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Personal finance tips: The safest way to pay, and more
Three top pieces of financial advice — from making salaries transparent to keeping car insurers honest
 
If you can't pay in cash, opt for credit over debit.
If you can't pay in cash, opt for credit over debit. Thinkstock

Making salaries transparent
It's time to break the salary taboo, said Claire Zillman at CNN. "Very few of us gab about how much money we earn with co-workers," and about half of all workers say "discussion of wage and salary information is discouraged or prohibited by their employers or could lead to punishment." But "salary transparency gives workers ammo to advocate for themselves" during pay negotiations and helps workers know whether they are underpaid. It can also "work to a company's benefit," because it encourages lower-paid workers to "strive to be more productive." Plus, businesses are held more accountable, since such openness "demands" that they "actually have a good explanation for why one employee makes more than another one."

The safest way to pay
You've heard it a million times: "Credit or debit?" said Kim Komando at USA Today. In the wake of data breaches at Experian and Target, there's more reason than ever to be careful about where you punch in your PIN. Criminals have been known to install "near-invisible skimmers on ATMs," which can steal your card and PIN information. "When you can, use ATMs in a restricted-access foyer" and "hold your hand over the keypad when you enter your PIN" to block any hidden cameras from recording your actions. To maximize security, pay cash for goods and services. But when convenience requires a card, opt for credit — which offers better fraud protection — over debit, especially at gas stations, restaurants, retail stores, and online outlets.

Keeping car insurers honest
You have to be vigilant to keep your insurance rates from climbing, said Gerri Detweiler at Credit.com. These days, "insurance companies are secretly 'price optimizing' customers; charging them a higher rate for no other reason than they think the customer won't shop around for a better deal." If your insurance rates have "been creeping up" without any specific cause, you may "have been PO'd." To keep your premiums low, call your insurer's bluff by shopping around. Or "better yet, shop around every time your policy comes up for renewal, even if you think you have a good rate." Savvy shoppers can play insurers against each other and snag more favorable rates that could save them hundreds of dollars.

 
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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