Spending big bucks to make your house "haunted" seems counterintuitive. With Halloween creeping up, we found ways to decorate on (almost) a dime. With these sophisticated products under $15, you can style your home and avoid spending scary amounts of money. Click through to see 15 treats, not tricks, for your wallet.
I have long preferred the simple swipe of plastic to handing over warm bills. (Doesn’t everyone?) Paying for things in cash is physically painful. As it should be.
When others have asked, my excuse for avoiding cash transactions has been that using a card means it’s trackable, so I can better account for my spending when I leave a digital footprint. But have I actually tracked my spending? Nope. Sure, I like having the option. But if my money were a dog, it’s been off the leash for a while.
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So last month, I decided to try the cash challenge. I took out $500 at the start of the month for discretionary spending (meaning rent, insurance, and other recurring expenses were excluded) and vowed to try not to spend a cent more. I was actually excited about it. At last! Getting real about money. I’ve been dodgy and defensive about my spending for a while. This was going to keep me honest.
As gas prices continue to rise, many of us wonder if gas-issued credit cards are a smart solution. Before you sign on the dotted line, we suggest you give it some serious thought. Although talks of cash back, value points, and even travel discounts seem alluring, there's a lot of fine print that comes with them. To make matters easier, we created a pros and cons list to help you better understand the hype. While Danica Patrick might benefit from a gas card, your wallet might not.
Generally speaking, gas cards are very similar to your average credit card: they require a good credit score to apply, and interest rates hover around 18 to 25 percent. Unlike bank-issued credit cards, they have their perks and are safer to use at the pump than debit cards. Frequent drivers will benefit the most, often earning points for every dollar spent at the pump or a small percent cash back on gas purchases. Those with access to Chevron and Texaco stations can even apply for loyalty cards that can be used for roadside assistance and hotel discounts. Most gas cards also allow for cash advances and zero liability in the event of unauthorized transactions.
If you don't own a car or if you work from home or travel to places where gas stations vary, a gas card is probably not for you. While there are many rewards and cash offerings available, they are often complicated to redeem and expire within months. Not to mention, you can only truly benefit if you fill up at one particular station often. In addition, applying for these cards requires extremely good credit, and they often have low credit limits. Don't expect to find any major discounts or exclusive card-holder discounts either. Unlike department and grocery store credit cards, gas margins are so thin that fuel companies can't offer you deep discounts.
Remember, just like any credit card, you have to pay these off, and adding more plastic to your wallet can increase the complexity of your finances. If you are considering opening a credit card and don't spend hours behind the wheel, you're best off seeking a bank-issued credit card instead.
Luxury resorts offer plush amenities, and these days they're not just for their overnight guests. Business Insider has the inside scoop on how to get awesome hotel perks without staying for the night.
Hotels are offering a new kind of luxury staycation. These days, many luxury hotels offer special memberships to the public, giving them free reign of amenities like the pool, spa or gym without ever booking a room.
Too bad the memberships don't come cheap.
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Memberships at Rosewood Sand Hill Resort in Menlo, Calif run patrons $1,000 per month, reports Andrea Peterson of the Wall Street Journal.
We found that the Trump Chicago has an "exclusive membership" option. While not a beach-side resort, members still get access to the health club and spa, which overlooks Lake Michigan. The members also receive complimentary workout clothes, headphones, and a locker.
The Hotel Casa del Mar has an ocean-side location in Santa Monica, Calif. They offer their members year-round privileges to the pool and fitness center, as well as preferred seating in the restaurant.
They also give members a series of one-time benefits, like one overnight stay, breakfast in bed, a variety of spa sessions, and a personal trainer or yoga session.
If you want to take advantage of day passes to luxe resorts, ask ahead of time for information on special memberships.
— Laura Brothers
Check out these stories from Business Insider:
Young people are racking up far more credit card debt than their parents ever did, a new study shows, and economic experts are worrying that Generation Y — people born in the early 1980s — will end up dying without ever paying off their credit card bills.
"Credit is more readily available now, and there have been changes in interest rates and less stigma attached to having credit-card debt, which may all make younger people today more willing to go into debt," Ohio State University economics professor Lucia Dunn, a co-author of the study, told Business News Daily.
The research, which Dunn co-authored with Capital One Financial credit manager Sarah Jiang, was published in the January issue of the journal Economic Inquiry. It suggests that, not only are Millennials using more credit than previous generations, they're paying it off far more slowly as well.
I'm expecting my first child in just a matter of weeks, and while I'm basking in the midst of baby showers and nursery color schemes, there are some much more serious issues that we will need to tackle as we move beyond her birth. Of course there's health insurance for her, life insurance for us, and a will, but a little planning now will also help us afford things like child care and college. Fortunately, Uncle Sam has put a few programs in place that allow parents to save for these major expenditures . . . and provide a nice tax break to boot!
Dependent Day Care FSA Account
Check with your employer to see if they offer a dependent day care flexible spending account, because you could be eligible to sock away up to $5,000 a year from your paycheck into a pre-tax account to be used for child-care expenses until your child turns 14. For families in the 25 percent federal tax bracket, this type of account allows you to save about $1,250 per year at the maximum contribution plus additional savings by avoiding Social Security and Medicare taxes.
There are a few important things to note about this program. First, both parents (or the parent in a single-parent household) must work. Second, if your spouse's company also offers a dependent care FSA, you are still capped at $5,000 in total family annual contributions. You also don't want to overestimate your expenses, since the money in the account won't roll over into the next year (and should you leave your job, you forfeit any unused contributions). Finally, the child-care expenses that you pay for through this spending account must be those that allow you and your spouse to work. So paying a babysitter while you spend a night at the movies doesn't count!