th1 A look back (and forward) at credit.What was the best card of 2014? According to two reputable sources, it was the Citi Double Cash Back.

Both NerdWallet and Cardratings.com praise the card’s unique conceit: Consumers get 1 percent cash-back on the items they buy and an additional 1 percent cash-back when they pay off the card.

“It’s the first (and, so far, only) card on the market that provides a lucrative incentive to make monthly payments in full,” notes Lindsay Konsko of NerdWallet, who calls the card “a game-changing product.”

Citi also is putting EMV chips in all of its consumer and student credit cards, making them safer than the typical magstripes. Other card issuers are putting EMV in some of their products, and apparently EMV chips for debit cards are also on the way.


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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.


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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.


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th1 150x150 Whose Christmas costs more? When it comes to paying off holiday debts, who finishes last? If you guessed “low-income shoppers,” you guessed wrong.

According to a study from the NerdWallet personal finance site, the middle class takes longer than anyone else to finish paying for its Christmas celebrations.

People who earn from $50k to $75k take an average of 2.6 months to finish paying for holiday expenses. Compare that to folks who earn $50k or less and take an average of two months.

“Those who spend more in an effort to ‘keep up’ end up paying the price later,” says Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at NerdWallet.

“Middle-class households could end up in a risky position this holiday season if they have ample credit to make purchases but incomes too thin to comfortably pay the bills later.”


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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?


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