1 Out Of 3 Americans Don’t Use A Budget

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Do as I say, not as I do. Do you ever fall into that trap? New research from Debt.com suggests that you might have that attitude when it comes to budgets.

Debt.com recently surveyed the budgeting habits and attitudes of Americans and found a wide discrepancy in following through on budgeting beliefs. A huge majority (93%) of respondents agreed that everyone needs a budget, with 97% of women and 90% of men agreeing – yet only two-thirds of respondents actually do maintain a budget.

The remaining 7% agreed that some people need to budget – for example, if you have limited income, are a big spender, or have a lot of debt – but they didn’t feel that budgets should be universal.

Why do budgeters budget? Most want to do a better job managing their money (34%), or budget because they’ve always done so (25%). Another 13% budget out of necessity to get out of debt. Other budgeting reasons centered on saving for wealth building and/or retirement, or budgeting as …

Achieve Financial Literacy!

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April is National Financial Literacy Month. Why do we dedicate this calendar page to highlighting financial skills and education? The tax deadline? Sound financial decisions are important all year long, but most Americans never learned how to manage money or save for goals, so financial security is a bigger challenge than it needs to be.

Even if you can handle the math involved — and calculators can help if you can’t — things get complicated when making large (often emotional) financial decisions. Some of the most common pitfalls are described below. If you recognize any of them, you’re not alone. The good news is that you have an opportunity to improve your finances and save more money.

Emergency Preparedness

An emergency fund is essential because you need to absorb life’s surprises without making things worse. Without a stash of cash, you’ll have to take…

How The Interest Rate Increase Affects You

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Your Christmas gift from the Federal Reserve is here. Surprise! It’s another 0.25% hike in the Federal Funds rate. Sure, you’ve already gotten this same gift three other times in 2018, and nine times since late 2015 – but what else would you expect to receive from the Fed?

Interest rate hikes from the Fed really can be a positive gift to you, but it’s more likely to be a negative – depending on whether you’re a saver or a spender.

The Federal Funds rate is the benchmark rate used to transfer money between banks. This rate is generally passed on to consumers. Borrowers are charged higher interest rates on the money they borrow, while savers are eventually offered better interest rates on checking and savings accounts as well as certificates of deposit (CDs).

In some cases, the changes are passed on directly to consumers. For example, credit cards and adjust…

Don’t Answer That Text From Your “Bank”

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Does your bank have a cardless ATM? Cardless ATMs interact with your smartphone to let you withdraw cash from your bank’s enabled ATMs without inserting a card into a card reader.

With some ATMs, your smartphone app generates a QR code for your withdrawal, and the ATM scanner reads the QR code off your phone. Other ATMs use near-field communications (NFC), the same technology that allows you to avoid slot readers by tapping your card or phone against a receiving sensor (think Apple Pay and digital wallet apps).

In either case, your smartphone substitutes for your card. However, that adds another avenue for fraudsters to trick you out of personal information and drain your bank account.

From a technology standpoint, cardless ATMs are relatively safe. They use tokenization to provide a random number for each transaction, avoiding transmission of the card number. The…

Checking Account Scams

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Your checking account is a tempting target for thieves. You must stay alert for the many varieties of checking account scams – but first, you must be able to recognize a scam when you see one. Have you ever been targeted by any of the scams below?

Free Prizes – This scam usually starts with a postcard or a telephone call notifying you of a prize that you have won. If you respond positively, the telemarketer will ask you for your checking account number, either for verification or to use for direct deposit. Once they have your account number, scammers will be able to apply a “demand draft”, allowing them to withdraw funds directly from your account without your signature.

Variations of this theme exist, such as a special credit card offer that applies even if your credit history is suspect. In all cases, the end result is the same – the telemarketer will ask for your checking account information. Don’t give it to them.

Compromise…

Free Government Program Can Help You Master Your Finances

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You’re never too old to learn new things – including better money management practices. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) agrees.

To address financial literacy concerns, the FDIC created the Money Smart teaching program in 2001 to help educators and financial institutions increase consumer understanding of basic financial systems work and how to use them to stay financially healthy.

The Money Smart for Adults program is expanding to include more topics. According to the FDIC website, the updated Money Smart for Adults program is set to begin in fall 2018.

The updated program contains eleven separate modules that take one to two hours of time per module. Topics include how banking services work, the basics of credit and credit histories, how to use credit cards…

91% Of Us Have Taken Steps To Protect Against Identity Theft

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In September 2017, America learned about the massive data breach at the credit reporting agency Equifax that affected approximately 148 million consumers – one of the largest breaches ever. Identity thieves suddenly acquired a new batch of Social Security numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information.

Consumers were advised to take steps immediately to protect themselves against identity theft. Did they heed that advice? A new survey from CompareCards.com shows that the vast majority of Americans (91%) took at least one protective step against identity theft while the average American had taken at least three steps.

The most cited protective steps were reviewing online bank and credit card statements more often (65%), checking credit scores (51%), and setting up alerts to notify users when charges were made to their accounts (50%).

Card Cracking 101

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By Sandra Parsons

While Cardi B is topping the charts, “Card Cracking” is ruining some music fans’ lives. Rapper Young Ash and five others were recently indicted for running a card cracking ring that recruited accomplices through her Snapchat channel. Learn how card cracking works and how you can avoid falling victim to such a scam.

What is card cracking?

Card cracking is a type of financial fraud in which the fraudster promises easy money to entice regular people into sharing their debit card, PIN, and online banking credentials. The fraudster deposits bad checks (often online) and then quickly withdraws them from the ATM. They instruct their victim/accomplice to report the activity to their bank as unauthorized to get reimbursed for the loss once the checks bounce. The fraudster walks away with the withdrawn cash, and the accomplice gets a cut of the profits.

However, it doesn’t usually play out the way the accomplice t…

Get Cash Back On Your Debit Cards!

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Prefer using debit cards over credit cards, but miss earning rewards? Some debit cards offer cash-back rewards – either as a straight points-based redemption program or as a perks-based program directed at purchases with specific merchants. You may have debit card cash-back benefits through a perks-based program and not even realize it.

Cardlytics is one of the largest of the perks-based programs, having paid over $200 million in cash-back rewards to debit card holders. They have relationships with over 2,000 financial institutions across America, including large banks such as Bank of America, PNC, SunTrust, and Regions.

Essentially, Cardlytics offers cash-back rewards programs through the banks’ online user interfaces in exchange for information on your spending habits. Their approach of targeted cash-back rewards allows you to easily redeem offers at merchants you al…