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Victim of Identity Theft? Here Are Your Next Steps to Protect Yourself

Credit card security

One of the fastest growing crimes in identity theft.

It’s the theft of information about you — information that can be used by fraudsters to pretend to be you and get access to a number of perks using your good name.

Whether your credit card number has been stolen, or whether someone is using your information to qualify for a car loan, it’s possible for someone else to pretend to be you.

Your stolen identity can impact you and your finances.

Obviously, if someone steals your credit card information and makes purchases, that can impact your abilities to use your own financial resources — at least until you take action.  If someone is using your card for purchases, you could be denied when you go to make purchases later.  And, if someone uses your information to open a loan, it shows up as your debt in your credit report.  If the fraudster isn’t making payments, it’s your credit that is sunk.

Once you realize that your identity has been stolen, it’s important to take action.

Here are the steps to follow as soon as you realize that your identity has been compromised: Continue Reading

Understand Wedding Customs Before You Spend Your Money On Them

engagement_ring

The summer months represent the peak of wedding season in the United States.

Every year approximately 2 million Americans get married (CDC), and they spend an average of $27,800 on their wedding (The Knot).

While Americans routinely decide to create their own customs such as the recent craze of choreographing a dance for the wedding party at the reception, we also follow customs that have been handed down through generations.  However, a closer look at how these customs came to be may free you to not follow tradition and save yourself some money.

Many of today’s wedding customs are rooted in the fact that weddings used to be less about love and more about business.  Simply put, weddings were a business arrangement, and this can be seen through a variety of customs we still embrace.

Consider the following wedding customs:

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What is Passive Investing?

For some, the idea of investing conjures up images of crazed traders on the floor of an exchange.

Others think of someone in a home, sitting in front of a computer screen, desperately trying to time the exact best time to buy — and then to sell.

These images, and the idea that you have to be on top of all the market movements and news, discourage many from investing.

Not all investing is a short-term attempt to profit, though.

Indeed, many investors are passive investors, doing very little to actively manage their portfolios.  Think investing in a tax-advantaged retirement account like a 401(k) or an IRA.

A passive investment doesn’t have to be all about your retirement account, though.  Anyone can be a passive investor and come out just fine in the end.

Definition of Passive Investing

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Should I Buy Travel Insurance for My Next Trip – Pros and Cons to Consider

Travel insurance is one of those upsell services you see tacked on to your flight and hotel reservations when you book through most online travel sites.

You stop and think about it for a minute, but it can be frustrating.

Is insuring your trip worth the price asked?  What are the odds you need to use travel insurance?  Do you really need this type of insurance or is the travel company just looking to pad their pockets with your hard earned cash?

As is the case with most insurance questions, the answer to whether or not you need trip insurance is maybe.

Here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros of Buying Travel Insurance

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Think of Marriage as a Business Arrangement?

marriage_certificate

Many people enter marriage blindly, underestimating how minor annoyances they experience while dating can grow exponentially during marriage. 

While couples may argue about a variety of issues ranging from in-laws to child rearing to household chores, research shows money fights can be the most toxic to a marriage.

Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University analyzed data collected from 2,800 couples and determined that those who fought about money weekly were “30% more likely to get divorced than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times a month.”  (The New York Times)

Many of us believe in the romantic ideal that love is enough to grow and sustain a loving marriage, but that is certainly not the case. 

While physical attraction is important, what is more important is your spouse’s ideals and convictions, and how closely they are in line with your own.  If you are a saver and you willingly enter marriage with a spender, be prepared for routine conflict, and perhaps divorce.

Jan Dahlin Geiger, a financial planner in Atlanta states, “‘Overspending is no different than being an alcoholic or drug addict’ in its effect on a relationship.  ‘What one person is doing could have a huge negative impact on the couple’s finances’” (USA Today).  Likewise, spenders may hide their purchases from you and incur debt you do not know about.

Of course, overspending is not the only financial problem couples might face. 
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Five Ways to Use Credit Cards Without Getting Buried in Debt

Everyone appreciates the importance of using credit cards responsibly; the issue comes down to tactics.

How do you use your credit cards to your advantage without also over using them to the point where they become a problem?

Let’s face it, credit cards are extremely user friendly!

Everything about them tempts you to use them even more.  From generous (and often rising) credit limits, to zero-interest introductory rates, to cash rebates and rewards, to the completely self-directed nature of the credit arrangement pull us into what is probably the most cozy relationship with any kind of debt we’ll ever have.

But credit cards are loans—as in debts that are required to be paid back.  If we ever lose sight of that we’re at risk of becoming credit card junkies or bankruptcy candidates.

How do we stay on the safe side of credit cards?

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