Five ways to hang onto your money

First, the good news: Americans are saving more than they have been in months. Unlike a couple of years ago, when we were literally spending every penny we made and then some, we are getting more disciplined when it comes to saving our pennies.

Lending institutions, mortgage brokers and flat-out scammers still want to get their hands on your moolah, though, and they're coming up with ever-more inventive ways to separate you from your hard-earned cash. Website Mainstreet.com put together a list of major money pitfalls along with some tips on how to avoid them, and good advice for navigating today's tricky financial waters.

Higher credit-card interest rates: The government passed a major credit-card reform bill earlier this year, but since it doesn't go into effect until next year, that gives card issuers plenty of time to sock it to you. While the new rules will prohibit card companies from spiking your rate without warning, interest rates today are on the rise for many consumers. The Mainstreet.com article also warns that some issuers have also started peddling variable-rate cards to consumers. The catch is that variable-rate cards are exempt from the ban on sudden interest-rate increases, so the companies would much rather you use one of those. What to do? If you don't do so already, start reading the fine print to find out what's happening to your accounts. While the cardholder bill of rights, as it's known, includes some much-needed protections, you can bet your outstanding balance that companies are working overtime to exploit the legislation's loopholes.

Debit card overdraft fees: Just opt out, already! While most banks' default status is to grant you the "privilege" of paying a hefty fee (usually in the $30 ballpark) if you spend more than what's in your account, most will also let you set up your account so if you don't have the funds, the transaction will simply be denied. Yeah, it might be a little embarrassing to not be able to pay for your half-caf, pumpkin-spice latte with extra cinnamon, but do you really want to be the guy who paid $34 for your drink -- $4 for the beverage, $30 to your bank? We didn't think so.