Tag: crisis

What Is Austerity?

What Is Austerity?

Austerity policies are nothing new. But talk about them in the news has recently escalated. In response to its ongoing debt crisis, the Greek government is preparing to implement austerity measures aimed at helping the country regain its financial footing. If you didn’t major in economics or you have no clue what austerity means, read on to find out how this fiscal program works.

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Austerity: A Definition

Trust us, austerity isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Austerity is a type of economic policy that governments use to deal with budget deficits. A country faces a deficit whenever it’s using more money than it’s earning from tax dollars.

By taking on an austerity package, a government hopes to reign in its spending, improve the status of its economy and avoid defaulting on its unpaid debt. Governments usually take on austerity measures in order to appease their creditors. In exchange, these lenders agree to bail out countries and allow them to borrow more money.

If you look up the word austere in the dictionary, you’ll see that it means severe, grave, hard, solemn and serious. Indeed, austerity is nothing to joke about.

Austerity Measures

What Is Austerity?

Austerity plans normally involve increases in different taxes, (property taxes, income taxes, etc.) budget cuts or a push to incorporate both. Government workers could lose their jobs or see their wages and benefits either decline or become stagnant. Hiking up interest rates, adding travel bans and keeping prices at a fixed level could be other strategies put in place to reduce spending.

Naturally, austerity measures typically aren’t viewed in the best light because they mean that there might be fewer government programs available to the public. Aid for veterans and low-income families, healthcare coverage and pensions are some of the benefits that normally take a hit when a country’s using an austerity package. Government services that aren’t eliminated might not be as comprehensive or as beneficial as they once were.

As you can see, in an austere environment, conditions are tighter overall. Historically, austerity has been implemented in the US during tough times including World War I, World War II and the Great Recession of 2008.

Greece’s new austerity package – which government lawmakers finally accepted in July 2015 – will feature less government funding, higher taxes and cuts to pension plans. As a result of this deal, the country was allowed to begin talks with its creditors about a third bailout.

Related Article: All About the Greek Debt Crisis

The Problems With Government Austerity 

Experts on the economy tend to go back and forth about how effective austerity can be. Some believe that instead of turning to austerity, the government should pump out more money and borrow as much as possible if an economy is on the rocks.

From a political standpoint, austerity is often controversial and results in riots and demonstrations. Anti-austerity protests erupted in Greece, where quite a few folks say that past austerity programs have only made social and economic conditions worse.

Beyond slowing down the economy, an austerity bill can cause a country to remain in its debt crisis, particularly if it’s in the midst of a recession. As fiscal austerity decreases spending, GDP can go down while unemployment goes up. Consumers can get nervous and stop spending and investing their own money.

In short, austerity policies can make life even more difficult for people who are already struggling. That’s why governments tend to turn to them as a last resort if other strategies aren’t working.

Why Austerity Might Not Be So Bad

What Is Austerity?

Notable European creditors have argued that austerity can be beneficial to a country’s long-term economic state. For instance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has previously reported that austerity has done more damage than anticipated. But the European Central Bank released a paper saying that austerity has been helpful, at least for some of the weaker eurozone countries.

In fact, austerity has helped strengthen the economies in European countries like Latvia and Iceland. Although Spain’s unemployment remains high, its economy is in better shape overall. Ireland has made considerable progress as well toward rebuilding its economy.

Proponents of austerity policies say that they can make investors feel more optimistic when a country is being run more responsibly. Austerity has the potential to bring a shrinking economy back to life as everyday citizens invest in the private sector instead of relying on support from the federal government.

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The US used austerity measures between 2010 and 2014. Not only were our policies harsher than those employed by the governments in the UK and other European nations, but our economy fared better than theirs.

The Takeaway

The point of austerity is to tighten the government’s belt, bring a country’s debt back down to a more manageable level and stimulate an economy that has stopped growing. Countries generally try to meet these goals by cutting spending and raising taxes.

The debate over whether austerity works continues but one common theme has emerged. Timing matters. Some critics suggest that cutting too much too quickly during a recession can be painful. When introduced more slowly, however, (or when the economy is doing very well,) austerity measures can turn things around.

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Should You Get Another Credit Card? What to Consider

A woman looks at her laptop computer with a thoughtful look on her face.

Credit cards play a significant role in your financial life—from establishing credit and determining your buying power to potentially being a financial lifeline during times of crisis.

Before you add another credit card to your wallet, you should consider your buying habits and financial strategies. The answers to the following five questions may help you decide if another credit card is right for you.

New Cardholder? Wait a Year

If you’re a new cardholder, try holding off for one year before applying for another credit card. It can take six months to a year for your card usage to affect your credit score.

Without an established credit history, it may be difficult to get lenders to extend you credit. A short credit history can also impact your interest rates, keeping them higher than desirable. If you’ve had your credit card for less than a year, getting a new one may not be the best choice right now.

What to Do

Be patient. Use your current credit card on a regular basis and pay on time and in full each month. Your payment history is the largest factor that determines your credit score. When you do apply for a second credit card, the lending company will see how responsible you’ve been. They will then be more likely to extend you credit with a lower interest rate.

Trying to Build Credit? One Card May Be Enough

If you want another card because you’re trying to build your credit, one card may be enough. The most important part of building credit is using your existing accounts wisely—not adding more. Two cards could improve your credit utilization ratio, as long as you don’t rack up debt on either card. And if you don’t plan on actually using your second card, keep in mind that some credit card companies have a policy of canceling credit cards due to inactivity—and a canceled credit card can cause your credit score to take a dip.

What to Do

Instead of getting a second card, focus on using your current cards more effectively. Pay your balances on time and in full to help improve your credit score. If you’re ready to open a new type of account to increase your account mix, consider a small personal loan.

Already Have Multiple Cards? Review Your Payments

It may be tempting to have more spending power at your disposal, but before you apply for another credit card, make sure you can financially handle it. Examine how you’re currently managing your credit cards.

Are you struggling to pay the minimum each month? Are you unable to make payments on time? If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, it’s probably not a good idea to apply for another card right now.

What to Do

If you’re already having a hard time paying your credit card bills, ask yourself why you think you should get another credit card. Is it because you’ve already maxed out the cards you have in use? Don’t open yourself up to more debt by opening another line of credit.

Instead, develop a plan to lower your current credit card balances and create a budget to help organize and control your spending. A balance transfer credit card may be a solution if you’re looking to consolidate your debt into one, easy-to-track payment plan.

TD Cash Credit Card

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on TD Bank’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% Introductory APR for 6 months on purchases


Ongoing Apr:
12.99%, 17.99% or 22.99% (Variable)


Balance Transfer:
0% Introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers


Annual Fee:
$0


Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Earn $150 Cash Back when you spend $500 within 90 days after account opening
  • Earn 3% Cash Back on dining
  • Earn 2% Cash Back at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all other eligible purchases
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Visa Zero Liability
  • Instant credit card replacement
  • Digital Wallet
  • Contactless Payments

Card Details +

Running a Balance? Check the Interest Rates

Carrying a balance from month to month can affect your credit score by increasing your utilization rate. It can also put a big dent in your wallet depending on your interest rates. If you regularly make your monthly minimum payments but keep a balance, it could be beneficial to get a new card with lower rates—as long as you can use it responsibly. If you want to keep your old card active, split the same amount of spending between the two cards, rather than doubling your spending, and your utilization rates and fees could go down.

What to Do

Check the interest rates on your current card. If you’ve been keeping up with your payments and your overall credit score is good, you could qualify for a better interest rate to replace this one with. While some credit cards may hit everything on your perk and benefit checklist, if the interest rate is too high, skip it. Look for credit cards with low interest rates that will be sustainable for long-term use.

Got Excellent Credit? Try a Rewards Credit Card

If you have established excellent credit, you may be receiving offers from a variety of credit card companies. If you know that you can financially handle another credit card and are looking to take advantage of the many perks and rewards available, you may want to consider applying for another credit card.

What to Do

Before you move forward, do your research on each one. Don’t get taken in by flashy offers that won’t benefit you in the long run. The best perks and rewards are the ones that suit your lifestyle. Decide which are most important to you and would give you the most bang for your buck.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now

on Chase’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
15.99% – 22.99% Variable


Balance Transfer:
15.99% – 22.99% Variable


Annual Fee:
$95


Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

Card Details +

Ready to Apply? Go for It

Once you’ve learned how your charging and payment habits can affect your credit score, you can determine if and when the time is right for you to get another credit card. Our Credit Card Finder makes it easy to find the best card for your needs.

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Source: credit.com