You have probably noticed in recent months that you get fewer credit card offers. If you do receive offers of credit, long gone are the 0% APR or lower interest rates offers. If you have applied for any credit recently, you likely found it harder to be approved.

Why is it when Americans are so in need of credit are banks less willing than ever to offer it in the form of credit cards? They say that now is the time for them to be prudent. Wasn’t one of the main points of the bank bailout – the American tax-payer funded bank bailout – that credit needed to be kept in tact?  After the banks were saved from going under they ceased funneling money to customers. They’re sitting on trillions of dollars of tax-payer money and now the Government has called for additional Financial Reform. Will that make the credit crunch even worse?

Check out a detailed article on this issue:

Credit Card Companies Pulling Back Credit Offers to American Households: Those Zero Percent Offers have now Turned into 30% Offers with Annual Fees. Banks have over $2 Trillion in Excess Reserves yet are unable to Offer a Decent Credit Card Rate.

How Do You Know if a Short-Term Loan is the Right Choice?

There is a lot of confusion and doubt surrounding the lending industry right now. You’ve probably heard positive and negative things about short-term cash loans. If you are currently in a financial bind and wondering if this type of loan is the right solution for you, read on and see if this product fits your needs.

Are Short-Term Loans Good or Bad?

Are Short-Term Loans Good or Bad for me?

a short-term loan is the smarter choice for you if…

  • You occasionally bounce checks. The average bounced-check fee is $27.04. More banks are now using a tiered structure where the first check bounced incurs a $25 fee, the second bounced check will cost you $30, and any additional a whopping $35 each. Add on the $30 average bounced-check fee from the merchant and your costs continue to escalate. You could borrow $200 with a short-term loan for about half that cost… not only saving you money but saving your credit rating.
  • You only make minimum payments on your credit card balance each month. American’s currently carry about $1 trillion in credit card debt… many making only the minimum payment each month, driving the true cost of borrowing a few hundred dollars into the thousands. In fact, charging $500 on a credit card that already has a $2000 balance will cost you over $1400 making only minimum payments. With a short-term loan you can borrow the $500 for about $115 in fees – and because you pay it back quickly, the cost (and your debt) doesn’t continue to grow.
  • Need a little extra money between paychecks. Unfortunately life doesn’t happen on our pay schedule – which means even the most carefully planned budget can be thrown off by unexpected expenses. When that happens and you don’t have the time (or option) to use other bank products (like a line of credit), a short-term loan provides a quick, no hassle, short term solution.
  • Regularly overspend and get off budget. If you’re an impulse shopper and are surprised every month at how much debt you’ve incurred, short-term loans that require you to pay them off in full monthly may be a smarter choice for you as they’ll force you to be much more conscious in your spending.

a short-term loan may not be right for you if…

  • You pay your credit card off in full regularly. If you have your credit card spending under control and are paying off the balance regularly, then that’s the best choice for you. Make sure you’re using a credit card that offers advantages like discounts at your favorite merchants, reward points (such as Air Miles) and no annual fees.
  • You have access to inexpensive bank products. A line of credit and small loans through a bank typically have very low interest rates. If you have access to these products, use them. Of course, you should still shop around, not all banks are equal, and even if you have most of your accounts at one bank, you may find a better deal at another.
  • Friends and family can help you out. OK, for many of us asking friends and family for help is the last thing we want to do, but if you are lucky enough to have some rich friends or family members you’d be crazy not to start there first.

For more info on specific loans, browse the Frequently Asked Questions on Paradise Cash Advance in the U.S., and CashCanDo in Canada.

Want Free Movie Tickets?

A simple movie night can be quite an expense when you add the cost of tickets, snacks and drinks. Newly released film tickets are especially pricey. Many times, you can attend movie screenings of films for free.

Movie Screenings are the advance showings of a film to a select group of people and the general public is not allowed to attend. These screenings are for research and promotional purposes. These advanced screenings are free and usually targeted towards specific people and areas. Besides a free movie, many times you will get cool swag.

Tickets generally go quickly and are restricted to certain cities. There are many different companies that give away tickets to screenings, so the first step is to find one in your city.

When you receive your tickets it’s good to remember the following tips:

  • Read the ticket. Many tickets are valid for 2 admittances.
  • Screenings are ALWAYS overbooked, so arrive early. As much as an hour early if then film has a lot of pre-release hype.
  • Take an ID, especially if the film is rated R.
  • Drinks and snacks are not included (sometimes you can bring your own!)
  • Cell phones and recording devices are not allowed. Especially with new phone technology – usually your bag will be checked and if you have a phone, you must return to your car and leave it there.
  • You should never pay for an advance screening ticket – they are always FREE.

Some screening tickets found online are first come, some are contests, some are random. These sites are ALL FREE to use.

Film Metro – screenings in 40 major U.S. cities

Free Movie Screenings – mostly in Boston (this site also sometimes has tickets to other non-movie events)

Gofobo – Movie Screenings, Movie Events, and Sweepstakes

Nielsen Movie View – Research company film screenings

Entertainment Weekly – Periodic free screenings of movies and TV series

Fox Searchlight – email newsletter alerts about screenings.

Poptimal – infrequent free movie screenings

The Village Voice – New York only movie tickets & other giveaways

Scene Stealers – Movie passes for Kansas City

Chud – movie-related giveaways and film passes

Good Luck and enjoy your Free Movie Tickets!

Tax-Free Shopping – Find Back-to-School Deals Near You

Tax Free Shopping logo

Save Money - Shop Tax Free

It makes sense to try to save money every chance you get. Many states offer tax free shopping days with certain restrictions once or twice a year. Those who live in or near states that offer a tax free weekend (or week) can save considerably by planning their annual back-to-school shopping and large purchases around those dates. Click the name of your state below to find out when tax free weekend events are scheduled, and which items will qualify for the savings. Common items you can save on include clothing, shoes, school supplies, computers and software.

States That Offer A Tax Free Week or Tax Free Weekend*:

New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Washington D.C.
West Virginia

Tips for more Savings during Tax Free Shopping days

  • Keep an eye out for “Early Bird” shopping hours and special deals that can add to your savings during tax free weekend (many coupons are not allowed during these days).
  • Dollar limits usually apply to each item you buy, as opposed to your entire purchase having to fall under a certain amount. Know the rules & be prepared before you shop.
  • Layaway items may be tax-free if paid off before the holiday ends, or if put in layaway during the holiday. The rules on layaways, rain checks and special orders vary state by state. Know the conditions beforehand to save the most money.
  • Check neighboring states. Planning a trip to visit the grandparents out of state? Live near the border of another state? See if those states offer sales tax holidays.

Today’s Freebie is…Music!

Everyone loves Freebies, right?

Free samples at the grocery store, giveaways, a free lunch – all good things.

Today’s giveaway is 10 free songs sponsored by Lilith Fair.
There’s no catch for these downloads, either. You don’t have to sign up for anything or download any more tunes in the future. You get 10 Free Lilith tracks – they’re really good, too!

Free Download is valid through September for both U.S. and Canada.

Lilith Fair Logo

Lilith Performers-Free Download

Free Date Nights: Part 1

Think it’s hard to plan a fun or romantic evening without dropping a lot of cash? Well, we have lots of suggestions for FREE and Cheap things to do for all different types of daters. Whether you’ve just met someone new or you’ve been married for two decades, whether you like adventure and unusual dates or you prefer a romantic evening at home there is an inexpensive date for everyone to enjoy.

Part 1 is a listing of Free Date ideas for new daters

If you’re just getting to know each other it can be especially hard to get together in a budget, but don’t be intimidated. Here are some ideas for free dates that will allow you to really connect and learn more about the person you like.

  • 20 Questions & Truth or Dare – playing ice breaker games is a great way to get to know someone quickly. Take turns asking 20 questions about the other person that they have to answer. Try to make most of them open-ended to get a good discussion going, then add in some “what is your favorite…” to get to know their likes and dislikes better. If you are more adventurous, you can play Truth or Dare. You still get to ask the questions, but get some fun dares in along the way. Make sure not to dare anything that will embarass the other person. You can turn this into an outing by walking around town or the park and playing while you walk. It will give you more opportunities for dares (“I dare you to take off your shoes and run through the fountain,” “I dare you to ask that guy with the guitar to play your favorite song.”) and it will let you people watch along the way.
  • Teach Each Other Your Hobbies – do you play an instrument? Are you crafty? You can spend an afternoon teaching your guy to knit or teaching your girl to play the bass. This lets you talk to each other about something that you’re passionate about and what your history is with your hobby. You’re sure to get close and to have some laughs during your instructions. Make sure to keep it light-hearted and fun – you’re not a professor! Enjoy spending time with someone new and doing what you love. Maybe your date shares the same hobby as you, too.
  • Take a Hike. If you like to be outdoors – and you know that your date does, too – plan a local hike. Tell your date to dress casually and head to a local scenic point. If you’re not sure where to go, check your city’s resources to see what parks, bike and walking paths are in the area. If you both own bikes or rollerblades, you could try that, too. Many cities also have free Frisbee Golf courses at local parks. If you both have dogs, invite your date (and her dog) to join you at the local dog park where your pooches can play together, or go on a run with your pets.
  • Explore Your City. If it’s great weather, but you aren’t particularly “outdoorsy” – take an urban hike! Become a tourist in your city. Walk downtown and look at the architecture; sit on a bench and watch the people passing by; walk down to the river and feed the ducks. Many cities have free brochures of walking tours with information about historical spots. Point out your favorite building, or talk about your memories of particular spots.
  • Share Your Childhood. If you’ve lived in your city all your life or close to where you grew up, take your date on a tour of your childhood. If you live a short drive away, drive past the home you grew up in, the schools you attended, and the playgrounds you used to play at. It can conjour up a lot of neat memories for you to share and help your date to learn more about you.
  • Rainy Days. If the weather is poor, don’t cancel your date. It’s a perfect opportunity to stay in. If you have a library card, you can rent DVDs free of charge from your local library branch. You can both go to the library together and each choose a film, or you can choose the movie and fix your date dinner to go along. If you choose a foreign movie, you can pair the cuisine to the film location.
  • Free Summer Events. Many cities have a variety free events during the summer. Do a little research (online or in the local paper) for upcoming events near you. There may be free music at a shopping center, free movies screened in the city park, or free fireworks near the water. Many events are series that repeat on particular days throughout the summer. If something free is happening on a Wednesday night that sounds fun, don’t wait for Saturday for a date! Sometimes it can seem more spontaneous to go out during the week, and make your date feel like they couldn’t wait to see you. They don’t need to know that you’re saving money by taking them out on a different night.

Check the blog again tomorrow for more low-cost date ideas.

In the meantime, feel free to add a comment! Are you dating someone new and trying to find creative ways to save money? Post your inexpensive dating ideas here – we’d love to hear from you!

Save Money on Gas with these Tips

Money-Saving Tips at the Fuel Pump

Money-Saving Tips at the Fuel Pump

We all know that gas prices go up in the summer right at the time when more people are driving for summer vacations or short getaways. With the July 4th Holiday Weekend upon us, this is the perfect time to remind drivers how they can easily save money at the pump.

  1. Keep your car properly maintained and tuned. A poorly tuned car can use more than 25% more gas. Get your oil and filters changed when recommended. For cars that are in good shape, you can extend the recommended 3,000 mile oil changes up to 5,000 miles without harming your gas consumption.
  2. Shop around for the best deal when getting oil changes. Look in the yellow pages for coupons, check the back of grocery store receipts and mailers for coupons, but don’t assume that the coupon will give you the best price. Most coupons are for national chains that will still be more expensive than local auto service stations.
  3. Check your tire pressure weekly. For every pound of underinflation, you can lose up to six percent in gas mileage, so if your tires are five pounds underinflated, you’ll use up to 30% more gas. Many gas stations have free air and tire pressure gauges that you can use.
  4. Don’t top off your tank when pumping gas. On a warm day, gasoline expands and can overflow.
  5. Don’t warm your car up by letting it idle. The engine warms up faster when driving than it does when idling, and idling wastes about a quart of gas every 15 minutes.
  6. Save gas by turning your car off. If you will be idling for more than 30 seconds, you can save by turning off the engine. When you turn on a car, it uses a little bit of gas. However, when the car is idling, it uses a fixed amount of gas over a period of time (especially with the AC on). If you are at a long stoplight, in a slow drive-thru, at an ATM, or waiting to pick someone up and will be stopped for more than 30 seconds, you will waste less gas by turning off the car and re-starting it than you would by idling during that time.
  7. Turn of f your A/C. Park your car in the shade if you can, so you won’t have to keep the AC working as hard when you go somewhere. Roll down the windows just a tiny bit, so the air can circulate through your car while you are parked (might not be a good idea in areas with a high theft rate). Turn off the AC 5 minutes before you reach your destination and don’t keep it working until the last second.
  8. Reduce Weight. Driving around with unnecessary items in your car will increase the drag and reduce your gas mileage. (A spare tire and jack are NECESSARY – just get rid of the bags of potting soil, cinder block, or clothing donations you may be lugging around with you.)
  9. Make sure your gas cap is secure. In the US every year 147 Million Gallons of Fuel are lost due to evaporation.
  10. Practice gas-saving driving habits. Your car uses more fuel when you accelerate. Try to accelerate gently, watch the traffic ahead to anticipate slow-downs and braking, maintain your speed on the highway, and practice reducing speed by keeping distance from the car ahead of you and lifting your foot off the gas pedal instead of applying the brakes. And if possible, drive below the speed limit. Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate to improve your gas mileage.
  • It takes 20% more gas to accelerate to normal speed from a full stop than it does from four or five miles per hour.
  • It takes 20% to 30% more gas to drive at 70 mph than 50 mph.

And the best gas-saving tip of all… Car Pool, ride your bike, or take public transportation whenever possible. I know this is a difficult tip for many people to follow, but suggest “shopping outings” with friends or neighbors and carpool to the grocery store. You can save gas by trading driving each week. The small savings will add up if you practice it regularly.

For many more fuel-saving tips, visit the following resources: