The Uncle Sam Bonus Plan

So far this year, income tax refunds are averaging $2,650–up about $100 from last year. Among the suggestions about what to do with that money from a recent _MSNBC_ article: Put the money in an IRA, pay down debt, give some to charity, invest in yourself by taking a class, pay to have a will […]

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Cheap “Sneaks” and the New Cool

Twenty years ago, when Nike signed basketball superstar Michael Jordan to an endorsement deal, $100 basketball shoes became all the rage. Kids begged their parents for a pair. Some even killed for them. Flash-forward to today and New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury is out to end the insanity of overpriced sneakers. As reported on […]

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Best Advice – Part II

Recently I asked you to share the best financial advice you’ve ever received. Here’s a second installment of some of that advice. A reader named Bob said that during a pre-marriage class he and his then fiance attended, the teacher suggested using pay raises to build an initial savings account. In Bob’s words, “I can […]

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Keeping Found Money

What’s the biggest mistake you can make when leaving your job for greener pastures? Posting a video of the last office party on YouTube? Using the boss’ reserved parking place on your last day? Cashing in your 401(k)? Okay, they’re _all_ bad ideas. But the worst _financial_ mistake you can make is closing out your […]

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Found Money

Employer-sponsored 401(k) plans are becoming more generous. As reported in _USA TODAY_ recently, 36 percent of such plans now offer a 100 percent match on employee contributions. In other words, for every dollar an employee saves in a 401(k) plan, their employer kicks in a dollar as well–usually up to a certain percentage of the […]

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Expecting the Unexpected

Do you have an emergency fund? If so, you’re in the smart minority. Just 40 percent of Americans have such a fund, according to a new Consumer Federation of America survey. While higher income households are most likely to have an emergency fund, even among the highest earners more than 40 percent said they do […]

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Great Advice

A couple of weeks ago I asked you to send in the best financial advice you’ve ever received. Several readers said it was to base their lifestyle on one income right from the start of their marriage. Initially, following that advice enabled Jennifer and her husband to pay off an automobile loan. Ever since, the […]

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Falling Prices

Something that’s actually become less expensive over the years is term life insurance. According to a _Wall Street Journal_ story on 2/21, longer life spans are driving the prices for such policies down, and the growing popularity of level-premium policies is making it easier to compare costs among providers. The article pointed out that if […]

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Financial Role Models

As part of a special section on Baby Boomers, _Money_ magazine recently asked several Boomer celebrities about the best money management advice they ever got. Novelist Alice Walker pointed to her father’s encouragement to get in the habit of saving money as early as possible. Her first deposit was 50 cents that she earned selling […]

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Chasing the American Dream

How would you define “the American dream?” A nice car? An annual vacation? A home theatre system? A recent MetLife survey asked that question and the most common answer was financial security. In previous surveys, the American dream was defined as a combination of home ownership, a happy family life, and a stable career. But […]

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