3 money tips for every income

If you've ever read money advice that didn't seem to apply to your situation, you may have been right.

Guidance that makes sense for a middle-income household might not apply if you're under the poverty line. If your income is on the lower end, you'll have different priorities and concerns than if your W-2 has six figures before the decimal point.

So I've tailored some tips using five income brackets that correspond, roughly, with the five income quintiles defined by the latest Current Population Survey, conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Each bracket represents about 20% of U.S. households. There's plenty of overlap, since tips that apply to one bracket often apply to the ones above it as well. But these bits of advice will give you some idea of what you should focus on now.

Low income: Below $20,000

Consumers Still Buried In Credit Card Debt

Remember a few years ago when millions of Americans spent beyond their means, racked up a bunch of credit card debt, and then ran into trouble when global financial markets tanked and the housing market went under?

It seems old habits die hard, according to a new study by credit card comparison website CardHub, which found that consumers are charging more on their credit cards again.

Americans racked up nearly $48 billion in new credit card debt in 2011, 424 percent more than what they charged in 2010, and 577 percent more than in 2009. Although total outstanding credit rose only about $4 billion, that number was largely offset by the magnitude of consumer defaults--$44.2 billion worth.

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The Old Get Richer, the Young Get Poorer

The old have gotten wealthier, while the young have become poorer. That's the conclusion of "The Old Prosper Relative to the Young", a recent report by economists and researchers at the Pew Research Center.

In documenting a rising age gap with regard to economic well-being, the authors compare households headed by adults over age 65 to households headed by adults younger than 35. They examine data over time–particularly from 1967, 1984, 2005, and 2009-2010. (The comparison between 2005 and 2009-2010 illustrates the impact of the Great Recession.)

Here are some of their conclusions:

4 risky places to swipe your debit card

Would you give a thief direct access to your checking account?

No? Unfortunately, you may be doing just that by regularly using your debit card. Debit cards may look identical to credit cards, but there's one key difference. With credit cards, users who spot fraudulent charges on their bill can simply decline the charges and not pay the bill. On the other hand, debit cards draw money directly from your checking account, rather than from an intermediary such as a credit card company.

Because of that, even clear-cut cases of fraud where victims are protected from liability by consumer protection laws can cause significant hardship, says Frank Abagnale, a secure-document consultant in Washington, D.C.

1. Skimming ATMs

Law Firm Urges Taxpayers to Analyze All Options for Tax Returns

MARKETWIRE via COMTEX -- It's that time of year again, tax refund time! However, before rejoicing about the break from this month's bills, Macey Bankruptcy Law advises consumers to think twice.

This year, many people will use their tax refunds to get caught up on credit card bills, which at first glance seems like a very logical thing to do. The problem is that for many people who are struggling financially, it might not be the best economic decision.

Receive the Best Possible Benefit From the Extra Money

8 ways to save money without feeling (much) pain

No one likes a budget. But who doesn't love a deal?

Everyone whose name isn't Trump or Kardashian is trying to trim costs and save for a nice getaway or pay off the last of those holiday bills. And while you can probably fund a semicomfortable retirement by cutting out lattes, what fun is that?

Instead, here are eight ways to cinch your budget without pinching your lifestyle:

1. Get cheaper movies -- legally

10 Bad Money Habits and How to Break Them

Some habits are good for you-flossing, exercise, getting eight hours of sleep. (Oh, if only.) And doing the same thing over and over again can feel comfortable, and even safe. But when habits sabotage your financial health, it's time to turn off the autopilot and start making active, careful decisions about your money and your life. Below, experts point out 10 patterns that will wreak havoc with your bottom line-and offer tips for turning over a new financial leaf.

1. Contributing too little to your 401(k)

How Your Age Affects Your Credit

Every decade presents new credit challenges -- here's how to stay on top of them
When it comes to having good credit, people have different goals at various stages of their lives. For young people, it's about getting their credit profile in good shape so they can one day buy their dream home. Older people may be more concerned with paying down debt to retire comfortably. Whatever the stage of your financial life, see how these age-specific credit tips can help you manage your money.

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4 myths about prepaid debit cards

Confusion exists about the difference between prepaid and traditional debit cards. Here are some facts that can help you.

While the ostensible difference between a prepaid debit card and an actual debit card seems fairly straightforward -- debit cards are linked to traditional checking accounts, prepaid cards are not -- an impromptu survey MainStreet conducted on Twitter and Facebook revealed that some consumer confusion persists.

We thought we'd break down some key differences between the two that consumers need to be aware of.

1. Myth: Prepaid debit cards are subject to the same regulations as debit cards.

Budgeting When You're Broke

Suffering from a lack of cash? It's likely that you don't follow a budget that reflects your earnings. Smart budgeting prevents eviction, increased credit card debt, and ruined credit scores. It's never too late to achieve your financial goals — get started now with these 10 steps to make your financial life less stressful.

1. Avoid Immediate Disasters

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