Remember to be diligent about checking your credit card bills and other statements. Additional charges may be added to your bill by either human error or just as a test by scammers to see if the charges go unnoticed then you r account may be charged for a larger amount at a later date.
Double billing and errors happen. Check your bill often, even between payments to see what charges are being added to your bill. If you believe that you are charged twice for something that you ordered, contact the merchant to try to straighten out the situation. Generally, reputable places can check their records. If this does not work, then go to the credit card company.
Notice a charge that you did not make? Directly contact your credit card company.
Phishing scams are on the rise, because of the economy but some crimes are either not reported or not detected for a while. Even additional charges may be added to your cell or home phone bill. Always check to see if additional services are added mistakenly. This is especially true if you have automatic payments charged to a credit card or deducted from a checking account. I had an automatic deduction made from an account for a mortgage before and more money was being taken from y account than it should have been. The amount was very small and was added to my mortgage as additional principal. Sometimes the amount deducted may be keyed in incorrectly and could make you have to pay additional late charges. If you have proof that you have automatic payment and that it was an error on their end, then you may have to go through the hassle of straightening it out, but you will receive a credit.
Be diligent in your own finances.
Credit card reform has passed in the Senate and will return to the House for a vote.
One interesting area that the separate bills provide for are credit cards for minors. The House bill states that (unemancipated) minors can’t have more than one card, and limits college students to one card. The Senate bill eliminates credit cards for anyone younger than 21 without proof of income or adult co-signer.
Universal default is also eliminated so if you make a late payment your rate isn’t automatically increased on you other credit cards.
Though the other parts of either the House’s or Senate’s bill would be beneficial to cardholders, the provision for minors and college age students is important. Having one card will still allow a student to do some damage but not so much as having several cards and accruing thousands of dollars in non-tuition debt before graduating from college.
Debt is a big issue for many people. Starting your life with excessive credit card debt doesn’t help a college student make his/her way in the world. This legislation if passed by the House will make a difference when students arrive on campus and have to walk through a gauntlet of credit card companies’ tables offering free gifts and generous credit limits for those who have no employment. Proof of income or a co-signer would make it more difficult to completely ruin your credit. [A provision for a reasonable credit limit, depending on the student’s income would have been a great addition as well.]
Embracing or maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the midst of an economic downturn can be difficult especially when healthy foods cost much more than fast foods. Banning fast foods completely is not something you need to do, but it is important to trend toward healthier eating than to make your regular diet consist of fast foods.
One problem with fast foods is that many restaurant chains are now trying to get business by offering cheap fast meals. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive than some other foods, but think about the long term cost. How much does the added sodium, low fiber, nutrient poor meal cost you in terms of health benefits long term?
Dining out cannot only wreak havoc on your budget it can also cause you to overeat. Why is this important to being frugal? Eating well and getting some exercise allow you to maintain health which can prevent disease and health problems later in life. Even taking maintenance medications for a year can be costly.
This does not mean that by eating healthy you can prevent any genetic predispositions to certain diseases but for a generally healthy person, eating fast food every day, or several times a week may be a cheap alternative to making a meal at home, but can cost you later.
Even if you are unemployed or working fewer hours and can’t afford a health club membership, walking a couple of miles a day or running can also provide some health benefits for very little money.
For some tips on improving or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, go to Small Step which features more than 100 tips on how to have a healthier lifestyle.
…Nicholas Souleles of the University of Pennsylvania and David Gross of the consultancy Compass Lexecon calculated that the typical consumer unnecessarily spends $200 a year in interest payments by keeping a sizable stash of cash in savings or checking while at the same time carrying a credit-card balance. In our heads, the two don’t line up.
Time recently posted an article about the problem with credit cards – “The Real Problem with Credit Cards: The Cardholders.” This is true, spending is not the same for any two people. My credit card usage leans toward using my cards as cash. In my mind – paying interest is bad, earning interest is good. I may not have the cash today but I will before the bill comes or I just don’t want to carry around a lot of cash. No problem. I can do a quick calculation and determine whether or not I have enough to buy what I want. For larger purchases, they are generally not spur of the moment purchases. Even so, making several purchases for $50-$100 can soon throw a budget out of whack – great interest rate or not.
The credit card problem debate is like the gun debate. Guns aren’t bad if you are using them correctly. Some people should never have guns and do not use them wisely. Even people who hunt for food with guns know that these instruments can do great damage. Credit cards are the same way – these are financial instruments that should be used wisely. Some people should have never ever, ever had a credit card in the first place.