Money Minute: Apple Shares Set to Shine; Travel Looking Up

Apple puts a shine on its stock.

Shares of Apple (AAPL) are set to soar this morning after the company announced a series of moves that have investors cheering. Earnings topped expectations, iPhone sales were strong, and Apple is slicing its stock up in an unusual 7-for-1 stock split. At Wednesday's closing price of about $525 a share, the post split stock would trade for about $75. Apple also raised its dividend and the size of its stock buyback. But Apple fans are still waiting for new products. The expectation is that a new, larger screen iPhone will be introduced later this year.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Facebook (FB) can be addictive. It can also be really annoying -- and the company wants to do something about that so that users don't unfriend Facebook. The company will survey users about what kinds of posts bother them the most. Facebook is particularly concerned that teens and young adults feel their news feeds are being overwhelmed by Mom and Dad. An estimated 71 percent of all adults who use the Internet are on Facebook, and that may be too much of a good thing for advertisers trying to reach younger users.

People around the world are tired of belt-tightening. A new survey by TripAdvisor (TRIP) finds vacation lovers plan to increase spending by 3 percent this year to more than $6,100. Many Europeans and Australians plan to spend even more. The most popular destinations are in Europe -- Italy in particular -- followed by Asia and then North America.

Here on Wall Street on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 12 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 4, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 34 points.

Finally, the toymaker Lego had a huge hit with its "Lego" movie, so now Mattel (MAT) is preparing Barbie, the movie. While Barbie is an iconic brand, its sales have been slumping. They dropped 14 percent in the first quarter. Mattel will partner on the project with Sony Pictures.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt
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Money Minute: Apple Shares Set to Shine; Travel Looking Up
"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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