Summer is just winding down, but I've already seen holiday countdowns on the Internet. It may seem crazy early, but retailers are already prepping for holiday shopping season. And if you have your finances' best interests in mind, maybe you should be, too.

I'm turning 30 in a few weeks and, according to some personal finance experts, I've only completed a fraction of the financial moves I'm supposed to have made by now.

Carrying student loan debt can make you question your life choices, stay in more often on Friday nights and promote higher levels of ice cream consumption and now there's data to prove it.

Believe it or not, the same strategies master negotiators use to broker multi-million-dollar business deals can also net you big discounts with retailers, financial institutions, and service providers.

Lenders, potential employers or landlords aren't the only one clamoring for access to your personal credit history. Some health care providers use it to decide whether or not patients can afford costly medical treatment. And even the federal health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, uses it to verify applicants' identities.

The new cardholder perks have worn off and reports of rising APRs, complex rewards programs and the spending temptation the card creates have settled in and you're ready to close your retail credit card account. However, you might have other options. Here are a few suggestions based on common retail credit card woes:

In its attempts to hold colleges, universities and vocational schools more accountable for the student debt they generate, the U.S. Department of Education has so far pleased few. Its proposed gainful employment rule is suffering a Goldilocks syndrome in which the public complains it's either too hot (goes too far) or too cold (not far enough). So far no one seems happy with the temperature as it stands.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is taking a fresh look at costly overdraft fees and is considering imposing new rules on the controversial practice.

If you are getting ready to head off to college for the first time (or are a parent preparing to drop your college kid off at school), here are six things you can do before leaving home to make sure you're more financially prepared for college than I was.

Americans use this form of payment six times more than they did in 2000. Click through to learn what it is -- and find 19 other eye-catching numbers.

If you're struggling to curb your urge to splurge, you may want to keep better track of your recent purchases. A forthcoming study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that impulsive spenders tend to conveniently 'forget' just how much they spent the last time they indulged.

The news was a shock: 35 percent of adults have a debt in collection on their credit report, with an average of $5,178 owed. If those numbers sound too high, it's because they are. Debt is a big problem for many people, but a third of the country does not have a wolf at the door.

During the week, I often make stops after work to pick up a few things -- milk, groceries for the night, toiletries and/or an impulse clearance find. On several occasions after swiping my card for these items, I wasn't prompted to sign for my purchase. I had the terminal pen in hand, all ready to sign on that magnetic terminal pad. But instead, the cashier handed me a receipt and said I was "good to go."

Are 1,300 lawsuits a week too many for one lawyer to sign? The federal consumer protection bureau thinks so. It is cracking down on a debt collection law firm in Georgia, sending a warning to collectors who use the court system as muscle.

If you're trying to decide whether or not to buy something, you could have a harder time passing it up if it reminds you of a happy moment from your past. According to a new study forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, feeling nostalgic may cause some people to spend more than they would otherwise.

For the first time in perhaps decades, I received a payment overdue notice. I applied for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card in early spring to take advantage of its 50,000 Membership Rewards points bonus offer with the $175 annual fee waived the first year. I was approved and had to spend $1,000 within three months to get the points. Spending the $1,000 wasn't a problem. Paying the bill in a timely manner was.

I made my 3-part student loan repayment budget. I selected my payment plan. I was starting to come to terms with the monthly sacrifices I'd be making to pay off my student loan debt over the next decade. And then I saw a shelter dog's big brown eyes.

In many states across the country, infant child care is more expensive than a year of tuition at a four-year public university. But unlike college students, most parents don't have access to low-interest loans for day care.

Publishing complaints on the Web -- as proposed by a federal regulator -- will help consumers pick financial services more wisely. And it might even encourage companies to fix their problem areas.

After writing about a study that revealed consumers want more federal government involvement in cybersecurity and data breach resolution, I wanted to learn what, if anything, is happening on the federal government level that addresses these concerns. As it turns out, there's been quite a bit of activity on the subject this year, especially in recent weeks.

If you're already carrying a hefty amount of student loan, mortgage or credit card debt, you may have a tough time convincing your lender you deserve another loan. A new survey from the Professional Risk Managers International Association and FICO found that the majority of bank risk professionals cite high debt-to-income ratios (which compare how much debt you owe to how much money you take in) as their biggest source of worry when deciding whether to approve a new loan.

In the case of a data breach, what consumers don't know can hurt them.A study conducted by the National Consumer League and Javelin Strategy and Research revealed that many victims of fraud don't know how their information was compromised. As a result, they want more protection as they fear the unknown.

Isis,the mobile payments venture, pondered, "What's in a name?" The answer came quickly: too much baggage. The company announced Monday it will shed its name and come up with another, since the acronym ISIS has been contaminated by the terrorist group operating in Iraq and Syria.

It was bound to happen: Once the credit card form factor was adapted to house the ultra-thin, 21st century version of the Swiss Army Knife, its days as an unrestricted carry-on for domestic and international air travel were numbered. As handy as it is to have a card-sized utility tool tucked away in your wallet, the Transportation Safety Administration has been confiscating them like crazy lately because they qualify as a potential hijacking threat. That's right: TSA won't allow shanks on a plane.

New research suggests that credit card minimum payment warnings could be prompting some consumers to pay less than they would otherwise.

The state of Louisiana has joined the growing ranks of public and private entities looking to protect sensitive student information from potential data breaches and identity theft.

My expensive lesson about car rentals and credit cards came after a couple of accidents, one involving a rental car. And the luck of the draw -- in this case which credit card my husband drew from his wallet to pay for the rental car -- cost us $600.

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