Cheese. Cosmetics. Cat Treats. Are Those Monthly Subscription Boxes Actually Saving You Money?

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

Build savings in a hot economy

"The economy has shifted into high gear," said Russ Wiles at >The Arizona Republic. But even as unemployment hits an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, many Americans are still recovering from financial setbacks. If that's you, now's the time to build up a financial cushion. In one survey, half of respondents said they would have trouble coming up with $400 for an emergency. Experts say you should have at least three months of living expenses in available cash, or $11,000 for the average family. Pay the balance on credit cards; if you can't, credit is plentiful and this is a good time to find better rates. If you are close to retirement, keep working while the economy is roaring. That boosts your payout from Social Security, and gives your investments time to grow.

Go ahead, disclose your salary

Getting asked about your current pay is "the interview tightrope everyone hates to walk," said Suzy Welch at CNBC. It's common to "tense up" and struggle with a response. Some states and cities have considered banning the query; a few have already done so. But don't try to dodge the question by giving a vague range. Instead, prepare: Find out the likely salary, research what your skills are worth, and "disclose your current salary and make your case." You should be able to explain why you might take less for an opportunity that lets you grow, or why you should earn more at your next job. Telling the truth can demonstrate "that you're candid and have integrity." Watch the response to judge if the hiring manager is being equally forthright or trying to game you.

Cut down on the subscription boxes

"Are those monthly subscription boxes actually saving you money?" asked Michelle Singletary at >The Washington Post. Initially marketed as a way "to make your life easier," there are now subscription services for a head-spinning array of household products and consumables. You can receive monthly parcels of fashion, pet food, single-origin coffee, cosmetics, gourmet cheese, and even school lunches. Be careful: The sheer number of companies offering subscriptions may lead you to sign up for a service you don't really need. Consider whether the price is worth it — and whether you can cancel. You don't want to be in a situation where "the cheese keeps coming, but you haven't consumed the contents of the last box." You may discover all those deliveries simply "pile up and get tossed out."

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