How EMV (Chip) Credit Cards Work – Technology & Security

Do you use credit cards regularly? Perhaps you have a favorite cash back rewards credit card that offers a small but meaningful return on every dollar you spend. Or maybe you use a travel rewards credit card to earn points or miles that can be redeemed for free or reduced-cost flights, hotel stays, or car rentals.

Whether you’re a habitual credit card user whose wallet is stuffed with plastic, or a judicious spender who keeps a single, lonely square on hand for emergencies only, you’ve probably received correspondence from your issuers about the switch to EMV (chip) technology. You’ve probably received new cards in the mail too, complete with little circuit-like chips on the front face.

Click to continue reading...

Is an Unpaid Internship Worth It for Work Experience? – Pros & Cons

Whether you’re earning your degree at a local community college or living halfway around the world to save money attending a foreign university, you’ve probably considered pursuing internship opportunities in your field.

You’re not alone. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Class of 2015 Student Survey, 62.8% of students in the class of 2015 participated in an internship at some point during their college careers. That represented an uptick from the previous year.

At some colleges and universities, internship participation is much higher. U.S. News identified 10 American institutions where “almost everyone gets internships.” Even at the lowest-ranked school, 94% of students wore the “intern” badge during their college careers.

Click to continue reading...

10 DIY Home Decorating Ideas on a Budget – Tips & Techniques

I think there’s a new syndrome that psychiatrists need to start treating. It’s called a “home inferiority complex.”

You’re at risk for this condition if you spend a lot of time reading decorating magazines or watching HGTV. The first sign is that you find yourself drooling over images of beautifully redecorated rooms, outfitted with thousands of dollars’ worth of new furniture and accessories. Then, as you realize you could never afford this kind of makeover on your modest personal budget, feelings of inadequacy set in. You become depressed at the idea that you’re going to be stuck staring at your bare walls and dated furniture forever.

Click to continue reading...

15 U.S. Cities With the Worst Traffic & Longest Commute Times

How’s your commute?

If you’re like most Americans, it probably involves a single-occupancy vehicle that you own or lease and takes a little less than 30 minutes each way. You spend at least some of that time in slow or stopped traffic.

The vast majority of Americans commute in private vehicles – 85.8%, according to the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. That figure accounts for both driving alone (76.4%) and carpooling (9.4%). Some commuters use multiple modes – for instance, driving to their a nearby commuter rail station, taking the train into the city, and walking to the office once there. In such cases, the primary mode of commuting is rail, because it’s the longest leg of the trip.

Click to continue reading...

6 Rich Celebrities Who Went Broke and Declared Bankruptcy

$1.2 million is a lot of money. According to The Hamilton Project, that’s about what the typical four-year degree holder earns over the course of their career. Some majors earn more – up to $2 million or so. Others earn less – just $800,000. Other factors, including geography and career trajectory, obviously factor into these calculations as well.

$1.2 million in career earnings might be enough to support a comfortable family life through three to four decades. However, for most celebrities who’ve achieved household-name status, it’s pocket change. A-list film stars earn 20 times the lifetime earnings of the average bachelor’s degree holder – for a single film. Top athletes can easily pull down $20 million or more per year, depending how their contracts are structured. After accounting for endorsements and business ventures, their earnings can be much higher.

Click to continue reading...

How Credit Card Payment Processing Systems & Networks Really Work

What happens when you swipe your credit card at the checkout counter or insert it into the chip reader (also known as “dipping”)? What about when you tap its digits into an online field?

A lot. More than you imagine, probably. Each and every electronic transaction is a delicate ballet between cardholders, merchants, and a host of intermediaries. This dance is repeated billions of times a day, all across the world, and forms the basis of the global economy. Without a secure and reliable system for transmitting payment information electronically, our lives would be vastly different.

Click to continue reading...

Freegan Movement – Principles & Problems of Freeganism

One of the perks of living a frugal lifestyle is that it’s also a greener lifestyle. For example, when you bike to work instead of driving, you buy less gas and also produce less air pollution. Likewise, when you buy and eat less meat, you lower your grocery bill and also save fuel, water, and other resources. And, by getting more exercise and eating more veggies, you can improve your own health at the same time.

Click to continue reading...

How to Get Help With Heating Costs Through LIHEAP – Eligibility & Benefits

On a cold January day, a single mother huddles on the couch with her two children, a blanket wrapped around them for warmth. The temperature in the apartment is set at 50 degrees. She’d like to turn up the heat, but she knows she can’t afford it.

With the money from her minimum-wage job, she was just able to make ends meet during the summer. But now, the winter chill has sent her heating bills sky-high. And every additional dollar she spends on heating is a dollar she doesn’t have to buy groceries to feed her kids.

Click to continue reading...

Best New Bank Account Promotions, Offers – Sept ’16

With many financial institutions experiencing a decrease in profits, banks are vying for your business. This is good news for you, because instead of just offering standard perks like no fees or a free pen when you sign up for an account, some banks are raising the stakes with cold hard cash, giveaways, and great interest-bearing products.

September is a good month for bank promotions from both big and small banks. Banks are giving away a lot of bonuses to attract new customers and get them to open up accounts. The banks listed below have some pretty sweet deals that you should take advantage of if you are in the market for a new bank.

Click to continue reading...

What Is the Homestead Exemption – Definition, Tax & Legal Treatment

Actually living off the grid is rare, but millions of American homeowners can truly call themselves homesteaders. That’s because the Federal Government – and most state governments too – extend special legal protections to homeowners’ primary residences.

Generally known as “homestead exemptions” (and the properties they protect generally known as “homesteads,” or “homesteaded properties”), these statutes exist to protect owner-occupants from excessive taxation, provide shelter for surviving spouses after their partners pass on, and shield some or all homestead equity from certain types of creditors. The federal homestead exemption applies specifically to homeowners filing bankruptcy. State homestead exemptions tend to be broader, with provisions that shield homeowners from some property taxes and, following death, provide their surviving spouses and dependents with protections against unsecured creditors and other claimants trying to seize their primary residence.

Click to continue reading...