12/1/2011 - Financial resolutions to make for 2012
Shedding unwanted pounds, recharging a golf score that's stuck in neutral, nurturing a better relationship with your teenager — these resolutions and many more will appear on lists this coming January. Of course, some good intentions will fade before the flowers arrive on Valentine's Day. But other decisions, if allowed to harden into habit, have the potential to greatly affect your financial future. For most people, incremental choices and a lifestyle of discipline are the key to attaining financial independence. Here are five suggestions for the coming year to help you achieve that goal.
11/1/2011 - Avoid these retirement planning mistakes
Retirement can creep up on you. One day you're climbing the corporate ladder or building a client base for your business. Next thing you know, you're in your 50s or 60s. Thoughts of spending your days playing golf, pursuing a favorite hobby, or traveling to far-flung regions start calling you away from the daily grind. But without careful planning, your golden years may become tarnished. Before you take that gold watch at your farewell party, make sure you're avoiding these retirement planning mistakes:
9/1/2011 - Tips for building wealth
Some wealthy folks hail from a long line of aristocrats and industrial magnates. A lucky few win the lottery. But about 80% of the millionaires in America are "first generation" rich. They're the first in their families to have attained a high net worth through traditional means. How did they do it? Many of these folks developed small businesses over decades; others earned advanced degrees in demanding fields. Most followed simple principles that the rest of us can apply, including the following.
8/1/2011 - Should I buy or rent a house?
From articles in respected financial journals to spots on late-night television, real estate hawkers and investment gurus have touted the benefits of homeownership. "Don't throw your money away on rent," they admonish. "Interest rates are headed up. Now's the time to buy." "After all," they suggest, "buying a house is a surefire way to build wealth."
7/1/2011 - How to Trim Vacation Costs
Summer is a time for family reunions, barbeques in the backyard, and completing outdoor projects. Summer is also a season for vacations — tooling around the Grand Canyon, visiting grandparents in Maine, flying to Mexico, or taking a week to meander through a neighboring state. But in today's economy in which many families are raiding their savings accounts to meet mortgage payments, a vacation may seem an unaffordable luxury. Fortunately, with a little planning and ingenuity you can trim the cost of that summer getaway without cutting back on fun and relaxation. Here are a few ideas.
6/1/2011 - Should you buy identity theft insurance?
For most people in America, identity theft poses a real risk. If you've ever been granted a credit line, set up a bank account, or applied for government assistance, your identity is valuable. Identity thieves have used stolen personal information to purchase cars, rent apartments, even blackmail people. By some estimates, identity theft occurs about three times a minute in the United States (though that rate may be declining as public awareness increases).
4/7/2011 - Know the Pitfalls of Reward Cards
Marketing venues are replete with ads touting the benefits of credit card reward programs. Smiling, beautiful people encourage you to sign up today and use reward points to visit distant lands, relax at ritzy hotels, or replenish your bank account. You can use reward points to purchase luxury items at a discount, buy cheaper gas, even enjoy exclusive privileges at fancy airport lounges.
2/1/2011 - Tips on how to save at the grocery store
If you're serious about slashing household expenses, it's important to focus on costs you can control. Some items — such as mortgage and utility payments — may claim a large slice of the budget pie, but they're either fixed or relatively inflexible. Banks, for example, expect regular mortgage payments; landlords frown when you don't pay the rent. You can don a sweater to reduce heating costs, but take that approach too far and your family will likely complain. Unless you're willing to watch your lawn turn brown or shower only once a week, a certain level of water usage is probably unavoidable.
1/31/2011 - Prepare a home inventory
Preparing an inventory of your personal possessions can seem daunting. If you're like many Americans, your "stuff" has been accumulating for years, and you've lost or tossed many of the documents that evidence ownership. Without such evidence, insurance companies may not be willing to reimburse your losses from fire, theft, or natural disasters. Also, tax auditors will want to see supporting documentation for losses claimed on income tax forms. In addition, home inventories can provide a permanent record of family heirlooms for future generations and can be used to establish values for estate sales.
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