Brandon Ballenger

Brandon Ballenger

Having more than $10,000 in student loan debt has a way of piquing your interest in personal finance. And because my degree was in English and public communication, I get to share that interest with you. My wide-ranging stories on money and business have run on Business Insider, the Christian Science Monitor, Reader's Digest, the front pages of MSN.com and Yahoo! Finance, Money Talks News, and the South Florida Business Journal. In my free time, I like to jump off skyscrapers and play video games.

halloween01-ib

Still Haven’t Got A Costume? Try These Popular Picks

October 26, 2016 | Brandon Ballenger

This year’s Halloween spending is expected to top a ghastly $8.4 billion, the highest figure since the National Retail Federation began surveying consumers about their holiday spending. The biggest chunk of that is on costumes: $1.5 billion on costumes for adults — $1.17 billion for kids, and even $420 million on pet costumes. Candy is […]

student loan deferment

A New Way to Figure Out How To Pay Less on Your Student Loans?

May 10, 2016 | Brandon Ballenger

The federal government tries something novel: clarity.

40-hour work week? Try 60

10 Reasons You Never Get Anything Done at Work

June 16, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

A new study highlights the most popular ways to slack — and we’ve got the remedies.

save for retirement before college

Forget Your Kids’ College, Save For Retirement

March 24, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

Parents are making sure their kids don’t learn the best lesson college can teach — financial independence.

You don't have to pay dumb banking fees.

6 ways to beat dumb banking fees

March 17, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

Why pay a bank to use your money? Avoiding fees involves some simple tech and even simpler questions.

Get the Saver's Credit

Save Up To $2,000 On Taxes With the Saver’s Credit

February 17, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

Most people don’t know that if you’re saving for retirement on a modest income, the federal government will cut you a break on taxes.

green tax breaks

More Homeowners Are Turning Into Apartment Hunters

February 12, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

A majority of former homeowners say they’d rather keep renting than buy another home. Here’s all our advice for the new breed of nomads…

Taxes done for free

14 Places to Get Your Taxes Done For Free Online — And The Catches

February 5, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

If you make less than $60,000 a year, you don’t have to pay for an accountant or online tax software. You can get free tax prep and a fast refund.

40-hour work week? Try 60

Quiz: Which Of These Late-to-Work Excuses is Real?

February 2, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

If you’re late to work because of the Super Bowl this morning, hope you didn’t use one of these crazy excuses…

divorce auto insurance

Americans Don’t Want to Trade Privacy for Cheaper Car Insurance

January 15, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

Despite saving as much as 30 percent, pay-as-you-drive insurance has a lot more haters than it did a year ago.

How Does Your Generation Save Money?

What Your Generation Does to Save Money

January 13, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

Are you spending and saving better than your peers? What they’re giving up might surprise you

2015 Word of the Year

The 2015 Word of The Year Should Be One of These

January 8, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

We can do better than a political saying or whatever object we decide to stick in our mouth this year.

zombie

The Stupidest Holiday Gifts of 2014

December 2, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Odds are you’re going to get something you don’t like for the holidays. Hope it’s as funny as these…

Best prepaid cards

Here’s The Best Prepaid Debit Card For You

November 20, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

These cards have a bad rep for a good reason, but done right, they’re cheap, free, or even profitable.

Hazmat suit for Ebola

Ebola On A Budget: How To Save On A Hazmat Suit

November 13, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

If you’re dead set on buying safety gear for an Ebola outbreak, here’s what an expert recommends. But the CDC says don’t bother.

Identity theft at restaurants

Your Waiter Might Be An Identity Thief

October 27, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

No stats are available, but our research shows dining out makes you a prime target. Here’s how to protect yourself.

What to make of new student loan proposals?

Are The Latest Student Loan Proposals Any Good?

October 23, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

The latest writing on student loans is equal parts crazy and useful. Here’s what you need to know.

Be the boss or befriend the boss?

Be the boss or befriend the boss?

October 16, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

New studies show a lot of people want to be in charge but aren’t cut out for it. Here’s how to enjoy the perks of leadership without the work.

The daddy bonus sucks once you consider childcare

Daddy bonus? Not so much — and it’s worse for Mommy

October 14, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

CNN says having kids boost men’s pay, but Dads won’t see a payoff for 15+ years, and Moms never do.

DIY Halloween costumes are the best

Share your cheap DIY Halloween costume and win $50

October 14, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Show us your boo, we’ll give you some booty.

Stop calling them secret menus

There’s no such thing as a secret menu

October 13, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Everybody’s talking about them again, but you shouldn’t care. Here are six reasons why.

Around the web

This week around the web

October 10, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Put on your yoga pants, play some personal finance games, and network like a damned genius.

Avoiding debt in retirement

2 things you need to do right now to avoid debt in retirement

October 9, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Start saving, and learn to read medical bills.

Cyber Security Awareness Month

Everything new you need to know about identity theft

October 6, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and we have a lot of new things to be aware of.

Worst places to rent

The worst places to rent in America

October 3, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Unless you’re in the 1 percent, you don’t want to live in these neighborhoods.

Halloween spending in 2014

Halloween spending will top $7 billion

October 2, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

With 29 days until Halloween, here are some frightening (or funny) holiday statistics…

TM5

How you think about money can make you rich — or broke

October 2, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A new PBS documentary about the psychology of spending translates neuroeconomics into plain English

Endless shrimp await, if you remember to ask

Why you should eat at Red Lobster this month

October 2, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A new PBS documentary about the psychology of spending translates neuroeconomics into plain English

MOOCs or college? You may not have to choose

Study: Most adults think college is a waste of time and money

September 29, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Online courses known as MOOCs might replace traditional college degrees sometime soon, if you believe these guys.

Bangkok has cheap luxury hotels

Where luxury hotels cost less than $210 per night

September 29, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Hint: Not in the U.S. — these are some of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Debt after death

What happens to debt after death?

September 25, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A life insurance company wants to remind you some debts don’t get buried when you do.

Love libraries

People are falling in love with libraries again

September 24, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A new survey shows people are happier about their local library than in 2008, and most Americans still use their library cards.

Economic outlook ups and downs

New surveys disagree about the economy

September 24, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

American Express and Fannie Mae aren’t sure how much we’re saving, but they know we’re putting a lot more on credit cards for major purchases this year.

No renters insurance

More people are renting — but skipping rental insurance

September 23, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

If you own a home, you insure your stuff against fires, theft, and other disasters. But most renters don’t.

congress' student loan program

Congress will help with your student loans — if you work for them

September 19, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A little-known student loan program for staffers could knock up to $60,000 off your debt.

Government freebies

5 ways the government can save you money

September 18, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

If we think of the government at all, we usually think about the money they take away in taxes. But it taketh and giveth away, too.

Your best dollar store purchases

Tell us your amazing dollar store purchase and win $50

September 16, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

You can get great and funny bargains from the dollar store. We want your best!

Usaged-based insurance tracks braking

Americans are willing to trade their driving data for cheaper insurance

September 12, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Programs that track your speed and braking habits are becoming a more popular way to save.

Around the web

This week around the web

September 12, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Guaranteed jobs, money that saves itself, and the best banks around. Welcome to easy street.

Congress' student loan program

Rating Congress’ new debt bill: 14 things (good and bad) you gotta know

September 11, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A California congresswoman has a dozen ideas for easing your debt stress. But will they work?

Another royal baby on the way

Another royal baby? Share your saving strategy and win $50

September 9, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Prince William and wife Catherine are expecting a second child. They don’t have to worry about paying for it, but we want your advice anyway.

Boost your smartphone security

5 ways to boost your smartphone security

September 8, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Whether you want to protect nude photos or more mundane personal information, the strategies are the same.

iStock_000024594287_Medium

This week’s Debt Report

September 5, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Almost everything is up, and that’s mostly bad news for consumers.

Save the children and moms

By the numbers: Women and back-to-school edition

September 4, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

How TV affects grades, what parents worry about, and how women’s pay stacks up state by state.

Vacation doctor says: vacations are sexy

This week’s Debt Report

August 29, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

We’re lax on security, scammers are disguising clunkers, we don’t vacation — but we’re still happy.

Around the web

This week around the web

August 29, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Insurance claims for bombings, how to be happily frugal, and why your spouse needs their own bank account.

How to waste time at work.

How to waste time at work and not get caught

August 28, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

Here are some ideas to cool off at work without getting in trouble — and how to make up for that lost productivity later.

Disaster contest

Share your disaster story and win $50

August 26, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

The Napa Valley quake caused an estimated $1 billion in damage. What’s the worst you’ve been through?

Ruining retirement with bad planning

3 stupid ways we’re ruining retirement

August 25, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

How is it that your dog has life insurance, but you don’t have a 401(k)?

The most important part of diamond buying is cut

The most important thing about buying diamonds

August 19, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

If you’re in the market for a shiny stone, see what one crazy expert asked more than 40 others.