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Investing in Precious Metals

Investing in the stock market can be scary. Investing in commodities such as precious metals can be even trickier.

Ever since the financial meltdown in 2008, people have sought safe havens for their money. Not only do investors seek to make money on their money. In today’s dire economic climate, many folks are simply looking for their money to retain its value, so they can have a reasonable retirement.

One increasing way to do so is by putting a portion of your retirement account or 401k into precious metals. Gold IRA’s are becoming more popular and solid information on how to do it is more widely available than ever.

To protect against future financial collapse, dollar collapse, inflation and more, it is recommended by savvy investors to put 10%-30% of your money into a gold IRA. This gives a good “hedge” against the stock market failing. The current price of gold is also advantageous to investors.

Best Practices For Credit Card Use

Owning a credit card comes with more financial responsibility than most people realize. Many people get daily offers in the mail for different financial accounts. For a lot of people it is fairly easy and simple to get some type of card. It is also simple and easy to acquire a balance on the card. However, it can be much more complicated to learn how to manage your card correctly. Not being careful with such a financial responsibility can affect your credit score, and therefore, your future ability to get additional financing, including auto and home loans, and your employment abilities and opportunities. Managing a charge card is not to be taken lightly. Adhere to these best practices with your account in order to maintain and even improve your financial profile.

Stick to Major Companies

There are many different types of charge accounts available; from department store brands to American Express and Diner’s club. However, most stores accept a major carrier such as Visa or MasterCard. This means there is no need to have several different credit accounts with different companies. Sticking to a Visa or a MasterCard will cover your financial needs well.

4 different credit card companies

A Transaction Tool

A charge account should be considered a transaction tool; a way of paying for something just like cash, a debit card, or a check. It should never be considered to be a source of money. One way or another, and sooner or later, you will be paying back the money you used to accumulate a balance on the account.

Use a Reward Program

Many banks are offering incentive programs for credit cards. Choosing a card with a reward or loyalty company is very beneficial. These programs are good for various items, airline tickets, and even cash back. Instead of paying with cash, use your charge account to pay for purchases and services and you can earn points for items or cash back. This is like paying yourself for using your money.

credit card rewards

Pay Your Balance

Each month it is very important to pay off the balance on your account. Carrying an unpaid balance from month to month causes you to incur more charges through interest. Even if you cannot pay off the entire balance each month, paying as much as you can will decrease the amount you will pay over time in interest.

Avoid Fees

This advice is two-fold. If possible, stay away from companies who charge membership fees or other routine fees just for having an account with them. There is a lot of competition for your business among banks and if you have decent credit you should be able to find a card without these types of fees. Secondly, pay your balance on time and avoid going over your account’s limit. Paying late or going over the limit will quickly add extra fees, approximately $30-$40 each time, to your account.

Link Accounts When Possible

If you can, use the same bank for a checking or savings account. With online banking, this can make payments quick and easy. This will help avoid late payments and decrease additional fees.

Protect Yourself

credit card protection

Each month check your statement and make sure all of the transactions are valid. If there is anything suspicious in your statement, report it immediately to your servicer. If you have access to your account online, check it on a weekly basis. Most companies have a zero liability policy for any fraud that has occurred on your account. Often when you have been a victim of credit card fraud it can be easier than having your checking account fall victim to fraud, where you will have to deal with chexsystems. You will also want to be sure that you do not use public computers and only use secure internet connections in order to perform any online banking transactions.

Carry Two Similar Cards

Many financial experts recommend having two charge accounts of similar value, interest rate, and rewards. This can be beneficial in numerous ways, such as doing a balance transfer if you accidentally miss a payment on one and the interest rate increases. Or if for some reason you do not carry cash and one card is declined for a purchase, having two cards can make life more convenient, and in some circumstances help you to avoid embarrassment.

From choosing a cards, to how you use it, and everywhere in between, there are small steps you can take to be financially responsible with them. Following these best practice tips will increase your credit score and make your charge card work for you. With some self discipline and dedication, your charge card can be a useful financial tool.

A Check-Up For Your Checking Account

From very early on in life we are taught about managing our money and about maintaining a bank account. For many of us, we learned about bank accounts at school or through our parents. Some of us may have even been unlucky enough to learn by experience. However, it may have been a while since you have reviewed how to responsibly maintain a checking account and some of the rules may have changed since you did. It may be time for your checking account to have a check-up. In order for your credit and bank accounts to work for you, you must understand the best practices surrounding your financial life, starting with a checking account. Go through the following steps and tips to give your checking account and financial knowledge a thorough check-up.

Out with the Old, In with the New

It is important to realize that many of the rules about how checking accounts work no longer apply. New government financial regulations have also changed the way money is handled through banks. With advances in technology, have come different and faster banking systems. This has changed the way checking accounts are handled at your bank and should change the way you manage your checking account as well.

Overdraft Protection: Your Call

Many banks will pressure customers into signing up for overdraft protection, either in the form of a credit card, a savings account, or by allowing overdrafts to occur. The problem occurs when you opt into the bank’s overdraft protection. Your bank clears a check or a debit card transaction that causes your account to go into the negative. They cover the item, but at a high price to you. Some banks are charging as high as $30-$40 for each overdraft occurrence. This leads to proverbial $30 cups of coffee. Surprisingly, a poll conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling recently found that more than 25 percent of Americans opt into overdraft protection. However, an overdraft fee may be worth it to avoid being caught up in chexsystems. In order to avoid overdrafts, keep a large cushion in your checking account. Check your bank balance every morning, especially if you plan on making a purchase or writing a check that day.

Keep Your Balance Up to Date

Do not just rely on your banks records or record-keeping abilities. It is important to keep your own banking account ledger, whether it be something as simple as pen and paper, or more technological such as Quicken or other banking software that is available. This will help you stay alert for fraud in your account and any mistakes that your bank could possibly make.

Compare Banks

There are many different banks offering many different types of accounts. This means there is a great market for shopping around and comparing accounts. Some checking accounts charge monthly fees and some do not. Some charge various other fees, and some do not. Compare the various fees, as well as overdraft fees. There are frequently many incentives to opening accounts at various financial institutions, such as a free iPod shuffle or other electronics, but do not let this cloud your judgment and choice. Choose the account that will cost you the least amount of money in the long run, not the one with the greatest amount of perks or free items.

Data and Identity Protection

Always be sure that you are using a secure internet connection when accessing your checking account online. Avoid using public computers to do any online banking. If you prefer to mail paper checks for making payments, instead of using a debit card, make sure you mail them in a secure mailbox. Bank fraud and identity theft have been on the rise over the last decade and will continue to be. Protecting your information and identity is very important when using your checking account.

Leave Home Without It

If you are a compulsive spender, you may want to leave home without your check book and without your debit card, or at least at certain times. Sometimes the easiest way not to spend is not to have access to the tools to spend with. You may even want to try using a cash envelope system to help with a budget.

Knowing how to manage a checking account can be more complicated than it seems. Mismanaging one can have long-term consequences, whereas having a good handle on your checking account can lead to financial peace and success. You can also end up in Chex Systems. If you have more questions or need more tips on how to appropriately manage your bank accounts, speak to your bank or financial advisor.