Getting out of the paycheck-to-paycheck mode is about more than just spending less. Erin Lowry from Broke Millennial explains how to stop scraping by.

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Show Notes

Are you tired of scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck? Erin Lowry from Broker Millennial joins us to share strategies on how you can get out of your financial rut.

Erin Lowry is a millennial personal finance expert and the founder of She’s also the author of the forthcoming book BROKE MILLENNIAL: How to Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together. Lowry has contributed to Forbes, Business Insider, New York Magazine’s The Cut and U.S. News & World Report. Some of her insights have been featured by outlets including: CBSSunday Morning, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and Marketplace Money. Lowry lives in New York City with her spunky rescue dog Mosby.

Watch the live video above or listen to just the podcast audio by using the player below.

Hosted byMiranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Erin Lowry

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If you can handle a credit card like an adult, you might as well maximize the benefits! These best credit cards offer bonuses and other perks.

Handling your finances like an adult includes knowing how to deal with credit cards. We all make mistakes sometimes. For me, it was taking a cash advance from a credit card when I hit my personal rock bottom. I felt like I didn’t have any other choice.

But years later, I’ve turned the tables on the credit card industry and now use credit cards to earn cash back and collect points for free travel, which I do often.

Here are my picks for the best credit cards across the different types of credit card offers that are available today. Note: all credit card deals are only worthwhile if you pay your balance off in full each month, like a proper adult. If you have to pay interest or a late payment fee, forget about maximizing credit card offers. Focus on getting your finances in shape first.

Best credit card bonus (for the not-so-typical adult).

Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Bonus Points. If you visit a Chase branch, you can apply for the 100,000 bonus points offer. If you can’t get to a branch, you can apply online for a reduced bonus point offer of 50,000 points. That’s still pretty substantial. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, but you will receive a reimbursement of up to $300 for certain travel expenses like checked-bag fees.

The rest of the benefits may be worth the $150 difference between the reimbursement maximum and the fee. You’ll need to spend $4,000 on the card within the first three months to receive the bonus. Get the 100,000 bonus points and you’re straight fire.

Best cash back credit card offer (for adults who like money).

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. The keys to a good cash back card are avoiding the annual fee, eliminating any hassle to retrieving the cash you earn, and finding a cash-back rate that’s above the average offer. 1% cash back is easy to find, but Blue Cash Everyday beats that with 3% cash back on groceries (limited), 2% at gas stations, 10% on restaurants for the first six months (limited), and 1% on everything else. Right now, AmEx is offering a $100 cash back bonus, too.

Best travel rewards credit card offer (for adults who have places to be).

BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card. If you’re looking for a travel rewards credit card, you should expect to find features that make travel easy. The biggest benefit, especially for the world traveler, is having no foreign transaction fee. Bank of America’s offer makes that happen, and does not charge an annual fee, either.

You earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, unlimited, and those points are redeemed for a statement credit that covers flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees. There’s no need to convert points to miles or points with a specific airline or hotel chain. Because you use the card normally to pay for your travel expenses, there are no black-out dates.

Best balance transfer credit card (for adults who need to simplify).

Chase Slate. If there’s one thing you want from a credit card you wish to use to transfer a balance, it’s the lack of a fee. If there’s another thing you want, it’s a low interest rate so you can pay off that balance transfer without any extra costs. Chase Slate has the perfect offer. For the first 60 days, you can transfer balances from your other cards for free, and you’ll have 15 months to pay off that balance without paying a cent in interest (0% APR) as long as you pay at least the minimum due each month.

This is the perfect opportunity to consolidate your balances across several cards and create one manageable, monthly payment. But pay the balance in full within the introductory period and don’t add to the balance with purchases!

Best credit card offer for students (for adults who are trying to adult).

Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students. I got my first credit card in college. I signed up and got a free tee-shirt. You get more when you are approved for Citi’s card for college students, probably the credit card offer with the most chill. There’s 2,500 bonus points available for those who sign up, and you have to spend only $500 in the first three months to qualify.

The purpose of a student card is to help you build credit, so don’t expect too many frills besides the basic rewards and introductory 0% APR for 7 months.

Best small business credit card (for adults who think they’re important).

Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express. This is the standard, and if you’re building your business beyond yourself, this is a great choice. Watch out for the $175 annual fee (waived for the first year) with the AmEx Business Gold Rewards Card. But, there’s currently a 50,000 bonus points offer, requiring only $5,000 in purchases over the first three months.

This is a charge card, not a credit card, so you pay your bill in full every month.

Best credit card for building credit (for adults who are just starting to adult).

Discover it Secured Credit Card. Building credit can be difficult if you didn’t have certain advantages growing up, like parents who had their own solid credit and a desire to ensure you were starting your adult life with good credit. Without those benefits, creating a solid financial future for yourself and your family will have more obstacles.

Secured credit cards help establish credit, which allows you to qualify for better mortgage rates (or a mortgage at all) when the time comes, better interest rates for other loans, better prices on insurance, and even better apartments. While you’ll be approved for the Discover it Secured Credit Card without a credit history, this is more than just a basic card. You earn cash back on every purchase (limited) and receive your FICO credit score for free.

What’s in your wallet?

Tell us what kind of card (or cards) you have. And what’s the best feature or you? Cash back, travel rewards, or something else?

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Broke AF? Worried about your debt? You might think you can’t invest, but maybe you can. Here’s how to decide what step to take next on the road to financial freedom.

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One of the best ways to build wealth for retirement is to invest.

Putting money in a retirement account now is a good way to get a good start on building a nest egg that leads to financial independence later.

But what if you have debt?

Can you invest when you have debt and feel broke AF? Does it make sense to pay off your debt before you begin investing?

This week, we talk about the considerations that come when trying to decide whether or not to start investing when you still have debt.


  • The importance of investing.
  • Ways debt can slow you down.
  • Are you really ready to invest?
  • Can you balance paying down debt with investing?
  • Have you taken care of other areas of your finances, like an emergency fund?
  • Tips for making investing more effective.
  • How to decide if it makes sense to invest instead of pay down debt early.
  • Different types of debt and which you should tackle first.
  • The importance of being able to sleep at night.

Don’t forget to listen to our “Do Nows” this week. We’ll take a look at how to create a debt payoff plan, open an investment account, and assess how much you need to start saving today to hit your retirement goals.

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Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Your first credit card feels amazing. It’s like getting extra money. Only problem? It’s not. It’s a loan. You need to be on top of things if you use credit cards.

It’s a simple piece of plastic, but it can help you reach your goals – or destroy your financial life. It’s a credit card. Even though they’re everywhere, you may not know the nitty gritty about them.

Before you decide to get that plastic and use it to rack up untold amounts of debt, you need to know the basics. First of all, it’s vital to understand that we’re not talking about your money here. It’s someone else’s money, and they are loaning it to you. It has to be repaid.

Credit cards can be great tools that lead to rewards and cash back and convenience. But you have to be careful and realistic. Here’s what you need to know about credit cards:

1. Not all credit cards are created equal.

Credit cards are one type of financial instrument that you can use, and they can, like insurance, be part of a well-rounded financial life. Like student loans or mortgages, though, not all credit cards are the same. Here are some examples of different types of credit cards:

  • Travel credit cards: These cards have rewards designed to benefit those who travel often. These protections and perks include no foreign transaction fees, free baggage check, access to exclusive airline lounges, bonus miles when you sign up and more. They can be pretty sweet when you use them right.
  • Cash back cards: Everyone loves cold, hard cash. Cards with cash-back rewards return a certain percentage of your purchases. Some cards offer cash back on all purchases, while some only do so for certain categories, like gas stations and grocery stores.
  • Business credit cards: Business credit cards come with different terms and conditions than personal credit cards, but usually have higher credit limits and different rewards to help those running their own operations.

I have all three types of credit cards and am a big proponent of them. I’ve earned free trips and thousands in benefits by using credit cards responsibly. A couple of my credit cards also give me free access to my credit score, so I can make sure I’m staying on track.

2. They can protect you.

Credit cards get a bad rap for encouraging people to spend money they don’t have. But cards also provide extra support. Many credit cards have fraud protection so you don’t have to pay for any purchases in case your card is lost or stolen.

Credit cards also let you dispute purchases. If you buy something on eBay that comes in damaged, you can dispute the transaction with the credit card issuer. I’ve used this a lot if I’m trying to return something defective or if I was unhappy with a service I received. Some cards also extend warranties for items you buy using the card.

Many cards have no foreign transaction fees, which usually cost 3%. If you go on vacation and spend $500 abroad, you’ll owe $15 in fees. If you rent a car, a credit card often has collision damage coverage on rentals, saving you about $20 a day.

These perks and protections can save your ass, so double-check your benefits. You might be surprised at what’s available – at no extra charge.

3. Always pay your balance.

4 Things You Should Know About Credit Cards

Your credit card statement shows your current balance, your minimum payment, and when your bill is due. The minimum payment is usually a very small percentage of what you owe (less than 5% of your total balance). If you only make the minimum payment, it can take you years to pay off even a small balance because most of your payment goes to interest charges.

For  example, if you have a $500 balance on your credit card with 15% interest and your minimum payment is $15, it will take you 44 months (according to Bankrate’s calculator) to pay off that balance. During that time, you’ll pay $150 in interest.

4. Don’t use them as an emergency fund.

According to Credit Karma, the average credit card limit in 2016 was $9,606. With access to that kind of cash, it can be tempting to think of your card as an emergency fund or backup in case you lose your job.

But that’s not a reason to use a credit card. If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card balance at the end of the month, you’ll have to pay interest on your balance. The average APR for credit cards is about 15%. That’s a real pain in the ass when you’re trying to get started with a solid financial future.

If you don’t feel comfortable having access to so much money, you can call your credit card company and ask them to lower your credit limit. If you still end up spending more than you’re comfortable with, you may have to cancel your card.

Credit cards have a bad reputation, but they’re like casinos and lottery tickets. You can use them responsibly and enjoy their benefits or find that they lead you to temptation.

If you have a credit card, which one do you have?

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

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