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WHY CAN'T AMERICANS DITCH CHECKS?

By Katie Robertson

In an era of smartphones, online banking, and Venmo transfers, the rest of the world has weaned itself off paper. 

The first time Amelia Howells ever wrote a check, she was 28 years old and standing in a Connecticut apartment leasing office, with no idea what to do. 

The British expat had just moved to the U.S.; she'd never had to write a check in London or during her seven years in Switzerland. 

"I had to sit down with a woman to learn how to do it. She thought it was hilarious and called in all the other people in the office to have a laugh at me," she recalls. "In Switzerland, they don't even have checks. We did all our rent and utilities online, and that was back in the early 2000s."

In an era of smartphones, online banking, and Venmo transfers, the U.S. still can't seem to wean itself off paper checks. In most countries, they've gone the way of the fax machine and the rotary telephone. But their demise isn't coming to America any time soon. 

America still reach for their checkbooks more than anybody else. In 2015, they each made 38 check transactions, on average, according to data from the Bank of International Settlements, the coordinating body for the world's central banks. Compare that with about 18 in Canada, just 8 in the U.K., and almost zero in Germany. The only country with anywhere close to American numbers is France. 

BEST FUEL REWARDS PROGRAMS - HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON GAS

By Abby Hayes

Hitting to road this summer? Don't drive off before reading this. These are the best fuel rewards programs that will save you money on gas. 

When it comes to saving at the pump, it seems like there's only so much you can do. You can drive less, sure. But you still have to get to work or run errands. You can shop around for lower prices bbut gas stations tend to swing up or down together. 

One excellent way to easily save on the gas you need is to join a fuel rewards program, or potentially more than one. These programs are similar to store rewards programs. The more you frequent one particular gas station, the more you can save through points, discounts, or cash back. 

Finding the best fuel rewards program can take a little digging. You need to be sure the program is worth your while and won't cost you more than it saves you. You'll also need to sign up for programs that work with gas stations where you often fill up your car. It doesn't do you much good to sign up for a fuel rewards program from a gas station you only visit once a quarter. 

Check out this list of the best fuel rewards programs we could find. Then choose one at a gas station that works well for your needs. 

 

10 MONEY-SAVING HACKS YOUR WALLET WILL THANK YOU FOR

By Ashley Timms

Whether you're 21 or 51, saving money is an absolute must. But, it's often usually easier said than done. Skipping the traditional piggy bank, here are some money-saving hacks where you can really cash in. 

  • How much should we put away in savings? It really depends on age. For under 30s, you sould be putting away 20% of your income after taxes. 
  • Are online investments reliable and safe? Like with everything on the internet, you should always do your research. 
  • Will forgoing my daily Starbucks really build my savings? Technically, yes, if you put all of your would-be coffee money into your savings account. But, there are plenty of other ways to cut back on your spending. 

From doing chores to contributing to a 401k, we've all been taught from a young age that we should be saving money. However, life tends to get in the way. The increased cost of living has been growing faster than our incomes. Therefore, it's imperative to get creative with the ways we save. Here are some money-saving hacks to get you started in the right direction. 

HOW TO CALCULATE NET WORTH

By Trent Hamm

I receive lots of emails like this one, from Edward, asking about how to calculate net worth:

I love your site. I have a question. I have read a lot of posts about people's net worth. How do you calculate your net worth?

There are plenty of net worth calculators and software that can help you calculate your net worth. But to get the most out of the numbers, you should really be able to calculate net worth on your own. This requires some understanding of what net worth is, so let's start there. 

4 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR BUILDING UP YOUR SAVINGS TO LAUNCH YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

By Hayden Field

Since 1980, we've traded the Walkman for streaming apps, the floppy disk for cloud storage, and M*A*S*H for NCIS. Another key shift? Between 1980 and 2017, the U.S. personal saving rate dropped from 12.9 percent to just 2.4 percent. 

If you've seen a steep decline in your own savings, you're not alone. Almost half of small-business owners say cash flow concerns keep them up at night, according to a recent Square report. But if you're looking to launch your own business -- or build up funds for another significant goal -- here are four actionable tips for amping up savings. 

10 EASY AND (MOSTLY) PAINLESS WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

By Courtney Jespersen

When it comes to saving money, every little bit counts. Whether the money goes into a rainy day fund or your 401(k), it's always worth putting a little extra aside. 

Here are 10 easy and painless ways to start saving money today. 

13 EASY, LEGITIMATE WAYS TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY THIS MONTH - THAT YOU PROBABLY HAVEN'T CONSIDERED YET

By Connie Chen

Finances are one the biggest sources of stress for millions of Americans. 

According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, 57% of Americans are struggling financially, but between work, school, and other life obligations, it can be hard to find the time to supplement our existing incomes. Many of us are looking for smart but easy ways to relieve our financial burdens. 

Maybe you're looking to expedite the saving process for a big investment like college tuition, a home mortgage, or a wedding. It could also be nice to treat yourself to a concert, wardrobe upgrade, or fancy dinner without feeling guilty. 

However you plan to save or spend it, we can all agree that extra money in your bank account is never a bad idea. Whether with physical goods or non-tangible skills, you likely have something to offer that you can in turn be compensated for. 

The following tactics are legitimate and relatively easy ways you can earn more money every month. 

TOP 5 REASONS BANKS WON'T CASH YOUR CHECK

By Damian Davila

Checks are in important part of the U.S. economy, with 17.9 billion paper checks issued in 2015. 

While writing a check is quite simple, cashing a check can sometimes be a nightmare. Review some of the top reasons why a bank won't cash your check. 

WHAT IS A 'WIRE TRANSFER'

From Investopedia

A wire transfer is aan electronic transfer of funds across a network administered by hundreds of banks around the world. Wire transfers allow for the individualized sending of funds from single individuals or entities to other individuals or entities, while still maintaining the efficiencies associated with the fast and secure movement of money. Wire transfers allow people in different geographic locations to safely transfer money to locales and financial institutions around the globe. 

CHECK YOUR MAIL: VALPAK MAY HAVE SENT YOU A $100 CHECK

CBS Local - Whether you like to clip coupons or not, direct marketing firm Valpak says people should be checking their mail because the company is sending out $100 checks all over the U.S. this year. 

In celebration of the monthly coupon pack's 50th anniversary, Valpak says $100 checks have been randomly placed in their envelopes and are being mailed out to each of the company's 150 markets. "No strings attched, just $100 for consumers to use as they wish," Valpak officials said in a press release. 

The country's leading direct-marketing firm - which sends its famous blue envelopes to nearly 37 million homes - says all the checks are made out to "cash" and the promotion has actually been around since 1988 in select markets. 

Although the program is now nationwide for the first time, not everyone is casing in on the free money. According to WFMY, many customers haven't cashed the checks because they thought it was junk mail or a scam. Lia Jensen of Valpak's Michigan office claim that only seven of the 37 checks sent out in the Grand Rapids area were cashed in 2017. 

To end the confusion this year, Valpak has reportedly changed the envelope's packaging so people know there's unclaimed money inside. "We're rewarding them for opening up the envelope. We're giving them surprises and offers. There are thousands of offers monthly," Jensen said. 

Valpak's next set of coupons goes out between April 7 and April 10.