These 5 Credit Cards Can Help You Reach Your 2017 Money Goals

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a new credit card may actually help you meet your 2017 money goals.

You start out every new year with the best of intentions — This is the year you’re going to go to the gym more, start eating better and finally pay off your credit card debt. Sound familiar?

It’s great to aspire to these big changes, but sometimes lofty goals can be hard to keep. After all, even if your goal is to shed a couple pounds, who can turn down the friend who brings cookies right out of the oven?

We can’t quite help you fit into your skinny jeans, but what if we told you it’s possible to achieve the financial successes you’re hoping for in 2017 without feeling like it’s an uphill battle? You may not believe this, but a credit card, so long as it’s used responsibly, can help. These pieces of plastic can make it easier for you to stick to your goals — maybe even surpass them — all while spending the way you usually would.

Remember, part of qualifying for new plastic is your credit score. So the first step in your journey is to find out where your credit stands. You can do this by taking a look at two of your free credit scores on Credit.com. Once you know what types of cards you’re eligible for, you can take the next step in the process of achieving your goal.

If Your Goal Is to Save for a Dream Vacation: Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card really captured everyone’s attention when it was announced last fall, thanks to its 100,000-point signup bonus. While that offer is no longer available online (you have until March 12 to apply in person at a branch), new card members can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. This equals $750 in travel rewards (like airfare or hotel rooms, for example) when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Best of all, there’s a $300 annual travel credit each year. Cardholders earn 3x the points on travel and dining. Just make sure your budget can handle the card before you apply: There’s a $450 annual fee and a 16.49% to 23.49% variable annual percentage rate (APR), depending on your creditworthiness.

If that $450 annual fee is a bit much for your budget, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card (find the full review here). You’ll get two times the points on travel and at restaurants but only get hit with a $95 annual fee (waved the first year). 

If Your Goal Is to Put More Money Aside for Retirement: Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

Sure, you can put money in your company 401K plan (which is a really smart idea, especially if your company matches your contributions). But you can take it one step further and use the spending you’re doing now to benefit you down the road. With the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card, you’ll get 2% cash back on every net purchase deposited into your eligible Fidelity account. Best of all, there are no limits and no annual fee with this card. The variable APR for purchases is 14.49%.

If Your Goal Is to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt: Citi Simplicity

Wait — are we really suggesting you get another credit card when you’re already carrying credit card debt? Yes. Well, sort of. First, you have to make sure you look at your budget and have a plan in place if you’re going to use a balance transfer credit card, as these cards can be really effective but come with a time limit.

Here’s what we mean: When you transfer your credit card balance to the Citi Simplicity credit card (full review here), you will enjoy 21 months with no interest charges. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as Chase, Visa and Discover advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) That gives you almost two years to focus on paying down your balance without tacking on additional charges. (Note: After the introductory APR expires, the variable APR will be 13.49% to 23.49%, depending on creditworthiness.) You won’t be paying an annual fee with this card either.

Not sure how long it will take you to pay down your balance or how much you should be aiming to pay each month? Consider playing around with our credit card payoff calculator tool to see different possibilities.

If Your Goal Is to Develop Better Financial Habits: Citi Double Cash

Do you have a habit of missing deadlines, one of which includes paying your bills on time? Hey, we get it — life gets busy and the statement that came in the mail gets buried under other things on your kitchen counter. But paying your bills on time not only helps you avoid late fees, but will also have a positive effect on your credit scores (payment history is the largest influencer of your scores).

Even with all that said, sometimes a little extra motivation can help. Enter the Citi Double Cash credit card (read our review here). You’ll get 1% cash back on all your purchases, but there’s incentive to pay your statement off because, when you do, you earn another 1% cash back. That’s like being handed money for being responsible. These cash back rewards are unlimited, with no caps or category restrictions, and you can redeem them for statement credits, gift cards or checks. And if you do slip up again, you won’t get a late fee the first time it happens. There is no annual fee and your variable APR is 13.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. 

If Your Goal Is to Build Up Your Emergency Fund: Discover it Card

There are a lot of cash back cards on the market, all with different tiers and offerings. But one that is going to offer some of the biggest kickbacks is the Discover it credit card (you can read our review here).

Each quarter, there are new reward categories that offer you 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases — through March this includes gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs — and an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover will match whatever cash back you’ve earned at the end of the first year. There’s no limit, no expiration date and no annual fees with this card, either. So as long as you’re paying on time so you don’t pay interest (there’s a variable 11.49% to 23.49% APR, after the 14-month 0% introductory rate expires) you’ll really be able to increase your rainy day savings.

At publishing time, the Citi Simplicity, Citi Double Cash card and Discover it cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuers.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: AJ_Watt

The post These 5 Credit Cards Can Help You Reach Your 2017 Money Goals appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Ways to Budget for Your Multigenerational Household

BudgetingForMultigenerationalFamilyThese days, it’s not uncommon for an elderly parent or adult child to share their home. But no matter how much you may love your family, having extra bodies in the house likely means other factors to include in your personal financial situation.

“Finances can be a huge source of stress [in multigenerational households],” says Amy Goyer, Aging, Home & Family expert with the AARP.

The more mouths there are to feed, the harder it is to make your money go the distance. While it’s great to lend extra support to your elderly parents or grown children, if you’re going to make your multigenerational household work you’re probably going to need to make some budget considerations.

1. Evaluate the needs of your new household

Before you can plan a new budget, you’ll need to establish the financial needs of the new household. You probably already have an idea of how much money you’ll need to pay each month to cover rent or mortgage payments and any HOA or insurance fees you may owe. These costs probably won’t change much regardless of the number of people living under your roof, but your monthly utility and grocery bills might. Do your best to estimate the total of your monthly expenses and compare these costs against the amount of money coming into the house each month so you can get an idea of how much your relatives might need to contribute.

When asking relatives to pitch-in to the new budget for your new living situation, you may want to determine the reasons why your relatives need assistance and how their current situation may reflect what they’ll be able to contribute. Can they support their personal financial needs? Or do they need additional help and care?

Elderly relatives may be financially sound and willing to contribute to household finances, but it may be difficult for them to help out in labor-intensive chores that keep the house running. In other cases, they may have a need for medical supplies, home-care devices, or related late-life care that makes it difficult to contribute to the household budget.

Adult children, on the other hand, may be physically fit but financially less stable as they find themselves facing large student loan payments or a disappointing job market. They may be able to contribute to the physical upkeep for the house but be unable—or unwilling—to contribute much money to the household budget.

Knowing the individual situations of your relatives will help you better determine how they can contribute to household finances

2. Set clear responsibilities

When tallying up your household expenses vs. your household income, you’ll want to be honest about who can contribute and be clear about the amounts to be paid. You might even consider coming to some sort of agreement to make this process easier.

For example, maybe your child is living with you to save money on rent and put it toward their loans. But they might be able to pay the grocery bill, or perhaps pay a smaller amount of rent If your adult child is still covered by your insurance plans, you might consider having them apply for their own coverage, if they’re able.

An older relative might be receiving a stipend of sorts for their housing, which may not have been enough for them to live alone but can contribute to your current shared housing bills.

Or, according to Goyer, if family members are unable to make monetary contributions to the household, you could have them takeover household tasks, like cleaning, yard work, or simple home repairs, in order to contribute to the overall wellbeing of the home.

According to Goyer, these agreements can be a verbal or written, and while they may feel like something you’d do with roommate rather than relatives, it can be helpful to talk through everyone’s expected contributions and responsibilities to avoid later conflict.

If you will be handling the budget by yourself, you might begin to feel overwhelmed or face difficulties in prioritizing the household’s bills. For example, where do your parent’s medication costs or your child’s next loan payment rank next to your mortgage payment? Goyer says it’s important to keep your own financial matters stable before offering help to others.

“You won’t be much help to other family members if your own financial security is threatened,” she says.

While it can feel overwhelming to take on these additional responsibilities, keep your loved ones in mind and be honest about your own needs. The more help you can get from the household, the better prepared you may be to ensure everyone’s financial needs are met.

3. Reimagine your budget

When you finally have an idea of the shape your new household will take, and an estimate of how much your relatives may be able to contribute, you can begin to reinvent your budget. A good first step, according to Goyer, is to make a distinction between the money you designate for communal expenses and the money that is solely your own use.

“You’ll need to create a shared budget, as well as your own personal budget,” she says.

Get a rough estimate of what your new household expenses will look like month to month with the added bodies, then compare that to the combined amount each family member will be contributing to the household. If you see that your combined contributions are still lacking, re-evaluate the expenses that each family member is able to tackle. Be honest with your family members about what you are able to provide, and don’t be afraid to take more than one crack at compiling a budget.

Money issues are still likely to come up with more people sharing your home, but creating two budgets may help you maintain your own bills and sense of financial independence while still providing for the household at large.

What works best for you and your family will depend on your individual situation and what your relatives are capable of contributing, but the more you can whittle down your expenses, the easier it may be to make sure your bills get paid on time and your multigenerational household keeps running smoothly.

Your Financial Road Map for the New Year

Pretty Young Multiethnic Woman Holding Phone and Credit Card Using Laptop.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could wake up on January 1st and have all our debts erased? The magic of a new year — it could happen, right?

Of course chances are that won’t actually happen, and instead most people use the New Year as an opportunity to really get serious about their personal finance situation. To that end, here are some fool-proof ways to spend less in the new year, so come December 2016 you’ll be feeling pretty good about where you are, financially.

1. Start talking

Money has been a bit of a taboo topic in the past, but that actually may be starting to change. In fact, one Fidelity survey found that 76% of millennials say they have no problem starting a conversation with their parents about saving and investing for the future. Talking about money is important for many reasons, including general education (Don’t’ know what a SEP IRA is? Your freelancer friend probably does.) and career gain (it’s good to know your colleague with the same degree and experience is making more than you for the same job before going into that raise negotiation).

How to take action: If talking about money still doesn’t come naturally to you, start small. Ask around to see if your friends have budgets, and how they came up with them. It’s easier to start with more vague financial concepts and then get into the specifics once you start to feel more comfortable. Once you have an open dialogue going, you’ll be less tempted to stray from your financial course, too, since friends and family are likely to hold you accountable for your actions. Download the MagnifyMoney Debt Free Forever Guide to get started on paying down debt.

2. Bulk up savings when you can

Even the most savvy budgeter can get tempted to spend money when it unexpectedly becomes available (think end of year bonus, tax refund or that birthday check from grandma).

How to take action: As the old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. In other words, whatever windfall may come your way this year (a big tax refund, a raise, an inheritance), vow to put it right into savings. Unless you can use it to pay down debt (which you should if you have it), the best way to avoid the temptation to spend extra money is to put it away as soon as possible into an account that you don’t see on a daily basis. Millennials seem to be clued into this trick already, too — after all, a 2015 National Retail Federation survey found that 54.9% of young adults were planning to put tax refunds directly into savings.

3. Unsubscribe

You might think it’s a great idea to sign up for emails and newsletters from all your favorite retails places because, you know, every now and then they send through deals. The truth is, though, seeing those emails in your inbox probably makes you more likely to spend frivolously on things you don’t actually need, just because it’s all a simple click away. In fact, according to some research, people who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who do not receive email offers. Yowza.

How to take action: If it’s only a handful of emails you’re receiving each day, you might be able to unsubscribe through each one individually, but the more likely story is that you’ll need a little help to wade through all your mail. Unroll.me, for example, allows you to see a list of all of your subscriptions once you sign up, and you can unsubscribe instantly all in one place. Buh-bye temptation!

4. Track Your Spending

As with dieting, sometimes we don’t even notice how much we’re spending until we write it all down. (I’m eating three cookies a day? Who knew?)

How to take action: If you’d rather have a system do the work for you, sign up for an online system (like Learnvest or Mint) that allows you to link your credit cards, checking and savings account so you can log on and automatically see where and what you’re spending on. If inputting the information manually is more likely to keep you honest, a simple Excel spreadsheet that you log on to at the end of every day to tally your spending should do the trick. One you’re actually keeping track of how much you’re spending in iTunes each week, you may be more tempted to scale way back.

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