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10 Credit Card Hacks to Help You Get Through The Holidays

10 Credit Card Hacks to Help You Get Through The Holidays

Whether preparing for Turkeys, Santa or a New Year’s Parade, the most expensive time of year is upon us. From gifts to travel, budgets will be stressed, stretched and busted. Here are 10 credit card hacks on how credit cards can really help you spend smarter, save more and travel cheaper during the next few months.

1. Price Protection

Ever feel like you got the short end of the stick because an item went on sale days after you paid full price? Never worry again. Your credit card can protect you! Some cards offer free price protection, where if you make a purchase with your card and find the same product advertised at a lower price within 60 days after purchase, the difference will be refunded, up to $500, subject to a calendar year maximum of $1,000 per account.

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2. Purchase Assurance

Nothing’s worse than buying those new sunglasses, only to have them sink to the ocean floor days after you bought them. Purchase assurance covers most items purchased with your credit card for the first 90 days from the date of purchase, and it comes as a free benefit with many credit cards. It can be a great way to protect your investment from theft, damage and in some cases even loss!

3. Extended Warranty

Never, ever fall for a pushy salesman upselling you an extended manufacturers warranty again. Aside from the fact that they tend to be dramatically overpriced, your credit card likely already does it for you, automatically and completely free. Most credit cards offer an extended warranty that doubles the written warranties for up to one additional year on most new purchases made with your credit card.

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4. Satisfaction Guarantee

Ever buy a product, use it, and then have buyer’s remorse. Sometimes, it’s too late. However, with some credit cards, if you become dissatisfied with a product you purchase using an eligible MasterCard within 60 days of purchase, and the store won’t accept a return, you could be eligible for a FULL refund for the cost of the product up to $250 ‒ that’s awesome.

5. Zero Liability

If you’re about to make a purchase where you don’t see the product, it has a wait time or relies on delivery, such as an online order, furniture or travel, use a credit card. If you pay cash or use a gift card, you run the risk that if the product never arrives, or your tour company goes under, you’re out of luck. However, if you use your credit card, your bank is on the hook for a dispute and fraudulent charges like undelivered goods, delivery of incorrect merchandise, etc…

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6. Introductory Rates

If you need to carry a credit card balance for the next few months, plan in advance. Instead of paying 20% plus interest rates, get yourself a credit card with a 0% balance transfer or 0% introductory rate on new purchases. This will allow you to avoid interest charges, often times for up to a year or more, while you pay down your balance.

7. Retail Credit Card Promos

Retailers like the Gap, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s love when you sign-up for their store credit card, often offering an additional discount on your purchase. These discounts of 15% or more can really add up. Just make sure to use the opportunity for savings not credit, and pay back the balance immediately ‒ retail cards charge interest rates north of 28%!

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8. Welcome Bonuses

Instead of paying for a flight for your holiday travels, why not just apply for a new credit card? There are many opportunities from American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, or United to get great credit card welcome bonuses. If you want to get two tickets for the same airline (for you and a special someone), match one of the U.S. airline credit cards above with another credit card that allows you to transfer miles to that airline.

For example, some of the best Aeroplan credit card offers give you enough points for a free return flight to anywhere in continental North America, and allow you to book on United. Apply for a United and an Aeroplan credit card, and you can get two free round-trip tickets on the same flight!

9. Companion Vouchers

Some credit cards, such as the Alaska Airlines Visa card, offer an annual companion voucher, each and every year. For a mere $121, you can buy a voucher for a travelling companion to any destination in North America Alaska Airlines flies, including Hawaii!

10. Cash Back

The average person spent over $800 on gifts during the holiday season alone last year! If you’re going to spend the money, you might as well get rewarded for it. Cash and debit cards get you little if any rewards at all. A cash back credit card can get you 1% to 5% in cash back depending on where you shop. You’ll likely spend more on big ticket items during the holidays than at any other time of year. Get rewarded for it.

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Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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