Finances

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Is Life Insurance Really Worth the Time and Cost?

Let’s face it: Life insurance can look pricey on paper. A lot of people shy away from procuring a life insurance policy for this very reason. Is life insurance really worth the time and cost? For those skeptical or curious about investing in life insurance, we may need to do some myth-busting to get to the central question. We’ll break down what life insurance is and whether the cost and commitment make sense. Types of Life Insurance Explained To answer this question, it’s important to understand the two basic types of life insurance: term and permanent. Term life insurance offers a predetermined “death benefit” (a payout to the beneficiary of the life insurance policy). It covers the policyholder for a certain number of years, usually somewhere between five and 30. The annual premiums of this plan are set on a fixed rate. Like health insurance premiums, they are based primarily…

Borrowing Money? What Loan is Best for You?

Most people need to borrow money at some point. Americans owe more than $13 trillion in total debt. Borrowing is clearly an expensive proposition for many American families. If you do find yourself borrowing to buy a home, a car, an education, or anything else, it is important to look at the pros and cons. It’s all about making the right long-term decisions and minimizing out-of-pocket costs. Let’s look at what you need to know to best evaluate loan options available to Americans today. Common Types of Loans Loans come in many names and forms. When looking at consumer loans (loans to people and not businesses) there are four main categories: mortgages, student loans, personal loans and auto loans. While these are the most common ways to borrow, there are some substitutes for traditional loans to use instead. Those include credit cards, lines of credit, home equity lines of credit…

7 Ways to Take Control of Your Finances Before the End of the Year

Did you know “saving [more] money” was one of the top three New Year’s resolutions in 2018? Chances are, it will rank among the top resolutions for 2019 as well. No matter how comfortable we are financially, most of us can do more with our money. If you’re among the many people considering a financial resolution in 2019, there are plenty of things you can do before the ball drops. Addressing your finances now to set yourself up for success in January. Here are seven things to consider doing right now: Check Your Credit Report You can check your credit report for free, with no penalty to your credit, once every 12 months. Take advantage! The end of the year is a great time to order a copy of your report from the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Get yours online at annualcreditreport.com (the only authorized website for the job,…

How to Stop Procrastinating With Your Money in 4 Easy Steps

Personal finance prosperity requires a long-term plan, dedicated effort and regular check-ins to maintain focus. It takes work to reach financial goals. Millions of Americans complain about high debt, low savings and a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that seems difficult to escape. But if you take the time to get your money systems setup, you can relax as your money goes to work for you. Here are some easy-to-follow tips to avoid putting off getting your finances in order.   Start a Budget Already Do you know you should budget but don’t think you have the time to put one together? Wrong! Anyone can budget in the time it takes to check your email. And you can do it on your smartphone or laptop. Popular budgeting apps Mint (free) and YNAB (paid) connect to your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and other financial accounts to summarize everything in one convenient dashboard. Both…

How to Turn a Financial "Don't" into a "Do"

A lot of financial advice is framed as things you should never do. Here are a few “don’ts” you’ve probably heard more than once: Don’t borrow money from your retirement plan. For instance, see 4 Reasons You Should Never, Ever Take a 401(k) Loan. Don’t take a loan or use your credit cards to fund your dream to… [fill in the blank — start a business, go back to school, relocate, etc.] Don’t borrow money from (or lend money to) family or friends. Here’s a quick take from financial advisor Dave Ramsey on why this is always a bad idea. Don’t accept a lower salary when changing jobs. Don’t rent when you can buy. For instance, David Bach, co-founder of AE Wealth Management, believes that millennials should buy, not rent. Do all these “don’ts” and others like them really apply to every person and every situation? Of course not. But…

What to Know About Retiring at 62 Versus Retiring at 70

Ah, retirement. That long-awaited life stage when all your hours of working, saving and family-raising efforts finally pay off. You’ll be free to travel, spend time with friends and family and enjoy the hobbies you never had time for. No worries, no stress, nobody to answer to. Except, without careful planning that scenario could be a fantasy. A 2017 Ipsos/USA Today poll found 45- to 65-year-olds surveyed, 30 percent had less than $100,000 in savings. Another 30 percent had no savings at all. No matter how much money you have invested for your retirement, deciding when to make the leap can drastically affect how far those investments can carry you. Trying to decide when to retire? Here are some things to consider if you decide to retire at age 62 versus age 70. Your Social Security Benefits At age 62: More people (42 percent of men and 48 percent of…

Personal Finance Habits for Your 50s

After reaching important financial milestones in your 20s, 30s and 40s, things should calm down a bit in your 50s. If you followed good financial practices, you should have sizeable and growing retirement savings, shrinking debt and a clear path to retirement. And if you are off of your ideal plan, be sure to put the right habits in place right away to get yourself on the right track. While you can’t go back in time and change past spending and savings habits, you can start the right habits today. Start with these five personal finance habits for your 50s to get started. Pay Off Non-Mortgage Debt While the average debt for American households overall is on the rise, you should be working hard to fight that statistic for your own family. In your 50s, you should be saving and swelling credit card debt loads can crush those savings rates…

How to Survive Financially When a Marriage Fails

When the dream of living happily ever after turns into a nightmare of a marriage, divorce may be the only workable solution. In addition to the emotional turmoil surrounding a divorce, couples need to deal with the financial realities of going their separate ways. The cost of a lawyer and the loss of a spouse’s income may come at a high price for one or both parties. Couples may each walk away from the marriage with significantly lower income, assets and retirement savings. Although divorce is not recommended as an easy solution to marital problems, the situation need not necessarily be a financial disaster. Here are a few positive financial outcomes that can somewhat lessen the pain of divorce. Easier Budgeting and More Control Over Money It’s no secret that fights over money are a prime mover on the rocky road to divorce. Left solo, partners are free to choose…

Keep Your Finances in Balance With an Excellent Credit Score

Your credit score is much like an adult version of your GPA. It’s a grade that measures your level of financial responsibility in relation to others. Banks and lending institutions use your credit score when you apply for a mortgage, an auto loan or a loan for home improvements or a business. Credit card companies use scores to determine who qualifies for a card and at what interest rate. Increasingly, however, insurance companies, landlords and sometimes employers, study credit scores as a way to determine how responsible you are. Here are basics about where your credit score comes from and how to raise your score if it’s lagging behind the competition. Credit Reporting 101 The most widely used credit scores are FICO® scores, created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Top lenders use FICO scores to help them make credit-related decisions every year. FICO calculates scores based on information in consumer…

How to Face Off With Debt Before Retirement

As you enter your 50s and 60s, hopefully you find yourself coming face-to-face with retirement. You may also find yourself still in debt. You are not alone. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people over 55 are in debt. To really make the most of your retirement years, it is essential you do whatever you can to ditch your debt now. Still, it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin. Following these tips can help you pay down your debt before retirement. Reconsider Housing No one is saying you have to hole up in the wilderness or live in a tiny house. But what you do need to do is think about where you live and why. Give particular consideration to housing extras like property taxes and homeowners insurance. Typically, housing is the biggest expense in a budget, but people often only think mortgage payments when it comes…

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