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This Week In Your Wallet: Here’s How You Can Help

Jean Chatzky  |  November 13, 2018

As the wildfires continue to rage in California, my thoughts — and those of all of us at — go out to everyone who has lost their home, been displaced or otherwise impacted.

We all know help can’t come fast enough. But the rapid pace of natural disasters has also taught us that we should give carefully. Here’s what you need to know:

And, if you have been affected by the wildfires or think you might be, it’s important that you know what steps to take when filing an insurance claim. (Actually, this is important information for anyone in any sort of natural disaster at any time.) First, make sure to document everything — take photos of your home and your belongings — so that you’ll be able to show proof to your insurer of what was damaged. (If you’ve got before photos, even better. In fact, if all is calm in your community, now would be a good time to take a set of those.) It’s also important to know the ins and outs of your coverage — does your policy cover hotel stays and meals if you’re displaced? Is there a cap on how much, and for how long it’ll cover those incidentals? For more tips on how to prepare your insurance claim, keep reading here.

In Pursuit Of F-R-E-E

If you’re like me (and many other rewards points hounds) the allure of getting a new credit card with a big fat rewards bonus sends your heart fluttering: 50,000 points, 70,000 points, 100,000 points, woo-hoo. But what then? If you’re like many cardholders, you’re leaving a lot of rewards on the table and that equates to missing out on free cash, travel and many other opportunities. It’s time to clean up your act. How? Well, for starters, as long as you’re not keeping a balance on those cards and paying high rates of interest, there’s absolutely no reason not to put every little charge on these cards. This will immediately boost the rewards you’re earning. Also, if you’ve got a card with rewards categories that you have to opt into to earn more points, it’s time to get with the program. We tell you how — and give you 5 other ways to snag more value from your rewards cards here.

The Target Effect

I once gave a talk to Target employees at their Minnesota HQ. Of course, I made a purchase in the company gift shop. A t-shirt that reads something to the effect of: “I went to Target and only bought what was on my list — said no one ever.” We’ve all been there: You pop into Target to get paper towels but then you walk out with a new bath mat, workout outfit, dishware set and a few candles. In fact, this phenomenon is so common that Urban Dictionary even recognizes as “The Target Effect.” If you need a Target intervention, here are some helpful strategies to curb your addiction. And if those can’t cut it, maybe you should consider a Target detox. If you need one item, like paper towels, try picking them up at a place that doesn’t appeal to your inner shopper quite so much.

Subject: Thank You

Finally, if you are an avid reader of this newsletter, you know that I love to highlight gratitude practices, especially the simple ones — like writing a thank-you note. But turns out you may want to put away your stationary set and ballpoint pen when writing a thank-you note to a hiring manager. According to an Accountemps survey, 91 percent of hiring managers said they like to be thanked. But 62 percent said that sending a thank-you via email was the best way to follow up, compared to the 13 percent that said a handwritten note was best. Handwriting your note and sending in the mail to a hiring manager is too slow, especially if the job is looking to be filled quickly. By the time your note gets there, a hiring manager may have already made their decision. Come the holidays, though, snail mail notes will be just fine.

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