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Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?

Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?

Worried about how you’d pay for a long stay in a nursing home? These concerns aren’t rare. The 2016 Insurance Barometer Study found that 58% of respondents worried they wouldn’t have enough money to afford the costs of long-term care.

Fortunately, there is an insurance product that can help ease these concerns: long-term care insurance. It pays for services to help people who need assistance with daily activities, or who require supervision because of a disease such as Alzheimer’s. People often use this insurance to cover stays in nursing homes.

The U.S. population is aging. The U.S. Census Bureau said that there were 46.2 million people 65 and older in 2014, or 14.5% of the country’s population. These people are the prime target for long-term care insurance. But you may need it sooner if you have reason to believe you’ll need such assistance earlier in life.

Is It Worth It?

Should you invest in long-term care insurance? That depends on a host of factors. Do diseases such as Alzheimer’s run in your family? Did your parents and their parents die young, or did they live to an old age? Did they require long stays in nursing homes?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict whether you will need long-term care in your life. You might be healthy today. You might eat well and exercise regularly. This doesn’t mean that your health can’t suddenly change.

Then there are other financial alternatives to consider. By the time you need long-term care, you might be eligible for the government’s Medicaid program, which will pay most of the cost of any stays in critical-care facilities or nursing homes. This program is only open to consumers with few assets. Many senior citizens on fixed-incomes, though, will qualify.

Also, Medicare will often pay for the first 20 days that you spend in a nursing home. From the 21st to the 100th day, Medicare requires that you make a co-payment of $161 a day.

If you do want to invest in long-term care, know that the insurance can be costly. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance says that an insurance policy providing $164,000 in immediate coverage will cost a male age 55 in good health an average of $1,060 a year. A single female in good health would pay an average of $1,390 a year for the same coverage, according to the association.

A couple, both age 60 with standard health for that age, would pay an average of $2,710 a year — the combined cost for both members of the couple — for a long-term care insurance policy with $164,000 in immediate coverage.

Better policies will cost significantly more. The association says that a policy providing $164,000 in immediate coverage at age 60 and $365,000 at age 85 would cost a 55-year-old man in good health an average of $2,075 a year. It would cost a 55-year-old female also in good health an average of $2,411 a year.

Long-Term Care Costs Continue to Rise

According to the 2016 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the cost of long-term care is only getting more expensive. According to the survey, the national median cost of a month’s stay in a semiprivate room in a nursing home is $6,844. That figure rises to $7,698 for a month’s stay in a private room. The median cost for a stay in an assisted-living facility was $3,628 a month.

Other costs associated with long-term care are staggering, too. The Genworth survey found that the median cost for a month’s worth of homemaker services was $3,813 and the median cost of a home health aide was $3,861 a month. The median cost of adult day health care services was $1,473 a month.

The odds are high that you, too, will need to some form of long-term care as you age. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control, more than 8.35 million people receive support from the five main types of long-term care services: home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, residential care communities, and adult day service providers.

You can’t predict today whether you will need such care or whether you’ll ever need to use a long-term care insurance policy. But for some, the annual investment does provide peace of mind that if you are hit with a huge bill for a long stay in a nursing home, you won’t have to bankrupt yourself to pay for it.

Have you considered long-term care insurance?

10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers

10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers

When the time comes to put your home on the market, you will go from being a homeowner to a home seller. Make no mistake, the two are very different, and if you don’t want to scare away the buyers, you will need to make a few sacrifices. However, if you avoid the following dumb mistakes, and keep your eyes on the prize, your home will be sold before long. (See also: 10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don’t Expect)

1. Family Photos and Kids’ Drawings Everywhere

It may seem odd to think this is a way to scare people off, but look at it this way: When anyone comes to look around the home you’re selling, they are trying to picture themselves, and their family, living there. It’s very difficult to do that when the home is clearly one that belongs to another family, with personal evidence of that in every room. If you have framed photos covering every wall, drawings over the fridge and up the staircase, and other shrines to your beloved family and friends, you need to take most of them down. Don’t worry; it’s not forever. In fact, if you do it, it will take you less time to sell your house, and put them up in your new home.

2. Unusual Smells and Stains

No home can stay new-looking forever. Homebuyers expect the house to be lived in, but what they don’t want are odd smells and ugly stains. You may not notice them as you have lived with them for years, but you need to look at your home through fresh eyes. Do a walk-through, and examine every wall, ceiling, and floor in every room. Stains can easily be covered with paint, or shampooed out of carpets. If it’s very stubborn, you may have to replace the carpet or rug. Smells, well, the cause needs to be tracked down. If it’s mold in the corner of the basement, get it treated. If it’s something rotten in the garage, dump it. Your home should look clean and smell fresh. Don’t try and mask smells with air fresheners, as they will only make it worse (the sweet smell of vanilla and mold is not a nice combination).

3. Your House Is Stuck in the Past

It’s one thing to keep your home in great condition. It’s quite another to keep it in the exact same condition that it was in when you first acquired it. If you bought the home 20 years ago, it should not look that way, inside or out. Ideally, you will have performed upgrades over the years to modernize the look and feel of the place. New paint, new carpet or flooring, new appliances, updated cabinets, perhaps even a few additions or a finished basement, can all help with the appeal. Very few people want to move into a home that looks and feels dated. It is a sign that they will have a lot of work to do, and money to spend, to bring the home roaring into the present.

4. It’s Dirty and Messy

One of the simplest ways to make a used car sell for more money is to detail it, inside and out. It can literally add thousands to the value. The same is true of your home. If the kitchen is dirty, and the sink is full of dishes, you are sending the wrong message. You are also putting a barrier in front of that potential buyer, and it’s your job to remove them. You don’t want them to have to imagine how it would look when it’s clean and tidy. Show them. Every room should be clean, organized, and free of clutter.

5. You Have… Wallpaper!

What’s wrong with wallpaper? Well, the chances are, it took you a long time to find the wallpaper you really liked. You scoured the pattern books, you mulled it over for days, and when you finally took the plunge, it was no easy task to put up. In fact, most people opt for a professional to do it. So, what are the odds that your perfect wallpaper is also the perfect match for someone who wants to buy your house? Exactly. When they see wallpaper, they see a chore. They see hours of steaming, scouring, scraping, and sweating. Removing wallpaper is about as pleasant as scrubbing the bathroom floor, only it takes 10 times as long. So, get rid of it. Scrape it off now, and put neutral paint in its place. It will vastly improve your chances of getting a buyer.

6. You Follow the Buyer Around

The easiest way to make the buyer feel really awkward, uncomfortable, and pressured, is to be the tour guide for your home. You know the feeling yourself, especially if you’ve tried to look at a car on the lot and the salesperson is breathing down your neck. This is a huge purchase, and buyers want time and space to look at everything without a chaperon. So, if you can, make sure you’re not at home when the buyers come. If you have to be there, confine yourself to just one room, and leave that room when the buyers enter. Go out into the garden or yard, or even the garage.

7. Anything Broken

A door that won’t close properly. An appliance that doesn’t work well. A piece of tile that has come away from the wall. A cracked window. The list is endless, but whatever it is that’s broken in your home, fix it before you put it on the market. Big things, like the roof or siding, that’s a no-brainer. But it’s the little things that you may have simply gotten used to that can be really off-putting to potential buyers. If they have to jiggle the handle in just the right way to get into the garage, that’s not good. If they have to step over the broken piece of concrete in the backyard, they’re going to remember that in a negative way. Do a thorough check of the home, and get everything fixed. You do not want to send a signal that you did not do a good job of maintaining your house.

8. Setting the Asking Price Way Too High

It may be a seller’s market, but don’t take that beyond the limits. If you start at the maximum price you could hope to get, you’re excluding a vast number of buyers from ever taking a tour. They may have a maximum amount they want to spend, and your high starting price means they cannot afford to get into a bidding war. Remember, the Internet has given buyers a wealth of information about homes for sale, or recently sold, in your neighborhood. They can do their own comps, and quickly come to the conclusion that you are asking way too much. Now of course, you also don’t want to ask too little for the home, because it’s possible only one buyer will bite, and you may be stuck with that asking price. So do your homework. See what homes of the same size, age, and condition have sold for in your area, and price accordingly.

9. Poor Landscaping

There is something called curb appeal, and it’s literally judging a book by its cover. Your home may be something out of Architectural Digest on the inside, but if it looks like the Addams Family did the yard work, you are not going to inspire people to come and look around. This is the first impression, and it has to count. This also applies to the backyard, too. If it’s a bunch of weeds, rocks, rusted cars, and an eyesore called an "above ground pool," you have your work cut out. People want to see a well loved landscape, front and back, that has green grass, healthy trees, flowering plants, and clean rocks. If it’s anything less than that, you may never get the buyer through the front door.

10. Bizarre or Eccentric Features

You may have thought that decorating an entire wall of the den with hubcaps was cool, but potential homebuyers probably won’t like it. Anything that is exclusive to the point of being weird or strange is not going to help you sell the home. Maybe the kids wanted a room that was like a forest, complete with lots of fake trees and a dark green carpet. Or perhaps the gray Batcave was something that you just had to have. All well and good when it’s your own place, but you cannot expect buyers to share your passions. If you have something that is truly original, it may be time to take it out and go neutral. And in the case of this guy, who built a roller coaster through his house to try and sell it, well…that’s not recommended!

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever seen at an open house?

Ask the Readers: What Are Your Current Savings Goals?

Ask the Readers: What Are Your Current Savings Goals?

Socking money away when you don’t have a plan for it can get pretty boring. That’s why savings goals are so important. They keep you motivated and encourage you to find ways to do better, and they give you something to look forward to. They give meaning to the act of saving.

What are your current savings goals? How long will it take to achieve them? What changes have you made to your budget and lifestyle as you work towards your goals?

Tell us about your current savings goals and we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We’re doing three giveaways — here’s how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For Extra Entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

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If you’re inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on Flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, August 1st at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after August 1st on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
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7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Theft While Traveling

7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Theft While Traveling

Vacation is a time for rest and relaxation. But your good-time getaway can quickly turn into a living nightmare if you’re the victim of theft while you’re away from home. Lock down your loot and guard your identity when you travel abroad with these helpful tips on how to protect yourself.

1. Keep Your Money Hidden

Listen, we all know you’re a baller with the big bills on vacay, but let’s keep that our little secret. The less money you flash around in public, the fewer chances a would-be thief has to target you.

"I always kept my money hidden, and never ever pulled money out," says frequent traveler and blogger Stephen Roe, who lived in Tijuana, Mexico for five years without becoming a victim of theft. "Other Americans would pull out a wallet to pay. I would always choose to select the money in my pocket and only pull out the amount I needed. That way, potential criminals wouldn’t know how much I had."

Roe adds, "In addition, it’s best to pay in the local currency whenever possible. Whipping out American dollars, even if it is accepted, can mark you as a potential target."

Travel author Susan Schenck suggests a similar strategy with your debit card.

"When going to an ATM, have the card in a money belt," she relays. "Make sure there are no loiterers around the area, though often they are even across the street. Go into the bank to count the money. There is a security guard there, often with a gun. Then place it all in your money belt. This is critical. I have so many friends who stuck the money in a pocket only to find it was gone when they got home. Pros can pickpocket you without your feeling anything. Keep the money belt well hidden under your pants."

2. Use Credit Cards Wisely

First, never use a debit card abroad. If it gets stolen, your funds can get depleted and it will take time for the bank to release the funds, if they decide you weren’t responsible. Trying to settle these types of matters while you’re on vacation abroad is definitely not ideal.

Travel expert Ferdinand Goetzen suggests avoiding using your card in questionable places. "This is especially important when traveling in less developed nations," he says. "Payment security infrastructure can often be lacking so it’s best to avoid using your card unless it is a trusted venue or bank."

But credit cards can be helpful when used in safe environments, and can be a better alternative to carrying cash around. It’s better to lose a credit card than cash. Credit card companies typically don’t hold you accountable for fraudulent charges, as long as you report it quickly. Keep track of your cards carefully so you know if you’ve lost one, and set up alerts to notify you of purchases so you can see right away if someone has stolen your card information.

3. Use Caution When Taking Taxis

Taxis and nefarious taxi drivers can cause unnecessary trouble if you don’t keep your wits about you. Schenck advises to write down the cab number before you get in for reference if you accidentally leave something behind. When exiting a cab, if you have luggage in the trunk, do not get out of the cab until the driver does; they’ve been known to high-tail out of there with your valuable belongings in tow. And never ask a taxi to wait while you go to the ATM if you leave stuff in the cab. "One friend lost her laptop that way," Schenck says.

4. Use a Dummy Wallet for Fake-Outs

Want to trick the trickster? Have a fake wallet with outdated credit cards and maybe $20 in it that you can hand to anyone who holds you up. They want a quick getaway and aren’t going to sit there and check the dates on the cards, says Schenck.

5. Keep $20 Where the Sun Don’t Shine

Well, maybe not in the sense that you’re thinking of, but it’s not a bad idea to keep a $20 bill in your socks, bra, or other safe, close-to-your-body area in a hidden garment in the event that you’re robbed. Twenty dollars goes a long way in many countries, and you’ll at least be able to get home or to the nearest police station.

6. Bring a Separate Small Backpack for Valuable Objects

"One of the most common thefts occurs when people leave valuables in their main luggage and leave it in the hotel lobby or in the baggage compartment on buses or trains," Goetzen warns. "I always bring a small backpack with all of my most important belongings because I don’t like to let them out of my sight."

Also, stop assuming that your belongings will be safe with the friendly, nice-looking people next to you at transportation hubs while you go to the bathroom. Even friendly, nice-looking people steal things, and you’ll be quite S.O.L. (and super P.O.ed) if they gang the bag with your tickets, passports, and wallet while you’re taking a whiz.

7. Use Common Sense

Don’t travel to areas that aren’t policed, stay out of dark alleys, and don’t go anywhere with anybody you don’t know. Don’t drink so much when you’re in unfamiliar territory either. It makes you do stupid things and make poor decisions, and you become a sitting duck for criminals. Your mom totally would’ve told you so.

Do you have tips on how to protect yourself when traveling abroad? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Best Money Tips: How to Make Your Home Look Cleaner Than It Is

Best Money Tips: How to Make Your Home Look Cleaner Than It Is

Welcome to Wise Bread’s Best Money Tips Roundup! Today we found articles on hacks that make your home look cleaner than it actually is, quick ways to save on groceries, and cheap and fun ways to cool off this summer.

Top 5 Articles

11 Brilliant Hacks To Make Your Home Look Cleaner Than It Is — If you don’t have time for anything else, make sure the Three T’s — televisions, tabletops, and toilets — are dust- and grime-free. [A Debt Free Mess Free Life]

5 Quick Ways to Save Money On Groceries This Week — Pay with cash when you go to the grocery store. You can designate an amount to spend on groceries each month, put the cash in an envelope, and take it with you to the store. This forces you to keep a strict grocery budget and helps curb spending. [Everybody Loves Your Money]

5 Cheap (and Fun) Ways to Cool Off This Summer — Make your own frozen treats by freezing your favorite drink in a cup or popsicle mold. [Parenting Squad]

Five sites for finding the perfect baby sitter — Care.com and SitterCity are the market leaders. They work the same way and offer similar features, so the deciding factor may be the popularity of the sites in your area. [The Monitor]

The Laws of Wealth: Secrets to Investing Success — Investing can seem confusing and risky when you don’t know where to start. Join Experian’s #CreditChat tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET to learn how to invest successfully. [Experian]

Other Essential Reading

10 Things Interviewers Really Want to Know When They Ask These Questions — When an interviewer gives you an incredibly hard problem, they really just want to see how you handle stress and whether you can work out the steps to find a solution. [PopSugar Smart Living]

How to Begin Homesteading Without a Farm — Start small! The homesteading lifestyle is all about self-reliance, so start growing your own veggie garden, cooking from scratch, and making your own soap. [Saving Dollars & Sense]

9 Purse Organizing Ideas + Tips to Lighten your Load! — Only carry the keys you use on a regular basis. Leave the rest at home! [The Frugal Girls]

How to Take Back Your Time in Just 5 Simple Steps — Think about what your ideal life would look like five years from now. Then, set specific goals that will help you make this vision a reality. [Living Well Spending Less]

Movie Night: How To Have More Fun AND Save Money! — You can spend a small fortune on drinks and snacks if you buy them at a theater. Instead, stop by a restaurant or bar for happy hour before the show. [Clever Dude]

8 Clever Ways People Are Making Money From Pokémon GO

8 Clever Ways People Are Making Money From Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO is more than the latest gaming craze — it’s an economic boon. Not only did the free-to-play augmented reality game briefly doubled Nintendo’s stock value by shattering the record for the most first-week downloads in mobile app history, it’s also inspiring a new economy of Pokémon-related goods and services pioneered by the enterprising everyman.

Even kids are cashing in on Pokemania. Read on for our roundup of all the clever ways people are capitalizing on the success of the game that brings blushing yellow avatars, stardust, and healing potions to America’s neighborhoods.

1. Selling Handmade Reflective Badges

Athen Salcedo is a concerned American — and, no, it’s not the upcoming presidential election that’s got him troubled. After hearing news of so many Pokémon GO players getting injured while playing the game in the dark, the seven-year-old entrepreneur had an idea: What if there was a reflector badge that Pokémon GO players could pin to their clothing to make themselves more visible while dashing through neighborhoods at night?

Introducing the Poke Glo: A reflective safety badge that game players can wear to stay safe while chasing Pokémon after sunset. In less than two weeks, Salcedo has made 139 sales of the homemade badges, which range in price from 50 cents to less than five bucks. Currently, he’s sold out. But rest assured, Salcedo says he is hard at work making new Poke Glo badges, which he promises to stock in his Etsy store soon.

2. Offering Rideshare Services With a Pokémon Twist

Some Pokémon GO players are avid gamers unaccustomed to spending so much time off the couch. To be sure, the chase for Pokémon can be exhausting. That’s why entrepreneurial-minded folks are launching "Uber for Pokémon." Capitalizing on the success of ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft, these businessmen and women offer to drive Pokémon GO players from PokeStop to PokeStop, allowing gamers to play without ever having to exert themselves.

Another benefit: By handing over the driver’s seat to a well-intentioned stranger, Pokémon-chasers can play the game seamlessly without having to put the phone down in order to keep their eyes on the road. In Kalamazoo, for example, a Pokémon rideshare service provider named Pat is offering to cart game players around for $1 per mile, plus $1.50 per PokeStop. Not a bad deal for game players who are averse to breaking a sweat.

3. Dropping Lures

Pokémon GO is helping small business owners lure in traffic — literally. Some businesses, especially those that rely on foot traffic, are seeing big boosts in business because, by luck of the draw, their location has been designated by game makers as a PokeStop or Gym. This means that Pokémon GO players are flocking to their address in order to capture Pokémon and other rewards.

But owners of businesses located in the vicinity of these GPS hot spots can also make money off the game by investing in something called Lures. In short, Lures are a game component that boost the rate of Pokémon generation for up to 30 minutes near the PokeStop where they’re placed. Lures, which can be purchased in the app for a little more than a dollar, are being used to bring in big crowds to local businesses, as well as garage sales and front yard produce stands.

At least one pizzeria owner is using this method to reap big benefits: "I own a pizzeria that’s a PokeStop and I literally did this all day," the business owner wrote on Reddit. "I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out."

4. Opening PokeStop Lemonade Stands

It’s summertime, and in most pockets of the nation that means the weather is hot and steamy. Translation: Game players chasing after Pokémon are going to get parched. That’s where enterprising, young Americans are coming in, equipped with a tip jar and a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade. That’s right, putting a new twist on the old fashioned lemonade stand, business-minded folks across the U.S. are setting up snack and refreshment stations near PokeStops, simultaneously making a buck while quenching the thirst and appetites of hungry Pokémon hunters.

5. Selling Mobile Battery Chargers

At least one Etsy shop owner is helping Pokémon GO players keep their mobile devices juiced up with an on-the-go battery pack craftily disguised as a Pokeball. Though bulky, the $40, thematically on-point device vows to extend your battery life by two full charges.

6. Mastering the Game — And Then Selling the Account

Since the existence of rules, there have been rule-breakers — and the Pokémon GO phenomenon is no exception. Though selling your Pokémon GO account to other players is strictly prohibited by the game’s terms of service, there are countless people out there doing it. For $100, you could purchase a New York City-based level 15 account. On eBay, there are advanced level accounts for sale at prices as low as $5 and as much as $1,500. What’s a level 10 account worth to you?

7. Coaching Gamers to Be Better Players

Some people play games for the sheer fun of it. Others play to win. And it’s the latter that have given breed to a new wave of Pokémon trainers, many of whom are advertising their services on Craigslist for $20 to $30 an hour.

8. Writing Tell-All Guides

Author Doug Morrow’s step-by-step guide to becoming a master Pokémon GO player is available on Kindle. And for $2.99, it can be yours. Mastering Pokémon Go: An Unofficial Guide to Catching Them All, is Morrow’s unofficial cheat sheet, full of instructions for throwing a curveball and tips on how to find the best Pokémon.

Has Pokemania struck your household? Figured out a way to cash in?

The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries

The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries

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Even though I do my best to keep up with credit card rewards, I don’t take credit card reward hacking to the extreme. I’d prefer not to have to carry around 10 cards in my wallet. I want to get the most points in categories that I actually spend a lot of money on. After our mortgage, the highest percentage of our monthly expenses comes in the form of groceries. So, I set out to determine which credit cards actually give the highest percentage back on groceries. (See also: Best Cash Back Credit Cards)

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card offers 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, 3% back on gas, and 1% on other purchases. (Grocery store, wholesale club, and gas bonus rewards apply to the first $2500 in combined purchases in these categories each quarter.) Bank of America customers get an extra 10% bonus when redeeming rewards directly into a Bank of America® checking or savings account (instead of a statement credit). There is no annual fee.

Bonus offer: $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. Also get a 0% introductory APR for 12 billing cycles on purchases, and any balance transfers made within the first 60 days; after that, a variable APR that’s currently between 13.24% and 23.24% will apply. A 3% fee (minimum $10) applies to balance transfers. See terms.

Click here to learn more and apply for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card today!

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The 5 Best Credit Cards for GroceriesThe Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases). You can also earn 3% from purchases at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. It does have an annual fee of $95 ($75 if your application is received by 8/3/16), but if you have a big grocery budget, the rewards would be more than enough to cover this yearly cost.

Special offer: Earn $150 back after spending $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Also get 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors. Terms and conditions apply.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express today!

Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

The 5 Best Credit Cards for GroceriesWith the Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, you get 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter, up to $1500 every quarter when you sign up. Plus, earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. 5% is a hefty cash back percentage, but the real kicker comes at the end of your first year when Discover automatically matches all the cash back earned by new cardmembers, making this a very attractive card to use for everyday purchases like groceries. There is a 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months and on balance transfers for 18 months. (A balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer applies.) After the intro period, a variable APR of 11.24% to 23.24% applies. There is no annual fee.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer today!

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The 5 Best Credit Cards for GroceriesIf the idea of paying an annual fee for a credit card is unappealing, try the no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which allows you to earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. department stores, and 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. There is no annual fee.

Special offer: Earn $100 back after spending $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Plus get 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors. Terms and conditions apply.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express today!

The Best Credit Card Offer for You

If you like credit card rewards programs, but have recently been unhappy with changes to your card, it may be time to consider a new one. The best way to choose a rewards card is to simply look at what your biggest category of spending is each month, and find a card that gives you the most back on that category. For me, this category was groceries.

What’s your biggest category of spending each month? Do you earn extra credit card points for those cards?

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.

4 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Win the Lotto

4 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Win the Lotto

This past June, $612 million went up for grabs in the lottery. As the pot grew, so did the dreams of ordinary Americans, many of whom hoped their lucky set of numbers would be the ones that lead to overnight riches.

Still, no matter how high the payout, a staggering seven in 10 people who receive a windfall blow through it within a few years, according to recent research by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).

If you’re one of the fortunate few who finds him or herself with a winning lottery ticket, and you want to hold on to that cash, check out our list of four must-make money moves for lucky lotto winners.

Try to Remain Anonymous

Instant riches can come with unwanted attention from long-lost friends and relatives, from scammers looking for a piece of the pie, and from incessant salesmen. Unfortunately, there are only six U.S. states — Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina — that allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. Still, for winners outside of those states, there are steps a winner can take to decrease the amount of attention they receive.

Several additional states allow prize money distributions to a trust, and allow a third party trustee to collect the funds without disclosing the name of the ticket holder. Some states will also allow anonymity if winners expect a high risk of harm.

If you don’t live in one of those states, however, winners typically have 180 days (check the specifics of your state to be sure) to claim their winnings. You can always try to wait it out, before submitting your winning ticket, in hopes that media attention will die down after a good period of time has passed.

Don’t Make Any Sudden Moves

Those new to wealth can sometimes be surprised by just how easy it is to blow through a seemingly endless supply of cash. As a lottery winner, you may have the financial resources to make your dreams a reality, but only if you take the time to fully assess those dreams.

The danger zone for money mistakes is six to 12 months after an influx of sudden money, according to the NEFE study mentioned above. Resist the urge to immediately splurge. Set limits with friends and family. Don’t immediately quit your job. Instead, take some time to start thinking about how you want your life to look for the long term.

While you wait, stash your newfound money somewhere safe — like in a checking or money market account — until you’re better able to take stock of what you now own, and what you want to do with it.

Plan for the Future

A windfall can easily be spent in a single fell swoop — $40,000 on a new car, for instance or $400,000 for a new house. A financial boon may buy boats and houses, but it’s the more pragmatic purchases that will make the largest long-term impact.

Take retirement, for example. The sad truth is, the majority of U.S. households aren’t on track to to adequately fund their golden years, according to research released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. A savvy lottery winner who foregoes a fancy new car in lieu of a well-managed investment account, meanwhile, could very well set him or herself up for life.

It can be hard to delay gratification, especially when there’s an unexpected windfall on the table. Still, consider the numbers. A $40,000 windfall could grow to more than $150,000 if invested for 20 years at a 7% rate of return. A $400,000 boon could grow to a staggering $1.5 million (assuming the same variables). Either way, slow and steady can add up to an even greater fortune, if the money is left to compound over time.

Talk to an Expert

Still, you may not know how to manage a large influx of funds, especially if you’ve never done it before. (And how many of us have?)

A financial planner can help you make prudent spending choices with your new wealth, while also creating a long-term savings and investment strategy. In fact, recent research in the Journal of Personal Finance has shown that investors who work with financial planners are much more likely to be prepared for retirement when compared with those who make money decisions on their own.

Why? Turns out we’re our own worst enemies when markets get choppy. Despite the conventional wisdom we’ve heard all our lives (buy low, sell high, of course!), we get scared by the storm and sell when the market drops. Then, we calm down and buy when it’s back on the rise.

A financial planner, meanwhile, can help keep you calm when markets get rough, improving the odds you’ll stay in the market when you most want to bail (even though you shouldn’t).

Even if you don’t win the lottery (your chances are one in 14 million, by the way), the above advice is sound for any type of financial windfall, be it an employee bonus, a lawsuit payout, an inheritance, or anything else. Stay calm, take time to think over your options, and when you’re ready, consult a professional.

You just won the lottery! How will you spend it?

Here’s How Brexit Could Affect Your Travel Plans

Here's How Brexit Could Affect Your Travel Plans

Britain is divorcing Europe, and though the planned separation is a multiyear process, the repercussions are already being felt. So far, the pound is collapsing, the dollar is acquiring value, and the euro is experiencing a slump. But what does it all mean for your travel plans? If you’ve got your sights set on a hop across the pond in the near future, here’s what you need to know.

You’ll Get a Big Bang for Your Buck in Britain

When Britain voted to exit the EU, the British pound plummeted 8%. Let’s put that in perspective: Overnight, the pound’s worth dropped below the relative worth of the American dollar back in 1985. It was the currency’s single worst day on record. The good news, however, is that the dollar-pound exchange rate is the best it’s been in three decades, giving Americans traveling in Britain big purchasing power.

If you’ve never seen the land of Shakespeare and fish and chips — or if you’re due for a revisit — now’s your chance to do so at a better-than-ever price. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your British vacation will be cheap. Even with the Brexit market turmoil, you’ll pay far more to sightsee in the birthplace of the Beatles than you would to travel to a country with lower living standards, such as Mexico. But if a trip to Britain is already on your list, now is a great time to pull the trigger.

Travel to European Countries Will Also Be Cheaper

When the value of the British pound dropped, so, too, did the worth of the euro. Down, down, down it went, settling slightly lower than the dollar. This essentially puts all trips to Europe on sale. Not a huge sale, but a sale nonetheless. Americans traveling to Portugal, for example, will have nearly 1% more purchasing power, according to an analysis by Vox. (Hey — every little bit helps, right?) This is especially welcome news considering that travels to Europe were previously predicted to be more expensive this summer than last.

Travel to U.S. Destinations Could Drop in Price

If all of Britain is "on sale" to Americans, the inverse is also true: Travel to the U.S. is more expensive than ever for Brits. If this climate persists, it’s likely that many British tourists will opt out of U.S. travel until the pound-to-dollar exchange rate stabilizes. It’s yet to be seen, but this scenario opens up the possibility of cheaper travel within the U.S. (Think New York, Miami, Los Angeles).

"If British tourists, because of currency fluctuations, change their plans or don’t come to U.S., you may see some ability to get some better prices in some cities," Mike Stitt, the North American president of Travelzoo, told The New York Times. "We’re seeing a little of that effect now with the Canadian travelers. As their currency has plummeted against the dollar, Canadians are staying home."

Airfare Specials to London May Become Easier to Snag

British Airways kicked off the uncertain era following Britain’s EU split with a Brexit fare sale. Pricing economy fares from New York to London for as low as $639 round trip, the airline used the country’s economic turmoil as a hook to lure in more American tourists. "Your dollar has never gone further," the airline trumpeted on its Twitter account. It’s yet to be seen whether other airlines will follow suit. But it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for Brexit-inspired discounts.

Flights From Europe to Britain Could Climb

In the wake of Brexit, the low-cost Irish airline Ryanair said it would be unlikely to deploy new planes on British routes. Instead, the airline said it will funnel its finances toward its European routes. "It’s unlikely we will base any additional aircraft in the UK in 2017 as they will be allocated to European Union airports instead," a Ryanair spokesperson told The Irish Times. It’s unclear whether other airline carriers will follow suit. But if they do, the price of flights to Britain could very well climb — especially if more low-cost airlines curb their commitment to Britain.

Longer Airport Waits Could Be On the Horizon

A few years out, when Britain’s divorce from the EU is finalized, there will be a major change at British airports: Citizens of the European Union will be funneled to the international customs line — the same line that’s used by Americans. This could lead to longer wait times. And, if you’re traveling through a British airport to a final destination in Europe, you’ll likely have to claim and recheck your luggage while going through immigration. A small hassle, perhaps, but who needs another hassle at the airport?

Assuming the UK follows through with Brexit, what ramifications do you expect?

Best Money Tips: Get Discounts By Playing Pokémon Go

Best Money Tips: Get Discounts By Playing Pokémon Go
Photo: MOF/iStock

Welcome to Wise Bread’s Best Money Tips Roundup! Today we found articles on how playing Pokémon Go can help you save money, practical tips for a frugal summer road trip, and easy ways to stay awake naturally.

Top 5 Articles

Pokémon Go: How to catch all the savings — Businesses are cashing in on the Pokémon Go craze and offering discounts to players. [The Monitor]

11 Practical Tips For Saving Money on Your Summer Road Trip — Before you set out, stock up on portable snacks that don’t need refrigeration and buy your drinks in bulk. [PopSugar Smart Living]

10 Easy Ways To Stay Awake Naturally — Drinking a glass of water every hour will keep you hydrated and alert. [easyWays]

Top Tips for Faking a Tan Without Frying Your Wallet — Self-tanners can be tricky, but there are a few steps you can take to get the best results. [Money Talks News]

Know All the Costs Before You Buy — Whether you’re buying clothes, books, toys or gadgets, you should also consider other potential costs — even if it’s a bargain. [Northern Cheapskate]

Other Essential Reading

5 Ways To Successfully Negotiate A Lowball Job Offer — Get over the fear of being too aggressive! There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself during a job interview. [Girls Just Wanna Have Funds]

11 Ways to Turn Junk Food Into a Proper Meal — Love Cheetos? Crush some up and sprinkle onto an easy macaroni and cheese casserole. [Cheapism]

5 Things to do Before Bringing Home a Pet — Research the breed and its quirk so you know what to expect. There are many online resourced to find information, and you can also check breed-specific clubs. [The Allstate Blog]

How to Eat Tasty and Save Money on Work Lunches — Think about lunch when you make dinner. How can you repurpose the leftovers for a tasty lunch? [Don’t Pay Full]

15 Things to Consider Before Retiring Abroad — Unless you don’t mind roughing it during your retirement, you’ll have to consider the infrastructure at your retirement destination. [Saving Freak]