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Your Guide to Balance Transfer Credit Cards and The Best 0% Offers

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I was drowning in debt.

I managed to finally get my head on straight and start to really take care of my finances.  This after I already dug a hole with thousands in credit card debt.

I tried to do the right thing and pay off more than my minimum balance and tried to pay my cards (yes, more than one) on time every month.

I was living paycheck-to-paycheck in NYC in a small studio apartment.  Even though the place was small it took up a nice chunk of my monthly income.  I remember writing out those checks to the different credit card companies (this was before paying online was so easily available).

The beginning of the month would come and I’d pay my rent.  Then I’d get to the card bills.  I paid what I could over the minimum, with enough to still eat some kind of food, but it was killing me.  I was paying so much every month to my credit card bills but I was barely, if at all, putting a dent in my debt (my debt was earning some nice interest against me for the card companies).

Keep in mind I take full responsibility for my debt.  I made the purchases and dug the hole all by myself.

So I kept at it.  As my credit improved I started to see offers in the mail for credit cards.  One of them had a 0% balance transfer interest rate.  I applied and transferred over a balance.
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If Your Teen Has a Job, It’s Not Too Early to Think About Retirement

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Generally, retirement is something that middle aged individuals are concerned with, not teens.  

Teens may feel like they have all the time in the world, while their parents hear the ticking countdown to retirement.

Parents can no longer change the fact that they probably didn’t contribute to their retirement at a young age, but they can help their children learn about retirement planning and contributing earlier rather than later.

This discussion can start with the teen’s first job.

There are Two Primary Ways Teens May Be Able to Start a Retirement Account:

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How an Emergency Fund Will Save Your A$$

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You need an emergency fund.

This represents one of the basic pieces of personal finance advice.  Even so, many people don’t believe that an emergency savings are necessary.

If you want to improve your chances of achieving financial freedom, though, you need to change your mindset and acknowledge that an emergency fund is essential.

Here’s Why an Emergency Fund is Essential. Read These Now!

An emergency fund is essential.

To Deal with Unexpected Expenses

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Your Guide to College Student Credit Cards and the Best Cards Out There

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Should a college student get a credit card?  That’s certainly a heated question.

One the one hand, it’s terribly easy for a young adult to get themselves into credit card debt they may regret years after they graduate. Students loans are bad enough without other debt looming over you.

On the other hand, a credit card can be a great tool to help a college student with their cash flow as well as be a means to build up their credit history early on.  Used wisely a credit card can help a student achieve an excellent credit history and score by the time they graduate.

Sure a student can use cash or a debit card to make payments.  It’s probably a good idea most of the time.  But neither of those options help a student build up a credit history.

Once a college student hits the “real world,” and maybe even before, they may find that their credit score can be used for things as diverse as getting a job, getting a cell phone, or renting an apartment.  Building up excellent credit early on is a clear incentive to have a credit card in college.

It’s Tougher for Students to Get Credit Cards These Days

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PerkStreet Financial Online Checking is Shutting Down (What Happens to My Money?)

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It’s a sad time for online checking.  PerkStreet Financial will be closing its doors for good on September 26th, 2013.

“Who is PerkStreet,” you might ask?

PerkStreet was (look I’m already using them in the past tense) an online bank that provided online checking accounts with fair fees.  And they weren’t just checking either.  They tried to make checking online rewarding for their customer by giving cash back and rewards when you used your PerkStreet debit card for purchases.

Many people loved PerkStreet as an alternative to credit cards.  It’s easy to rack up charges that are too big to pay off in full with a credit card (for some people).  With a debit card you can only spend what is in your account.  Using PerkStreet for purchases kept people accountable to their money — they couldn’t spend what they didn’t have.

Another aspect many loved with PerkStreet was their fees, or lack of.

They were part of an ATM network that had over 42k locations so it was pretty easy to find an ATM so you wouldn’t get hit with fees for being stuck with an out-of-network ATM.  They also offered up online checking with no monthly fees and no minimums to open an account.

PerkStreet was a breath of fresh air in an age where brick and mortar banks have been slowly taking more out of customer’s pockets with different fees.

But no more.

If PerkStreet is So Great Why Are They Closing?

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The US Government is Spying on You and Links

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The NSA is spying on Americans under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Through a program called PRISM (and likely others) the government has the ability to capture and store every type of electronic communication you make.  The plan was to use these programs only overseas, but it has been revealed that all kinds of communications of innocent Americans are being tracked and stored as well.  Your phone calls can be recorded, who you called and how long the call lasted is recorded, your e-mail and web browsing can all be tracked (and should be assumed, is tracked).

This is a massive story that should be on the front page of every news website and newspaper in the country, but it is being kept under wraps.

One great example: Lavabit, a secured, encryped e-mail company, recently abruptly shut down.

It was revealed in July that Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who spilled the beans about the PRISM program to a UK newspaper, was a customer of Lavabit’s services.  This led to a surge in new subscribers to the company’s services.

The owner of the one-employee (literally the owner and an intern) company shut the company down and posted a letter on the company’s website saying, essentially, he was asked to do something by the government he felt he could not due and maintain his conscience or his 100% encrypted and secure service.  Oh, and he was also given a gag order so he couldn’t tell the public or his customers exactly what the government asked him to do.  The order was likely from a secret court that you and I, and Congress, will never see.

Scary.

Later that evening a second encrypted email service, Silence Circle, preemptively shut down.  They figured they were next.

What does all this have to do with your personal finances?
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Have You Thought about Renegotiating Your Life Insurance Premiums?

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With life insurance, many of us just accept the fact that the premiums are set at the outset, and that once they are locked in, you are stuck.

The good news is that this isn’t always the case.

It’s actually possible for you to contact your insurance company when your risk profile changes and negotiate a better monthly premium.  This applies to term life insurance and permanent life insurance.

If you have been making positive changes in your life, consider asking for a reassessment to see if you are eligible for lower premiums.

When to Renegotiate Your Life Insurance

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