Take 5 — A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web

Take 5 — A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web

1. “7 Gift Card Hacks Every Shopper Should Know”

[MSN.com] “Gift cards are a way of life in America. Each year, about 93 percent of the nation’s citizens either give or receive these little plastic retail wonders, according to GiftCards.com. If you know the right gift card secrets, you can make gift cards pay off to an even greater degree.”

This MSN story is actually a MoneyTalksNews story. We’re highlighting it in case you didn’t know that in addition to seeing our stuff on our site, you can also read and watch some of our most popular stories on some of the world’s most popular websites, including MSN, Yahoo, AOL and others.

So what are some of the gift card hacks you should know? The best sites to buy discounted gift cards, how to turn your gift cards into cash, stores that sell gift cards at a discount and more. Check it out!

2. “Could Social Media Be Causing You to Overspend?”

[The Dollar Stretcher] “It used to be just your neighbors and co-workers you tried to keep up with or outdo. Now it’s everyone in your circles, posting about their latest luxury cruise ‘just because’ or posting beautiful pictures of their latest $100,000 kitchen remodel on Pinterest. It might not even be people you ‘know,’ just people you envy online.”

I’m not a big Facebook or Pinterest guy, but I can see how viewing the world primarily through the best moments of hundreds of “friends” could warp your reality, including your financial reality.

We recently did a story along the same lines called “It’s Official: Using Facebook Makes You Sad.” Check out both these stories, then do what you always do: Share them on social media.

3. “Top 5 Worst Purchases You Can Make for Your Financial Future”

[AOL] “There are good purchases. And then there are the really bad, ugly, regretful, worst purchases that leave a close range shotgun hole in your bank account.”

According to this author, the worst purchases you can make include a home, a new car, transportation toys like boats and motorcycles, expensive clothes and high-end shoes.

While I agree with most of the things on this list, I don’t in any way agree that buying a home is the worst purchase you can make for your financial future. We’ve written on this subject a lot over the years, and I’d agree that buying a home isn’t always the best idea. But a shotgun hole in your bank account? I don’t think so. Check out this article and see if you agree with me, or this author.

4. “Boomers Aren’t Ready for Retirement”

[Debt.com] “Most Americans believe they are financially prepared for retirement, according to a survey from the American College of Financial Services. As more baby boomers hit retirement age, the survey shows they don’t know as much as they think they do when it comes to finances in the golden years.”

This article is one of many citing surveys that suggest many people in my generation are practically illiterate when it comes to money. Here’s a quote that struck me: “The survey asked more than 1,200 60- to 75-year-olds about financial planning. When it comes to major money decisions on everything from health care to long-term investing, many boomers didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.”

Well, at least it’s comforting to know there will always be a place for Money Talks News.

5. “What’s Better: Less Debt or More Savings?”

[Wise Bread] “Money advice can be confusing. Financial planners say that you should pay off high-interest debt — especially credit card debt — as quickly as possible. They also say that you should build an emergency fund you can use for repairs to a busted transmission or a leaking water heater. But what if you have just enough money in your emergency fund to pay off all your credit cards?”

This is another topic I’ve written about a lot. The solution this author advises is to use part of your savings to pay off debt, but never all of it.

In my opinion, there’s no boilerplate answer. Emergency funds are more important for those more likely to encounter an emergency, like those with insecure jobs. If your job is safe, you can afford a lower level of emergency fund. Another important point is why you have credit card debt in the first place. If you’re living beyond your means, raiding your emergency fund will be band-aid, not a cure.

So I didn’t entirely agree with this story either. But check it out and see if it makes sense to you.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts and reactions in comments below or on our Facebook page!

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