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Some could say “never!” but there might be situations in which using a credit card may be the option you want to go with.

Many families use credit with good intentions – and then life happens – surprise expenses or a change in income leave them struggling to get ahead of growing debt. To be fair, there may be times to use credit and times to avoid using credit.

Purchasing big-ticket items.

A big-screen TV or a laptop purchased with a credit card may have additional warranty protection through your credit card company. Features and promotions vary by card, however, so be sure to know the details before you buy. If your credit card offers reward points or airline miles, big-ticket items may be a faster way to earn points than making small purchases over time. Just be sure to have a plan to pay off the balance.

Travel and car rental.

For many families, these two items go hand in hand. Credit cards sometimes offer additional insurance protection for your luggage or for the trip itself. Your credit card company may offer some additional protection for car rentals. You might score some extra airline miles or reward points in this category as well because the numbers can add up quickly.

Online shopping.

Credit card and debit card numbers are being stolen all the time. Online merchants can have a breach and not even be aware that your credit card info is out in the wild. The advantage of using a credit card as opposed to a debit card is time. You’ll have more time to dispute charges that aren’t yours. If your debit card gets into the wrong hands, someone might be quickly spending your mortgage money, food and gas money, or college tuition for your kids. Credit cards may be a better choice to use online because the effects of fraud don’t have an immediate impact on your bank balance.

Legitimate emergencies.

Life happens and sometimes we don’t have enough readily available cash to pay for emergencies. Life’s emergencies can range from broken appliances to broken cars to broken bones and in these cases, you may not have any other viable options for payment.

Using credit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you plan carefully, you may reap several types of benefits from using credit cards and still avoid paying interest. You’ll have to pay off the balance right away to avoid finance charges, though. So, always think twice before you charge once.

Some credit cards offer consumer benefits, like extended warranties, extra insurance, or even rewards. There are some situations in which using a credit card may come in handy.

When Is It Ok To Use a Credit Card?

Online banking is normal these days.

Most major banks have apps or websites that allow you to transfer funds and manage your account without ever going into a branch. But what about the new generation of online-only banks that seem to be popping up? Can you be a reliable bank without brick and mortar locations? Let’s explore the world of online banks and some pros and cons.

How do online banks work?

Online banks and physical banks have a lot in common. They’re both places that store and protect your money. They both loan out your money for a profit. So what’s the big difference?

For one thing, banks with brick and mortar locations have high overhead. They may pay rent on properties, maintain buildings, hire managers to operate locations, and pay tellers to serve customers. Online banks typically have drastically lower upkeep costs. Sure, you need to pay developers to keep the system running smoothly and securely, but it’s generally much lower compared to the costs of maintaining physical locations.

Pros

So what do those differences mean for you, the consumer? Banks with physical locations will pass on their location upkeep expenses to you, the customer. That means they’re more likely to charge you for opening an account, give you as little interest as possible, and crank up rates on loans for houses and cars.

Online banks aren’t weighed down by those physical locations. They have fewer expenses and don’t have to charge you as much to make ends meet.¹ That means you might get significantly higher interest rates on your savings accounts. They also tend to lean less on fees than traditional banks.²

Cons

But there are some drawbacks to using an online bank. You might find withdrawing cash without paying ATM fees more difficult than before.³ Depositing cash might also take some more leg work and research.⁴ Customer service can’t be handled in person so problems must be solved via phone or online chat. Plus, safety deposit boxes are harder to come by with an online bank. In short, many of the old school conveniences just aren’t provided by the new generation of online banks.

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons before pulling the trigger and opening an account with an online bank. Trying to make more with your savings account? You may want to investigate banking online. But if you’re on a strict cash diet to avoid excessive spending, a traditional bank might have some classic services that will come in handy. Talk with a licensed financial professional before you make the decision.


¹ “What Is Online Banking? Definition, Pros and Cons,” Amber Murakami-Fester, Nerdwallet, Mar 25, 2021 https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/banking/pros-cons-online-only-banking

² What Is Online Banking?” Murakami-Fester, Mar 25, 2021

³ What Is Online Banking?” Murakami-Fester, Mar 25, 2021

⁴ What Is Online Banking?” Murakami-Fester, Mar 25, 2021

What's Up With Online Banks?

What you’ve heard is true—used cars really are getting more expensive.

And it’s not just a few dollar price hike. Used cars saw a 66%-110% price increase from December 2019 to December 2021.¹ For comparison, overall prices have increased ‘only’ 12% from 2019 to 2022.²

Why? Like almost everything over the last two years, it all comes back to the Pandemic.

Here’s the story…

New cars need microchips. That’s where all the computerized magic happens that consumers have come to expect when they drive out the dealership.

But chip manufacturers were hit right between the eyes by the pandemic. They faced extensive lockdowns, followed by surging demand once the economy began to recover. Factories were simply unable to produce new cars. Consumers needed alternatives. So they started buying used cars, en masse.

Demand shot up. Supply went down. And as a result, prices for used cars have soared.

Fortunately, there may be relief on the horizon. If chip manufacturers reopen and new cars hit the market, used car prices should start to trend downward. J.D. Powers estimates the market will stabilize in late 2022 or early 2023.³ Morningstar puts the date in 2023.⁴

But whether those predictions become reality remains to be seen. For now, if you’re in the market for a used car, expect to pay more than you would have just a few years ago.


¹ “When Will Used-Car Prices Drop? 3 Things Car Shoppers Should Know,” Jane Ulitskaya, Cars.com, Feb 3, 2022, https://www.cars.com/articles/when-will-used-car-prices-drop-3-things-car-shoppers-should-know-446525/

² “$1 in 2019 is worth $1.12 today,” in2013dollars.com, https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/2019?amount=1#:~:text=Core%20inflation%20averaged%203.02%25%20per,2022%2C%20a%20difference%20of%20%240.09

³ “When Will Used-Car Prices Drop? 3 Things Car Shoppers Should Know,” Ulitskaya, Cars.com

⁴ “Used car prices continue to surge. Here’s why — and when they could come back down,” Mike Stunson, Miami Herald, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article257060717.html#storylink=cpy

Why Used Cars Are So Expensive

Money is symbolic.

Sure, it’s a store of value and a medium of exchange. But above all, it’s a symbol. It’s how people evaluate if they’re succeeding or failing.

What is a symbol? It’s a visible representation of something that’s invisible.

Think about it—can you see success? Not really. It’s an abstract idea.

But what do you see when you imagine a successful person? Cars, houses, clothes, and zeros in a bank account.

Those are the symbols of success. And make no mistake—money is the central symbol of success.

How do you feel when your bank looks full? Awesome! You get a quick rush, and your step’s just a touch lighter.

But what about when you’re in debt or when you can’t make ends meet? Not so great. You feel stressed and anxious, like you’re not good enough.

That’s because money is a visible representation of your success or failure. It’s a way to keep score.

You see that loaded bank account, and you think “Everything looks good! I’ve really got my act together.”

You see an empty bank account, and you think “What have I been doing? I’ve really messed up my finances.”

Here’s the sticking point—the symbolic nature of money is great for motivation. It’s terrible for guiding decisions.

Why? Because it can easily lead you to making moves that give you the appearance of wealth without being wealthy. You start buying things far beyond your budget to symbolize wealth you don’t actually have. It’s the fast-track to living paycheck-to-paycheck.

But as motivation? That’s where its power lies. Think about that bump you get when you see your net worth climb. Use that feeling as fuel to keep pushing when you hit roadblocks and obstacles.

So what does money mean to you? Is it a scorecard? A way to motivate yourself? Or something else entirely?

How you answer that question will determine whether money is a powerful tool or a dangerous weapon in your life.

Money is Symbolic

Electric cars are becoming more and more popular, as people look for ways to save money on fuel costs.

But is it really worth the investment? This article looks at the cost of electric cars and whether they’re a good purchase in the long run.

The main way that an electric car can save you money is with its lower fuel costs, especially when gas prices are high. One study found that an EC is 60% cheaper to fuel compared to cars with combustible engines.¹

That’s not all—because they have fewer parts, they can require up to 31% less maintenance. No more oil changes!

Finally, some states incentivize purchasing electric cars with tax credits. These credits can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, making the switch to electric even more enticing. Incentives vary from state to state, so do your research before making your final decision!

But there are serious drawbacks to consider. Many places have yet to build the infrastructure for electric cars. They may not be feasible if you live beyond the cities and suburbs.

You should also consider the sticker price of an electric car, which is often higher than gas vehicles. The cost of the car can be offset over time with the lower fuel and maintenance costs, but it’s important to do your research to make sure that the numbers add up.

Plus, the consensus seems to be that electric car prices will only drop in the future. Perhaps you should be an electric car at some point, just not now.

It is important to do your research and know the different benefits of an electric car before you make a purchase. An EC may save you money in fuel costs but they are often more expensive than traditional cars, so it can be hard to justify that investment. It’s worth doing your homework to determine if buying an EC will actually help you save money over the long term.


¹ “Here’s whether it’s actually cheaper to switch to an electric vehicle or not—and how the costs break down,” Mike Winters, CNBC, Dec 29 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/29/electric-vehicles-are-becoming-more-affordable-amid-spiking-gas-prices.html

Should You Buy An Electric Car?

The most dangerous money mistakes are the ones you don’t notice.

Are buying cars you can’t afford and living paycheck-to-paycheck dangerous? Of course! But they’re obvious. Hard to miss. They’re like a voice yelling into a megaphone “Hey! Something’s not right.”

But what about money mistakes that aren’t so obvious? Or even worse, money mistakes disguised as money wisdom?

Those may not devastate your bank account in one swoop. But they often go unaddressed. And overtime, they add up.

So here are money mistakes you might not have noticed.

Penny pinching. Sure, it sounds like a great idea in theory. But when you’re constantly scrimping and saving, it’s tough to enjoy life. What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t even enjoy your money?

Plus, penny pinching can stop you from taking calculated risks that could save your money from stagnation.

So instead of penny pinching, try moderation instead. You may find yourself far more inspired to budget and save then if you commit to complete frugality.

Under and over filling your emergency fund. A lot of people make the mistake of not having an emergency fund at all. It leaves them vulnerable to unexpected expenses and financial emergencies.

When you have too much money in your emergency fund, it’s tough to make any real progress on your long-term financial goals. A good chunk of your net worth gets sunk into money that’s not growing.

The solution? Save up 3 to 6 months of income in an easily accessible account, no more. Use that money to cover emergencies. If it runs low, refill it.

Once your emergency fund is full stocked, devote your income to building wealth.

Leaving goals undefined. It’s tough to achieve a goal you don’t have. And it’s even tougher to achieve a goal that’s fuzzy and undefined.

That uncertainty makes it easy to fudge good financial habits. You don’t see how lapses impact your big picture because you don’t have a big picture,

So when it comes to your money, be specific. Write out your goals and make sure they’re measurable. That way, you can track your progress and ensure you’re on the right track.

Be on the lookout for these dangerous money mistakes. They may seem innocuous, but they can add up over time and stop you from reaching your financial goals. Stay vigilant and steer clear of these traps!

Don’t Become a Victim of These Secret Money Mistakes

The Financial Industry loves debt. They love it because it’s how they make money.

And best of all (for them), they use your money to make it happen.

Here’s how it works…

You deposit money at a bank. In return, they pay you interest. It’s just above nothing—the average bank account interest rate is currently 0.06%.¹

But your money doesn’t just sit in the vault. The bank takes your money and loans out in the form of mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards.

And make no mistake, they charge far greater interest than they give. The average interest rate for a mortgage is 3.56%.² That’s a 5833% increase from what they give you for banking with them! And that’s nothing compared to what they charge for credit cards and personal loans.

So it should be no surprise that financial institutions are doing everything they can to convince you to borrow more money than you can afford.

First, they make sure you never learn how money works. Why? Because if you know something like the Rule of 72, you realize that banks are taking advantage of you. They use your money to build their fortunes and give you almost nothing in return.

Second, they manipulate your insecurities. They show you images and advertisements of bigger houses, faster cars, better vacations. And they strongly imply that if you don’t have these, you’re falling behind. You’re a failure. And you may hear it so much that you start to believe it.

Third, they lock you in a cycle of debt. Those hefty car loan and mortgage payments dry up your cash flow, making it harder to make ends meet. And that forces you to take out other loans like credit cards. It’s just a matter of time before you’re spending all your money servicing debt rather than saving for the future.

So if you feel stuck or burdened by your debt, show yourself some grace. Chances are you’ve been groomed into this position by an industry that sees you as a source of income, not a human.

And take heart. Countless people have stuck it to the financial industry and achieved debt freedom. It just takes a willingness to learn and the courage to change your habits.


¹ “What is the average interest rate for savings accounts?” Matthew Goldberg, Bankrate, Feb 3, 2022 https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/average-savings-interest-rates/#:~:text=The%20national%20average%20interest%20rate,higher%20than%20the%20national%20average.

² “Mortgage rates hit 22-month high — here’s how you can get a low rate,” Brett Holzhauer, CNBC Select, Jan 24 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/select/mortgage-rates-hit-high-how-to-lock-a-low-rate/

Why The Financial Industry Loves Debt

Let’s face it—a side gig sounds like a dream come true. What’s not to love about being your own boss?

But if working for yourself is so awesome, why do so few take the plunge?

The reason is simple—uncertainty.

It makes sense. School taught you how to scribble notes and pass tests, not start a business.

And that uncertainty creates anxiety.

Picture yourself as a business owner. What would it look like?

If you’re like many, you saw flashes of expensive cars, meetings, and… nothing. Entrepreneurship is such a foreign experience that you don’t even know how to process it.

And that leads to the ultimate uncertainty—what if you fail?

What will others think if your business goes under? How will you feel about yourself? Will you be able to pay the bills?

In short, entrepreneurship feels like a black box of something that’s best left alone.

Sound familiar? There are two antidotes to the uncertainty of entrepreneurship…

1. Embrace uncertainty.

The next time you feel a twinge of fear, pause. What are you afraid of happening? What could go wrong? Maybe it’s something valid. Or likely, it’s something you can overcome. Train yourself to observe and question your fear. You’ll grow more and more confident taking calculated risks. You may even find yourself ready to start a part-time side hustle!

2. Find support.

Facing uncertainty is far easier when you’re surrounded by support. Friends, family, and mentors can provide an emotional safety net should things go south. They can also offer wisdom and counsel that can mean the difference between success and failure.

Where do you stand on entrepreneurship? Do you want to start a business, but can’t see what it would look like?

If so, let’s chat. Consider me your sounding board for your anxieties about the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I can help you process your fears and flesh out a vision for your business.

The Greatest Obstacle to Entrepreneurship