Lifestyle

Get a Good Deal on a Last-Minute Getaway

February and March leave most people with a bit of cabin fever. The festivity and cheerfulness of the holidays are long over, and, for many of us, frigid temperatures and gray skies remain. Even if you live in a locale where the weather is relatively mild, there’s just something dull and dragging about this late-season slump. A last-minute weekend getaway is a popular way to beat the winter blues. And you can make it happen without breaking the bank. Here are some things to consider when you’re looking for a good deal on a last-minute getaway: It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination Often, wanting to get away last minute is more about the “getting away” than it is where you end up. That can work to your advantage. Lots of websites publish last-minute deals to cities and destinations you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Head into your search with general…

How to Help Your Brain Age Gracefully

Living life to the fullest includes keeping the mind and body active at all ages and stages. Our brains actually shrink as we get older, especially the frontal cortex, which has a direct effect on cognitive ability. The good news is there is a long list of ways to keep your brain sharp as you age—probably more than you can, um, remember. Give It a Workout Researchers have found regular mental stimulation can build new connections between nerve cells, maybe even help the brain generate new cells. Who couldn’t use a few more of those? This doesn’t mean you have to bury yourself in a crossword puzzle night after night, although that’s a good idea. So is reading, game playing, puzzles, painting, playing music … anything that forces your brain to process or solve something beyond the plot twists in the latest Netflix series. If you can’t tear away from…

Why Estate Planning Is for Everybody

Estate planning and life insurance go hand-in-hand. Or, as Forrest Gump might put it: they go together like peas and carrots. Thinking about your last will and testament and other end-of-life decisions usually involves thinking about your life insurance needs, too. Unfortunately, avoiding one usually involves avoiding the other – and the majority of Americans are falling short when it comes to estate planning. Do you have an estate plan? Do you have life insurance? If not, here are some compelling reasons to get you going on both fronts. Everyone Has an Estate The popular connotations of the word “estate” can make it sound like estate planning is just for the very wealthy. But you don’t have to live at Downton Abbey to have an estate. Your estate is simply everything you own. If you’re just starting out – or starting over after a setback – it could be your…

Budgeting Basics: 6 Steps for Creating and Keeping to a Budget

Budgeting can be a difficult subject, largely because it gets a lot of negative publicity as a last resort for people who have mismanaged their personal finances. But the reality is that budgeting is exactly what people need in order to avoid money problems. Avoiding addressing your budget concerns only make it more challenging in the long run. Budgeting may be misunderstood but here are a few tips to get you on your way to taking control of your finances.    Approach Budgeting With a Healthy Mindset Budgeting should be seen more as a helpful life-hack and less of an attempt to strip all of the joy out of living by denying yourself anything and everything that isn’t food, water or shelter. It’s a simple matter of managing the balance between cash coming in and cash going out. Budgeting can even help you maximize savings. It’s a common-sense thing that…

Plan Ahead to Get the Best Shopping Deals

Chances are you’re going to buy lots of stuff this year. Sometimes you have no choice about when to shop, like when the ‘fridge is running on empty, your microwave nukes its last leftover or your clothes washer gurgles a death rattle. Many purchases, however – big and little – can wait until the time is optimal for getting the very best deals. So if you’re thinking of upgrading an item you currently own or adding something new to your inventory, mark your calendar now and then watch for deals from national and local retailers. Here are tips from consumer experts on the best months to target for shopping for specific items. January Fitness is a key component for this post-holiday period with elliptical bikes, treadmills and bathroom scales on sale. For tucking in comfortably on cold winter nights, bed linens are on sale, as are towels. New model office…

Changes in Daily Habits Can Produce Big Savings

You’ve survived the big spending season known as the holidays and may be dismayed at the state of your finances – credit card bills due, depleted funds in your savings account and a general feeling of being broke. Welcome to January. If you’re like many people who make New Year’s resolutions, you may be dreaming about ending the cycle of spending too much with a firm resolve to increase your savings. Take courage – it’s not as hard as you may think. Here are some practical tips on how to live on less and save more in 2018: Sign up for Free Customer Rewards Programs Plenty of retailers, online as well as actual stores, offer rewards for shopping at their business. These are discounts, rebates and special sales just for members of the club. The down side is having your inbox filled with offers, sometimes several times a week or…

New Year's Resolutions: Money Edition

Less than half of New Year’s Resolutions last more than six months, even though most of them are designed to be longer-term improvements. Financial resolutions may fare even worse since it seems like there’s always some bill waiting to be paid, some upcharge that’s impossible to avoid, or some unexpected expense. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth setting – or that they’re impossible to keep. Unlike some financial advice that’s specific only to certain age groups, income levels or life stages, these small financial resolutions are attainable, impactful and nearly universal: Download an Automated Savings App Apps like Acorns and Digit, pull small sums of money from your checking account on a regular basis and save them electronically. You probably aren’t going to get you rich this way, but you get in the habit of saving if you aren’t already. And it’s a great way to start an emergency…

Consider Life Insurance for Retirement Investment

Life insurance and retirement planning may not seem to have much in common. You think of life insurance as planning ahead for your beneficiaries, while investing for retirement is planning for your own future. Yet, life insurance can be an important part of retirement planning, some financial advisers say.  Consider these points as you weigh the advantages, as well as possible drawbacks, of including life insurance as part of your future retirement investment income. Cash Benefits of Permanent Insurance Permanent life insurance plans – variable, universal or whole life – all include a separate account for your premiums to build cash, in addition to the death benefit for your heirs. As your permanent life insurance policy builds value, you may withdraw cash or borrow against the cash value. You might consider such borrowing if you lose a job and need cash for your mortgage or other monthly bills. Of course, using…

Tips on Saving for a First-Time Home Down Payment

Whenever the subject of buying a first home comes up, the conversation often turns to current interest rates. To hear some people talk, all it takes is the right interest rate to make home buying happen. While that can be, and often is, true, there are plenty of people for whom interest rates aren’t the primary concern. In fact, many would love to get to the point of worrying about interest rates. It’s that pesky down payment that concerns them. It’s recommended that homebuyers put down 20 percent or more in order to secure good financing. With the median home price in the U.S. averaging $320,000, that’s at least $64,000 homebuyers have to come up with before they even think about shopping for an interest rate. How can you put aside that kind of money? Well, unless you have direct access to cash in the form of a rich and…

If Cars Drive Themselves, What Does That Mean for Car Insurance?

Imagine it’s 2025. You’re phoning through the morning headlines while your autonomous vehicle navigates your 10-mile commute. Another self-driving vehicle owner is Snapchatting away in an oncoming lane, oblivious as you are. Wham. The two cars collide on an icy intersection. Who’s at fault? Most industry analysts say it’s the vehicle manufacturer, or possibly one of the technology companies that developed the various automated driving or safety features built into the car. In fact, in 2015, Google, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo all agreed to accept liability for accidents that occur when one of their vehicles is in autonomous mode. Taking Control of the Wheel If self-driving vehicles proliferate as predicted (analysts say they’ll be the norm in 2050), what will be the need for car insurance? After all, if your hands aren’t on the wheel and your foot isn’t on the gas or brake pedal, you’re no longer a driver, but…

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