Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Manage Money

304 posts

"Sir, don’t worry. Everything will be OK. I just need your bank account or credit card information. Please sir, take your time.”

 

Those words finally made me realize it: I was caught in a consumer fraud hostage situation. How did I get here? All I did was click on a software download link. Right after that, an Apple icon appeared with a message saying my computer was locked and I needed to call this number to unlock it.

 

I immediately panicked and called the number. When the person picked up and talked in a fast-paced “I got you” voice, I knew something was wrong. When I heard “please sir, take you time,” I hung up and unplugged the computer. I took it to a repair store, and the worker said they couldn’t do much except hope that unplugging my computer would do away with the ransom.

 

Miraculously, my computer was no longer under ransom when I re-plugged it in. Still, I was upset that I let it happen to myself—but more angry because consumer fraud is so open and rapid that these tricksters come up with sleazy ways to get your money.

 

What Is Consumer Fraud?

 

Consumer fraud includes any transactions that seem to be legal but are actually deceptive practices meant to obtain your financial or personal information. Consumer fraud can happen in person, over the phone, and on the internet.

 

There are numerous well-known consumer fraud scams, such as the Nigerian prince who has millions of dollars waiting for you—all he needs is your financial account information. Others take it a step further, for instance by posing as victims of natural disasters asking for donations.

 

The last one I got was a call from the IRS saying they were suing me. The only thing was that the number in the ID was not from Washington, D.C. and I had not received a letter from the IRS about this. Yup, it was another common scam. (Another community member actually experienced this as well; read more here.)

 

What To Do If You’re A Victim

 

When my computer was held hostage, I was clueless on what to do. I had read about this happening to other people’s computers, but I never thought it would happen to me. I was lucky that everything turned out OK—and I learned a few important lessons.

 

Do not click on catchy, eye-popping links that you feel are suspicious. If you fall victim to an online scam, unplug the computer right away and disconnect the internet wires. Wait at least an hour before turning everything back on.

 

If you’re on the phone with a scammer, do not let the person intimidate you with threats and try to avoid their traps. Don’t provide your financial info; it will only give them the opportunity to take your money. If this has already happened, contact your bank or credit card company immediately to make them aware of what had just happened.

 

If you feel you are being scammed or question the legitimacy of a website, contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Here’s some more info on what to do if you think you’ve been a victim of consumer fraud.

 

Protect yourself at all times. Always be wary of people asking you for your information. Remember, if it is too good to be true, it usually is.

 

Have you been the victim of a consumer fraud scam? Share your story in the comments to help other community members avoid falling into the same traps. Sign up or log in with your Salt account now.

These last few years, I’ve moved around—a lot. From hauling my stuff across the Atlantic to attend Oxford to driving a car down Manhattan to get to Brooklyn from Boston to, most recently, doing the cross-country jaunt to San Francisco, I thought I had seen it all.

 

And then, a friend asked if I’d like to move in with him next year. While I’m still considering the offer, it dawned on me that I’ve never actually moved within the same city before.

 

Here’s how I’m thinking about approaching my potential move in a cost-friendly way. I’d love thoughts and ideas from folks that have made an intercity move before!

 

1. Relying On Friends As Movers

 

Movers are, somewhat surprisingly, costly. I was looking at quotes of around a few hundred dollars to move an entire studio apartment a small distance.

 

Thankfully, I have two (marginally) strong arms and a lot of time to kill on the weekends! I also have plenty of friends in the same boat. I’m hoping they like me enough to be my movers for a day. And that they’ll take beer or wine as payment.

 

I figure between boxing my own stuff, relying on friends as movers, and calling a few Ubers, I should be able to move most of my apartment on my own. While I may still need movers for bigger items (cramming a bed frame into an Uber might hurt my passenger rating), I’m hoping I can really drive down cost by handling the smaller stuff on my own.

 

2. Stealing Boxes From Work

 

Another surprising expense: boxes. I never thought a piece of cardboard could possibly cost around $20, until I started looking into buying a bunch of moving boxes.

 

Thankfully, one of the non-obvious benefits of working somewhere with a dedicated culinary department is that they go through a ton of boxes on a daily basis. Those boxes often stack up outside the cafeterias and have bleak futures, destined for the recycling bin.

 

I plan to ask the chefs if I can steal a few of those boxes for my move. Cardboard reuse for the win.

 

3. Making Sure My Current Apartment Is **** And Span

 

If I go forward with the move, I want at least a week to make sure my apartment is clean and damage free. While that’s partially because I like my landlord and want to make sure I respect his space, it’s also because I’d like to get my full security deposit back.

 

It’s too easy to get docked a few hundred dollars for not patching picture frame holes or leaving the place a mess when I move out. While I won’t get to hold that security deposit money for too long (it’ll likely just go directly to my new landlord), I do want it back in full. It’s hard to envision losing money you’ve already considered out of sight and out of mind, but it’s a very real possibility!

 

How else have you minimized costs during an intercity move? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

In life, they say that we can only be certain about two things: death and taxes. Everything else is a mystery. And yet, I’ve never thought to care much about estate planning for my death.

 

I was always under the impression that estate planning was for the rich—not a 20-something like me who barely has an “estate” to begin with. But after taking an estate-planning course, I realized how necessary this is for everyone, regardless of wealth.

 

Let me explain why.

 

What Is Estate Planning

 

Estate planning is the process of planning for your inevitable death and the legal transfer of your wealth. Among other factors, estate planning takes into account legal, tax, and personal objectives related to your passing.

 

Estate planning is about being financially prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. It considers a person’s well wishes, in addition to their goals of their wealth. And yet, people avoid estate planning for a number of reasons.

 

First, it’s complicated (again, I had to take a whole course on the topic to appreciate its value). Second, no one likes to confront his or her mortality head-on—I bet just reading “your inevitable death” a couple paragraphs back unsettled you a bit, right? 

 

Goals Of Estate Planning

 

Depending on where you are in your life, estate planning can encompass a number of things. Some common goals include:

 

  • Documenting a particular individual(s) or institution(s) to receive your property or other estate holdings.
  • Minimizing the taxes on all of your estate’s items, including property, income, gift, and inheritance.
  • Minimizing costs such as attorney fees, document recording, accountants, etc.

 

But for me, the most important goal is to assure that there is sufficient liquidity to pay for everything associated with a person’s death, including funeral costs, medical bills, and taxes. A bad estate plan will leave a family covering these out of their own pockets.

 

Should I Establish An Estate Plan?

 

The simple answer is yes. You need a plan to address your health, property, and your wishes as to how to disperse your wealth—whether you have $2,500 or $250,000.

 

Just imagine you leave that wealth with no estate plan. Without a documented plan, the bulk of that money will likely go to paying taxes, transfer costs, and court costs trying to figure out who should receive it (or whatever’s left of it after those expenses).

 

If you decide to move forward with estate planning, get in contact with an estate planner. Before you do, make sure you have all your financial statements gathered along with your family and charitable objectives.

 

No one can predict their death, and it’s no fun planning what will happen to your wealth once you die. But planning will help your loved ones financially and help them avoid dealing with additional tax and court costs. Plan today for tomorrow’s problems.

 

Do you have an estate plan? If not, why not? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your experience in the comments.

Since I’m stepping it up and taking control of my financial future this semester, I’m starting to wonder if I’m with the right bank. My current bank is the only one I’ve ever used, so it holds a special place in my heart. I was 15 or 16 when I opened up my checking account and around 17 when I opened my savings.

 

Some things I like about my bank are:

 

  • Mobile-friendly: I use the mobile banking app the most to handle my money. I rarely go to a teller. If there's ever any discrepancy in my account, I just call them.
  • Fraud protection: In two instances, my bank thought my card may have been compromised so they shut it off. At first, this was frustrating, but I was very grateful for it—especially because the second time it was compromised for real!
  • Fast processing: They process checks as fast as 1 business day, and you can simply take a picture of your check to deposit it.
  • Overdraft protection: If you ever overdraft from your checking account, they simply transfer the overdraft amount from your savings instead of charging you an overdraft fee.
  • No crazy fees: In addition to overdraft fees, I’ve never been charged a minimum balance fee; a lot of my friends always complain about these charges with their banks.
  • Good customer service: I always have pleasant conversations with whoever handles my inquiries and concerns. They offer some of the best customer service I’ve come across.


I honestly do think it’s a great bank, but they lack some things as well:

  • Perks: Other than $25 when I first signed up, I have never gotten any type of perk for being a customer of my bank (for over 7 years now!). It would be nice to have some type of additional benefit. I know some banks will reward you for having good banking habits or give credits for certain purchases.
  • ATMs: Though they have a few ATMs, most of the ones for my bank are not within a good distance of where I live. There's not very many of them overall within my area either.
  • Credit cards: My bank was the first company I tried to get a credit card from, and they denied me for having no credit history—even though I’ve been a loyal customer and handled my accounts well with them.

 

I don’t think my dislikes are enough to make me switch banks. I actually really like my bank and  will likely  try to get another credit card from them in the future when I’m older and have more credit built up.

 

What about you, Salt Community? Do you guys like your bank? Should I think about other features I need when it comes to a bank? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know below!

When I first graduated from college, I used to think saving money was a pretty straightforward task. You get a paycheck direct deposited into your checking account, and you stick a portion of it into your savings account. What was so hard about that?

 

A few years later, and after conversations with various family members, friends, colleagues, and even a financial adviser, I now know what was so flawed with that line of thinking. It was well-intentioned, but it wasn’t strategic.

 

Here’s what I learned.

 

You Need Higher Return Potential

 

While it’s admirable to save money by putting it into a savings account, you deny yourself the chance to build serious wealth if that’s all you do. It should be a part of the plan, but not the only part.

 

Long-term wealth building is all about finding sound investments. Buying bonds, investing in the stock market, putting money into real estate, and more are all ways to magnify the effects of your money—“making it work for you,” as they say.

 

Of course, spending money—and potentially losing that money—to increase your savings can feel a bit counter-intuitive. For instance, let’s say you buy stock in a company that you hope to sell at a much higher price. If your bet on the company is right, you’ll make more than what you paid for that stock.

 

If your bet is wrong, you may not make a profit. But consider this: If you put that money in a savings account instead, you wouldn’t lose anything —but you also wouldn’t really grow your savings either. You’d just have roughly the same amount (maybe a little more) a few years later. No risk, no reward.

 

Not interested in learning about the stock market? You don’t have to; financial advisers and brokerages can help there. For a small fee, I have a financial adviser manage the day-to-day happenings of my investments. She reports the headline results back to me every quarter, and we make big money decisions together.

 

She also helps manage my retirement savings, which is another huge investment component.

 

With Retirement, Time Is On Your Side

 

Retirement accounts, like company-sponsored 401(k)s or Roth IRAs, are basically investment accounts that you shouldn’t touch until you retire.

 

When you contribute to these plans, you’re not actually stashing money into a safe that you get to open when you’re 65. What you’re really doing is putting money into investments optimized to grow over long periods. It’s totally different than a regular savings account.

 

Again, this may be unsettling to some folks because with investments come risks. If your retirement funds all hinge on investments, what happens if those investments tank? Initially, I was worried I could be penniless for my retirement. Thankfully, economics and time don’t quite work that way.

 

You could have an investment tank and see the value of your retirement portfolio go down. In fact, in times of financial crisis, many people see exactly that. However, markets are cyclical and tend to normalize with time. If your investments tank, chances are that if you leave everything how it is, you’ll see them come back to a net positive amount at some point in the future.

 

As a young person, time is on your side. You have 50+ years of market ups and downs to go through before you need your retirement funds. If you’re contributing money regularly, and you don’t take it out early, most experts tend to forecast a 7% return rate from retirement investments that are stock heavy. That’s way better than what you’d see in a static savings account!

 

Any other investment advice to share? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

I remember the exact moment that I realized inexpensive fast food could hurt my wallet and my health.

 

I was living in Oklahoma City and preparing to move. I was spending a lot of money on the move, but getting everything ready left me short on time and energy to cook (packing my kitchen stuff didn’t help either). So, I ate nothing but fast food for ten consecutive days. Big mistake.

 

By the end of the second week, my stomach was in pain, my acne was going crazy, and the grease on my forehead was out of control. I had to buy multiple treatments for these fast food-fueled problems—and that’s on top of the money I spent for lunch and dinner each day. In total, this food and medicine cost me about $400.

 

So much for cheap meals!

 

Short-Term Costs

 

For many, eating pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried food is the norm—or at least it was for me. These foods are all readily available, and buying them easily fits within a student’s/20-something’s budget. And, of course, they taste delicious, too!

 

Look, I can’t tell you to stop eating these foods completely. I still get fast food sometimes but not for consecutive days. But you need to pay attention to what you spend on them. Losing track of this led to me spending $400 in just 2 weeks—that was almost close to my month’s rent for me. That can seriously hurt your budget.

 

Long-Term Costs

 

I learned a bigger lesson from that fast food splurge, too: You need to be aware of what you put in your body. Because while unhealthy eating can hurt your wallet now, it can lead to even more severe—and costly—future consequences, including diabetes, heart attacks, and obesity.

 

The link between fast food and health issues is real, and doctor co-pays, lost wages from time off, and medications add up. These costs don’t even include something major like a trip to the ER, in which the ambulance ride alone can cost more than $500.

 

Eat Healthy

 

Now that summer has started, barbecues, rib fests, and ice cream are here to tempt us as well. But Instead of spending money on these and fast food, make healthy choices. Fruits and vegetables are not astronomically expensive. Instead of buying a party size of chips I buy a bag of apples, which cost almost the same depending on the brand of chips and apples.

 

Buying healthy food may cost a few dollars more than fast food—but at least I save money on stomach medicine and acne treatments. Because while you may think that eating from the dollar menu saves you money, it won’t if you order too often. Those cheeseburgers and fries won’t be so cheap in the long run!

 

Have you cut fast food out of your diet? How did affect your health and your budget? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your experiences!

I didn’t get much personal finance advice from my father when I was in high school (it would come in college), but he did drill one line into my head.

 

“Mike, never ever get a credit card. They’re evil.”

 

Dramatic? Yes. But was it effective? Oh, yeah.

 

I didn’t have a credit card until my sophomore year of college, and even then, it was a card from my local bank with a tiny spend limit. I completely avoided any potential credit card debt in high school, where my risk of overspending was likely at its highest. 

 

Fast forward half a decade, and I’ve found my dad’s advice to be well intentioned but slightly inaccurate. I won’t claim that credit cards are not evil, but I do think that sometimes, they can work in your favor. Here’s how.

 

They Build Your Credit

 

Credit cards are a bit of a catch-22. To get them, you need to have credit. To have credit, you typically need to have used a credit card and proven that you can pay it off. Confusing, right?  

 

The only reason my Dad let me get my baby credit card was because he knew I had to start building credit before I got into the real world. Otherwise, renting an apartment, financing anything, and yes, even getting more credit cards, would be difficult.

 

A few months ago, a friend of mine tried to apply for one of the same credit cards I have. I got mine no problem, but because she had only been an authorized user on a card that her parents managed, she couldn’t get it because her credit was too new!

 

If you’re still in school, I highly recommend you get a student credit card (in your name) to start building some credit. Just make sure you pay the balance off in full every month!

 

They Can Grant You Perks And Rewards

 

Once you’ve practiced with a safe card for a few years and are ready to move on to something bigger, take the time to research the card that’s right for you. While bigger cards have bigger risks, like high annual fees or interest rates, they tend to have greater rewards, too.

 

For example, two of my biggest spending categories are meals out and travel. So, when I was looking for a new card, I tried to find one that rewarded spending in those two categories.

 

Sure enough, I found a card that gave triple reward points for food and travel purchases. It also came with a bunch of nifty travel perks, such as a yearly $300 travel credit and select airline lounge access.

 

I moved most of my spending onto that card, and months later, I had racked up enough reward points to plan an entire 2-week trip to Europe for free. Doesn’t seem like such an evil thing, does it?

 

Be Responsible

 

My dad gave me one more piece of advice after I got my first card: always pay the balance off in full every single month. I’ve practiced that principle ever since, and I think my dad was right to preach it. 

 

Because I never carry a balance, I never go into credit card debt. The credit card doesn’t get to slap me with its sky-high interest rate, and I reap the benefits of its point system: a win-win for me!

 

Have thoughts on credit cards to share? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments! 

A little while ago, I got a student credit card. One reason I did this was because I knew I needed to “build credit” ... but I didn’t actually know WHAT that meant.

 

After doing some research, I learned more about credit, as well as what’s considered “good” and “bad” credit scores. Hopefully, this info can help some other new credit card holders like myself who are still trying to figure credit out and how to use it wisely.

 

The Basics

 

A credit score is a tool that banks, landlords, employers, and others use to understand how you manage money. Essentially, the score puts a number on how risky you’ll be to lend money to, rent an apartment to, employ, etc.

 

The most commonly used credit score is the “FICO” score. Until a few weeks, this was just an acronym I saw in my credit card app. Now, I know that FICO stands for “Fair Isaac Co.,” and this is literally just the company that computes everyone’s credit scores.

 

Credit Score Ranges

 

The lowest FICO score you can get is 300. However, I found out that anything under 600 is generally considered “poor,” meaning you’d be seen as a risky borrower. The best FICO score you can get is 850, but anything above a 700 is generally considered excellent. In that range, you will likely be considered a  dependable borrower in terms of lending.

 

Different lenders can have different criteria for what they consider “poor” and “good” scores. That’s why it is important to have credit habits that are as good as possible. Ways to maintain and improve your score include paying your bill on time, not going over your credit limit, and paying at least (but not always) the minimum every month.

 

Late Payments

 

I also found out about something called delinquency. When you are delinquent on your credit card, it means you have missed a payment.

 

After the first missed payment, you are 1 day delinquent. By the second missed payment, you’ll be 30 days delinquent—which can start negatively affecting your credit score. Once delinquent payments get into your credit history, they can stay there for up to 7 years, which can hurt you long after you’ve payed off that debt. 

 

My Plan

 

After finding all of this out, I am trying to get my score to at least 750 before I start school in September, I’m currently at a 702. My credit card’s mobile app features my FICO score, and while I frequently checked it to see my how my credit score was doing, I now know what to look for.

 

I’m also going to be WAY more alert when it comes to paying my bill. The last thing I want is to make a minor mistake and be punished for it for 7 years.

 

Does anyone else know anything about credit scores? Any tips on how to maintain a really good one? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share below!

As someone who’s rented places in two different countries and three different U.S. cities, I’ve seen quite a lot when it comes to apartments. From pantry-robbing rats to a heatless winter in New York City, I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant situations.

 

During that abovementioned heatless winter, one of my roommates forgot to turn off one of the five space heaters we were using to keep warm. Thankfully, nothing caught in fire—but it was a close brush with disaster. And it got me thinking about renter’s insurance.

 

If your plans include renting an apartment or a room in an apartment, then you should strongly consider getting renter’s insurance for your stuff. Here’s why.

 

1. It’s A Good Habit To Form

 

I didn’t have renter’s insurance at that apartment in New York. I knew that it was a thing that existed, but I was too lazy to go out and buy it. What were the chances something terrible would happen to my apartment anyway?

 

When I moved to San Francisco, the space heater incident made me think twice about skipping out again. I got a policy the second my stuff arrived from the east coast, and have not regretted it. I’ll likely get a policy for as long as I keep renting.

 

Three months into my lease, my stove had a gas leak. I got it fixed before anything awful could happen, but at the time, I took solace in knowing that at least my stuff would have been protected from a disaster.

 

2. It Costs Almost Nothing

 

What if I told you that I could protect your possessions from damage, theft, or fire, all at the whopping cost of $100 per year? You’d probably take me up on that offer, right?

 

That’s essentially renter’s insurance. It protects almost all your stuff from a variety of unpleasant scenarios, and for all that it offers, it costs almost nothing.

 

If the yearly cost is intimidating, look at it in terms of months. A $100 renter’s insurance policy costs $8.33 per month. That’s roughly the equivalent of a month of Netflix, two Starbucks coffees, one takeout burrito, OR two roundtrip public transportation fares.

 

And while I’d never tell you to cancel your Netflix subscription, skipping a few coffees or walking to work 2 days out of the month is probably worth it to make renter’s insurance work for your budget.

 

3. You Don’t Know What Can Happen

 

It’s graduation season, which means that students are likely facing a lot of “new” things: new job, new city, and potentially, a new apartment, too. That’s a lot to plan for. And while insurance may not be the sexiest post-graduation present you get yourself, it’s great to have.

 

No, it won’t cover the food your greedy house rat steals, but it will cover some of the far more severe unfortunate situations that can happen. Such as your stuff going up in flames in an accidental fire due to a space heater or gas leak.

 

Long story short, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

 

Have thoughts on renter’s insurance? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments. 

One of my worst financial habits is continuously transferring money out of my savings account. I think most of us have fallen into the trap, leaving nothing in our savings for emergencies or to grow over time thanks to interest.

 

Now that I am 21, I’m taking my finances and how I manage my money much more seriously. I’m learning to curb spending, budget better, and take control of my financial future overall. This means leaving bad money management in the past.

 

This summer, I’m going to try a few new practices so I actually start saving for school in the fall. If you find yourself in the same situation, give these a shot as well.

 

Auto-Transfer

 

I’m going to automatically transfer funds from my checking account to my savings. I’m getting paid weekly this summer by my internship, so every week I will transfer a small amount from my check, $75-$150 (I need to budget before coming up with a final number). That way, I won’t have to manually save myself and will remove the temptation to spend more than I should.

 

In-Person Withdrawals

 

I plan to contact my bank to see if I set up my account so I can only transfer funds at a physical branch. My bank has different types of accounts, and I know they offer a few with this type of feature.

 

This will discourage me from impulse transfers because the only way I would ever go all the way to the branch is if I truly need the money. I mainly use my banking mobile app and various ATMs. I haven’t actually been to a branch in the past year.

 

Budget Better

 

I usually do a monthly budget. This was super convenient for me last summer because I lived in an apartment and my biggest expense was the monthly rent check. Now that I am back home, I do not have to worry about rent. So, I am going to break down my budget into weeks instead.

 

I’ll identify which weeks I will need to pay my cellphone and credit card  bills, then factor in the cost of public transportation per week (to and from my job), how much I will allow myself to spend on eating out (days that I don’t pack a lunch), and factor in weekends and other activities (concerts, expensive events, etc).

 

If you’re tech savvy like me, you’ll probably want to use a mobile app to handle this. I recommend Mint, as it has all these factored in, will divide your money accordingly, and tell you if you’re over or above your average spending limit per category.

 

Wait 24 Hours Before Impulse Purchases

 

This is one that I’m still trying to master. A lot of the time, I know I run out of money because I either (1) spent my budgeted money on something I just HAD to have or (2) transferred money into my checking so that I can buy something I just saw.

 

This summer, I’m going to try and build up my willpower. By waiting a full day, I can really evaluate whether or not I need whatever it is that I have my eye on.

 

These are just a few things I’ve thought of doing so far, but I am open to any other tips and tricks you guys have. Have any you fallen prey to the vicious checking-to-savings cycle? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know below!

I was recently speaking at a conference in Austin about why millennials shy away from credit cards. In case you didn’t know, data shows that more than 6 in 10 millennials don’t use a credit card.

 

I am not one of them. In fact, I’m personally “team credit card” all the way. But before getting into why, let me explain why millennials avoid using plastic.

 

Millennials Are Afraid—And With Good Reason

 

Based on conversations I’ve had with my blog readers, as well as many of the conversations I had at this conference, millennials shy away from credit cards because they are scared of getting into financial trouble.

 

First, they feel like they have enough debt to worry about in the form of student loans. Second, they often saw their parents or older siblings get into trouble with debt. And, third, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there about how to properly use a credit card.

 

The good news is millennials can overcome all of this with education. Now, here’s why you may want to consider using a credit card.

 

It Helps You Build Credit

 

I have an excellent credit score—and all of it is thanks to using credit cards responsibly. Read: I pay off my balance in full each month.

 

Why is it so important to build credit? Because it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. If you have a good credit score, you’ll shell out less money in interest if you ever find yourself needing to borrow money (like when you get a mortgage).

 

You Can Get Some Sweet Perks

 

I’ve gotten over 15 free flights thanks to credit cards. The good news for the consumer is there is major rewards war going on now among credit card issuers. Based on the conference I just attended, they are literally fighting trying to come up with the best rewards they can to get people to use their credit cards.

 

If you use these cards responsibly, you could see cash back, free flights, and hotel stays. You can even find a credit card that invests your cash back into an investment account. Other perks include extended warranties, automatic car rental insurance, and even concierge services.

 

The truth is debit cards don’t offer these kinds of perks (at least not yet), so take advantage by getting a good credit card and learning how to use it.

 

They Are—In Some Ways—Safer Than A Debit Card

 

When I had my wallet stolen a few years ago, I noticed how it was so much easier to resolve the issue with my credit cards versus my debit card.

 

If someone steals your credit card, all you have to do is call the issuer, cancel the card, and get a new one. The fraudulent charges are also reversed pretty quickly.

 

It’s a little more complicated with a debit card because they can literally drain your money right out of your account, and it could take a while to get it back. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

 

Do you use credit cards or do you shy away from them? Why or why not? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let us know in the comments below.

Summer is a time to relax and get a nice tan. However, it can also be a spending frenzy. Every time I go out, I am tempted to buy iced lemonade, ice cream, iced coffee, and any other type of delicious iced product.

 

And those are just small purchases! Let’s not forget the more expensive items, like concerts, sporting events, and vacations. Look, you want to have fun in the summer, but you can’t go overboard. Here are some ways I’ve limited my summer spending.

 

Vacations

 

As a college student, I was tempted to take a Euro trip. After realizing that I could not afford it, I was left visiting just my local park (which was nice, but not Europe).

 

If you want to go on an expensive vacation, try to tag along with your parents or family. When I was in graduate school, my parents planned a trip to Wisconsin Dells. As a 20-something, my parents weren’t my ideal travel companions, but they did pay for the hotel, food, and water park fees. All I spent money on was the golf course.

 

Cold Treats

 

Who doesn’t love a cold summer treat? If I am walking along the beach and see a delicious ice cream, I always want to buy it—regardless of the price. These purchases can add up quickly and hurt my pockets.

 

Instead of buying single items, make your own or buy in bulk. My sister makes ice cream with a mold she bought at the store for less than $5. Now, she can have ice cream bars whenever she wants. In the summer, I buy iced coffee packages, which cost $5 for five packets—compare that to $3.25 for just one medium iced coffee. Making your own products saves money and can even taste better.

 

Cookouts

 

With its amazing weather, the summer gives me time to grill outside. Buying chicken and meat in bulk and cooking out saves me money. A chicken plate at a restaurant runs up between $8 and $15 per person, when a bulk a chicken feeds four people for the same price. Plus, you get to enjoy time with friends and family—without the hassle of a restaurant.

 

How do you limit your spending over the summer? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips and tricks in the comments. 

As a foster kid for some time, the government had always covered my health insurance. But when I turned 18, I immediately “aged out” of this program. This was a problem for many reasons, including my college requiring incoming students to have insurance.

 

My school auto-enrolled me in its health insurance plan, but this didn’t cover everything.  I have asthma, so I need coverage for more than just check-ups. At one point freshman year, I actually ended up in my university's on-campus hospital and had to sign a waiver saying I was responsible for any charges my insurance didn’t cover. That was scary, and confusing.

 

Figuring out what to do was hard—but I knew I had to do something to improve my situation. I just did not know how or where to apply for insurance or what the process would even be like. Fortunately, I reached out to a caseworker at my school, who told me about a state health plan (MassHealth) that I may be eligible for.

 

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I applied for this plan through “MaHealthConnector,” a website dedicated to finding the right plan and coverage for you based on your needs and income. MassHealth is available for many different people with different incomes. The website asked me for my current address, tax information, and other personal information (was I a citizen, green card holder, etc).

 

Within a week of completing the online registration form, I received a document requesting proof of identification and citizenship status. Within the next 2 weeks, I received my health insurance card. The process was much easier than I thought it would be, and I feel much better with the coverage I now have.

 

Getting a hold of the information on what to do can feel difficult, so hopefully, this post helps those heading to school in the fall who need coverage. Most states require college students to have insurance. If you don’t, check out this article to learn more or contact someone at your school, like I did.

 

Do you use your school-provided health plan, or have you shopped for your own insurance? What did you learn from this experience? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips in the comments.

Now that we’re well into spring, my house isn’t the only thing I’m trying to clean up. Over the last few months, I’ve been paying attention to my credit card statements very closely, and I noticed something.

 

I pay for a lot of subscriptions and other monthly services that I don’t use. Sure, there’s an occasional day or two of the month when having a given service is handy, but for the other 28 days, I’m paying for something that I clearly don’t need.

 

So this past week, I made an effort to dive deep into all of the things I was subscribed to and terminate the extraneous subscriptions. It was beyond a hassle (I forget passwords all too easily), but here are the top three categories of things I ended up slashing.

 

1. Premium Dating Apps

 

Yes, I will shamefully admit that I was one of those poor souls paying extra money every month in the hope of finding true love on the internet.

 

My premium OkCupid account seemed like a good idea back when I first moved to San Francisco and didn’t know a soul, because you know, I needed all those unlimited messages to show myself off to the masses.

 

Nine months later, I haven’t even opened the app, let alone used any of the fancy “premium services.” This one was a pretty straightforward delete.

 

2. Writing Tools Subscriptions

 

Apparently, I had regularly been paying $10 a month for the last 3 years to a site called Writer’s Market, which connects writers to literary agents and other avenues to sell their work.

 

Well, 3 years later, I’m still working on a novel. Which means, it’s not nearly ready to put on any kind of marketplace anywhere yet.

 

While I thought about keeping the subscription for motivation, I stuck to my guns in the end and canned it. I’ll need it again one day, but that might not be for a while.

 

3. Cable

 

Well, this one is technically more aspirational then something I can take immediate action on (thanks to some sketchy contracts), but I never use my cable package. I’m barely home as it is, and when I have some hours of downtime, I’d rather be writing or reading a book anyway. My cable box has been collecting some serious dust, as you can imagine.

 

After spending an hour in customer service purgatory with my service provider, however, I determined I can’t cancel my service until November. While I’m not happy about needing to foot the bill for cable for the next few months, you can be sure canceling it will be one of the first things I do in November.

 

What about the rest of you? What subscriptions do you pay for that you could live without? Scan your credit card statement, then sign up or log in with your Salt account to share!

In the spring of 2016, I decided to start a podcast because I knew they were popular in the online and finance business space. I also thought it would be a lot of fun.

 

Two months into my project, I started receiving requests from different financial experts asking to be guests on the show. Now, I’ve interviewed more than 20 guests—and I’ve noticed some patterns as it pertains to managing money successfully.

 

Here are four of the most important money lessons I’ve learned from my guests.

 

1. Faith Plays A Major Role In Finances

 

Just about every guest I’ve interviewed has credited their success with finances to something bigger than themselves.

 

I’ve interviewed Buddhists, Christians, and people who consider themselves to be simply spiritual, and every single one of them has mentioned how having faith has helped them with their finances.

 

For me, “faith” doesn’t necessarily equal religion. But I’ve realized that it means trusting yourself to make the right decisions. I needed to have faith in myself to take risks like starting a business, asking for a raise, and investing money.

 

2. Money And Emotions Go Hand In Hand

 

One of my most popular podcast episodes is with Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt. During her episode, she shared how she was able to pay off $81,000 in student loan debt.

 

What really struck me about her interview is how open she was about the role of money in her mental health. Depression and anxiety are extremely common when we think of our financial situations, and our emotions play a major role in how we behave with money.

 

When I first started my financial journey, I let my emotions take over because I didn’t realize how emotional money actually was. For example, I’d spend my money because I was stressed at my job.

 

My guests have taught me techniques to help me determine whether I’m making financial decisions based on emotion or logic. Whether it’s meditating or gratitude lists, it all makes a difference in helping you stabilize your emotions.

 

 

3. Money Doesn’t Need To Destroy A Relationship

 

They say money issues are a common reason for divorce, but I’ve interviewed plenty of guests whose marriages have withstood major financial problems.

 

One such guest is Lauren Greutman, author of “The Recovering Spender.” She got herself into over $50,000 of consumer debt and hid it from her husband.

 

One day, she finally mustered up the courage to tell him and start fixing her financial life. Rather than asking for a divorce, her husband was on her team and they worked together to pay off the debt. Their marriage is now stronger than ever.

 

As I date, I now know that we need to have financial conversations early on. While money won’t necessarily break a relationship, it is important to get on the same page from the beginning.

 

4. There’s Always A Solution

 

The main lesson I’ve learned is there’s always a solution to every problem if you look for it. The solutions may not appear out of thin air, but they are often in plain sight. For example, I would complain about not earning enough income when the solution was as simple as just asking for more money. The solutions do take some work, but the rewards are worth it.

 

Do you listen to financial podcasts? What lessons have you learned? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.