Most credit card companies will charge you for cash advances from ATMs, but might not reveal the charge during your transaction. Make sure you’re clear on the terms of your card before proceeding.
* Transaction fees. You should be aware of credit card fees that accompany certain transactions. Use cash or a personal check if credit card fees apply to a purchase you’re making. Businesses often have to pay a fee for card transactions, so you support your favorite stores more if you pay with cash or personal check.
* Interest rates and annual fees. Credit cards can be a great way to build credit and earn benefits, but if you aren’t keeping your balance at, or close to, zero, you are losing out big-time by paying interest. If you’re having trouble keeping your credit card balance down, you may want to consider sticking with a card attached to a checking account and your checkbook.
And here’s the biggest surprise: How popular personal checks still are. In fact, 18 billion checks are still processed every year in the U.S. alone — making checks the most frequent form of non-cash payment in America.
Many Americans still prefer having the option to pay with check as well as with credit or debit cards, according to a recent survey conducted by public affairs firm Ipsos on behalf of Deluxe Corporation. Seventy-five percent of consumers said they should have the right to pay with whatever method they wanted when making a purchase at a store – including cash, card or check. Thirty-eight percent of consumers surveyed would consider walking out of, or not returning to, a store or restaurant if that business refused to accept their checks as payment. And one-fifth of consumers say that a sign in a store which says “We Do Not Accept Checks” is an example of ‘bad customer service.’
A new consumer advocacy campaign, “Stand Up For Your Right To Write Checks,” is underway to preserve your option to use checks as a form of payment at www.righttowritechecks.com.
Whatever your preferred method of payment is, by paying a little closer attention to your buying methods, you can end up saving a considerable amount of cash in the long run.
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Fun and frugal or priceless gift ideas that bring holiday joy
(ARA) – It’s the thought that counts. We hear that phrase all the time, but it especially rings true during the holidays. If you have felt the pressure to spend a lot on holiday gifts for loved ones, you are not alone. But these days, Americans are looking to show they care for less.
According to a 2009 holiday survey of retail spending and trends conducted by Deloitte, a business consulting firm, holiday spending on gifts declined 29 percent from 2004 to 2008. The survey indicates that people are spending less on gifts and more on functional items like clothing, or cutting back by entertaining at home. Gift-givers are beginning to realize that you don’t have to spend a fortune to give someone something meaningful.
Believe it or not, value retailers are ahead of the trend in helping families create and enjoy a special, yet affordable holiday season. Pop into Family Dollar and check out the store’s variety of $5 toys, gifts and other value-priced items that make any seasonal gathering fun and frugal. The national retailer offers something for everyone, from value clothing and brand-name toys like Disney, Hot Wheels and Bakugan to electronics and home decor accents; it’s a great destination for all needs this season.
If you are worried about overspending or simply looking for a gift that shows how much you care instead of how much you spent, here are a few suggestions:
Give back to the family entertainer
We all have a member of the family who loves to throw parties. This year, lend a hand with the preparation. Stop by your local Family Dollar store and pick up a few entertaining necessities or holiday trimmings: plasticware, paper products, gift wrap, maybe even an apron or oven mitts. These are hostess gifts that will truly keep on giving.
Share your knowledge
Think about skills you possess and offer your personal services as a gift. Maybe you are an all-star in the kitchen and the recipient would be delighted if you shared a few tips, tricks or recipes. If you play guitar and a family member would love to learn, volunteer as an instructor. Formal lessons in either of these activities would cost a pretty penny.
Don’t forget to accessorize
Let’s face it, one can never have enough accessories. Whether it’s a scarf and gloves to match a new coat or a clutch to go with your holiday outfit, great selections can be found at value retailers for less.
With a little thought, you won’t have to sacrifice your wallet to achieve holiday cheer with your gifts this season.
How to give and know you’re doing some good
(ARA) – Making a charitable donation during the holidays isn’t just an act of kindness, often it’s also an act of faith. As you mail your donation check or drop some bills and loose change into that collection bucket outside the grocery store, it’s only natural to wonder just where the money is going, who it’s helping, and if it’s really helping anyone at all.
Wouldn’t it feel good this holiday season to know your contributions are really making a difference? Knowing who your donation benefits can help make the act of giving even more enriching for you and the recipient of your generosity. Fortunately, there are ways to do good that you can also feel good about, knowing the real effects of your efforts. Here are two ideas for holiday giving that you can know will make a difference:
Donate your time
Everyone is busy during the holidays, but if you want to be confident your charitable giving is really making a difference, donating your time to a worthy cause is a good option. Not only will you enjoy the spiritual nourishment of actively helping others, you’ll be able to see the actual results of your contribution. The options are virtually endless and you can find a way to give that fits your schedule and personal preferences.
Are you handy around the house? Contribute your time to an organization that builds or repairs homes for those in need. Perhaps you’re a good cook or a deft server? Volunteer to prepare or serve meals at your local soup kitchen. Do you get along well with kids? Contact churches or homeless shelters in your area and volunteer for their child care programs.
No matter how you choose to do it, donating your time costs you nothing more than a few hours, but can deliver the reward of seeing firsthand just who your contribution is helping.
Finance a micro loan
Money is often what people in need require most. Yet if you believe the old adage “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” you may feel hesitant to just hand over cash without knowing your donation will help the recipient build a better future for themselves. Funding a microfinance loan for a small business owner in a developing country is a great way to ensure your donation not only helps someone immediately, but helps create a better future as well.
Organizations like World Vision provide micro loans – ranging from $25 to $5,000 – to small businesses in Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya and Rwanda. Through the organization’s website, www.worldvisionmicro.org, you can fund a loan – entirely or partially. What’s more, you can select the entrepreneur you would like to help and designate exactly how much to loan that person. The website provides details on business owners, why each needs a loan, and how they will use the loan. After you’ve made a loan, you’ll get reports on how your chosen entrepreneur has spent the money, how his or her business is faring and how the entrepreneur is re-investing profits.
Your loan is recorded as a tax-deductible monetary donation. When borrowers repay their loans, their funds go back into World Vision’s local community bank and the money is loaned out again to help other entrepreneurs in the same community. The repayment rate for World Vision loans is nearly 99 percent. Microfinance loans foster small-scale entrepreneurship and foster long-term solutions to poverty by helping individuals and communities transition from poverty to independence. Log on to www.worldvisionmicro.org to learn more.
When you make a charitable donation during the holidays – or any time of year – your heart is in the right place. You’ll feel even better about your contribution if you know for sure you money is ending up in the right place as well.