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5 ways to get credit as a millennial

by Susan Ladika on June 16, 2016

Millennial learning how to get credit

Maybe you’re about to graduate from college, you’ve been working a few years at a low-paying job, or your credit tanked along with the economy. Regardless of the reason, you may find it tough to get credit.

If that’s the case, you’re not alone. A survey by VantageScore Solutions, an alternative credit scoring system created by the three big credit bureaus, found one-third of millennials can’t get the credit they need. In contrast, one-quarter of all those surveyed across all age groups have trouble getting credit.
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Here’s where to stash your cash while waiting for the Fed to finally raise interest rates, probably this fall

by Susan Ladika on June 29, 2015

It has to happen sooner or later.

After months of dithering, it appears the Federal Reserve will actually start to push interest rates higher, ending years of record low returns on bank accounts.

While it could start as soon as July, the Fed seems more likely to initiate this epic change in policy in September or October.

That means you need a suitable place to park your cash until then. It’s especially important if you have a certificate of deposit that matures this summer. Immediately rolling it over into another CD probably isn’t your wisest choice.

Instead, it’s time to take a look at savings and money market accounts. Many of the best paying banks have nudged up rates in recent weeks, and are paying similar rates to what you can earn with a CD.

The best nationally available 12-month CD, from CIT Bank pays 1.25% APY, which is pretty much what you can make with a top-paying savings account.

You certainly don’t want to tie your money up in 2- or 3-year CDs that pay what, a quarter point more?

If interest rates start to take off this fall, you won’t want to be stuck on the sidelines, waiting for your CDs to mature. You’ll want all the cash you can muster, ready and waiting to pounce.

Here’s where to find the best-paying savings accounts that are open to investors across the county:
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It’s getting easier to do good by linking your spending to your favorite charity

by Susan Ladika on March 02, 2015

If you’re one of the 95% of Americans who donate to charity each year, your good will could stretch a little further if you spend your money wisely.

You can now support everything from education to the environment through your credit or debit card, bank account or other payment method.

Some options provide funds to particular nonprofit organizations, while others give you the flexibility to choose the charity that reaps your rewards.

I’m a huge shopper, buying everything from special food for my senior cat to cosmetics through the site.

Last year I signed up for the AmazonSmile program after friends who run a clinic that provides low-cost veterinarian care suffered a devastating loss. An arsonist torched their facility, destroying the inside of the building and killing the three clinic cats.
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Start saving and planning now for summer vacays

by Susan Ladika on January 26, 2015

AirplaneThe coldest winter months are the time to start saving for your summer vacation.

By planning now for a week exploring the sites of London and Paris, or trekking around Orlando’s theme parks, you can avoid racking up credit card debt on airline tickets and hotel rooms when warmer weather rolls around.

While some travel agencies allow you to layaway vacation packages, that can be risky business. You’ll typically wind up paying a penalty if you need to cancel or change your travel plans.

If a trip to a Disney resort or a Disney cruise is on the top of your wish list, the mighty mouse is making it easier for you to save, rolling out a Disney Vacation Account in conjunction with JP Morgan Chase.

It helps put you on the right track by allowing you to save up for your vacation. You can make one-time or recurring contributions to your account, including via your debit card. And if you suddenly decide you’d rather go skiing in Aspen, you can get your account balance refunded.

But there are definite downsides.

If you opt to make deposits using your credit card, you run the risk of racking up big interest charges if you carry a balance on your card.

You also won’t earn any interest on your account, though you will receive a $20 gift card for every $1,000 you spend on your vacation. That’s equivalent to just 0.02% APY.

Far better savings choices are available, regardless of where you want to spend your summer.
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Kick start your savings with goal-based accounts

by Susan Ladika on July 07, 2014

Saving money is always one of the top New Year’s resolutions, but halfway through the year, you’ve usually kicked that goal to the curb.

Hard to believe, but some banks and credit unions actually want to help you make those resolutions stick, paying higher interest rates or bonuses if you stash money in your savings regularly.

Play it right and you could get an extra $250 added to your account or earn 2.50% APY on your savings.

What’s the catch? You typically need to contribute monthly to these goal-based savings accounts, and leave it there. No making withdrawals to buy Justin Timberlake concert tickets or the latest Coach handbag.

It’s tempting to “want to spend money to keep up with the Joneses,” says Brett Engel, manager of deposit products at Baxter Credit Union, or BCU as it is usually called, in Vernon Hills, Ill. But once you start setting money aside, “you get excited. You want to see more digits in your bank account.”
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