5 Tips For Saving Money In College

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By Roshni Chowdhry, head of customer experience at SafetyNet

Of the 17 million Americans currently enrolled in college, 74 percent qualify as what we used to call “nontraditional” students:

  • One in five is 30 years or older.
  • About half don’t rely on their parents for money.
  • One quarter are caring for a child.
  • 47 percent attend college part time at some point.
  • 25 percent took a year off between high school and college.
  • 44 percent have parents without a bachelor’s degree.

In other words, if you’re a college student today, there’s a good chance you’re not the Hollywood stereotype of an 18-year-old on your own for the first time. Still, whether it’s your first year of indepe…

Credit Card Current Balance and Statement Balance: What’s the Difference?

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What’s your credit card balance? If you choose to answer that question – and you probably shouldn’t, because it’s none of our business – you should answer it with a question of your own. “Do you mean my current balance or my statement balance?”

Do you know the difference between the two balances? Your current balance is the total amount of unpaid charges and fees that you owe on your card at any moment in time, independent of the billing cycle. Your statement balance is a reflection of what you owe at the end of a billing cycle.

Typically, a billing cycle is one month long (although it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the beginning and end of the month). The statement balance is the one that you must pay in full to avoid incurring interest charges.

Credit cards usually offer a grace period, typically anywhere from two to three weeks, to pay off your statement balance. By p…

Store Credit Card Could Hurt Your Credit Score

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Clerks at most department stores or retailers often ask if you’d like to apply for a store credit card, pleasantly pitching special deals and perks that the credit card provides. Why not accept? How can you go wrong opening another account?

When you’re tempted to accept a store card offer, think of two things – how you would use the card in the future and how opening the account will affect your credit score.

Financial Educator and Author Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche suggests that people may misunderstand the risk associated with store cards because they don’t understand how credit scores are calculated. Because of the relatively low limits of store cards, credit utilization (the amount of credit in use relative to your credit limit) is high. A higher percentage of credit utilization suggests higher risk to lenders, resulting in a lower credit score.

“Peopl…

Don’t Catch Sexually Transmitted Debt!

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“I picked up a really bad case of debt from my ex, and I can’t get rid of it.”

You can pick up several unpleasant surprises from a sexual partner, but have you considered painful, lasting financial ramifications? According to a recent survey from Finder.com, around 74 million Americans have picked up a “sexually transmitted debt,” a debt that’s assumed as part of a relationship.

The study determined that the average sexually transmitted debt (STD) works out to $11,485, with most acquired through marriage (28%) or in a divorce settlement (14%). In some states, the IRS says debt taken on by either spouse after the wedding is automatically a shared debt. The remaining reasons in the top five all relate to spending. Purchases made in a partner’s name account were cited in 25% of the cases, while joint account purchases were cited in 20% of the cases – and the dreaded secret …

Why We Don’t Pay Our Credit Card Bills

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Miss a credit card payment, and you’ll suffer the consequences. Your credit score will drop significantly, since on-time payments are the number one factor in determining your credit score. You’ll pay late fees and possibly incur a penalty APR. Interest charges will pile up on your unpaid balance.

So why do so many Americans miss credit card payments? A new NerdWallet study suggests the biggest reason may be summed up in two words – “I forgot.”

According to the study, 35% of Americans who miss credit card payments simply forget to make them – edging out the one-third who don’t have the money left over after paying for essentials and the 32% who had to deal with an unexpected financial emergency.

At least you have an excuse if cash flow is your problem – but it’s not much of an excuse. Over half of study respondents (56%) blame the rise in delinquencies on …

School Is In Session! Protect Yourself From Scams

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With the school season starting again, education is job number one for students and parents alike. A proper education includes an education in personal finance, and one of the best ways to start is to learn how to protect yourself against scams.

You can and should learn fast, too, because scams can become more common during the back-to-school buying season. Here are some practical suggestions on how to avoid credit and debit card fraudsters:

  • Only patronize known retailers.
  • Avoid jackpot online deals that offer items like $3,000 laptops for $400. These are often scams.
  • “Good PC hygiene” cannot be overstated for every handheld device, laptop, and phone. Anti-virus and anti-malware programs are key to staying safer online.
  • Avoid pooling or sharing credit card information in a dorm setting. There is no reason for students to share…

Video: The Dirty Secret Behind Zero-Percent Financing

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You buy a big-ticket item today and only start paying for it in a year’s time. That’s a good deal, right? Not always. Zero-percent financing may sound great, but it could end up costing you a whole lot more in hidden interest charges. Professor MoneyTips Jeff Hoyt explains how to assess a zero-percent financing offer to make sure that you don’t end up paying extra in our exclusive video above.

If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, join MoneyTips and use our free Debt Optimizer tool.

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2 Of 5 U.S. Cardholders Have Fallen Victim To Credit Card Scams

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New Survey Shows Credit Card Fraud Totals $136 Billion

The convenience and ease of credit cards comes with a downside – credit card fraud is a tempting and lucrative target for criminals.

According to a new Finder.com study, approximately 42% of consumers (roughly 103 million Americans) who use credit cards have experienced at least one fraudulent transaction in their lifetime. At an average loss of $1,319, credit card scammers have racked up approximately $136 billion in fraudulent charges – more than the current market value of McDonalds or General Electric and greater than the GDP of 132 countries.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of credit card scams? You can’t eliminate all potential sources of credit card fraud, but you can greatly reduce the odds through pre-emptive action and goo…

More Americans Defaulting On Credit Cards

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According to the Federal Reserve’s G.19 Consumer Credit report, America’s outstanding revolving debt – mostly credit card debt – was closing in on $1.04 trillion as of June 2018. How will we pay all that money back? An increasing number of Americans may not be able to do so.

ValuePenguin analyst Joe Resendiz calls credit card defaults “a cause for concern.” Resendiz highlighted increased second-quarter credit card default numbers for both JPMorgan and Bank of America as disturbing points amid generally good reports.

The second quarter 2018 Household Debt and Credit Report from the New York Federal Reserve backs up some of these concerns. At 6% of all consumer debt, credit card debt remains firmly in third place for all non-mortgage consumer debt behind student loans (11%) and auto loans (9%). However, the sheer number of credit card accounts – approximately 480 million, over four times the number of auto loan accounts and over five times the number of mortgage lo…