We count on banks to keep our money safe, but that's not really what they're best at. The financial sector has doubled as a portion of the economy in recent decades, and that's not because they're so good at putting your needs first. It's their job to put your money to work for themselves, and if you aren't careful, they will do everything short of turning you upside down to catch the change that falls out of your pockets. Here are six ways that your bank can turn your money into theirs.

Upselling

upselling

Anyone who's worked in retail or fast food should be familiar with the upsell. "You shoud really get the warranty for that." "The large is only 89 cents more." "Sure, eight inches is probably enough... but with the 10-inch you know you won't be disappointed." But banks have taken that game to the next level. All you have to do is upgrade to a deluxe savings account and you can get compound interest, a the platinum credit card with a higher limit, and a free toaster. Just read this 30-page contract which lays out that the credit card interest doubles after 30 days, but as long as you always keep your account balance above $1,435, and do five PIN transactions and seven signature transactions each month, and never make a withdrawal on a Tuesday, you'll never be hit with any massive...

Fees

fees

Do you want to use an ATM for a different bank? That different bank is going to charge you a fee, but guess what? So is your bank. Why? Because they can. Were you not ready for that? Maybe you're cutting it close before your next paycheck? Well now you've earned yourself an overdraft fee, which is to say that you ran out of money, so your bank is going to charge you $35. Unless you also use that card to buy a pack of gum. Then it's another $35. Your monthly Netflix charge comes through the same night? That's another $35. Some rich asshole actually cashes the 13-cent check that you wrote as a joke? $35. Good luck hanging onto your paycheck with all these fees racking up! With very few limits on banking fees, is it any wonder they've been shooting through the roof?

Fake Accounts

clones

The Wells Fargo fake account scandal became huge news when it was revealed that their sales staff was being pressured to meet quotas that basically guaranteed they would be adding accounts for customers that didn't want them. But Wells Fargo was caught, they paid the fines, and they launched a tone deaf apology campaign. So, story's over, right? Not quite. Turns out that if banks can do some sneaky fraud and not get caught, they absolutely will. Wells Fargo is not the only culprit. You could have fake extra accounts feeding off your real one right now.

Predatory Loans

predatory loans

If you were a bank, and you didn't want to limit yourself to making loans only to customers who could afford to pay those loans back, what would you do? If you answered, "Give out predatory 'subprime' loans with surprise balloon rates," congratulations! You just triggered the 2008 Housing Crash. And if you thought that banks would have learned their lesson, you obviously don't know that they've been doing the exact same thing with car loans. And now car loans are going into default at record rates. Which is a great sign of things to come...

Bailouts and Subsidies

fat banker

Well, at least if the banks set us up for another financial crisis, they'll face the consequences, right? Hahahaha! Good one. The great thing about the growth and consolidation of the banking industry is how many banks are now "too big to fail." And they have such powerful lobbies that regulation is not even on the table. The result is that banks can use your money to be as reckless and risky as they want, and if anything goes wrong, they can count on tax payer money to come to the rescue. And on top of that, they also get some annual government subsidies, just for being who they are. Cool.

Wage Theft

wage theft

If you thought it was only customers and tax payers who were getting ripped off by the banks, you thought wrong. Even the bank employees are getting their pockets picked in the form of wage theft. Banks are some of the worst culprits in terms of withholding overtime pay.

So the next time your bank is ripping you off and you call to complain, remember not to direct your rage at the employee on the other end of that call. Just take a deep breath, close your account, then pull up a floorboard to squirrel away your cash.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.