Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily Starbuck Crone

I'm the former editorial assistant at CreditCards.com, and no, I don't like coffee (it's a family name). Upon finishing college, I was horrified to learn how little my friends and I knew about credit and personal finance. It seems our dear parents forgot to mention a few things, so I have made it my mission to help those in the dark understand the ins and outs of credit, debt, identity theft and other vital issues...

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In just five days, spring will be here. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons here in Texas, where we have beautiful, mild weather that briefly tricks me into forgetting about our sweltering summers. As we all know, spring is a metaphor for cleaning out and new beginnings.

Use these following 10 blog posts that I enjoyed as inspiration to make this season a time for change and financial growth.

Low-income people in poor countries can't usually access traditional banking systems. Either there isn't one, or they don't have enough credit to qualify. This stifles entrepreneurs and artisans in small communities who want to grow their businesses. Enter Kiva, a nonprofit that facilitates microloans from individuals like me to individuals or groups in impoverished countries.

Each time I've given loan, I have teared up. How amazing is it that we as regular individuals can help someone in another country change their life and grow their business for only $25 at a time? I can't even imagine what it would be like to live in a world where I couldn't qualify for a bank account or not be considered for a loan of any kind, even a credit card.

Learn more about my microloans and read on to learn about 10 of my favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, all of which have excellent money tips and tricks!

If you looked at my monthly debit card charges, you would think I'm obese. I find eating to be one of the greatest joys in life. I also find cooking more stressful than soothing. But as my husband's law school graduation nears, I need to get my food spending in check.

This week I attended my first cooking class, which reassured me that I just might be able to throw together some healthy and easy meals at a reasonable price. Learn more about my cooking class and explore my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the week.

In modern times, it's hard to imagine a former president being broke. Presidents currently earn $400,000 per year while on the job, plus a healthy annual pension. More recent former presidents, including Bill Clinton and the Bushes, have also earned a fortune through speaking gigs and book deals.

Monday was President's Day, and after recently watching a show about presidents on the History Channel, I was sad to hear that some former presidents from long ago were very poor, if not broke, after leaving office. I did some digging to learn about why this happened. Read what I learned and explore my list of 10 of the best personal finance blog posts from the week!

Due to frightening anecdotes and my own encounter with fraud, whenever I see something on my account that doesn't look familiar, I have a minor freak-out. Then I do my research, and I usually find out that it was just a case of mistaken identity--the merchant used a name on my credit card statement that I wasn't expecting.

In this week's roundup of my favorite blog posts, the first two are right on topic and address what happens when you lose your credit cards and other identifying information. The rest offer great tips and stories about credit, debt and personal finance success.

Valentine's Day is kind of a lost cause for me. It comes on the heels of Hanukkah and Christmas (interfaith family), followed by my birthday on Feb. 11. By the time Feb. 14 rolls around, my husband is not excited about buying more gifts. We also celebrate our wedding anniversary in late March.

In this week's roundup, I'll start you off with six blog posts that offer great suggestions for affordable Valentine's Day presents and dates, then end with four enlightening posts about credit and debt. Enjoy!

The big news this month is that merchants now have the right to charge a surcharge of up to 4 percent on Visa and Mastercard purchases. When I heard this, I was initially concerned that my large purchases would have a noticeable fee. Fortunately, our reporters' research shows that few merchants even plan to charge such a fee, at least for now.

Please read on for my roundup of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!

The 2013 inauguration Monday was a treat to watch. It was full of gawkworthy moments, from Michelle Obama's flowing red dress at the ball to Beyonce's lip-synching. I thought the awkward essay -- I mean, poem -- was a bust, but I really loved President Obama's inauguration speech -- not because of his party or political leaning, but because it really spoke to everyone in the nation. It was a call for us to work together and harness our potential.

While we can't control much about what is happening in Washington right now, we can all make progress in our own finances. Explore my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week for great tools and ideas.

You know the usual ways to break free from debt--cutting cable, canceling the gym membership, cooking at home and focusing on spending less than you earn so you can use what's left to make payments. What if you didn't have to do any of that? Some people have found alternative ways to retire their debt. While I have some ethical issues with these methods, in the end, they worked.

These stories are fun to read, but if you are interested in the more typical ways to pay off your debt or create a budget, turn to these 10 trusty blog posts from the past week.

It's no secret that I'm terrified of my husband's law school loans and what will happen when he graduates in May. But after the story of Brian McBride, I feel a little better. This young man took very extreme measures, but he managed to pay off $26,500 in less than two years. Check out my roundup of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, many of which address this very topic!

Happy New Year! A new year means new goals and new aspirations. I love New Year's Day as it signifies wiping the slate clean and moving forward. I believe in the importance of reflecting on the highs and lows of the prior year, but then letting go. The past year was very 'meh' for me. There's not too much worth remembering. But I look forward, knowing that 2013 is going to be a good one -- mostly because my husband graduates law school.

For my roundup this week, I present 10 posts from my fellow personal finance bloggers to help you make 2013 your year to get control of your finances. Whether your goal is to pay down credit card debt or boost your emergency fund, these tips will help.

I truly respect those who don't believe in my family's secular version of Christmas, but this rare, treasured time with my loved ones is why I plan to have a Merry Christmas. I hope you do too, if it is a holiday you celebrate!

For excellent personal finance tips and tricks, read my roundup of 10 favorite blog posts from the past week.

Google put together a stunning short video that sums up 2012, and in less than three minutes, it brought me to tears. It's easy to think back on my year and think of it as pretty uneventful. But this video reminded me of my global citizenry in this crazy and beautiful world. It reminded me that it has been an eventful year and that I'm part of it.

Pull out a box of Kleenex and watch this gorgeous video of 2012 in review. Then, explore my list of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!

Tomorrow night marks the first night of Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on Dec. 8 and ends on Dec. 16. While it is a Jewish holiday, it actually carries some great secular messages that can apply in all areas of life, from love to work to personal finance. Learn about the holiday's backstory and my roundup of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week.

December only begins tomorrow, but I'm sad to say that holiday shopping is already giving me a headache. I previously discussed that I avoid Black Friday. Once Cyber Monday rolled around, I gave in just a bit. But I found that most of my shopping was for me -- not my loved ones. This season is all about joy, and I'm going to be a miserable lady if Christmas and Hanukkah roll around and I've spent more money on myself than my family. I think it's time for me to start unsubscribing from retailer emails!

Check out my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, several of which discuss the challenges of holiday shopping.

Black Friday isn't for everyone. Me, for instance.

I am the type who steers clear of chaotic retail stores during December and orders as many gifts as possible online. It amazes me, but there are thousands if not millions of people out there who are willing to wait in line for hours in the cold for a consumer good.

This week, I found a collection of helpful blog posts about Black Friday and holiday shopping from a variety of personal finance bloggers. They offer tips on budgeting, finding the best deals, avoiding the crowds and staying organized. Enjoy these great tips, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

A new study reveals how the quality of physical bills can affect spending choice. What I want to know is how credit cards and debit cards fit into this. I thought spending habits were all about cash versus plastic, but now it looks like there are subtleties in cash spending alone.

Keep on reading to learn more about the study and to see my list of my 10 favorite posts from the personal finance blogosphere this week.

Little did I know my cookie cravings would put me in the middle of a huge fight over big dough.

I like my local baker, who sells delicious gourmet cookies. But I just want one at a time, and I want to buy it with a credit card since I tend not to carry much cash. The baker doesn't want to sell me just one if I use a card because every time my card is swiped, card processing fees eat his profits just as I'm taking a bite of his cookie.

So I'm in a cookie quandary.

My missing cat has me wondering how soon I should give up hope, cancel his wellness plan, and ditch his things. Should I keep the financial investment going in case he shows up again? Learn more about my dilemma and check out my 10 favorite posts from the personal finance blogosphere this week.

Do you have debt haunting you this Halloween? I do. It's (cue the scary organ music) -- student loan debt! Eek!

Don't run away in panic, though. Keep on reading to learn more and explore my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week.

Back in the old days, if you worked for yourself and needed to be paid by a client, cash or checks were the only viable forms of payments. In recent decades, it has been easier self-employed people to accept credit cards, but it still involved a clunky machine that was tethered to a land line. New technology makes it very easy for individuals and small businesses to accept mobile payments and keep up with larger companies. Learn about some of this newer technology and explore my roundup of my 10 favorite posts from the personal finance blogosphere from the past week.

Earlier this week, American Express and Wal-Mart announced a new prepaid debit card called Bluebird. According to the press release, "Bluebird addresses the need for an affordable, transparent way to manage everyday finances, with premium features, no minimum balance, monthly, or overdraft fees." I'm intrigued by this partnership by two very different companies for a product that actually seems very straightforward and user-friendly.

Learn more about it and continue reading to enjoy my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!

Earlier this week, I discovered RFID-blocking wallets Many passports and credit cards are embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. These chips contain personal information that can be hacked by clever thieves with portable RFID readers. These wallets have "a built-in shield that prevents personal data from being accessed unless the wallet is opened at approved locations." How cool is that?

Keep on reading for my roundup of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week.

I love obscure holidays. It makes me laugh that people take the time to select arbitrary days and celebrate mundane things. But today's odd holiday, Ask a Stupid Question Day, makes me happy.

There may be people who judge you for asking basic questions about personal finance or anything else, but who cares. You never know how many people are wondering the exact same thing but are too scared to ask.

While you ponder which non-stupid questions you will ask today, read my list of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!

Tomorrow is the first day of fall, and it's a great time of year for me financially. My summer travel is over, so I'm able to start putting more money back into savings rather than spending it on airfare and taxis. It's also well before the holidays, which are always a financial drain.

What time of year do you feel the most financially secure? You can feel more secure year-round with these great tips and articles from personal finance bloggers this week.

The big news this week is that Apple launched its precious new baby, iPhone 5, on Wednesday. Two summers ago, I wrote about why I was dying for an iPhone 4 but resisting. Are you purchasing an iPhone 5 now, or are you going to wait like me until it costs me less than half a month's of rent?

Read on for my list of my top 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week.

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