Money Minute: U.S. Retirement Age Rises; More Airline Fees

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The average retirement age in the U.S. keeps creeping higher.

A new Gallup poll finds the average age at which Americans retire is now 62. That's the highest it's been since Gallup began keeping track more than 20 years ago, and it's up from an average 59 years old just four years ago. There's also a discrepancy between the age people do retire and the age they say they expect to retire. The average American expects to retire at age 66.

Obesity isn't just a health hazard, it may be considered a disability. A federal judge in Missouri last week rejected an employer's effort to throw out a case alleging that it fired a man because of his weight. According to a legal trade journal, the judge said the man could claim he was disabled under the terms of the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008. The actual case has yet to be heard in court, but it could set a precedent for defining a workplace disability.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Airline fees keep piling up. The regional carrier Frontier is the latest to charge for what passengers used to get for free -- placing your luggage in the overhead bins. The cost for using the overhead bins could be as high as $50. Frontier already charges $15 to $75 dollars for checking bags. Frontier is also adding fees for reserving a seat in advance. The airline says these fees will allow it to lower fares. There's no fee yet for using the bathroom.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 87 points Monday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 6, but the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost a point.

Finally, this may be even better than fantasy football for pigskin fanatics. The start-up firm Fantex is now trading shares of Vernon Davis, the star tight end of the San Francisco 49ers. Investors' success depends upon his economic performance, including salary, bonuses and endorsements. Fantex notes that this first-of-its-kind security is -- in its words -- "highly speculative."

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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Money Minute: U.S. Retirement Age Rises; More Airline Fees
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much? 
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.  
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back." 
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.    
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more. 
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt. 
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.
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