We're bombarded by all kinds of advertisements every day, but some are way more annoying than others.
A survey by Consumer Reports found 77 percent of Americans are particularly irked by robocalls. Also high on the list of what the magazine call "adgravation" are false claims that you've won something, fake bills that look real, pop-up ads on websites, and exaggerated ads for medical remedies. Consumer Reports also notes that people past the age of 60 are more annoyed by these ads than younger people.
Americans also love to hate their cable companies. A separate survey by the American Customer Service Index shows our opinion of cable and Internet providers fell from the already low levels of a year ago. Part of the problem is that prices have been rising faster than the rate of inflation. Time Warner Cable (TWC) received the lowest scores, and Verizon's (VZ) FiOS service dropped the most. AT&T's (T) U-verse and DirecTV (DTV) had the best ratings.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%For the second time in a week, a major restaurant chain has been sold. TGI Fridays was acquired by a pair of private-equity firms for a reported price of $800 million. This comes just a week after Darden Restaurants (DRI) sold its Red Lobster chain for more than $2 billion. These chains, and others in the middle tier known as casual dining, have been squeezed in recent years. Customer traffic has declined for five straight years.
Here on Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) slid 137 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 12 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost 29 points.
Finally, the NBC peacock finally has something to strut about. The network says it will finish the current season as the leading broadcast network among the highly sought after 18-to-49 year old demographic group. It's a big win for NBC (CMCSA) after languishing in fourth place for nearly a decade. The improvement was led by the Winter Olympics, as well as Sunday Night Football and shows like "The Voice." CBS (CBS) retained its status for the most total viewers.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt
Money Minute: Some Ads Found To Be More Irksome Than Others
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "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 Mint.com, 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 Mint.com 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.