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Personal Finance Weekly Review

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Bringing together tips, advise, offers and updates to educate you to better take control and improve your personal finances. Along the way we also hope to share with you how to create a doable budget, save money and lower your debt. Some of the areas we cover are: home, health and car insurance, personal loans, savings account and personal credit. We update our personal finance news weekly so be sure to come back.

Top Personal Finance News – Monday Dec. 24, 2012

Retirement

Save for Retirement Now or Payoff Your Mortgage First?

Two of the most important components of retirement planning are a generous retirement savings plan and a mortgage free home. But if limited resources force you to make a choice, which goal should get the lion’s share of your extra income? Should you save for retirement now or payoff your mortgage first? There are three basic choices…

8 Potential Money Pitfalls for Retirees

#4 – Annuities, while many of these are legitimate legal products that allow some benefits in the form of tax deferment and death benefits, the financial experts we spoke to don’t like them. “They often sound very good, but come chock-full of hidden fees,” says Elle Kaplan, CEO and founding partner Lexion Capital Management LLC. “Retirees are best served by a fee-only investment adviser, who is only in one business – investment advice.”

College

How to address your student debts

The most important number, of course, is the total debt you owe. Beyond that, though, you also need to understand which types of loans you have. There are 3 main types of student loans. To find out which of these types of student loans you have, try using the National Student Loan Data System, which has information on all education loans. You should be able to find any loans you owe on, along with information about what types of loans they are.

6 Helpful Approaches To Finding Outside Scholarships

Many community organizations raise funds for scholarships to support local students going off to college, so thoroughly check the websites of community groups in your vicinity and inquire as to whether you are eligible. It’s also a good idea to check scholarships offered by major corporations which do business related to your academic field. Taking computer science? Have a look at Microsoft’s website. Also check whether the corporations have education foundations that support education and research.

How Schools Determine Financial Aid Awards

One sure way to reduce your EFC is to be considered an independent student. If your college and the feral government view you as such, your parents’ income and assets are no longer considered in the federal methodology. For this reason, as you may well imagine, being viewed as “independent” for purposes of EFC calculation is much more difficult than actually being independent. When a college looks at your FAFSA, only a few select criteria will trigger a determination of independence under the federal methodology.

Credit Cards

9 Things You Should Always Buy With Your Credit Card

It’s not a bad idea to link monthly bills you are going to have to pay on a regular basis, such as a cellphone or a utility bill, to a credit card as opposed to a debit card. “If I pay through my bank account, I get nothing for it,” says Adrian Nazari, CEO of Credit Sesame. However, if you pay with a credit card, you can earn rewards off the purchases. (Those who are fearful that this will lead them to lose track of their spending can pay the credit card off each day using a linked debit card account.)

The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

To help relieve the burden of debt and acquire new customers, banks have long offered credit cards with a 0% promotional APR, for a limited time, on balance transfers. Applicants who qualify for a new card with these promotional rates can have their existing balance paid off by their new card. During the time that the 0% promotional rate applies, interest is not being accrued on the balance transferred; however, the amount transferred is almost always subject to a one-time balance transfer fee. This fee, typically 3% – 5%, is added to the new balance.

Advise & Tips

6 Steps to Help Stop the Cycle of Debt

I learned this the hard way when I woke up and realized I was $150,000 in debt, constantly worried about money and was only 23 years old. For most of my life I was under the impression that everyone has some sort of debt and that debt is “normal”. But that type of thinking is wrong! Too many of us aren’t disciplined with our finances and it’s time to get honest with ourselves and admit to not thinking clearly. If you want to change your future and end the cycle of debt, here are six steps you need to take!

Health Care Reform Brings Higher Taxes on High-Income Earners in 2013

Starting in 2013, high-income taxpayers will pay a 3.8% surtax on unearned income, including interest, dividends, royalties, rents and capital gains, as part of the health care reform law. The tax will affect taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $200,000 if they’re single, or $250,000 for married joint file. Also in 2013, taxpayers will pay an additional 0.9% Medicare tax on income and unreimbursed medical expenses will have to exceed 10% of AGI before you can deduct them.

10 Things That Broke People Do (That Keep Them Broke)

Here are a few of the reasons why people find themselves without money. Their problems are never their fault: Broke people don’t like to take responsibility for their problems, they will often shift blame and say it’s someone else’s fault. They blame their friends, family and the government. They believe the old saying, “the little guy just can’t get ahead“. They rely on others to get them out of trouble : We’ve probably all know someone who always ends up going to their parents, family or friends to help them pay for one of their debts. They get in debt up to their ears, and then when they can’t pay for it, it’s back to mommy and daddy’s house to beg for money.

Top Personal Finance News – Monday Dec. 17, 2012

Retirement

Why Downsizing Your House May Not Solve Your Retirement Problems

But downsizing isn’t always simple, painless—or even all that beneficial financially. With the real-estate market still fragile, many baby boomers are getting a lot less than they expected for the old homestead. All too often, they have little cash left over after buying a new place, and their monthly expenses don’t fall as much as they thought—or may even rise instead. Then there’s the emotional pain of scaling back. Many baby boomers are finding they lack the stomach or stamina to dismantle their lives.

Remodeling as Retirement Planning

Could all the work be for naught if you become so mentally or physically disabled that staying at home isn’t an option? In extreme cases, yes. But by making the changes, you’ll have increased your options and likely increased the value of your home. You’ll also presumably benefit from and enjoy many of the changes well before you reach a point where living at home is impossible. Tenenbaum and others in his field recommend following the Haymans’ lead. Whether you’re 37 or 67, incorporate age-friendly features into every renovation project.

Reader Questions on Reserve Retirement Tricare and Points

So unfortunately no matter when the pension starts, Reserve retiree Tricare health insurance benefits still start at age 60. The 2008 NDAA enabling legislation only addresses retirement pay and not medical benefits. In other words the pension check can start before age 60, but Reservists are still not eligible for Tricare until they turn age 60. Of course Reservists are still eligible for gray-area Tricare Retired Reserve health insurance until age 60, but that’s a lot more expensive than retiree Tricare.

Credit Cards

What You Need to Know About Credit Card Offers and Bank Failures

These are credit card offers that have come to my home. The list does not include the near daily offers sent via email, nor does it include the ones sent to my office. Out of the list 9 of them were addressed to children that are ages 5, 7 and 9 (I guess my 3 year old doesn’t rate yet), 4 were addressed to someone that does not live at my home and 2 had the spelling of my name incorrect. Apparently, banks are not learning from the days when they would give a mortgage loan to anyone with a pulse. Part of the blame is due to credit card agencies selling your information to banks.

How We Paid Off $30,000 in Credit Card Debt

November was a truly happy month in our household. After a year and a half of hard work, we paid off the last of our credit card debt. We learned some new things about ourselves and our needs and wants along the way. It isn’t rocket science, but here’s how we did it. The reason we ended up with this debt was pure and simple lifestyle inflation. We were doing pretty well until we built our house in 2004. What got us was the need for stuff to fill it up. We left a couple of rooms unfinished, but…

Bankruptcy

What Are Your Personal Bankruptcy Options?

The complicated nature of bankruptcy law can make it difficult for those faced with financial issues to fully understand what their options are. Most individuals think that they only have the option of Chapter 7 liquidation, but the truth is if they catch their problems in time, they have another option as well. A Las Vegas bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine which one will work best in your situation depending on the type and amount of debt owed, what assets are owned, available exemptions, and income reliability.

Taxes

7 Year-End Tax Strategies and Moves

It’s time once again to start giving some thought to paying taxes. Who’s excited? Even though it may feel like a chore, it’s wise to do a little analysis at the end of the year to see if there are any year-end tax moves you need to make. Here are some things you can think about doing to decrease the amount of taxes you’ll pay for both personal deductions and business deductions.

Tips & Advise

The 7 Savings Super Powers

Do you wish you were better at socking away money for a rainy day? (Or for whatever else strikes your fancy?) With these 7 savings super powers, you can be. 6. Super strength – You may not like him when he’s angry, but the Hulk’s strength comes out when it’s needed most. When you’ve got super strength on your side, you can power through setbacks and burst through walls until you reach your savings goal. This means getting angry and sticking with the program when life hands you setbacks instead of giving up.

Top Personal Finance News – Monday Dec. 10, 2012

RETIREMENT

Plan B for Your Retirement

Want to execute the perfect retirement plan? Live the perfect life. In my case, I wouldn’t be getting a divorce — and splitting the retirement savings, pensions and home equity my husband and I acquired over a three-decades-plus marriage. The reality is that nearly 60% of people who are now 65 are already retired, according to MetLife, and at least half of those people left the workforce because of a job loss or health problem.

7 Essential Truths for a Successful Retirement

1. Consistent Frugality Trumps (Attempts at) Great Investing – In his years of interacting with readers and customers, he tells me that those who practice simple frugality routinely enjoy more prosperous retirements than those who pursue greater investment returns. Clements’s stance is based on real-life observations, not just theoretical financial projections like mine. In his experience, putting energy and effort into diligent saving (even as an average investor) is more beneficial to a successful retirement than being a great investor.

COLLEGE

Parents, help high school students create strong resumes for college & scholarships

It turns out that creating a résumé of activities and accomplishments can be a helpful tool when it comes time to apply for college admission and scholarships. And if you’ll be asking a teacher, counselor, or employer to write a letter of recommendation—and, chances are, you will—that résumé will be a valuable tool for him or her as well. Here are some helpful things when creating a résumé.

Students: How to Finish College with No Debt

It may be nice to enjoy the traditional college experience of living on campus in the dorm, taking a full load of classes each semester and spending the summers lounging by the pool back at your parents’ house. However, with the rising cost of a college education and the growing focus on the burden of student loan debt on graduates, the more realistic solution for today’s students is to follow these tips and attempt to graduate debt-free./p>

3 Tips for International Students To Reduce Personal Expenses in College

Budgeting can begin even earlier: Before leaving your home country Rao suggests visiting your local EducationUSA advising center. They keep track of everything from the cost of hamburgers to movie prices near U.S. universities, she says. Pre-departure orientations are also offered to prepare students—and their budgets—for studying and living in the Unites States. Follow these three tips to budget for and slash the costs of personal expenses.

Credit Cards

Keep Your Credit Card Safe While Shopping Online

Research showed that consumers have already spent $10.1 billion online, which is a 16% increase over last year. They predict, for the entire season, that consumers will spend $43.4 billion online, which is up 17% from last year. But enough with boring stats. The fact is, if you shop online, you need to protect yourself. It might be the season of holiday cheer, but it’s also the season of credit card scams. Here are some things you should keep in mind while clicking your way through the holidays.

TIPS & ADVISE

Dealing with Debt as a Couple

There’s no doubt that you might fear your partner will judge you, feel differently about you, or maybe even feel overwhelmed by your situation. But you wouldn’t want your partner to withhold something from you for fear of how you could react, so you shouldn’t do the same to your partner. Sit down together and explain your situation. What happened, what things look like now, and what you’re doing to work through it. Who knows, your partner may even have his or her own debt story to tell!

21 Ways to Make a Big Financial Change

19. Change Your Identity – You want to take control of your finances, but if you continue to see yourself as somebody who knows nothing about money, then you’ll forever remain so. Instead, do something to empower yourself to be somebody different (maybe take a class or start mingling with different people who don’t know the “old you”), effectively changing your identity and self-image towards the person you want to be in the lifestyle you want to live.

How To Save Money: Using Cash Envelopes

At the beginning of each month, we would create our budget plan, projecting our upcoming spending. Then, the first thing we would do is transfer any amount that looked like “extra money” to our savings account. That way, only the money that we were going to use sat in our checking account. Think of it like making an entire batch of cookies for your entire neighborhood, but you won’t be giving it to them until Christmas. You wouldn’t just leave them on your kitchen counter (would you?), otherwise, when Christmas rolls around, you won’t have any cookies to give and you’ll be fat.

7 Easy Ways to Increase Your Income

5. Various Tasks Online – There are a number of web sites that allow you to make money online doing various (and often simple) tasks. However, you won’t make a lot of money. On Fiverr, you can do tasks for $5 at a time. You can also make money on Mechanical Turk doing simple things like helping come up with article names. You won’t make a ton, but you can do a few things each day when you have a few minutes, and it can add up to a couple hundred dollars a month.

Top Personal Finance News – Monday Dec. 3, 2012

Retirement

This tool can help you determine what to save for your retirement

If you’re not sure how much is enough, try using the interactive tool below. Enter your age, current retirement assets, and how much you’re saving each month. Click Calculate to estimate your total retirement savings at age 65 and how much you’ll be able to withdraw monthly. Then try increasing your savings amount to see how much more you could have. Remember that saving for retirement contains two important components—how much you save, and how regularly you do so.

College

Teaching the ABCs of College Costs

As Rising Tuition Puts More Students Deeper in Debt, Schools Offer Courses to Explain Their Budgets, Financial-Aid Plans. Fifty-six students are registered this semester for “The Challenge of College Affordability: Financing the University,” a series of seven two-hour lectures taught by top administrators at the public university. The course, geared toward sophomores, is designed to explain where the school gets revenue, what drives its costs and how that translates into tuition rates and financial-aid packages.

Banking

The Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts

Among the criteria that I used when choosing these banks include banks that have good rates (I know it’s relative, the rates are nowhere near where they used to be), they have no fees for most things, and that they have good customer service. Having been with banks that had no or non-existent customer service that part was important to me. I currently have accounts with two of these banks, and may end up switching to another because of a better interest rate. All of them, however, are great banks to work with.

Credit

Charge your way to better credit

A woman who was turned down for a loan recently came to me for advice on why she was rejected. As she sat at my desk, she said she had perfect credit. When I asked her why she thought her credit was perfect, she replied that she should have perfect credit because she had no problem paying her bills. I asked to see her credit report, and there was nothing on it. It’s a common misconception that we start out with perfect credit and it gets worse with every loan or credit card we obtain.

Savings

How To Haggle For Anything

There are myriad opportunities to save more significant sums with a smart strategy and a dash of charm. And given that many businesses are happy just to keep the cash flowing at this point, consumers have more leverage than ever when buying everything from electronics and jewelry, to home mortgages and legal services. Even college tuition is up for debate—good news given that the total amount of outstanding student loans just topped $1 trillion.

Having a baby? Keep the costs down

When Jeremy Price learned he was going to be a dad, he didn’t go looking for strollers — he shopped for health insurance instead. Taking advantage of the open enrollment period for his health insurance, Price switched from a high-deductible plan to one with a lower deductible. This increased his monthly cost by $200, but the switch paid off, says Price, marketing director at American Trust Bank of East Tennessee in Knoxville.

 

Advise & Tips

12 things not to buy during holidays

Skipping the seasonal sales: The discounts throughout November and December are tempting. But some potentially pricey items that may be on a family member’s holiday wish list — or that you may be thinking of buying for yourself — will be cheaper if you wait. Here are 12 items you can score better deals on if you buy outside the holidays.

10 Frugal Tips You Haven’t Already Heard

6. Establish a Frugal Buddy System: I mentioned earlier than keeping to a frugal lifestyle is like living a physically healthy lifestyle — it’s hard, it takes work, and sometimes you’ll fail at it. But you’ll have a much better chance of success if you have a frugal buddy on whom to rely. This person (preferably someone with the same frugal goals as you) will be the shoulder you need to lean on in times of weakness. They’re the friend who will tell you that you don’t need that cashmere sweater. And they’ll be the one who sits at home with you on a frugal Friday night watching TV movies while all your other friends are out eating and drinking their paychecks away.

I’ll show you how to find money you didn’t know you had

Often, just the process of turning thoughts into visuals can quickly uncover opportunities you never knew you had. Your brain has a love affair with visual cues. Many people become jumbled when they hear words, but if you put pictures in front of them, it’s magic. Heck, that’s why Sherlock Holmes has been so popular. Everyone knows that if you just look a little harder, you’ll find the right clues to solve the mystery. In this case, adding visuals will help us find money where we thought there was none. It’s like the ending of the mystery: The Great “How Did That $10 Bill Get in My Pants Pocket” Caper.

Thanks for reading, hope we are helping!