As the shortest days of the year approach, we have the inevitable diversion of the holiday season to distract us until the days begin to gradually lengthen. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or the general holiday season chances are you'll be spending money on things that are outside your regular budget. Here are some tips for spending smart.Remember the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in Charles Dickens' classic story, A Christmas Carol? Well, those three ghosts have inspired a timeless strategy for holiday spending.
- Pressure you, call you selfish, or make you feel guilty about deciding whether to donate.
- Persuade you to send money, provide personal information, or share your credit card or bank account with someone you don’t know or trust.
- Persuade you to donate using cash, gift card, cryptocurrency, or wire transfer.
- Tell you they can guarantee you will win a prize in exchange for a “donation” — that’s illegal.
- Immediately file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- Contact the Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
- Reach out to your state’s consumer protection office.
- Inform your bank immediately if you shared your account details with a scammer.
- Rising costs. Inflation is real. Just take a trip to the grocery store or look at your utility bill to prove that fact. Soaring costs of goods and services have squeezed budgets and prompted many people to live paycheck to paycheck.
You can't control rising prices, but you can control how you choose to spend your money. Take the time to review your budget and look for ways to cut spending on things you don't need. Or, think about getting a side hustle to bring in more money.
- Unexpected expenses. Life is full of surprises. Some are good, but others, like emergency car repairs or unplanned medical bills, can keep you up at night and wreak havoc on already-strained budgets.
Having an emergency savings fund can help you prepare for those expenses. Experts recommend having up to 6 months of living expenses saved, but any amount you can put aside can help. The key is to build savings and leave it alone. It's called an emergency fund for a reason.
- Rising debt. From credit card bills to student loans, debt happens. And with soaring interest rates excess debt can really cost you. Be wise about what you spend. If you don't have the cash to pay for something, don't buy it. And when you do use your credit card, try to pay off the entire balance to avoid costly interest.
If you've already accumulated credit card or other debt, you can still take charge of it by paying off high-interest balances first or even transferring balances to a lower-interest card or loan.
- Not saving enough for retirement. When you're struggling with meeting rising monthly bills, it's hard to think about saving for the future. But the truth is, saving even a little bit of money now can go a long way later when you retire.
If you haven't done so, participate in your company's 401(k) or other retirement plan, especially if they offer matching contributions. If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, open and make automatic contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
- Affording college. A college education can be a good investment, but it is expensive. To help you manage the cost, you could open a 529 plan and make regular automatic contributions over time. You can also take advantage of other ways to make college more affordable, including financial aid, private loans, and scholarships and grants.
Scammers are constantly trying to steal your money and your personal information, and they use a variety of ways to try to trick you. Scammers often pretend to be from an organization you might know and trust (such as an FDIC-insured bank) and try to get your personal information. FDIC can help you verify whether a website is a fake bank website or the legitimate website of an FDIC-insured bank.
There are a number of ways scammers try to reach you, too. The term “phishing” is when scammers try to reach you by email or on a website. Similarly, “smishing” is when criminals use text messaging to reach you. The word “vishing” is when these scammers call you and try to trick you into providing personal information by sounding like a legitimate business or government official. Learn how to identify these scams and better protect yourself and your money.
Criminals create fake bank websites to mislead and entice people into transferring money or disclosing personal information. This scam is a form of “phishing.” Some of these fake bank websites use the FDIC name or “Member FDIC” logo to instill a false sense of security. Sometimes it is hard to tell which websites are real, and which are fakes. Before engaging with any website for an entity that claims to be an FDIC-insured bank, it is important to make sure that the website real.
To help you determine if a website belongs to an FDIC-insured bank, check the FDIC BankFind a data resource on the FDIC website. You can look up banks by name or website address to verify whether they are a real FDIC-insured bank. Compare the bank name with the web address or URL. Watch for letters out of place or the bank name as a sub web address of the fake name. If you are in doubt or identify a suspicious website related to FDIC insurance, please contact the FDIC National Center for Consumer and Depositor Assistance (NCDA) at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) to speak with a deposit insurance specialist or go to ask.fdic.gov.
Scammers also develop banking apps that may install malicious software or “malware” on your phone or tablet. If you download a malicious app to your device, the malware can steal personal information from it or lock it and hold it for ransom until you pay the scammers. Other types of malicious apps may ask you to login using your social media or email accounts, which could expose your personal information for the scammers to steal.
Scammers may use text messaging to reach you too, known as “smishing.” They may pretend they are from your bank and try to get you to provide your personal information. The text message often looks like a bank security message. Note that these fraudulent messages often try to create a sense of urgency to make you provide your personal information faster and less carefully. Take your time and call your bank using a phone number that you are familiar with, for example, the number provided on your debit or credit card. Do not use a phone number provided by someone you are unfamiliar with or that you think may be a scammer. As an alternative, contact the FDIC before you provide any information when something does not seem right.
Just like text message scams, avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or emails from unfamiliar sources. Some links may download malware (malicious software, such as computer viruses) to your device when you click on them. This is another form of “phishing.” The malware may steal your banking information, including your username, passwords, and credit or debit card numbers. Some links may lead to an illegitimate website attempting to get you to enter your personal information. These emails typically look very similar to ones sent by familiar sources like well-known retailers, banks, and other entities.
Be on the lookout for emails with typos, obvious mistakes, unusual fonts, that create a sense of urgency, or just seem off. In addition, be skeptical of email attachments described as coupons, rebates, or payment forms – they could include malware. Moreover, avoid email offers that seem “too good to be true.” Also watch for fee-related scams. This type of scam is where the scammer requests you to send money or pay “FDIC insurance fees” to receive a large amount of money in return. As a reminder, the FDIC does not charge or collect fees from consumers.No matter how the scammers try to reach you, following the tips highlighted in this article will help keep you and your money safe.
- Review your budget. One of the keys to managing money successfully is creating and sticking to a budget. If you have a budget, revisit your expenses and income to see what has changed. If your expenses are higher than you can afford, think about ways to cut them.
- Evaluate your savings. How much have you saved for the year? Think about ways you can save more — even if it's just a few extra dollars. One way to make saving easier is to have money automatically deducted from your bank account into a savings account each month.
- Set a holiday budget. The holiday season is an expensive time for many people. Try to determine how much money you'll need for holiday purchases and set a budget for it. By planning ahead and budgeting, you will avoid one of the most common mistakes people make — running up credit card debt.
- Review your interest rates. If you have credit card balances, look at the interest rate you are paying. If it's too high, shop around and consider transferring your balance to a card with a lower interest rate. Take a closer look at your mortgage, too. If your mortgage rate is higher than current rates and you plan to remain in your home, consider refinancing.
- Check your credit report. One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to periodically check your credit report. Federal law requires that you can obtain one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus: TransUnion,® Equifax,® and Experian.®
- Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Annual percentage rate, commonly referred to as APR, represents the cost of borrowing on a yearly basis, expressed as a percentage. It helps you compare interest rates between lenders when shopping for a loan.
- Asset. Often discussed with liabilities (see definition below), assets are items that can be converted into value or money. They may include your savings, 401(k), real estate, securities, and art to name a few.
- Beneficiary. If you have assets or insurance, you can name a beneficiary, which is the person or entity (such as a trust or charity) that will receive the proceeds or benefits of your asset.
- Budget. A budget is one of the most important terms in personal finance. It's essentially a spending plan that outlines how you allocate your income to pay for expenses and meet your financial goals, such as saving money.
- Compound interest. In the world of saving, compound interest is the interest that's earned and calculated on the original amount of your savings plus the interest paid. As a result, it helps your savings grow faster.
- Credit. If you have a credit card or loan, you have credit, which is money a lender provides that you are obligated to pay back. In banking, credit also refers to a transaction that comes into your account, such as a deposit or interest you earn on deposits.
- Credit report. A credit report summarizes your credit activity and history to help lenders determine whether to extend credit to you and what interest rate to offer. Credit reports may also be used by other entities, such as insurance companies, landlords, and utility companies to help them render decisions. Also, some companies may use credit reports to determine whether to hire you, provided you grant them permission to access your report.
- Credit score. Your credit score is basically a numerical calculation that helps lenders determine how likely you are to pay back money you borrow. The higher your credit score, the greater the likelihood of you being offered credit.
- Debt. Debt is the amount of money you owe to a lender or person.
- Debit. In contrast to a credit, which reflects money coming into your account, a debit is a transaction that goes out of your account. Debits include withdrawals, transfers out of your account, and bill payments.
- Debt consolidation. If you have multiple types of debt, such as credit cards and personal loans, lenders may offer you credit to help you consolidate multiple loans into one loan with one payment. Consolidating debt can help simplify your finances and maybe even lower the amount of interest you have to pay. For example, you could consolidate higher-interest credit card debt into a lower rate loan. Debt consolidation can help you save on interest, but it won't cancel your debt; you still have to pay back the money you owe.
- Home equity. Home equity is the actual amount of your home that you own. It's the difference between the value of your home (what it's worth) and the amount you owe to a lender (your mortgage amount). For example, if your home is worth $400,000 and you owe $250,000 on your mortgage, the equity you have in your home is $150,000. A home equity loan or line of credit, lets you borrow from that equity.
- Interest. This is the fee that financial institutions charge to lend you money. With savings, it refers to the money banks pay you when you deposit money.
- Liability. A liability is a debt or obligation you owe, such as the amount you owe on your mortgage or car loan.
- Net worth. Your net worth is the difference between your assets and liabilities.
- Principal. In borrowing, principal is the amount of money a lender grants you that you agree to pay back. In saving or investing, principal is the amount of money you contribute.
- Repayment. This is the timeframe that you have to pay back money you borrow. For example, if you have a 30-year mortgage, your payments will be structured so that your loan is paid back in 30 years.
- Revolving line of credit. This is a type of credit that lets you borrow money when you need it and pay interest only on the amount you use. A credit card is an example of a revolving line of credit.
- Return. If you save or invest money, return is the amount of money you either gain or lose.
- Stock. Stock is a type of security that allows you to buy a share of ownership in a company.
Thinking about going on a vacation, paying for a wedding, buying gifts for birthdays and holidays, or perhaps you have another short-term money goal? We often think of savings for long-term purposes like retirement or buying a house, but they are great for short-term objectives too. Money in an account that is low-risk (less likely to lose money), allows for easy access, and provides opportunity for growth, is a great alternative to a piggy bank. Let’s look at some options to help you better meet your goals and keep your money safe.
If someone asked you to mail them $200 in cash, would you do it? Probably not. Wiring money is just like sending cash in the mail. Once it’s gone, you probably won’t get it back — which explains why scammers tell you to pay that way. You’d think twice before mailing your hard-earned money — do the same thing before you wire money. Here’s what to know.
At KS StateBank, we’re always on the lookout for people that can embrace the ever-changing world of banking in a dynamic, collaborative, and innovative way. If you’ve considered a career in banking, we have positions available with our Retail and Government Finance departments including entry level positions.
You, or someone you know, could become the victim of a growing crime in America — financial abuse of older Americans. Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse. As people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation's wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans. Senior financial abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year alone.
It’s a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. Anyone who sees signs of theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property should be on the alert. Those are signs of possible exploitation. Older Americans that may have disabilities or rely on others for help can be susceptible to scams and other fraud. Advances in technology can also make it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and what's safe.
What should you do to protect yourself?
- Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
- Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
- Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
- Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
- Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
- Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
- Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.
- Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
- Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.
- Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
- Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
- Feel free to say “no.” After all, it’s your money.
- You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, call your local Adult Protective Services or tell someone at your bank.
- Trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers often are very skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give up control of your finances. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart, or to your clergy.
- Talk to your attorney, doctor or an officer at your bank.
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your state or your local police for help.
What are the warning signs of financial abuse?
The key to spotting financial abuse is a change in a person’s established financial patterns. Watch out for these “red flags”:
- Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
- ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
- Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services the customer does not fully understand or need.
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts the customer cannot explain.
- New “best friends” accompanying an older person to the bank.
- Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.
- Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.
- Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
- Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery.
- Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on the part of an older customer.
- Refusal to make eye contact, shame or reluctance to talk about the problem.
- Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
- Bank statements that no longer go to the customer’s home.
- New powers of attorney the older person does not understand.
- A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
- Altered wills and trusts.
- Loss of property.
- Talk to elderly friends or loved ones if you see any of the signs mentioned here. Try to determine what specifically is happening with their financial situation, such as a new person “helping” them with money management, or a relative using cards or credit without their permission.
- Report the elder financial abuse to their bank, and enlist their banker’s help to stop it and prevent its recurrence.
- Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state for help.
- Report all instances of elder financial abuse to your local police—if fraud is involved, they should investigate.
Never give your Social Security number, account numbers or other personal financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
Finding money to put into savings can seem difficult, but there are some strategies that can make it easier. Start by asking yourself these questions.
When you want something in life, it's best to have a plan for how you will get it. Everyone wants a life of financial security—the ability to save and invest so that your money is working for you in a way that enables you to fulfill your life's goals. To achieve financial security, you need to create a financial plan.
Consumers often wonder about whether or how to add someone else, usually a relative, to a bank account. These decisions are not to be taken lightly. We can't advise you on how to share your money or your accounts, but we can give you guidance about the implications of adding names onto deposit accounts, safe deposit boxes and loans.
KS StateBank will be closed on Monday, June 19 in honor of Juneteenth. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, June 20.
We will also be closed on Tuesday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day. We'll reopen on Wednesday, July 5 during regular hours.
Spring is a great time for a fresh start and cleanup but not just for your home or yard. It's also a great time to clean up something very important in your financial house – your credit.
In many families, talking about money can be uncomfortable, and in some cases, almost taboo. When children request something that costs more than the family is comfortable spending, children of different ages react differently. Young children may not have an understanding of the item's cost relative to the family's finances. And a teenager's "need" may be viewed as an "extravagance" by the parents. These simple ideas can help foster two-way conversations between parents and children, as well as a basic understanding about the value of money.
It is never too early to help your child develop a healthy respect for money and to develop some good financial habits. The practice of using an allowance can be worthwhile if it does the right things. If your objective is to teach the basics, consider the following:
- Set a weekly allowance to match the age of the child; perhaps a five year old receives $5.00 weekly.
- Tie the allowance to some required chores like setting the table for dinner. If the chores aren't done, withhold allowance for that week.
- Divide the allowance into three spending categories — 1/3 for immediate spending, 1/3 saved for some specific near-term purchase (like a small new toy) and 1/3 for a longer-term goal (like a major new toy).
This is often the most difficult time for children to deal with financial issues. Peer pressure, a desire to keep up with what their friends have, and the growing realization that they can't have everything they want can add tension to any conversation about finances. However, it is also the time when children can begin to understand more complex financial issues, and when financial habits are formed.
Be open to discussing finances with your children. Kids are naturally curious about what they see their parents doing and that curiosity can be easily turned into teaching opportunities. When your child sees you writing checks that is an ideal time to start talking about the importance of paying bills and balancing your budget. A question about what it means when the TV news reports on stock market activities can lead to a more serious discussion about money and long-term financial goals. And a conversation about choosing a college can be an eye-opening experience when your child learns what it costs.
Our offices will be closed on Monday, May 29 in observance of Memorial Day as we honor and remember the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving our country.
Life is unpredictable. Our financial lives can be, too. From soaring inflation to rising interest rates to volatile markets, it can sometimes feel like we don't have control of our money, especially your hard-earned savings. Rest assured, though, there are some steps you can take to safeguard it.
Over time, Certificates of Deposit (CDs) have provided a safe and secure way to build savings. However, in today's current rising interest rate environment, they've become even more attractive, allowing savers to lock in higher rates of interest over fixed period of times – and get the assurance of deposit protection. But before you invest in a CD, there are some questions you need to answer.
Before you invest in a CD, it's important to know what it is. A CD is a savings vehicle that offers a fixed rate of interest over a fixed period of time. Unlike savings accounts that allow you to withdraw money as you choose, CDs typically provide higher rates of return when you deposit money for a specific term – often from 3 months to 5 years. In general, the longer the term of the CD, the higher the interest rate you will receive.
The decision on whether to invest in a CD depends on the reason you need to save and when you need your funds. For example, if you are saving for a down payment on a home, and you plan to buy the home in a few months, a CD wouldn't make sense. However, if you plan to buy the home in a year, a CD may be a great choice.
Interest rates vary per lender and CD term. When investing in CDs, you need to think about what may happen with rates. If rates are rising (as they currently are), you may want to invest in a shorter-term CD because you may get a higher return later. Similarly, if rates are falling, you may want to invest in a longer-term CD to lock in higher rates. CD rates vary by lender so you'll want to shop around.
Most lenders do not offer fees to open CDs. Most charge pre-payment penalties, which means if you need to access the money before the term of the CD expires, you will have to pay a fee. The amount of that fee will vary by lender.
CDs offer another advantage to help borrowers – compounding interest. Compounding means that interest earned is added to the balance in your CD. CDs may be compounded either daily or monthly.
One strategy savvy CD investors use is called laddering. Laddering involves opening multiple certificates of deposit (CDs) with different maturity dates. Then when a CD matures, you have the option to take the money or invest in another CD.
What's not to love about receiving money? It's why millions and millions of people play the lottery each year. And while most won't be lucky enough to win the jackpot, they may very well receive money in a far more common way — getting a tax refund.
- Build an emergency fund. In these challenging economic times, many people live paycheck to paycheck. That makes managing unexpected expenses, such as car or home repairs difficult to manage. One way to protect yourself from unexpected expenses or losses in income is to have an emergency fund in a liquid savings account.
- Reduce debt. Do you have higher-interest credit card, auto loan, or other debt? Consider using your tax return to pay down your debt. It's always wise to pay off the highest-interest debt first.
- Make home improvements. Does your home need new windows or a new roof? Consider using your tax return money to finance these important home improvements, which can add value to your home.
- Make an energy-efficient purchase. Use your refund to purchase energy-efficient appliances, such as a dishwasher, dryer, or refrigerator, which can save you money all year long.
- Start a college savings plan. If you have children, consider using the funds to open an Education IRA or 529 college savings plan. Once you open the plan, arrange to invest in the fund on an ongoing a basis. Even a small amount of money each month will add up over time.
- Save for retirement. If you don't have a retirement plan through your employer, consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) with your refund check. Be sure to check with your tax advisor first.
- Pre-pay your mortgage. If you want to reduce the term of your loan and the amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan, consider putting the funds from your tax return down on the principal of your mortgage.
Say you’re looking for a job. You’ve found some you’re qualified for on a well-known employment website and you apply to a bunch of them. If you get a message saying “You’re hired! We just want some more info from you,” what’s your next move?
- Do your own research. Search the company and job name with the words “scam,” “complaint,” or “fraud.” You might find they’ve scammed other people. Scammers pretend to be both well-known and smaller companies, posting jobs on employment websites. So, reach out to the company directly using contact information you know is legit.
- Don’t pay to get a job. If someone says you’ve got the job, but you have to pay them for something — or if they say you have to deposit a check and send money back, those are scams. Period. No legitimate job will make you pay for expenses or fees to get the job.
- Never give personal info up front. Some scammers will try to get your bank account, routing, or Social Security number as soon as you’re in contact. They might say, “to set up your direct deposit.” Stop. That’s a scam.
- Talk to someone you trust before you take a job offer or business opportunity. Ask them what they think. Then listen to what they say.
Your valentine isn't the only one who should be receiving love this February. Your finances deserve some tender love and care as well. Here are four ways to show your money it matters.
One of the best things you can do for your finances is to know where your money is actually going. Reviewing your bank and credit card statements regularly will allow you to not only know your spending each month, but also see where you're prioritizing your spending. For example, you may not realize you're spending $600 per month on dining out or that you're paying for subscriptions you no longer use. Awareness is key to saving money and making sure you're spending the way you'd like. Our free online financial management tool, My Money, makes it easy to keep track of your money maintain your finances. Look for the My Money tab in your KS StateBank Online Banking account.
Credit scores have a significant impact on your finances, affecting whether you are approved for loans, credit cards, and even housing. Your score is a reflection of how reliable you are when it comes to paying back your bills. It also affects how much you pay for services. To improve your credit score, always pay your bills on time, fix past due balances, and keep your balances on your credit cards low in comparison to your limit.
Bills are an inevitable part of life. Avoid late fees, damage to your credit score, disruptions in your service, evictions, and a whole host of other issues by paying your bills on time. If you've had trouble paying your bills in a timely manner before, getting organized can help ensure you don't miss another payment. Write down what bills you have and when they're due, and set reminders so you don't forget. You can also set up automatic payments to ensure you pay on time, every time.
If possible, pay more than the minimum payments on credit cards and loans to reduce the overall amount of money you owe. For example, if your minimum student loan payment is $300 per month and you are able to pay $350 per month instead, you're paying $600 more per year, the equivalent of two additional payments. This will reduce the number of payments and the amount you pay in interest over the course of your loan.
Lots of us have profiles on online dating sites, apps or social media to find “the one.” But that interesting person who just messaged you could be a sweet-talking romance scammer trying to trick you into sending money.
- Stop communicating with the person immediately.
- Search online for the type of job the person says they have. See if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. If it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.
- Never wire money to a stranger, or pay anyone with gift cards. If someone asks you to wire money or pay with gift cards, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
All KS StateBank locations will be closed on Monday, February 20 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, February 21.
It's a holiday leftover many of us carry around for months. It's not Aunt Edna's fruitcake or even those few extra pounds amassed from all the holiday treats. It's the excess credit card debt that comes from spending more than you can afford during the holiday season. Unfortunately, for many Americans, a few festive days of the year can result in mounds of depressing debt that can take months to shed.
- Stop the credit storm. If you can't purchase something with cash or your debit card, don't buy it. While it's important to have credit cards for emergencies, it's a good idea to put them on ice until you pay down your debt.
- Start digging out. On your credit card statement is the minimum payment amount you must make each month to cover finance charges. Always pay more than that amount. The more you pay, the faster you will pay down your balance. If you have multiple credit card accounts, focus on paying off the ones with the highest interest rates first.
- Consolidate higher-interest debt. Many credit card companies offer attractive balance transfer offers that come with low teaser rates, allowing you to transfer higher-interest balances to save on interest. Be sure to read the fine print so you know when the introductory rate expires and what the prevailing rate will be. It's also critical to close the accounts from which you transferred the debt. Many people make the mistake of keeping those cards and running up new balances, creating even more debt.
- Minimize your other spending. Take a close look at your monthly budget and see if you can cut your spending in other areas in order to pay more on your credit card debt. If you have the opportunity to make more money, either by picking up more hours at work or getting a second job, consider putting excess funds on your credit card debt.
- Stay the course. While it can be overwhelming to look at the debt you owe, the most important thing you can do is keep making payments. If you keep digging, you're sure to see a clear path toward credit card debt freedom.
The cost of going to college is on the rise and many students are in search of scholarships and federal student loans to help them pay for their education. 84% of first-year students receive financial aid and 66% apply using Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Be wary of the information you share and where. Never share your FAFSA information
- Only solicit federal student loans from companies identified by the Department of Education
- Never pay to apply for college scholarships
- Federal Trade Commission
- U.S. Department of Education
- Federal Student Aid Information Center (FAFSA)
Our offices will be closed on Monday, January 16 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 17.