Yes, You Can: Actually Save Money Using Your Credit Card

If you believe using a credit card is nothing more than an expensive exercise, it is probably time for a rethink, as there are a number of ways you can come out on top when you use your card instead of cash.

Not convinced?

Here is a look at the positives attached to using a credit card you might not have even thought about, as well as the extent of some of the credit card benefits you may not have realized you could get.

No Scissors and Coupons Required: You Can Save Cash with Cards

There is a fair chance that you are one of those people who quite happily cuts out a coupon to use at your local store or restaurant, as it seems that well over 80 percent of us are noted to be occasional to regular coupon users.

That stands to reason, as most of us are not likely to turn down the chance to get some money off, or maybe even a free gift. The same mentality can also be applied to using your credit card, as there are literally hundreds of card-linked offers out there that you can take advantage of nowadays.

Reward schemes like cash back, unlimited purchase discounts and cash back rewards are the kind of deals that card issuers are offering. Other cards offer discounts at certain participating restaurants and gas stations, while others offer free flights or hotels.

If you use coupons to get money off, or like getting something for nothing or for little effort, it makes sense to use your credit card to unlock some of these rewards, unless you are happy missing out.

It is also worth pointing out that it is a lot less hassle to get your hands on credit card rewards, as you don’t have to cut any coupons out, and there are no codes to scan. Once you have signed up for a rewards scheme, just pay with your card and the rest will happen automatically.

Even More Savings: You Can Get Some of Your Money Back

Cash back deals are always worth looking out for and this is a prime example of how using your credit card could actually save you money.

If you see a cash back program being offered with your credit card, it is always worth signing up for the program, as you could get some of your hard-earned cash back to spend again in another way. You get rewarded just for using your credit card when you pay for your groceries or almost anything else you use your card for on a regular basis.

Although many of these schemes offer you cash back, as the description implies, this can also be offered to you as discounts, travel vouchers, hotel and travel rewards, and plenty of other ways to spend what is effectively “free” money from the card company.

Getting a percentage of the cash back that you had to spend anyway is a real no-brainer and a persuasive reason to use your credit card, so that you get the maximum benefit from your cash spending.

Retail Reality Check: You Get Easier Returns

There is almost nothing more frustrating than purchasing an item that doesn’t turn out to be right for you or just not what you expected it to be. In reality, there is one thing more frustrating than that: when you discover the retailer is not playing ball and won’t accept a return for whatever reason.

If you can’t get your money back, or only get offered a store credit, which you probably don’t want, that can turn out to be a costly experience. If you paid for the item using your credit card; however, it makes it easier for you to get your money back and cancel the transaction.

If something is faulty, not as described, or there are other viable reasons you don’t want to keep what you’ve purchased, the extra layer of consumer protection you get when you pay by credit card gives you more options than if you paid by cash or debit card.

There are certain rules and limits relating to cancelling a card transaction, but they are normally far more generous than other methods of payments. Using your credit card could save you money in this scenario, as you are less likely to get stuck with something you don’t want or are unhappy with in the end.

It is fair to say that saving money isn’t the first feature that springs to most people’s minds when talking about credit cards, but when you look into what they offer, there is actually a good chance your card could do just that. Start by finding out what your credit card provider offers, so you can take advantage of the benefits using your card could bring.

About Erin Bradshaw

Erin Bradshaw knows from experience how credit cards can be the root of all evil, but now almost debt free she can also see their positive sides. She writes about a range of personal finance matters in her online articles as she shares her own views, experiences and tips for managing your money better.

Urgent environmental action needed by Obama before Trump enters the White House.

The US election results are in and Donald J. Trump is the president-elect. It should be a time of jubilation in the United States, however his win is shrouded in darkness and uncertainty due to the ludicrous claims that he made on his campaign trail. Race, sex, ideology and science have all been in the firing line and with his ascension to the White House; his pulse is on a trigger that could send the world into an uncertain era.

Advocates for combating climate change and preserving the planet through sustainable initiatives are appalled at his election due to his dismissal of climate change.

Current US President Obama has taken significant action towards combating global warming and climate change. With less than three months left of his tenure, any environmental plans need to be put in motion. During the presidential race, Trump was vocal about unraveling everything that President Obama has done; with Obamacare being one of the first things in line, but environmental projects won’t be too far behind.

Steps towards using renewable energy are unlikely to go forward with a Trump presidency.

Despite President Obama’s initiative to rollout wind and solar energy, Donald Trump attacked him and his administration for proposing an inefficient solution. Donald Trump explained in one interview that while he was fond of the idea of solar power being used as a renewable energy source, the products that were being proposed weren’t economical and that people wouldn’t buy into them.

He was right in this case. The same thing happened with the rollout of LED light technology. Even though the lights have been around for more than 20 years, it’s only when they reached a price point where consumers would be able to see the financial savings payoff for the light bulbs after a few years that the popularity of LED lights started to take off. Donald Trump knows that a similar solution is needed, but at the moment, no formal solution has been proposed.

Another statement that he made that has environmentalists on the edge is that wind farms did more destruction to the environment than the current power sources such as coal and oil. His claims were unsubstantiated, but since he will be in power from 2017 it is likely that coal and oil power companies will receive a ‘Presidential Pardon’ for their carbon emissions and their impact on the environment.

The Paris Agreement could be torn to shreds.

Donald Trump bragged during his campaign about his ability to get the USA a good deal. And the environmental deal with the rest of the world in the form of the Paris Agreement was not a good one and he would get the US out of it!

The Paris Agreement was the world’s biggest chance for combating climate change by getting governments to reduce their economy’s carbon emissions and invest in sustainable technology that would help the environment. Even though over 190 countries ratified the agreement, the US is one of the leading culprits of carbon emissions along with China, Russia and India. Without US involvement, the agreement would be rendered useless.

President Obama can put laws and actions in place that can lay the essential groundwork for proactive sustainable measures that Donald Trump can build on. At the same time, those measures need to be difficult to unravel and Donald Trump’s motive towards sustainability to change.

Why do plastics continue to threaten our aquatic ecosystems?

Plastics are like a double-edged sword. They have contributed to amazing improvements in preservation and manufacturing, however it has come at a significant cost to the environment. There are serious concerns for these plastics ending up in landfill and our aquatic ecosystem. In a way, most people are either unaware or turn a blind eye to how much plastics that end up in aquatic ecosystems affect people’s quality of life, health and wellbeing. There are countries such as Australia and Japan which have promising systems in place, but in places like India and China whose countries contain 1/3rd of the world’s population; plastics still cause significant issues to their aquatic environments which will lead to water shortages in the future that will affect wildlife and humans.

In Southern China, millions of residents have been affected by e-waste plastics that have contaminated their water source with toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, bisphenol A, copper and zinc which can cause neurological diseases and cancer. The towns that are affected need to have their drinking and irrigation water brought in from nearby towns because the local water is too polluted to consume.

People need to prevent plastics from ending up in aquatic ecosystems.

Firstly, it is important that plastics are disposed correctly at the end of their life cycle. This means sorting the plastics into categories so that they will distributed and processed at the right recycling centres. The world can learn from the small Japanese town of Kamikatsu, whose authorities are striving to create a zero waste economy and minimises the threat of plastics going to landfill and ending up in waterways. The townsfolk need to sort their waste into 34 categories so that items can be distributed to the correct recycling facilities.

Secondly, plastics can enter the aquatic environment during the supply chain. This was evident when cargo containers full of ink cartridges fell off a cargo ship and lay on the seabed for over a year. Then reports started to surface saying that its contents started to wash up on the coastal shores of Britain, Spain, Portugal and France. Not only did it affect the ecosystem of different countries coastlines, but it also contributed to the growth of plastic islands in the ocean, as can be seen in the video below.

The threat comes from some of the plastics, which contain toxins and absorb organic pollutants from the seawater. Small sea life such as jellyfish will consume the toxic plastics and will then be eaten by bigger fish, which are then eaten by humans. The result is that humans end up consuming these toxic chemicals. A Greenpeace report cites 267 species of marine life being affected by plastics in general.

One of the ways the marine ecosystem is being affected is from the loss of cargo at sea.
It’s common for cargo spills to happen and product manufacturers and distributors do make efforts to prevent these disasters from happening. However,when these issues occur, it’s usually left to beachcombers and conservation groups to do the clean-up.

Thirdly, it’s important that any water that is used for washing or processing plastic uses the right drainage to prevent any toxins or residues that may have contaminated the water to flow into waterways that affect the ecosystem. It’s important that any sewerage water flows to water treatment plants so that the water can be recycled and used for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation.

There are specific schemes that can be implemented such as a cartridge recycling scheme for printer and ink cartridges. Businesses and residents can sort their cartridges into satchels or boxes and then send it to the right recyclers for processing.

It’s time for the citizens of the world to become more responsible when it comes to plastic in our aquatic ecosystems. Governments need to put more pressure on residents and businesses to dispose their plastics through the correct recycling distribution channels. Furthermore, organisations need to improve their response to clean-up efforts should plastics end up in aquatic ecosystems before reaching the end of their supply chain.

Crowdfunding campaign “RELAXFAIR”: Sustainable & fair lounges from Germany

Under the headline “Relax For a Better World” the German company RELAXFAIR developed a lounge that is 100% recycled and produced by well-paid seamstresses in Germany. The lounge is sold via the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and only after 24 hours the project hit their 20% milestone.

Sustainability surrounds us everywhere: You can wear clothes out of organic cotton, eat wholefood products or live in an energy-efficient house. But sustainable and fair produced furniture is still rare today. RELAXFAIR was founded to also let our furniture be sustainable.

Since many years the number of employees working in western textile and clothing industries is reducing. For example in Germany over 185.000 people were working in this branch in the year 2000 – 2014 this number shrank to 77.800 workers. These numbers show how much the German textile branch has to fight against the cheap competitors from China and Bangladesh. Since at least the building of Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh 2013, the consuming majority in the western world is aware that the local workers suffer a lot under the low prices for clothing and textile products. Lately, more and more social companies and startups are trying to build a contrast program to mass production in developing countries. An example for this gives the startup RELAXFAIR from Heidelberg in Germany, which wants to realize sustainable and fair produced furniture.

RELAXFAIR has the vision to combine sustainability, fair working conditions and social commitment. To be precise, the company has developed a lounge, which is 100% recycled and is being produced in Germany under fair working conditions. Furthermore, 20% of their annual profits are being donated to social and green organizations. Their motto: “Relax for a better world”.

The lounge comes in two versions. The covering of the indoor version is made out of highly comfortable and recycled cotton and polyester, which provides both modern style and comfort. The outdoor version is optimized to relax outside. The fabric is a recycled nylon and therefore it is tear proof, dirt- and water-repellent. All lounges have an innovative two-chamber filling system, e two parts are filled with a mix of recycled polystyrene and sustainable foam flakes. Therefore you are able to remove the outer shell and wash it.

Currently RELAXFAIR is available in a crowdfunding campaign on the internet platform The idea of crowdfunding is, that people who like the vision or the product can contribute to these projects and support them. This can start with 5$ and end with the purchase of the final product. The goal of the campaign is to reach 10.000$. “For us it is important to pursue our vision of sustainable and fair furniture together with our community. Only together we can succeed to set a new trend in the industry“ the founders say. In addition to the lounge it is possible to purchase the suitable ottoman, as well as the RELAXFAIR chair pads. After only 24 hours the campaign reached their 20% milestone.

If you like to support RELAXFAIR and the vision of a sustainable furniture industry, you are able to get the RELAXFAIR products as a special offer only until November 14th 2016 HERE (

5 Ways to Make Extra Money Without Another Full-time Job

Having extra income is always a nice bonus. After all, this money can be used to pay down debt or to put away for retirement savings. But no matter what you use it for, the hardest thing is figuring out how to get it. Everyone knows money doesn’t grow on trees, and when you already have a full plate balancing a full-time job and your other responsibilities (like family, volunteering, etc.), it’s hard to find. However, in order to get some extra cash, you don’t need to take on another full-time job. Instead, you can try one of the following methods.

  1. Reduce your expenses.

Sometimes you actually have more money than you think. The trouble is that you’re giving it away to utility companies and other miscellaneous businesses. By reducing your expenses, you can “earn” extra money without doing anything. For instance, take a look at how much you spend on certain bills. Can you switch auto insurance providers to get a better rate? Can you refinance your mortgage to lower your monthly payment? Can you stop paying for a hard copy newspaper and use the internet? Can you make breakfast at home instead of stopping at Starbucks every day on your way to work? By making these slight adjustments, you may find that you have a nice chunk of extra money to use at your discretion.

  1. Sell your skills.

Most people have a skill they enjoy doing. If you are one of these people, why not put your skill to work for you. For instance, if you enjoy knitting, why not start a small little business selling the items you knit? If you are a skilled graphic designer, make invitations or cards and sell them online. If you are a great baker, sell cookies or cakes as a way to make some extra cash. This may be work, but since it’s something you enjoy, it won’t feel like work. Plus, then you can get paid for tackling your hobby, and this can make it extra fun to enjoy.

  1. Do something from home.

With the way technology continues to advance, there are more and more companies out there who are using virtual help. Do some research and find a company that will allow you to do small amounts of work from home. This can be as simple as data entry to something more involved. Most of the time you can set your own hours and schedule, so you can easily make some extra cash without overworking yourself. Think of it as something you can do before or after work or on the weekends, and try to pick something that won’t stress you out.

  1. Sell your stuff.

Besides your skills, you can also try to sell your belongings as a way to generate income. Keep in mind that this will not be a continuous revenue stream, but it can help for a temporary need. Go through your closets, basement, attic, etc. and make a pile of the things you no longer need or want. Then, you can either have a physical garage or yard sale, or you can put the items on eBay, Craigslist, or another online selling site to help you generate some extra income by purging.

  1. Donate.

It may seem like an oxymoron, but you can actually get paid for donating. For instance, you can donate blood, bone marrow, or semen to certain banks, and they will pay you for this service. It’s not a lot of money, but it can help you make some extra cash. In addition, you can also look for companies in the area that will pay you for group research projects. Again, these may not offer a ton of money or be a consistent income, but they can help.

Making extra money is always a nice treat, but you want to be sure you’re making it in a way that doesn’t overwork you or stress you out. By using these tips, you can make some extra cash without having to take on another full-time job, and that is extremely rewarding.

The Magical Upside of Credit Repair

When you have good credit, the world is your oyster. Sometimes, literally. You have the buying power to splurge on oysters. Before, with all your bad credit, spending $2.50 on a single tiny source of salty protein was not the most sound financial decision. But when you make the effort to engage in credit repair, you can feel good about eating as many oysters as you want.

Higher Credit Card Limits

When you get better credit, that means more companies will loan you higher amounts of money. You are not such a high risk anymore. That means you have more purchasing power in your wallet. You can buy the things you need to make your house livable, the ancillary items to make your side business run or even sports equipment for the kids. When you buckle down and fix your finances with credit repair, you are proving to lenders that you are a responsible user of credit, so they will be more likely to raise your limits.

More Attractive Mortgage Rates

When you have clean credit, mortgage banks will consider you an ideal customer. That means you can get the best rates. With the right deals, then you can maybe buy a better house in a better neighborhood and pay less in monthly payments than you do right now. And you are in a strong negotiating position. When you have a high credit score and a clean track record, banks are competing for your business. That means you can get some concessions on closing costs and other fees. If you play your cards right.

Better Car Loans

When you reach ninja status on your credit repair, that means you can get a much lower rate when you go out shopping for a new car. Especially if you are in the market for leasing, rather than buying outright. If you have good credit, dealers are confident that you will be paying the bill on time. So you should be able to obtain better than average rates on your car loan.

Great Credit Card Deals

Those with excellent credit will be the ones that get the best rewards cards with points, cash back, low rates and even free hotel stays and airline miles. These credit cards are no-brainers, provided that you spend wisely and pay off the balance every month. But as a person who tightened their belt and learned how to properly perform credit repair on their finances, spending wisely should not be a problem.

Figuring out the best way to fix your credit will pay off in your financial life. You want to be excellent at credit repair, so that you can enjoy the fruits of life with a high credit score.

Take Control of your Future

The days when companies guaranteed their employees a fixed retirement sum have gone. The legislation that introduced the 401(k) was supposed to be ground breaking. These plans are very much down to the individual. Companies contribute up to a maximum as long as their employee saves as well yet the final value of the plan is underwritten by no one. The recession brought the growth of many 401(k)s to a shuddering halt when in the years before it came growth was impressive.

Subsequently the US economy has improved again but national statistics show that far too few people are making plans for retirement and far too many have expensive debt such as that on credit cards. It is a worrying situation especially as the benefits paid out by the Social Security System are wholly inadequate to fund a comfortable life in retirement.

California’s Answer

Those who are ignoring the problems they are facing in the future really are unwise at best and downright foolish at worst. In California the state government has a solution; it is going to be compulsory for companies of 5 or more workers to have a pension plan in place.  The official title of the scheme is “Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. Each employee will have 3% of their pay deducted and it will be ‘’invested’’ by the State for a pension when they retire.

Clearly this is unpopular with people who want less government interference, not more yet when you analyse the statistics it surely makes sense to force people into doing something? The record of CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) is not great and its performance trails behind the majority of the big public pension funds. The program is union dominated and its future performance is under scrutiny because its past record has been so poor. It was involved in real estate just before the Collateralized Debt Obligation crisis precipitated the recession. While no one was left unscathed by that, CaIPERS lost $11 billion!! The current situation is that there is a considerable shortfall of between the current value of the fund and the benefits it is committed to pay.

California’s action may not be ideal but the figures over the whole of the USA suggest that Americans have too much debt and insufficient to both address any emergency that arises or to fund their retirement. Clearly those in middle age and beyond have a limited amount of time to act. Add to that the fact that expensive credit card debt is widespread then you can see a very worrying scenario.

Expensive Debt Solution

No one is suggesting that the economy does not benefit from domestic spending but the numbers of people taking credit and simply paying the minimum a card company requires each month to comply with terms and conditions are disturbing. As a matter of urgency they need to curb their spending and ideally pay off their debts with a far more competitive interest rate product, a personal loan. Currently they are wasting money which would be far better employed in building up a good retirement fund.

Professional Independent Advice

There is plenty of advice on investing and growing a fund. Some of the professional advice comes at a cost but good growth makes that an acceptable price to pay. It is a matter of being sensible and good advisers are likely to illustrate how an investment can growing at different growth rates. Those rates can never be guaranteed but with interest rates so low money cannot simply be put into deposit products to get growth. It is foolish to take too much risk, especially as you get closer to retirement when there is insufficient time to recover from setbacks. The best thing to do is to have a diversified portfolio and while growth is unlikely to reach double figures it would be a poor fund manager who could not produce a far better return than CaIPERS is achieving.

There is nothing wrong in compulsory saving as such especially in the light of the numbers currently saving nothing at all; it saves them from themselves. The best way forward is to take individual responsibility for your personal future to avoid the potential misery of years of retirement with not the money to fund it.