By Mary Hunt
Remember the good old days when “plastic” referred to credit and debit cards? These days, a person could have only one credit card but a wallet jampacked with plastic — loyalty and store clubs cards, which look and feel just like credit cards. Today’s first reader tip offers a clever way to keep them neatly organized but also handy.
RING OF LOYALTY. For all of those people who carry rewards cards from dozens of stores, here’s my tip: Punch a hole in one corner of each card, and put them all on a key ring. That way, the cards never get lost and they are easy to find in your purse. I added my library card to my ring, as well. Just be careful to insert a hole where it will not interfere with the swipe bar or a bar code. That way, the cashier can take the entire key ring and still swipe your card. However, do not carry your credit cards or driver’s license on a ring, as punching a hole in those may invalidate them. — Lynn, Ontario
FEE-FREE. My husband and I once had a credit card with an annual fee. My husband would call the credit card company when we received notification that there would be a fee. He simply asked to have the fee removed because we were longtime good customers with good credit. The company always agreed because it knew we would walk away. Now, given today’s economic climate, it’s hard to say whether the credit card companies will go along with this, but it’s worth a try. There’s an old saying: “If you don’t ask, the answer is no.” — Janet C., New Jersey
CREDIT TRACKER. Some credit unions give you access to your credit score online for free. I belong to Public Service Credit Union in Denver, and I can check on my credit score when I am online checking my account. It is updated every three to four months. — Brenda L., Colorado
SMART COOKIE. I am a teacher, and I make sure my nine-month pay schedule covers all 12 months, thanks to the “summer saver program” offered by my credit union. This plan automatically deducts an amount I predetermine that I want to save from each paycheck, from October (my first paycheck) through the end of the school year. This “savings” earns more interest than it would in a regular savings account, and I can withdraw money for an emergency at any time without penalty. This way, I have enough money to survive the summer months, when I do not receive a paycheck. — Vanessa M., e-mail
TIP COLLECTOR. I love the tips and information that I get from “Everyday Cheapskate.” I have started an “Everyday Cheapskate” binder. It is divided into three sections: household tips, recipes and financial. This keeps my printed copies handy for referral and keeps me organized! — Patty W., e-mail
Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can e-mail her at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Include your first and last name and state. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including “Debt-Proof Living” and “Tiptionary 2.” To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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