If you use credit cards, keeping in control of how you manage them is a must.

Aside from paying your bills on time, there are other ways to stay on top of your credit. Even canceling your cards every now and then can be beneficial, provided the reason(s) behind doing so will help your credit in the long run. These reasons to cancel make sense when you are experiencing credit chaos. Always check with an expert before "pulling the plug," but act in a timely manner to make the most of your money.

Cancel before crisis www.wisebread.com

You Saw Fraudulent Charges on Your Card

Wait a minute! You were in Virginia when your card was used to pay for a $500 dinner in Manhattan! Looks like someone got a hold of your card number and treated himself to Champagne and caviar. Along with reporting the issue to the card company at once, it may be a smart idea to cancel the card too.

As Cheat Sheet explains, "In situations where your credit card was stolen or lost, your card issuer will usually close the account and issue a new card. However, if a business is making unauthorized charges, your best choice is to close the card. For example, if you signed up for a monthly service and then decided to cancel, but the business is still charging you even after you've notified it about the issue, keeping the card might not be in your best interest."

Credit.com adds, "You may want to close your account rather than risk having to fight to get charges reversed in the future." Save yourself from ongoing hassle by nipping the situation in the bud before you've got a garden to tend to.

The Annual Fees are Through the Roof

Credit cards provide convenience, but we pay the price with fees that can be absurd. As The Motley Fool points out, "High-end credit cards usually come with annual fees to account for all the perks they provide, but how much are they really worth? Some simple math can show whether the combined value of your rewards is greater than the fee you're shelling out every year."

Before canceling, see if you can get the fee down…no, it isn't set in stone. As Cheat Sheet recommends, "Before closing your card, you can try to negotiate for a lower rate or fee. If your efforts are not fruitful, it's time to move on. High fees will lengthen the time it takes to pay down your debt."

You've Been Overspending

Some people don't realize how much they're spending when they whip out that little piece of plastic and splurge. Even little items add up quickly, leaving folks flabbergasted when the monthly bill arrives. If you're the type to overspend, particularly when using your card, it may be time to quit cold turkey, at least until you gain some self-control.

According to The Motley Fool, "Nearly 60% of Americans have maxed out a credit card at least once in their lives, according to an American Consumer Credit Counseling survey. Overspending with credit can leave you saddled with balances that increase by the day thanks to high APR interest, potential late fees, and max-out penalties. If you can't control yourself, it's a good idea to close your credit cards -- even the ones with remaining balances. You'll still be able to pay off your debt, but you won't be able to keep making charges."

You're Getting Divorced

Divorce is painful enough – and the financial aspects of splitting only add more headaches and hassles. According to Credit.com, "If you are separating or getting divorced from someone with whom you share a joint account, go ahead and close it. Otherwise, as long as the account is open, you are fully responsible for any bills your soon-to-be-ex runs up."

Start fresh financially once those cards are dealt with, and leave zero room for more back and forth battles over the bills.

Do you really need all those? www.greenamerica.org

For information on applying for a new credit card, see the best way to go about it before signing up.

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.