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Money Does Matter


How To Get The Best Credit Card?

To all of my friends who are using credit card,

Different people have different needs. Depending on who you are and your circumstances, the best credit card deal for you will vary.

Credit cards allow you to spend a certain amount of money at an interest rate that will be charged every month. The spending amount that is available to you can be seen differently. Some see it as an additional amount to spend, some see it as a ‘risk-free' borrowing opportunity. Credit card spending is not a ‘free' spending opportunity, as you will need to pay this money back. This money does not work like a loan, as the amount available to you is not all cash. However, it can be treated as a ‘loan' and this concept will be explained later.

Other very important concepts that have to be understood before getting a credit card, is 0% offers. There are two kinds of 0% offers: on purchases and on balance transfers. The first one allows you to spend the money provided to you by the credit card without paying any interest for a certain amount of time. So, for example, if the credit card gives you a limit of Dhs:500 for three months, then you can spend Dhs:500 against this credit card and not be charged interest for the first three months since the credit card was opened. However, once this period of time expires, you will be charged the credit card interest rate. This interest differs depending on the credit card, so if you intend to pay this interest, then you ought to look for the lowest interest rate available. Paying interest can be avoided, unless you have already overspent too much and are using credit cards to pay off other credit card interest. In this case you should call some of the debt consolidation companies and try to get some your credit card debt written off. Another reason why you might be in the position of paying interest is because you forgot when your ‘0% free time' ended. If this is the case, you will be informed about this with your first bank statement. Transfer your balance to a different bank or pay the debt off and avoid any further interest payments.

If you are making money from the credit cards, there is no need for you to get card protection insurance, as you should have enough money to pay off the credit card debt at any time. At the end of the 0% purchasing period, you can also transfer the balance to a different card provider. This is known as 0% balance transfer, but you will be charged a fee for these transactions, usually around 2%. However, these fees vary, so you need to check the conditions. There are a few things to watch out for: the credit limit offered by your bank also includes your purchases. For example, if the new credit card offers you a Dhs:2,000 limit, with 0% balance transfer for 12 months and 0% on purchases for three months, and you have transferred Dhs:1,500 from your old credit card, you only have Dhs:500 to spend on this credit card. The second thing to watch out for is your credit score. "Most lenders' scoring systems aren't sophisticated enough to detect that you're playing this free-cash game. Yet multiple applications, especially at the same time, coupled with high outstanding debts, even at 0%, will diminish your ability to get competitive credit, so the most important thing is to spread card applications out."

However, if you are in the position where you are already fighting the interest payments, as has been mentioned before, the best thing to do is to call debt consolidation experts. In any circumstances it is best to pay off the most expensive credit and store cards first (i.e the ones that charge the highest interest rates). Furthermore, avoid opening any new credit cards to pay off the debt. Instead transfer your high-interest debt to lower interest rate credit cards. For example, if your credit card interest rate is 16%, while your store card rate is 25% per month, transfer the store card balance over to the credit card.

Whatever your circumstances, when you do open a new credit card always look for the longest 0% balance transfer and 0% purchase period, lowest transfer fee and interest rate charged afterwards. The limit offered to you will not only depend on your salary and credit rating, but also on the company that you go with.

Finally, do not forget – don't play the credit card game if you cannot control it or have a high debt already.

Hope this information will help you to cut down your unwanted expenses on your Credit Card.


12 steps to become a Millionaire

You don't have to own the company or be a CEO. Here's how to build a rich nest egg one paycheck at a time.

A number of the people profiled in "Millionaires tell how they did it"  made their millions as entrepreneurs. But working for the Man doesn't mean you have to be a wage slave or resort to buying lottery tickets to strike it rich. The trick is to maximize your income on the job (and know when to move on), make the most of your employee benefits and tax breaks and use that extra money to start investing.

1. Keep your eyes peeled for better ways to do your job. Streamline a procedure, shave costs, create a new profit center, become an expert on a specific topic, volunteer for a company committee -- anything that will make you stand out as a prime candidate for a promotion or a pay boost.


2. Don't be afraid to negotiate. In a study of master's degree graduates from her university, Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock found that those who negotiated their first salary boosted their pay by 7.4% compared with those who didn't bargain.


3. Get your ducks in a row and your numbers on paper.  If possible, quantify how much your efforts add to the company's bottom line. If that's not feasible, spotlight your value with comparable salaries for workers in your position from a Web site, such as, or from a professional association.


4. Plot your strategy when it's time to move on.  Create a professional-looking page on Myspace that tells prospective employers why you're an exceptional candidate, recommends John Challenger of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. And don't neglect more conventional networking: Join a professional association or show up at school reunions toting business cards.



Milk your benefits


5. Contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) and other tax-deferred retirement plans. You'll not only build a bigger nest egg, but you'll also cut your tax bill. In the 25% federal tax bracket, every $1,000 you contribute to a 401(k) trims your taxes by $250. And you'll save on state income taxes, too.


6. Flex your tax-saving muscle. Contribute pretax dollars to a flexible spending account to pay for dependent care or out-of-pocket medical expenses. If you set aside $1,500 per year and you're in the 25% bracket, avoiding federal income and Social Security taxes means Uncle Sam will subsidize almost $500 of your expenses.


7. Review your tax withholding. If you're expecting a refund this spring, you're having too much tax withheld from your paycheck -- and making an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. That's no way to become a millionaire. Put more money in your pocket by using Kiplinger's withholding calculator and then filling out a new Form W-4.


8. Stash savings in a Roth IRA if you're eligible. Withdrawals in retirement, including decades of compounded earnings, will be tax-free. This year, income-eligibility limits for a Roth increase to $114,000 for individuals and $166,000 for married couples.


Invest like crazy


9. Don't delay. The quicker you get a jump on putting money aside, the easier it will be to stuff a seven-figure cushion. If you start at age 25, for example, investing $286 per month will get you $1 million by age 65, assuming you earn 8% annually.


10. Invest automatically, either through your employer's retirement plan or by setting up a regular deposit to a mutual fund or broker. You'll never miss the money, and you'll avoid two big mistakes: buying too much when stock prices are high and not buying at all when prices fall.


11. Watch for fund fees. The more you pay, the tougher it is to earn an above-average return. The typical hedge fund, for example, takes 20% of any gains, a huge hurdle to overcome. A better bet: no-load mutual funds with expense ratios of 1% or less. If you trade individual stocks, watch those commissions.


12. Keep it simple. Be wary of get-rich-quick schemes or sales pitches for complex investments, such as oil-and-gas partnerships, that trade on the millionaire cachet to lure investors into buying high-fee products they don't understand. Most millionaire households accumulate their wealth over the long term by sticking to a regular investing plan in a balanced portfolio.


The best financial advice ever

Prince Charming isn't coming. Live like a college student. Never co-sign a loan. Money experts like David Bach and readers like you share the best nuggets of wisdom they have ever received.

If you're doing well financially, chances are you had help.  Someone, somewhere along the way passed along a nugget of financial wisdom that you took to heart. Maybe you absorbed the messages over time from some role model, such as a parent or grandparent. Or perhaps you just heard the right thing at the right time from a friend, an adviser or even a total stranger.


If you're not doing well financially, maybe you're finally ready to hear some advice that could make all the difference.  With that in mind, I asked experts and readers alike to share the best financial advice they ever received. The results were varied and enlightening.


Advice on saving


"No matter how much or how little you make, always save a little bit."  This is a variation of "Pay yourself first" that Your Money "kesslergk" heard from a grandfather. It's a reminder that whatever money comes into your life, you can (and should) be setting aside some of it.  If you don't think you can, read “Too broke to save? Never!”


"Save hard for the first 10 years of your married life."  This is the advice Your Money "Talk2Me2"received from her mother (although to apply it to more people, I might amend it to, "Save hard for the first 10 years of your adult life" or "Keep living like a broke college student for as long as you can").


"Saving hard means having to make a lot of the right choices," Talk2Me2 wrote. "We researched every purchase, learned how to do lots of things ourselves (car repair, hair cutting, sewing, cooking, home maintenance, etc.) and we could not only save money but we also used these skills to make money. When you are young, doing with less isn't a struggle because you aren't used to the luxuries yet. We also had more time to bargain shop.


It's a stash of cash, but how much do you need? Here are some guidelines and why this should take priority over other savings goals.


"Mom's advice certainly paid off. We still save money even when we don't try to because we are in the habit of trying to do things ourselves, doing without if we can't find it at the right price, researching, waiting to buy, etc. We made a game out of getting what we want for less money."


Advice on spending


"Know the difference between needs and wants."  Several posters also mentioned different versions of this advice, which is key to controlling your spending. When you can't distinguish between real needs and mere wants, you're constantly talking yourself into spending too much.


"ARCHIE the DRAGON" recalls his mother asking, "What do you need that for?" whenever he bought anything as a kid. Annoying? May be. But "now I hear her voice in my head whenever I am spending money. It keeps me from buying a lot of crap that I don't need."


"Jenny’s Mom" illustrated it this way: "You need food. You want prime rib. That example is perfect for the want vs. need debate in my head!"


"Clara Bear" said she heard similar advice from her grandmother.


"Whenever I would complain about not having the newest coolest clothes or whatever when I was younger, my grandmother would always say, 'We have everything we need and most of what we want, too.' That would make me realize that even though we weren't the richest family in town, we really did have plenty. I still think about that today when I'm lusting over some ridiculously expensive item at the mall. It makes me remember that I have a place to live, plenty to eat and a great family as well as much of the stuff I want. I (usually) put the item back on the shelf and walk away satisfied with what I already have."


"Think of the true cost."  Anything you want to buy involves a number of costs. The price tag is just the start.  "I see something that would look great on my table," "Mamasita99" wrote. "I have to give up the cash for it that won't be able to work for me somewhere else. Then I have to think of all the time and energy I'll waste cleaning this item, keeping it out of my kids' hands, and packing it up and hauling it somewhere else when we move in a year. Most of the time, the true cost of the item is too high for me."


"Buy quality."  Sally Herigstad knows what it's like living on a tight budget. Before she became a certified public accountant and author, she was a stay-at-home mom who at one point fended off calls from collection agencies (an experience she recounts in her book, “Help! I can’t pay my bills: Surviving a financial Crisis.” As Herigstad and her husband rebuilt their finances, though, she remembered her mother's advice to buy quality when it counts.


"My mom can stretch a dollar farther than anyone I know, but that doesn't mean she doesn't buy nice things. Mom taught us to buy high-quality things at stores that stand behind what they sell. That way, if anything wore out or quit working before its time, she knew she could take it back -- and she often did. You actually save money by buying things of higher quality that last than by getting cheap stuff you have to throw away in no time."


"If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall."  "skywind" wrote that his grandfather often quoted this saying. It's another way of saying, "Live within your means," or, more elaborately, "Be careful of adding new expenses to the ones you've already got."


"So I'm always asking myself, am I putting out more than I'm taking in?" skywind wrote. "If I am, I know I need to turn that around, because it is unsustainable."


Advice on debt



"Don't pay interest on anything that loses value." A bunch of posters cited variations on this theme of avoiding credit card debt and borrowing only to buy property or other assets that will appreciate.


"dancinmama" was told by her parents "Never pay interest on anything but real estate." In 27 years, she and her husband have taken the advice to heart.  "We have never had a car loan or paid a penny of interest on credit cards. We have saved our money and invested our money. I have been a (stay-at-home mom) since 1986 so most of this time we did it on one income, under 6 figures, on the central coast of California (cost of living was not cheap). Our net worth is now in excess of $2 million."


"Honey Bucket" and her fiancÚ are just starting out, but they're already living a variation on this advice, which is "save today for what you want tomorrow."


"We've both been saving for retirement, wedding and housing. The difference it will make is that we will be able to pay for things instead of borrowing or having (credit card) debt. Our lives together will be financially secure because of this!!!!"


"Don't co-sign a loan." Co-signing puts your good credit in the hands of someone else -- who could trash it with a single late payment. "bookladyfdl" said her parents refused to co-sign a car loan for her after she graduated college, and today she's grateful.  "They lovingly explained that their credit report would show this loan, which could affect any loans they might need. They also explained to me that their rule of thumb was not to co-sign for any amounts they could not personally loan. If you can't afford to give it, you can't afford to pay the loan back, should you have to do so.


"This credo saved me early in my marriage. Without my knowledge, my husband agreed that we would co-sign on a loan his brother was taking out. The papers came and I discovered that we were co-signing on a large loan at 32% interest, and that the reason he was being forced to take it out was that his brother had defaulted on a credit card and this was the last step before court. . . . Out of love for his brother, my husband wanted to help out. However, I relied upon my parents' advice, put my foot down and refused to let either of us sign on the loan. Less than five years down the road, BIL and his new wife have a terrible financial situation, raiding 401(k) funds for car repairs, etc.


"If we'd have co-signed, I know we'd have been forced to pay off that loan to preserve our own credit. Not only would we not have been able to afford it, but it would have put an irreparable rift in family relations. Mom and Dad taught me that sometimes you have to take care of yourself and secure your future, even if it means friends or family members may have a more difficult time."


Advice on building wealth


"If you need more money, then go out and make more money."  There are limits to how far you can scrimp and save. Often the fastest way out of debt and into wealth is generating more income.  Poster "Avalon_2" learned this from parents whose educations stopped by the sixth grade.


"Neither (was) afraid of hard work and we never lacked for anything as I was growing up," Avalon_2 wrote. "They taught me that as long as there is health, anything else can be worked for. To them the word 'retirement' didn't exist. You work until you can't work anymore.


How to get a raise

Timing is everything. Here are some great tips on how to score more money at work.  "I've worked 2 and 3 jobs at a time and often while going to school. To this day, I have a hard time not doing more than one thing at a time."


"You pay in advance for capacity."  Dr. Lois Frankel, a career coach and author of the New York Times best seller "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office," heard this bit of advice from a small-business adviser at the University of Southern California.


"As the owner of what was at the time a small business . . . this meant I had to invest more than just hard work in the business to make it grow. I was trying to keep my overhead down and was doing everything myself and driving myself crazy. So when I could least afford it, I invested in hiring an assistant. (The adviser) was right -- this freed me up to do more marketing and sales calls which in turn led to landing more contracts. I've never forgotten this piece of advice and each time I've followed it it's resulted in another growth period for my company, Corporate Coaching International."

(Frankel is also the author of "Nice Girls Don't Get Rich" and the soon-to-be-released "See Jane Leed.")


"Own your own business -- including the building it's in."   David Bach learned this lesson as a money manager for Morgan Stanley before becoming the author of the New York Times best sellers "Start Late, Finish Rich" and "The Automatic Millionaire".  "My wealthiest clients were clients who owned their own business. The most important financial decision they made (that really made them rich) was they bought the building their business was in. In almost every case the building was ultimately worth more than the business at the end of their career.


"Today I own the building (commercial condo) that my company FinishRich Media is in. My building has appreciated more in two years than I earned on my first four bestselling books in royalties."


"Don't gamble more than you can afford to lose."  My colleague, MSN investment writer Jim Jubak, explains:  "When I was a kid, our big extended family would gather on Christmas Eve for a big dinner of fish and my grandmother's pierogi, followed by drinking, followed by singing off-key with my Uncle Eddie, followed by more drinking. The evening always ended with the oldest kid, yours truly, settled around a card table battling three adults in a game of 25-cents a hand pinochle. I almost always came out a big winner -- $4 or so -- mainly because by that time in the evening I was the only one who could accurately count the pips on the cards. One year, having puzzled it over in my head, I asked my Aunt Millie the logical question: Why do you play cards with me every year when you know you're going to lose? Swirling her vodka in her glass, she said to me: Because I never gamble more than I can afford to lose. And then she pinched my cheek."  Hated the pinch; appreciated the advice.


"Wall Street has developed lots of way more sophisticated methods for controlling risk. But I think my Aunt's has one very real virtue -- it keeps you focused on the real aim of the game, which isn't making money for its own sake, but to have enough of the stuff to get you where you want to go. It's helped me get over losses in bear markets and in individual stocks. And reminded me that I can occasionally take a flier, as long as the game in itself is fun and I'm not gambling more than I can afford to lose."


"Prince Charming isn't coming."  Barbara Stanny came from a wealthy family (her father was the "R" of the H&R Block tax preparation chain) and never learned much about handling money. After her first husband lost a good portion of her fortune and left her with a tax bill of more than $1 million, Stanny asked her dad to lend her the money to pay the IRS. He said no.


"That was the best thing he could've done," Stanny said. Though he never said these exact words, the message was loud and clear: 'Prince Charming isn't coming. To truly achieve financial security, your only protection is you.' That moment was the turning point for me. I not only got smart enough to manage my own money (in less time than I ever imagined possible), but I've written three books empowering women to do the same."


"Prince Charmings leave, Prince Charmings die, Prince Charmings aren't always such great money managers," said Stanny, whose books include "Prince Charming isn't Coming," to be re-released May 2007, "Secrets of Six-Figure Women" and "Overcoming Under-earning."


"Your job is to participate in financial decisions from a place of knowledge, not fear, ignorance or habit."


This advice isn't just for women, by the way. Anyone who's expecting a lottery ticket, stock picker or other outside force to bail them out is guilty of the Prince Charming syndrome. It's time to quit dreaming and start taking charge.


10 easy ways to stash away thousands

Money guru Jean Chatzky knows her latest book, “Pay It Down: From Debt to Wealth on $ a Day,” centers on a gimmick.  The thing is, gimmicks work -- at least when it comes to our often-irrational relationship with money.  Chatzky promises financial freedom for anyone who can scrounge up an extra tenner each day -- what you might spend on lunch, a car wash, a movie ticket. Someone who might feel hopeless at the prospect of paying off $8,000 in credit card debt can embrace this one-day-at-a-time approach, which makes debt repayment seem not only possible, but almost easy.


"It's a hook, kind of like 'no carbs' is a hook," says Chatzky, financial editor for NBC's Today Show. "This is a problem we need to get our hands around. . . . (We need) some sort of mental game we can play with ourselves that will help us solve the problem."  If we were entirely logical, of course, we wouldn't need hooks or gimmicks or any of the little self-delusions that in reality can be so helpful in giving ourselves a financial cushion.  Since we're not Mr. Spock, though, savings tricks can prove mighty helpful. Here are some of the things MSN Money readers say they do to get themselves to put aside a little extra.


Pad your accounts:  If you use personal finance software, you can just enter a check to yourself for $300 -- or $500, or $1,000, or whatever you want your pad to be. The check needn't actually exist or ever be cashed, but the software will treat it as an outstanding obligation and deduct it from your balance.  You can do something similar even if you still balance your checkbook by hand.


"What I have done is to add $300 to my checking account, but not include it into the balance," wrote Gregory Hannon, a utilities administrator for the city of Longview, Wash. "Basically, the money is hidden. . . . This is my way of making sure that should it happen that I write a check without the funds (according to the checking account balance), then I know I am covered."


Cull your bills: Here's a twist on the classic savings tip of dumping your change in a jar: set aside certain denominations, such as fives or tens, whenever they make their way into your wallet.


Kirstiepie99 wrote on the Your Money Message board that she and her husband decided to put any of the new, colorful $20 bills they received into a jar beside their bed.  "A new $20 bill can slip into your hands at any time, so it's like Russian roulette every time you go to the ATM," she wrote. "We did it for about seven or eight months, and it funded a trip to Latvia for a month (except for the airfare). It makes saving fun!"


Institute a family tax: Dawnna76's family has a Garfield piggy bank into which each family member deposits $1 a day. The bank can be raided for the occasional movie or latte, but mostly the money funds their Christmas shopping.  "We have around $1,000 each year in there and we only pay cash for Christmas presents," Dawnna76 wrote. "The nice thing is we usually never spend (all) the money on presents and what's left, we take a trip with."


Save your reimbursements: Employers can take weeks or months to pay you back for the expenses you incurred traveling or entertaining clients. By then, you may have already paid the bill. Instead of cashing the check, consider saving it instead.  Kirstiepie99 says she's saved $400 so far by depositing expense reimbursement checks from her job into a separate savings account.


Realize your rebates:  Several posters recommended saving the money you get from rebates, shopping sales or using coupons and club cards at grocery stores.  Grocery stores tend to make this easy; they often print on the receipt exactly how much you saved. You can transfer that exact amount to a savings account or, if you still write checks, you can make one out for the amount of the savings and deposit that -- or simply round up.


"If the items ring up to the tune of $33.45 for example, I write a check for $35," wrote summer breeze 98387. "When I get home, the change goes into the kitty (dollars and change both)."


Round it up or down: Another popular ploy, for those who balance their checkbooks by hand, is adding or subtracting a few bucks from each transaction.  Mad-Woman-M says she never records the full amount of her deposit to her checking account and adds a dollar or five to any checks she writes.


"If I put in $105.38, I just write in $100," she wrote, "and I always subtract to the nearest dollar or sometimes, up to five dollars. I end up (with) a surplus almost every payday, which is handy."


Fee yourself:  Wry Wit uses a slightly different method that also could work for folks who use personal finance software.  "I started imposing fees on myself," Wry Wit wrote. "In my checkbook register, there is a little column for fees. I use a check mark for $10 and a dash for $1. So for every $100 deposited I'll short $10, and every outgoing transaction I add a dollar. When the page is full I add them up and keep a running total at the bottom of the page. This makes it easy to reconcile the balance at any time, and when it gets up to a certain point, I transfer it into savings."


Saving raises:  Some posters save all or part of every raise they get. Sweet nepenthe has lived on the same amount of take-home pay for the past eight years, dedicating every raise to increased retirement contributions and, when those are maxed out, to savings.  Improper Fraction saves half of each raise, noting that it doesn't feel like deprivation.


"Inflation is a gradual erosion of my dollar's buying power that I endure and make spending adjustments for throughout the year," the poster wrote. "But my pay raises don't creep up; rather they are sudden events. . . . So I'll save half of this sudden jump in income and add the rest to my spending funds.  "This has worked quite well for me throughout my working years; I am now in the position where the amount of money I save exceeds the amount of money I spend."


Divide and conquer your paycheck: Other posters save an amount equal to an hour's pay each day, or each week if they're just getting started.  "I have an automated transaction to pull $26.18 out of my account every week," wrote MusketeersPlus2, a union worker whose raises are known in advance. "I've even already set it up to change to $27.10" when his next pay hike kicks in.


Pay yourself last: The usual (and excellent) money tip is to pay yourself first by making sure a certain amount of your paycheck is deposited into savings or investment accounts. But Carolina Girl also pays herself last.  "I keep a pretty close check on monthly expenses," she posted. "If we have extra money due to less expenses (received a raise or bonus, gas bill goes down in the summer, less entertainment due to busy schedules, etc.), the extra is transferred to a savings account. I don't change my spending just because there's extra money."

(Liz Pulliam Weston's column appears every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. She also answers reader questions in the Your Money Message board)


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