Category Archives: Personal Finance

5 Ways Your Brain Can Sabotage Your Investing

The stock market is a great brawl in which minds with opposing views battle over whether prices will go up or down. Unfortunately, investors are often their biggest foe in this arena because our brains have biological mechanisms to screw us up.

Here are five reasons the self-sabotaging brain does this. Continue reading

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2014 IRS Limits – Saving For Retirement

It’s 2014, and the new IRS limits have kicked in. Here’s what you need to know concerning your 401k, IRA and other limits. Continue reading

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Early Retirement – IRS 72t – Avoiding the 10% Penalty

What happens, though, if because of health or company early retirement mandates, you are forced to retire before age 59 ½? How can you access your retirement savings without paying penalties? The answer is 72(t). Continue reading

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Who Needs Long Term Care?

Having a long term care policy in place can help you preserve assets that would otherwise be diverted to custodial care, and give you peace of mind that your care needs will be addressed should the need arise. Continue reading

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Payoff that Mortgage Prior to Retirement

If your house was paid for, would you take out a loan to invest it in the stock market? Amazingly many people reading this would actually pause to think about it. The answer should be no. Continue reading

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2013 IRS Saving, Gifting and Other Limits

It’s 2013, and the new IRS limits have kicked in. Here’s what you need to know concerning your 401k, IRA and other limits. Continue reading

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Indexed Annuities, Better Read the Fine Print

So you purchase the annuity and tie it to the S&P 500 index. This year, the index grows 20%. You would expect to see a 20% return in your annuity, right? Wrong! Continue reading

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Your Financial Future – Can You Fill in the Blanks?

I need to save ___% of my paycheck to reach my financial independence goal to make working optional at age___. My retirement nest egg needs to be built to $_____ to achieve this goal. Continue reading

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The Burden of Debt

If interest rates are too high such as to make your minimum payments too onerous to allow much wiggle room, do not be shy about calling the debt provider to ask for a reduction in the rate. They don’t have to honor your request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Continue reading

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The Stretch IRA

A stretch IRA is not officially in the IRS code. It is a wealth transfer method that allows you to potentially “stretch” and even grow the IRA assets over several generations. The strategy involves adjusting beneficiary designations to minimize so-called required minimum distributions (RMDs) over a long period of time. Continue reading

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Individual Stocks and Diversification

No matter how aggressive an investor you are, investing in one company, or even a few companies, is not a wise move. Continue reading

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Retirement Plans for the Self Employed

So you quit the corporate rat race to start your own business.  It’s hard work, but you enjoy the freedom and the thrill of being your own boss.  There is nothing that you miss about your old job.

Except maybe your 401(k). 

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A Tale of Risk and Reward

There is no room for greed in investing. In the investing world you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you want the reward you have to take on the risk as well. Put another way, you have the potential to be rewarded for the amount of risk that you take. Notice I said “potential”. Reward is not a guarantee. The reason is risk. Continue reading

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The Lure of Debit Cards

But is a debit card really better than a credit card? Studies have shown that we spend more when using a credit card. You’d think that using a debit card would alleviate this problem, since you know that you’re using your own money to make the purchase. This isn’t true. Some smart college students I know have figured out they do indeed spend more using a debit card, and now use cash for most purchases. Continue reading

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When Markets Go Crazy

Worry much about your investments? In volatile markets, it’s easy to feel uneasy. Memories of 2008-2009, when the market lost more than half its value, are still fresh in everyone’s mind. So when the market swings widely nowadays, investors get concerned. Sometimes concerned enough to act.
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Save Early for Retirement

At what age is it better to save for retirement? In your early years of working, money is probably tight. It’s hard to find the extra money to save towards such a far end goal, when the rent needs to be paid, and you have a more immediate need to build emergency savings. You might think that waiting until later in life to save for retirement, when your income is likely higher and you can more likely afford to do so, would be the best option.
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How to pay for College

It’s a blessing and a curse. After much nagging about grades and extra-curricular activities, your beloved Junior or Juniorette has made it into college. Your first thought is how proud you are of your child’s achievement. Your very next thought is, “How in the world do I pay for this?” Continue reading

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IRA Charitable Rollovers

You have done well for yourself. You’ve watched your pennies, saved aggressively, invested wisely, and now, in your golden years, you have a retirement nest egg that is more than you need. You have a philanthropic bent – an alma mater you’re fond of, a charity that is near and dear to your heart. How can you donate to these worthy causes without sacrificing to the IRS more than you think it deserves?
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How important is diversification?

How much do you want to put your eggs in one basket? Even a few baskets? Continue reading

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What is risk tolerance, and how does it factor into my investment decisions?

Risk tolerance is how much risk you are willing to take with your investments. Let’s look at the market crash of 2008-2009. In early March, when the market finally bottomed out, how did you feel? Continue reading

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Which should I do first – invest for the future or pay down debts?

Would you borrow money on your house or on a credit card to buy into an investment or put in your savings account? Continue reading

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Which would be better – a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA?

If you do not need to save on taxes now, a Roth IRA is your best option.  The reason is the taxation of earnings.  With a traditional IRA, you save on taxes now on the amount you contribute.  But you pay taxes when you take the money out on both …

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Play Defense with a Solid Portfolio

The pictures and stories from Japan have shocked us all. The human aspect of this country’s struggle to cope with the earthquake and tsunami tugs at our hearts. The same applies to those in Middle Eastern countries crying out for freedom and democracy only to be responded to with bullets …

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Should I contribute to my company’s 401(k) or to an IRA?

The 401(k) and the IRA offer tax advantaged savings.  The differences to consider are in maximum contribution limits and matching money.

Employers typically will offer to match a certain portion of your 401(k) contributions to encourage you to invest for you retirement.  The level is most often a percentage of …

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