New Year Resolutions That Will Make You Richer

by SimpleFinance on January 23, 2014

I recently heard a quote that stated, “A dollar saved is two dollars earned.” I stopped and thought about this for a moment. Of course I had heard the phrase, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” but what was this dollar saved is two dollars earned business? When I dug into the details of the quote, I soon realized that they were making a point about taxes. When you work as an employee and earn a salary or hourly wage, your take-home pay is roughly 50% of your gross pay. This is mostly because of federal and state taxes, as well as social security.

So, the premise of saving two dollars for every actual dollar saved began to make sense (or dollars if you will…get it? Cents, dollars?). If I avoid spending $100, how much would I have had to earn at work in order to take home $100? That’s right! $200! Suddenly saving money became a whole lot more important to me.

Immediately I began scouring my expenses to see what I could cut out in this New Year. Here are a few things I came up with:

  1. Phone Bill – I was paying $85 a month for my cell phone plan. Last year this seemed reasonable, but suddenly (now that my ears were opened to savings) I was hearing of others that paid only $55 a month for a similar service. The only catch was that I would have to buy a brand new phone when I switched providers to that $55 service. Instead of hastily making the change, I decided to contact my provider and let them know I was considering dropping them. Sure enough, my bill immediately dropped to $60 a month! Try it. It might work for you too.
  2. Car Insurance – I drive a fairly inexpensive vehicle and felt that I was paying too much for my coverage. Sure enough, when I got a few quotes from other insurance agencies I discovered that I could save $300 a month. It was definitely worth the 20 minutes that I spent on the computer.
  3. Optimize bank accounts – This would be an excellent time to check up on bank accounts to see if I am getting a good deal on those. I have had a lot of bank introduce some sneaky fees in the hope that it will go unnoticed. I do not have any high interest debt, if I did, I would definitely be looking out for 0% balance transfer credit card deals. Over the year this will definitely save a lot of money on interest.
  4. Fuel – It’s tough to save on gas when the price keeps going up, but I found that the absolute best way to save was to stop using my car so much! I now carpool a few times a week, which saves me about $20 a month. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s $240 a year!
  5. Food – I think that we are all guilty of going out to eat too much. $10 here and $20 there doesn’t sound like a lot until I started checking out my bank account and adding it up. It turns out that it isn’t too tough to spend $100 a month on restaurants. By canceling out a few trips to my local sports bar, I’m saving myself about $50 a month (and eating healthier at home)!
  6. Vacations – Are you drooling about a vacation to the sandy shores of the Bahamas? While this might sound like an amazing vacation, is it really worth the $3,000+ that you’ll spend for one week of enjoyment? I’m all about having fun and making memories, but I figured that I can make some awesome memories at a campground on a crystal clear lake that’s only a couple of hours away. At most, I will be spending $200 for this vacation and I won’t have to go through the hassles of airplane travel! Heck, I could repeat this vacation every weekend this summer and still be under my bill for the one-week Bahama trip.

In what ways are you making yourself richer in this New Year?

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How to Dispute Credit Card Charges

by SimpleFinance on January 20, 2014

It is surely a very frustrating experience when you are in a situation to dispute credit card charges. It may appear to be an enormous task to set things right, but in actual fact it is not that bad. You need to educate yourself about your credit card rights and get familiarized with the laws governing them such that your right as a consumer can be protected. As such no one knows when there would arise a circumstance necessitating your awareness of the rights in order to exercise them to dispute the charges on your credit card.

Disputes for credit card charges are of different types. Let us study them to have a better understanding:

Credit Card Billing Errors

What to Do if you Find a Billing Error

Credit card billing errors may occur in cases when a payment that you recently made is not reflected in the credit card balance or if returned merchandise is not credited back to the credit card account, etc. If so, you will have the right to dispute billing errors in your credit card account as per the Fair Credit Billing Act. It may not be as simple as making a call to your creditor to explain the billing error to get this problem solved. Yet it is possible to dispute over the phone, but as per the law, it is not necessary that the creditor has to respond and stop collecting charges. Hence he may go on with collection on the charges. You may also have action taken against you if you refuse to make payments.

The right procedure is to write down and send your dispute within 60 days of receiving the billing statement which contains the error. In your dispute letter regarding billing error, you should include certain details such as your name, account number, address, amount erred, and other related details. In case you possess any document to prove your case, retain the original for record-keeping and send a copy of it along with your dispute letter. To ensure that you have an evidence to prove that your letter was sent and received, send it through certified mail with return receipt. The address to which it is sent should be that of the one provided by the creditor for purpose of billing dispute.

Response from the Creditor

Upon receiving your dispute, your credit card issuer has 30 days to provide you with the dispute letter acknowledgement. Following that, he will have to either make corrections to the bill and credit finance charges, late fees or any kind of fees that you were charged, or he will have to offer you the information on why the bill is correct and should mention the amount that you owe and the reason behind it. All this has to be done within 2 billing cycles which should not exceed 90 days.

If the creditor concludes that his bill has no errors, you have the option to make the required payment or you can re-dispute if you are not convinced. At this point, you possess the right to make a request to be provided with documentation in support of the claim made by the creditor, and the creditor has the right to make collections on the payment and if necessary can even use a debt collector.

Disputed Charges Reporting to Credit Bureau

If you have disputed in writing, until you receive a response from the creditor indicating that the bill was correct, you are not required to make payments on the disputed amount. And until then, even if you do not make payments, no negative information can be input in your credit report by your creditor with regard to the disputed charge. After investigation and knowing that the bill did not have any error, if the creditor reports to a third-party about the nonpayment, he should also mention in the report that the amount has been disputed by you. In addition, notification has to be provided to you by your creditor about his reporting of the delinquency and he will have to provide details of anyone to whomever he has reported the information.

If your efforts of resolution of the billing error with your credit card issuer fail, you will be able to make a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who can assist you and your card issuer to attain a constructive resolution.

Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

These are any kind of charges to your credit card account for which you had not given permission. Very frequently, these charges are due to theft of your credit card. At times, these can be due to computer glitches or clerical errors.

Early Uncovering of Unauthorized Credit Card Charges is Crucial

It is the duty of a card holder to identify and report such charges at the earliest. Care has to be taken to ensure that a joint account holder or someone else whom you authorized had not performed the charge. Any unauthorized charge, even if it be at the least level should be reported since the thieves can initially charge a minimal level as a test transaction. It is important to be cautious to avoid becoming a victim of credit card scams, and it is your responsibility to review all of your credit card statements regularly and thoroughly. If a large amount of time passes away from the date the charge was made, you may be held liable for the charges. Within 60 days of mailing the statement containing the error, unauthorized charges and any other billing errors of your credit card have to be reported to your credit card issuer. If reported later than that time, there is no legal binding on the part of the credit card issuer to favorably handle your dispute.

How to Report an Unauthorized Charge?

Find the number on the back of your credit card and give a call immediately to your credit card issuer as soon as you note an unauthorized charge on your credit card. In case you do not possess your credit card due to having it stolen or lost, obtain the phone number from the website of your card issuer or from any of your recent billing statements. Protect yourself from phishing scams in which thieves obtain access to your credit card information. If anyone emails or calls stating that they are your credit card issuer, do not respond, and only contact your card issuer via a reliable phone number.

Call them and report the unauthorized charges, and they usually perform cancellation of your credit card number and would reissue you a different credit card containing a new account number. It is better to send a dispute letter detailing the unauthorized charges as a means of protecting your rights. You may even be asked to first attempt resolution of your charges with the merchant. Your credit card statement will provide information about the merchant.

After disputing the unauthorized charge, it will be removed from your credit card account by the issuer. You will not be held responsible to make payment toward the portion of balance which was disputed.

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How to Find Great Deals on Vacation and Travel

January 20, 2014

Most people think that travel is unaffordable and that they lack sufficient knowledge to find bargains. Due to that, they miss out on exciting opportunities of travel and the benefits it brings. Instead they confine themselves to their homes with the anticipation of having saved money. The fact is that when you know how to […]

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How to Negotiate a Medical Bill

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How to Save Money on your Wedding

January 20, 2014

Wedding day is a big day in anyone’s life and a lot of planning goes into making it a dream occasion. Yet a perfect wedding does not necessarily mean to be the most expensive one as is a common occurrence these days. The average cost of an American wedding is anywhere between $25,000 and $30,000. […]

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How Much to Tip and to Whom

January 20, 2014

In many countries including the United States, it has remained a custom to tip for services. What initially began as a simple practice to make certain that a good service is received later turned out to be a practice that is by default expected in most of the businesses, or a form of bribery. Since […]

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Drugstore Game: How Does It Work, How To Save Money Using It

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Tips for getting the best merchant account for your small business

January 15, 2014

When you are a small business owner, you have a lot to deal with.   You have to find innovative ways to get your business noticed, you have to manage with very little help, register your business and fulfill all the legal requirements, you have to find the best business banking, insurance, credit cards and you […]

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How to Set Yourself Up To Be a Financial Success When Starting the First Job­­­­­­

November 25, 2013

Whenever anyone starts out at their first job, it is a process of learning few significant lessons in order to succeed in the real world. It can be a tough transformation from college to career, and would require immense efforts to be successful.  When you begin your first job, you will have to make a […]

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Why Do You Need Renters Insurance and How to Save Money on Getting One

November 18, 2013

While most of us consider health insurance, car insurance and homeowner’s insurance to be vital, rental insurance is one policy which is often omitted or else given least importance until it is too late. There is less awareness on the importance of taking up renters insurance, and it is often mistaken to be expensive, and […]

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