Now Playing
97.1 The River
Last Song Played
Classic Hits
On Air
No Program
Now Playing
97.1 The River
Last Song Played
Classic Hits


200 items
Results 1 - 10 of 200 next >

Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, Oct. 28: Up Across the Board; Report Cites Almost 30 Million Homes in Danger of Wildfire

Thirty-year fixed, 15-year fixed and 5/1 ARM rates all increased Friday, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders this morning.

Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, Oct. 28 (Change from 10/27) 30-year fixed: 3.76% APR (+0.02) 15-year fixed: 3.17% APR (+0.03) 5/1 ARM: 3.63% APR (+0.01)  California and Texas have highest number of homes at extreme wildfire risk

Out of 13 western states, California and Texas have the highest number of single-family residential homes in extreme risk wildfire areas, according to a CoreLogic report released on Wednesday. CoreLogic’s scale has four categories: low, moderate, high and extreme risk, and 1.8 million homes across 13 western states fall into the high and extreme risk category. While only a small percentage of the millions of homes that fall somewhere on the scale, these 1.8 million homes represent a combined total reconstruction value of nearly $500 billion, according to the report. The other 27 million homes on the scale — those at low and moderate risk — have an estimated reconstruction cost value of $6.7 trillion.

Among metro areas, Southern California’s Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area has the highest number of homes at extreme risk (51,775), while Northern California’s Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade area comes in second (41,937) and Colorado’s Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area comes in third (33,226).

Last year marked the first time that wildfires burned more than 10 million acres in the US, according to the report. For the previous 20 years (1995-2014), the average burned acreage per year was 5,820,402 acres.

“The drought conditions that have plagued the western U.S. for the past several years, and continue to impact California, only serve to increase the threat of damaging fire events,” the report says. “However, historic records of wildfire activity indicate that even without drought conditions, both [California and Texas] — and the other western states — would still continue to have areas of high wildfire risk each year.”

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Michael Burge is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:

Need help around the house? Companies offer costumed cleaners

If you want to tidy up your house without breaking out of the Halloween spirit, a handful of specialty cleaning businesses may have what you're looking for. Multiple companies are offering cleaners in costume.

>> Read more trending stories

Here's a look at a few of them:

My Model Maid, Connecticut: My Model Maid launched this month in Connecticut with 11 maids and three costumes. The company hires models between the ages of 19 and 30 to clean people's homes while dressed as a French maid, Wonder Woman, a cheerleader or a schoolgirl.

"I wanted a fun alternative to housecleaning," owner Josh Dailey, 31, told the Connecticut Post.

Have My Model Maid help host your next party or have your own personal cheerleader on GameDay! We'll serve all your drinks/apps and even handle the cleanup. Contact Us today to book or additional information 860-806-7777 A photo posted by My Model Maid (@mymodelmaid) on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:22am PDT <script async defer src="//"></script>

The company has gotten some criticism from people who believe the cleaning service is degrading for women; however, 29-year-old Model Maid Katie Weinstein told the Post that isn't the case.

"I find it a little funny," she told the newspaper. "In Connecticut, it's a little conservative. This would be wonderful to have in Manhattan."

Meanwhile, she said she's only gotten positive reactions from customers.

"They're like 'Oh my God, I can't believe you're here,'" she told the Post. "People just love costumes. It's a novelty; it's no different than a singing telegram. It's similar to having a clown at a children's birthday party."

The Costumed Cleaners, California: In the San Luis Obispo area, a cleaning business offers customers the chance to get their homes tidied by anything from a French maid to a Marvel superhero.

"Our main goal is to provide a fun way to clean your house using homemade eco-friendly cleaning products, and we pride ourselves on being able to put a smile on your face in the process," wrote The Costumed Cleaners owner Rocky De La Rosa on the company's website.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Finally got some "sample" pics to share. These are only SOME of the costumes.Posted by The Costumed Cleaners on Monday, August 31, 2015

The cleaning service offers 14 costumes for customers to choose from, a combination of De La Rosa's passion for dressing up, making her own products, cleaning and making people happy.

"We pride ourselves (on) being professionals, and operate our business by the book," the company said on its Facebook page. "All of our costumes are sexy, but tasteful."

Men in Kilts, multiple locations: Across the U.S. and Canada, multiple men don black shirts and kilts as part of the Men in Kilts outdoor cleaning workforce. They provide a variety of services, including window washing, gutter cleaning and pressure washing. Their uniforms include black shirts with a teasing slogan on them: "No Peeking!"

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>

"All the guys are stand-up guys, but the girls love to flirt. I'll tell you that. They love to flirt," Houston Men in Kilts franchise owner Bob Cavnar told the Austin American-Statesman in April. "(People) like to joke about the guys wearing kilts and being up on ladders, and what are you wearing under the kilt. But of course, we never answer that question."

Canadian Nicholas Brand, the son of a Scottish immigrant, launched his window cleaning company in 2002 and chose to put his cleaners in kilts to "put a visual to the otherwise faceless window cleaner."

The company has since opened multiple locations, including shops in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, California and Washington.

Ask Brianna: How Can I Get Help Paying for Graduate School?

“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to

This week’s question:

“I want to get an advanced degree, but I’m not sure how to pay for it. How can I get financial aid as a graduate student?”

When I was unhappy at my job in my mid-20s, I daydreamed about going back to school the way some people long for a vacation to Costa Rica. I wanted to spar intellectually with professors instead of eating sad, solo lunches at my desk.

I know this makes me a big nerd, but I’m not the only one. Between 2014 and 2015, enrollment among first-time graduate students increased 3.9% at schools that responded to a recent survey by the Council of Graduate Schools. That was the fourth straight year of growth in graduate enrollment.

Before you run to the campus store to buy grad-school swag, make sure an advanced degree is right for you. Resources like PayScale’s College Salary Report can show you what salary you might earn when you graduate. Ask professional connections in your chosen field about their career paths and scan job descriptions to see whether a graduate degree is required.

Once you’ve committed to grad school, paying for it isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have a ton of savings or help from your parents. I went to grad school for journalism in 2013 on the cheap by getting in-state tuition and generous scholarships from a city school. You can get financial aid and even student loan forgiveness, depending on your field — you just have to know where to look. Here are three ways to get help paying for grad school.

Ask for tuition reimbursement at work

If you plan to continue working when you go back to school, find out whether your company will help pay for your degree. More than three-quarters of U.S. employers that responded to a 2015 survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans said they provide educational assistance to workers. Survey respondents most frequently offered an annual benefit valued at $5,000 to $6,999.

This perk often takes the form of tuition reimbursement, which means you’ll pay for your program upfront and receive a lump sum to pay for education expenses after your grades have posted. If you can’t pay all your tuition in one go, ask the school if it will let you pay in installments. Make sure you understand all the rules and limitations of your company’s program. You might have to return the funds if you leave within a year of completing your coursework, for instance.

On the job hunt? Negotiate for tuition reimbursement when you receive a job offer if it’s not already on the table, says Mary G. Morris, chief executive officer of Virginia529 College Savings Plan, an independent state agency that helps families plan and pay for college.

Fill out the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the elaborate financial aid form that plagued your college years, is back — and it’s just as important now as it was then. Graduate students who attend school at least half time are eligible for federal student loans, federal grants aimed at prospective teachers, and work-study funds, which you’ll have access to only if you fill out the FAFSA.

A few things have changed since undergrad: You’re considered an independent student now, so your parents’ income and assets won’t affect how much financial aid you receive. You can borrow up to $20,500 a year in federal unsubsidized loans, which is more than you had access to in college. Look for ways to reduce your living expenses or work part time to avoid overborrowing and getting a shocker of a loan bill when you graduate.

The FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year is available now, so you won’t have to wait until Jan. 1 as in years past. You can also use your income from 2015, which means you won’t have to wait to do your 2016 taxes to add your financial information to the form.

Look forward to forgiveness or refinancing

Graduate school might help you switch careers, like I did, or increase your earning power in your chosen field. It’s an investment in your future — and if that means taking out loans, in some cases, you’ll be able to find relief later through student loan forgiveness or refinancing.

If you work for the government or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will eliminate your federal student loan balance tax-free after you make 120 monthly loan payments, or 10 years’ worth if you make the payments consecutively. Teachers have access to federal loan forgiveness if they work in certain school districts or teach particular subjects.

Workers at for-profit companies with solid incomes and good credit can refinance their student loans at lower interest rates through private lenders. Those with graduate degrees are often particularly good candidates for refinancing. But know that you’ll lose various forgiveness and repayment benefits if you refinance federal student loans; refinancing private loans is a safer bet.

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

6 Big Mistakes People Make When Settling Debt

If you can’t pay back a debt you may be able to settle it for less than what is owed. The goal in doing so is pretty straight forward — you want to get the creditor to accept a lower payment amount than the current balance on the loan or account. However, getting there can prove to be a challenging task and there are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid when trying to settle a debt.

1. Having Unrealistic Expectations

You may have heard you can settle a debt for pennies on the dollar, in the 10-25% range. That may be idealistic, so you shouldn’t expect it to go that way.

“While you may be able to negotiate down your debt, it’s important to remember that lenders are typically for-profit businesses accountable to shareholders,” John Schneider of the Debt Free Guys, and contributor, said.

2. Overlooking Tax Consequences

Any time a debt is forgiven or settled, the IRS treats the forgiven amount as taxable income, and the creditor will most likely issue you a 1099-C. If you don’t keep this in mind, you may be faced with a surprise when Tax Day comes along.

“You’re not done paying for your debt when you send your settlement check,” Schneider said. “However, the amount of tax you may owe on this income or settlement amount will depend on other assets you have.”

3. Negotiating Too Early

“It seems counter-intuitive, but the more you demonstrate your inability to pay your lender back, the more inclined your lender will be to negotiate,” Schneider said. “Missing a few payments wouldn’t qualify.”

Missed payments and prolonged delinquencies will have a big effect on your credit, but it’s important to understand going in that many credit card companies may not be willing to negotiate with you until you are at least 90 days delinquent. In addition, being premature in the process may refer to the fact that you don’t have a full grasp on your financial situation.

“The ‘too early’ would be that you should have a budget and [know] what is possible before negotiating,” Thomas Duffany, an Accredited Financial Counselor, said. (For more, you can read this guide on tips for negotiating with creditors.)

4. Not Getting Help Negotiating

The person you talk to on the other end of the line at the credit card company or the collections firm is a professional whose skills may be intimidating.

“The person who negotiates for the lender is an expert at negotiating,” Schneider said, so asking for help might be a good option. “If you need to bring in a friend or a colleague more skilled with negotiating to speak on your behalf it may be worth it.” There are also professional organizations that can help negotiate — if that’s the route you choose, consider reading this guide that goes over 14 questions you should be asking a debt settlement company.

“Navigating issues of debt can be stressful, confusing, and frustrating,” Rebecca Wiggins, executive director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, said. “It is important that consumers know where to turn and who they can trust to guide them to financial security.” She recommended consumers “look for a trusted professional with reputable credentials and comprehensive training.”

5. Settling for an Amount You Cannot Afford

It’s no good negotiating a settlement if you wind up defaulting on the new agreement, essentially putting you back in the same stressful situation.

“It is essential that consumers have an updated spending plan to understand income, expenses and debt,” Wiggins said. “It will also help to determine how much they can afford to pay toward debt.”

6. Not Getting the Agreement in Writing

Getting a creditor or collection agency to agree to a settlement is only part of the process — once you get them to agree, it’s essential to get the agreement documented in writing. Oral contracts are extremely difficult to enforce, so having a written agreement spelling out the terms of the agreement exactly will help you should you need to enforce the contract in court.

According to Todd Christensen, the director of education at the National Financial Education Center in Boise, Idaho, it’s important that “… anyone setting a debt should get in writing that the creditor will not sell (send to collections) any remaining amount not paid.”

As you continue to work on paying your debts, it’s a good idea to monitor the effects it’s having on your credit. You can view two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on


Related Articles

This article originally appeared on

Here's What Happened When a Seattle Bar Went Completely Cashless

When Sam Largent opened his second bar in the Seattle area, he thought he’d take a bold risk: No cash allowed. Well, no physical currency, anyway.

All customers must pay with plastic. Debit and credit only; no greenbacks welcome.

“Dealing with cash brings a lot of issues,” says Largent. Like making change, reconciling at the end of each wait staff shift, going to the bank. “If the till is short at the end of the night, it’s usually a simple error, but it can take half an hour to find.”

Largent opened his first bar, Flatstick Pub, with his brother Andy back in 2014. Located on Seattle’s posh east side, not far from Microsoft headquarters, it’s a relaxed place that serves only local microbrews and includes a nine-hole mini-golf course. And, it took cash.

But when the brothers eyed a second spot in Seattle’s Pioneers Square, near downtown, crime concerns were a factor. And that helped tip the no-cash scales. When the second Flatstick opened this June, it was a “cards only” establishment.

“I’d seen a few other places do it, so I thought we’d try it,” Largent said. He anticipated complaints, but he got hardly any. Things went so well that the original Flatstick went “cards only” this month.

“There was a little more pushback there, because we had been taking cash there. But overall, it’s working out well,” he said. So well that the additional credit card transaction fees are worth it. “I like the idea from any efficiency standpoint.”

Retailers refusing cash isn’t exactly new. Airlines have been doing it for years when fliers buy meals (A 2011 lawsuit against Continental Airlines for not taking cash was dismissed by a New Jersey Superior Court). Plenty of non-manned facilities, like parking garages, only take cards.

Traditional retailers have been slower to go cashless, however. Back in 2010, some Apple stores reportedly didn’t accept cash when selling iPads, though the firm reversed that policy.

There are scattered examples of cash-free shopping popping up around the country, however. A coffee shop chain on the east coast named Bluestone Lane announced recently it would go cashless on Oct. 31, citing faster checkout speed and enhanced store operations.

“It’s a more sustainable option. Less vehicles moving money around the city,” the chain says on its website.

The Drawbacks of Going Cashless

Going cashless is not without growing pains, though. The most obvious might be lower tips for wait staff, as consumers stop dropping loose change or dollar bills into tip cups. As Starbucks increasingly nudges its customers towards paying with their app, Starbucks employees have complained that tips there have plummeted.

Largent says it’s been a mixed bag for his bartenders. Consumers who tip 20% on a credit card bill full of $6 microbrew purchases might actually be giving more than the usual $1-per-drink tip formula.

There’s no denying the pain Uncle Sam brings to this equation. Tips left on plastic must be declared and taxed, while wait staff can evade taxes left in cash.

Employee theft might be another enticement for owners to push forward with cashless solutions, but Largent said that didn’t factor into his thinking – it’s not a problem for him. On the other hand, high-cash businesses like bars bring all sorts of opportunity for below-the-table transactions that he doesn’t have to worry about now.

“We try to do everything by the books, not cut corners,” he said.

And increasingly, it appears consumers are trying to do everything without cash. A recent survey by Accenture says the percentage of consumers who used cash regularly dropped from 67% to 60% in the past year.

Photo of sign inside Flatstick Pub taken by Bob Sullivan

What About People Who Don’t Use Plastic? Or Banks?

The other main concern with cash-free retail is consumers who don’t have access to plastic through checking or savings accounts, a group sometimes referred to as the “unbanked.” The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimates that 7% of U.S. households— about 9 million— are unbanked. While this group can’t get a traditional debit or credit card, use of General Purpose Reloadable cards —prepaid debit cards— is quickly filling that gap. Use of the cards jumped 50% from 2012 to 2014, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Some 2.4% of the U.S. population are unbanked consumers with prepaid debit cards, meaning the number of people without access to any kind of plastic payment is less than 5%.

While those consumers aren’t complaining, Largent said, when I posted a picture showing Flatstick’s new policy on my Facebook page, readers didn’t care for it:

“I’d probably boycott on principal alone,” said one Oregon resident.

“That’s a place I wouldn’t shop. I refuse to be forced to use plastic,” said another.

Other readers were more sympathetic.

“One of the stores in the chain I work for took four counterfeit $100 bills in one day. That is enough of an incentive to do something like this,” said one.

But even before the change, Largent said cash sales at his original location were only about 10% of total sales — so in the end, the risk for his business was very small. Meanwhile, he and other retailers have a whole host of new, non-cash payment systems to worry about.

The Accenture survey mentioned earlier found that 32% of millennials had used mobile payment tools like person-to-person app Venmo. Other mobile wallet technologies like Apple Pay and Android Pay, while less popular with consumers, are making in-roads and helping squeeze out cash.

“I think the trend will be more and more options for people to make payments electronically,” Largent said. “We get very busy, and not taking cash really helps us keep the line moving, lets us focus on our customers.”

If you’re among the unbanked, but are thinking about opening a bank account, here are seven important questions to ask your banker before opening an account. And if you don’t have any credit cards but would like one, it’s important to remember that your credit scores will help determine what credit cards you qualify for. Being rejected for a card you don’t qualify for (if you apply but you have bad credit, for example) can actually ding your credit scores. If you don’t know what your credit scores are, you can see two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on

Related Articles

This article originally appeared on

Some Careers Can Help You Conquer Student Debt Faster

Your job affects more than just what you do all day and how big your paycheck is. It can also influence your ability to repay your student debt.

That’s because borrowers in certain careers are especially good candidates for student loan refinancing. Refinancing student debt allows qualified borrowers to get lower rates and has grown in popularity in the past few years. If it’s the right move for you, refinancing can save you thousands of dollars in interest and help you become debt-free faster.

Best careers for student loan refinancing

If you’re in health care, law, business or engineering, you have a good shot at qualifying for refinancing. Those careers are very strongly represented among borrowers who refinance through Earnest, says Lian Chang, a data editor at the online student loan refinancing company. Of the company’s student loan refinancing clients, 44% have a professional degree, she adds.

At CommonBond, another online company that offers student loan refinancing, attorney, pharmacist, physician assistant, physician, registered nurse and physical therapist were among the most common occupations of borrowers who refinanced between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, says Radhika Duggal, vice president of marketing. Teacher and project manager also made CommonBond’s list.

Why your career matters

Student loan refinance lenders typically look at three things when they underwrite potential borrowers: credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio, which is the amount of debt you owe relative to your earnings. In addition, your occupation helps lenders understand the likelihood that you’ll repay your loan.

“Physicians historically pay back their loans pretty responsibly,” says Jan Miller, an independent student loan consultant. “They get better [refinance] rates than someone else who has a different profession and the same income.”

Student loan borrowers with postgraduate degrees tend to have higher incomes and higher debt loads than borrowers with bachelor’s degrees, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics.

Even if borrowers in high-paying fields have higher debt-to-income ratios or slightly lower credit scores compared with other borrowers, their job can help make up for it, Chang says. “If we know that [borrowers are] M.D.s and they’re currently in their residency, we know that they’re likely good for it,” she says. “We know what their trajectory tends to look like in the future.”

A fancy job isn’t everything

Doctors, lawyers and pharmacists stand to save the most, on average, by refinancing their student debt, according to a 2015 NerdWallet analysis. But you don’t need a professional degree to qualify for and benefit from refinancing.

“You could be a teacher or a librarian and be a great candidate for refinancing,” says Catherine New, senior editor at Earnest, “as long as your track record demonstrates that you’re financially responsible.” For Earnest, that includes having a history of paying your bills on time and contributing to a savings account.

Not everyone should refinance student debt. For example, hold off on refinancing federal student loans if you work for the government or a nonprofit. You’re eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but you won’t be if you refinance. Refinancing also disqualifies federal loan borrowers from accessing income-driven repayment plans and other federal forgiveness programs. Private student debt isn’t eligible for these programs, so that debt may still be worth refinancing if you have high interest rates.

If you think refinancing is for you, whether you’re in a high-earning career or not, you’ll save the most money by finding the lowest rate. Using a marketplace makes it convenient to compare rate estimates across multiple lenders. Try Credible, a NerdWallet partner, or LendKey, a refinance marketplace featuring community banks and credit unions.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @teddynykiel.

4 Things a Good Credit Card Issuer Will Offer People With Bad Credit

Sometimes, bad credit happens to good people. To rebuild your credit, you need financial institutions to take you seriously, treat you with respect and give you another shot. What you do not need is a long series of rejected credit card applications or sketchy “instant approval” credit cards with high fees or unfair terms.

Even with a credit history that is less than optimal, you can still get approved for a credit card from a reputable issuer. Many major issuers are looking for ways to help people with bad credit — generally defined as a credit score below 630. And they’re not just doing it to be generous. A company that gives consumers a second chance and helps them rebuild their credit can earn their loyalty for years. That’s an appealing prospect for banks looking to build long-term relationships with consumers.

“Our customers run the gamut,” says Judy Teeven, head of general purpose credit cards for Wells Fargo. “We feel compelled to have something to meet the needs of each of these groups.”

When you go looking for a credit card for bad credit, here are four things you can expect a good issuer to provide:

  1. Good credit cards for bad credit
  2. Financial fitness programs
  3. Credit-tracking tools
  4. A way to move up to a better card
NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Virginia C. McGuire Get Your Free Credit Score Get your free score every week.Set goals and see your progress.Signing up won't affect your score. Get your credit score Get Your Free Credit Score Get your credit score 1. Good credit cards for bad credit

Most major issuers offer credit cards for bad credit, so don’t be shy about asking. If your credit is bad, the best choice is probably a secured credit card.

The major downside to secured cards is that you have to make a sizable security deposit, which the issuer holds as collateral in case you fail to pay your credit card bills. Usually the deposit is equal to your credit limit, so a deposit of $500 will get you a credit card with a $500 limit.

But that deposit is also what makes a secured credit card easier to get approved for, since it all but eliminates the risk to the issuer. With responsible use of a secured card, you may be able to transition to a regular unsecured card — one with no deposit requirement — in a year or even less. You get your deposit back when you close a secured card or convert the account to an unsecured card.

Secured cards may have an annual fee, but you shouldn’t pay more than $50 a year. Some secured cards don’t charge an annual fee at all. NerdWallet likes the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee, which has an annual fee of $0 and gives you the opportunity to earn rewards — a rarity for a secured card.

Avoid cards that require you to pay a processing or activation fee just to open the account or monthly “maintenance” fees just to keep it open.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best secured credit cards

2. Financial fitness programs

It’s possible that you were doing everything perfectly and you got hit with some very bad luck that ruined your credit. It’s also possible that you made a mistake or two along the way.

Many issuers that offer credit cards for bad credit also provide financial education to help people learn to manage credit more effectively. For example, Digital Federal Credit Union offers specialized coaching for people in different financial situations. You can learn budgeting skills and debt management strategies, advice about student loans and tips for becoming a homeowner.

John LaHair, a spokesperson for DFCU, recommends that people track their expenses closely for a week to see where their money is going. “You’ll be amazed at what you find,” he says.

Sometimes, something as simple as looking at where your cash is going can help you trim your expenses and pay your bills on time.

» MORE: Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

3. Credit-tracking tools

Nothing builds your credit score faster than responsible use of a credit card. So once you’ve gotten approved for a credit card, you want to do two things:

    • Use your credit card carefully. That means making only a few charges every month — not maxing out the card — and paying them off in full and on time.
    • Keep track of your credit score. This is where your credit card issuer can help. Many issuers offer free credit scores and specialized tools that help you track your progress over time.

» MORE: What’s my credit score?

4. A way to move up to a better card

Because secured card issuers are holding onto a pretty big chunk of your money in the form of a security deposit, you probably want to move on to an unsecured card as soon as possible.

Some secured cards require the cardholders to close their accounts to get their deposits back. But closing one account and opening another can ding your credit score, so it’s better to find a card that allows you to transition to an unsecured card without opening a new account.

The Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee is one such example. After your first year with the card, Discover will begin automatically reviewing your account monthly to see whether you’re ready to upgrade. When the time comes, you’ll be able to graduate to an unsecured card and recoup your deposit without opening a new account.

» MORE: Why applying for the wrong credit cards can make bad credit worse

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @vcmcguire.

Thousands take to social media, vow to boycott Black Thursday

Thousands of people are vowing to spend Thanksgiving Day anywhere but in a store through a Facebook page called "Boycott Black Thursday."

>> Read more trending stories

The page on Tuesday shared an image of a button that said "I'm not shopping on Thanksgiving Day!" The image was shared nearly 50,000 times by Thursday afternoon and had more than 12,000 reactions.

The message resonated with shoppers and retailer workers alike.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> SHARE to tell the world!Want to wear this button proudly - in real life? Buy it here and a portion of your purchase will go to charity! by Boycott Black Thursday on Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"I remember my dad making sure the car was filled up the day before holidays. ... because a lot of service stations were closed," Jim Snyder wrote in response to the post. "Amazing how we have become a country where every opportunity to sell is exploited and any desire to purchase must be satiated."

Black Thursday is the name given to sales that run on Thanksgiving Day, a spinoff of traditional Black Friday sales.

"I'm not shopping because I'll (be) working," Darlene Spurlock wrote on the "Boycott Black Thursday" post. "Not all retailers (are) getting the message. So when (you) shop, we can't enjoy the day with our families like you do. Boycott Black Thursday, so we can all enjoy the holiday with family and friends!"

Thanksgiving Day sales at brick-and-mortar stores dropped from just over $2 billion in 2014 to $1.8 billion last year, according to Practical Ecommerce. Citing retail research firm ShopperTrak, Practical Ecommerce reported a 10 percent drop in shopping at "physical stores," although it noted that digital sales on Thanksgiving Day were "up by double digits."

5 Key Items for Your Estate Plan

By Heather Castle, CFP

Learn more about Heather at NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor.

Creating an estate plan — a plan for what will happen to your property and assets when you die or can no longer manage your affairs — can be confusing and time-consuming. But having a few basic legal documents in place can make a big difference to your loved ones during a difficult time.

Work with a trusted attorney who understands your state’s estate laws to identify the best strategies for your circumstances. Here are five key estate-planning items to consider:

1. A living trust

Sometimes called an inter vivos trust or revocable trust, a living trust is a legal document that places your assets into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime, which means you can continue to use them as you normally would. When you die, these assets would be transferred to your appointed heirs by your representative, often called a successor trustee.

By using a living trust, you’ll save your representative and heirs time and money, because your assets avoid the legal process of distributing property when someone dies intestate, or without a will. This distribution process is called probate and can take a long time. If you die without a will, the probate court would determine who gets your assets based on your state’s laws. By avoiding probate you’ll protect your privacy, since probate is public, and speed the transfer of your assets.

2. Up-to-date beneficiary designations

One of the easiest ways to provide for those you care about is by properly designating your beneficiaries: the people, trusts or organizations you want to give your assets to upon your death. Consider and review each beneficiary designation you have made on financial assets like 401(k) plans, pension plans, individual retirement accounts and Roth IRAs, and on any insurance policies or annuities you own. One important reason to do this is accounts with properly designated beneficiaries can avoid probate and pass directly to your heirs when you die.

3. A pour-over will

A will is a legal document that states your wishes for who will inherit your property when you die. A pour-over will works alongside your living trust and has special language making the trust the beneficiary. When you use this in conjunction with your living trust, it acts as a safety net to catch and move any personal assets that weren’t placed in the trust during your lifetime. These assets would be moved to the trust after your death and distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust according to your wishes.

If you don’t use a will with pour-over language in conjunction with a living trust, any assets that you didn’t place in the trust during your life will be considered part of your estate. A regular will would go to probate to be proven in court, and then the assets would go to whomever you listed.

If you die without any will at all, your estate would go to probate and would pass to certain heirs by law, which may differ from what you would like to see happen.

4. Power of attorney

A power of attorney is written authorization for someone to act on your behalf in private, business or legal affairs. There are several different types, including:

  • Heath care power of attorney is a legal document in which you name a trusted person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you if you can’t.
  • Durable power of attorney gives a trusted person the authority to handle financial transactions on your behalf. This is designed to allow someone else to manage all of your financial affairs for you now and in the future if you become incapacitated.
  • Springing power of attorney, like a durable power of attorney, identifies a trusted person to handle your financial affairs on your behalf. However, it doesn’t give that person the current ability to make financial decisions for you. A springing power of attorney will spring into action only when there has been a triggering event like incapacitation.

Discuss with your attorney the details of each to ensure you understand and select the one that is best suited for your situation.

5. A living will 

A living will, or advance directive, is a written document or statement in which you detail your wishes regarding medical treatment and life-sustaining efforts in case you become incapacitated and can no longer express informed consent. This doesn’t have to do with your assets, but it’s important to have for the sake of your loved ones. It can help them know what you want to happen during an extremely difficult time.

Next steps

Review these documents regularly. You may need to update them if you’ve moved recently or plan to move — especially to a different state, because estate laws vary from state to state. You may also want to update them when you have significant life changes like marriage, divorce, remarriage, new children in the family or the death of a loved one.

Keep your estate documents in a place that is safe but where your family or representative can find them when necessary. It’s a good idea to keep a list of personal, retirement and trust accounts and the name of the financial institutions where your accounts are held, too. This account ledger will help your representative quickly and easily notify the account managers if something happens to you.

Having these basic estate planning documents in place and reviewing them regularly will help ensure that your assets will pass smoothly to your heirs and make a challenging situation significantly easier for your family and friends.

Heather Castle, CFP, is the founder of Castle Wealth Advisors LLC in Los Angeles.

Twitter is discontinuing Vine

Social media practitioners who like to create and view video content six seconds at a time will be sad to hear Twitter's latest news. The money-losing social media platform is doing away with Vine.

>> Read more trending stories  

"Nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today," the company said in a statement. "We value you, your Vines and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We'll be keeping the website online because we think it's important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website."

Although speculation has swirled about a possible buyer, Twitter finds itself unacquired and unprofitable. Axing Vine is part of a larger restructuring. Nine percent of Twitter's workforce is getting cut.

Shares of Twitter, which have tumbled 27 percent in the past month as possible suitors have wandered away, rose 34 cents, or 2 percent, to $17.63 in afternoon trading on Thursday, the AP reported.

The San Francisco company said it expects to take $10 million to $20 million in charges as it lays off more than 300 of its 3,860 workers.

"We have a clear plan, and we're making the necessary changes to ensure Twitter is positioned for long-term growth," CEO Jack Dorsey said in a company release.

Vine stars don't need to worry about their content disappearing today but should probably start storing somewhere else soon.

"We'll be working closely with creators to make sure your questions are answered and will work hard to do this the right way," the joint message from Vine and Twitter said. "We'll be sharing more details on this blog and our Twitter account and will notify you through the app when we start to change things."

200 items
Results 1 - 10 of 200 next >