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This Week in Your Wallet: Is Your PIN As Easy As 1,2,3?

Could I guess your ATM PIN number?  Could your next-door neighbor or someone else who knows you?  I’ve written before about creating good, hard-to-hack passwords (or using a site like Password Safe to store a master password file).  But new research shows we have the same problem when it comes to our PINS.

According to a study by Data Genetics and reported by the Huffington Post, although there are 10,000 different four-digit PIN possibilities, an analysis of over 3.4 million PINS revealed that the most popular PIN is 1234. The second-most popular? 1111. Rounding out the rest of the top ten most popular PINS: 0000, 1212, 7777, 1004, 2000, 4444, 2222, 6969.

If you’re reading this and slowly blushing because one of these easy PINs belongs to you, it’s time to change your PIN. Popularity is good in other facets of life — running for office or party planning, maybe — but not when it comes to the password for your ATM card. The more popular your PIN, the easier it will be for a thief to figure out that PIN if he/she ever gets a hold of your wallet. (That means it shouldn’t be elsewhere on your license as well — i.e. your birthday or four-digit address.)

The good news here is the Data Genetics research also compiled a list of the ten rarest PINs — though, the more this list gets circulated, the more popular these will be. Even so, consider drawing from something here for inspiration: 8068, 8093, 9629, 6835, 7637, 0738, 6793, 9480, 8957.

And now, here are the other headlines for the week:

The Cost of Weddings — For the Guests

We’re through June and July but there’s still a good two months of high-traffic wedding season remaining. How’s your wallet holding up? If your bank statement looks a little battered at the moment, I’m not surprised: MarketWatch reports that according to a new American Express study, it costs roughly $539 to attend just one wedding this year. This figure includes the cost of hotel, bachelor/bachelorette party, child care and party attire and represents a 60 percent increase over 2012 costs. What’s more, Amex found that 43 percent of Americans have declined to attend a wedding because of cost, but 36 percent of Americans have gone into debt to attend a friend’s wedding. Yikes!

The MarketWatch article notes that there are some creative ways to save money on attending a wedding: offering your services as a videographer in lieu of a different gift is something that the bride and groom might appreciate, or teaming up with a friend or relative to buy a joint gift off the registry. I’d like to add that there’s no rule saying you have to stay in the same hotel as everyone else in your family if you have points or a deal at a different hotel in town, and if a recycled dress is good enough for Kate Middleton, it’s good enough for you, too.

Questionable Investing Advice

The picture on Carl Richards’ most recent column for the New York Times is what caught my eye, but I stayed for his advice — and liked it so much I wanted to pass it along to you, too. In his column, he addresses some questionable investing advice, including: “real estate is a safe way to build wealth,” “you will get hurt in the stock market,” and “it makes sense to buy a second property as an investment.” Now, these aren’t always bad pieces of advice — if you’re nearing retirement it is best to limit yourexposure to stocks, and a smartly-managed second property CAN be a good source of income — however, Richards is right to point out that these aren’t the commandments of investing. And he’s right to point out that if someone is insisting you switch your investing strategy to the hot strategy du jour, don’t be swayed too easily: what works for someone else isn’t guaranteed to work for you.

Because who doesn’t love free stuff?

If you follow me on Twitter, this is a repeat link, but for those of you not on Twitter, I just had to share: Kiplinger rounded up 63 “fabulous freebies” that are very much worth clicking through. Looking for a free blizzard from Dairy Queen? A free kid’s meal? Maybe even a free foreign language lesson? Kiplinger has you covered — and then some!

Have a great week!


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