50 Things to Stop Wasting Your Money On

People waste a lot of money. But there are plenty of ways to save on everyday costs like bank fees.

It’s no surprise people waste a lot of their money. But there are plenty of ways to save on everyday costs, from bank fees to your favorite morning beverages. If you’re looking for ways to trim your expenses, here’s a list of 50 common money-wasters you may want to ditch.

1. ATM Fees

Paying for ATM fees is like feeding your money into a paper shredder. To avoid them, make a habit of carrying cash or take your business to a bank that doesn’t charge fees.

2. Bottled Water

Not only does bottled water cost a lot more, many cities’ tap water is often as clean. Save the money for your utility bill.

3. Bulk Groceries

You’d think buying in bulk would save you multiple trips to the grocery store. But most people are too ambitious when the only thing on their mind is their next meal. To stop wasting food, try shopping more often. Here are more tips for saving on groceries.

4. Cell Phone Data

If a large chunk of your paycheck goes to cell service, it’s time for some changes. Consider switching providers or downgrading to a lower-cost plan.

5. Coffee

Could you really save thousands by skipping your morning coffee? Maybe not, but you’ll definitely have more cash in your pocket if you curb that $5-a-day latte habit.

6. Fancy Gadgets

Why blow your discretionary money on kitchen gizmos you’ll never use? Instead of splurging on the latest impulse buy, take stock of what you have at home and determine what you really need. You could even make extra cash by selling appliances you don’t use.

7. Flavored Beverages

Sugary beverages like fruit juice and soda don’t just make you gain weight, they could lead to brain damage, say researchers at Boston University. Those who drink sugary beverages are more likely to have poorer memory while those who drink diet soda daily are nearly three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. It could benefit your budget and your body to cut back.

8. Gasoline

You may not be able to change your commute, but you can definitely save more on gas. Try using smartphone apps like GasBuddy, which show the cheapest gas stations nearby, and consider applying for a gas rewards card if you hit the pump often. Explore other money-saving options like carpooling, public transportation or bike commuting.

9. Electricity

To pay less to power your home, consider installing dimmer switches, ceiling fans and using LED light bulbs. Here are more tips for saving on electric bills.

10. Hotels

Why spend more on hotels than vacations? You can easily save on your next hotel stay — search online for promo codes, shop around and make off-season plans.

11. Late Fees

Making a late payment not only results in costly fees, it can also torpedo your credit. To avoid paying late fees, consider automating your bill statements, signing up for text and email reminders or paying online.

12. Manis & Pedis

Frittering away $10 on a manicure here and $20 on a pedicure there can add up. Why pay someone for a service you can do yourself? Save the manis and pedis for special occasions or do away with them altogether.

13. Magazines

Stop splurging on your favorite magazines at the counter and get a subscription already. You’ll save more and enjoy seeing them in your mailbox. Conversely, if you’re acquiring issues faster than you can read them, maybe it’s time to spare your budget and pare down your periodicals.

14. Name-Brand Groceries

Don’t overpay for name-brand labels. Generic products cost less and boast comparable quality. Here are 12 items to buy generic.

15. Overdraft Fees

You don’t need to pay for the privilege of spending more than what’s in your checking account, especially when it costs around $35 per overdraft. From adding a cash cushion to enrolling in online alerts, there are plenty of ways to say goodbye to overdraft fees for good.

16. Poop Bags

Spending $5 on a box of doggie poop bags? That’s a load of you-know-what. Try reusing old grocery or produce bags instead.

17. Ride-Sharing Services

Catching an Uber or Lyft is great when you’re short on time (or too tired for public transportation). But that money adds up. Score promo codes from friends or suck it up and take the bus.

18. Sandwich Bags

Spare yourself the cost of new Ziplocs and try reusing your old sandwich bags instead, or get a sandwich box.

19. Shampoo

Rumor has it we’re washing our hair too often. So ditch the frizz — and the cost of new suds — by slowing down your ‘poo schedule.

20. Smoothies

Just like coffee, smoothies are one of those tasty treats you can easily make at home.

21. Lottery Tickets

The odds are long, and no matter how much you spend, you’re not guaranteed to win. Put that money into your investments instead.

22. Airline Fees

Airfare is costly, and paying for things like blankets, headphones and peanuts only adds to the hassle. Consider changing how you pack, flying low-cost carriers or signing up for one of those airline miles cards that can earn you rewards.

23. Gift Cards

All too often, gift cards go unused. A number of websites would be happy to buy them while other cards can be donated to charity. Here are some ways to offload your gift cards.

24. Traffic Tickets

Traffic tickets are outrageously priced, and some municipalities send records of unpaid fines to collection agencies. Neglect them long enough, and your license could be suspended. Worse still, those tickets could mean a big increase to your car insurance premium.

25. Alcohol

Markups on beer at restaurants can be as much as four times the wholesale price. So it wouldn’t hurt to cut back. Consider making your drinks at home or checking out BYOB dining options to avoid paying premium prices.

26. Tobacco

Your tobacco habit isn’t just draining your wallet, it’s harming your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, adults spent nearly $170 billion on medical costs due to smoking-related illnesses.

27. Candy

Most candy has no nutritional value, and we know it’s bad for our teeth. Next time you get cravings, stay away from the vending machine. Better yet, keep some healthful snacks on hand to eat instead.

28. Gambling

The costs of gambling are nothing to sniff at, and certain behaviors, like using your credit card to chase an online jackpot, can damage your credit if you’re not careful.

29. Credit Card Interest

Paying interest on your credit card balance is a poor use of money. Consider negotiating with your issuer for a lower rate, making monthly payments in full or opening a low-interest credit card. If you’re determined to get out of credit card debt, applying for a balance-transfer credit card may be worth your while, if you can get a 0% promotional APR to save money while you chip away at the balance.

30. Payday Loans

If you don’t repay a payday loan as soon as you can, you could get hit with sky-high APRs, some of which are as much as 400%. Research alternatives like credit cards, personal loans or borrowing money from family or friends.

31. Foreign Transaction Fees

So many cards have done away with these fees, so why pay them? After all, they can cost as much 2% to 3% of each purchase. Here’s a list of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

32. Simple Home Repairs

Don’t spend hundreds on a professional if you know how to fix that leaky faucet or air conditioner yourself.

33. Delivery

You may think you’re saving time by having lunch delivered at work, but you’re paying a premium for the convenience. Order take-out instead and save the five bucks.

34. Cable

With all the streaming services out there, paying for cable is a thing of the past. Consider cutting the cord and commit to one or two subscriptions you’ll actually use.

35. Books

You don’t have to drop money on books, especially books you’ll only read once. Make use of your local library or ask a friend to lend you a copy.

36. Unused Gym Membership

What good is having a membership you hardly use? Ditch the monthly payment for good and find an activity you’ll actually stick with.

37. Buying Lunch

Blowing $10 to $15 on forgettable lunches is a recipe for regret. Try giving these $2 lunches a try.

38. In-Game Purchases

As any Candy Crush fanatic will tell you, in-game purchases quickly add up. Disconnect your credit card and find something better to do.

39. Individually Packed Foods

Baby carrots? Sliced apples? Grab your chef’s knife and get chopping — there’s no need to pay for these items.

40. Full-Priced Clothes

If secondhand shopping isn’t your thing, you can still save money by browsing seasonal sales or keeping an eye out for price drops.

41. Online Shipping

With all the promo codes out there, why pay for shipping? If you must order online and can’t avoid a shipping fee, consider picking up the item in store.

42. Holiday Gifts

Don’t rush out to buy when everyone’s shopping. Follow the sales.

43. Valentine’s Day Flowers

As with holiday gifts, there’s a right and a wrong time to order Valentine’s Day flowers. (The worst time: Feb. 14.) One study found mid-January is the best time to order a dozen red roses.

44. Dry Cleaning

Not everything in your closet needs the wrinkle-free treatment. In fact, many clothes do just fine in the washer and dryer. Be sure to check garment tags before you visit the cleaners.

45. Fad Exercise Classes

Ballet barre workouts may be all the rage now, but you’ll wish you had that $33 when they’ve gone out of vogue. Following trends is costly, so find an exercise you’re going to stick with.

46. Rental Car Insurance

Why pay for insurance your credit card probably offers? Be sure to read the details so you know what’s covered before you get to the rental counter.

47. Closing Costs

From shopping around to negotiating with the seller, there are plenty of ways to save on your future home’s closing costs.

48. Mortgages

For many consumers, refinancing their home loan could help them save bundles. Of course, the best rates go to those with good credit scores, so be sure to check yours before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

49. Student Loans

Student loan debt is a major financial burden, but there are ways to lighten the load. Consolidation could alter your repayment period, while making payments before the interest kicks in could help you save extra. Be sure to research your options.

50. Taxes

Speaking of student loans, you may be able to deduct a portion of student loan interest from your taxable income by claiming the student loan interest tax deduction. Here’s how to find out if you qualify.

Struggling to make ends meet? Here are 50 smart ways to keep yourself out of debt

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6 Types of People Who Have Trouble With Money

Here are six personality types that can keep you from financial success and how to spot them.

We all have quirks in our personalities, particularly when it comes to spending. Whether you’re in good financial standing or not, sometimes these qualities can keep you from achieving your financial goals. Fortunately, whatever your personality, there are ways to ensure you are not holding yourself back. Here are six personality types that can keep you from financial success and how to spot them:

1. The Spender

The spender may have the “you can’t take it with you when you go” attitude. They may spend well beyond their means and swipe credit cards to their max. Unfortunately, this can be a quick way to incur massive amounts of debt and hurt your chances for financial success. If you’re not saving, you’re not helping your future. (You can see how your habits are affecting your finances by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

To avoid overspending, it’s important to not only create a budget to track your habits but to try and find the triggers that cause you to spend in the first place. Whether it’s your emotional state or the shopper’s high you get from a purchase, addressing these triggers can help you curb your spending.

2. The Risk Taker

Perhaps you like to take risks with your money. High risk can lead to higher rewards, right? At times, yes, but they can also leave you with less. For example, just because you are approved for a mortgage doesn’t mean you can afford that amount. If you take a risk on this purchase, you may stretch your budget beyond its limits. Finding the right balance can help you limit risk and keep you on track for long-term financial success.

3. The Procrastinator

You’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” So if you’re ignoring or putting off your fiscal responsibilities, you could be spelling doom for your financial wellness. Making late payments, waiting to save for retirement, letting bills pile up, or putting off goals are all common examples of financial procrastination. Putting your finances aside will only make things worse.

Consider taking a bit of time each day or week to work on your finances. Also, you may want to sign up for automatic payments, which can make it easier to keep up with due dates.

4. The Ignoramus

There are those who are flat-out uneducated when it comes to their finances and show no interest in learning. They too may have the “you only live once” mentality when it comes to money — and end up spending all of it. This can be someone who doesn’t view money and credit as a tool for their future.

With all the resources out there to boost your financial literacy, it’s important to learn how to respect your money and use it to your benefit. Consider regularly reading personal finance articles and blogs. There is always more to learn about managing money, and it doesn’t have to be boring.

5. The Pessimist

Unlike the Risk Taker, the Pessimist may be afraid of taking risks because they fear things will not work out. This may be someone who puts off saving for retirement because they don’t think retiring is possible. A pessimist may also be afraid to invest in the market or buy a home. While having these reservations may make them feel more secure, they could be missing out on a chance for success by depriving themselves of growth.

Again, this is where finding the right balance in your portfolio comes into play. A well-balanced portfolio can limit risk while providing an opportunity for returns.

6. The Giver

Many find comfort and happiness in buying lavish items and things for themselves, while others prefer to purchase such things for their loved ones. Whether for a family member, partner or friend, they find joy in giving. This doesn’t sound like a bad trait to have, right? Well, it can be if it comes at the expense of your happiness. As much as you want to shower those loved ones with gifts, there ought to be limits.

If you find yourself being a giver, you may want to include a category in your budget for gift giving. Consider setting limits on how much you spend on gifts, and ensure it doesn’t keep you from reaching your goals.

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What Not to Do With Your Tax Refund

Here are some things you might want to avoid when you get your check from Uncle Sam.

It’s that time of year again when tax refunds are on everyone’s mind. A tax refund check can be a wonderful addition to your checking account; a sizable amount can even bring new financial opportunities your way. But if you don’t spend that check from Uncle Sam responsibly, it can also put you in debt. Here are some things you might want to avoid when you get your tax refund.

1. Spending the Money Before You Receive It

One of the worst things you can do is spend your tax refund before you’ve even received it. Even if you got a head start on tax season and you know the amount you will receive, you might not want to spend your refund until you have the check in hand. If your refund is delayed, you may be strapped for cash until the check comes in — or worse, wind up in debt. (Debt can damage your wallet — and your credit. You can see how your credit currently fares by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

2. Go on a Massive Shopping Spree

Splurging on a big-ticket item or going on a spending spree is a quick way to kiss your tax refund goodbye. If you’re already in debt because of your poor spending habits, try not to dig yourself into a deeper hole. Rather than spend this money on unnecessary items, which can lead to buyer’s remorse, consider using this money to help you pay off your previous spending.

3. Deposit the Money Into Your Checking Account

While you may think stashing your tax refund in a checking account will prevent you from spending it right away, it won’t do you much good there. Without a plan for your refund, chances are it will remain in your checking account and later be spent on small, everyday purchases. If you’re unsure of what to do with your tax refund, consider other places to store it. You may want to place it in a checking account that bears interest or a mutual fund to make a return.

4. Pay for Upgrades You Don’t Need

Of course, that new iPhone is slimmer and shinier, but is there something wrong with your current phone? When it comes to upgrades, it’s important to first address your needs. When you make an upgrade based on a want rather than a need, you may be quickly wasting your refund. Consider upgrades that will save you money in the long run, such as an energy-efficient appliance, or upgrades that will increase the value of your home like kitchen renovations.

5. Gamble

For many, a tax refund, like credit cards, is viewed as free money. While it may be thrilling to know you can double this “free money” on red or black at the casino, there’s also the chance you can lose this cash. You may think you’re right where you left off before tax season, but this is not the case. Consider putting your refund to good use by investing or increasing contributions to retirement funds. This way you can still increase your refund, but with much less risk.

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4 True Tales of Maxing Out Credit Cards

maxed-out-credit-card

Some people like to joke about taking things to the limit, but when it comes to your credit, maxing out a credit card is no laughing matter.

Maxing out a credit card means swiping until you reach the card’s credit limit, or the total amount of credit extended to you. And that’s bad news for your credit scores because your debt utilization ratio (e.g., how much debt you have versus your total available credit) is one of the key factors credit agencies use to determine your score. Bump up against that limit, and your score will take a hit.

Debt levels are another factor that go into your score. Carry too much, and you’ll send a red flag to lenders that you’re in over your head; slack off on a few bills, and they’ll begin to think you can’t manage your payments responsibly.

We spoke with a few Credit.com readers who learned the hard way about the dangers of maxing out credit cards. While they aren’t proud of what they did, they came out stronger for their experience and took steps necessary to get their finances back in order. (Note: At their request, some names and locations have been withheld to protect readers’ privacy.)

‘I Maxed Out Seven Cards’  

Between 2006 and 2008, Steven M. Hughes was saddled with a lot of debt. “I maxed out seven cards in my freshman year alone,” he said via email, “two more as a young professional.” The problem was he didn’t understand how to use them. “My parents always told me to stay away from them and didn’t teach me how to manage them properly,” he said.

“I had one credit card for emergencies that I maxed out on car repairs for a car at the time. I had department store cards that I maxed out on clothes for school and work because I worked while I was in college. I had a card I maxed out going to a family member’s wedding in New York City. I started assigning jobs to each card, but I didn’t have the income to pay them off, and paying the minimum balance wasn’t cutting it. All but one card was charged off. I managed to pay the lone card off and start a new account with the creditor.”

Today, the Columbia, South Carolina, resident teaches millennials how to manage their money through his nonprofit, Know Money, Inc. “After making all the financial mistakes, I started to learn as much as possible about personal finance,” he said.

‘I Was Into Wearing Ralph Lauren’ 

Deborah Sawyerr, a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in London, was about 32 when she visited Woodbury Common Premium Outlet, in Central Valley, New York, during a family holiday in 2005. “We bought clothes, shoes, suits, my daughter some bits, belts, jackets and some gifts,” she recalled via email. “At the time, I was into wearing Ralph Lauren clothing, so most of my spend went on this particular brand.”

Her credit card balance at the time was pretty low, but she admits she went a bit overboard that trip, racking up roughly $5,000. “As luck would have it, at the same time, my employer had just paid me in excess of £5,000, or thereabouts, as a redundancy package,” she said. “I basically — and perhaps I wasn’t so naïve — used the entire redundancy package to clear the debt in one go.” Humbled by the experience, Sawyerr said hasn’t maxed out a credit card since.

‘I Knew Very Little About Money’ 

In 1997, John Schmoll, Jr. was an undergrad with four maxed out credit cards totaling a whopping debt of $25,000. “When I went to college, I knew very little about money and was enticed to sign up for credit cards out of the promise of some sort of free swag — T-shirt, Frisbee, you name it,” he wrote in an email. “I ended up signing up for four credit cards this way, and used them to finance a lifestyle that I wanted but could not afford.”

Teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, at a roommate’s urging Schmoll decided to meet with a debt counselor, who helped him lower the rates on his cards. From there, he set up a budget, which enabled him to pay the cards off five years later. “That changed my life forever and put me on the path I am today, working toward financial independence,” he said. Today, the Omaha-based father and finance industry veteran blogs at Frugal Rates about what he’s learned.

‘0% Offers Were Appealing’ 

Years ago, Lisa, a marketing strategist, found that the 0% promotional APR offers from credit card issuers “were appealing.”

“I had six credit cards, all with a little over $3,000 on them,” Lisa said in an email. “I consolidated them into one account, maxing out that card, and I paid it off in about two years.”

So what got her there in the first place? Overspending. “I was floored to find out how liberal I’d been with spending — luxury items, travel to the Maui Writer’s Conference, etc.,” she said. “I behave very differently now.”

For starters, she said she doesn’t keep a revolving balance, and diligently pays her balances off every month. “That way, there’s no surprise debt, no interest charges, no late fees, etc.,” she said.

If you have reason to believe your spending’s out of control and it’s affecting your credit, you can read up on these tips to build credit the smart way and view your free credit report summary on Credit.com to see where you might want to improve.

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My Spouse Went on a Spending Spree With Our Credit Cards. What Can I Do?

It can be difficult for married couples to manage their money together, especially if they are not always on the same page. In particular, credit cards can make it easy for one person to overspend using money that the household might not have in its budget. If you’ve had a situation where your spouse has spent too much on your credit cards, what can you do?

Talking About It

Having discovered that your spouse has been spending heavily on your credit cards, the first thing that you will want to consider is talking about it. It’s a good idea to start by giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt, simply asking for more information about the charges.

For example, a credit card statement might offer vague or misleading information about the name of the merchant, so it can be very easy to confuse a large charge that you were expecting with one that you weren’t. In addition, it’s always possible that what appears to be a spending spree might actually be the result of fraudulent charges, which you can dispute with your card issuer.

Thankfully, federal law protects credit card users from paying more than $50 in the event of a fraudulent charge, and all major card issuers will waive this amount by offering zero-liability policies. By sitting down together and going over each charge, couples can ensure that they understand exactly what was purchased and what wasn’t.

If you’ve determined the charges are legitimate, you’ll want to consider going over your total financial picture to see how these charges will affect you. And if you’re unable to pay your entire statement balance by the due date, you should also try to calculate the cost of interest charges.

Taking Steps to Minimize the Impact

Once you have talked it over, it may become apparent to both of you that your spouse overspent. The most effective way to minimize these expenses is to look into returning some unnecessary purchases. In fact, many credit cards come with a return protection policy that can offer you a refund on eligible purchases, even when the retailer won’t accept a return.

After you’ve returned everything you can, your next step will be to minimize any interest charges. You can avoid all interest charges by paying your balance in full, but if that’s not possible, then there are other steps that you can take. For example, you can pay as much as possible, as soon as possible, in order to reduce your average daily balance, which determines how much interest you are charged. You can even save money on interest charges by making multiple payments each month, as money becomes available. You also can cut back on other spending as you apply more of your monthly budget to paying off the debt.

Another strategy to minimize your credit card interest is to open a new account that offers 0% APR promotional financing on balances transfers. These offers allow you to avoid interest charges by transferring balances from your existing cards to a new credit card that offers interest-free financing. These promotional financing offers last from as little as six months to as long as a year or more, however, nearly all of these offers require payment of a balance transfer fee of 3 to 5%, which gets added to your new balance.

Preventing It From Happening Again

Once you’ve tried to manage your existing charges, you can take steps to ensure neither of you overspend with credit cards in the future. For example, some couples agree to notify each other before making any charges above a certain amount, such as $100. In many cases, you can manage your credit card accounts online and create automated alerts that send both of you an email or a text message when any charge above a certain amount is made, or when your balance crosses a predetermined threshold.

Finally, some couples may choose to separate their finances rather than manage their accounts jointly. This allows you to avoid financial problems caused by your spouse’s overspending, but it can also make it more difficult to work together to budget your money and control overspending.

It’s often said that communication is the key to any successful relationship, and this advice is especially true when it comes to married couples managing their finances together. By talking about your credit card use, and taking steps to mitigate and prevent overspending, couples can work to manage their credit card accounts responsibly.

Remember, carrying high credit card balances can have a negative effect on your credit scores. You can see how your credit card spending is impacting your credit by checking your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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Help! My Credit Card Spending Is Out of Control This Summer

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When the days get longer and the temps get warmer, it seems like it gets easier to splurge on getaways, concerts, activities for the kids, or simply on hitting every rooftop restaurant you can before the season ends. But all this summer fun won’t be worth it if it ends up breaking your budget and landing you in serious credit card debt.

But don’t fret — if you feel you’re using that plastic too much this summer, you have some options.

1. Rein in Your Spending  

“The very first step … is to create a spending plan to gain a firm understanding of the funds coming in and going out,” Thomas Nitzsche, media relations manager for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, said in an email.

If you can see where your weaker points are and either cut back or re-assess your budget to make it work so you don’t go into debt, this may help your situation. And if you’ve already landed yourself in debt, figuring out a payment plan should be your next step.

To do this, Nitzsche recommended trying to avoid using credit “as an extension of income for everyday living expenses.” He said that if you’re doing this, you’re going to have a harder time establishing and implementing a payoff plan because it will require “paying off all the new charges each month, plus a substantial payment toward the principle of the previous balance.”

Plus, “on top of interest charges (and in some cases late/over-limit fees), this can present a real challenge,” he said.

“If you find yourself struggling to make minimum payments … then it’s time to take action and seek help,” Nitzsche said.

2. Consider a Balance Transfer Credit Card

“A balance transfer can be a good idea under certain circumstances,” Nitzsche said. Those circumstances could include having only have a moderate amount of debt that could be paid off faster because of the limited-time reduced interest rate that accompanies most balance transfer credit cards. And then, of course, there’s the fee that accompanies most transfers — typically 3% of the total amount.

If you decide you want to get a balance transfer credit card to help you get back on track, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

“Applicants should be aware of the ‘teaser rate’ timeframe and make a plan to have the debt paid off by the expiration,” Nitzsche said. If not, you may end up right back where you started from. (Note: most of these timeframes are around 18-24 months, but you should read the fine print carefully with any card you’re considering.)

He added that it’s also important to know that if you aren’t “approved for the full balance of [your] existing debt, that the new creditor may automatically transfer the maximum possible and then [you] will have two creditor payments.”

Nitzsche also warned about the effect getting a new balance transfer credit card could have on your credit score, saying “opening a new account and then maxing (or nearly maxing) it out with a balance transfer will ding their credit score.”

If you are considering this option, you may want to read this guide of some of the best balance transfer credit cards in America.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score 

Your payment history is the largest part (35%) of what impacts your credit scores, so if you are unable to make your debt payments on time, or skip them altogether, your credit will take a hit.

On the other hand, if you work to pay down your debt, in turn improving your credit utilization (how much credit you have vs. how much you use), you will likely start to see your scores improve. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit scores so you can track your efforts. (You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

You may also want to review your credit reports to make sure there aren’t any problems, like errors or fraudulent accounts, as they may be damaging your scores as well. You can get your free annual credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.

[Offer: Your credit score may be low due to credit errors. If that’s the case, you can tackle your credit reports to improve your credit score with help from Lexington Law. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

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This Ridiculously Cute Ad Gives a Dog a Credit Card

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Credit card debt has never been so adorable.

A new ad for Canadian debit card program Interac features Max, an Australian Shepherd with a love of Kobe beef sliders, dog bones and plush toys … and a big problem with spending.

As the (fictional, just to be clear) story goes, Max learns how to use the internet, turning his occasional splurge into a full-fledged online shopping addiction, complete with all the side effects we humans have to endure as well. Specifically, Max goes into credit card debt.

The ad calls on a few experts to weigh in on the very real facts of what credit card debt does to cardholders, including dealing with debt collection phone calls, depression and even sickness. A real-life veterinarian even gives his take.

The ad is a funny and cute way to warn people about the dangers of credit card debt while showcasing one of the key benefits of debit cards — you can’t spend more than you have.

Max is able to ultimately get back on the right track by burying his credit card and going debit-only for a while. If in this fictional world Max also has a credit score, he’ll want to be careful that his card doesn’t get closed by the issuer, which could hurt his credit scores. However, paying off his balances will definitely go a long way in improving his credit. Max is on the right track.

If you’re a Max, you may also want to consider opening a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory offer to give you some breathing room from your debt. And if more than one credit card is plaguing you, you might want to make a plan to pay off your debt by using a credit card payoff calculator like this one. You can see how your credit card spending is impacting your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.

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72% of Americans Believe Their Finances Will Improve in 2016

Debt, expenses and retirement planning can make dealing with your finances seem daunting. But most Americans feel optimistic about their budget, with 72% saying they’ll be in better financial shape next year, according to an annual survey by Fidelity Investments. (The survey included responses from two random samples of U.S. adults interviewed by phone between Oct. 15 and 25.)

Among the respondents, 37% said they were considering making a financial resolution, up from 31% last year, while the majority (54%) said their goal is to improve their savings. Spending less was the next most popular resolution (19%), followed by paying off debt (16%). Paying down credit card debt specifically had its own category with 11% committing, up from 5% last year.

Despite not being up there with saving, paying off debt can improve your finances in more ways than one. Not only is it a relief to watch your balance decrease, it can boost your credit score (another smart resolution). You can see how your efforts have paid off by getting two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.

Making a resolution is the easy part, but sticking to it is another story. Of those who resolved to improve some aspect of their finances this year, fewer than half saw an improvement: 45% have less debt and 43% are in better financial standing, per the survey. That’s something to celebrate—but also shows success takes commitment.

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