With the economy not really over that hump, people are still hanging on to their money and some places want to take advantage of your frugal nature, but here are some of them you should skip.

Prepaid Cards

They’re touted as being more convenient than carrying cash, but they can actually cost you money. My best friend worked for a place that gave her a prepaid card for pay day, so they didn’t actually deposit money into your checking account and there was no way to get the money off the card and cash into your hand, it was a giant pain and there was no way to track if you got all of your money or the fees associated with the card. That seems a tad sketchy if you ask, so if you are considering a prepaid card, make sure you read the fine print. Many cards require “maintenance fees”, ATM fees, transaction fees, reloading fees, inactivity fees, etc and that can add up quickly. Also, if your card is lost or stolen, you can kiss your money goodbye because unlike a debit card issued through your financial institution, it’s not protected and neither are you if something happens to you. It also does nothing to help your credit score. Using your debit card and maintaining a positive balance in your accounts boosts your credit score which can score you lower interest rates and unlocks the door for borrowing and opening credit in the future.

Zero Percent Balance Transfers

Glen and I have good credit, so we tear up at least two zero percent credit card offers a day, but recently our credit card company offered us a zero percent balance transfer. What a good idea! We could save a bunch on interest and the interest rate was lower than our other card on all purchases. It may look good on the surface, but dig a little deeper. The zero percent may be an “introductory rate” for a fixed period of time, there may be a hefty fee for the balance transfer, and if you haven’t paid off the entire balance within the allotted amount of time, the issuer will sock you with a high interest rate on whatever is left. If you think that you can transfer the balance, pay it down and not charge anything else, then go ahead, but before you hit the transfer button, check out what you’re going to pay with the balance transfer calculator.

Life Insurance Policy Related College Savings Accounts

They’re advertised all the time when you’re watching kids TV shows because they assume the parents are watching. The sales pitch is that it’s a great way to save money for college, but there are so many taxes and fees associated with it, it’s not worth it. You pay in and the money stays there and you can get at it whenever you need it for expenses; whether it’s tuition, books and room and board or an expensive car repair. The draw is that these accounts offer about a two percent return, versus the one percent you’d get with a credit union savings account or a Certificate of Deposit, but when you withdraw the money as you need it, you’ll likely have to pay taxes on the financial gains and end up with less money than you started with. Instead, go with the 529 Savings Plan. It’s low fee, no commission, and there are no taxes or penalties associated for withdrawal. I found all this stuff on the website Saving for College.