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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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.