Planning for Christmas Yet?

Are you planning for Christmas yet?

I know, that’s a scary thought, but are you planning for this year’s Christmas gift buying yet?  Especially if you don’t have the cash to buy all those gifts at once, you should either be saving like crazy now OR you should be working on your credit score so that when the holidays roll around again, you’ll have the credit that you need to do this year’s Christmas shopping.

Now, of course there are a couple of different ways that you could be saving for this year’s gift giving extravaganza.  The first and probably, the easiest way to save is to simply have a certain amount taken out of your pay check each week and put into either a savings account or onto a prepaid debit card that you don’t use until it’s time for Christmas shopping.  (I know, emergencies do arise, but if you don’t use the card, come October you’ll have a tidy little sum to shop with.

As far as prepaid cards go, there are a lot of options out there, but I like the Account Now Prepaid Gold Visa.  It’s easy to sign up for, easy to put money on, and the online interface is pretty neat.  And, once you start putting a certain amount on your prepaid card each week, it just gets easier and easier to keep going!

Apply now for your AccountNow® Gold Visa® Prepaid Card

 

Fingerhut Credit ApplicationThe other way that you can start planning this year’s Christmas season is to start working on your available credit now so that when the time comes, you have the credit you need to buy the gifts that you want.  One of the best ways to get a fresh start on your credit and get the credit that you need for Christmas shopping is to apply for a Fingerhut Credit account.

Unlike a lot of online shopping sites, Fingerhut is known for extending credit to those with less than stellar credit scores, and unlike other catalog shopping sites, Fingerhut has hundreds of thousands of name brand merchandise, priced competitively, and they tell you up front what the monthly payment will be, so there’s no guesswork nor any surprises to wreck your budget.

And, if you open your Fingerhut Credit Account now, you’ll be ready for Christmas shopping when it rolls around later!

Get the credit you deserve and save $50 on your first order of $200 or more with a new Fingerhut Credit Account. Use promo code NC361. Limited Time Only. Offer Ends Soon.

A Fresh Idea for Teaching Your Kids to Handle Money

You know, teaching your kids to handle money has never been an easy task… Do you teach them to use cash?  Checking?  Savings?   Or do you try something different?

Here’s a fresh idea for teaching your kids about money – get them a prepaid card!

When they start getting a real allowance, or they’re ready to start that first real part time job, or if they’ve already got a little money saved from babysitting, mowing yards, or shoveling driveways, then it’s time for you, the parent, to step in and teach them how to budget, spend wisely, and save.

You would be absolutely appalled if you knew how many young people graduate from high school or even college and have absolutely no idea how to handle money.  They don’t have checking accounts, they don’t have savings accounts, and they are completely comfortable just grabbing Mom or Dad’s debit/credit card whenever they need anything. And that makes it all that much harder for them to not only learn to handle their money, but to stop depending on yours for everything!  And let’s face it, no one wants to have to support their kids forever…the goal is to raise them to be self sufficient, stable adults.

While you could take them to the bank and help them to open a conventional checking or savings account, it’s probably not going to be the best way to teach your children how to handle money.

In the first place, unless you’re willing to hand them their own debit card to carry around, they likely won’t have access to the money in the account except during normal banking business hours, you’d probably have to try and get them there, and that’s not always convenient for you!

Secondly, because you will have to sign on their accounts, if they overdraw their account, the bank can withdraw that money from YOUR bank account, even if it’s a separate account (it’s true, read the fine print).

So, without inconveniencing yourself or risking your own bank balance, what is the best way to teach your kids about money?

Get them each a prepaid / debit card!  That’s right – sign up for a prepaid / debit card in your name, and then set your child up as an additional cardholder on the account.  (Since most prepaid options only allow one additional cardholder per account, you will need to set up a separate card/account for each child.)

In doing it this way, each child will have an account that can be set up and accessed via an online interface that looks remarkably like a bank account, and a prepaid card that can be reloaded as needed, without a significant risk to your own finances.  He or she can load the card with that babysitting money, that lawn mowing money, or you can just put their allowance on the card, and the money is available when they need it.

No carrying cash.  No trips to the bank.  No “losing” his/her lunch money, book fee money, or allowance.  And best of all, no overspending!  After all – with prepaid cards, you can’t usually spend more than you have available on the card, and they’re great for shopping online (or downloading music, or buying tokens for online games, or whatever else kids do online these days).

So go ahead, start your young adult on his/her way financially!

Protect Yourself from Credit Card Skimmers

Worried about your credit or debit card number being skimmed?

It seems like every other day, I read about another instance where a credit card skimmer has been found in yet another location…that distant gas pump, the out of the way ATM machine, the list goes on and on and on.  Sooner or later, it seems, we will all fall victim to a scam… be it a card skimmer, an unscrupulous online merchant, or even a data breach at your local grocery store.  Is there ever a safe way to pump gas?  To shop online? Even to eat out at a restaurant and still know that, when the waiter takes your credit card back to that shadowy place where they tally up the checks, you won’t log on to your bank account tomorrow morning and find that you’ve been cleaned out?

Actually, there are a number of ways to protect yourself and your money.  Obviously, you don’t want to use your credit or debit card any more than you absolutely have to – in fact, if you can avoid using your bank card anywhere except at your bank, you’re better off.  But, if you do that, what do you use instead?  How do you pay for your gas?  Your meal?  Your groceries?  Relax.  You don’t have to resort to using cash…there is a better way.

The simplest and probably the safest way there is to protect your finances is to use a prepaid credit card.  That’s right, a prepaid card.  Not only do you still have the flexibility of having a credit/debit card in your pocket or purse, but you also have the ability to limit the precise amount of funds available to spend on your card.  So, instead of exposing your entire bank account, you only expose one card, with a minimal amount of funds…thereby, severely limiting the amount of money any scammer can get in the event that your prepaid card information is skimmed.

And, in the event that the card information is skimmed?

Well, that’s where you’re really protected – most prepaid cards work just like credit or debit cards.  The scammer may temporarily get money, but the minute you call in, your liability is limited to a predetermined amount (usually $50.00 or so).  Believe me, it’s far easier to deal with this kind of financial situation than to have your bank account drained, only to report it, and then wait up to ten days for the bank to return your cash to your bank account.

(Prepaid cards are great for shopping online, too – once again, by using a prepaid card, you’re severely limiting the ability of anyone to access your funds.)

Is there any one prepaid card that is better than another?

To be honest, most prepaid cards offer you pretty much the same options…you apply for the card, it comes in the mail, and you can then transfer funds to the card.  Yes, there are some that offer certain benefits that may or may not interest you – the best way to find out?