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Personal finance tips: Canceling a gym membership, and more
Three top pieces of financial advice — from narrowing down your investment options to safeguarding your data
 
Know where else you can run? Outside.
Know where else you can run? Outside. (Thinkstock)

Too many choices
Are your investment options overwhelming you? asked Carl Richards at The New York Times. The sheer number of available choices for parking your cash can make your head spin. There are almost 25,000 investment options among mutual funds and exchange-traded funds alone. "Realistically, you could spend your entire life looking for the perfect investment." Don't drive yourself crazy; just "use a broadly diversified, low-cost index fund" and call it a day. Excessive choice can be a paralyzing trap in any financial scenario, whether you're buying a house or a new insurance policy. "We could spend the rest of our lives researching an ever-increasing number of choices and searching for perfect, but to what end? We have better things to do."

Canceling a gym membership
Consider "getting off your gym's financial treadmill," said Lindsay Gellman at The Wall Street Journal. "If the gym is shrinking your bank account but not your waistline — and you don't see that changing anytime soon — it might be time to cut ties." But leaving your gym can be tricky. Some clubs charge termination fees, though many will waive them "if you've moved away, been injured, or are similarly unable to use the gym as before." You may need to provide proof of your new address or a doctor's note, so check the club's policy. If you're taking a temporary break, "some gyms offer the option to freeze your membership for a period," which will suspend your access privileges — but also your dues — "though there may be a nominal fee."

Safeguard your card data
You have to work harder to make your credit card payments safe, said Byron Acohido at USA Today. "The U.S. stands alone as a modern nation that continues wide use of magnetic striped payment cards." Other nations long ago switched to chip-embedded cards, which are difficult to counterfeit. While U.S. businesses are slowly shifting, "magnetic striped cards aren't going away anytime soon," so you have to protect yourself. Start by having your card issuer set up behavioral alerts, which flag suspicious transactions based on your previous purchasing history. And avoid linking your debit card to your savings account to "reduce your risk profile." Of course, plastic isn't the sole risk: Mobile payments are becoming more popular, but they increase the number of "access points" through which attackers can steal your data.

 
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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