th3 150x150 A life altering holiday gift.Not everyone is ready for a book about personal finance, even if it’s desperately needed. Some potential recipients believe they’ll figure things out for themselves. Some don’t believe that the economy will ever really work for folks like them. Some know they’re taking the last train to Brokesville but are frankly enjoying the trip too much to consider getting off at the next station.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give the gift of personal finance. It just means you need to be thoughtful about how you do it, including picking a time when the person is in a receptive frame of mind.

Which might not be on Dec. 25. But it also might be, which is why I’m once again offering a list of books to consider gifting.


read more

th 1 A simple way to save $159k.Credit card use is on the rise, according to the recent “State of Credit” report from Experian. But there’s a group of consumers who are bucking that trend: millennials, of whom increasing numbers are eschewing credit in favor of debit.

Problem.

Using debit and cash means you’re essentially opting out of the credit reporting system. Without a healthy credit score, you’ll likely pay more than you should for insurance and for auto or mortgage loans.

How much more? An average of $159,464 in extra interest paid over your lifetime, according to Credit.com’s Lifetime Cost of Debt Calculator.


read more

th6 300x300 Black Friday 2014, done very quickly. Our Black Friday has come and gone, a reprise of last year’s experience at the loneliest drugstore in the world: Two of the stores we visited were practically tomblike.

The third, Play It Again Sports, held the possibility of new skis for DF at 50 percent off. However, it also held googols of optimistic winter sports enthusiasts (we have maybe a quarter-inch of snow on the ground) and determined-looking hockey parents. We backed off quickly due to our shared Claus-trophobia.

But at the other two? We walked in, bought what we wanted and walked back out. No pushing and shoving, no pepper spray and no buying things we didn’t need.

(Well, I did buy one thing I don’t need. More on that in a minute.)

That’s the kind of Black Friday I prefer, especially since a study from NerdWallet bears out what a lot of us already suspected: that those BF “deals” often aren’t as good as they’re made out to be.


read more

th How to spend less on Christmas 2014.Planning to do any Amazon shopping this holiday season? Have I got tips for you.

10 Amazon Shopping Tricks to Save You Tons of Money,” over on the Grandparents.com page, actually features 10 categories, some of which have more than one tip involved. For example, did you know that Prime members get a half-hour head start on Lightning Deals?

That a tool called PriceJump will compare Amazon tags to those of 5,000 other online merchants? That Amazon-specific sites will do the best-price legwork for you? Or that if you haven’t spent quite enough to get free shipping a site like SlickFiller.net will find the 39-cent bolt or 79-cent cup hook that will push you over the $35 threshold?


read more

Want to get? Try giving

th5 Want to get? Try givingA writer named Revanche, who blogs at A Gai Shan Life, recently wrote about a friend who’s “against” volunteering and giving to charity.

His rationale: “He feels that he worked really hard to get here and doesn’t feel that he got any help so he doesn’t feel he should give back to the community at large.”

He did work hard, putting himself through school and supporting family members at the same time. So did/does Revanche, who’s still supporting “two adult dependents who aren’t my children.”

What her friend doesn’t seem to get is this: He may not have asked for any help, but it would have been there had he needed it.

Suppose he’d become very ill and unable to support those family members (or himself) during that time. No one would have starved. They could have sought temporary assistance from government agencies but also from nonprofits and private charities funded in part by ordinary citizens.

You know, your neighbors. Fellow human beings. People who think that a few of their extra dollars would have more of an impact outside their bank accounts.


read more