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Making money: The effectiveness of personal websites, and more
Three top pieces of financial advice — from battling bank fees to lowering your credit score
Spend your time polishing up the LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
Spend your time polishing up the LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. (Courtesy Shutterstock)

Do personal websites work?
If you're looking for a job, said Sam Grobart at Businessweek, your personal website won't be much help. Many job seekers think that setting up their own website will enhance their "brand," but such sites are usually "a colossal waste of time." There was a time when "maintaining SamGrobart.com was a way to show that I was internet-savvy, and the novelty of the site overshadowed its uselessness." But social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn have made personal websites for job hunters obsolete. Instead of "doing careful spadework on your own site," keep your existing digital profile — the one employers will find when they pull up your Facebook or LinkedIn profile or Google your name — as current and compelling as possible.

Battling bank fees
Quit paying those bank fees, said Kelli B. Grant at CNBC.com. A new study from WalletHub.com found that the average checking account has an average of 30 potential fees built in. Everything from overdraft fees, ATM surcharges, and mobile banking fees can take little bites out of your balance. And such fees are getting more expensive. You can cut or eliminate them by asking questions. "There's still enough variation on fees by account and bank that it's worth shopping around for an account that fits your needs and minimizes charges." If you do get slapped with a fee, call up the bank's customer service line. "There's a good chance you can talk your way out of it," since banks will often waive or reduce fees in order to keep your business.

Lower your credit card rate
If you're trying to reduce your credit card balance, work on reducing the interest rate, said Jason Steele at Credit.com. "About half of all credit cards feature a range of interest rates, and the one you received depended on your creditworthiness at the time you applied." But credit scores change, so your first step should be to call up the bank and ask for a lower rate. If they say no? Ask again. "Once you have tried making a polite request a few times," start playing hardball. Threaten to close the account if they cannot offer you a more competitive rate. You can also consider transferring the balance to another card, or ditching your current card's rewards program for a card that carries a lower rate. Do keep in mind that lower interest cards often don't offer as many perks.

Sergio Hernandez is business editor of The Week's print edition. He has previously worked for The DailyProPublica, the Village Voice, and Gawker.

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