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Personal finance tips: How to protect yourself against lawsuits, and more
Three top pieces of financial advice — from the catch of co-branded cards to dealing with problem employees
 
Subpar employees can be as bad as a case of the Mondays.
Subpar employees can be as bad as a case of the Mondays. (Facebook.com/Office Space)

The catch of co-branded cards
Steer clear of retail credit cards, said Jason Steele at Credit.com. These days, "nearly every retailer wants you to sign up for its co-branded credit card," incentivizing sign-ups by offering discounts or interest-free financing. While "these cards can really work if you leverage the rewards and discounts," they can also get customers into trouble if they don't pay them off in full. So before signing up for a co-branded card, check out other options. Some banks offer even better credit financing, and some major cards offer points, miles, or cash-back rewards that dwarf retail cards' sign-up discounts. And if you do decide to get a retail card, perhaps to purchase a big-ticket item, shop around first. Different stores may offer better promotional financing, so be sure to ask for a written application and "review the offer later at home."

Protecting against lawsuit
Are your assets safe from lawsuits? asked Jonathan Clements at The Wall Street Journal. While getting sued may not be on everyone's list of "financial fears," the "risk can loom large" for small-business owners and the wealthy. But there are some precautions you can take. For example, small-business owners should incorporate, as that will make it "harder for creditors to take your share of the business to satisfy a personal debt." And for wealthy individuals, consider putting your money into an asset-protection trust, where "distributions are at the discretion of a trustee, who could stop payouts" if you lose a lawsuit. Thanks to homestead exemptions, losing a legal battle won't leave you on the street, but while some states have "robust" protections, "other states might protect only a portion of your home's value."

Dealing with problem employees
For bosses with subpar workers, these tips may help get them motivated, wrote Will Yakowicz at Inc. First, "don't wait." Experts say "underperformance is like an infection," and a good boss must "treat it and help it heal, or else it will spread." The key is to identify "specific improvements and goals" and create a framework for how to achieve them. "Agree on measurable actions and start tracking their progress," but be realistic and "make sure you give ample time." Finally, follow up. For workers who "turn their performance around, you should reward them." But if improvement is nowhere in sight, it may be time to cut your losses.

 
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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