Free From Broke http://freefrombroke.com A Personal Finance Blog for Regular Folks Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:13:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 7 Reasons We Have Trouble Sticking to Our Budget http://freefrombroke.com/reasons-we-have-trouble-sticking-to-our-budget/ http://freefrombroke.com/reasons-we-have-trouble-sticking-to-our-budget/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:13:21 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=20979 Every month, I diligently write out our budget and track how we spend our money.  Most months we stay close to our target budget.  However, there are some months, especially the winter months when we have a number of expenses due at once, where we struggle to make ends meet. I’m sure you’ve experienced this […]

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7 Reasons We Have Trouble Sticking to Our Budget

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Every month, I diligently write out our budget and track how we spend our money. 

Most months we stay close to our target budget.  However, there are some months, especially the winter months when we have a number of expenses due at once, where we struggle to make ends meet.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well.

If you struggle with your budget, you’re not alone.  Turns out, there are many reasons why most of us spend more and save less than we should.

Here’s Why We Have So Much Trouble Sticking to Our Budget

1.) We’re Too Busy

My mom always tells me the story of my grandparents who constantly had to stretch to make ends meet.  They would sit down together on Friday night with the grocery store ads and, based on what was on sale, make the grocery list and menu plan.  Then, together, they would go to several stores to shop for groceries.

The whole idea of sitting down together as a couple to make a grocery list and then to shop together seems terribly quaint and outdated now.

I know of NO couples that do this today.

When my grandparents were able to afford a vacation with their large family (they had 9 children), they rented a cottage at the lake and had fun swimming.  My grandma bought groceries and cooked every meal, even though they were on vacation.

In today’s busy, fast-paced world where often both parents have full-time jobs, we just don’t seem to have time to find ways to cut corners and do things ourselves.  It’s much easier to go out to eat in a restaurant so someone else has to do the cooking.

Many of us, so limited on time, prefer to save time rather than save money.

By paying someone else to do things for us, from cutting our grass to delivering our groceries, to clean our homes, we gladly pay money so we can have more time.   Yet we must work more to pay someone to do our tasks so we have more time.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Reasons We Can't Stick to Our Budget

2.) We As a Nation Have Lifestyle Inflation

Not only are we all busier, but as a society, we have experienced rapid lifestyle inflation.

Seventy-five years ago, people who had home phones were still sharing party lines with their neighbors.  Televisions were still a rarity.  In fact, in early 1948, there were only “102,000 TV sets in the United States” (Illinois Periodicals Online).

Of course, I’m not saying we should go back to the days of no television or home phone, though some people do choose to.  Rather, take a look at all of the technology many of us have in our lives right now that we’re paying for that we didn’t have twenty five years ago:

  • Home internet access,
  • Smart phone, or at the very least, a cell phone,
  • an iPad or eReader,
  • apps for the smart phone or iPad,
  • cable or satellite television with perhaps hundreds of stations

That is really just the beginning.

New technology is constantly being developed, and over time, we begin to think that we can’t live without this technology.

While smart phones and iPads are wonderful inventions, they cost us a lot of money every year.  According to U.S. News, “Americans spend the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly mortgage or rent on technology, according to a study by the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts released last year.”

That sort of spending can put a serious damper on your ability to stay within your budget.

3.) Friendships Can Be Expensive

Trying to stick to your budget, especially if it’s a tight one, can affect your friendships.

If you have friends who love to eat out and go to the theater or other fun places, you need to decide whether you want to stick to the budget or go out with your friends.  Sure, you might try to ask friends over to your house, but some people really enjoy going out.  If you can’t, they may likely find other people who can.

Even moms looking to form friends with other moms and have playdates with their kids can run into this problem.  I find that more and more moms want to have play dates not at the park, which is free, but some place where the kids can do a structured activity.  These types of parents prefer mom and me classes, My Gym classes, or other fun activities.  All of those events, especially if you have more than one child, can add up quickly.

4.) Even Adults Are Affected by Peer Pressure

In addition to friends who might like to spend more, we also must learn how to handle family and friends who have more than we do.  We like to think of peer pressure as something only teenagers and young adults are susceptible to, but the truth is, we’re all susceptible.

Dave Ramsey talks about sticking to his budget when he was getting out of debt and shares the story of an embarrassing beater car he drove to work.  He was humiliated, but he stuck to the budget.  Most of us wouldn’t make that kind of sacrifice, not when car loans are so readily available.  It takes nerve and dedication to drive a beater car to work, especially when you’re past your teens and early twenties.

We may want just what our neighbors have without realizing that our neighbors may be deep in debt.  By living like the neighbors, we often also experience the financial burden the neighbors have.

It’s no secret that millionaires are the ones most likely to avoid conforming to peer pressure.  Warren Buffett has the money and the prestige to live in a mansion, but he lives in the same house he bought in 1958.

5.) We’re Marketed To Endlessly

Part of why we want so much more than previous generations is that we’re marketed to endlessly.  Adults may be a bit more immune than children to television and print advertisements, but the advertising doesn’t end there.  Many shows and movies today use product placement.  The advertised product is embedded right into the show.

The Christian Science Monitor argues, “indirect selling by inserting products into a drama or a reality show can be annoying, distracting, and borders on subliminal advertising–something the Federal Communications Commission finds ‘contrary to the public interest.’”  They argue further, “Producers should not violate a viewer’s expectation of a boundary between being entertained and being exploited.  Without the usual clues of a ‘commercial break,’ a viewer is given no choice or warning.”

6.) Credit Cards Are Also Part of the Problem

Dave Ramsey argues that everyone who wants to stay out of debt and stay on a budget should pay in cash because you feel more pain when you’re forced to physically part with your money.

Yet very few of us do this, which can be a problem.

According to The New York Times, “Part of the reason so many people spend too much, or fail to stick to self-imposed budgets, is because parting with our money has become an abstraction in our increasingly cashless society.  Credit cards provide immediate gratification, but no immediate consequences.”

Paying with credit cards is convenient.  And the credit card companies entice us by offering cash back and travel rewards.  Why should we pay cash when we can be earning rewards for using a credit card?

Paying with credit card doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re responsible with your spending and pay off your balance each month.  Unfortunately, that’s something only a select few credit card users do.

7.) We Do Much Better with Immediate Gratification

Part of the attraction of using credit cards is that we get immediate gratification.  There is no waiting and saving up for what we want; instead, we just buy it on the spot.

For most people, delaying spending to beef up the emergency fund is, well, just not fun.

Going out to eat, or shopping, or to the amusement park is much more fun.

As humans, we crave immediate gratification.  Unfortunately, our society only encourages this immediate need for results.  The New York Times compares sticking to a budget to dieting and states, “we often fail at both for the same reasons: too much focus on the restrictions, not enough on the fun.  So it’s not surprising when people end up bingeing later, more than making up for the dollars not spent or calories not consumed.”

Final Words On Sticking to Our Budget

Of course, just because there are many reasons we humans find sticking to a budget difficult, doing so is not impossible.

Knowing the many reasons why we often overspend is the first step in learning to rein in our spending.  Once we acknowledge the many ways society and our own minds lead us into spending more, we can develop a plan of attack to stop the money bleed and ultimately gain more control of our spending (and saving).

Do you struggle with sticking to your budget?  If you’re able to stick to the budget each month, which strategies do you find most helpful?

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7 Reasons We Have Trouble Sticking to Our Budget

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard – Review: 40k Bonus Miles, 2x Rewards, and More http://freefrombroke.com/barclaycard-arrival-plus-world-elite-mastercard-review/ http://freefrombroke.com/barclaycard-arrival-plus-world-elite-mastercard-review/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=21245 When you use a credit card wisely it’s a great tool to have in your pocket.  But it’s even better when you can earn some nice, juicy rewards that can help you travel! That’s what the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® does. Stick around and I’ll show you why the Arrival Plus World Elite […]

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard – Review: 40k Bonus Miles, 2x Rewards, and More

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When you use a credit card wisely it’s a great tool to have in your pocket.  But it’s even better when you can earn some nice, juicy rewards that can help you travel!

That’s what the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® does.

Stick around and I’ll show you why the Arrival Plus World Elite is aching to be part of your credit card tool set.  You’ll also see what’s it’s a great all-around travel rewards card.

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® - Rewards That Are Easy and Keep Coming Back

First a little history…

For those of you that are familiar with Barclaycards you might remember the Arrival World Mastercard.  This card was already a fan favorite for travelers.  Well Barclaycard gave it a facelift and re-branded the card as the Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.

Here are some of the features that are different from the older card:

  • Chip and Pin technology in the card
  • Greater travel redemption options and
  • Longer redemption period for using your rewards miles.

We’ll get into the particulars further down.  For now here are all of the basics of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard:

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®apply_now_button
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Chip card for increased confidence and convenience to pay abroad as easily as you do at home
  • Book the travel you want — airfare, hotels, cruises and more and earn miles on your purchase
  • Get 10% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • Complimentary online FICO® Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers

Apply Now for the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

Now let’s break down the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

It’s Great for International Travel

air_travel_rewards

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is a great travel rewards card.

Right off the bat this card makes international travel a little bit easier and less worrisome for you.  You’re not going to pay foreign transaction fees when you use your card in other countries.  Why is this important?  Some other cards can charge you as much as 3% of your purchases in foreign countries.  That’s an extra charge that’s better to avoid while you’re traveling.

This card also help with security.  One of the new features of the card is that it sports Chip and PIN technology.  This is widely used in Europe and is said to make credit cards more secure than what most cards here in that States are.  It will also be more widely accepted in Europe since the Chip technology is so prevalent there.

Earn Reward Miles Fast

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard makes it east to earn rewards.  How easy?  Make $3,000 in purchases with your card in the first 90 days of having your card and you’ll get a 40,000 mile bonus.  Nice way to start off.  In fact that’s good for a $400 travel statement credit.

That’s the bonus.  For everyday purchases you get 2x miles (2 points/miles for every $1 you spend).  That’s on everything.  No worries about special categories to track.

And guess what?  You get points when you use your points.  Huh?  That’s right.  When you redeem your points for travel statement credits you get 10% of your miles back toward your next redemption.  Nice!

There’s also no limit to the amount of miles you can earn and your miles don’t expire so long as your account is in good standing.

Easy Reward Miles Redemption With Lots of Choices

“So how do I redeem my points and where can I use them,” you ask?  Great question!

Your best value for your points is to redeem them as a travel statement credit.  Once your travel purchase shows up on your statement you can ask to have your points redeemed towards the travel.  This will show up as a statement credit on your next statement.  No need to sweat the timing, you have 120 days to redeem (so no sweating but still make sure you keep track, okay?).

“OK, but what do they consider travel, huh,” you’re asking yourself?  I’ll tell you.  One of the great things about this card is how broad travel is defined.  You aren’t stuck with one airline or hotel here.  Here are the categories that are listed: “airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, tourist attractions, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries.”

Whoa, that’s a lot.

Bear in mind these categories are determined by the merchant code the travel company is using for their charge.  When you use your card the merchant has a code that’s attached to the purchase that tells the credit company what category the purchase is.  This generally isn’t an issue but there can be some instances where a merchant doesn’t use a code that will be recognized as travel by Barclaycard.

Remember I said that travel statement credit were your best bet?  You might be thinking there are other options to redeem and you’d be correct.  You can also redeem your points as cash back statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise.  Bear in mind though that your value is half of what it would be if you redeemed your points for travel so that’s always going to be your best bet.

Throw In Some FICO While You’re At It

An interesting perk to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is you will also get complimentary FICO Score access.  This is nice as you can see how your purchases and payment history are affecting your credit score.

Finally, Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard For Me?

Do you travel often in one of the travel categories Barclaycard lists for travel statement redemption?  Obviously if you don’t use a card much in one of the travel categories then you won’t be getting your best value with this card.  Their redemption is pretty broad but make sure your purchases make it worth using.  On that note you should be someone that uses their card often and spends a good amount with credit.  You should know the card does have an annual fee of $89 that is waived the first year.  Will you be spending enough on travel to cover the fee?

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard you are getting a great 40,000 mile bonus, Chip technology in the card, no foreign transaction fees, and an easy-to-understand and apply points redemption.

If you’re looking for a great all-around travel rewards card this might be the one for you.

Apply Now for the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard – Review: 40k Bonus Miles, 2x Rewards, and More

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Moving to One Income So A Spouse Can Take Care of the Kids – Your Guide http://freefrombroke.com/moving-one-income-spouse-can-take-care-kids-guide/ http://freefrombroke.com/moving-one-income-spouse-can-take-care-kids-guide/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:17:30 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=20897 While 60 years ago, one parent staying home to care for the children was the norm, today, having both parents work is the norm.  According to Pew Research, “Roughly 60% of two-parent households with children under age 18 have two working parents.”  Many families have one parent stay home until all the kids are in […]

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Moving to One Income So A Spouse Can Take Care of the Kids – Your Guide

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While 60 years ago, one parent staying home to care for the children was the norm, today, having both parents work is the norm. 

According to Pew Research, “Roughly 60% of two-parent households with children under age 18 have two working parents.”  Many families have one parent stay home until all the kids are in school, and then both parents resume working.

Keep reading and we’ll show you if a) living on one income is good for you and b) how to go about preparing for it.

Your Guide to Switching to One Income So One Spouse Can Be a Stay-at-Home Parent

Moving to one income to take care of the kids.

The Benefits of Dual Income

There are certainly many benefits of having both parents work.  Most important to many people is the money.

Most families with two incomes are able to afford more than a family with only one income earner.  Dual income families may have a bigger home, nicer cars, and take better vacations.  They often have more money to spend on their kids for everything from lessons to entertainment.

Another important benefit is that each parent gets to stay in their career.

Often, if a parent decides to stay home with the children for any length of time, she can find it difficult to re-enter the work force, especially at the level she was previously working.  Some parents would prefer to stay home but instead power through working full-time while their children are small so they don’t fall behind in their careers.

Financial Aspects to Consider When Contemplating Moving to One Income

Are you thinking about moving from a dual income family to a single income family?  If so, there are many things to consider.

Can You Comfortably Live On One Income?

Before you make a permanent decision, one of the best things you can do is try out your new lifestyle.

If the wife is thinking of staying home, why not take three months and bank her entire salary during that time.  Not only will you have a nice cushion for your emergency fund, but you will also be able to tell how easy or difficult it will be to live on the remaining income.

If you’re used to a certain lifestyle, you may also need three to six months to adjust to living on less money.  It’s far better to make this adjustment while you’re both still employed than after one person quits.

My husband and I were used to going out to eat rather frequently, but when I quit my job, we didn’t curb this habit as we should have.  That put us into credit card debt for awhile.  We’re out of credit card debt now, but that was one of the biggest mistakes we made when we moved to one income.

Retirement Savings

Another important consideration should be your retirement savings.

If both you and your spouse work for companies where there is a company match on retirement savings, when you quit, you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.

For instance, because I had been at my job for more than five years, my company matched my 8% annual contribution.  That meant that each year, I was saving 16% of my salary for retirement though I was only paying out 8%.  Once we moved to one income, we could not save the equivalent of 16% of my salary for retirement.  Undoubtedly, quitting my job to stay home with the children put us behind in retirement savings.

Health Insurance

Which partner has the better health insurance?  Once one partner quits, you’ll have no choice but to go with the working partner’s health insurance.

Take the time to note how the policies vary.

What will your new deductible be?  What percentage of expenses does the insurance cover and what percentage will you need to cover?  Will you have a co-pay?  If so, what is it for doctor’s appointments and prescriptions?  Will you need to pay more for your premium since you’ll be covering the entire family?

Entertainment

When you drop to one income, you may notice that one of the first things you need to cut is entertainment.  You may no longer be able to take the types of vacations you’d like or be able to hire a babysitter for date night every week.

Though it’s easy to say that these expenses don’t really matter, how will you feel when you’ve been a stay at home parent for a year and the only date night you and your spouse have had is watching a movie on Netflix and eating Chinese take out after the kids have gone to bed?

Saying no to fun activities can be difficult.  Are you ready to do this regularly if your finances will be tight?

You’ll Also Save Money When Living on One Income

Remember, too, that having one parent stay home with the kids can also save a significant amount of money.

Childcare Expenses

If you have kids in elementary or middle school, you likely have to pay for after school care and perhaps before school care.  However, that expense is a bargain compared to how much day care can cost.

The primary reason why I decided to quit my full-time job and stay home to care for my kids is that daycare for our then 6 month old and 2 year old would have cost well over $1,500 a month.  When I looked at what I would be taking home after taxes, insurance, and paying for both daycare and after school care, working just didn’t make sense.

In addition to the expense, remember, too, that especially with young children, if they don’t go to daycare, they are less likely to get sick frequently, which means less money spent on doctor’s visits and bills.

Reduced Taxes

Don’t forget that since your family will be earning less money, you’ll have fewer taxes to pay.  You may be able to adjust the tax withholding for the working partner’s salary.  You may also be able to get other tax deductions and credits on your tax return that you previously hadn’t qualified for.

Clothing

If the spouse who decides to stay home had to dress professionally, he will save a significant amount of money on clothing.  Being a stay-at-home parent calls for a casual wardrobe.

Glen’s Note: You may also save on transportation costs.  When I became a stay-at-home dad I no longer had to lay out money for the express bus and subway trips I needed to get to work.  This was a significant amount we were no longer dishing out.

Other Benefits of One Spouse Staying Home

A more relaxed lifestyle may be the most important, non-financial benefit of having one parent stay home.  According to Pew Research, “Feeling rushed is part of everyday life for today’s mothers and fathers.  Among those with children under age 18, 40% of working mothers and 34% of working fathers say they always feel rushed.”  Furthermore, “53% of all working parents with children under age 18 say it is difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their job with the responsibilities of their family” (Pew Research).

My husband often comments on how happy he is that I stay home with the kids.  If our children are sick, he doesn’t have to take a sick day; I care for the children.  If he has to stay at work an hour or two late, it’s not a problem because I’m there to care for the kids.  He can focus fully on his work.

Stay at Home Spouse Can Work from Home

Remember that being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation.  If he or she would like to, the stay-at-home parent can become a work-at-home parent.

When I quit my job, my goal was to work from home just enough to make the same amount of money I would have made at my job after paying all daycare and other expenses.  I reached that goal within the first year.

Now that I’ve been home for three years, I make about 40% of our monthly income, and my husband makes 60%.  I wouldn’t have the luxury of staying home if I couldn’t also work from home; we simply couldn’t make it financially on my husband’s current income.

Which Parent Should Stay Home?

If you’ve decided that having one parent stay home to care for the kids is best for your family, you have to look at the tough choice–who will be the one to stay home?

Certainly, looking at income, commute, average weekly work hours, retirement, and insurance should all be important considerations.  However, I ask that these not be the only consideration.

A more important question is, “Who wants to be the one to stay home?”

Staying home to care for small children can often be as stressful as facing corporate America.  If you don’t really want to stay home, but you decide to because you’re making less money than your spouse, you won’t be happy.  Whoever decides to stay home has to really want to do it.

Remember also that sometimes staying home can be socially isolating.  You may miss adult conversations.  You may tire of playing dress up all day long.  Which parent is better suited to the life of a stay at home parent?

Finally

Making the decision to move from a dual income to one-income family is not easy.  Either way, you and your family must make sacrifices.  Ultimately, you must do what is best for you, your spouse, and your children.

Has your family become a one-income family?  If so, what has been the greatest challenge?  What has been the best benefit?

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Moving to One Income So A Spouse Can Take Care of the Kids – Your Guide

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The Best Online Discount Brokerages for Cheap Trades – Investing Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive http://freefrombroke.com/the-best-online-discount-brokerages-cheap-trades/ http://freefrombroke.com/the-best-online-discount-brokerages-cheap-trades/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:23:08 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=9692 Do you recall the days when you needed to call up a stock broker in order to make a stock trade? And you needed to make the trade in a “round lot” (you had to buy 100 shares)?  Did I just date myself?  Thanks to the internet that’s no longer the case and it’s easy […]

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The Best Online Discount Brokerages for Cheap Trades – Investing Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive

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Do you recall the days when you needed to call up a stock broker in order to make a stock trade?

And you needed to make the trade in a “round lot” (you had to buy 100 shares)?  Did I just date myself? 

Thanks to the internet that’s no longer the case and it’s easy for anyone to invest in stocks with an online brokerage (like, you can do it on your smartphone easy).  And not only is it easy but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get started.

“So which account do I open,” you ask?

There are a number of places to go these days thanks to the rise of online trading and brokerages.  I want to make sure you find one that works well for you.

I’m going to tell you about some great brokerages but I want you to first understand what you should look for before you open up an online brokerage account.

Consider the Following When Opening a Brokerage Account

Consider this when opening a brokerage account

Investment Choices

How important investment choice is to you will depend on what you intend to do with the account.

For the most part, you’ll want a brokerage account that has the widest investment choices available.  That will include stocks – both foreign and domestic – mutual funds, ETF’s, options, REITs, bonds and other debt securities, and even commodities.  You’ll also want the investment choices within each asset class to also be as wide as possible.

But if you plan to maintain the account for a very specific purpose, you may be more interested in a specialized account.

For example, if you plan to trade options as your primary activity, you’ll be more concerned with the choices and the execution capabilities of the broker over the sheer number of asset classes it offers.

You’ll also be interested in the amount of financial information provided, especially free information.

As an investor, you need information and you need it as quickly as you can get it.  You’ll not only want streaming stock price updates, but also the latest news, research and technical analysis to help you in your investment decisions.

Ability to Link to Outside Accounts

As an investor, you’ll want to be able to move your money from one account to another quickly, easily, and at the lowest cost.  The best way to do this is generally through linking your brokerage account to your checking account, savings account and even loan accounts if you also want to pay bills through the account.

A brokerage account should make this process as easy and as inexpensive as possible.

There are brokerage accounts now that even have check-writing options off of money-market accounts.  And many brokerages are owned by banks making transferring money between accounts smoother.  You need to consider if having your banking in the same place as your investments works for you (some people don’t like having all of their accounts in the same place).

For example, I can fund my ShareBuilder account instantly from my Capital One 360 Savings account since they are both the same parent company.  If I wanted to fund the account from a different bank it might take a few days for the money to go through.

Costs and Fees

Obviously you will want to take a close look at transaction fees.  This is especially important if you are a frequent trader.

If, for example, you make 100 trades per year, the difference between a firm that charges $7.95 per trade versus one that only charges $5.95 per trade can be substantial.  That difference will result in $200 in extra transaction fees per year.

Still, you’ll have to match this against other fees charged by both brokers to determine which is the better deal.

Some firms charge an annual fee – under various titles – and others charge no annual fee at all.  For the example above, you’ll find you’re actually better off paying $7.95 per trade if that broker has no annual fee, as compared to the one that charges $5.95 per trade but also has a $300 annual fee.

Also take a look at any purchase minimums the broker may have.  You may find that commission fees are low, maybe even non-existent, but you have to buy a minimum amount first.

There other charges to consider as well.

Some firms may have inactivity fees, low balance fees, and charges for banking services that you use frequently (or infrequently even).  Low balance fees can be particularly significant.  If your account will have a relatively low balance, say less than $10,000, the fees will generally be higher as a result.  In this case you will have to look for a broker that specifically markets to small investors through low or nonexistent fees for small balances.

You may find that these soft costs outweigh the benefits of going with one that charges the lowest transaction fees.

Convenience

Wall_Street_Broad_StreetSince most brokerage accounts are handled online today, convenience is mostly about ease-of-use on the site.

Some sites are better than others, but this is also a factor that can change over time.  Some sites can improve after a rough start, others can show signs of decline, perhaps due to the addition of incompatible applications.

Depending on your preferences, you may also want a broker with physical locations in your area.

For some investors, this can even outweigh the efficiency of the website.  At a minimum, it gives you the ability to speak with a live person face-to-face if you need a problem resolved.

And speaking of problems…

Customer service

Sooner or later you’ll either a) want to do something is out of the ordinary, or b) have a problem that you cannot resolve on the broker’s website.  When that happens you will need to get assistance from real people.

How well the broker handles the exchange can be a major factor in determining whether to go with one broker as opposed to another.

Even if you are working with a broker that has such an efficient website that nothing bad happens 99.99% of the time, there will be that event – once or twice each year – that will define your entire experience with the company.  If they are able to resolve the problem to your satisfaction, you’ll be a customer for life – or at least until the next problem pops up.  If not, you may decide that low fees or not, you’re going to take your business elsewhere.

There are two major sides to the customer service experience.

The first is your ability to get a hold of someone in a reasonable amount of time.  The last thing any of us ever want when we’re trying to fix a situation gone bad is to be routed through a voicemail maze, or to be kicked out somewhere along the process.

The second is the ability of the representative to solve your problem.  In some companies, customer service people are empowered to fix problems.  In others, they are tied into a bureaucratic maze that makes solutions hard to come by, and slow in coming when they do.  No amount of low fees will overcome the inability of a broker to fix a problem that will cost you a bunch of money if they can’t.

Reputation

Has the brokerage been in the news lately?  Why?

What are customers and the press saying about the brokerage?

Before you pull the trigger on on a brokerage check to see its reputation.  I want to know if there have been any major fines or scandals that the brokerage was involved in.  Also check to see what users are saying about the brokerage.  You want to know why people may be unhappy.

Don’t take opening a brokerage account lightly.  As simple as it is these days to open one up and start investing you still need to do your homework first to make sure the brokerage fits your needs.

So what are some great online discount brokerages that are inexpensive? 

Take a look below and see which one is best for you:

Best Online Discount Brokerages for Cheap Trades

best_online_discount_brokers_cheap_trades

TradeKing


$50 Promo 300x250
With Trade King you are getting an online broker with $4.95 for stock trades, and this includes broker-assisted trades.

They were rated #1 in customer service in 2010-2012 by SmartMoney magazine while Barron’s gave TradeKing four stars five years in a row.

They offer a full suite of trading and research tools for you to use.  You can also connect to their Trader Network where you can see what other traders are doing and why.  There are no surprise fees or account minimums to worry about.  When you refer a friend you both earn $50.  Also, transfer your brokerage account to TradeKing from another brokerage and they will cover transfer fees up to $150.

See our review of TradeKing.

Visit TradeKing for more information and to sign up.

Capital One ShareBuilder

ShareBuilder Rveal 300x250 BannerThis is the brokerage I use when I buy stocks and funds outside of my retirement accounts.

As the name implies, ShareBuilder is part of Capital One so right off the bat you are getting the great customer service that Capital One offers.

Real-time trades are $6.95 for stocks and ETF’s.

If you place Automatic Trades (trades that occur once a week automatically) then the cost is $4 per trade (a great way to invest automatically and grow your portfolio).  With this option you can also purchase partial shares.

If you are looking to invest in no-load mutual funds, ShareBuilder offers over 250 funds that have no transaction fees.  Other funds they offer are $19.95 per trade or $4 per automatic investment.

There is also a monthly Advantage Program which is $12/month which offers 12 free automatic investments per month and only $1 after; real-time trades at $7.95; and premium stock research not available to basic members.

All account holders have access to their free guidance and basic stock research tools.  There are no account minimums, no investing minimums, and no inactivity fees.

Personally, I love that since ShareBuilder is part of Capital One I can transfer money from my Capital One 360 account to ShareBuilder instantly.  There is also a mobile app for you to check your accounts and trade.  Refer a friend and earn 10 free trade credits.  If you transfer an account from another brokerage you can get a $100 bonus.  See our review of ShareBuilder’s redesigned site.

Visit ShareBuilder for more information and to sign up.

Betterment


Betterment is a unique online discount brokerage.

See, you can really only invest in two funds – Stocks or Treasury Bonds, each made up with a basket of various ETF funds.

Betterment is for the beginning investor that wants to invest in the market without having to figure out where to start.

That’s why there are only two choices.

On top of the ease of choice, Betterment doesn’t have commission fees when you buy or sell.  Instead you are charged an annual fee of up to 0.9% on your account balance.  If you decide to add to your account every week you won’t be paying a commission each time (the same is true if you decide to take money out).

Your account is linked to a checking account to make adding money easy.  This is great for those who want to grow a portfolio little by little.  Betterment will also automatically rebalance your portfolio and re-invest any dividends your funds earn.  This way your portfolio maintains the allocation of stocks and bonds you choose.

There are no minimum, transaction, or hidden fees.  Betterment is an easy way for an investor to put money into thousands of companies at once.  See our Betterment review for more details.

Betterment is running a promotion for a $25 bonus if you open up an account with at least $250.

Visit Betterment for more information and to sign up.

Scottrade

ScottradeScottrade started serving traders over 30 years ago and they offer customer support via email, online chat, phone, or in-person at one of over 500 branch locations (important if you feel you want to speak with someone face-to-face).

Stock trades at Scottrade are $7.  You need a low initial deposit of $500 and there are no account maintenance fees or inactivity fees.  In fact, there are also no account closing or transfer fees should you ever decide to move your investing elsewhere.

They offer a number of research tools as well as Scottrade Mobile, which allows you to trade from a mobile device.  Scottrade also offers 15 zero-fee, low-expense ETF’s to choose from, allowing you to easily start building up an index portfolio.

Visit Scottrade for more information and to sign up.

TD Ameritrade


tda_general_value_general_superiorityclaim_1onlineTD Ameritrade offer up a flat-fee commission of $9.99 on many of their online trades.  You can trade stocks, ETF’s, mutual funds, options, Forex, and more.

They have been in business for over 35 years.

You have a number of tools at your disposal including their Trade Architect™, thinkorswim platform, and QuoteScope™.  They offer over 100 commission-free ETF’s to choose from.  There is also a robust knowledge center available to help you become a better investor.

TD Ameritrade had a current promotion where you can trade commission free for up to 60 days as well as get up to $600.  See our TD Ameritrade review for more.

Visit TD Ameritrade for more information and to sign up.

E*Trade


E*Trade may be one of the best known online discount brokers in this list, what with their memorable Superbowl commercials and all.  Cute commercials isn’t all you get though, you also get a well-respected and highly rated brokerage.

Stock trades are $9.99 or less (higher balances can net you a lower commission structure).  Managing your money is made more efficient with access to E*Trade bank (checking and saving).

You have access to free investing education tools including 3-minute educational videos, live and on-demand web seminars, and more.  Account holders also have access to independent research from likes of Reuters, S&P, and Morningstar.  Use E*Trade’s mobile for research and trading on-the-go.

There are no account services fees.

E*Trade has a promotion going where you can get free trading for the first 60 of opening your account (you must the account with at least $2,000).

Visit E*Trade for more information and to sign up.

Loyal3


Loyal3 is another brokerage that’s a little different from the others out there.  They offer up fee-free trading.  The catch is you are limited to a small number of individual stocks and IPO’s.  There is no fee to transfer your funds to another brokerage if you find you aren’t happy with them.

Loyal3 uses batch trading to save on trading costs.  They batch together all of their orders at one time when they process their transactions.  In this way they pass on the fee savings to you by offering free trades.  They are limited in the stocks you can buy but they can be an interesting option if you are starting out and you’re interested in the stocks they offer.  See our Loyal3 review for more information on them.

Visit Loyal3 for more information and to sign up.

Motif Investing


Motif Investing is an interesting addition to the online brokerage scene.

With these guys, you can put together your own basket of stocks to invest it (you create your own ‘motif’).  It’s like being able to create your own ETF.  There are also a number of Motif’s that have already been created that you can choose from.  So instead of having to go through individual trades for each company you might want, you only pay one fee of $9.95 for your Motif and that covers all of the stocks in your Motif basket (you can pick up to 30 stocks).

They differ from ETFs in that you can hand-pick the stocks you are grouping together.  As a result you aren’t paying the expense ratio fees you would with an ETF.  See our Motif Investing review for more information.

Visit Motif Investing for more information and to sign up.

Conclusion

As you can see, it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to start trading.  There are clearly a number of great companies to choose from to get you on your way to investing.

These are some of the best online discount brokerages for cheap trades that I know of.  If you have a favorite that isn’t listed let me know.

Which is your favorite online discount brokerage for cheap trades?

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The Best Online Discount Brokerages for Cheap Trades – Investing Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive

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Use Google Calendar To Pay Your Bills On Time http://freefrombroke.com/google-calendar-pay-bills-time/ http://freefrombroke.com/google-calendar-pay-bills-time/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:41:52 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=1354 Have you ever realized you had a bill sitting around that was due today? Or worse, yesterday? If you are lucky you can pay the bill online but that’s not always an option (I’ve found that some companies have a cut-off time). There was a time when I had a lot of credit card debt.  […]

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Use Google Calendar To Pay Your Bills On Time

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Have you ever realized you had a bill sitting around that was due today?

Or worse, yesterday?

If you are lucky you can pay the bill online but that’s not always an option (I’ve found that some companies have a cut-off time).

There was a time when I had a lot of credit card debt.  Digging out of it was tough but what made it harder was paying late fees because I would miss the credit card due date by a few days or so.

There is just about nothing more frustrating than looking through your bills and realizing one was already past due!

I definitely needed a bill/pay calendar system that would work for me!

Keep reading and I’ll tell you about a few systems I’ve used to pay bills on time including how to set up one of my favorites — Google Calendar.

How to Set Up Google Calendar Reminders to Pay Your Bills on Time

Set up Google Calendar for bill pay

So how can we avoid paying bills late?

You can pay the bill immediately.  But if you are like me you would rather keep the money in savings for as along as possible or you budget in such a way that certain bills get paid with different paychecks.

You can write the date you need to pay the bill on the envelope.

I do this.  Usually this works great.  Problems occur when you don’t notice the date or forget to keep up with the bill.  Or the envelope gets mixed up with other mail and junk and when you find it it’s already late.  That happens to me too!

What’s another fail safe you can use?

I’ve been experimenting with Google Calendar to set up reminders to pay my bills on time!

When I get a bill I open it up and check out the due date.  I then determine when I have to actually pay the bill to make sure I meet the due date.  For example: If I have to mail a bill I give myself about a week.  For online bills I pad about 5 or 6 days before the due date.*  If I need to transfer money I give myself about a week too to make sure the money gets transferred over (I keep my savings in my Capital One 360 Savings account).

*Yup, I give myself 5 or 6 days for online bills.  Why?  Because even though I know I should pay it on the date I have set I still end up procrastinating.  Hey, you have to know your weaknesses sometimes and figure out ways to trick yourself around them.

Next I write that date I figured out on the bill.  That’s one fail safe.

The real useful fail safe is Google Calendar.

I take my bill and log onto my account, go to the day I need to pay the bill by, and write in a reminder that gets emailed to me when it comes up.  Since my cell gets email it’s like an extra reminder since it’s on my phone and my computer!

I don’t have to always log into my calendar.  Some bills, like my mortgage or car payment, are due the same time of the month every month.  When I set the date up in Google Calendar so it repeats monthly.  Set it and forget it (well, until the bill is due).

Let me show you how I set up Google Calendar as my Bill/Pay Calendar:

Log onto your Google Calendar and open up the month for your bill due date:

Google calendar month view

Click on the day you need to pay your bill on, enter the bill name, and hit “edit event details”:

Click on the date

Enter the details (date; what the bill is; whatever you need). If you’re done hit ‘SAVE’ but you might want a couple of more options (You can always go in and edit):

Edit event details

Here’s an important part – Click ‘Add a Reminder.’  Set the reminder to Email (this will send you an email reminder).  You can also set up a reminder to send you a text:

Add email reminder

Hit Save.

Car payment due date set up in Google Calendar

Viola!  You’ve now setup a reminder in Google Calendar to remind you when to pay your bill!

So far this has worked really great for me.

The key to this is to make sure your enter you bill in GCal when you get it.  I’ve used this to remind me about car payments, the mortgage, and credit card due dates.

A Note About Other Apps and Options

Of course Google Calendar isn’t the only online calendar you can use.  I think it’s a popular one that many other apps integrate and it happens to be the one that I use.  If you have another calendar app that works similarly then by all means use it (and mention in the comments so other people know to use it).

Lately I’ve been using the calendar app Sunrise on my iPhone (they also released a desktop version).  It’s super easy to use and I like the interface more than GCal’s.  What makes it sweet for me is that anything you enter into Sunrise will also hit your GCal.

There are a number of to-do apps that integrate nicely with Google Calendar as well.  I used to use Any.Do and its related app Cal.  You can set up due dates that will show up in Google Calendar.  I switched to the project management app Asana because it was a little more robust in its features.  Asana also integrates nicely with Sunrise so any due dates I set up will show in Sunrise (and in turn will show in Google Calendar).

Other options include your bank and credit card software.  I like to be extra careful so I set up reminders with my credit card company as well as my bank.  Sometimes I need to be hit over the head a bunch of times to get something done but it works for me.

How do you keep track of your bill’s due dates?

Additional resources to help with your budget and pay bills:

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Use Google Calendar To Pay Your Bills On Time

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Do This: Save Money With a DIY Self-Reliance Mindset http://freefrombroke.com/save-money-with-a-diy-self-reliance-mindset/ http://freefrombroke.com/save-money-with-a-diy-self-reliance-mindset/#respond Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:19:53 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=20845 Although I live outside Chicago, our winters  in recent years have been decidedly mild.  For example, in the 2012-2013 winter, by January 31st, we had only received 3.5 inches of snow TOTAL.  This year, winter was back with a vengeance.  By January 31st, 2014, we had received 48.5 inches total of snow for the winter. Add […]

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Do This: Save Money With a DIY Self-Reliance Mindset

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Although I live outside Chicago, our winters  in recent years have been decidedly mild. 

For example, in the 2012-2013 winter, by January 31st, we had only received 3.5 inches of snow TOTAL.  This year, winter was back with a vengeance.  By January 31st, 2014, we had received 48.5 inches total of snow for the winter.

Add in many days of sub-zero temperatures, and well, it’s been a rough winter.

When we had a 50 hour stretch of sub-zero temperatures (one of those days had a high of -16 degrees), I knew that we should let the water drip to avoid having our pipes freeze.  However, when I went to take a shower, the water continued to just drip even though it was turned to full strength.  I called a friend who told me the pipes were likely frozen.  My husband set up space heaters in the basement where the pipes are, and within 5 hours, our water was flowing again.

That night, I saw on the news that we weren’t alone.

Many, many people had burst pipes or pipes like ours.  I was surprised to see that some homeowners paid good money to have someone else come out to their houses and run a heater by their pipes to thaw them.

This situation just illustrates how far we’ve come from the do-it-yourself roots our grandparents and even parents had.  Now, we work hard at our jobs and call someone else to do everything for us.

Develop a Mindset of Self-Reliance and DIY and You Can Save Yourself a Lot of Money

Save money with a DIY self reliance mindset.

What Does Self-Sufficiency Look Like?

I’m a big fan of Alaska: The Last Frontier.  I realize it’s a reality show, so not every part of it may be realistic, but even so, I love how the Kilchers rely on themselves.

If they need a bridge to cross the river, they make it themselves.  If they need a building to store their machinery, they build it themselves.

Need meat for the winter?

They hunt for it or kill one of their cows on the farm.  Then, they don’t take the animal to the meat locker.  Instead, they process all the meat themselves.  They grow large gardens so they are able to can their vegetables and store others in the root cellar to last the family through the winter.

That used to be the way that our grandparents and great-grandparents did things.

But now, we work harder just so we can pay people money to do things we could do ourselves.

Outsourcing Things We Choose Not to Do Ourselves

For some of us, that’s good.  We don’t like doing certain tasks, so being able to hire someone to do them for us is a nice advantage to our current economy.

For instance, I don’t think I could ever learn enough to make it worth my while to do all of my vehicle’s maintenance.  My mind just doesn’t work that way, and I’d be afraid I’d put my family in danger with my shoddy work.  I’m glad to be able to outsource that work to someone else.

Lawn care companies thrive because people are too busy, or just don’t care, to maintain their own lawns.  Likewise, you can outsource your actually grocery shopping by having a company like Peapod delivery groceries right to your house.

It’s not that we don’t know how to do these things, we just choose not to.

The dry cleaning companies thrive on our laziness or lack of time, depending on your situation.  Ironing is not difficult, yet many people drop off men’s dress shirts rather than iron them themselves.

Frozen food makers and fast food companies thrive because we even outsource our cooking.  Whether it’s because we never learned how to cook or we’re just too busy, we choose factory-processed food over making it ourselves in our kitchens.

But too many of us (me included) outsource everything instead of learning how to do something. 

I’m thinking specifically of the family I saw on television that had to call someone just to heat up their pipes when this is something they very easily could have done themselves.

Rather than trying to tackle something ourselves, our automatic instinct is to outsource.

Learning Is Easier Now Than Ever

In our grandparents’ generation, people learned essential life skills from their parents.  Now, so many of us have lost the ability to be self-sufficient that we don’t know how to do even the most basic things that would save money.

However, we are very lucky to live in a time where learning is as easy as having an Internet connection. 

For instance, my computer key was sticking.  A simple You Tube search helped me find a video that explained how to take the key off and clean it.  Voila, problem solved.

My neighbor’s washing machine stopped working.  She googled what problem the washer had and discovered a certain part was probably broken.  She ordered the part and relied on a You Tube video to explain how to replace the part.  Now her washing machine is back in business.

Unfortunately, too often in our society, our first inclination is to throw away something that is broken and just buy a new one. 

It would have been easy for my friend to decide to call a repair man instead of investigating the problem herself.  Often, the problem is that the repairman may be as expensive as just buying a new item that we need, so we just go buy a new one.  Instead, with a little ingenuity and internet sleuthing, we may be able to fix the problem ourselves.

The Best Skills to Learn to Save the Most Money

Of course, some skills that we’ve lost over the generations are no longer valuable.

Eighty years ago, sewing was an essential life skill because creating clothes was much easier than buying them new.  That’s not the case anymore, though knowing how to make simple sewing repairs can extend the life of our clothing.

However, there are other skills that came naturally to our grandparents that we now struggle with.

Master these skills, and your finances will be much stronger.

1.  Only buy what you can afford.

Before the days of credit cards, most people could only buy what they could afford.  People scrimped and saved for months, often years, to get the items they wanted.  Needs always came before wants.   If you can develop the habit of only buying what you have cash to purchase, you’ll be in a sound financial position.

2.  Learn to cook.

I love to cook, so I’m a bit biased, but when I hear people say, “I don’t know how to cook,” I’m confused.

Why not?

There are literally hundreds of internet sites with recipes and video tutorials for making meals.  There are hundreds of cookbooks available.  Just follow the recipe.  Otherwise, you’re wasting a lot of money on food.  “People who don’t cook pay top dollar for meals.  Cooking and financial planning may not seem like they go together, but people who cook can eat very inexpensively. If you learn to cook three or four meals you enjoy and make them regularly, you can save thousands of dollars a year on food costs” (Forbes).

Recommended: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

3.  Grow a garden.

During World War II, the government encouraged citizens to grow victory gardens to avoid a food shortage.  “At their peak, there were more than 20,000,000 Victory Gardens planted across the United States.  By 1944 Victory Gardens were responsible for producing 40% of all vegetables grown in the United States” (National WWII Museum).

Imagine how much more self-sufficient we would be if we learned once again how to grow our own food?  Think of how much you would save at the grocery store.

4.  Learn how to find answers.

Lastly, learn how to find answers.  If something is broken, learn where to look or who to ask to find out how to fix it.   The more you learn to do on your own, the more likely you’ll be to rely on yourself or friends rather than calling a repairman and paying top dollar every time something breaks.

Being self-reliant is a skill many of us have abandoned. 

However, learning to depend on ourselves and learning how to fix things can save each of us quite a bit of money.  The key is to learn what skills are still worthwhile to learn and which ones (like sewing) are no longer as important to our society.

Glen’s Note: There is so much information on how to do-it-yourself out there that you are doing yourself a disservice if your first instinct is to call in help.  I’ve figured out lawn problems, repaired windows, fixed my sun roof, solved car issues, and so much more by finding out how to fix things on my own.  It used to be you had to check the library or call up a company in order to learn how to fix something (OK, that was quite a while ago).  But now a few keystrokes and you have answers on the internet, many times in the form of an instructional video.

How self-sufficient are you?  Do you try to repair items on your own, or is your natural instinct to pay someone to do something for you?

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Do This: Save Money With a DIY Self-Reliance Mindset

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Discover it® Chrome Review – A Good On-The-Road Travel Card, and Still Good to the Consumer http://freefrombroke.com/discover-it-chrome-credit-card-review/ http://freefrombroke.com/discover-it-chrome-credit-card-review/#respond Sat, 05 Jul 2014 03:30:18 +0000 http://freefrombroke.com/?p=21220 A while back Discover decided to re-brand their cards. They essentially started from scratch to create credit cards that were fair for the consumer. The Discover it® series of cards was born. They recently tinkered around with their cards again and have released some new additions to the “it” family: Discover it® Chrome.  These new […]

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Discover it® Chrome Review – A Good On-The-Road Travel Card, and Still Good to the Consumer

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A while back Discover decided to re-brand their cards.

They essentially started from scratch to create credit cards that were fair for the consumer.

The Discover it® series of cards was born.

They recently tinkered around with their cards again and have released some new additions to the “it” family: Discover it® Chrome.  These new cards make cash back a little simpler, especially if you eat out and drive often.  Follow along below and I’ll tell you all you need to know about the Discover it Chrome cards.

Discover it Chrome Card – Eating Out, Driving, and Still Fair to the Consumer

Cashback is a little different now

The new Chrome additions do one simple thing that’s different from the other “it” cards – you get one cashback category throughout the year.

If you recall, the “it” card offers up a nice 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on categories that rotate every quarter.  So every three months Discover picks new items for their cash back and you sign up to receive the bonus.  It’s pretty easy to use.  But you do have to remember to sign up and not every category is the most useful for you.

It’s not like you lose out of a category doesn’t fit your spending for the quarter.  You still get 1% cashback on all other purchases, which is pretty easy.

The Chrome version of the card makes the cashback a little easier to keep track of.  You can say it’s a little more focused.  With the Chrome cards you get 2% cashback on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter.  This is automatic, you don’t need to sign up for the bonus.  You also still get 1% cashback on all other purchases.

So if you eat out at restaurants or drive a lot this is a pretty enticing card.

If you notice the cashback structure is a little different on the Chrome from the non-Chrome cards.  The cashback is 2% rather than 5% and the limit per quarter is $500 lower.  You’re trading off some of your cashback and the limit so you can know what categories you will always have.  You can come out ahead though, especially if you hit restaurants and gas stations often.

All the great consumer benefits are the same

Besides the cashback, the Chrome series of cards are the same as the original Discover it cards.

You’re getting great benefits like an APR that won’t go up if you pay late; no annual fee, no overlimit fee, no foreign transaction fee, and no late fee on your first late payment; your purchases are monitored for fraud purchases and Discover will notify you if they see anything suspicious; and you get a free FICO® online and on your monthly statement.

Three Discover it Chrome Options For You to Choose From

Here are the three options for the Discover it Chrome card.  Take a look and see which one is best for you…

Discover it® Chrome

This option starts you off with 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months.  Here’s a rundown of the benefits:

Discover it® chromeapply_now_button
  • 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter—no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months—then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • APR won’t go up if you pay late.
  • No annual fee, no overlimit fee, no late fee on your first late payment and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement so you can track your score’s progress*.
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it’s unusual, you’re alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases.
  • U.S. based customer service—anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply”.

Apply now for Discover it® Chrome

Discover it® Chrome

This option of the card gives you 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months.  You also get 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months.  This card is a little better for you if you have a balance transfer that you think will take a little longer to pay off.  Here is a rundown of the benefits of this card…

Discover it® chromeapply_now_button
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 18 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A fee of 3% applies for each balance transferred.
  • 0% Intro APR* on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.
  • 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter—no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • No annual fee, no overlimit fee, no late fee on your first late payment and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement so you can track your score’s progress*.
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it’s unusual, you’re alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases.
  • U.S. based customer service—anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply”.

Apply now for Discover it® Chrome

 Discover it® Chrome for Students

It’s in the name but I’ll mention it – this card is aimed at students.  Here are the benefits of this card…

Discover it® chromeapply_now_button
  • No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter—no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months—then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 12.99% – 21.99%.
  • APR won’t go up if you pay late.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement so you can track your score’s progress*.
  • Free text alerts can remind you when your payment is due. And free mobile app helps you stay on top of your account.
  • U.S. based customer service—anytime, day and night.
  • *Click “Apply” to see rates, rewards and other information.

Apply now for Discover it® Chrome for Students

Finally

The new Discover it Chrome cards still retain the juicy benefits of the “it” series that make them good for consumers.  With that you’re getting a steady 2% cashback rate on restaurants and gas stations as well as 1% on everything else.  Having a copy of one of your FICO® scores available online and on your monthly statement is a great tool to track possible fraud and to track how your spending is affecting your credit score.

Click here to see the original Discover it card.

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Discover it® Chrome Review – A Good On-The-Road Travel Card, and Still Good to the Consumer

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