managing finances

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Money Can’t Buy Happiness … Right?

Money can’t buy you happiness. It’s an adage reminding us the important things in life aren’t things. And it’s often repeated in times of financial stress or upheaval. But it’s only true to a point. A 2010 Princeton study by Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman found money can buy life satisfaction, for a while. They found emotional well-being increased along with salary until about $75,000 annually. At that point – after necessities like food, clothing, shelter and transportation were no longer everyday stressors – emotional well-being didn’t continue to climb. The upper middle class have as many problems as the uber-rich, stemming from relationships, time management, health and other universal factors. For people looking back on their lives in retirement, those who earned more money reported being more satisfied with their lives, without limit. “We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is…

Throwing a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving Without Breaking the Bank

The holidays are a time for family, friends and feasts. Time spent together is the most important part of gathering together during the holiday season, but most people admit these gatherings wouldn’t be the same without the food – turkey, pumpkin pie, ham, mulled wine, rum balls and sugar cookies. But somewhere along the way (can we blame Instagram and Pinterest?), you may feel every holiday meal should look like it belongs in a magazine. Free-range turkeys dressed in epicurean herbs, 12 organic sides and elaborately crafted baked goods are delicious, but they’re a lot of work and frankly, they’re expensive. When you’re gearing up for arguably the most expensive months of the year, it’s not always wise – or possible – to empty your bank account for one meal. Thankfully, it’s also not necessary. It’s still possible to do a big, traditional Thanksgiving dinner on a budget. It’s All…

Debit Card or Credit Card: Which is Right for You?

Paying with plastic is par for the course these days, even for small purchases. The question is, which kind of plastic is best? People tend to have strong opinions about debit versus credit cards. Debit card diehards are the modern-day version of cash-only consumers. They won’t spend what they don’t have and using a debit card eliminates any temptation to overspend. However, there are plenty of people who could pay with debit but opt for credit cards instead. Often, it’s because they are earning cash back or racking up points. We all know at least one frequent-flyer fanatic who takes great vacations using credit card miles. The debit-only approach sounds smart. But those credit card perks sound smart, too – why not get a little payback on money you’ll be spending anyway? It really can be difficult to know which is best. Let’s take a closer look at arguments from…

College and Insurance: Insurance Entrance Exam for Kids on College Campuses

If you have a child living away at college, you’ve probably been through an extensive checklist in getting him or her prepared and moved to campus for the fall semester. Amid the flurry of planning and packing, have you thought about college and insurance? Although still your dependent, your child living away from home may have additional insurance needs to protect their belongings and their well-being. Consider these areas: Auto Insurance Fewer than half of college students have cars on campus, so if your child doesn’t have wheels, let your carrier know. Your student may be eligible for a “distant driver” discount, especially if the college is more than 100 miles from home. The discount may be as high as 20 percent. Keep your child on your auto insurance policy so coverage continues during school breaks and visits home. If your child does have a car on campus, report this…

Paper or Digital – Organizing Your Finances in a Way That Works

Paper or Digital? Everything is going digital. Tapes, CDs, disks and paper are being replaced with bits and bytes of data often stored in a virtual cloud. Depending on your background, the digital world may be a mysterious and uncomfortable place. Let’s take an objective look at the pros and cons of going digital versus using paper to organize your personal finances. Paper Statements: Tried and True or Time to Go? Paper is the default method for managing and organizing your finances. Online banking in the United States started in the 1980s, but electronic statements and digital financial management did not become mainstream until more than a decade later when home internet use became commonplace. Thanks to its long history, paper statements still remain popular with many banking customers today. According to a poll from CreditCards.com, 54 percent of adults still get paper bank or credit card statements by mail.…

How to Be a Record-Keeping Rock Star

Keeping track of old tax returns and sorting through receipts may sound about as exciting as organizing your sock drawer. There’s no immediate payoff to most financial record keeping, so it’s easy to put it off until another day. Or another year. Plus, record keeping is a chore that can feel even more confusing and time-consuming now that so much information is stored electronically. Raise the Stakes Imagine a new reality TV show where you can win big cash and prizes if you can produce financial and personal documents.   The prize patrol has knocked at your door without warning. They want to see seven years of tax returns, the receipts documenting deductions on those returns, investment statements for your 401(k) or IRA for the past three years, receipts for the computer and new fridge you bought last year, your last three paystubs and bank statements for the past 12…

It’s a Wonderful Life … Be Sure It’s Insured

September Is Life Insurance Awareness Month Welcome to Life Insurance Awareness Month (#LIAM17). Every year the non-profit organization Life Happens raises awareness of the importance of life insurance as part of a sound financial plan. Life Insurance Awareness Month is an opportunity to encourage our readers to take stock of their financial needs by protecting loved ones by planning for the future with life insurance. This year, Danica Patrick is back as spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Her message encourages people to include financial fitness in their lives. “As a race car driver and athlete, being fit is important to me. But fitness extends to all parts of your life, including your finances. And when it comes to being financially fit, getting life insurance is key.” SelectQuote is a supporter of the Life Happens mission to educate people about being financially fit and making smart decisions about life insurance.…

Banks Versus Credit Unions?

Banks vs credit unions? You probably put more thought into choosing where to have dinner than deciding which financial institution to use. If you’re like most people, you made the choice a long time ago, and it’s working out for you. You may use the big bank near your home with ATMs across the country. Or maybe it’s the friendly community bank with a few convenient branches. Or, if you have access, possibly through where you work, perhaps it’s a credit union.   Well, there may be greener pastures for your greenbacks, or greater conveniences and better offerings someplace else. Banks and credit unions offer basically the same products and services—checking and savings accounts, personal loans, credit and debit cards. The differences between the two (or three, if you throw in online banks) lie in the interest rates, fee structures, and both the volume and variety of products offered. Interest…

7 Bad Money Habits That Can Ruin Your Finances

Habits can make or break our personal finance success. While good habits can help you build savings and live without financial stress, bad money habits can turn into a downward spiral of debt, fees and struggles. Making some small adjustments to your financial habits is easier than you may realize. Break these seven bad money habits to put yourself on track to a happy financial life. Making Only the Minimum Payment When you get a loan statement in the mail, whether it is from a credit card, mortgage or student loan, you can quickly find your minimum payment for the next month. The key word here is “minimum.” Paying only the minimum payment means you pay the maximum possible interest over the life of the loan. Every dollar you pay early saves you on interest every single month for the remainder of the loan’s life. The more you pay sooner…

Why Spending a Year at Home is a Brilliant Financial Move for Millennials

After graduating from college, society says it is time to get a job, an apartment and start on your way to the American dream. But what if that plan is outdated and a year at home after college makes more sense? The math shows that a year back home makes financial sense and it is losing the stigma it had only a few years ago. Let’s take a look at recent trends and why a year in your childhood bedroom may pay dividends for years to come. More Millennials Moving Back Home A recent TD Ameritrade survey found 26 percent of millennials in college plan to move back home when they finish school, according to the Pew Research Center. As of last summer, Americans in the 18-34 age range are more likely to live with their parents than any other living situation. It is the first time in 130 years…

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