Advice & Expertise Blog

Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a financial expert and award-winning writer who serves as Contributing Editor for The Simple Dollar. Holly runs her own website, ClubThrifty.com, and writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News, World Report Travel, The Indianapolis Star, and Wise Bread. She is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love.

  1. July 19, 2018

    If you’re in the market for a travel credit card but feeling completely overwhelmed by all the different rewards programs available, you’re not alone. While earning travel rewards is fun for some, many people find that the sheer number of rewards programs, make the process of finding a card stressful.

  2. July 13, 2018

    Whether you want to redo your kitchen, add a new bathroom, build a room addition, or create a new outdoor living space, your project won’t be cheap. If you are ready to remodel but need to borrow money to bring your project to fruition, here are the loan options you should consider.

  3. July 9, 2018

    Whether you have some of your summer travel booked and paid for or you’re waiting to score a last-minute deal, you might be surprised to hear that one tool could help save you money or protect your financial investment. Here are 4 reasons you should consider getting a credit card before you depart on your summer getaway.

  4. June 29, 2018

    You may not be approved for a new credit card if your credit profile is thin or you have negative marks on your credit report, after all. Still, you’ll want to take steps to improve your credit whether you can get a new credit card or not. Here are four strategies that can make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

  5. June 18, 2018

    If you’re struggling with debt and know it will take you years to pay off, you’re not alone. You can travel frugally while you’re young and pay down debt, but you’ll need to avoid some pitfalls along the way. Here are 4 strategies you can use to see the world while you still can — without avoiding your responsibilities.

  6. June 12, 2018

    If you’re drowning in debt and struggling to find a way out, you may believe a new credit card is the last thing you need. While you are likely right when it comes to traditional cards, there is one type of card that could actually make paying down debt easier.

  7. June 5, 2018

    With the right rewards card, you can easily earn up to 5% back on all your regular spending. Since you can achieve these returns without any effort or time invested, this is truly “free money,” provided you have the discipline to pay your bill in full each month.

  8. May 29, 2018

    To reach the end of the month (or the year) with extra cash to save and invest, you have to plug the holes in your sinking financial ship — and fast. The best way to do this is to figure out the ways you’re wasting money every day and stop doing it

  9. May 23, 2018

    There are plenty of ways to make family memories without spending a bundle. If you’re angling for a summer vacation with kids that won’t blow your budget out the window, consider these low-cost and mid-tier vacation ideas.

  10. May 15, 2018

    Building wealth is a long-term game that requires patience and forward thinking. Of course, those who start saving and investing early tend to have the best results. For that reason, it’s smart to create annual goals as well as five-year, ten-year, and even twenty-year financial goals.

  11. May 8, 2018

    If you’re someone who isn’t too keen on spending money you don’t have (or borrowing money) for your wedding day, it’s smart to look for ways to whittle down costs. Here are nine ways to get married for less.

  12. May 1, 2018

    Planning any type of trip can be stressful when your funds are limited, but you have a real task at hand if you expect luxury for less. Fortunately, there are ways to score luxury for less if you’re willing to do things differently, and able to plan ahead. Here are 7 tips that can help you book sheer luxury for less.

  13. April 23, 2018

    Fortunately, your summer getaway doesn’t have to break the bank. There are myriad travel credit cards that can make your summer getaway both cheap and fun, although the right card for your needs depends on where you want to go and your travel style.

  14. April 19, 2018

    Purchasing a home is an exciting and momentous occasion, but it’s one that’s often rife with stress. With that in mind, you may be wondering if credit card rewards could ruin your home purchase. Here’s the skinny on how credit cards can help — or hurt — your chances at getting a mortgage.

  15. April 9, 2018

    Not only can you earn a signup bonus for scoring a new card before your spring clean, but some cards offer additional points for home improvement purchases made this year. Here are some of the best cards for this year’s spring cleaning season.

  16. April 5, 2018

    While nearly every parent dreams of taking their kids on a magical Disney vacation, not everyone can afford the outrageous costs required to visit a Disney park. Learn more about this magical vacation option and the alternatives for vacationing on a budget.

  17. March 26, 2018

    Love it or hate it, the World of Hyatt program appears to be working thus far, as rewards enthusiasts around the globe continue to take advantage and rack up points for free stay. Before you dive into the new World of Hyatt rewards program, check out these 6 things you should know.

  18. March 20, 2018

    As you explore bank bonus offers and decide which one to sign up for, it’s crucial to read the fine print so you can avoid the biggest gotchas and pitfalls. Learn more about these 5 fine print details you should absolutely be aware of.

  19. March 5, 2018

    While cruise fares can be inexpensive on their own, there are plenty of “extras” and “gotchas” you should prepare for. While some of these added expenses can be avoided, others are just part of the deal. Learn more about the hidden expenses of a cruise.

  20. February 26, 2018

    Lowering your expenses isn’t always easy. To really cut your spending, you may need to take some uncomfortable steps in your life – steps like using a budget for the first time, giving up expensive hobbies like going to bars or dining out, and avoiding situations where you’re tempted to spend.

  21. February 15, 2018

    New Year’s resolutions are a popular way to set new goals at the end of the year. No matter your past indiscretions or whether or not you improved your life last year, a new year means a new opportunity to get things right. If you’re looking for an easy way to stick to your money goals this year, try these strategies:

  22. February 2, 2018

    If you are hoping to score a slightly more exciting or luxurious Valentine’s Day this year, however, certain rewards and travel credit cards can help. Not only do some dole out rewards you can use for an epic gift, but some rewards are a gift on their own.Here are some of our favorite cards for an epic Valentine’s Day.

  23. January 30, 2018

    The bad news is, debt is pervasive, relentless, and a lot like Mogwai. If you feed it, it just keeps growing and growing as interest compounds over and over again. The good news is, there are some ways to put a lid on your holiday debt – and all your other debts – for good.

  24. December 22, 2017

    If you’re looking for ways to rack up rewards through regular spending, why not take a look at your daycare bill? You’re probably paying a lot for care, so it makes sense to look for ways to benefit. Provided you can pay your daycare bill with a credit card every month (and pay it off), this strategy could help you rack up a ton of rewards with little effort on your part.

  25. December 19, 2017

    The downside that comes with pursuing travel credit cards that fall into this category is that most, if not all, come with large annual fees. But, if you’re a steady traveler who can benefit from a large signup bonus and all the benefits, cards that let you “double dip” in this way can really pay off.

  26. December 15, 2017

    While there are many ways to learn life’s important lessons, one of the best ways to learn is by doing – or through old fashioned trial and error. You can tell your kids how to fish, but they’ll become better fisherman by baiting their own lines and strategizing ways to get fish to bite.

  27. December 12, 2017

    The new Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card falls into the latter category, offering different levels of rewards for different purchases. Fortunately, the rewards are lucrative – especially in certain categories – and there’s no annual fee. The fact this card offers a signup bonus is just icing on the cake.

  28. December 7, 2017

    There’s a reason the divorce rate hovers around 40 to 50 percent at any given time. Marriage is hard, and it often comes with issues you can’t foresee. You marry “in sickness and in health” and “for rich or for poor,” but that doesn’t mean you actually expect the worst-case scenario to happen. And when life gives you lemons, divorce is often the easiest way out.

  29. November 30, 2017

    Before you spend hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars on holiday gifts for your employees or vendors, it can pay off to spend some time figuring out the best business credit card for your needs. Here are some options to consider along with their pros and cons for the 2017 holiday season and beyond:

  30. November 22, 2017

    Sticking to your holiday shopping budget can be tricky no matter how you pay. After all, you may have a dozen people on your holiday shopping list, and potentially more. Finding the perfect gift for everyone is hard enough, let alone finding gifts that are within your price range.

  31. November 15, 2017

    If you’re gearing up for the holiday shopping season and looking for new ways to save, it always helps to think outside the box. Of course you’ll scoop up bargains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but your deal-seeking doesn’t have to end there. With the right rewards credit card, you could get 5 percent cash back – or a 5 percent discount on most of your holiday gift-giving this year.

  32. November 9, 2017

    As usual, a lot of spending will take place on Black Friday, the notorious shopping holiday that takes place the day after Thanksgiving. As NRF figures show, more than 154 million individuals shopped in stores or online on Black Friday in 2016, spending about $290 each, on average.

  33. November 6, 2017

    But, which balance transfer card should you get? If you have a small amount of debt that will only take a few months to pay off, nearly any 0 percent APR card could do the trick. If you’re drowning in debt and carrying more than average, on the other hand, a card with a long introductory offer and the best terms possible will leave you better off.

  34. October 17, 2017

    With college costs and student loan debt soaring, I want to help my kids make smart decisions regarding their future. Since our kids were babies, we’ve been socking money away in their 529 savings plans. By the time they reach college, I estimate they’ll both have $50,000 to pay for any school of their choosing.

  35. October 9, 2017

    Recently, Delta Air Lines and American Express partnered up to offer a brand new co-branded credit card – the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. While the signup bonus on this card isn’t anything to write home about, it does offer one benefit many rewards consumers look for – no annual fee. Beyond its lack of an annual fee, this card also offers an interesting earning structure that could work well for consumers with certain spending habits.

  36. October 4, 2017

    As the water recedes in Houston and various waterfront communities across Texas, a startling financial reality continues to unfold. Where hurricane Harvey hit the hardest, 80 percent of homeowners and property owners lacked flood insurance coverage.

  37. September 22, 2017

    Business owners who compare business credit cards face a common conundrum– they crave points they can redeem for travel, but may be put off by the egregious annual fees some business cards charge. Fortunately, at least one business credit card offers valuable rewards, a simple redemption process, and an annual fee nearly any business owner can stomach.

  38. September 19, 2017

    Millennials may be the largest living generation on Earth, but that doesn't mean they don't face their share of financial hurdles. For example, millennials face higher levels of student loan debt than ever before, rampant unemployment or underemployment, an increasingly expensive housing market, and a world where owning costly gadgets and technology is the norm.

  39. September 13, 2017

    With summer behind us and fall on its way, it’s just a matter of time until the festive season hits. Once Halloween comes and goes, an explosion of twinkling lights and non-stop sales will last for months. Holiday shopping season will kick in, culminating on Black Friday followed by weeks of last-minute rushing to find the perfect gifts. It will be here before we know it, which is why you should really start planning now.

  40. September 7, 2017

    According to a recent survey from Allianz Travel Insurance, the average American may be spending more money on vacation than ever before - approximately $1,798 on average as of 2016. That’s a lot of dough to spend on travel, yet 50 percent of respondents to the Allianz study said they were confident they could pull it off.

  41. September 5, 2017

    If you have high interest credit card debt, personal loan debt, or other mounting bills, a balance transfer credit card could be the answer to your prayers. Once you qualify for a balance transfer credit card, you can score 0 percent APR on transferred balances for anywhere from 12 – 21 months. Best of all, some balance transfer credit cards offer low fees or even no fees to consumers who qualify.

  42. August 25, 2017

    When it comes to credit cards, there are too many options to count. From cash-back rewards cards that let you earn rewards to balance transfer cards that help you save money on interest, there’s a card type to suit everyone regardless of their credit needs. And yes, that includes credit cards that can help you become more charitable. Believe it or not, some card issuers and programs make it easy to donate cash-back or miles instead of keeping your rewards for yourself.

  43. August 18, 2017

    While American Express is well known for their selection of premier travel credit cards, past and present Amex customers seem to have a lot of gripes. For starters, the card issuer’s top tier travel credit cards – the Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express – come with outrageous annual fees of $550 and $450, respectively. Worse, both cards offer an earning tier of just 1 point per $1 spent outside of special bonus categories.

  44. August 16, 2017

    Credit cards offer a slew of benefits that make them valuable for just about anyone. With a credit card in-hand, you can score valuable consumer protections like purchase protection, zero fraud liability, and guaranteed returns. And, let’s not forget about the many rewards programs that help you rack up cash back, gift cards, or free travel.

  45. August 11, 2017

    With interest rates near record lows so long that rising rates seem imminent, it’s smart to at least consider refinancing your home mortgage. A lower interest rate could give you plenty of advantages, after all. While loan outcomes vary, lower interest rates can easily lead to lower monthly mortgage payments and interest savings. Under the right circumstances, you could even shorten the repayment timeline for your loan and pay off your home faster.

  46. August 8, 2017

    Credit card signup bonuses are often considered the holy grail of affordable travel. Sign up for a new rewards credit card or travel credit card, hit a minimum spending requirement, and earn a bonus big enough to pay for several hotel nights or a free round-trip flight. If you’re into cash-back instead, you can also parlay your rewards into several hundred dollars in statement credits instead.

  47. August 4, 2017

    Is big-city living all it’s cracked up to be? Or, would you be better off in a quieter, slower-paced rural environment? While this question has been debated for years, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer that suits everyone. The truth is, some people prefer the close-knit quarters of an urban existence while others crave more space.

  48. July 26, 2017

    While higher education is typically a good investment, the surging costs of a college degree have been blurring the line for years. Sure, college graduates tend to earn more, but they’re also facing growing debt loads, too. According to Student Loan Hero, the average 2016 college graduate left school with more than $37,000 in student loan debt.

  49. July 20, 2017

    Graduating with a college degree requires a sincere commitment to academics and a laser-focus on achieving one’s goals. Many top degree programs require four years of rigorous coursework at the very least, while some of the highest-paying fields require eight or more years in school along with a residency and/or on-the-job training.

  50. July 18, 2017

    According to a recent analysis from USA Today, using data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute, a college degree is one of the best financial investments anyone can make. In 2015, college graduates earned 56 percent more than high school graduates. Non-degreed adults also face higher unemployment rates and fewer opportunities over all, mostly due to lost manufacturing jobs from the last decade.

  51. July 13, 2017

    A European getaway is on nearly everyone’s bucket list, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s budget is equipped to handle the expense. Flights alone can be cost-prohibitive. Truth be told, most round-trip flights to Europe from the U.S. start at $1,000 and only go up from there.

  52. July 7, 2017

    Despite the growing costs of higher education, a college degree is usually the best way to get ahead. With a degree in an in-demand and profitable industry, workers can get their foot in the door, climb the career ladder, and continue improving their skills.

  53. July 3, 2017

    If you have kids, you’re probably well aware that beach vacations are the ultimate gateway to frugal fun. Beyond transportation and lodging, you’ll pay very little to keep the kids busy all day. Head out to the beach from your hotel or rental, bring along a cooler of drinks and snacks, and your kids will use nature’s bounty – surf, sand, and sea life - to entertain themselves.

  54. June 20, 2017

    My original foray into credit card rewards stemmed from a targeted mailer for the Chase Freedom® card. I was in my late 20’s and money was tight. With the Chase Freedom® card, I learned, I could score an initial signup bonus ($100 at the time) and earn 1-5 percent cash back for every dollar I spent. Needless to say, I was pumped to try it out.

  55. May 26, 2017

    If you have a large purchase coming up and don’t have the cash, you have myriad options at your disposal. You could spend months saving small sums to reach your goal, or you could take out a personal loan. If neither of those options seem appealing, you could sign up for a new credit card instead.

  56. May 9, 2017

    The best travel and rewards credit cards really can offer the unthinkable – something for nothing. By using your card for all your purchases, you can earn points redeemable for cash back, travel rewards, gift cards, or merchandise. The catch, however, is that you must avoid carrying a balance if you want to avoid credit card interest.

  57. April 20, 2017

    If you have ever wanted to travel the world, earn cash back for a rainy day, or rack up points good for gift cards or merchandise, a rewards credit card might be exactly what you need. After signing up a for rewards card, you can easily earn 1-5 points worth of cash back, gift cards, merchandise, or travel rewards for each dollar you spend.


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