Also: the best-ever personal finance books, and tips for saving on everything from weddings to the latest gadgets.
4 top financial lessons to teach kids, from Suze Orman. Apparently, the bills and coins magically appearing courtesy of the tooth fairy are sending a bad message to kids:
Don’t pay for lost teeth because it sends the wrong message to children, she said. “On some level you are saying ‘Loss equals money,'” she said. “Loss does not equal money. Loss equals less money.”
The argument could be made that in this scenario it’s not loss, but pain that equals money—which is often true, but I suppose that isn’t the best message either.
5 ways to know that investment scam stinks. For example, when you get the hard sell pressuring you to act right away or lose out forever:
One of the biggest indications that you could be looking at an investment scam is pressure to make a decision immediately. You might be told that it will be too late to invest if you don’t act now. Pressure to make a fast decision — especially if you aren’t given time to study the merits of the investment — is a sure sign that you could be heading for trouble. A legitimate investment opportunity will still be there later.
5 factors to consider before buying a Verizon iPhone. For one thing, there will inevitably be a new model soon, and price drops on older models will inevitably follow:
If Apple holds to its usual release habits, consumers can expect to hear about an iPhone 5 in June, with availability as early as July. Even if it isn’t a game-changing upgrade — early rumors include a slimmer handset and inclusions of a stylus pen — in the past, new versions have trigged price drops on the previous generation of the phone
5 ‘Groundhog Day’ money mistakes. In the same way that Bill Murray relived the same day again and again in “Groundhog Day,” many consumers repeat the same silly mistakes day after day. If you’re serious about getting into better financial shape, the first step to take is to eliminate costly and easily-avoidable mistakes such as paying ATM fees and using a credit card to buy stuff that you won’t be able to pay off for years:
A balance of a few thousand dollars may not cause undue anxiety, yet tack on an average interest rate of 14 percent or more and you’re talking about a burden that will last for years.
6 subtle ways you’re getting screwed at the grocery store. Sneaky packaging and marketing tricks result in consumers paying more to get less. There’s a large dimple carved out of the underside of a plastic jar of peanut butter, for instance. And why is it there?
That sneaky dimple was put there for one reason: to put about two fewer ounces of peanut butter in the jar without the customer noticing. But manufacturers are keeping the prices the same, and sometimes even raising them.
6 reasons to keep using credit cards. If—and this is a mighty big if—you use plastic wisely and don’t carry a balance, the cash rewards and other bonuses can be major perks. On the other hand …
Rewards programs such as cash-back cards tempt many users to spend more on the cards and carry more debt. A Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago study found that in an average month, a customer using a 1% cash-back card got an reward of $25 but spent an additional $68 on the card and increased his debt by $115.
7 things you better not give for Valentine’s Day. Courtesy of comedian Gina Barreca, insights such as:
‘Don’t Give Her a Device You’ve Been Telling Her for Years She Needs to Learn How to Master’
Chances are, unless she’s suggested otherwise, she really doesn’t want a GPS or a universal remote or “that plastic-wrapping contraption you saw on TV that wraps food and everything else so that it looks as if it’s in a giant condom.” Says Gina: “You believe she should like this, but she doesn’t and even more secretly you know that. You are only giving her this device to further bully her into learning how to do something that you want her to do.” This is a gift to whom, exactly?
7 money-saving tricks I learned planning an elopement. Whether you’re eloping or not, here’s a good one to consider:
Bargain with a Photographer
Our wedding photographer’s package is literally 1/3 of the amount of a full day of wedding photography and includes “engagement photos.” We’re skipping many of the day-of photos of everyone preparing for the wedding, because we don’t like that kind of thing.
9 ways you could mess up this tax season. A big refund is awesome, right? Not exactly:
A fat refund simply says that you are having too much withheld from your paycheck with the result that you are giving the government an interest-free loan. Some people say that they over-withhold because they like the forced savings, but seriously, you’re better off contributing any excess tax during the year to a 401(k) — where it will earn interest — or using it to pay off your credit cards — which will save you interest.
10 golden rules of saving on everything. You can brag about having the latest gadgets first, or you can brag about how much you saved by not buying the latest gadgets right away. But you cannot do both. To save money, the rule to follow is:
Never buy this generation when last generation will do.
Ignore the commercials that entice you to buy the latest and greatest. From cars to computers, buying yesterday’s technology can save you 20-50 percent. Early adopters are often paying for nothing more than bragging rights – why not wait and brag about how much money you saved?
10 reasons your insurance may need a checkup. Once a year, it’s a good idea to shop around to lower insurance premiums and other ongoing expenses. When changes occur in your personal life, that marks another time you should also reevaluate what you need insurance wise. Changes such as:
Have you switched jobs or experienced a significant change in your income? You may need to purchase your own life insurance or disability policy if your former employer provided this coverage and your new employer does not (or doesn’t provide as much coverage).
17 ways to detect a fake consumer review. Consumer reviews are wonderfully helpful for shoppers unsure of what to buy. Unless, of course, the reviews are fakes. How can you sniff out the frauds? Among other things:
Personal history is a good indication of reliability. An author with an overwhelming number of reviews for the same brand or product family is likely a shill, particularly if only positive or negative. On the flip side, a lone write-up could be generic, computer-generated copy spread across several sites.
28 best personal finance book. Personal finance bloggers weigh in on their favorite, most influential reads, and while there’s no consensus for the absolute best, there are plenty of solid recommendations, such as these two:
It’s really going to depend on your goals and what you want to get out of the book. If you want a deeper understanding of how money affects your life and motivates you then go for Your Money or Your Life. If you’re interested in growing your own business and want to become more productive, then perhaps you should consider the Four Hour Workweek.