Author Melody Warnick

Melody Warnick

Melody Warnick is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Redbook, Parents, American Baby, Smart Homeowner, and many other publications. She also writes for businesses and nonprofits.

Melody lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her husband and two daughters. 

Melody Warnick's stories at

Don't be 'breakage' -- 7 tips to avoid losing gift card value -- About $1 billion worth of gift cards will go unused in 2014. The industry calls that lost value "breakage" or "spillage" and it means big profits for them and lost money for you ... (See Breakage)

Getting teens to see plastic cards aren't 'invisible money' -- It's tough to decide when a child is ready to graduate to having a debit or credit card. One test: Can they see that the money they spend is real? ... (See Invisible money)

Cashless toll roads and rental cars: 6 tips -- If you ever find yourself stuck in a rental car on an e-toll road with no cash option, you have more choices than get gouged now or gouged later ... (See E-toll rental tips)

Who's responsible for kids' unauthorized card charges? -- You're not responsible for unauthorized purchases, but when the unauthorized purchaser is right under your own roof, things can get fuzzy ... (See Unauthorized kids)

Need a last-minute tax deduction? Try a credit card charity network -- By donating through a major credit card's charitable giving network, you can pledge (and get the deduction) today, pay the bill next year ... (See Taxes)

Chronic late credit card payments: How bad can fines, fees get? -- Occasional tardiness won gentler treatment under a 2009 reform law, but repeat offenses bring heavier penalties ... (See Late fees)

You can now #buy through social media -- but do you really want to? -- In-stream purchasing lets you buy products through social media by posting a simple hashtag or set of words. It's quick, convenient -- and potentially dangerous ... (See Social media)

5 top excuses (and 5 top fixes) for paying bills late -- Excuses abound for paying bills late, but none do you any good. We identify the top five -- and a way to overcome each one ... (See Bill paying moves )

10 ways to get more from your credit card through social media -- Social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube can help you resolve problems, find perks and maximize the benefits you get from your credit cards ... (See Cards and social media )

11 hidden credit card perks -- The phrase "credit card fine print" is usually associated with unpleasant, expensive gotchas, but these hidden surprises bring good news to your wallet ... (See 11 credit card perks)

Emancipated minors may get freedom, but don't count on credit -- Emancipation is a rare legal course followed by youthful celebrities and a few regular youths. You gain independence, but not credit ... (See Minors and credit)

Compare credit card extended product warranties -- Most credit cards offer to extend manufacturers' warranties, but you'll have to meet a laundry list of requirements to qualify. (Hint: Keep receipts.) ... (See Extended warranties)

How credit cards can improve daily deals -- Daily deal offers are getting a fresh boost from credit cards. Here are three ways the new combos make deal-snatching easier ... (See Better daily deals)

6 questions to ask your elderly parents about their finances -- It may be a hard conversation to have, but as your parents get older, you'll need to chat with them about their financial well-being. Here are six questions to get you started ... (See Money questions for aging parents)

High-tech ways to rent out your stuff -- You're happy to let your best friend borrow your mountain bike. But would you be willing to loan it out to a total stranger if you could make some money off the arrangement? ... (See High-tech rentals)

Does your kid need a financial coach? -- Soccer coach? Sure. Algebra tutor? No problem. But what about hiring a money coach for your kid? A new breed of financial advisers and life coaches, billing themselves as financial coaches for kids and teens, thinks it's worth it ... (See Kids and money coaches)

9 things you should know about your credit card receipt -- They're those annoying scraps of paper that litter your purse or flutter from your wallet at inopportune moments, but receipts for credit card transactions are actually worth paying attention to ... (See Credit card receipts)

Don't toss out that expired Groupon -- Deals from Groupon and other daily deals sites aren't so great when they expire before you can use them. Luckily, there's some good news for procrastinators: Just because your Groupon expired doesn't mean you lose all your money on it ... (See Expired Groupon)

4 types of money pros: What they are, how to find the right one for you -- Most of the time, a do-it-yourself ethic is all you need to keep your finances in line. But even the smartest amateurs can use some expert advice from time to time ... (See Money professionals)

8 financial experiences your kids need to have now -- To equip your children with good financial sense now -- before they have to learn things the hard way -- make time for these 8 money-skill-building experiences ... (See Kids and money)

6 credit card problems that can ruin your summer vacation -- Here are some credit-related problems that can wreak havoc on your well-deserved holiday, and some tips on what you can do to avoid them, well before you board the plane or pull the car out of the garage. ... (See Summer vacation)

8-month plan to shift family from two incomes to one -- Moving from two incomes to one can be terrifying, but surviving and thriving on just one income can be done -- and in just eight months ... (See Surviving on one income)

Credit card insurance perks: Does your card have you covered? -- Your credit card can help make life's little emergencies a tad easier to handle. But the next time disaster strikes, your card could be there for you in ways you didn't expect -- as long as you play by the rules ... (See Credit card insurance coverage)

Video: 4 ways to know if it's time for a new credit card -- Just because an outfit looked great on you when you were 16 doesn't mean you'd be caught dead in it today, right? The same goes for your credit card. ... (See Video)

5 ways to know you've got the wrong credit card for you -- You had a closet full of clothes you adored as a teenager -- but that doesn't mean you'd wear them now, right? The same thing goes for your credit card ... (See Wrong card)

7 reasons your credit card gets blocked and 7 tips for handling it -- When your credit card company stops a thief from charging fraudulent expenses to your card, you're thrilled. But what happens when they mistake you for the thief? ... (See Blocked card)

10 credit card perks you didn't know you had -- Think all that's in the fine print of your credit card is trouble? There may actually be some good news in there: hidden perks, from car rental collision insurance to return protection, that can save you cash ... (See Credit card perks)

Conservatorships, guardianships: taking over someone's finances -- Watching a family member lose his grip on his finances can be maddening. However, in some cases you can take control by going to court to set up a conservatorship, a legal relationship that makes you the custodian of another adult's finances. ... (See Conservatorship)

Don't be 'breakage' -- Tips to avoid losing gift card value -- About $1 billion worth of gift cards will go unused in 2014. The industry calls that lost value "breakage" or "spillage" and it means big profits for them and lost money for you ... (See Breakage)

Uncle Sam wants you ... unless your credit stinks -- You may be ready to serve your country, but if your finances aren't in good shape, you might get washed out. ... (See Military)

Think you can't use that not-yet-activated credit card? Think again -- Until you call your issuer to officially activate it, your new credit card is useless and secure, right? Not necessarily. The startling truth is that many sail through a purchase without a problem. ... (See Activating)

Is credit card loyalty for chumps? -- Your loyalty may make you a stellar best friend, but it's not doing you any favors with your credit card company these days. The dismal economy may have turned your card issuer into a turncoat. ... (See Loyalty)

Talking to elderly parents about credit card debt -- For some senior citizens, credit card debt is a way of life that gets more difficult to handle as they get older. ... (See Elderly card debt)

How to replace a lost, stolen or unwanted gift card -- The reason so many of us love gift cards -- they're a lot like cash -- is also the reason they can be hard to replace when they're stolen or lost. ... (See Replacing lost/stolen gift cards)

7 tips to avoid a credit card late fee -- Being even a minute late with a credit card payment can cost you dearly -- as much as $39 each time, according to one recent survey -- but some simple steps can help keep your exposure to these extra costs to a minimum. ... (See Late fees)

Consumer credit report 100-word statement sample letters -- These sample 100-word letters -- tailored to satisfy each of the Big Three credit bureaus and fit several situations -- can help you plead your case on your credit report ... (See 100-word statement sample letters)

Why students pay for college with credit cards, tips to avoid -- When money gets too tight for tuition, a growing group of students and their families break out the plastic. ... (See Cut card use)

Pregnancy or paying down debt? How to fit a baby into your financial future -- Your heart -- or your ticking biological clock -- says it's time to have a baby. Your credit card bill, however, may be saying something else. ... (See Debt or diapers)

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Updated: 06-27-2019