The end of free checking
The age of free checking is fading, said Chris Morran at Consumerist. While U.S. consumers and businesses have $1.4 trillion stashed away — more than ever — in checking accounts, banks are limiting "the availability of unconditional free checking" and tightening their requirements, making it harder for many customers to avoid fees. Luckily, "there are still plenty of free checking accounts out there, but many of them are through smaller regional banks and credit unions." Those institutions should be rewarded for continuing to offer a service that used to be — and still ought to be — a given. Consumers can do that "by moving their money, or putting it into interest-earning accounts so that they at least get something in return for allowing the bank to use their deposits."
Curb your shopping enthusiasm
Stop overspending, said Donna Fuscaldo at Fox Business. If you're hemorrhaging cash, one way to stanch the flow is to learn to keep your spending "triggers" in check. These days, "it's easier than ever to hop online when we're bored." For compulsive shoppers, that can be dangerous, since "boredom or feeling stagnant is a common trigger." Anxiety can also cause people to stress-shop, so "try other activities like taking a walk, chatting with a friend, or organizing a closet to regain some control." And while "the idea of having to 'keep up with the Joneses' resonates" with many people, such insecurity can "drain our budgets." One way to "prevent that trigger from turning into a binge-shopping spree is to set spending limits." Try carrying only cash so you can better "fight the urge to use" your credit cards.
Retiring when self-employed
Can self-employed workers ever really retire? asked Michele Lerner at Daily Finance. Irregular income can make it difficult for self-employed people to save, but experts recommend they open a retirement account anyway. "You don't have to fund it right away, but having it open will make it easier to contribute money when you do come into a windfall," said Lule Demmissie of TD Ameritrade. Self-employed people also have a few special retirement options available to them, including SEP-IRAs, which have higher contribution limits than traditional and Roth IRAs, and Solo 401(k)s, which are ideal for self-employed workers with no additional employees.