1. Consolidate Credit card debt to the lowest interest rate card. Take one step further and apply for a new card that offers zero interest rate for a limited time on all transfers. There are quite a few that will have zero interest introductory rate for several months which can amount to a few hundred dollars if you have large credit card debts. Definitely avoid payday loans and high interest credit cards. It also doesn't hurt to simply ask your banker to reduce your interest rate and tell them your reason (consolidate debt).
2. If you are a low to moderate-income worker you may qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit that can be over $1,000, and more often than not, $2,000. Check the IRS Publication 596 for application procedures. Use the money from this credit to pay down debt.
3. If you have large debts with high interest rates and have good credit you may want to consider peer-to-peer lending sites such as Lendingclub. A person with a score of over 750 can get a 36 month loan for as little as 6% a year. That sure beats 15% on a Visa!
4. If you are saving for a home, education or a business, consider participating in a local Investment Development Account (IDA) program. You can typically receive $2 for every $1 you save through an IDA program.
5. Cookie Jar - This may sound cheesy but I really love this one. Set aside a cookie jar or piggy bank that you have to physically break open to get the money inside. Plunk in paper money only (no monopoly money) everyday or every other day. This is how I save for special occasions.
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