Credit And Debt Basics
- Basic Money Choices
- Easy Ways To Lose Money
Earned Income Tax Credit
Managing Your Credit
Invest In Your Dream
Choosing Basic Investments
Mutual Funds
Other Funds And Investments
Tax-Advantaged Programs
Your Privacy
Avoiding Investment Scams

Quick & easy ways to lose money

You can keep more of your money by paying attention to the real costs of services. Watch out for these common money losers:

1. Bounced check fees. Monitor your bank account balance to avoid bounced checks! Some banks charge as much as $35 for each bounced check - money that really adds up if it happens often.

2. Payday loans. People from all walks of life use payday or title loans (small, short-term loans to cover expenses before the next paycheck) because they're usually fast and easy to get. Many payday lenders operate through websites. Despite laws in some states that limit these practices, consumers can still get into debt trouble using them. Although fees might seem low, actual interest rates for payday loans can be very high. If the borrower can't pay the loan back on time, it can be continued or "rolled over" - for another fee. Rolling over payday loans over many times can quickly build up a mountain of debt. Consumers who have not repaid payday loans sometimes report being harassed by debt collectors threatening them with jail or a lawsuit. Some payday lenders even try to get the borrower's employer to repay the debt out of the person's salary. Don't let this happen to you.

3. Check cashing and wire transfer services. Banks and credit unions often have low-cost or free checking accounts and wire transfer services. Having a bank account helps you avoid expensive check cashing and wire service fees. Shop around and compare prices - you may save quite a bit.

4. Tax refund anticipation loans. Your tax refund may be the largest chunk of money that comes into your hands all year. Before making plans for your refund, think about using some of it to start an emergency fund or to begin investing toward your personal goal. Be wary of services pitching tax refund loans, designed to give people cash advances, with the expectation that they will pay back the money plus interest when the refund is received. Tax refund loans can be very expensive - waiting a few weeks for your refund is often well worth it.

The high price of convenience

  You usually have to pay more for convenience when choosing financial services. Don't just look at the service fee; ask the company to tell you the annual interest rate (APR) and to explain any other fees. Credit card rates can be as high as 30%. Payday loans can have annual interest rates of over 650%. If the company refuses to provide clear, detailed information about interest rates and fees, don't do business with it.