3 Good Changes in the World of Credit Cards

The world of credit cards is changing all the time

The offers that credit card companies present to potential customers change from year to year. Sometimes offers seem beneficial initially, but turn out to be disappointing or useless.

Over the past several years, credit card companies have grown wiser about the sorts of offers that consumers use and enjoy.

 

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In a bid to collect more customers, credit card companies have changed in 3 ways that benefit the customer this year.

More Credit Options for Those Who Want Them

Credit card companies are offering more credit this year than they did last year. They are targeting 7% more creditworthy individuals by mail.

In addition to seeing an increased amount of credit card offers, creditworthy people are facing a larger amount of options.

With each new card, customers are presented with incentives that are different from one company to the next, and rates growing more attractive the more creditworthy the person is.

So if you are in the market for a new credit card, or if you are simply looking to see if you could get a better deal than the one you are currently getting, this is a great time to see what is out there in the world of credit.

Less Nickel and Diming in the Process

Over the last decade, it was being increasingly common for credit card companies to recommend that customers sign up for heaps of add on products and services that they would pay for monthly or annually.

Products like theft production and services like the company covering monthly payments if the customer were to lose their job, seemed like a great idea, but the terms of these offers resulted in legal actions.

In addition to court cases, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stepped in and altered the way that these services can be marketed.

As a result, customers probably won’t see these products and services when they sign up for cards.

New Rewards for a Good Fit

Credit card companies are offering new types of rewards, because rewards have become a major attractor of new customers.

In addition to airfare to allow you to travel hack, and gift cards, credit card companies are now offering perks such as gas, electronic gadgets, or perks at your favorite stores. So if you’re not interested in airfare, then don’t get or hold on to a card that offers that as it’s major perk.

Look at the offers coming in the mail or available at your favorite financial institutions and find cards that offer rewards that you can benefit from in your everyday life to choose your card.

In a bid to attract more customers, credit card companies are offering more credit, they’re nickel and diming customers less, and they are offering new rewards to better fit the needs and desires of the people who use their cards.

If you are in the market for a new card, or if you’re interested in seeing if you can find a better deal than the one you currently have, this is a great time to see what the world of credit has to offer.

What made you choose the credit cards you have chosen?

3 Simple Ways to Keep Warm on a Budget

I consider us really lucky this year. We’re on the east coast (of Canada), it’s the end of the first week of November and we haven’t yet turned the heat on! There are often days near the end of September that get cool enough in the evening the warrant turning it on but it has been unseasonably warm for the last six weeks. Based on the flurries I saw in the sky this morning I think our luck has officially run out and this weekend we’ll be cranking the heat up.

Heating a house is expensive. I miss our old 750 sqft apartment that had heat included in the rent on cold days, that’s for sure! I grew up in a very frugal house where turning the heat on was a last resort,  I used to joke with my mom the when I could see my breath while sitting in our living room was when she’d turn the furnace on. Though it wasn’t quite that extreme she was pretty strict about when it came on, after all it was her most expensive bill every year.

Now that I’m a homeowner I still implement certain frugal skills to keep our heating bill manageable.

Budget Plan

We have electric heat in our home. Rather than having incredibly low bills in the summer and high bills in the winter, I’m on a monthly budget with the power cooperation where I pay the same amount, every month, year round. Though we pay much more in the summer I much prefer this method than getting slammed with a $1,000 power bill in February. It also allows us to budget the rest of our finances better. If you don’t have this option, like my sister-in-law who gets oil delivered only in the winter, implement and self-imposed budget to save the same amount year round so you have the slush fund in place when winter does come, makes it much easier!

Invest in Energy Efficiency

Having energy-efficient windows in our home has made a great difference in the heating and cooling of our house. They help block the heat in the summer and keep heat within the home in the winter. If this isn’t an option sealing the windows and doors when the cold season comes is a cheap alternative. You can buy window and door sealing kits at almost all home-improvement stores.

Digital Thermostats

We were lucky that this was an upgrade the previous owners had recently done before we moved but if they hadn’t we would have done this for sure. The digital thermostat allows us to set a timer to have the heat come on and turn off at certain times of the day. Obviously it doesn’t make much sense to have the heat on while we’re home, or even sleeping (I prefer a cooler room to sleep with my heavy duvet) so we only turn it on during weekends and home.

Layer!

This is my mother speaking but if you can comfortably walk around my house in January with shorts and t-shirt, it’s too warm! I always have warm pants, sweater and socks on. As well, all of our couches and chairs have blankets for them.

We won’t let you freeze if you come over but you better believe we’re aware of the price we pay to keep our home warm in the winter and value our money!

How do you keep heating costs down every year?

Cheap Ways to Decorate Your Home During the Holidays

For many of us, the whole joy of the holidays is to see all the normal things (your front door, your apartment stoop, and all the local stores) decorated all crazy for different holidays throughout the year. But if you tally it all up… that’s quite a lot of seasonal cash to drop on fun things that look nice, but (if we’re honest) don’t provide a tangible value to your life.

decorate your house for christmas inexpensive

Do you like to decorate your home for the holidays? Whether it’s Christmas lights, spooky ghosts, or a decadent table for Rosh Hashanah, if you go crazy for every holiday the cost will eventually catch up with you. Here are a few cheap ways to decorate your home during the holidays that won’t have you nursing a credit card bill a few months after:

  • Go Au Natural. There’s tons of plastic stuff you could buy for every season, but sometimes that can drain your wallet, make your home look kind of tacky, and make your living room smell like a plastic factory. Instead, take a tip from upscale stores like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Williams Sonoma and decorate with natural seasonal items like cornstalks, hay bales, pumpkins, and trees. During every season, there are natural items you can include around your home which, matched with a colorful seasonal ribbon, can make your home super classy and natural.
  • Shop second hand. Too obvious? I don’t think so. It’s easy to say that shopping second hand should always be on your list, but these discount stores should be even more at the front of your mind during the holiday season. Shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army often curate seasonal sales around the holidays with items specifically geared towards each season. They’ll collect all the linens and household items of seasonal colors, including second-hand decorations and holiday-specific items in one place at a fraction of the cost of the items new.
  • Skip it. If you’re super-hippy and you don’t have kids… consider skipping it all together and making a donation to your favorite charity! (And if you’re trying to save money, skip the donation). Instead of decorating everything, you can draw fun pictures of things that represent the holidays for you and disperse them around the house. If that sounds a little dire to you, consider making a date of it and inviting your friends or loved ones to a painting party where you can make slightly more elaborate (but still homemade) decorations that won’t cost more than the paper, markers, and paint you use to create them. (Check out Halloween drawing decoration ideas here!).

What are your plans for the holidays? Hopefully not to spend tons of cash on something so transitory. But if you do, use these tips to spend less on the decorations and have more for your savings account.

Do you go all out for the holidays? If you HAD to skip decorating for one, which would it be?

4 Simple But Effective Ways to Conquer Your Holiday Spending This Christmas

Every week we get flyers delivered to our house from all the local retailers. I usually either throw them immediately in the recycling bin, or only pick out the grocery flyer before tossing, but this week I decided to sit down and read through them. I quickly remembered why I stopped reading them: I get totally overwhelmed!

Not looking at the flyers is the easiest way for me to keep spending down. If I don’t know something exists then I won’t be tempted to spend money on it. The worst for me though, and likely why I was tempted to read them this time, is when the Christmas sales come out. There were three different “wish books” of sorts contained within the sales, urging people to spend their money at their store. I won’t lie I was tempted myself.

cost of christmas down

Things like this make it easy to allow your Christmas budget to get out of control. There are so many opportunities to spend. Here are a few things I do to control my spending this time of year:

Make Lists!

I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing worse than walking aimlessly through stores trying to think if ideas for someone or something. I always overspend if I do this. I refuse to set foot into a store until I have a detailed list of everything I need. This goes for everything from grocery shopping to gift shopping. The more detailed, the better. If you need ideas stay in the comfort of your home and search on the internet rather than going into the stores and picking up products because before you know it those products will end up in the cart…

Buy Year-Round

This is something I do not do for a few reasons but still think it’s a good idea. A friend of mine has to shop for ten people so buys one gift for ten months. It’s easier for her to budget and allows her to maximize on sale opportunities. She saves the ‘gift’ money from last two months of the year for the increase in grocery costs since she often hosts the family meal and is involved in a few baking exchanges. Though it doesn’t work great for my family I like the idea!

Use Non-Cash

The grocery store my husband and I shop at has a points program that we capitalize on. We save our points and use them during the holidays. We usually get somewhere between $60-$100 ‘’extra’’ dollars that we can put towards our budget.If you have credit card bonuses or points systems like this than the holidays are a good time to cash them in.

Budget

I feel like this goes without saying but make a budget and stick to it! It can be tempting to buy into the “extras” but if it wasn’t on your list, you don’t need it. The holiday season can be very expensive but busting your Christmas budget won’t do anything but add additional stress.

Do you have any tricks to manage the costs involved with the holidays?